Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I told me so...

I should have seen it coming. Nine jumped the fence. Please let me clarify right now that he is not hurt, and now is safely in his round pen.

Yesterday was very nice. It was warm, the sun was out and the ground for once was not frozen. I hopped on Hammar for a bit, but a lead rope around his neck was not enough to control him, given how hyper he was! So I put him in the large pen with Ashley and Nine and started chasing the horses around. They were doing really well and running and being pretty, when all the sudden Hammar cornered Nine and pinned his ears. Well, that was all it took! Nine turned tail, saw the fence and barely thought twice before he tried to jump it. He cleared it with his front end, but his hind end didn't do so well. He was stuck with his front on one side of the fence and his back on the other side. He kept hopping though, and finally broke the top two wires and made it over. I yelled at Hammar when I realized Nine wasn't limping, then got a halter, told Fiance where I was going, and caught Nine. Fiance and his brother, who is visiting for the holidays, got to work fixing the fence. Nine and I were on a neighboring property that is fence off but no one lives there; but luckily I have done this before, so I knew how to get the horse home. There are three ways out of that property, and the first involves a cable strung between two posts in lieu of a gate. It was higher than it used to be, when Ashley jumped the fence a few years ago, and Nine wouldn't step over it like Ashley did. But I know of another way; there is a pipeline running through the property, so there is a service gate. I knew I can get the locked gate off it's hinges because once Red and Frosty, two old horses we used to have, used to escape (not jumping any fences, just wandering off instead of ground tying) and find their way to the relatively lush grass found along the pipeline (they would get in through the third way, which involves crossing into a third property and hoping they have their front gate open). Anyways, Nine stayed ground tied while I lifted the gate off the hinges, then I led Nine through the gate and he ground tied again while I tried to lift the gate back onto the hinges. I couldn't get both pegs through both hinge-holes at the same time, however. So don't tell on me, but the gate is only held up by one hinge now.

I had Nine trot for me a little bit on the way home from there, and he was doing just fine. I tossed the lead rope around his legs and over his back, and had him do some flexing and bending for me. He very quickly showed me that he hasn't forgotten his training. When we got back I tied Nine outside his round pen while I tried to get it cleaned up a bit. Like I said, it was a warmer day than it has been lately, and the poop piles had thawed out a bit. I couldn't get it all - some were still frozen solid - bit I got most of the round pen back into shape. Then I decided to see how Nine would do if I were to saddle him. My mom had a Natural Ride bareback pad, so I tossed a cinch on that and Nine stood tied while I showed it to him and rubbed him down, then put it on him. It took maybe 5 minutes for him get back to his old self and for me to get everything tightened down. Then I got him in the round pen and had him trot for a while. His legs are fine; he even lets me rub them down and look for wounds. He has a one spot where a barb got him, but it isn't bad. Mostly he is just shaved. One knee is also a bit swollen from apparently hitting the ground, but all in all he is fine and we got some training done.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Frozen Ground Troubles

Nine's little round pen has been frozen for over a week now. The little poop piles are even rock solid, so I can't clean it out! Needless to say, the footing in there sucks now. I checked on Nine a few days a ago and noticed he seemed to have a pulled muscle in his chest. I moved him into the larger pen where Ashley, the donkeys, and the two cows are. It is barbed wire and the shelter isn't nearly as good, and certainly not big enough for so many, but the footing is a lot better. Nine has been turned out with everyone in there so I wasn't worried about fights. Nine has also seen barbed wire while turned out, because that's what our 10 acres is fenced in with. So I figured he would be okay in there. And sure enough, the pulled muscle has relaxed, and Nine and Ashley have been tearing up the ground playing.

Everything was going great until this morning, when the cow apparently (Fiance fed for me this morning so I didn't see it first hand) walked strait through the fence! There were only two wires up and those not very tight! Luckily the cow isn't very smart (obviously!) and the section of fence she took out leads to Hammar's pen, which is also fenced off. Fiance quickly ran a fresh wire up so no one tried anything sneaky, but we will need to do a proper job soon. Hammar's fence also only has two wire up (for some reason - Hammar doesn't push on the fence when I'm looking, and I don't know how the fence got that way) so if the animals, the donkeys especially, get in there, they can get out! And since Hammar's fence is right on the property line, the animals can get off the property entirely. Adding to that stress is the fact that some of the dirt roads on that side of our property do not have cattle guards so the animals can get on the main road! The donkeys have done that in the past.

Hammar has been loose for a few days now because 1) his fence is falling down and 2) his feed through - a 300+ pound cast iron bathtub - is surrounded by and filled with a couple inches of ice. I don't want him slipping or getting tangled in wire, so I turned him out. Luckily it's Hammar, who was turned out for a long time with our old horse Frosty. Both horses were trustworthy enough that I didn't shut the front gate. They would go out a little ways to graze, but stayed close for water and feed time. Our gate opens onto a square mile of State land, so that is technically illegal but no one really cares. (So don't report me, Karen! Hehe.) Nine was doing well tonight when I fed, and no one has escaped. Hammar was refusing to bow in front of my friend, but other that that everyone is fine, even the goats who are especially cute in their fluffy winter coats. Speaking of which, Hammar is hairy as all heck! He looks like a mini woolly mammoth! Maybe tomorrow I will measure his coat. It has be close to three inches long...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Let it Snow!

Well, the wind finally stopped and the storm settled in. We didn't get much snow here, but Flagstaff proper did. The University was closed two days in a row, which is completely unheard of! Nine finally showed some spirit yesterday when I was leading him to the gate. I didn't get any pictures of that, but here's Nine standing in the snow the other morning.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Windy, mucky, no-fun weather

With the wind the way it is today, and the energy the horses get from such weather, I decided to let everyone run a bit today. They're not doing much running, but I got some pictures anyways...
There's Hammar trying to brave the storm.
And from left to right, we have Nine just missing the truck, Ashley giving Hammar "the mare eye", and then Hammar plodding along ignoring her.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Still Not Back in the Saddle...

I haven't ridden Nine again, though the weather might be well enough to try soon! I have let the horses run a lot. Me and Mother-in-Law spent some time chasing the horses the other day (otherwise they just stand around and look for food) and let me tell you - Nine doesn't run, he just floats! I can't wait to get some confidence and get up on that high horse, so to speak.

About that confidence; I have swallowed my pride and contacted a professional trainer, JC Cabrera. I have never met JC before, but I have seen posters around town advertising horsemanship clinics and such. I doubt if we can afford to have someone do all the work for us, but I asked JC if I couldn't do some work as an apprentice so I can learn to train Nine myself. He said that is a possibility and offered to come look at Nine! So that is big news to me, because that would pretty much be an awesome job.

Fiance got a great job as a Coconino County Detention Officer! After his first week of working the pay check was $500 after taxes! For just one week! So we might be able to afford some nice things coming up soon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lunging and such

Well, I was feeling guilty about Nine's lack of training. So I went out the other day and lunged him around a bit. He isn't crazy about circles, but he will actually do it for me now. I can't seem to get him to canter on the circle, though; when I ask him to canter he takes off in a tangent to the circle, and either runs strait for the corral - if that's the direction he is headed - or stop and look at me as if to say "Hey, what happened? Why did you jerk on my face???"

Then, yesterday, my mom came up and I wanted to show her how Nine was doing, but he flat refused to behave on the lunge line. He made it very clear that he was not enjoying trotting in circles anymore. So, Mom took him for a walk. Maybe next weekend I may have another chance to work with him.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Long time, no post...

Sorry everyone (Karen, I guess that means you :P). I know I haven't posted any progress in ages. Unfortunately that's because we really haven't made any. I have been super busy with school. We did take Nine out a couple days ago, though. Fiance's mom rode Ashley and ponied Nine while I rode along on Hammar. Nine had three "spaz" moments where he decided to remind us that he is, indeed, just a three year old! He got away once, but only went about 6 feet before he stopped to graze. I walked right up to him and caught him again. So, he's ponying well, and he got to get out to see the sights, at least. Ashley was a wonder - whenever Nine pulled back (or forward, trying to run) Ash just stopped and pulled the other way! What a good girl.

Today Fiance and I went for a ride since the weather has been so nice (it's unnatural for it to be this warm at the end of November!). As usual I rode Hammar. Both horses were tired and lazy, but we went in some new territory which woke them up a bit. Hammar got to lope around and both horses got some hill work. We even saw elk! The dog, Katy, chased two cow elk over a couple hills before she let us call her back. Hammar was a bit nervous about that - he's never seen elk before! He really wanted to run. Then Katy found another cow elk and her calf up on the big hill. They just watched us ride past. So that was eventful, and we all really enjoyed ourselves.

Hopefully I'll have something to post about again soon! Winter break is coming up, but until then I have (gulp!) final exams, so I suppose I should get my head out of the corrals and back into the books for a while.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Gosh darnit!

I tried to get on Nine the other morning before I fed. I tossed the halter on him and got the feeder next to him and hopped on. I thought he would be okay with that, since I've gotten on him so many times already. Well, 6 times isn't enough. The feeder isn't as tall as the mounting block that I have been using, so I had to jump a bit. And in response, he jumped a bit, then bucked me off. So, I got the mounting block and got back on. I suppose by that time he realized he could just jump around a bit and I would fall off, so he did, and I did.

I landed on my butt both times, but other than a skinned shin (again! Sheesh...) I am fine. A little sore, but fine. I thought about getting back on him again, but my legs wouldn't hold still and I didn't want to fall again. So I got the mounting block next to him and leaned over his back. I even out one leg on him, but didn't slide up. Then yesterday (it was Friday when he bucked me off) I turned all the horses out so they could get some exercise. Nine spent most of the time by the corrals scrounging for loose hay, but we made sure he got to run some (even if we did need to chase him with a stick).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Teeth Tales

Nine and Hammar were off to the vet today for some dental work. We did Hammar first, because we only had $250 and didn't know what the cost would come to! Turns out Hammar didn't have any wolf teeth, which saved us $46 per tooth. But he did have some hooks so we floated his teeth. He didn't want to get into the stock and sorta jumped in when he realized I wasn't going to let him have his way. We had to scoot him up a few times because he kept leaning back when the vet tried to put the bar through the back to keep him in one place. Then came the sedation - let me tell you, Hammar HATES shots! So the vet assistant held a hand on Hammar's ear, which made him very nervous but he sure held still! The vet got the vein right away and Hammar got really drowsy really quickly. Hammar didn't like the speculum much, but he was too sleepy to fight. They put a giant halter with a chin pad deal on it to tie his head up, and I had to help lift his head because I think he was completely asleep at that point! He's such a little guy and they give all the horses the same dosage; well, it puts Hammar pretty far out. Or so I thought... Once he felt that drill powered grinder in his head he woke up! He didn't have enough energy to do much, but he just would not hold still! What a great guy, he as so much spirit. Anyway, before long he was floated and done, so we helped him wobble back to the horse trailer. I had Fiance run ahead to get Nine out so Hammar could get in while he had his momentum. Well, Hammar did need one rest, but then he stepped right into the trailer (maybe we should sedate him more often; at home he leaped into the trailer like it was an oxer!).

Nine was in the stock when I got back, and Fiance said he stepped in just fine. I was surprised to see that Nine took up about 4 inches less room than Hammar did; and yet Nine is a good 2 or 3 inches taller than Hammar! But that's good, I like those short-backed horses. But back to the story; the vet had a lot more trouble finding Nine's vein, but luckily Nine behaved just as I suspected; a lot calmer than Hammar! But soon the sedative was taking it's toll on Nine, and in went the speculum and up went the head. Nine, being larger and heavier than Hammar, wasn't as out as Hammar was and helped lift his head for the vet (how sweet!). The vet said he looks like he has the potential to develop a wave which would require floating, but she didn't want to bother with it yet as Nine still has teeth coming in and it might not be a problem. But he had two wolf teeth, so she worked and pulled and pried and pulled some more, and now Nine's wolf teeth are in my pocket. Nine didn't have any drills in his skull to wake him up, and the pulling took less time than the floating did, so Nine was very wobbly when we took him out of the stock. He was having trouble getting - and keeping - his legs under his body (he also had some trouble once the sedative set in; he kept trying to cock on hind leg, then would fall against the side of the stock and correct himself, only to start falling again right away). But we took our time and let him wobble over to the trailer. He got his head in the trailer then wouldn't budge. So I went inside to pay $250 of the bill (I still owe $22) and when I got back out - a good 10 minutes later! - Nine hadn't even moved an eyelash. So we started trying again. I picked up one front foot and set it in the trailer, then Nine heaved and got his other front foot in, then rested again for 15 minutes or so. I tried to put on hind foot in the trailer, but Nine just took it back out again. Me and Fiance switched places so he was pushing while I pulled and urged, and pretty soon Nine was half-lifted into the trailer. I followed behind in my car and kept an eye on Nine to make sure he wouldn't fall down and not be noticed. Hammar was wide awake by then and staring at the trucks on the overpass and the train just behind the clinic (it's a great place to desensitize a horse) so I wasn't worried about him. Nine leaned to correct for one turn and ended up all the way against the side of the trailer, which was way cute and made me laugh. But the rest of the trip was uneventful and by the time was got home both horses were alert and ready to get out of the trailer. I unloaded Nine, who stepped down nicely, and I turned around in time to see Hammar leap out of trailer in his usual style, nearly barreling over Fiance. I was glad to see he was back to his usual self, at least.

So all in all, I am very glad that two of my horses, at least, are up to date on their teeth care and I don't have any more wolf teeth to worry about. And now hopefully Hammar will start keeping his weight on.

In other news, our kitten caught her first mouse today, and even killed it (after playing with it for a good half-hour, of course).

Friday, October 24, 2008

A one-in-two chance of going down...

I rode Nine again today. Fiance was sanding another rifle (his favorite hobby) and the day was so beautiful I just couldn't stay inside anymore. I left Miss Toddler with her dad and went to play with the horses. I put the hackamore on Nine and cleaned out his feet, then next thing I know I've got him standing next to the mounting block and then I was on him! That was the first time he let me mount without someone holding him. I tried to get him walking, but he was just going in little circles. So, I took him out and lead him to the house. Fiance was there (staining the rifle now) and Toddler was sleeping, so I convinced Fiance to come out and help me work with Nine. Once in the round pen I got back on and Fiance round penned Nine, then I told Fiance to get him to trot. Nine did three or four strides then fell back to a walk, but what a trot that guy has! It's almost bouncy, except that you end up getting bumped in a sort of circle. So it's actually a lot of fun (and easy to sit the trot, too)! Then we switched direction (Nine turned off my cues without Fiance's cues, so he's really starting to get the idea) and tried in the other direction.

This time it wasn't so fun - Nine was being stubborn and not trotting, so Fiance did this sort of jump-wiggle-clap thing that would have been hilarious if it hadn't made Nine freak out! Nine jumped strait into a canter, which made me tense up, which made him buck. Luckily this time he used his half-hearted buck that's really more of a run anyways, but it almost got me off! I pulled on the reins, so he bucked a little higher, and I landed on his withers. Then he sort of reared and turned into the center of the pen, and I have to assume that he saw Fiance and tried to stop too suddenly, because he sat down and I fell the rest of the way off. Turns out he wasn't rearing at all, he just fell on his butt, just like me! Well anyways, Nine got up and turned to face me, standing still like a perfect gentleman.

So I lead Nine around the pen until we both stopped shaking, then Fiance held him while I got back on. Then we walked around a few times and eventually asked for the trot again, going in the same direction that we were going when he bucked. It took a circle and a half before he gave up trying to ignore us and trotted. He did about three strides again then fell back to a walk again, so I was satisfied. We walked a little bit more in the opposite direction, then I got off and called it a day. Fiance had to get to work and Toddler was in her room by herself (turns out she had woken up, but she was alright). So I ran out of time but I still feel me and Nine had a good time!

As it stands, Nine has four rides, and he's bucked twice... I'm not sure I like those odds!

P.S. I was wearing my helmet this time, but all I hurt was my elbow - it's scraped up a bit. But nothing serious. Nine is also fine, his fall was nothing terrible.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yee Haw!

Yep, I finally got my butt back on Nine! He was wonderful, no spooking or jumping or any such nonsense. I suppose bareback is the key... Sorry, I didn't get any pictures, because my picture-taker fiance was busy holding Nine and I didn't want him to leave to go get the camera. No one else was home, so no pictures.

Fiance worked with Nine a bit while I got my jeans and boots on, and when I got out there Fiance had Nine in the center of the round pen next to the mounting block, and Fiance had a knee over his back! I was very impressed, especially when I realized Nine didn't have his hackamore on, just a twine around his neck. Nine and Fiance get along so well, I love it. Anyways, Nine wasn't so patient with me; we had to put him next to the fence so he would stop stepping away from me when I tried to get on, as usual. But once he was there with Fiance to prevent him from going forward, he was a good horse again. I got on and sat for a minute, swinging my legs and laying down on his neck to get him used to me being up there again (it's been, what, three weeks since he bucked me off). Then I had Fiance lead him around a bit, then off we went (sort of). Nine didn't want to move much without someone leading him, and he was pretty stiff on his right side. But I got him going in circles (I was trying to go strait, but they were nice circles so I let him do it!) and stopping really nice. Then Fiance lead us around to the right because Nine just was not wanting to turn that way! But once Nine softened and relaxed into the bend he was good. So we switched directions a few times. Fiance stepping into the middle of the round pen and worked Nine for a little bit at the walk, and pretty soon I had Nine listening to my turn and stop (and start) cues without help from Fiance! So that was good news.

I would have liked to get Nine trotting, but I wasn't relaxed enough - even if he was - until it was time to get off and go pick up Miss Toddler from the baby sitter. So we will try again next time I get someone to watch my girl.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Numbers from the Auction

So I got really bored on campus waiting for my lab to start; I went through the auction results on the EMM website and got some numbers:

Nine went for $700
The total average price of all the horses was about $1,094.67
The average price for all the Stars horses was about $278.13 (Nine was the top selling Star! Yay!)
Average price for Idols horses: $823.21
Average price for Legends horses: $1,443.08

The top selling horse was Silverado for a whopping $10,500!

And for my own personal feel-good: Nine sold for more money than 55% of the Idols and 48% of the Legends!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nine got put to work! (for once...)

Well, it wasn't hard work...

Nine got to stand tied while I cleaned out the round pen, which really needed it! The wind blew all the manure from the other two pens into Nine's home so he had way more than his fair share. Anyways, he stood nicely and then let me clean out all four feet without even a second thought. That was his first time having his feet messed with while tied! He's usually either held by someone or just ground tied in the pen. After that I decided to take Nine with me to go get the cows who had escaped. We ended up walking far longer than necessary, but that was fine because Nine got a lesson in trotting next to me. By the time we found the cows Nine was trotting the perfect speed in the perfect position, and he slowed to a walk with just a touch on his neck from me. Once we got the cows moving, however, he wanted to graze... And since he wasn't being quick enough I just dropped the lead rope and got the cows back on the property myself. Nine was okay with that because he got to eat, and then he stood still while I gathered the rope back up. He went back into his pen just fine. He is shaping up to be quite the gentleman!

I had some other semi-adventures on the other two horses, though. I put a halter on Hammar to clean out his feet, then tried to get him to bow like I had seen other trainers do in Texas. He had it down within three minutes. So I hopped on and practiced some pivots and rollbacks. When Hammar caught sight of the donkeys I let him chase them a bit. But, he decided at the last minute to turn towards the gate, so i nearly fell off and he started slipping! The wind had blown away most of the soft dirt, leaving just a hard packed surface, which is not much good for a running horse. Then Ashley swung her hind end at us, making Hammar even more panicky! Luckily, Hammar is a good little Mustang, and knows how to get us how of such situations. He stopped trying to catch himself and just let his momentum carry us towards the gate (and also towards the feeder!). He saw this of course and just hopped over the feeder and stood there waiting for me to tell him what to do next, like a good boy! We did a little cutting practice with the donkeys (Hammar is actually getting kind good!) and I saw the cows making a break for the gate again!

So off I went from Hammar and onto Ashley, because with Hammar that riled I didn't want to try my luck in the open with only a halter for control! But I trust Ashley a little more for speed (or lack thereof). She was such a good girl and got the cows in for me. This time I remembered to shut the gate tight!

So, that was my day yesterday, and I am glad that all three horses got something to do.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

That Wind...

Well, my knee is not quite fully healed, but the other one is, and the left knee is all I need to get on a horse! Unfortunately, the wind has kicked up in these parts. Not only do I not want to risk Nine spooking from something blowing and end up in the dirt again, bit it's is literally too darned windy out there! I can't even feed with my eyes open for the hay and dust getting in my eyes. My 18 month old daughter can't go outside because she literally gets blown over! So, even though my knees are ready to ride, the weather isn't...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Almost Healed

I can walk without any limp now. My knee gives me a little trouble on stairs still... But I am almost ready to start back up with Nine's riding training. I ordered a mounting block which should be here in a few weeks; until then I want to get some more rides on Nine bareback. But not until my knees are both better.

Until then, I can still get on Hammar, who is a couple inches shorter, and today is absolutely beautiful after the past few days of cloud and cold. So after lunch I will go riding! Yay!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Injury Update

I haven't been back on Nine yet, obviously. My left knee (the less damaged one) is bruised more than I though and has a lump grown on it as well. My right knee is a little less swollen and with hold all my weight now, but only when it's strait - when it's bent it hurts to put weight on it. So I have been using the elevators a lot to get to classes. My right hip is also bruised. The front of my lower left leg is also really tender.

But, all in all, nothing is broken and I think I will make a full recovery! Hopefully no permanent damage...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

He Finally Bucked!

Yes, you heard right - Nine bucked me off. And not the wimpy bucks he was showing me with the sand bags - real, actual, head-between-the-front-legs bronc bucks. I shouldn't feel so proud of him, but a sign of spirit is healthy; he was so calm and laid back, especially after Fort Worth, I was starting to wonder if he would be useful as any sort of competition horse...

Anyways, I saddled Nine and worked him a little bit with some sacking out, then tried to get on. He didn't want to stand still, but I eventually got the nerve to just get on! He was fine, no big deal. He was too close to the fence for me to get my right leg in the stirrup, though, so I clucked and squeezed with my thighs. He walked off just right, and even turned and stopped right when I asked him to. I was feeling really good about by now, so I went ahead and reached down and got my right foot in the stirrup. I think it was my leg coming against his side that did it, but next thing I knew I was above the saddle, reprimanding myself for not wearing my helmet. When i started down head first, I was really worried! But then Nine spun, and as I was still holding the reins my knee hit the ground before my head. Better it that my brain-case!

So, damage report: My right knee is stiff and red and swollen. Ouch! And I have to lead a class of third graders out to the playground and teach a lesson outside on Thursday! My left lower leg has a scrape and is also a little swollen. I have a rope burn/cut on my right hand ring finger, but that doesn't even hurt anymore. And the left side of my jaw hurts a bit. I think I did hit my head a bit, but on the side instead of the top (better on the neck this way) and it shoved my jaw to the side. BUT - all in all I am okay.

No, I didn't get back on. I know, I know, I should have! But it was already time to feed them when I got on in the first place, and my legs were just barely holding me up from the shaking as it was. So, I stood on the mounting block and leaned on the saddle, and even got my foot back in the stirrup, but I was really too shaky to actually try to get back on... So, we'll try again, maybe tomorrow. And I'll try to get pictures of something pleasant!

And, for what it's worth, Nine only bucked twice or so after I was off, and came right back to me. Even when he's being bad he is a good horse!

Monday, September 29, 2008

I rode him, I rode him!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I finally rode Nine. And I have proof!

Pardon the Mother-in-Law arm, she was trying to get him to perk his ears...
Anyways, I got on Nine bareback today. I had to use the cow's water trough as a mounting block, because it was empty anyways and I needed something taller than Nine's feeder, which I had been trying to use. I know, I'm a wimp! I can't just hop up on there... But I will soon, now that we're rolling. Anyways, I'll spare the boring details and just give you pictures. I got on twice, and he was much more relaxed then.

And one last head shot:

Oh yes, I think I should note that Nine did not buck or bolt or even spook the whole time! He didn't want to move forward, either... But I got several steps from him in a nearly strait line before we were done completely. Nine did excellently; I am so proud of him!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Starting Back Up

So I gave Nine a couple days to just sit in the round pen and let his legs recover from 15 solid hours in the horse trailer. This morning after he ate I haltered him and tried a trick I saw in Fort Worth; Mark Lyon, who ended up winning the whole deal, was working with a horse in the practice arena. He put a rope around the horse's belly to encourage the horse to move forward. I thought this was so obviously brilliant, and I felt so stupid for not thinking of it! Then yesterday I saw the same idea in an article somewhere. Anyways, I tried that with Nine, but not much surprise - he barely even noticed it was there! I think I might have sacked him out too well in that area... But no worries, he will be a kids horse anyways, most likely, and kids horses have to be cool with that sort of thing.

So after giving up on that I got the mounting block next to Nine and worked on leaning on his back. He was doing super good, and my daughter was busying herself chasing goats, so I decided to put a leg over Nine's back. First I rubbed his side with my knee, then got my thigh up on his back, and before I knew it, my whole leg was on the other side! I still a toe on the mounting block, but Nine had most of my weight and was doing fine with me hopping a bit and moving my leg all over the place. I did a little work from his other side (leaned over his back but didn't put a leg over) then gave him a break for the day. Tomorrow Mom ought to be here so I think I will go ahead and get on him, perhaps bareback to start.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Recap and Results

Well readers, it's been about a week, hasn't it? And what a week it has been...

We left around 9 AM Tuesday morning (a later start than anticipated) and decided to truck on through to Amarillo. We stopped at a rest stop in New Mexico for a good half hour or so because they had two solid corrals set up with water. Nine really appreciated that! In Amarillo he stayed at Happy Trails Horse Motel, which is a great place, I recommend it. The stalls were layered liberally in sawdust and the run outs were well groomed with a thick layer of sand. And, it only cost $25! Then, for us humans, we splurged at a Comfort Inn. I don't even want to tell you how much that was! Suffice it to say, we really couldn't afford it; we had to borrow money...

Wednesday we got to Fort Worth. The trainer meeting was to start at 5 PM and we arrived about 4:30 PM. So, it was really rushed and Mother in Law had to move all my tack and things to the stall area while I sat in the freezing cold meeting. I sat in the very front, so I was basically two feet from everyone while they were speaking. The judges and sponsors and everyone of importance was also in the front row; I was 4 seats from Guy Woods, who won last year's Extreme Mustang Makeover with his horse Max (who was also there, and he is GORGEOUS!). Also only feet from me were Cris Cox, Ken McNabb, John Lyons, and a medley of other famous horse people! I was a bit star struck, and I would have been more so if I wasn't freezing to death (why does such a large room need so much air conditioning?) After the talks we got in line to receive our shirts and freebies. In line I was right behind Matt Replogle, who rode his horse Johnny Landers all the way from Las Vegas to Fort Worth to raise breast cancer awareness. Matt is such a sweet guy; during the Legends finals on Saturday he caught a stuffed animal and gave it to my daughter. After all of that I met back up with Mother in Law and the woman who's truck and trailer we took to haul Nine. We got a cheaper room at a Days Inn, then they left in the the morning. We weren't hardly expecting to be able to afford a horse, so didn't bother keeping a trailer behind. Fiance and Daughter were on their way in the car by then, so I stayed at the Will Rogers Memorial Center all day. Fiance and Daughter arrived that evening.

Thursday morning were the first classes! Stars went first, and that is the division Nine and I competed in, so we had to get to the stalls early. Nine didn't get a chance to eat all of his breakfast, but he came along willingly enough. First was the conditioning class, where two judges determine the health of the horse. Nine got 59 out of 60; he missed one point on hair coat. That is completely understandable because he had some spots that were rubbed out from the leg rope the week before, and his mane is rubbed out in spots. But, even so, we tied for 2nd place! Then was the in hand course... We did horribly, I have to admit! Nine hasn't been trotting along with me and rather than just do the whole course at a walk, I went out of my way (and lost more points) to lunge him until he trotted then ran along behind him. Well, he did the course all right, but we ran out of time. He didn't stand very well to let me pick up his feet, either, but I learned a lot and that's what counts. We got 8th place in the in hand course. This surprised me at first because there were 15 horses competing in the Stars division and I by no means did better that 7 of them! When the scores were posted I saw that only 8 horses and trainers even bothered to go to the show ring! So, 8 out of 8.... I wasn't feeling too hot that night.

Luckily I managed to come into the next day feeling brighter. So, we arrive at Friday morning, when we were supposed to ride the horses in the horse course. Well, at this point I had completely given up trying to ride Nine in time for the competition, so I was pretty darned nervous! Again, Stars went first. I decided to just go in there and do what we did at home. After our "walk through" (more of a pep talk from the judges) we returned to our horses (I hadn't realized we would do a walk through so last minute I had to ask the wife of another trainer to hold Nine as well as her husband's horse, Hercules). As we walked towards the waiting area Reno, one of the Stars horses, spooked from something and started bucking. He knocked down the woman holding him but no one got hurt and Reno calmed down pretty quickly. As soon as Reno was caught I went around him to get Nine. I was worried that I would find the woman holding Nine and Hercules laying on the ground with a dislocated shoulder or something! I expected Nine and Hercules to run in opposite directions. or something. But no, when I got there she was just picking up Nine's lead rope; apparently when Reno spooked she just let go of Nine to focus on Hercules, who was spooked pretty bad. She said Nine was excellent; he backed into the corner and just stood and watched, and didn't run away or cause any more trouble! The woman said he is a heck of a horse. I was very touched by this, and even more proud of Nine. So, when our time came I lead Nine into the center of the round pen they had set up with my head held high and just banged around on his saddle for a bit; I threw the stirrups over the saddle and let them bang his side, wiggled the saddle and jumped up and down next to him. Then I repeated it on the other side. A 360 degree turn in both directions was also required, and I tried my best to give Nine the same cues from the ground that he would receive from a rider in the saddle. He did beautifully with that. He didn't back as well; I tried to back him with the reins while standing next to him, but he wouldn't do it so I had to get in front of Nine and back him with a hand on his chest. After that I unclipped the lead rope and pointed to my left. Nine immediately started off like a charm! He walked, trotted, then cantered that direction, and as soon as I asked for a direction change he did it. He was so responsive and light my hopes started to rise again. He didn't walk in the other direction but just jumped strait into a trot. I was running out of time so I let him do that. The he cantered well for me, and when the announcer called time and I asked Nine to stop, he stopped on a dime and stood and faced me perfectly. I ended up in 6th place over all! I was so very proud of Nine! When we were in line waiting for our awards ceremony Nine was one of the only horses who stood quietly the whole time. The announcer had to go through a ridiculously long list of sponsors before he announced the awards, so most of the horses got fidgety and restless.

Saturday were the finals for the Idols division, then the horse course for the Legends division. I watched some of these, and got to see my friend Joslyn get 5th place on Darwin, another horse from the same herd management area as Nine. That same night the Legends performed their top ten finals. What a show that was! Every single horse was phenomenal! Two riders competed bridleless, and a couple also took the saddles off during the final and rode around bareback. One girl had a broken hand and competed in a cast. One man had his horse jump through a ring of fire (without a bridle!) and another had his horse walk over a seesaw through another ring of fire. It was amazing! If you get a chance to see it, DO! It will blow your mind! It will probably be on YouTube in a few hours, so do a search, it will be worth it, I promise you!

Sunday was the adoption. They decided to put the Idols horses up for auction first, then Stars second ans Legends last. When I was on my way to get Nine to take him to the auction ring I met up with a woman who's daughter had trained three yearlings. They were in the market to get the yearlings adopted and adopt a riding horse in turn. They ended up adopting Taz, the winner from the Idols division! She showed me the prices she had been keeping track of; most horses seemed be going for only $400 or so! The winners were bringing more money of course, but I figured then that I would be lucky to get Nine to fetch $200! I figured that if my daughter was on Nine when I walked into the auction ring he might even get up to $300, and since Nine had carried Miss Toddler before I had Fiance just walk next to Nine holding Toddler's leg. He had her waving to the crowd and being very cute, but as soon as I stepped into the ring I started crying! I didn't want Nine to go, and I was so ashamed that I hadn't ridden him yet. I was terrified that no one would bid on him and he would sit in another holding facility until someone came along to rescue him. Patti, the head honcho of the Mustang Heritage Foundation, asked if I would be bidding on Nine, but I told her through my tears that I couldn't afford him. She told some "sop story" - as Fiance put it - to the crowd, and before I knew it some guy ran down from the stands to the edge of the ring and asked if I anted the horse. I replied that I couldn't afford him. The guy insisted; do I want the horse? I said of course I do, but I'm broke! Next thing, I hear the auctioneer reach $700! Then, the guy in the stands was saying that they had bought the horse for me, and that I can take him home and make him a great riding horse for my daughter. That was the last straw; I lost it to tears...

A few signatures later, and now I am the proud official adopter of a BLM Mustang for the first time in my life.

Getting a ride home was difficult (remember, the truck and trailer left early Thursday morning and all we had was a car!). But, we found someone who was going to California through Flagstaff, and they hauled Nine for us for $400 that I had to ask my grandmother for. My other grandma paid for a 5th night at the hotel because the trailer wasn't leaving until Monday afternoon. Int eh mean time we visited the Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, and drove up to the Stockyards Station to see the longhorns. We missed the "cattle drive" around the block, but we still saw the longhorns and talked to some of the cowboys around the place. We also let Nine stretch his legs in one of the smaller practice arenas before we loaded him up. Loading was a challenge as it was a slant load trailer and the only available spot was the very back of the trailer. This meant that I had to into the trailer with Nine, tie him to one of the rings, then slide past him (really tight space right next to his kickers) to get out. The driver tied Nine while I tried to get out. When I tried to slide past him my hat bumped his neck and he spooked. He tried to back out but he was tied and ended up with one leg under the trailer! The tie rings, naturally, are coated in rubber, so the "slip" knot did not slip. Nine jumped back in the trailer and I got out safely, but I was nervous for him the whole way home. We drove strait through for about 15 hours to arrive at Winona, AZ, at 3:30 AM for the switch into our trailer. We were home by 4 AM, and boy was Nine happy to be there! He nearly ran me over trying to get back into his round pen!

I think we will take a couple days off to recover, then this weekend we start where we left off. So from this point forward this blog is no longer about the Extreme Mustang Makeover, but rather out journey as Mustang and adopter, and after a year as Mustang and owner.

I found the people who bought Nine for me: Randy and Marsha Olson of Mustangs Forever Inc. I thanked them in person, but I also want to thank them here. Please visit and check out their non-profit organization. They really are the most selfless and generous people I can ever dream of!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

LAST day!

Okay, change of plans; we decided to leave earlier this (Tuesday) morning. We are planning to make Tucumcari, NM but tonight, and truck into Fort Worth Sometime Wednesday. I am thinking now, though, that we should try to make Amarillo; the "horse hotel" in Tucumcari is just an RV park with a corral and we have to stay to keep an eye on Nine. If we can make Amarillo, we can board Nine overnight in a real barn, and get a motel for ourselves while we're at it. But that is a decision that will have to be made on the road.

I am going to miss Nine so much; I will be sure to post back here in a week and a half or so with pictures and posts and all that stuff. I can't wait to meet the lucky person who will take Nine home! That round pen out there will look mighty empty without him...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Last Day?

After many stressful days of not knowing if I have a way to get me and Nine to Fort Worth for the Mustang Makeover competition, I think I have a ride. There, but not back, so I cannot possibly adopt Nine. But, I can live with that, and I am just grateful that I at least get the opportunity to meet the other trainers.

Today I was originally planning to ride Nine. I saddle my ol' boy Hammar up with my Aussie saddle so I can get back into the feel of riding - get my muscles loosened up and all that. My mom wanted to take a ride too, so Ashley got saddled up as well. We had a nice ride, only about 1 1/2 miles or so. That got me calmed down, and we decided to just play with Nine and do some ground work; say goodbye and have a good day with him.

We ponied Nine around a bit from Ashley and worked on getting him to trot, then I lead him from the ground while my mom followed with Ashley. He got pretty good, but he still needs extra persuasion to get out of that plodding walk! After a while we got pretty hot and sweaty, so Nine got a bath. I even soaped up his mane and got deep down. He did really well! He LOVES it when I spray between his legs for some reason! I even got his hind end, and sprayed his butt crack, ha ha. He didn't mind that. After the bath he was feeling frisky, and when I asked for a trot again he took off and rolled. But, once he was leading decently again we put him away and brushed him down. My mom had some alone time with him to say goodbye, then we left.

Tomorrow morning, we're out of here.I will get pictures at the competition, but this is the last we see of Nine here at home.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Lied :(

I didn't ride Nine today. I tried; oh, how I tried! But I just wimped out. My mom and my dad were both there, which made it crowded by Nine's standards, and they weren't helping me, either, whatever they were trying to do! I was just getting more and more scared. Fiance worked with Nine, but for the first time I wish he hadn't... Nine ended up more scared than ever, and Fiance swearing at him saying he wouldn't pay for me to take Nine to Texas to compete if I wasn't going to ride him.

Well, we all cooled down eventually. I unsaddled Nine and Fiance said he was sorry and I can still take Nine to Fort Worth (assuming I can find a ride - but that's a whole different story). I am still having butterflies, and I am absolutely emotionally exhausted. But Nine doesn't seem to even remember anything out of the ordinary, so I will try again tomorrow. Until then I am just hoping bedtime comes quickly, and that I can get some sleep tonight.

Oh, I almost forgot! Before the nerve-wracking of the century, my mom took me shopping for a new outfit. I got two pairs of Wranglers, a new pair of boots, and a new shirt. So now I have the whole get-up for Fort Worth and being on TV and all that.

Rossco Morgan

Rossco, our farrier and family friend, came out yesterday to donate Nine's trim. I told Rossco that Nine hadn't had much done with his back feet, and that he didn't need to worry about those; they were a little chipped, but not too badly. The farrier work could wait for those, I said. But, no, Rossco wanted to help! Nine stood patiently while he got those front feet, and it went without a hitch. But, when Rossco went for the back feet, Nine did his usual leg swing - not quite a kick, but a warning. So, Rossco sent Nine around the pen a few times, then tried again. Nine was a bit better, but still worried about this strange guy messing with his sensitive back feet.

Long story short, Rossco had to hobble Nine and tie his hind foot to a rope around his neck. Nine didn't like that one bit, but eventually got the idea. Then he stood quietly while Rossco trimmed and filed Nine's left hind. But, when Rossco tried the other side, Nine's "bad side", the side he kicked me with, Nine struck out again. Rossco hadn't tied the leg rope tight enough, and Nine got him, right on his brace! Rossco broke his foot a couple weeks ago, and that's where Nine's foot connected; luckily the kick got Rossco's ankle and not the actual broken foot, but I still feel bad about it. Rossco assures me he's fine...

After some readjustments Nine stood for that foot to be trimmed, too. Then, Nine stood without the leg rope for some final finishings on each leg, then Rossco rubbed him down and told he's a good boy - no matter what he had called him earlier (among those things, my new favorite, "a Sir Richard head"). I certainly do appreciate Rossco for all of this. Nine came out of it a rubbed fro the ropes, but none the worse for wear, Rossco's foot is as well as can be expected, and now I can pick up all four of Nine's feet without getting kicked at. Rossco, it seems, did the dirty work for me concerning those back feet. Nine is an angel now! And I am glad to say that, although Rossco did things a little rougher than Nine is accustomed too, he was no rougher than necessary, and did not hurt Nine.

On the agenda for today: Mom is coming up to watch while I ride Nine for the first time! And I WILL do it today, and I'm not letting anything stop me! Not wind, nor bucking, nor a bruised foot (see last blog post)!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Aussie Saddle

Fiance decided to skip his last class tonight (don't tell!) to come home and help me work with Nine for an hour or so. It was windy and the clouds were coming in, threatening to pour on us, but I think Nine did pretty well!

We got my Aussie saddle on him, which is awesome because I feel much much more secure in my own saddle that in that huge Western seat! It took a few tries, but Nine eventually stood still. Then we tried to get me over his back, but he was not wanting to stand still! I let him go once he let me put some weight in the stirrup, then I rubbed and patted the saddle. Once he stood still for that - it took several tries - I let him move around. Then we put an old pair of jeans with the legs filled with sand over the saddle. Nine bucked and ran for a bit, but the jeans stayed in the saddle, so we let him wear that for a couple hours while we went to pick up our daughter and rent a movie (which is starting now, so I must be brief).

When we got back, I went strait out to the corral to take the sand and saddle off Nine. The stirrup bumped his side, and he spooked. He stepped on my foot, and because I was wearing my "town" shoes, the hoof made direct contact with my foot. It HURT. I yelled to Fiance that I needed help, and boy did he run to me! I am so lucky to have him. By then blood was running into my shoe, but we got the sand bags off Nine, then he stood still while I unbuckled the girth and removed the saddle. After that Fiance worked with Nine quite a bit on respect! He had Nine backing extremely well, and leading better (Nine is still sometimes reluctant to start, but once he's moving he usually goes along pretty well), and also picking up his hind feet! Nine was picking up AND holding up his hind feet for Fiance! I was so proud - I didn't know who to be happier at, Nine or my fiance.

Anyways, my foot is swollen and still bleeding a little, but Nine ended on a good note, progress was made, and the ibuprofen is kicking in! Tomorrow we start with the serious work - trying to mount properly and ride! Wish me luck; now I must get to the movie!

Monday, September 8, 2008


So I raced the storm clouds home today, but unfortunately they were too quick for me! So today was windy and thundery and almost rainy. Once it seemed to settle down a bit I went out and saddled Ashley so I could pony Nine around. My idea was that if I can get Nine to trot next to Ashley, I might be able to get him to trot next to me!

Well, it didn't work. The horses were too frisky. Nine frolicked about for a few seconds, which jerked the lead rope out of my hands. Once Nine realized this, he started running. Unfortunately he happened to be heading strait for the open gate! I heeled Ashley on, and she was brilliant. She jumped to the occasion and sprinted tot he gate, headed Nine off so he turned back towards the corrals, then stopped and waiting calmly while I shut the gate. The she even stood still for me to mount back up (a rarity for her in that sort of weather) and return to nine. Then he stood well while I dismounted and got the rope and remounted. Once the two settled down, Nine tried to eat as we went, so I ended up dallying the lead rope around the saddle horn. I didn't want to risk trying to trot, because Ashley gets frisky and kicks on occasion. So, I contented myself with with ponying Nine around the property so he could see the fence line, then I turned them loose.

Later, UPS finally decided to deliver my new Aussie saddle pad! I used Hammar as my guinea pig to try it out for the first time, but he was being bitter about being left behind while Ashley and Nine got to be free. So I let him go with just a few turns and a couple steps backwards. It was feed time by then anyways.

So maybe not the most productive training day, but it turned out okay. No one got hurt, Ashley got some decent practice for her possible future career as a college Rodeo Team horse, and somewhere in there my goat got her elf-shoe feet trimmed as well.

Friday, September 5, 2008

We Have the Health Certificate!

Nine went to the vet to get his updated health certificate today. The vet, having looked at Nine a couple weeks ago in great detail, just looked into the trailer and decided that was good enough. Once we determined the Coggins test is still up to date, the vet signed the new certificate and off we went! $46 later...

Well, we can now trailer Nine to Texas, and that's what counts. The best thing to be said is that Nine loaded, trailered and unloaded really well. He even had three bales of hay behind him on the other side of the divider on the way home, and didn't fuss or fidget much! Then he stood patiently while we unloaded the hay. After a few nibbles of loose hay he followed me around a bit, backed through the "L" shape of tires, and went back into his round pen nicely.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Trailering continued

This might be a long post, because I have loads of pictures.

Well, I only had one class today and got home around 10:30 AM. Fiance had dropped the baby off at the baby sitter's house for the day so we could work with Nine. We saddled Nine and introduced him to a new thing on his head, the "bitless bridle". It's basically a stiff leather ring attached to a headstall that sits around his nose. The English version of a bosal, I call it! We did some bending with that, and he was doing well, so we tightened his cinch again and I prepared to get on. However, I random got very angry and decided that the demons of my menstruation were going to get in the way. (I am sorry if that is too much information, but it's true.) I didn't want to loose my temper for no reason while atop a wild horse and get hurt! So, we took a walk. (I forgot to take off my helmet and was too lazy to take the saddle off Nine, so that's why it may seem like I am ready to hop on.)

I found a scary old flower pot and kicked it around in front of Nine until he stopped spooking. I thought that was a good experience, and he handled it well. Now when we get to Fort Worth and all the distractions, Nine might just be a bit more prepared.

After that Fiance made me a nice obstacle of tires shaped in an "L" like we will probably see in Fort Worth. I set some teeny poles along the tops of some of the tires so the shape was better defined. I know it isn't the prettiest little set up, but it served us well!

After about two tries Nine had it figured out and was backing through it almost by himself.

Then I worked with his feet a bit. He is much better about his hind feet!

And also about having his feet held between the knees, in what I call "farrier position".

It started getting ridiculously hot about this time, and Fiance was bored. I managed to talk him into taking pictures of Nine loading, though. So, I present to, in multiple picture sequence, Nine loading like a dream:

Yay! And here we are.

And now unloading:

How great is that? Thanks for reading, readers! And remember kids, safety first!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Trailer Time

Today I finished my Physics lab an hour early! Yay! So I went home and decided to try loading Nine in the trailer. Might I remind you; Nine has only loaded three times - once when we picked him up back in June, once to go to the vet, and once to return home from the vet.

I put a flake of alfalfa in the trailer first. Nine was willing to go to the edge on the trailer, and even picked his feet up like he was thinking about stepping right in, but didn't. I had to dally the end of his lead rope around a post at the front of the trailer so he couldn't come part way in then change his mind. He obviously didn't like this! He pulled back twice, but soon decided it would be easier to just give to the pressure. He got both front feet in, so I undallied his lead rope and let him think about everything and unload. Then, when we tried again, he only pulled back once, and then came all the way in the trailer! He went right to eating like he was out in an open pasture. He stood calm and still while I went behind him to close the gate, then come back in the side door to remover his halter.

I left Nine in the trailer for about and hour and a half while I dealt with unruly goats, then went to pick up my daughter from the babysitter. I had my dad watch Daughter while I unloaded the horse. Nine was strangely reluctant! At first I thought it was cute that he liked the trailer so much he didn't want to leave. But, then reality struck and I realized that the sun was in Nine's eyes, and he probably couldn't see the drop, so he couldn't tell how far it was. That would make me scared, why not him? I ended up yelling and whooping while hitting the front of the trailer with the lunge whip to get him out, but then he came to me and let me lead him into the round pen again without problems.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A few minutes here and there

With the busy Labor Day weekend, and then school, I haven't had a ton of time with Nine. Saturday we went on a trail ride; I wanted to bring Nine, but we decided against it. Turns out that was for the best, as we had our hands full with our two tame horses! It would have been a mess with a third horse with us. Anyways, we rode at least 20 miles, and I have the sunburns to prove it!

Sunday we planned to go to the local county fair, but it was really rainy, so we just picked up some groceries while we were in town and called it a day. Monday my mom came up, but it was windy and threatening to start raining again. We did a tiny bit of work. I have been working with Nine for a minute or so before I feed him, so I am now able to stand on a mounting block next to him on either side, and rub him all over. I can also lean against him and put quite a bit of weight on his back. So, I showed my mom all of this, even though it took a little extra bit of time because I was suddenly wearing a scary noisy vest!

Today after classes me and Fiance saddled Nine up and I put my weight in the saddle, again belly down. My daughter woke up (she fell asleep on the way home, so we just parked the car next to the round pen and let her nap), so I had to cut that session short. But it was feed time anyways, so it all worked out. Nine has also been doing okay with his feet. I can pretty much pick up his rear left foot, though he is still a bit "kicky" with his right hind. We are working on it, though.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Last Couple of Days...

Sorry about the lack of updates... I have been working with Nine, just not bothering with the computer.

Well we've taken nine for 2 walks since my last update (ear is still feeling fine, by the way). The first one was after a nice session with the saddle. He did really really well, didn't buck or dump the saddle or anything, so me and Fiance's Mom took Nine and Ashley for a walk. We went out the gate and off the overgrazed property to get to some nice grass, and let the horses graze for a few minutes. Nine is a huge pig (just like Ashley) and half the time leading is spent trying to get his head back up from the grass!

Yesterday I saddled Nine while he was tied to the fence - his first time being saddled while tied! He pulled back twice, but never too badly. Fiance worked with Nine quite a bit, getting him used to the stirrups banging around and the saddle being jiggled around and such. They got that saddle really moving before Nine moved! He is doing so great. I want to ride him today, but he got fed late so I have to wait! After the saddle-jiggling we took a walk (again with Ashley) down to the mailboxes. Both horses did fine, and Nine got to see my daughter riding Ashley, and Granny holding my daughter. He barely even pricked his ears at that. He stood by and watched while the mailbox squeaked open right under his nose, and he grazed on the grass under the mailboxes without even noticing the dangerous trail-obstacles of doom! I had Fiance lead Nine past them a few times so Nine can see the mailboxes from both sides, and Nine was fantastic. On the way back up the driveway I hopped on Ashley and walked right next to Nine. He was completely unconcerned. I tried to reach over and lean on the saddle, but Ashley was too far away from him, I didn't have any stirrups (I was bareback) and the lead rope was on the wrong side of Ashley's neck to side pass her up to Nine. Oh well, he was still really good compared to how he was last time I tried to ride next to him! When we got back I worked with his feet a little more then unsaddled him. And that was that! I won't promise another update from today because if I do, I know I won't have anything to say. But if I say I can't promise anything, hopefully I will find myself in the round pen with something interesting to say.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Off Day

Last night I was troubled by what I thought was a bug in my ear. Turns out I had ear wax built up pressing against my ear drum, but needless to say, the night was mostly restless. I was up a good 3 hours earlier than I wanted to be, and spent all morning in the ER and then at the local Ear Nose and Throat doctor's office. I missed both classes of my first day of school. When I got home, well, I was very tired.

When I did drag myself out to the round pen, the thunder was starting up. In the few minutes I was out there before it started raining I had Nine backing in a "L" shape and even leading forward without a halter. I also got Nine to stand still while I stood next to him on top of a milk crate and patted his back and things. He did phenomenally, considering the booming thunder and lack of halter or even neck rope, but I am frankly too sleepy to be very excited about it. Tomorrow is classes all day, but Wednesday I might be able to get some work done with Nine. Hopefully I will have caught up on sleep by then, and my muscles will be a bit more recovered from this weekend. A possible update then.

P.S. In case you are wondering, I eventually had the ear wax removed, even though it took 4 hours, 2 doctors, a nurse and several tries. Apparently some people genetically have ear wax that doesn't get worked out of their ears, so it piles up. I have extra-sticky ear wax and need to go to a specialist to have it removed periodically. Who knew?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I'm on Top of the World! (kind of)

Well, Mom and Mom in Law helped me with Nine today. Me and Mom got Nine saddled in the riding saddle with no problems at all, even with the breast collar on and stirrups down! The details are all fuzzy now, but we did some work with Nine getting him used to the stirrups, then decided to try and get on him.

First I tried to just get a foot in the stirrup and hop up, but between nerves and muscles getting sore, I wimped out. This was as far as we got with that technique:
What a handsome boy! So we tried again with the mounting block. Mom stood on the mounting block (feeder turned upside down) while I led Nine past, then Mom held Nine while I scooted the mounting block up to him. He was doing well with that, so I stood on the block until he was okay with that, then, well, I worked up the nerve to get on:

And then I was on! Note the helmet: it earned it's keep today, because not long after that picture was taken, we tried to lead Nine off with me on his back. He didn't buck, but the running was just as effective. I landed on my hands and knees, with my head heading right into a bottom pole. Luckily, the helmet was there, so the extent of damage was limited to a skinned knee and a new hole in my jeans. We gave Nine a break while my knees stopped shaking, then tried again (a few times, actually, but here's the result):

So, we had a productive day! Nine was introduced to a new saddle, stirrups, a mounting block, and someone putting their weight on his back! He did just fine, so me and Mom in Law took Nine and Ashley (Nine's mare) for a walk (Nine's first time off the property and out the gate) for a bit of grazing. Tomorrow we're up early to start all over...

Thanks to Mom for the help (even if it was just holding the horse - it helps a lot!) and to Mom in Law for the baby sitting and picture taking.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vet Visit

I'm sorry about that wait! Our internet connection was - to put it politely - not cooperating.

So, Tuesday! While Fiance went to pick up the trailer, I walked Nine around, leading him between trees and over plywood and things like that, trying to prepare him as best as I could for loading into a trailer. Fiance's Mom was over, watering the garden, so I decided to try Nine with a bath. This was his first encounter with a water hose aimed at his body, but he reacted very well. This picture ought to tell you all you need to know (note the tongue):

After that I had Mother in Law follow behind while I tried to get Nine to trot on the lead. Well, he trotted, but then he cantered, and left me behind! He was a gentleman, though, and didn't run off. He let us try again, but again he went too fast. So, I settled to try and lunge him. He was doing very well, so i asked for a trot. He did a full circle without problems, but then he decided, just as I was asking "is this the same horse?", that he is, indeed, the same horse, and he jerked the line out of my hands and cantered off, his head held high and his legs pumping a steady, easy rhythm. I cannot wait to ride that horse! His movement is just fantastic. He looks so smooth.

Back to earth, now, however. Nine ran strait back to the other horses, and by the time Mother in Law and I caught up to him we saw he had somehow found the time to roll, ruining his nice clean coat, then get back up and start grazing as though nothing had happened. I caught him again without him even raising his head, and as I was leading him off, Fiance arrived with the trailer.

I will spare the boring details, but it took half and hour to load Nine. We were running late and had to resort to putting the long lead on Nine's halter and wrapping the far end around a post in the trailer. We didn't have to pull him in, but rather every step he took we tightened the line so he couldn't change his mind and back up. He set back on his hocks a few times, but eventually set both front feet in the trailer. Fiance was brilliant - he immediately gave Nine some slack to let him think. And Nine was also brilliant. He didn't take advantage of the slack in the rope, but rather stepped right into the trailer like I thought he might. We lead him to the front of the trailer and closed the middle divider. The trip into town was relatively uneventful, except for the usual small cars cutting in front of us. I also realized, too late, that we had forgotten the camera, so we regrettably do not have any pictures from the vet.

When we arrived, I noted the overpass almost directly over our heads, and the school buses and semi trucks rumbling overhead. I checked in only 10 minutes late, and the good Doctor was out soon after. Dr. Maciulla was very patient while I lead Nine out of the trailer and let him look around (Nine didn't even seem to notice the trucks), then helped us get Nine into the stocks. Nine was a good boy; he didn't fight, and after a minute or two of looking and smelling, he hesitantly followed Fiance into the scary cage. Nine stood well for the exam, and let Dr. Maciulla look into his mouth and check his ears. Doc determined that Nine is indeed 3 years old, getting his adult teeth well, and has two wolf teeth on the top which will need to be pulled eventually. The spots in his ears that I have noticed seem to be old scars from a previous ringworm infection, but the doc doesn't think they will be any problem. Dr. Maciulla said I have a very good horse, and once his feet are trimmed and his hindquarters are sacked out a bit better, he will be very very good indeed! Doc then suggested I worm with Panacur paste for good measure and even gave me a tube at check out.

After the check up Nine walked strait into the trailer like an old pro. The ride home went well, and we even stopped for lunch. While Fiance took care of the bill I went into the trailer with Nine and worked with his feet a bit. He did great, and even let some incoming customers look at him and pet him. At home he unloaded without hassle and that was that!

Wednesday we didn't do much; just took a walk and hung out next to the trailer. My other Mustang, Hammar, loaded into the trailer with no halter, but just the lunge whip on his neck! I am confident that Nine can be at least as good as my guy with time. Today is a bit windy and I don't have a baby sitter (Mother in Law) yet anyways, so I don't know what we'll get done. But if I have my way I will try to saddle Nine with the riding saddle and let him try out the stirrups.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Refresher Course

My mom suggested that I leave the saddle and breast collar on Nine over night. So before feed time me and Fiance did a little work with Nine; we adjusted the breast collar so it was strapped to the dee rings of the saddle instead of the ring that is tied to the horn (if you look closely at the pictures below you'll see what I mean). Nine did much better with this once he had some time to just relax with the saddle. So I got that adjusted, then we lunged Nine a bit to get him used to his feeder (a part of an old barrel with holes cut in it for handles) being upside down in the middle of his round pen, and then with me standing on top of the feeder/mounting block. He did okay with this, but we didn't have much time, so we took Nine for a short walk to the goat pen, around the property a bit, through a small puddle (he was perfect), then back to the corral for dinner. While Fiance closed the gate behind us, I lead Nine up to the mounting block so he could see me on it one more time before we called it quits, and he came right up to me! He even let me take off his halter from up there.

This morning I was happy to see the saddle still in place, but also with some fresh gunk decorating the fleece cinch, because this means he felt comfortable enough to relax and lay down with the saddle on. After he was done eating me and Fiance played with Nine a little; we picked up his front feet while he still wore the saddle, and I took the saddle off while Fiance held Nine. This went much smoother than I feared; Nine usually hates anyone on his near side when he's wearing the saddle, I suppose because he think that person will tighten the cinch more. But once he figured out that I was loosening the cinch he stood still. When the cinch fell away from his belly he gave this great big sigh of relief. The he calmly stood while I flitted from side to side, taking my time about putting the cinch over the saddle, and nicely wrapping the latigo around the horn. Then I lifted the saddle right off his back! He was barely sweaty, another good sign as it indicates he didn't spend all night fighting to get the saddle off while I wasn't looking.

After that Fiance (who is developing quite the relationship with Nine!) brushed him off and played with Nine a bit. We worked some more on Nine's back feet, using the lunge whip to ask him to lift the foot, then slipping a loop of the whip's string around his leg. This worked extremely well for me, as I am so scared around his back feet these days. I think he is almost ready for picking them up sans string again, but I will take it extra slowly this time! We even introduced him to the new saddle. He accepted the new saddle blanket without any fuss, but the saddle was a bit different. It does have stirrups after all, which the old training saddle does not have, and the stirrups on the riding saddle are even tied up on top making the saddle look even bigger! But, Fiance got Nine to smell the new saddle and got it almost on. Then we had visitors and had to stop, but it was still a nice progressive day!

Tomorrow is the vet appointment; we are picking up the trailer we have been borrowing today so Nine can practice loading for a bit tonight, and we'll have most of tomorrow morning and early afternoon to work on it some more. Based on the ease with which Nine loaded in Pauls Valley Oklahoma, I don't think we'll have any trouble at all. Even so, wish us luck!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Well, after a week and a half of not even touching the saddle, we've got it on Nine again. My mom helped me by holding Nine and handing the cinch under the horse so I can grab it without Nine freaking out. It worked! He only dumped the saddle once this time. He did go off bucking twice, but by then I had the cinch tight enough that it didn't come off completely. He got it underneath him again, but let me take it off and try again. Best of all, now he lets me reach under and grab the cinch without having it handed to me every time. We will see if that lesson lasts.

After our break, me and Mom went out and put a breast collar on Nine. He did good, even with me trying to punch extra holes in the leather right under his nose. We decided not to put the riding saddle on him because there is a storm rolling in, and with the wind we don't need to be trying to get on him! I have some pictures...

After a few hours of that, I was getting a bit fed up, so my mom suggested I "take a chill pill", that is to say, ride Hammar!

Thanks for all your help Mom, I feel better about it all now!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oh, No! Elbow Woes!

We didn't work with saddling yesterday; we didn't get that far at all. Fiance said he'd be out to help me, so I went and started working with Nine. I brushed him out and cleaned his front feet. I was working with his hind feet to get him better about that when it happened.

When I asked Nine to pick up his right hind foot, he picked it up, but also swung it out towards me a little. So I made my first mistake - I smacked Nine on his butt. This works for my other, more domestic horses, but not for a wild-ish Mustang. So after he ran a lap, I tried again. This time he swung is leg towards me faster, very nearly a kick. I knew smacking him was a mistake, but this time I made another mistake; I held on to his leg. Don't ask me why, I guess it's just habit. My mare tests me a lot, but if I just hold on she gives up. I knew it wouldn't work with Nine, but at the time I wasn't thinking, just reacting. Naturally, the grabbing freaked Nine out, and on my third attempt to pick up his leg, he jumped in the air and kicked.

Luckily, he just clipped my elbow (I laughed at this - who gets kicked in the elbow?) but it could have been worse - he was nearly high enough to get my head! Now I am too nervous to try again! When I do work up the guts to try, Nine can tell how scared I am, so he get scared too, then starts kicking again. I am going to have to start all over again, but I really don't want to until my fiance is there with me, in case anything happens. Maybe when we go out to feed all the animals.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Feet Feats

Today Granny, my fiance's mom, came over and watched our daughter for a half hour or so while Fiance and I worked with Nine. Nine doesn't know anyone as well as he knows me, but he adjusts to other people quickly enough. First they just got to know one another, and Fiance lead Nine around a bit (he is leading much better now) until they got to me. Then I tossed a rope around Nine's body, eventually getting to his back leg. After a couple of tries while Nine stood there like nothing was happening, I got the courage to just reach down a little and grab the end of the rope, forming a loop around his leg. I tossed the loop around, up and down his whole leg for a few seconds, but as he wasn't bothered to even twitch, I went ahead and got the rope around his pastern, then asked him to pick up his foot. He did pretty good about that; he stepped away from me for a step or two every time I asked him to pick up his foot, but he didn't run. Maybe because my fiance was holding his lead rope, but I'd like to think it was also because he had a clue as to what I was doing.

I repeated all that on his other side, but rather than learning to pick up his foot, he somehow got the idea that I was asking him to walk around in little circles! So I had to take a step back and do the same thing on his front foot, which he picks up like a pro now. Then I tried again with his hind foot, and he did seem to get the idea. He won't hold it up, but he will take it off the ground now without trying to kick anyone or any thing.

After that we thought it would be a good idea to let the lesson sink in, so we just rubbed Nine for a while. He spooked when Fiance's big gloved hand rubbed under his belly, and when I caught him again he spooked (again) from the Gloved Hand of Doom, and halfway through his spook-spin the side of his face collided with my cheek. Gosh, that hurt! I was seeing stars for about a minute after that! But I have already recovered and Nine probably didn't even notice, so all is well. My fiance also worked with Nine's front feet, and Nine let him pick them up and look at them. So, once I can come up with some extra cash I will get our farrier out here to trim Nine's front feet, at least. Even if Nine isn't ready for his hind feet being trimmed, it's really just his front feet that need it. Maybe to even out the costs the farrier can trim one of the goat's back feet, because they are really long as well.

Tomorrow my daughter has a doctor's appointment in the morning, but perhaps that afternoon we can work with saddling again. I will post an update if that is the case.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bah Monsoons

Not much progress to tell you about today... It has been rainy and thundery and stormy every day for the past four days and is showing no sign of stopping now. I suppose I should be happy, we need the rain as much as anyone, but it is getting a bit annoying.

What I can tell you about, and be happy about, is that I got Nine to pick up his feet and let me clean them out with a hoof pick this morning. He is much better with his right leg, it only took two tries before he let me clean that hoof out. His left side... not so much. That took a bit longer, but I did get it done. Now I think we might be able to get his feet trimmed! And they need it, too. Now I need to suck it up and get working on his back feet. Who knew I, the little cowgirl who rides anything, would ever be afraid to pick up a horse's feet? Well, everything changes eventually. I just need to do it anyways.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Never give a 3 year old time off...

... and expect him to pay attention afterwards.

So Nine had a good four or five days off from training, where I would just work with his front feet a bit at feed time. I had my daughter with me so I couldn't devote much time to his hind feet, which remain untouched. I have a goat who is getting ready to have her kids any minute now, and my other horse, Hammar, has come up lame. I think it's just a pulled muscle, but he has still been receiving much more of my time lately. Which, of course, leaves less and less for Nine. Then, naturally, the internet at the house shut down temporarily, so i haven't been able to blog much.

Tuesday was spent trying to tire Nine out a bit. After an hour and half of letting him run around the round pen, I gave up on saddling for the day, and thought that Wednesday he would be worn out enough to stand for the saddle. Well, he stood alright, until I reached under him to grab the cinch. Then he spooked. So I took some steps backward and sacked Nine out with a rope around his girth area. Once he was okay with that, I pretended to reach for a cinch without the saddle being on him. Once he was okay with that, I tried again with the saddle. I think what he is spooking from is the sudden contact of the cinch with his side, on the opposite side that I am standing on. So I would like to get some help from my fiance, so that he can hold the cinch up against Nine's off side while I reach for it from the near side. Then, hopefully, he will be alright. Unfortunately, Wednesday and today, Thursday, have brought thunderstorms in the early afternoon, so out sessions have been cut short anyways.

Today I gave up on the saddle because I have no one here to help me and I am not making any progress on my own. So I put the halter on Nine and lead him out to the great unknown of the ten acres we live on. Previously Nine has pulled away from me and run back to steal food from the other pen that gets thrown over the fence, but today I had the pinch halter on Nine and he consented to follow me. We walked over to the graves of my first horse and my dad's old horse, and Nine seemed to appreciate me talking, so I walked him around some tires, explaining all the way about how they used to hold up a make-shift jump, but as Nine broke several poles from his pen, I had to sacrifice my jump to keep nine safe. Then we walked over to my other jumps, all of which are of course knocked down from neglect. One was half up on one side, though, so I had Nine step over that, then over a "jump" comprised of an old barrel cut in half lengthwise and laid on the ground. Nine didn't appreciate having to stretch his stride to get over it, but he did what I asked. We made a detour to the garden, which had been catching Nine's eye the whole time, and I picked a leafy branch for him.

Then we got back to the round pen, and I tried to work with his hind feet a bit, but wimped out when he stamped the ground at my touch. It seems that motherhood has taken the fearless cowgirl out of me! I will try again when Mr. Christina is around, so I know I will at least have someone to carry me out of the pen if I get kicked. Until then, I will hide out in the house listening to the thunder rolling over the cinder hills.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

He's a-buckin'!

I went out this morning before feeding to try to get the saddle on Nine. I thought that if he eats with the saddle on, it will give him something good to think about and a very positive experience. Well, it wasn't as simple as it sounds! I did eventually get the saddle on him, but it took many tries. He bucked but stopped before the saddle slipped too far. I had gotten it tight enough that it didn't slip underneath him, but it did slide back and the blanket was on it's way out! So I undid the cinch, adjusted the saddle and blanket, and re-tightened the cinch. He stood still still for all of that! Then he went bucking again, but only two or three bucks before he stopped and let me do some last tweeks and such on the saddle. Then I petted him and told him how good of a boy he is and went to get his hay. When I came back around the corner, that silly boy was just landing from a buck, but saw me and instantly stopped! He gave me this look like he was trying to say "hey, I wasn't doing anything, no way!" He sure is a goofy boy.

Nine ate with the saddle on, but I didn't get anyone here to watch my daughter until nearly 1 PM. So, I went and worked with him a bit with the saddle on, then spent way longer than should be necessary trying to get Nine to stand still while I loosened the cinch... then he jumped off and dumped the saddle again. So I think I am going to give up on my idea of him not dumping a saddle and just get my Aussie saddle on him. It might be too narrow, but at this point I don't have time to get picky. He can dump my saddle a few times until he realizes it doesn't make any difference, then maybe I can start thinking about my fiance's western saddle. Nine also got a minute or two of a brief lesson with the bridle today.

Not much hope of any meaningful time at all with the horses until next Tuesday again, but we will see.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Officially Saddled!

Earlier today I went out to work with Nine. I was prepared for, but not looking forward to, chasing him around and around for half an hour again before he would stand for the saddle. In fact, I only had to do one lap! Then Nine let me toss the blanket on him, and he almost stood for the saddle; he of course waited until I almost had it all the way up there, then bolted. But again, it just took one lap, and another in the opposite direction for good measure, before he stood stock still while I eased the saddle onto his back. Then I took it off and did it all over again, but this time he never moved! I got the latigo down and was taking the cinch down when he spooked from the jingle. But, one more try and I got the cinch down and around his belly. I had the cinch in place, the latigo ready to be tightened... Then I chickened out. Or maybe I did the brave thing, I'm not sure. I loosened the cinch, took the saddle off, and went back inside.

After a few hours of break time while I ran errands in town, I went back to see Nine. This time he let me get the blanket and the saddle on him right away. Once again I let the cinch down and let him be. He walked off when my fiance and daughter came up, but didn't spook or bolt, even though he had a clanking cinch swaying around his legs. I had "the distractions" go away for a bit, and I took the saddle off. I had to have Nine do another few laps before he accepted the saddle again, but this time I went ahead with the cinch. I did it as slowly as I could; first I just held light, steady pressure until he relaxed, then let go; as he stayed relaxed I started holding it with more pressure until it was nice and snug. I sent Nine off to walk a bit with it, fully expecting an explosion that never came. He did two laps each way, then I asked him to stop. (He came halfway to me, this time. Yay!) I tightened the cinch the rest of the way and knotted the latigo so it wouldn't work it's way loose. After a few more laps at the trot to make sure he was okay, I gave Nine some loose hay and left him to it.

In an hour or so, when I go out to feed, I will take off the saddle. Tomorrow I would like to do the same with the old saddle he has on right now, and introduce him to some rein aids and having me lean up against him on the saddle. If that goes well I want to get the riding saddle on him and let him feel the stirrups. On Thursday, when my fiance comes home early, I will hopefully be in the saddle! Wish me luck and a soft landing!