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.