Poor Patchy Horse

I tell you what, Apache is one good horse. Yesterday he was scheduled to have a lesson, but when I looked at him after work, he seemed down. I went to say hi and saw he was crying and blinking like crazy. His right eye was a mess (sparing you photos).

Look. I’m in a building.

I cleaned him up, though he did not like the eye wash (who would?). He seemed okay, but he stepped on my foot, like he was unaware of his location. Or he was nerved out because the tire on the trailer was getting changed while I groomed him. Here’s why:

All the tread fell off on the way up here. Oops. It was ok. Lots of wheels.

He round penned very well and seemed happy, so off we went. When we got to the training place, the trainer took one look at him and said he might be contagious. He looked awful.

I did get to see Drew and check on his progress. He’s doing so well.

We decided to take him straight to her vet, which is only a half hour from her place. He was already in the trailer, and it would be better to get him looked at fast, before he hurt himself rubbing on the eye. She was nice enough to call and get us in, just before they closed.

Pretty Drew.

We got to the place, and it was SO nice. I filled out the forms, then Apache politely got out and walked to the waiting area. The vet tech commented on how calm he was. He even went in the building like he did that every day. He never had! And the door closed so loud.

The tiny vet did a great job. She flushed out his eye and stained it. He didn’t like the shots much, but between than and getting twitched, he was great.

A twitch is a thing they use to settle horses for being worked on. It doesn’t hurt; in fact it relaxes them. Who knew?

She said he was not injured, and probably just has a blocked tear duct. When she checked his nose, it had very thick mucus. So she decided to clean him out. That was something else to watch!

Look closely at his eye.

The vet used a syringe of saline and slowly squirted it up his nose. It came out of his eye! Horse anatomy is weird. But he should feel better. She sent home some ointment with antibiotics and steroids. He also got an antibiotic shot.

Getting him back to the trailer was funny. He was a very relaxed horse. Apache walked out with his wee wee hanging out (why his name used to be Dingle). I had to get a nice man to pat his butt to get him to go in the trailer. But wow. Drugged Apache is easy to tie up.

I was so pleased with how well he behaved. And I sure hope he feels better today!

Still Here!

I know some of you worry if I miss a day posting, so I’m sorry I missed yesterday. I was busy with work and a Master Naturalist meeting. And I must admit some pretty yarn showed up and I wanted to knit.

Lion Brand Mandala

I’ll tell you what I’m making after I show the recipient the work in progress tomorrow.

Today was also a really busy day but let me just say I got good news and a lot done. Highlight? I saw Drew!

More tomorrow. For sure.

Skill in the Pool of Dreams

Two men have been working on the pool for most of this week. They seem to share two features: a love of traditional mariachi music and major skill in working with stone tiles. It’s been a real pleasure watching them work, as well as listening to the music. It’s real loud, but since I am also fond of that music, I have not complained. There’s some fine tuba playing going on in those songs.

Early progress – they were fitting the inserts in the holes.

This post is about the tile work, though. One of the guys spends all day using the wet saw to cut the blocks of bullnose-edge natural limestone for the pool edging, as I’ve mentioned before. Lee worries, because they are not wearing masks. That’s pretty legitimate. I don’t stand around outside very long when the saw is going. I don’t want shards of limestone and quartz in my lungs (the stone is very shiny in spots).

Not sure what this is, but it has a nice circle in it.

The guy has made dozens of smaller tiles for one edge, and medium for the other edge. Meanwhile, the other guy has been first dry fitting and then cementing in the stone. He uses leftover glass tiles from other pools as spacers. That’s a good way to use them, I think. Lee is worried about there being so much space for grout, but we’ll see if it causes an issue.

It has to be hard to get these all lined up on the curve. It sure looks pretty.

I think the tile is gorgeous. It blends in with the cool limestone the house is clad in, and looks really natural, which will help the pool not look like some garish thing plopped in the back yard. The accent tile under the limestone also looks pretty natural. It’s beautifully glazed ceramic tile squares, and they will look pretty, but still fit in with the ranch vibe.

Ready for installation.

I’m enjoying some of the fine touches they’re putting in the tilework, such as the circle cutouts for the filter outlets, or whatever those will be called. I sure hope they have handles. They installed the baskets in there, too, so I feel like the pool’s coming along.

The two-holer.

And on the edges of the hot tub/spa, they put a nice triangle accent. That’s going to look so pretty next to the waterfall.

Edge of spa, with decoration.

I’m looking forward to watching more of their artistry in the next week or two (and having their music in the background while I work). I’m not in any hurry to rush these craftsmen to finish their work. It will be like having artwork that you can cool off in, once the pool is done! I won’t even be sad that it gets done after the weather cools off (we can still use the hot tub, anyway).

And in Horse News

I just have to brag on Apache and Aragorn. Today they were both on their best behavior and really showed how much progress they are making. Each of them was easy to ride and not all nerved out at all, even though we rode all over the field behind our house, where Aragorn had never been and Apache hadn’t been in a long time.

It was like it used to be when Sara and I would ride Apache and Spice, before Apache got lame and squirrely. The weather was beautiful, and we could relax, look at the trees and plants, and ask our horses to move around gracefully.

Aftermath of a long, fun ride.

In the end, Apache really wanted to go “home” over to Sara’s place. Poor guy. I totally understand. But, even when he tried to tell me what he wanted, I was able to gently convince him to go back to his pens. I have no complaints about that horse right now. What a pleasant change!

A very wet and tired horse

Then, since he was all hot, I decided to rinse Apache off. I didn’t have to tie him up or anything. He just stood there and enjoyed his cool-off, then turned around for the other side. He didn’t move off until I took off his halter, and then he just went off to graze and drip. He’s a good buddy.

Fiona Makes a Friend

I was heading over to Sara’s horse playground today to get some poles for my playground. Fiona and Apache were in the dry pasture (unhappily). As I approached on Hilda the utility vehicle, Fiona began to walk away.

Maybe Suna will open the gate.

I noticed that there was a little bird beside her. How cute, I thought. Then I noticed it was going with her.

Let’s go over here!

I wondered why the heck she suddenly had a bird friend. Then, right before my eyes, I figured it out.

That blob above the poop piles is the bird catching a bug.

Yes, the little starling had figured out that as she walked, Fiona was stirring up bugs, making it easy to catch them. I was charmed as I watched them head out the gate and into the pasture. I guess that will be one sated bird!

While I was over at Sara’s, I watched her work with Aragorn on his playground. It was fun to see all the things he can do. Someday I’ll be able to side pass and all that cool stuff. I did get a nice preview of things I’ll learn in the future, which was a lot of fun.

Her serpentine setup looks much more legit than mine!

I looked to my right as she was riding and realized I was not the only audience member. There were many moos of applause, and I was happy to see Aragorn totally ignoring them, as he should.

That horse is fascinating.

I took all my poles (seen below) and put them in the round pen, for Apache’s future practice. I hope I have time to ride him and check it out tomorrow.

Sara’s fancy circle world, and my poles loaded on Hilda.

Drew Heads off to Colt College

Oh, sniff. It’s so hard when you have to send your teens off for further education. They look like such wide-eyed babies, even when they are dapple gray quarter horse colts. And moving them into their dorms can be a real struggle. That was true for Drew today as well.

My baby heads off to training land. Look at those eyes.

Now, of course we are really glad it’s been raining a bit for the past few days. But, this morning was the Big Day that we were scheduled to take Drew off for training, and Apache also had a lesson scheduled. I knew the trainer doesn’t cancel lessons unless it’s raining at the time, so I went ahead and got Apache and Drew loaded into the trailer, while a steady drizzle fell. Apache was rather annoyed, and let me know. But, in he went, and I even figured out how to lock the door that separates the horses in the trailer, too.

Drew went in, too, though he entered as if he was jumping a hurdle. What a good boy. Right as we were getting leaving, we found out it was raining at the trainer’s house, so we parked again and sat on the porch, watching the rain. Apache was not a happy boy. Stomp, stomp. Sara gave us her appointment time, so we were able to head out later.

I don’t want to get out, sorry. But I appreciate the gentle pressure.

Now Drew was the star of the show. First, he had to get out of the trailer. You may recall that he is not really great at the exiting part of trailering. I was hoping he could have a good experience exiting today, with professional help.

I’m thinking of getting out, so I can hang out with the cute dog, and that sorta nice lady.

My dream came true, as the trainer patiently encouraged him to get off, without yelling or punishing him. He got closer and closer, becoming quite curious about what was outside, not scared! After about 15 minutes, he jumped out, and immediately started sniffing the poop of new horses. MMM.

Ooh, so many new smells. I think there are many friends here.

But, he was NOT there for fun. He was already at school! He got a great lesson on keeping out of the space of the human he’s with. He only took a few big corrections until he was getting the idea and needing much less correction. He went from tense to relaxed, too. It was great to watch, and I learned a lot.

I’m not getting it yet.

He went to his new paddock happily and tried to make friends with a mare. He did better than we thought he would. I think he liked it just fine. The trainer remarked that he was smart, learned quickly, and not a spooky boy. I was proud, even though I didn’t give birth to him; I just brought him home after the family found him for me!

What happened to Apache, you ask? He finally got to get out of the trailer, and we had a short lesson in the same kind of thing Drew was learning, only he was a bit better at it. He should be, since I’ve been working on it, right? He got to eat a bit of grass and got some attention, so he got to feeling better. He loaded much better that time, so I’m glad he had a positive experience in the end.

I really miss Drew already. It felt weird not to feed him this evening. I keep looking for him in the field, too. I guess I got used to him pretty fast! But I have great hopes for him and for what he will learn when he’s in training. I want to spend many years together, so having a good start is important.

Talk about Comfortable

Today, Trixie was supposed to come and look at Apache’s feet, but Drew stole the show. I had gotten both of the horses, in preparation for her arrival, and Apache was quietly waiting for us in his pen. As we walked up, we couldn’t see Drew. Where was he?

having his spa day

Yep, he’d decided to just take a nice nap on the warm sand. That’s a sign that a horse is comfortable with the people he’s around. The best part is that he didn’t jump to his feet when we approached, like most horses would. As prey animals, they are always alert.

Zzzz

The fisr thing Trixie did was check out the big paint’s head, because it seemed sore. Drew got up and watched that intently, standing close so I could rub him. Trixie remarked that Drew really seems to be a people horse.

Apache’s feet are looking great, by the way, and he’s looking more and more normal. He even shrunk a horseshoe size. As he was being a model farrier client, I realize that I had lost Drew.

It’s more cozy over here.

He shifted again and really fell asleep, with fluttering eyelids, and deep, deep breathing. That was one comfortable animal.

I feel safe here. It’s where my food lives.

We could not stop laughing as he kept snoozing away even when Apache was finished and left. His little lips were quivering like he was having a nice dream. Damn, it was cute.

Melts our hearts.

Once we finally got him up, he got some spa treatment, as Trixie massaged his gums like she had done for Apache. We think he liked it.

It tickled!

He then let his front hooves get trimmed, but still was no good on the back, so Trixie is gonna come tomorrow and work on his issues again. He still walks a little. Funny, and we want him all ready and happy for training.

I guess I’m in love with both these equine wonders. My heart swells with love when I see how much progress we are making together.

Chickens and Snakes

I heard a loud noise last night from the chicken coop, and this morning I discovered something had gone after Babette. Her head is a mess, but she seems okay. In case Bruce did it, I separated her from the others, except Star, who is still setting on her eggs.

Good news

But it is not all bad! Blanca, the True Blue hen, finally started laying yesterday! What beautiful eggs she lays. Sky blue! Now we’re just waiting on Betty the Easter Egger to give us some green eggs, and Billie Idyl.

When I was out fetching the horses, I spotted this snakeskin, most likely a rat snake. It has these cool ribbon-like segments, I guess from its belly. I’m glad Trixie liked it as much as I did.

Well, this was fun. My new laptop is also a giant tablet. I typed this from my chair, with the computer flat. I am fancy now.

My Spotted Comforter

No, I didn’t get a new bed covering. I’ve just gotten so much comfort from this semi-tubby, big-hearted paint horse. Today, this guy left me feeling 100% better after yet another day of surprises and confusion.

Just chilling

I hadn’t been riding too much in the past couple of weeks, because I really don’t think it’s a good idea to climb up on a thousand-pound animal when you’re having anxiety attacks, even if it’s your friend.

I’m your friend. I’ll just stand here, even without a lead rope. And yes, people commonly put the bridle over the halter.

I have been hanging out with the horses a lot, though, and they’ve all acted like they cared about me, with lots of rubs and hanging out. But Apache has been so sweet. He’s always looking for me. Today, when I went to get him to ride, because I was feeling better, both he and Drew galloped up, while the others hardly noticed. Sure, they probably wanted food. But it made me feel good.

They eventually got food.

But it’s today’s ride that brought me the most comfort. It was the kind of ride I’d dreamed of my whole life. My horse and I were trusting each other, paying attention, and having fun while working on new things. Wow.

He was paying attention to me, even when he wasn’t doing what I asked. That meant it was easy to correct things and start again. We trotted and walked and made our circles. We went into the dry lot I use as a mini-arena and we did all sorts of things. He started to do what he wanted as we headed toward the pens, but I was able to get his attention and have him do circles until he was doing better. I did real ones, which I hadn’t managed before.

I saw it.

We then went all over the parts of the front field where he used to go wild and eat grass constantly. None of that happened. We just rode where I aimed him.

What I saw while feeding horses.

But what truly comforted me and warmed my heart was what he did before and after the ride. Before starting, I had to shew both Granny and Fiona out of the round pen, and rather than start to graze or wander off, he patiently stood where I left him. And after I got off, he waited again while I messed with my helmet and stuff, then leaned his sweaty neck against me, like he was saying he had fun, too.

Sun sets over the ranch house.

I’ve got such a true and patient friend in Apache. He’s kindly waited for me to develop the confidence and skills to become partners and learn together. And I was patient while I waited for him to heal from his laminitis and hoof abscess. He’s paying me back!

And the sun sets on contented people and horses.

Yeah. Being able to find comfort and stability even amid tough changes, an endless pandemic, and divisiveness around every corner…that’s a treasure.

Apache Rocks, and So Do Rocks

I’ve needed a self esteem boost for a few days, but this morning Apache made me feel really dim, and I didn’t need any more of that! I went to get him this morning for a lesson, then noticed Drew was still in his pen. I went to release Drew, and saw Apache head out the gate to his pen, which I’d not shut. He then went through the gate to his little paddock.

I wanna go back out.

That’s okay, I thought. Then I saw the gate to the big pasture was open and Apache was trotting right through it. Sigh. Off he went to join the Buckskin Buddies. I went over to get him and he trotted away. One he galloped. But, in the end, he let me halter him, saddle him, and load up.

After that, all was well! Our practice has paid off! I was amazed at how well he did on the circles and figure 8s. Even when he messes up, I’m getting better at correcting. That’s important. Now we are refining techniques. Wow, that feels good.

If I’m so good, why didn’t I get anything from Dairy Queen?

And we started a slalom formation where I learn to bend and turn, speed up and slow down (transitions). I was really surprised at how far we got on it today. Of course, there is a lot to learn, still, but it was fun to get to start so soon! Then, the trainer told me what great progress we are making quickly. It’s rewarding to be figuring this stuff out, at last.

I wanna be free.

And Apache rocks! No grass eating all lesson.

Speaking of Rocks

Remember yesterday, when I found that we have a layer of light rock a few feet down? One of our readers, Trisha, mentioned that it may be an aquatic layer.

White rock

So, I went out to look at the rock up close, to see if I could figure anything else out about it. The layer is very thin and powdery.

This shows the layer.

When I touched the rock, it crumbled. It doesn’t hold together like limestone usually does. It falls into little chunks or granules, whereas the soil above it sticks together and is very clayey.

Clay

Also in our soil are large rounded rocks. They have a flint-like interior.

Rock on top of the clay soil.

Anyway, the white stuff seems to be a chalk, which makes me think there was some point in the past that this area was covered by water and supported something with shells, but not for too long.

Hunk of chalky stuff.

I saved the piece above so maybe I can get it analyzed. And I’ll try to figure out when we were underwater more recently than the Paleozoic period (this rock isn’t that deep).

A Little Trail Ride

This was a nice ending to a long day! Apache has been doing so well this week with his schooling and such that I said, “Yes,” when Kathleen asked if I wanted to go for a ride with her and Dusty. Apache hadn’t been out on a trail ride across the ranch in a long time, since before I started trying to ride him solo.

Look at me, I’m in the cow pasture.

I’d had the brilliant insight last week that a lot of his insecurities were because of both of us not being used to going out without another horse and rider. One thing my lessons have done is build confidence in us both. It’s still a work in progress, with one extra-annoying habit to break, but all that round pen work, circling, and walking the property has made a big difference.

I’m also losing weight, thanks to the dead grass and hay. See those ribs??

So, off we went. Dusty doesn’t enjoy leaving his man friend Remington, so he had to be walked a bit. But, once we got going, a good time was had by all, with Apache like his old self, confidently walking around and paying attention to my cues.

I didn’t get to go, so I brayed my ass off. Oh wait, I’m an actual ass. At least Suna refilled my water bucket.

There were a lot more grass eating episodes than I’d like, and once or twice he was reluctant to do what I asked. But mostly we had fun and got to forget about our stresses, challenges, and negativity.

I’m glad I took the chance. I see a glimpse of my enjoyable future riding with friends and family, and maybe even doing some Working Equitation with him. Hey, he can already walk in a circle, so he’d not score a zero.

Thinking of all of us today, the day so many of us got deep trauma. I’m so glad I got to see my kids again after being stuck in Schaumburg, Illinois!

Shameless Insects and Encouraging Horse Time

I took yesterday off. After some errands, I just sat and read all day. I’ll tell you what makes it hard to concentrate, though, and that’s the thought of MORE grasshoppers in my future.

Hey. We’re pretty comfortable here.

I was trying to read and talk to my family when I realized my chair had become the grasshoppers’ special place. Uh. Nice. As if we hadn’t had a plague of these already this year.

Rocking and rolling on my rocker.

Well I guess it was good, because I could get a really good picture of how the male twists around to manage his role.

He snakes his abdomen around. Huh.

I’m fine with no more lengthy experiences with grasshopper propagation. They kept going a long time. obviously I didn’t blog yesterday because it was not exciting here.

On Another Note

Let’s move on. Apache has been doing better with his schooling. He still sometimes wanders way off the circle when trotting. But today he did a whole circle without hitting a cone. I felt like he was feeling well, so we went into his grazing area and walked and turned and stuff. He was mostly good, and even his disagreements with me were smaller than usual.

We were heading back to dismount when we had a surprise. A skunk walked across our path and ducked into the red shipping container. Oops. Apache stopped very nicely and waited until the coast was clear. We calmly walked over to share the skunk news, and Apache was so good, we kept going.

After the ride. Super clean and sound horse.

He did his stopping and grabbing grass thing twice, but otherwise was just great, like old times. He went up to say hi to Goldie, walked all over the front pasture, up to the gate, and across the pasture where he often goes nutty, but he didn’t! We made it back, all sweaty but happy.

I feel pretty.

To thank Apache, I gave him a good bath. Ooh he finally got really clean and dander free. I even got him to hold his head still and let me wash it. I was amazed to go back later and find he hadn’t rolled yet!

Glad he didn’t roll on one of these velvet ants, since they are actually wingless wasps.

It’s so hot today that I can’t help do outdoor stuff like I’d hoped to. I’ll cram everything in from 6:30 to sunset, I guess.