Yup, Horses Make You Feel Good

I had a pretty free Saturday, so I split it between fun with yarn and fun with horses. The yarn post will be tomorrow. Today is my day to bask in my relationship with the horses.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Apache this week, mostly just hanging out with him. It really pays off, I think, because he’s so much more relaxed, yet interested in doing things lately.

Looking at his friends, but happy with me.

He seems to look forward to jumping and cantering. He seems practically athletic when we do groundwork. He looks strong and fit, not chubby and weak. I’m so happy for that.

Let’s go!!

Riding was fun. He informed me in his horsey way that my new square setup is too close to the trailer. When he stopped, I saw that he had noticed our reflection in the shiny part of the trailer front. Well, I had to agree he had a point. That looked weird.

That other horse and human look funny.

I finally, finally can relax when I ride and just focus on what we’re doing. It makes such a difference! My legs are relaxed. My arms are relaxed. I’m giving easy signals and Apache responds. He’s also relaxed, as you can see.

A relaxed horse and his cone. He stopped right there and didn’t move.

After we rode, I must have spent ten minutes just petting and talking to him, and he seemed to want to stay. Eventually Fiona indicated she was hungry, so we went in.

I got to hang out with the calves!

Drew hinted that he wanted to do something so I lunged him. He wasn’t at all into it. That was odd. I think he’s in some discomfort from playing too hard with Fiona and Dusty. Fiona had blood on a cut and Drew had some (of hers) on his neck. There is much kicking going on. So I relaxed and just spent time doing what he wanted to do, which was get his itchy head scratched. It was quite cute.

These guys wanted attention, too. It’s a new batch of young cattle.

I was all warm and fuzzy by the time we had some visitors. It was fun watching Sara’s granddaughter enjoy Fiona and Vlassic while we discussed hooves. Then the guest got to see all the dogs, which delighted her. What an animal lover she is!

I’m sure glad I had the chance to follow the leads of my horses and relax today. Oh, and by the way, no one has touched yesterday’s scary hay. I love my equine buddies.

New Pond Has Apache Seal of Approval

The horse, not the indigenous people.

Anyhow, I didn’t have tons of other plans today, so there was time to work with the equines. Dusty is all groomed and pretty, and he did a little conditioning. It wasn’t much, since he was stumbling at the trot, but he got attention and a snail-like walk.

Mabel didn’t want to be harnessed, but she’s trotting around all over the place, especially if there’s a hint that food might be involved, so she must feel better.

Apache was ready to do stuff, so we did. I wanted to work on his muscles, so we did our jumps and logs. He was having none of his stopping and walking, or his kicking the jump over. Nope. He was jumping. He didn’t notice I’d lowered the jump from Drew’s setting and eliminated the second one. He was a champ. He even cantered calmly and perhaps on the correct lead! So we headed out.

Wha?‽

He really wanted to go out and check that berm from the new pond out. I was really surprised! I thought he’d be afraid, but no. He was curious! So we rode all around it, walked on the dirt and seemed happy as heck.

Hey, I recognize that barrel.

What a fun ride we had! Even Fiona came along for part of the ride. She was not as thrilled with the berm, but she had her own fun.

I’m dubious, sez Fifi.

Anyway we’re thrilled with the new pond. Dang, that guy did a great job. It’s smooth and rounded and really looks like it’s always been there. And hey, the water is gathering at the bottom. It IS a spring! There’s more every time I look. Isn’t that cool?

What a good morning it was. But after I washed Apache he played a joke. He rolled and rolled and turned out black. Then he had the nerve to laugh at me.

Ha ha!

Horses in Heaven

It’s been a hard summer for the horses. Not much grass, much heat, not as much attention as last year. But today has been a good one! To start, I was able to get out early enough to give all the horses nice baths. I know Dusty was happy. He’s such a level-headed dude, but he liked the suds. And he ended up looking fine, considering his scratches from trying to eat on the other side of the barbed wire in the new pasture.

He even has some mane!

Mabel really needed the bath, because she was covered in salt crystals from sweating. She’s sure a lumpy thing, but I got lots of excess hair off her and cleaned her sweet face. She is now shiny, especially her tail, which almost looks normal again. She was so patient as she waited to dry off, too.

Look at my tail!

Drew is looking pretty ragged these days. He’s a busy boy. Somehow he got a big owie on his belly. I treated it so flies won’t get in it. But he enjoyed the suds and drank a lot from the hose. I used enough purple shampoo on him that I think his tail looks whiter. The parts of him that aren’t nicked up are soft and shiny.

Note my shininess.

Apache and I went for a nice ride before his bath. He still seems a little sore, so we mostly walked and practiced transitions. He’s doing so well now with riding around. It’s so fun. And of course he loved his bath. His mane looks so white now and I got all his brown dirt spots off.

Yes. I’m chunky. But pretty.

What he didn’t like was waiting while he dried. He stomped and complained. To make his point, he pooped right after I’d cleaned all the poop up from the grooming area. Message received! But I didn’t want him rolling while wet, which he loves to do.

I don’t care how much you like my blinding whiteness. I don’t like being tied when everyone else is free.

After all that pampering, they got another surprise. The hay ring got set up. I’m told Drew and Dusty ran up and immediately started chewing.

As they say on the Internet, nom nom.

Then the gate was opened! Freedom! Grass! Excitement!

Big deal. I have hay.

I hear that Apache, Mabel, and Fiona exited rapidly, but Dusty and Drew stayed with the dry old hay.

What made me laugh was that they all barely left the area. They found grass and stopped.

Eventually they found other grass and figured out how to cross the trenches for the electric lines (they will get filled in next week). These are some very happy horses. And the grass isn’t so green it will be a problem!

Of course, ya get thirsty eating all this grass. I love this one!

I hope your Sunday was as good as the one these guys enjoyed!

Oh, Fifi!

That little donkey of ours is always up to something. This morning I stayed in my room drinking coffee for a while, then realized I needed to go feed the chickens. I looked out the front window and had a start!

Why yes, that’s the fence behind me.

Fiona was being herded back onto our property and the gate was being shut behind her. That little escape artist! I threw on my clothes as fast as I could but everything was under control before I got down.

Yep. I’m on the short grass.

The horses were in a kerfluffle but Fiona was just standing there, looking like she was thinking, in donkey thought.

Oh, we’re fine.

I went down to her and said hi. I asked if she wanted to go back in with the horses. She answered by trotting right behind me as I headed to the gate.

I’m coming!

I realized why she was following me: she was thirsty! I guess she hadn’t found the wet area.

Mmmm

It was easy to see how she got out. The fence wire is pretty high near the gate. She left “evidence” of where she got out, so that confirmed it. I’m told that’s the only way she could have gotten out.

We don’t want to see a poop picture.

She’s staying in with her buddies now, so maybe she’s gonna stay with the water. Drew and Dusty didn’t care. They’ve been happy hanging out today.

Meanwhile, I went to feed the chickens and found our creature of the day, a very lumpy rat snake. I hope the bumps in it are mice. It was awful early for the chickens to have laid many eggs. Go eat rats, snake!

Lessons Learned, More Positive

Yesterday’s lessons learned were pretty hard to take, but I’m doing better today, other than being a bit overly warm from outdoor activities, dealing with a sore foot, and realizing I am developing swimming muscles thanks to some sore thighs. I survived five straight hours of work meetings, too, so I feel like a marathoner. Who would have known?

Fiona’s exercise routine

Today I learned lessons on both my horses. What a great thing it was that Tarrin was able to come HERE and do lessons! She went to Sara’s and did her horses, then came here. Nice.

I was pretty danged hot.

Having lessons on our property was especially helpful with Apache because we could work on his problem areas here at the ranch. And work we did! I am feeling really good about our relationship and can see that I am making a lot of progress with him. It only takes poor Tarrin a hundred times to tell me something before I get the hang of it, but I am getting there and starting to be much better at correcting him before he gets a chance to try to get out of doing what he’s asked to do.

I’m proud of me, too. But tired.

I’m also much better at not letting myself get upset or feel out of control. This is making all of us happier! We walked back and forth all over the front field like pros, and even did well in the “scary” dry lot pasture going away from home. Coming back, we did a thing where he got to have nice, loose reins as long as he walked calmly, but if he started the squirrelly stuff, he’d have to make circles whether he wanted to or not. I think I gained a lot of confidence doing that and he figured out I was not going to quit. In the end, he calmly walked back to the tack room. Tarrin and I were both pleased. I’m glad she is going to come back a couple more times in June.

I am so displeased that the training lady found out where I live that I THREW my food on the ground!

Drew got a workout, too. We spent a lot of time on right turns. While I was out working on the turns, I finally remembered Zoolander was the guy who could only turn in one direction. My mind isn’t totally going after all!

I can turn both right AND left. When I want to.

I now have many more tools in my toolbox to deal with Drew leaning into me. We will be doing many, many right turns, if I can keep from keeling over from trotting with him in the Texas sun. He also got some reminders of how he is supposed to behave when going in circles on the lead line. He quickly became a model citizen and made me proud. We have some fun stuff to work on that will make our show scores so much better.

I want more.

There will always be ups and downs, but I sure am enjoying working with horses. I never cease to be amazed at how much I learn about myself while doing it. The confidence I’m gaining is helping me deal with all the hard things in life, too.

I learned a lesson about spilling my food.

Outsmarting Equines

You’d think I’d be good at this by now, but I still have trouble getting the horses to eat their own special foods. I solved the problem with the four horses that aren’t mine by giving them all the same thing, one scoop of senior pellets, salt (or garlic+salt when I’m not out), and a supplement with magnesium. They still argue over it, but usually settle down.

Maybe I could mesmerize them with one of my sunflowers.

The other three are hilarious. Each thinks the other’s food is the best. Each of the horses wants Fiona’s plain diet horse food.

If I pretend to be invisible maybe I can eat.

Apache and Fiona want Drew’s alfalfa, oily stuff, special pellets, and salt. Drew is dying to eat Apache’s food, which doesn’t have enough calories for him. Sigh.

Mmm, dregs of Apache food.

I’d been wrangling the horses into separate spaces every day, but Fiona kept butting in on the expensive supplements. I really needed to have separate spaces for each of them.

I had to chase that darn donkey away from these delicious fattening Drew leftovers.

Wait, don’t I have four pens to put them in? Nope. Someone, who is a horse, managed to break one of the gates between the pens at the hinges in November. There are more important priorities right now than pen repair!

Hey, I have hands. And it’s International Women’s Day. I should do it myself. So, Suna the handy ranch woman handled it herself.

It’s a gate

I stood that gate up and went to get some wire. Of course, the black horse immediately knocked it down, because Fiona and her food were there. But I prevailed. I wired the heck out of that gate. I hope. And I was cared not to leave wire sticking out.

Out of horse pictures, so here are the flowers Lee got me. I was surprised they had sunflowers at the store!

Now the three equines get to eat their own food, with minimal squabbling. I hope, again. Because the horses kick each other when food is involved and Drew has ANOTHER unattractive chunk out of his hide. Real horses. That’s what they do.

Bonding with the Funny Equines

It was a horsey day yesterday, which is good, because we are now quarantined other than outdoor stuff. I’m so glad the horse work is outdoors!

And donkey work. Don’t forget me!

Right. As I was saying the horse day started early. I’d asked Lee to put the bale of hay that was on the tractor out, since the horses need it and he’s the only healthy person who can drive the tractor. Well, he went in through Drew’s paddock but didn’t realize Drew was there (because no one knows my horse schedule but me).

Mmm. Forbidden grass.

Drew made his escape, but didn’t go far, since he found green grass. All I had to do is put his pretty new halter on him and lead him back. He was curious about the “this is an equine facility and you might get hurt” sign. But then he said bye and headed to the hay, where T chased him around.

I think they’re talking about T

Back to work I went until late afternoon when Trixie was due to work on Apache and his body issues. I spent quite a while grooming the filthy Apache, which took longer due to Fiona also wanting grooming.

She also had lots of those giant burs on her front legs and was trying to get them out with her teeth. I found the hoof pick was a great tool for getting those out. She now has nice, smooth, hairy legs.

Focus on me now!

Apache did great with his body work. He seemed really happy with his head and neck treatment, and made such cute faces!

Look! My neck works!

He was less thrilled with the work on his adhesions near his hips, but wow, it made a difference. I’m hoping this will make our training easier on him and help him develop good posture. Enjoy some fun faces now!

This morning I went out to let Drew back into the big pasture. It’s cool but sunny out, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to find him napping in the sun. But of course, I thought he was dead.

I’m breathing, Suna.

Of course, he’s fine and in a playful mood.

Howdy, Mama!

He happily walked with me to the gate, but not without stopping to play with Vlassic. He wanted the squeaky toy, but not enough to fight the dog over it! That just made my morning.

Let’s play!

It’s good to have these sweet animal friends to bond with while you’re confined. And writing about them gives you something to do in an endless line to get a COVID test.

My little gray friend.

Try to stay safe, friends. It’s hard, but we can get through this!

The Equine Scholar Escapes

It was beautiful this morning, with spectacular fog over the creek.

Foggy morning.

The fog had cleared by the time I got out to feed the chickens. Of course, I checked the horses. Wait, one was missing. Drew was not in his pen. The gate was open! Someone busted him out. My guess is that their name both started and ended with T.

It was so bright outside I couldn’t see which horse was which.

Yep. Drew was out and interacting. I watched the horses interacting, and it was quite interesting. T chased Drew all over the place, pinning her ears back in classic mare mode. My guess is she is responsible for this.

It’s like he got shaved.

The buckskin buddies ignore Drew, as does Mabel. They tend to cluster away from him, like the cool clique in high school, while T is the bully.

Hey, friend. We will stick together.

Now, Apache and Fiona have been taking good care of Drew. This morning I enjoyed watching Fiona and Drew really playing. She created up and flailed her legs, but I quickly realized they were having fun. A minute later this was them.

Morning friends.

In the afternoon, I came out to check on them, I found Drew alone and forlorn and everyone else together. I went out to him and he came up for love, poor guy. But then, up came Apache and Fiona.

I’ll be your friend.

Each of them said hello nicely. Apache and Drew exchanged friendly nose touches and neck nips. Then came Fiona. There was a whole lot of mutual head flinging.

Love love love ❤️

Then my heart melted. Drew proceeded to groom Fiona from head to tail, gently nibbling her, inch by inch, as Fiona patiently waited.

You have some burs in here.

It was so dang sweet. Indulge my large collection of pictures.

Eventually the love fest ended, because Drew is still a kid. Vlassic distracted him and those two started playing! I got two pictures, though Vlassic is invisible in one. I’m glad Drew is used to dogs.

After work, I was able to work with both Apache and Drew, and all was well. These guys truly make my life better. No foreboding joy here, just happiness. I’ll keep focusing on what is good in my life, not endless contagious diseases and such.

Miss T Insists on Attention

Today was simply heartwarming. This is why I love horses so much.

We had a good day

Trixie was coming today to work on Apache’s feet, which I’d forgotten to have done on schedule. So, she rushed over during my lunch hour to take care of it.

The Buckskin Buddies watched with great interest.

Trixie started working on Apache and his issues. There was T, watching so closely. She really wanted a turn. So we went over just to look at her beauty. Trixie says she looks very well bred.

Vlassic also wanted attention.

Since she wanted attention, T got her neck adjusted, which made her extra happy. She kept turning her head, licking and chewing, and even yawning. All signs of a happy horse.

I like this lady.

Apache has his feet in their best shape ever, too. His abscess has completely grown out, too. He’s still in attachment mode, too, very affectionate and loving.

One more cute story from today features Fiona. As Trixie was working, she asked if Fiona needed a trim. I said I didn’t think so. Then, I looked over at her. She was on the other side of the gate, also demanding attention. She looked at me and picked up her foot, banging it on the gate, twice.

Yes, she wanted a trim, please. And she showed me the foot that needed trimming most! She’s a genius ass! I hope that made you smile, too.

Being around happy, relaxed animals is the greatest therapy there is for me.

Being loved by people is good for us rescue horses, too.

Shocked and Sad

When you live in a small town, things affect the whole community. We lost a friend yesterday. I’ll skip the gory details and just say it was a real shock to lose Christi.

Horse riding a few years ago.

I have Christi to thank for Fiona. If she hadn’t remembered I wanted a little donkey, Fiona might not have gotten rescued from the sale barn. Thanks to this kindness, I’ve had five years of donkey love.

At Christi’s ranch in 2016, the day I met Fiona.

We had many horse adventures and shared an interest in essential oils. In fact, it’s thanks to Christi and oils the I became a Master Naturalist. I went to a class she held at our beloved Dutch Towne Deli. Dorothy (not normal dot in the comments) was there and told me about the next class. Thank goodness for that bit of fortune!

Sigh. Our political differences split up our friendship, and I really miss lunches with her and her mom. But I still cared about Christi. She had a kind heart. She did not deserve to be taken from her friends and family this way.

I’m sending much sympathy to her grieving family, friends, and community. It’s hard to believe.

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