Enjoying Life

Why not? I was all tired after helping a lot of folks at work, but when I went out to see the horses, I felt so much better that I did my scheduled ride and enjoyed the nice afternoon.

I had to replace the chairs, but these match better anyway. And one works as a mounting block!

The bulldozer is still plowing away. I think that project will be done tomorrow. He’s made it wider and is building an excellent berm that will be fun for the horses and provide a bit of sound insulation for us (you know, ALL that traffic we get!). Lee says he keeps finding springs, which doesn’t surprise me. But even in this drought to see moist areas surprises me!

Sun sets on the dirt and silt pile.

And after yesterday’s rant, I’m embracing my quirky decorating style. It helps that Kathleen has made some really pretty fall and Halloween wreaths and gave me one. Doesn’t it look great?

Seasonal cheer!

To top it all off, my additional cream yarn showed up, so I can keep going on my afghan project. in the meantime I made part of a narrow border to put on at the end. This is gonna be a project, all right.

Second border in progress.

Glad to have some calm time in life every so often.

A Good Kind of Tired

It’s been a long day and I’m darned tired, but like I said in the title, it’s a good kind of tired, both physically and mentally. Yep, I went to a horse clinic with both horses today over at Tarrin’s ranch. That’s a lot of horse time! The good news? It was COOL this morning. That helps when you spend the day outside.

We’re with it, Suna Mom

There were many new things to learn, and all the horse and rider pairs found out what they needed to work on. That was particularly fun, because there was a range of skills and abilities. Sara brought both her horses, too, so she also had a long day.

We’re tired, too.

Apache did better than I expected, though he was in no mood to move his hindquarters, which made a backing in a serpentine formation painful. But heck, we have trouble backing in a straight line! He wasn’t particularly interested in side passing either. He got pretty pissed off but I kept whacking his side and Tarrin got all in his face.

I prefer just watching the other horses while my mane gleams.

Like many of the horses, he was not impressed with the water obstacle at first, but he ended up able to do it repeatedly. All the horses eventually did it, even Sully!

Sully working on that puddle.

After the first group went, Tarrin did some interesting education on how horse anatomy affects how they respond to bits and reins. I learned a lot. We also learned a lot about the role we play in keeping our horses balanced

We’re balanced. We walked around the cool new visiting horse pen matching steps.

Drew did a bit better than Apache on the skills, but then, he was more experienced at a couple. He did great side passing and just fine on dragging an object, but he’d practiced way more than the other horses had. I was truly impressed watching Sully figure these things out. She’s so smart and really trusts Sara.

Only look at MEEEEE

Drew was a bit dubious about the water, but didn’t take long to get the hang of it. I was proud, since I hadn’t done water stuff with him yet. He’s so good, but got rather bored waiting for the other horses and neighed a lot. But wow, he’s a shiny boy.

Look at me shine! Now hurry up and learn, y’all. Note fly in flight.

The hardest obstacle was heads and tails, which involves going around a barrel either on the forehand or back. I did not understand it when Tarrin went over it earlier in the week, but I followed the instructions and by gosh, Drew did it. And now I get it, too!

I like to think I’m a genius.

He’s not a genius! But he likes to learn, as does Apache. We got some fun new experiences and learned so much from everyone. Clinics are great. I love the camaraderie, the variety of participants and the wisdom of clinicians. Tarrin is a great one, by the way.

And Now I Get Sniffly

I came home with one less horse. Drew is staying at Tarrin’s for a few weeks to do his “finishing school.” When he’s done I should be able to work on riding him!

Drew’s back to school picture.

I’ll miss him so much. So will Apache. They’ve finally bonded and I catch them playing together with food bowls and stuff. At least they had fun together in the new pen at Tarrin’s.

We will see Drew again soon! And he will be smarter! I hope I can ride him.

Bye, Suna Mom

Ups, Ups, Downs

Things have been good here lately. I spend a lot of time watching cute animals.

That’s a relaxed dog.

I even rescued a trapped English sparrow today who couldn’t figure out how to get out of the henhouse. I caught her and took her out. She was so exhausted that she just sat on my hand. Poor dear. No photos, since I had five hen eggs in my other hand!

So, here’s another friend, the gate spider. Apparently a Western spotted orb weaver.

There’s just so much joy in our animals. The dogs love evenings when we’re in the pool, because they can run and play with an audience. I take them out in the mornings for a little play, too, which makes for a nice work break.

Things continue to be good with the horses, too. We had good lessons today. Drew showed Tarrin how hard we’ve been working and then learned new backups. And poor Apache struggled a lot with moving his butt when asked. My left leg is tired! But, those two bring me such joy. I’m so lucky to be able to learn and grow with them.

But there are so many animals to enjoy here. My son found this really cool snake in his cabin. He just caught it and took it outside and caulked up the hole it came in. That’s my boy.

And today, I went to water the plants and was startled when I reached to turn on the spigot. Along the house was a complete snakeskin, I’m pretty sure it was one of our rat snakes. I love it when you get the whole skin.

I guess that’s enough animal fun for a Saturday evening. Hoping all is well with you. We’re having more family illness stuff. That’s the down part of the post title.

Book Report: Horse Color Explored

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was looking for a book about horse breeds but didn’t find anything helpful. Most were for children. But I saw Horse Color Explored: Over 150 Breeds, Types, and Variations, by Vera Kurskaya (2017) and that piqued my interest. I was interested in knowing more about the genetics of horse colors than I’d read about in the ever-informative Equus magazine.

I was not disappointed. The book was originally in Russian, but the translator, Dr. Michal Prochazka, did a great job making the book read well. I enjoyed reading about the research Kurskaya has done. She must be a neat person to know, judging from her writing style.

The book is beautiful, with hundreds of great photos of horses from all around the world. I learned much about Russian breeds, but she also shared many interesting tidbits about horses from here, Europe, and Asia.

Here are a few random things I learned from this book:

Bay is the most common color (Apache is a bay Paint, and Mabel is a dark bay)

Her mane, tail and lower legs are black. I sure hope she puts on more weight now that her teeth are better.

Like dogs, there is no true albino horse, just horses with giant white spots.

Paints also have spotted skin. Everywhere.

Gray horses change color (dark to light) at different rates. Homozygous ones change faster than heterozygous ones. (Droodles was originally bay, judging from his mane, tail, and body hair.)

He’s at the dapple gray stage.

Palominos are diluted buckskins. (Dusty is a buckskin.)

There’s no conclusive research to show temperament and color correlate. So, relax, red mares.

Appaloosas often have sparse manes and tails. Their genes are complicated. They also have striped feet.

Bay dun horses are closest to the “wild” type of horse. It blends in well with savannas.

Mabel is acting wild! She is shaking off her dust bath. You can see her legs better here.

All the dilute color genes (Cream, Pearl, Champagne) were discovered recently. They may be recent mutations or hid before.

Anyway, this is of limited interest to most folks, but if you like genetics or horses, check it out!

Sharing Is Daring

Some of you may have seen that I wrote yesterday about how hard it is to escape old patterns and negative self image. I decided to challenge myself to accept myself just as I am, because hey, I’m trying new things, learning new skills, and staying active for someone who’s 64 (especially where I live, since people my age have had much harder lives and it often shows).

As for me, I can’t even stand up straight, I guess.

Coincidentally, I had to take the videos of my most recent virtual Working Horse Central shows and upload them to YouTube so they can be judged. Look, I’m asking to be judged! That proves I’m doing better already! So, fine, y’all can judge me, too! I know may readers have studied horsemanship a lot longer than I have (I had three workshops before starting my lessons last year around this time). So, bear in mind that both I and the horse are not very experienced. On the other hand, we’re having FUN. That’s what counts.

I define fun as eating, but I do like the obstacles.

So, you don’t have to watch this, just mentally pat me on the back for being brave enough to share what I have done, mistakes, successes, good tries, and all. This is a test for me, not a thing you have to take part in! Thanks!

This is the Trail phase, with the obstacles and the drama of me dropping the lead rope. (4:44)
This is the Functionality phase, where we go in circles, back up, and try to turn neatly. (2:56)

Let’s see if I can actually bring myself to be brave enough to post this.

Pretty Gray Things with Horsepower

Admittedly, the gray things with horsepower are quite different. But they’re both pretty.

One Horse with Power

Today was Drew’s turn to shine. He was scheduled to get filmed doing the dressage part of this quarter’s Working Horse Central virtual show. We walked over to Sara’s lovely arena that she made all by herself. I had to bring a bag with my show boots, show shirt, number and a drink, along with Drew’s show lead and little crop. The only problem was the heat. i was already dripping from grooming Drew and cleaning the former concrete out of his feet. Thankfully, it was dewy this morning, so each foot was packed with mud, not concrete!

He came out quite pretty, but was sweaty as heck by the time we arrived. So was Aragorn.

I wrote up every detail of our dressage pattern in my horse journal, so I’ll just summarize here. He did a GREAT job this time, not perfect, but with much improvement. I also did better with my posture and not going so fast.

I didn’t go too fast trotting, and Drew even got through the right circle at a reasonable pace and only one attempt to bite my hat. No doubt my circles weren’t even, but we did better! Yay us!

After our two minutes of glory, it was time for Sara’s horses. It’s been a lot of fun watching Sully get better and better. I’m so proud of how hard Sara has worked with her.

Of course, Aragorn did great. Well, it wasn’t like it was a walk in the park getting ready for it! His feet are doing so much better, and he didn’t cough once during the pattern. It is so fun to watch the two of them (Saragorn) work together. They have also come a long way in their partnership.

Sara has also come a long way in her show outfits. These guys are so coordinated now, with navy and tan, along with her Wild Type Ranch logo. They’re sharp! I, on the other hand, could not find my belt anywhere. So, I am wearing a yellow bungee cord that accentuates my “full figure” oh so well. Where was my belt? Right next to the boots I DID find.

I enjoyed watching the horses interact with each other when it wasn’t their turn, or when we were getting ready. There’s a lot of gray horsepower among these three! Horse heaven!

Before you get the idea that all this horse stuff is positive progress and great behavior, I must share that when we set out to leave, Drew was having nothing of walking quietly beside me. He was, I guess, jumpy, or jittery. So, I had to stop and get him to trot in circles for a while, to try to focus him. He was having none of THAT, either, and began trotting weirdly, coming in way too close to me, and not going the direction he was asked to go in. I channeled my inner #TarrinMadeMeDoIt and kept stopping and starting him over and over. There were kicks and bucks followed by severe words coming from me. I did great, never lost my temper, and got him a little calmer.

Still, walking down the narrow alley of trees didn’t go great. He was rushing and crowding me. So. Much. Discipline. My arm was killing me by the time we got to the barn. He was not feeling inner peace. BUT. After a bit of a rest in the shade, we headed home. Who was this horse? We had a perfectly pleasant calm, slow, walk where I barely had to hold on to the lead rope. I do wonder what was going on in that boy’s head!

355 Horsepower Grayness

So, Lee’s Tahoe has been giving him some trouble. It is now living at the dealership getting its troubles dealt with. He decided to replace it and get a mobile office. That’s more easily said than done, but I will summarize by saying that something of a reasonable size and the power to tow the horse trainer will be ordered as soon as the dealer gets an “allotment” and customized in some number of months. That way he can drive me to horse lessons and then stay and work. This is all great, but doesn’t replace the Tahoe right now. Lee didn’t have to ask twice when he wanted me to go look at cars. I love car shopping.

What not to get. Fifteen passenger van. Overkill.

So, he looked for a comfortable vehicle that would tow the trailer if needed and be nice for our travels. That was getting frustrating until someone returned a rental vehicle to the dealership that was not too big, not too small…just right.

It’s a vehicle!

Anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever sat in such a comfortable seat in a car, and the back seat has enough leg room for very large people. And there’s a huge trunk for carrying bags of horse feed. Oh wait, it’s for Lee. It doesn’t have adaptive cruise control, but otherwise is crammed with safety features. I hope it works out. I, of course, like the ambient lighting that changes colors and the pretty covers on the speakers.

I am glad I don’t have to drive back and forth to College Station every day now that the Lee’s Gleemobile is here (it’s a GLE 350). I’ll also feel a lot safer in a vehicle that doesn’t randomly die as you’re driving along. And, I got to enjoy lots of time in my car, which I am not giving up yet, plus got crocheting done.

That’s my story. Fancy used car deal complete. And before you think I’m being snooty by getting a Mercedes, it was less than the Tahoe or other American cars that fit our needs.

And hey, I didn’t get this one, though I tried to convince Anita that’s what Lee picked. Red seats. Convertible. Giant engine. MMM. Do well on ranch roads? Nope.

Apache Goes Out in Public

Today I went out to get Apache before dawn. I was surprised to find him waiting by the pens. I hadn’t needed to wake up quite so early after all. But we were ready when Saragorn arrived. We took their vehicle. I needed to buy gas, though, because Sara left her money. That’s happened to me before so I was happy to help out!

I got food so it was good.

We went to Sandhaven, which is near where I went to a concert last week. It was a familiar trip!

I forgot to mention that I saw a house concert near Bastrop last weekend. The music was great! Harmonies!

Anyway, I was really proud of how Apache handled himself. He’d never done many of the things there but he was game! He did the bridge, ringing the bell, the pen obstacle, and more.

Can I leave yet?

Being around all the other horses didn’t spook him. He was great with them all except one. Elvis.

What the heck is that??

I’m pretty sure Apache has seen a child before. And he’s seen Fiona. But a tiny horse? Whoa. That was fascinating to him. Everywhere Elvis went, Apache was watching. It was pretty funny.

I see Elvis. Better keep an eye on him. The Andalusian at left is the beautiful Generosa. I love that name.

Apache got introduced to the mini horse and was okay after that. I enjoyed talking to a couple of the kids who were there, too.

Bulky Suna following Saragorn when we first started out. Photo by Crista.

At the end Apache and I went on a short jaunt down the sandy road behind the trailers and wove in and out between some logs. This may not sound exciting, but last year we couldn’t have done a walk in a strange place away from other horses!

Apache also walked all around the dressage area and did Drew’s pattern.

Now, we also each messed up a couple things. I bought a bridle that I didn’t research well enough. And Apache didn’t want to do anything involving moving sideways. He would not move his rear to line up at the gate, and he did a really crappy job of side passing. Now we know what we need to work on!

See I smiled. It appears my helmet isn’t tight enough. Hmm. Another thing to fix!

I also am not letting my alfalfa pellets soak long enough, so I tried to do better today. Boy was Drew annoyed that I hadn’t mixed his supplements in with the alfalfa. Guess I need a stirring stick.

It was cute when we got home. Drew was smack in the middle of the “pond” which explains how he gets that concrete in his feet. But as soon as he saw Aragorn in the trailer, he followed. While Aragorn was waiting for Apache to get out, Drew stared. When the trailer pulled out of the driveway he ran alongside until he couldn’t do it anymore. He will be happy to see Aragorn tomorrow!

What’s Pink and behind My House?

It’s a roseate spoonbill, that’s what!

…and three storks, one great egret and one great blue heron!

I was excited to see the storks visiting again, then I noticed one of the beaks trolling the shore was not black and looked sorta funny. Whoa. It was pink!

Look at that bill!

I’ve only had one visit from a spoonbill before so this made me smile. I remember looking at one up close at the collection at College Station but I’d rather see them live! I guess this one had just joined up with stork pals for a while.

It was beautiful to see them all fly off, too.

Bye!

What a happy ending to a day that was already fun.

Why was today fun?

No, not because I did my favorite work task, building an e-learning video. It’s because it was Dusty’s turn to star in a horse activity, and it’s fun to watch him bask in the glow of attention.

Dusty eye. He has blue swirls.

Sara needs to practice trimming hooves, and Dusty had four that needed attention. So she brought all her equipment over and worked on our old buddy.

Me? I’m the focus? Not attention hog Apache?

Sara is doing so great, too. As I expected, she is learning fast. It only took her an hour to do the trim, which is a big improvement!

Yep, it was time!

She had a lot more training to do, but she’s well on her way. Dusty did fine and was quite the gentleman. He had to rest his feet some, but that gave Sara a break, too. We were all happy with the results.

Everybody’s happy, and Fiona is also an attention hog.

It’s just so fun to watch my friend learn and hang out with my horse buddies.

Drew got his attention, too. Scratches with Sara’s gloves went over very well.

Life does not suck right now. It’s good, in fact. And it’s getting better! Woo hoo! Enjoy some more hoof fixing photos!

Hey, I skipped a blogging day. It was both busy and sorta boring. But I’m almost finished making the squares for my little macho camouflage blanket! I used my time wisely!

Two Dreams, One Came True, One Didn’t (Thankfully)

Let me start with the dream that didn’t come true. I was obviously a bit stressed out from going to work and not knowing where the office actually was. That night, I had a dream that I was visiting my previous job, the previous location for it. Everyone was there, and it had been remodeled with very cheerful colors and furnishings.

They had alcoholic beverages, too.

I chatted with the happy workers, but then, as it often happens in my dreams, I had to pee. I headed to where the bathrooms were, only to find people at workstations in there, cheerfully typing. I asked where the bathrooms were. “Down the road,” was the response.

WTF??

In the dream, I blurted out, “What if you have diarrhea?” The answer was, “We have an Uber right outside!” I went out and yep, there was an old black car. I got in, and the driver sped off. I asked him if he thought driving people to the bathroom struck him as weird. He turned around and smiled at me, saying, “The tips are great!”

I woke up.


The other dream, the one that did come true isn’t that exciting, except to me. The past two rides I’ve had on Apache the Paint horse have made me so dang happy that it’s like I’ve nailed my bucket list. We’ve been improving slowly over the past year, as you probably know.

Honest, he’s happy, too.

Yesterday we did the thing I’d been wanting to do so badly. We went out in the back pasture and wandered around, going up and down the arroyo, and checking out all the fences and trees. We just did it. No stress, no spinning around, no freezing and snorting. We just had a good time.

Hey Drew, we had fun.

Today was just as fun. First I worked with Drew, who’s getting better at his stuff on the ground. His reward was a nice walk together, which we both love. Halfway through was his big reward: he got to eat long grass in the unmown front field. What a dream, hanging out in the shade and relaxing.

So. Much. Grass.

The dream continued with Apache’s ride. He’s just doing so well. We trotted around like we k ew what we were doing, walked all the way across the road (I checked for cars), then headed out to the front field. Rather than getting worried as we got farther from the other horses, he looked around and checked things out. We looked at pretty pink flowers, sunflowers, and long, waving grass.

Wandering around looking at flowers while feeling safe on a happy, calm horse…that has been my dream since things went sour with Apache a couple of years ago. And I’d never been able to ride through fields alone before. I’d been afraid to ride without another person with me.

The view from the pool. Ahh.

Things are better.

Horse Dentistry Hilarity

Yesterday I had lots of fun and learned many new things as Bonnie, the equine dentist, came over to float the teeth of all the horses here (that’s what they call dental work, floating). Everyone was due except Mabel, but I was concerned that she still might need more work, so all got looked at.

I was really impressed at how Bonnie climbed up on the fence and set up a pulley system to hold the horses’ heads up and keep them still while she looked at them. It worked so well! I was also glad that the fence rails didn’t collapse, as they are still just temporarily welded on and a few of them have fallen down. Can’t weld until the drought is over and the fire danger is lower!

Drew having his front teeth straightened out.

Drew went first. He is such a well behaved little guy. The main concern with him is a cracked tooth he’s had since we got him. Bonnie had looked at him last year when he was in training with Tarrin, so she knew about it. The good news is that the crack looks like it’s not getting worse and will grow out. She declared that Drew has a “good mouth.” Let me know what you think!

He’s out of it.

To safely take care of their teeth, the horses need to be mildly sedated, which means you can do all kinds of fun and funny things with them. But the sedation keeps them from getting all upset and keeps Bonnie safe when she’s digging around back there in their molars. When Drew was done, he had a nice nap.

Apache was next in line. He just marched himself into the pen without me haltering him. I was impressed. We have mad a lot of progress in that area!

His teeth were pretty good, too, just due for a tune-up, because his bite had gotten slightly wonky. I’m glad they are in good shape, because I want him to have good teeth as long as possible. Bonnie said horses that are in pastures tend to have better teeth, because they eat a wide variety of textures and don’t get all dried out from not moving their mouths. Interesting fact: horses don’t salivate unless their mouths are moving. That’s another reason not to force them shut with nosebands, I guess. Dry mouths lead to dry innards and bad digestion or ulcers. I say let them move! Eat grass, my friends!

Mabel stood over by Dusty, and I swear she was telling him stories about last time she got hers floated with the manual rasp. But, Dusty is such a good boy that he stepped up like a man to have his turn. He was a bit more of a challenge to work with, since he hadn’t been worked on in a while. It’s important to keep their jaws in good shape, because it’s connected all over the place and can keep them in pain or out of balance. We suspect that is part of Dusty’s reluctance to be ridden. His work was the main reason I had Bonnie come by, because Tarrin had strongly recommended he get his teeth worked on before doing more with him.

Dusty can’t hold his drugs very well, and wasn’t able to stand up straight some of the time. He was leaning hard on the head rest, and slowly getting more and more sideways. We kept waking him up.

It’s good that he was so woozy, because he had a lot of work done. He has a broken molar, but the good news about that is that it broke off cleanly and shows no signs of infections. He can live with it. He also had really pointy canine teeth that were probably causing discomfort. Did you know the canine teeth in horses are the only ones that don’t keep growing their whole lives? Yep. So, now that this one has been clipped off and smoothed (after the photo was taken), he will feel a lot better.

Dusty’s teeth will need more work next time, but they are more balanced and he will be able to bite off grass a LOT better. That will help him gain some weight. And his chewing will also be better. I don’t think he really appreciated any of this, because neither he nor Mabel would come up for dinner later in the day.

At first I hadn’t intended to get Mabel’s teeth done, since the vet had done it when she last choked. But I’m glad I did, because she needed a lot more detail work than the vet gave. She has some imbalances that were probably hurting her and aren’t completely fixed yet, but will improve over time. Some teeth had grown really long and were pressing down on others. Now she’s more even. And she also had a tooth removed.

Getting way up in her grill (note sleepy Dusty behind her).

She was very well behaved, too. All the horses impressed me with how well they handled the dental work. Bonnie said they obviously were handled a lot and trusted people. That’s saying a lot about how far Mabel has come from when she first arrived!

Here’s an interesting fact. I think we now know for sure how old Mabel is. Bonnie said people had labeled her as 5 from looking at her front teeth, but the back teeth very clearly placed her at 10 years old. That makes more sense to me. There had to be some time for her to accumulate some of her issues. Now we just hope we can make her more comfortable!

We talked a bit about weight management on the thin ones and I got some suggestions for inexpensive things to add to Dusty and Mabel’s feed that will put on a bit of weight and give them some amino acids without being quite as expensive as what I give Drew. I’ll go over all that with Kathleen and we will decide where to go from here on that.

I’m glad that the whole tooth situation is under control. I think that one more trim on their feet will get both Dusty and Mabel ready to start more work building muscle. I’m hoping Dusty can be one of Sara’s practice horses for her farrier certification, but in any case, we’re hoping Trixie will be able to make it next week. We are on a shorter schedule for a while, so Apache and Kathleen’s two can get all set. Drew, of course, has perfect feet to go with his perfect mouth. He’s like one of those incredibly healthy mixed-breed dogs, I guess, just full of heterozygous vigor!

I love them all and it makes me very happy to provide good care and love to these sweet creatures.

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