Progress Report on Horses Drew and Apache, Plus Future Plans

Here we are at mid week, and things have calmed down at least a little. We’re getting into a routine with all the new horses and our very workable facility. While there will be improvements, like more roof and the tack room, what we have now feels quite luxurious!

Drew wishes he had Apache’s dinner, but it has very few calories, so he wouldn’t get much out of it.

It is so nice to have the round pen right there to warm up horses and to work with Drew. I’m happy to say that he is a lot better on the lunge line and now walks and trots more than trotting and cantering. Plus, he is starting to figure out that I am asking him to transition. He is also being a much better citizen when walking on a lead, and only crowds me in crowded spots. There’s work to do, but also progress. On the other hand, I have not found his “back” button.

Wow, exercise area, feeding area, pasture, shelter, and even a temporary washing station are here!

I’ve been riding Apache as often as possible. Yesterday, he acted like his right back hoof hurt and did not want to trot in the round pen, so I’m watching for another abscess. Yet, we went for a very long trail ride all over the cow pasture, front yard, and such, and he did just great. There’s a lot of progress with him, too, and I’m relaxing my feet more in the Western stirrups.

And look at this! We have trails mowed into the pasture for us, on both sides of the fence. We sure appreciate that!

The new horses of Kathleen’s are enjoying their lives very much. She’s been riding Dusty for hours every day, and they also are making huge progress. It’s fun to watch them. She walks all the horses daily and does tons of grooming. She’s the horsiest!

Dusty says, I’m enjoying riding around with Kathleen, and I’m gaining some weight!

Mabel has been looking sort of droopy, though, so she’s going to the vet ahead of schedule, just to be sure she is all right.

I’m eating a lot, but still working on filling out these old ribs of mine, says Granny Amaretto.

As for me, I know I am not equipped to train a young horse myself, so I have been talking to a local trainer whose philosophy and ideas agree with mine about getting him started the right way. She’s the woman who was the judge at the Working Equitation show we went to a while back. Starting in October, Drew will spend some time learning manners and skills, and I will also learn how to work with him the way he’s been trained.

Excuse me, I’m a teenager. I do not need manners. But, at least I’m clean, says Drew.

In the meantime, I’m going to start going to lessons with Apache, to help the two of us get more in tune and refine my riding and his horsing. I really look forward to finally getting some real lessons in horsemanship, after all these years of not doing it. It’s an investment into my future retirement fun. I can’t wait for Apache to get more balanced, so I can ride him at a trot and canter and maybe help get some of that weight off.

Welcome to Our Equine Rescue Facility

Just kidding! Don’t send us fixer-upper horses! But we DO happen to have two more over here at the Hermits’ Rest, because at least two of us are very soft hearted or see a lot of potential, or something.

Mysterious new equines

This afternoon we certainly tested the carrying capacity of the livestock trailer (well, it’s probably had more cattle in it). First, I went along with Kathleen to get Dusty and Remi looked at by Dr. Kilgore in Rosebud. As predicted, he was popular with all the humans. We waited a long time, but it was fine. I took pictures of plants and butterflies, including one of those bird poop moths. I’ll spare you the photos of the poison ivy, but I did want to show that even Johnson grass can take a good photo. And, there were cute dogs to enjoy.

The horses got wormed and inspected. They were declared fine, other than their feet, which will get dealt with tomorrow. Then, Kathleen said she wanted to go look at these two mares she saw in horse ads. Yes, she was still looking at horse ads. I think she figures Remington is not going to be a great riding horse, and she feels that Dusty (who has already gained weight, as you can see below) is not a beginner horse.

You can still see his ribs, but Dusty (left) looks a lot better.

So off we went. The road looked very familiar. Yes, it was in those outskirts of Milano where we got all the pipe and junk a few weeks ago! I’m sure the horses loved that road, poor guys. We pulled in to a property that was just beautiful, and so far off the beaten path…it made me sing “Almost Heaven, East Milano…”

No houses, just rolling pastures.

The guy did, indeed have two mares. They were very sad looking mares at first glance. I’m going to put in their “before” photos here, so I’ll have a reference as they get better.

We named them Mabel and Amaretto. But before that, the horse trader guy rode both of them for us. First was Mabel. When she is being ridden, you wouldn’t know this is the same horse. It’s like poetry. Her trot is so smooth the guy didn’t bounce, and her canter was elegant. I’m thinking to myself, geez, this is a gaited horse! Then they stuck me up on her (easier said than done; she is at least 16 hands, so I had to use the trailer as a mounting block). I rode her and it felt like she had air-glide suspension. I was not interested in a giant, brown (okay dark bay) horse with a droopy lip before, but suddenly I was. I hid my joy, of course.

Amaretto’s sweet face.

Then he saddled up the other horse, which could not be more different. But, she is only 14 hands, if that, and I can mount her from the ground. Even Kathleen could! Kathleen enjoyed riding her, and wanted me to try. Amaretto reins more fluidly, but rides like Apache, i.e., a normal Quarter Horse. I will enjoy my new saddle on her. She is actually a beautiful horse, but she’s so skinny it’s hard to tell. Apparently the horse trader had leased her out, and she was returned in this poor condition (OMG her feet look so sad).

Mabel working

So, after the requisite haggling, they bought them. And during the chit-chat portion of the discussion, we also were referred to a cool old guy who had some saddles. BUT WAIT. You remember the guy who sold Drew got rid of him because he wanted some beautiful stud horse? Guess where he got him! Yep. We should have just met in Milano and traded. I am glad we have Drew, though.

Don’t forget me.

So, off we went with four horses and two saddles. They let them out with Fiona and the other three horses, then all of us just watched everyone running around and getting to know each other. It was a lot of fun.

Meet and greet

When we came in, finally, I got to open my new saddle. It has many pretty details.

Around noon today, Kathleen and I went out to play with all our new toys. I cleaned the saddle they got yesterday. It turned out really nice!

Hardly looks old!

Then I got Apache out to see if he would do okay in my new tack. I got the saddle all adjusted and off we went. He did just fine!

I’m told the pad is a bit large.

Kathleen put on her “new” saddle and yay, the stirrups were short enough for her! It’s technically a kid saddle. Who cares? Amaretto did fine, too. She’s a good horse.

Kathleen looking good.

I got too hot (not my best time of day), so was able to blog a bit. I’m sitting with dear Amaretto, who is completely un phased by welding in her vicinity.

Once I cool off, it’s time to mess with little Drew. By then we may have all the gates up! Enjoy some bonus horse photos!

This Made Me So Happy

You’ve probably read that I’ve been having some trouble with my Paint horse, Apache, and having him not responding well, with him having an abscess, etc. it’s seemed like two steps forward and one step back. One reason I got Drew is to have a horse I can enjoy riding without struggle.

I’m a good guy!

Now that we have everyone over at our place, I wanted to try riding Apache here. But I did some tests on him.

I started the day with the horses by just walking him around in his little pasture. I wanted to see what Drew would do. He followed us around curiously. So, I took the halter off Apache and put it on Drew. He walked with me just great! He had very good manners. Apache followed, but didn’t force his way between us. It was great!

I was good.

After a hot afternoon of raking huge piles of grass and putting them in the front-end loader’s bucket (don’t ask why), Kathleen and I wanted to ride. I warmed Apache up on a nice long lead, and he was okay, not great. But still, I put his saddle on, in addition to his pretty new side pull bridle.

I’m all dressed up now.

While we waited for Kathleen to get help with her persnickety old saddle, I got on and rode Apache around, to see how he would do. Um. Wow. He was fantastic.

Happy human and horse. Note I do have my helmet on.

We rode over by the cows, checked out the pond, crossed the driveway, and really bothered the poor dogs. But wow, he did so well. He didn’t act upset or nervous. He then stood quietly at least ten minutes while I talked to Kathleen and Dusty.

I had fun, too.

Fiona was also good. When Kathleen and I were out, she didn’t act up or run like a crazed ass. And she came right in when we were done.

I was proud of Apache for helping Dusty and Kathleen figure stuff out, but at one point he’d had enough of mosquitoes and did not want to keep going. I listened to him and got off. He was so happy and friendly and good.

I’m looking forward to my chiropractor experience tomorrow!

We both seem relaxed and happy. Plus, Drew was calmer this evening, too. We are all making progress. I was almost in tears after the ride. I have my horse back, and my new fellow is a real peach.

PS: we watched Apache and Remington mutually grooming for a long time this afternoon. It’s just so nice to see how well all these equines are adapting to their new surroundings and herd. Sometimes things actually work out well! All good.

The Big Day: Apache Comes Home

I’d been waiting a long time to get Apache and Fiona on our property, so I can hang out with them more. What with the three new horses this week and all the work getting things ready, it’s been busy around here, but today topped them all! Everyone agrees this was the busiest day we remember. Lucky for us, there was also fun.

I mean, who couldn’t have fun in THIS get-up?

Before I could go get my guys, a few things had to be finished, so I got drafted from my heat recovery reverie to finish mowing Apache’s grazing area as far down as possible. I do believe that was my first riding lawnmower work, but I did good, and apparently the tractor made me look sexy (musical reference).

My fine mowing on left, what it was before, on the right.

Finally, recharged with Gatorade, I walked over one last time to the other horse pens. Speaking of exercise, I got over 16,000 steps today. Six miles, not counting horseback. Anyway, we loaded Apache with his hay net and lead rope, and put Fiona’s halter on so she could carry it. Sara tied it up real well.

They have no idea they’re moving to new pastures.

I rode Apache and Fiona followed, in her own fashion. Sara opened the gate for us and waved farewell. Sniff. She promised to keep feeding Big Red for me. But, now the paddock can rest and recover, so it’s all good.

I was proud of how Apache did fine passing a lawn mower, barking dogs, and hidden scary objects, but one thing concerned him. There’s something near the mailbox for the cabin that reflected brightly and made him stare. But, eventually we made it to our property and I turned them out.

Home at last.

After eating a bit, Drew called to them, so they went over to meet him. It was a very successful meet and greet.

You’re okay, so are you, and you, too.

Meanwhile, Remington and Dusty were getting saddled up, so I guess everyone wasn’t too tired to ride. (I was, but I wasn’t about to miss any fun!) Drew did not like being in his pen, and got all worked up. He knocked down his temporary gate and went charging around. Luckily, I’d just decided to close the exit gate, just in case.

So, while Kathleen rode around happily on Dusty, I held on the Remington while we made the executive decision to put Drew in with Apache and Fiona. I have no photos, but they got along okay, once Apache kicked Drew to establish his dominance. Still, Drew ran and ran. You know, why not? The poor guy hadn’t had many opportunities to run around before.

Lee took this nice picture of me. I’m all covered up because I’d been in the sun all day.

When Kathleen got off, she said I ought to ride Dusty. So, I clambered into the Western saddle, grabbed the split reins, and walked and trotted around, mostly watching Remington, who had some issues.

Yee haw.

Dusty was fine, and eventually we had a nice time out looking at stuff with Remington, who had learned his lesson. He will be lots better after the chiropractic work on Monday.

There is a lot of tack on this horse.

By the time we were done with riding and putting things away, everyone was tired, even Lee, who helped a lot in the frantic preparations.

Horseback chatting. Thanks to Lee for the pictures!

Kathleen and I both took soothing baths tonight. We both got a lot of sun. I will be ok, I did have sunscreen on. She’s really red, but is a good tanner. Whatever, I bet we are out again tomorrow, even if we are sore.

What a day of fun and new things! When I checked the horses in the evening, all four plus Fiona were peacefully grazing. No one was running around!

The Herd Grows

Here’s the surprise I’ve hinted at. After I got Andrew, Kathleen went to a horse rescue place and came home with two fine buckskin gentlemen, Remington (7) and Dusty (13).

Dusty, Remington, and Drew

When they got back with the new guys (who have all their shots and were checked out by a vet), they all said “hay” to each other and were fine. When they were let out together the next day, nothing but friendship ensued (and gentle nips). That was a good surprise.

Buddies.

Remington is a perfect quarter horse type. He’s really beautiful. He needs work on his neck, so Trixie is looking at him Monday. (She will look at them all.) but whoa, he can do stuff, potentially.

Mr Fancy

Dusty is older, very gentle, and will be a great guest horse. He used to be an elderly man’s horse, and was well loved. He loves carrots, and used to have the nickname Bunny. Aww. He likes to chew, too.

Dusty has two white socks.

We’ve spent most of today with these three, walking, learning, and having nice baths. That was fun!

Clean baby.

Much of the rest of the day we got the stalls and pasture ready for Apache. I even had to mow. I meant I got to mow.

On the left is Apache’s low grass.

Now Apache will have little grass just like he needs. Whew. We were outside all day!

Horses in stalls.

Kathleen and I are gonna have so much fun.

Buckskin horses and dog. Plus white.

Family Fun, More Floods

At least today was a little different. It didn’t rain until around 5 pm, so I got to get some work done and do some fun things. The most fun was a visit from my son and his partner, who wanted to do some ranch stuff. My son wants to learn to ride horses, so we headed off to the horse pen to rescue Apache from his solitary confinement.

Horse wranglin’

So, I gave the two of them a lesson in what you do before you can ride a horse. I taught them about putting in the halter, the grooming steps, and hoof cleaning. Apache was so good!

Cowpoke from Austin.

I didn’t get pictures of it (I didn’t even take these pictures), but Fiona also got groomed. By the time R. got finished, she looked like a show donkey.

We appreciated the attention.

After that, my son got to walk Apache, stop him, and walk him in a circle. Apache really wanted to eat grass, but he begrudgingly complied. We were too hot to force things (oh, the humidity!).

Back at the house, I got some help with chickens. Barbara has a hurt foot, and she was getting badly pecked, so we decided to let the other pullets in with the big chickens and leave her to recover in the small enclosure. I didn’t get photos. Too busy distracting chickens.

Boring, but clean.

Earlier today, I’d cleaned the front porch and started repotting my Norfolk Island pine. I’m glad my son came, because he helped me with the potting soil. I hope the plant perks up.

I had to do something while it wasn’t raining! So I sweated, shined, and perked up the porch.

But, all good weather must come to an end. By the time we got back in the house, rain was back. We sat and talked while some really strong rain fell. Really strong.

But at least rain brings the bonus of golden rain lilies.

We managed to get out and have a nice Mexican dinner and some great conversation about music and comedy, then our guests went home, as did we. The rainwater had been busy while we were gone.

Oh no! The backup culvert is activated!

It was way more flooded than yesterday. The secondary drainage culvert hasn’t come into operation but one other time since Lee added it (prevents the driveway from overflow). The water was really rushing and high.

The water was even flowing across the road. Eek.

At least you can drive through it.

Of course we had to let the dogs play. Alfred, in particular, had a blast, pawing and biting at the rapids.

On his way to the next splash area.

Funny though, in the 20 minutes Lee and I walked around looking, the pond/tank crested and all these culverts did their job. By the time we left, it was already down a foot or so. Check out the pictures.

We will be fine, but we do wish we could send some rain to our friends and family in California.

Those trees in the tank are usually on the shore.

Actually Back in the Saddle (Me)

Well, I’m back where I was a few months ago, but with a healthy horse to ride. Sara isn’t here for a few days, but I wanted Apache to keep getting the exercise he’d been getting lately, so he will have more muscle and less fat.

I have no pictures of me riding, so here is a picture of the big dogs swimming.

So, this evening I went out to release Apache from the dry pen and took his beautiful groomed self out in the round pen for a lot of trotting. That’s also good for his muscle building.

Yep. That fencing is moving right along.

Then, well, I got on, even though I hadn’t done so since the winter, when we had our last scary ride. Luckily, this ride went pretty well. He did his thing where he tried to turn around, but not too many times. After that, it was a nice ride.

We have the pretty yellow flowers of the water primrose again around the pond.

Apache and I even walked by the two younger cattle dogs and a bunny with no issues. It’s so good to have him feeling good and focusing on what we are doing. Maybe I do have a future learning more with him.

Hey. We’re still here.

Also, for your information, Fiona is also being a superstar. I no longer have to go get her and halter her when we’re done riding or exercising. I call her, and she meanders my way. I stick my hand out with a treat in it, and she happily follows me. My stress levels are so low now with these guys.

And that’s really how I’m back in the saddle again. Just having fun with my animal buddies.

Back in the (Clean) Saddle Again

Hooray. I’ve got my horse back! It’s sure been a long road for Apache. Last night, I saddled him up for the first time since the dang abscess, and I made sure he was doing okay in the round pen by trotting him a lot. He was deemed okay, so I mounted him while Sara got on Spice, who really didn’t seem happy, though she behaved fine. I’d say the ride wasn’t a complete success, though it wasn’t a failure, either. Apache indicated what he wanted to do instead of what I wanted, fairly strongly, a couple of times. Still, I got through it and did a good job getting him on my schedule before I got off. I did give him a nice rinse-off, which delighted him.

This morning, we got out bright and early. We were delighted to see that there were clouds in the sky and a breeze. That made everything much more pleasant. I was happy to see that he was still clean, even though I KNOW he rolled in the pens.

Today, Sara decided to see if Bonnie Pumpkin, the horse who’d hanging out with us for a while, would be ridable, and she put the bareback pad on her. I decided to use the hackamore with Apache today, and apparently, that was a good decision. After a fine warmup, Sara carefully got on Bonnie, and she was fine! Hooray!

A happy moment for all.

I got on Apache, and off we went. He was a different horse today, very responsive and calm. He didn’t break into a nervous trot once, nor did he start spinning around if I dared to ask him to turn right. He must be feeling better. We went through the dreaded line of trees, and neither horse did anything other than walk, and occasionally stop to look at something. None of the usual spots bothered him. We made an entire circle, walked over some obstacles, and then, in a shocking display of obedience, I got Apache to walk past the barn before turning to go back.

Fiona wanted to be in a picture, too.

Sara and I both had FUN. That was so great. I felt so good (and not overly hot) that I decided to clean all my tack. I got all sorts of stuff off the saddle and got it gleaming and not all scuffed up. Apache’s girth was also really dirty and covered in hair, so I cleaned it, as well. The worst thing was the poor hackamore, which had been sitting since Apache was last ridable and had gotten all yucky and moldy, so I cleaned it all up again, too. I’m ready to go somewhere, once I have somewhere to go with him.

Everything got saddle soap except the suede parts, which just got wiped off and brushed. Horse people, this is a hybrid saddle made by Parelli back when I could afford such things. I intend to use it the rest of my life (it is SO comfy), though I’ll probably have to get a Western one at some point.

I hope that will be soon. Now that I am not spending so much time in Austin, I hope to be able to take lessons and fix some of my riding gaffes, then work on Apache’s horse gaffes. We both have a lot of work to do, but we do love each other!

He’s Got a Ticket to Ride

He, being Apache. Tonight it was finally not too hot or too busy, so Sara and I checked on how Apache’s feet were doing since his abscess.

He’s shiny but chubby again

Sara says he’s as fat as he ever was. Sigh. I really need to get him in his pen half the day, but I blew it by going to the auction today. Tomorrow will be another day.

He does clean up well

Anyway, I took him out in the round pen, where he walked and trotted just fine. He did buck on the way to start circling, which was not so great. But otherwise, he was a gentleman.

Sara put the bareback saddle and bridle on him and rode him around. He was pretty darned good and did nice turns and back ups. Sara diagnosed him as fine for walking, so I’ll try riding 15 minutes or so tomorrow morning.

Look at my summer coat!

The other good thing is that Fiona has finally gotten rid of her winter coat. She’s one fine looking long-eared gal.

Snakes

To make a long day even longer, as I walked home from the horses, the hay bailer was hard at work. It scared up two rat snakes who didn’t even notice me as they slid across the driveway.

Then, after dark, when I finally came in, this fat and sassy fellow greeted me in the porch.

It’s a snake.

Not to worry, it’s a diamondback water snake. Check the head and lack of rattles.

Best I can do in the dark, but you can see the pattern.

Okay. Enough scary stuff for one day. Oh no, there was a dead scorpion next to where I keep my boots. Hint: always check inside boots for spiders, scorpions, or even toads (happened to Sara once).

Dead.

Ranch life is not for wimps.

Fun with Dickcissels and Horses

It’s looking

In years past I’ve mentioned my fondness for the migratory dickcissel birds that come through here at the Hermits’ Rest each year. They’re small sparrow-sized birds with big sound and friendly personalities.

I usually see them on barbed wire or electric wire. This is a female.

They have a charming gurgling song and often chirp away after sunset. I don’t know why this is.

This is a male.

They hang around here late spring through mid summer. I wasn’t sure if they bred here or not until today when I was walking over to see Apache and Fiona.

Friendly female

Females followed me along the road, moving down the fence as I passed.

Look at her mouth!

Eventually I made it to the old, hollow, cedar elm just before the cattle guard. There I saw much dickcissel activity, and both a male and a female. They were working on a nest!

Looking for building supplies.

I was so pleased to see this! I hope to soon see or hear babies when I walk by. Here’s a bit more on these birds from iNaturalist.

Horse update

I’m other news, we have Bonnie the quarter horse visiting for a while. She’s 19, and wanting to do stuff.

Looking forward to more horse fun.

Apache went for a walk with her (and us humans) and they got along fine as long as Apache didn’t get too close, because her flank must look delicious.

Practicing being a perfect gentleman.

It’s looking like Apache is healing well. We walk and walk, and he is fine. I’m hoping riding can resume by the weekend.