As usual, Rashid tells a lot of stories about his younger days with his mentor, as well as stories about people and horses he met during his clinics. One of the things that struck me with this book is how well he combines intuition with knowledge of how both people and horses work. His clinic attendees must really get a lot out of their interactions.
From this book, I learned how important balancing your reactions to things, so that horses can mirror your reactions and minimize their own reactions. His discussion of using energy to cue horses as much or more than physical cues makes a lot of sense to me. I can see where I’ve done my own horses a real disservice, but at least I have a plan for what I can work on moving forward.
I just hope I haven’t ruined poor Apache’s life with all my emotions, fear, and inability to remain calm no matter what. I’m getting better, though, and hope I can be more consistent. That’s the other thing Rashid talks about, how horses learn to trust people through consistency. That has always been hard for me, since most of the time I’ve been with Apache I’ve not lived with him, and have been gone a lot. But you know, I also have to live my own life, so I’ll just do the best I can. I’m sure that’s what he’s doing too.
And I will try my best to forge a good relationship with Drew, now that I am getting more training and have learned more. I guess the oldest “child” is always the one that has to deal with inexperienced caregivers.
I recommend any of his books to people who want to learn more about how the relationship between horses and people works. The more you learn, the more nuggets you can take and apply to your own life with equines. Plus, you’ll grow to love the horses he has worked with as much as Rashid did.
It isn’t summer yet, but Drew went off to Camp Wild Type yesterday, like a little man.
Really, what’s happening is that I’m going out of town later this week, and Sara offered to take care of him most of the time I’m gone, since she has a really healthy pasture someone needs to nosh on while Aragorn deals with some issues. It’s like going to camp!
We walked over to Sara’s property, and Drew was such a gentleman. I never had to pull on his lead, he never bumped into me, and he walked with me. That boy has learned. Even when he neighed, he paid attention to me. I was so proud. Once we got there he went to meet Lakota, the older palomino gelding who she’s taking care of in his retirement years.
We were a little worried, as you are when two strange horses meet. But these guys just sniffed faces, sniffed shoulders, and sniffed butts.
It was sweet to watch them immediately start hanging out together. Drew hasn’t made any good friends in our herd, so that pleased me so much.
I hope they are going to have a nice time together. The beautiful Sully is also going to be there. She’s probably going be a boss mare, so introducing her is going to take a while. Sara is on it! It’s so good to have a trusted friend who cares as much as I do about our horses.
Last night the dinner we’d planned to have didn’t happen, so both Lee and I had cereal for dinner. I looked at the milk carton, which said it was good until that day. So I poured it on my Oaty Something and chomped away. The cereal tasted odd but I thought nothing of it. But then Lee said he’d thrown out the milk, because it was bad. Oops. The oats hid it too well.
So last night, my stomach told me what it thought about that milk, all night. And it gave me weird dreams, like trying to wash horses in my sister’s living room. (She and my mom have both been in my dreams a lot lately — the women my grandmother messed up real bad.)
Today I dragged along, feeling pretty fuzzy. I got lots done at work, including reading dozens of surveys explaining exactly how much the users I support hate the software I support. Fun times.
Feeling so rotten meant I had no urge to saddle up and ride, so I groomed Apache and murdered botflies that were after him. Then we headed over to the dreaded new trailer. Imagine his surprise when he discovered all sorts of treats scattered on it! I think it did help settle him down, especially since I approached the trailer slowly and indirectly, like it says in my new book (and Tarrin said, too).
We went on to do a lot of ground work, and then just hung around with the menfolk, chatting. It was good for us both. I also spent time with Drew after he ate, practicing standing at the mounting block. That boy is looking better.
I’m home tonight because I decided I’m no longer a good fit for the Austin book club. I think they also decided that. It’s okay, since I had a special dish I was going to make for dinner. Only, dinner got delayed again! I’m laughing. You just go with the flow around here!
And tomorrow I’m double booked. How did that happen when I’m trying to cut down on obligations? It’s because I like both Master Naturalist parties AND horse webinars! Glad the latter will be recorded.
It’s always something with my equine buddies. Today was no exception. I’d been out for a while in the morning feeding Drew and Mabel (more on that later), so I was back at work concentrating on job aids, user guides, and the like. The dogs began to bark. What could it be? The letter carrier? The UPS driver? FedEx? The barking seemed a little different than usual.
I soon found out why. There was a thundering herd of six horses and one small, spotted donkey running across the front field, looking majestic AF. Oops. I fetched my non-computer glasses and my phone and ran out to see how that had happened.
The photo you see here is them running after I came outside. I wish I’d had a camera when I first saw them. They looked all a-flutter. When I came out, they had started to settle down and get to the important work of finding new and different grass to eat. They paid Jim’s RV area a nice visit.
Then they took off again, because they saw me and wanted to say HI. I invited them into their pen, but they had other plans.
By the time I got the gate opened and fetched a tempting feed tub of deliciousness, they were back over by the RV, which appears to be where the best grass on the property can be found. I rattled the container of feed at them. You can imagine how I laughed when I saw how quickly Dusty’s head picked up. FOOD! He was headed my way before I was even able to pick up the phone to get a picture, with the others trooping along right behind him.
I’d barely gotten into the pen myself when Dusty’s head was poking at the tub. Soon, everyone was there. Even Fiona was faster than Drew, who I guess was more interested in that grass than any boring old senior horse feed. But, all I had to do was set the tub down, stand at the gate, and shut it (well). I saw that they’d managed to open one of the small gates out of the pens, which means I didn’t secure it well enough. I’ll get that lesson through my head one of these days.
I guess the adventure was fun, since it made Drew roll around with glee. Damn, he is a cute little feller. His mane is getting so full, it reminds me of Curly on the Three Stooges.
I’m glad that excitement ended quickly. Earlier, on my morning feeding break. I realized that Mabel was patiently standing in one of the pens while Drew ate his morning calorie dump. I’d been planning to try to give Mabel extra food, too, once we had fewer horses to wrangle at feeding time, so I went and got her some alfalfa and coconut meal, wet down with a lot of water.
Since she, like Drew, had choked before, I watched her like a hawk until she was finished eating. My goodness, she seemed happy to get the extra calories.
I’ve been noticing that she is filling out and even gaining some muscle since I started on a magnesium supplement and coconut powder (which I give all of the horses that aren’t mine, mainly so she can get it). Her tail, what little there is left of it after a horse bit off most of it, is even all shiny now. The best part, though, is that she is so much more relaxed and friendly. She now comes up for love and petting, which makes me so happy.
Kathleen and I have talked about plans for her, and I think she will at least have a chance at a useful life once we get her feet under control, worm her (and the rest) again, and get her weight a bit more normal. She’s going to be thin, we think, no matter what. She needs to show a little less rib, still.
I’ve also noticed the other horses have stopped pestering her so much. Maybe it’s because Drew is now competing to be the lowest ranking horse in the herd, but I think she is stronger and can put up more of a fight. I’m happy she is on the mend at last. We can dote on her and give her all our human love. That will make us feel better, too.
I’m not referring to my spouse. We’re pretty good, even when we’re grumpy. I’m talking about the horses, yet again, mainly Apache. How many years have I been trying to get the whole leadership thing down with him? Six, eight? A long time.
Oh, we’re making plenty of progress, for sure. I’m a better rider and he’s a better horse in so many ways, thanks to our lessons. And it hasn’t even been a year yet since we started back up learning from others. Breaking bad habits takes a long time.
I’m just hard on myself, as any of you who know me in person would confirm. So, when Apache completely fell apart over at Sara’s on Friday and put us both in danger, I blamed a lack of leadership skill on my part. Why didn’t I widen the reins more, relax my legs more, bang my leg harder?
The horse, on the other hand, was back in his old home pasture, near his favorite horse friend (Spice, Sara’s retired previous main horse), and not interested in Suna at all. He was also not noticing the new fencing going in, nor the open holes for fence posts. I knew Tarrin would want me to keep working with him, but I also know she wouldn’t want us in danger, so I got off.
Once I was safe and over being annoyed, we decided to walk back, with Sara riding along. It was good for Aragorn, who is also having his own interesting issues. It’s always something!
What’s weird is that Apache acted all rude and pushy, plus refused to back up (which he’d been doing in the saddle, too, for unknown reasons). But the moment we got past the cattle guard and headed home, he relaxed, slowed down, and walked at my side like an equine gentleman. We stopped to talk by our gate, and he stood quietly at my side, not even trying to eat when Aragorn did. Huh.
Today I went out again. This time I groomed Apache by the tack room, not the new trailer. He seems to not like the trailer, intensely. That at least started us out calmer. And I have to say, he did great at all his schooling stuff, even leg yielding. He jumped, too, in his way. It needs work.
We rode through the front field, too, turning and not heading back immediately. If I had stopped there, I’d have had a good day to make up for Friday. But, I wanted to go in the small paddock to do more leg yields. That required us to pass these horses’ asses.
All Apache wanted from then on was to go to them. He repeatedly tried to go in the pens, out the gate he came in, or anywhere except where I asked him to go. He got pretty insistent and started hopping. I had no urge to get bucked off into a fence pole or pen. I got off.
I promptly converted his reins to a lead rope and marched him off for ten minutes of ground work. Whee. I hope he enjoyed the figure 8 at a trot, the serpentine, and the repeated stopping and backing up. At least he backed up a few steps. He got to go back in the pasture only after the other horses had headed out to graze. Well, I try.
I’m just so grateful for Drew. We had a very nice session and worked on all his skills. He followed all my gait changes (I got in a fine workout with all the trotting on lead line). He practiced standing by the mounting block. Ah. And we just had a nice, long walk and chat together. He’s a joy to work with and I credit those months of training!
Back a few steps, I guess, but I’ll get there. I’m not a failure even when I feel like it. Just a work in progress, trying, failing, and trying again.
That’s thank you in grass language. I’ve been laughing my ass off this afternoon for a couple of reasons. First, I spent my lunch hour resting my eyes by seeing what new blossoms we have. I also was marveling at how many varieties of grass we have in the front field and how beautiful they looked waving in the breeze.
I carefully took pictures of all the rye, oats, barley (it’s beginning to sound like bread, isn’t it?), and other grass varieties. I was looking forward to seeing what else came up.
No sooner had I gone in to get lunch than I heard the Kubota tractor start up. I quickly realized it was going back and forth across the field. I had damn good timing! The field was getting shredded (mowed in ranch talk). There go those waving seed heads! I got a good laugh out of that. There’s still plenty of other grass and flowers out there…at least for now.
I did find lots of new flowers, though, and most were on the roadside. We finally have Indian blankets blooming, though I’d seen them lots of other places already. And bindweed is blooming its tiny mini-morning glories. I’m very happy to see the Engelmann daisies are kicking into high gear, ready to take over where the bluebonnets (going to seed now) leave off. Here’s some of what I saw:
I enjoyed my break, and I enjoyed working with Drew this afternoon. He’s back to paying attention. Kathleen’s horses had opinions of me not working with them, though. I think they flipped me off in horse language.
Well, grassy-ass, to you guys!
Hey! Some of those quiet gulls just flew over and I managed to get photos! Distant, but there they are. Zoom in!
I guess it’s obvious that you learn things spending time with animals, but the weekend really taught me a lot more than I thought it would. Plus I had fun, mostly.
Saturday, before daylight, Sara and I hauled Aragorn to Sandhaven, the place I took a lot of flower pictures and shared earlier. She had a Working Equitation show and I went as moral support and for my own edification.
There was a wonderful variety of horses at the show, ranging from a very talented horse of Drew’s size and coloring to a gigantic Trakehner with an equally tall rider. Of course, the pro woman with all the Gypsy Vanners was there. Yes they’re pretty. No I don’t have time for the mane and tail maintenance.
I enjoyed the part with the obstacles the best. Wow, some of those horse and rider pairs are great. It was fun watching the youth and the older folks all riding together. One young woman faced challenges really well. And as for the older folks. There is a lot of grit needed when you have to get off and back on and your body no longer does that easily.
Some of the obstacles are like watching the horses dance. There is one where you go around three barrels that’s so pretty when they go fast.
Only one obstacle got to Aragorn. The bridge, which he is usually great at, was covered with giant fake flowers. This was just too strange for him! But, on the third try, he got across. I was full of sympathy. Those were overkill. (The woman who owns the facility did work very hard on the obstacles, and they were beautiful and quite fancy.)
Sara did well, and she and the other woman who is close to her skill level traded firsts and seconds. They’re both fun to watch, as advanced beginners.
The more advanced people were where the education came in. I’m getting better at discerning the difference between good and bad form, and where finesse comes in. Some of those horses did amazing transitions between gaits and could open gates with their riders most gracefully. I have a lot to work on!
I sure appreciate that Sara invited me along.
As for Me
My turn to horse around came yesterday, when I had two lessons, one with each horse. Again, I learned a lot. Poor Drew always gets upset in the trailer, and he poops runny stuff. Poor Apache slid in it trying to back out. Not a great start.
But Drew had a really good lesson. I got better at lunging him nicely, and he got better at lining up to be saddled. We both worked on side passing. I’m proud of how he remembered what to do, and how hard he worked. We had a great time. I love him so.
I also got a new halter for Drew that fits his face better than his others. He has a small head, that’s for sure. It’s his theme color of turquoise, too. I’m grateful.
As for Apache, that boy worked hard in his lesson. We had lots of fun working on jumping, which he had gotten down darned well by the end. Then we worked on that walking sideways thing, the name of which eludes me. I looked it up. Half pass. I shall endeavor to remember. We are both getting better at it. It’s good to have something to work on.
Next we got to work on trail rides. That was so much fun! Tarrin came along with me, bareback. It was to practice trail rides with another horse. Apache did pretty well, and I did fine when he had an issue. It was great.
At the end, my buddy fell apart. He did okay walking down the “scary” corridor, but the idea of riding up to the trailer freaked him out. This is sort of weird, since he will ride up to it at home.
It ended up taking about 20 minutes to get there. It involved a LOT of backing up, twirling, throwing of heads, and drama. I kept at it, though my leg got tired from banging on him. Then, once I did it, Tarrin got on him and made him do it again. I was sorta relieved it took her a bit of time to do it, too. But I think he will do better next time. He was a mess of sweat and hair by the time we were done.
I was hoping to get a few photos Lee’s friend, Matt took of us. As it is, I love the ones Tarrin shared with me above.
And Apache is all brushed and shiny again now. He loved being brushed while eating. On the other hand, Drew got all peeved so I had to stop. To be honest, it’s nice to see him show some spirit.
Yesterday, my friend Mandi dropped by to pick up the baby blanket I finished recently, so her imminent little boy will have a nice warm blanket, perfect for Texas summers. Ha. Well, it will be perfect for cold air-conditioned rooms and draughts. Drafts. Whichever.
We spent most of our time over by the horses, because she needed some horse time and I had to feed the equines. I showed her the new and improved tack room, into which I am slowly moving my things.
She also got to enjoy watching me work with Drew briefly. He acted like a doofus at first and was running off to eat grass with no regard to me, but once I got him into the round pen, he remembered what he was supposed to be doing and was just fine. I didn’t want to work with him too much, since he’d had so much time off and had been sick, but at least he got a few jumps and circles in to remember his job.
When we were done, we walked over to the hen house to gather the day’s production (they are in extra-productive mode right now, with 6-7 eggs a day, which is not bad for just eight hens).
I saw something in the corner of my eye and looked up. There, whirring and spiraling, was a flock of birds. They weren’t geese, since they were the wrong shape and there was a noticeable lack of honking. The birds were not in any particular formation, either, which also ruled out cranes or ducks. They really weren’t making much noise at all.
Of course, I didn’t have any binoculars. I even had left my phone elsewhere! That’s not like me! So, I memorized what they looked like. To me they looked like seagulls, not something you see often here, due to a lack of sea. I took note of the black wing stripes.
After that, we just watched them fly. They sparkled in the sun as they turned and spun. We were in awe. There must have been a hundred or so, shiny, white and swirling. We watched until they flew out of sight, heading northward.
When I got back to my phone, I immediately pulled up one of the most helpful bird-watching apps I’ve found, Merlin Bird ID from Cornell Labs (an institution I happily give my charitable donations to). This app has you input a few facts about the bird you saw, then gives you a list of possible birds it could have been. What’s really GREAT about the app is that it knows exactly where you are and has a huge database of past bird sightings for different times of year to draw from.
And that was the key to my bird identification. The app knew what tends to migrate at this time of year in the center of the United States. We were witnessing the migration of Franklin’s gulls (Leucophaeus pipixcan) from South America as they head up to the Great Lakes and marshes in the center of North America. How lucky we were to be outside and looking up in time to see that!
This is the kind of thing that makes life worth living for a naturalist. I’ll remember the sight for the rest of my life.
As it is, life goes on. The gutters are functional now and they got a little test yesterday when we got actual normal rain without any tornadic events.
In more Hermits’ Rest news, today the guys are building an entry deck for the pool house. That is going to make bringing things in and out much easier than trying to step on a couple of cement blocks, from which Lee almost fell yesterday, anyway.
It’s currently hard to work, because cattle in the next field are having some sort of moo-off. They can be impressively loud when they are in a cow-tizzy. The dogs are doggedly protecting us from these invisible monsters.
And just for laughs, yesterday I put my new pool float in the hot tub. It was mighty comfortable. I was told it looked like I was on a tiny version of the Lazy River ride in Schlitterbahn (a water resort in Texas), where you get in an inner tube and float around and around in a circle of river water. I don’t care. It was fun (yes, this was also the image from yesterday’s little bitty blog post).
I didn’t work today and didn’t do too much, either. My biggest accomplishment was taking notes for a very long Master Naturalist Board meeting. I’m glad they were more boring when I was President.
Much of the day was spent writing a blog post on the big mushroom, which is finally dying. Turns out, it’s poisonous!
The other highlight, if you can call it that, was grooming the horses. Poor Drew hadn’t been groomed since before he got sick, but he wasn’t too bad. He was shedding, but not too badly. But he was hungry, so I followed him around and got it done.
Apache, on the other hand…oh my goodness that horse is hairy. I spent like 45 minutes and three different implements trying to put a dent in the hair. It had only been three days since he was brushed! It felt like grooming a bunny. I’ll try again tomorrow and maybe I’ll have time to ride. I guess birds have lots of nesting material now.
Hey, what about the title of this post? We are fence-less in the side yard now. While I was blogging on the front porch, I got to watch the guys use both tractors to lift and pull and finally remove the posts for the fence we don’t need anymore. That tractor was jumping and flying, while the backhoe just carried stuff. I’m not sure they all were having fun.
It was fun to just relax, hang out with Lee, and do whatever I wanted to. I did knit a bit. Penney would like to show you my squares.
Where to start on this tale? It’s a log one. Once upon a time, during the Pandemic Years, there was a house down the road from us. Suddenly, the house up and moved one lot down. It’s like I blinked and the house was moved. That seemed weird, but people do weird things. Over a period of months, the house got all fixed up and looked very cute.
Then, one day, where the house used to stand, there appeared a different house, one of those pre-built ones that aren’t a mobile home, but are more like a large portable building. It was pretty cute, too. A lady who raises dogs lived in the renovated old house, we found out.
We noticed that no one was living in the new house, and instead folks were living in a nice RV on the property, along with a ridiculously cute pony. At the same time, our family had been talking for a while about having a pool house on the other side of the pool, where Kathleen and her spouse could stay when they are in town, and otherwise where people can change and dry off from the pool. The talk had died off as other stuff happened in the past few months.
But, the nephew didn’t give up. He talked to the owners and found out that they’d decided they didn’t want to turn the building into a house after all. We looked at it and realized this little building is the exact right size for a pool house. It’s not big enough for full-time life, but perfect for occasional use. Talks ensued. And ensued. At one point, we gave up when the company that owned the loan didn’t want to take our money. But, yay, Lee and the nephew were patient and the move was scheduled!
We were happy to find out they could move the building today. That required a lot of fast work, including cutting down part of our gate to make the gate at the entrance to our ranch, since we needed a 2-foot opening. It’s a good thing we know someone with a welding machine that happens to be on our property.
The other concern we had for moving the house was weather. Rain kept threatening, so we just hoped it would hold off long enough to get the house in, but then show up and rain like crazy (we need it).
Luckily, today was just cloudy. We got the call that the house movers were here, and of course your intrepid blogger grabbed her phone to record it all. Let me tell you, it was truly interesting. They have some amazing high-tech equipment that makes picking up a building and moving it a real breeze. Of course, we had our helping team there and were all prepared to do some of the work. I’m so proud of all the lifting of rocks they did (not my son’s favorite task).
They had a little vehicle that was remote controlled. It could push the big house like it was just a sack of groceries. To get it off its foundation, it pushed the house straight onto a really fancy trailer that also can go up and down and even sideways, as I found out later. The house was on the trailer in no time!
It took it about 15 minutes to get down the road to our house. I enjoyed taking pictures of it as it came, plus I got some wildflower photos while I waited. Yes, people think I am a strange plant lady, but it’s okay. I had fun. And it was cool to see a house going down our road.
The scariest part of the whole trip was making the turn into our driveway. It’s a good thing that boards were put over the places where the gate had been cut off, because wheels went right over it. And at one point, everything was tilting. The trailer fixed it! It was really cool to watch.
The guys had taken down part of the fence, but there was no way the truck would make it in. No problem. The little machine pushed the house onto some wheels, and off it went.
The guy controlling it was so good. He got the building exactly where we’d put the cones to mark the front boundaries. Wow. Suddenly, there it was!
Once it was in place, everyone got to work setting blocks down for it to sit on. The house movers had a set of lasers to help level the house, so it is accurate and straight.
We still have to put a few more supports in, but by gosh, there’s a pool house out there now! Of course, the dogs had to inspect it. They liked the free couch that came with the house the best, I think.
The general idea of a floor plan for the inside is set. Now the team will have to get onto making it usable. The plan is to make it quite rustic, like a guest cabin. We will paint it to match our house and garage, and plan to use some of the leftover stone from the exterior of our main house as accents. It will all look pretty darned coordinated.
Obviously, this will all take a while, but first the tack room needed to get taken care of. Today the ceiling got finished and the team made the larger loft smaller, so it will be more useful for what we need. All the insulation is out, so it’s looking more like a real tack room. I’m so pleased. I’m not sure when they plan to do electricity or anything, but it’s insulated and sound!
While all this excitement was going on the horses and chickens wanted attention. Drew informed me he really didn’t want any more horsey Pepto-Bismol, and since he seems fine now, I’ve decided to stop forcing it on him. He is still getting three soupy meals a day and the rest of his medicines, however.
And the chickens let me know quite loudly that something was amiss in the hen house. I went over to see, and yep, it was yet another rat snake trying to take advantage of the free food. Sigh. They are such good snakes when they are eating mice and rats. But, this one had to go.
What a day, right? And I managed to write some scintillating content on project schedule baselines in between exciting moments. I’m all tired again, that’s for sure, even after a relaxing evening last night with friends and family. It’s so nice to see both the pool and the hot tub in use and the grill fired up. Living one day at a time is working out so far.
So, who thought we’d be driving a house into our back yard today? Not me, as recently as last week.