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!

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.

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.

Cleaning Can Be Fun

That’s not normally something I’d say, but after seeing the progress Sara and I made on our tack room, I’ve changed my tune. However, I feel sorta like Apache right now—ready for a nap!

Suna tired me out this morning. All that walking!

It had gotten to be quite a mess in there, especially after the salt licks melted onto the floor from the humidity. Sara spent hours yesterday cleaning up the floor and everything on it, which was not easy. And she cleaned the A/C filter. Yuck.

I felt a little bit bad when I cleaned the fridge, because it was full of beet pulp, which got on the clean floor, but even when I was cleaning scary spiderwebs (Sara found brown recluses yesterday) off the windows and such, I kept the floor pretty good.

This may look like a mess, but it’s organized and dusted!

Some of the cleaning was quite challenging, but I enjoyed organizing our stuff, getting rid of old things, and seeing what we have. Now I know where all the medicine is, and will have all the stuff Mandi put together last year to start my collection. Fungal things stay with Sara, hoof things go with me, thanks to our horses’ issues.

Now that the table is clean, we can see what’s what, too.

I found duplicate things and stored them, arranged cow stuff sensibly, and have a little area for bath stuff. So proud of myself.

That dresser looks WAY better compared to the before pictures!

I even cleaned out my tack box. I may have done it one other time, but it was before Sara got her nice new one. Now I have just the things I use every day.

A semi-clean donkey

One of the items got a lot of use today, the black pumice-like brick that looks like a grill cleaner. It got a lot of Fiona’s winter hair off, and she really enjoyed it. She certainly liked it better than fly spray or wound cleaner (she has a little cut on her leg).

Here’s Ace keeping an eye on that dog!

It was nice hanging out and cleaning, plus it was fun watching Sara work with Ace. He’s made a breakthrough and is progressing fast all of a sudden! His new eating plan is already helping his metabolism, and it’s also helping his mind!

All is well. How about that?

Still Working on Horse Feet

I’m working on horse feet in more ways than one these days. Animals have a lot to teach us, both scientifically and intuitively.

In science news, we learned a lot about horse feet (hooves) with Trixie’s latest visit, and we learned that Fiona loves Sara more than we ever realized. She spent a long time leaning on Sara and asking for hugs.

My feet are fine, I’m just spreading love — Fiona

Trixie has most of the damaged area of Apache’s feet trimmed off, but we were all shocked to see how much hoof separation he suffered. It’s scary. Laminitis can be deadly. We’re lucky we still have him.

The black crack shows damage.

We also talked about how he always does a little buck and stumble when transitioning to a canter (which explains my lack of cantering experience). Trixie did more chiropractic work in his spleen area. As always, Apache was a trooper and relaxed happily when it was over.

Whoa, I feel better.

I got to watch a little of the work Trixie did on Ace. He wasn’t used to what she did, but he got a pretty funny look when he realized he felt better!

What are you doing?
Sara listens to Trixie explaining what good shape Ace is in.

Trimming his feet was a bit difficult, because it had been a while since his last trim, and I heard Ace’s feet were a bit sore yesterday. Today he was walking fine, but I didn’t see him run. it just shows how important horse feet are!

Apache has never had such fine looking feet before!

So, yesterday I went off and rode Apache alone again. He was feeling okay, but didn’t want to walk on the hard driveway. I don’t blame him. It was pretty challenging for a number of reasons.

First, it was really windy, which often gets the horses on edge. Second, our dogs were out, barking and chasing cows, which puts me on edge. And third, Fiona was in a mood. A really annoying mood.

Once we got near the front cattle tank, she acted like she was full of beans. She ran up and down the sides of the tank, ran back and forth in front of me and Apache, while braying endlessly, and kept doing sudden turns and pivots. Once or twice would have been fine, but she kept it up for ten minutes or more.

I tried to be good. But I love grass.

Apache had already been a bit of a handful, focused on grass and not me. I was a little worried she’d spook him. So, I stopped him and breathed deeply. He just watched Fiona acting like she had a bee up her butt. I counted that as a win.

It was still a challenge to get Apache to pay attention to me. He would duck his head, spin his feet, and do what he could to avoid my instruction. I kept asking, then resting, then asking, and finally, I could feel him settle down. He walked back to the barn calmly, like nothing had happened out in that windy pasture. I learned a lot. I can trust Apache even when he’s antsy, and we can get through weird days. Whew.

All’s well as long as us horses and people keep learning from each other and moving those feet.

Stinky and Dangerous Ranch Drama

Just when you think everything has calmed down, of course it has actually has NOT. These are not calm times at the Hermits’ Rest!

Last Night’s Stinky Drama

Last night I took a lovely, calming bath to help with sore horse-riding muscles. Right as I got my pajamas on, I heard Lee yelling at the dogs sort of frantically. I figured he was dealing with whatever it was and went in the bedroom. At that point, Carlton ran in and dived under the bed. Immediately I knew why.

We would like to go chase something, please. Maybe something stripey and stinky?

The dogs had upset a skunk. We have lots of them out here, and usually all is well, but apparently when Lee went to let Gracie (the little white dog of Kathleen’s) in, she had just discovered a skunk and ran toward it. The other dogs followed, naturally. Lee says he heard Penney make a yelp, then she acted like she was convulsing. That seems to have scared Carlton enough that he turned around, so didn’t get skunked in the face.

I stink. I’m trying to lick all the stink off.

No one else got close enough, and Gracie dodged the pew-pew. That was the end of the calm evening, as I ran to find something resembling tomato juice (it was plain tomato sauce) and trap the dogs in my office bathroom. Lee and I made a good team and got both Penney and Carlton smelling less awful, but the house is still a bit odiferous.

That red liquid bath soap was pretty tasty, I must say.

Carlton was pretty irritated with us for a while, but eventually settled down, and we all got some sleep.

I still smell bad, don’t I?

Today’s Dangerous Drama

Today, meetings started at 8:30, as usual, with no scheduled let-up until noon. I was in the middle of doing some Agile ceremony or another when I got a call from Sara. This does NOT happen during working hours, so I knew something bad was up. She said, “YOUR horse has gotten out again. I can’t catch him. YOU need to deal with this.” It took me a few seconds for this to sink in, since I wasn’t expecting that, at all. I didn’t mean to upset Sara, but I had to figure out what to do AND do my part in the meeting. I did not multi-task well.

As soon as I possibly could, I left the meeting and zipped over to the horse area. There were Apache and Fiona, in the middle of the greenest and longest grass for miles around. EEK! Didn’t I JUST get finished treating him for last year’s founder episode from eating too much green grass? That’s exactly the wrong thing for his delicate constitution!

This pretty ragwort was in the middle of the patch of incredibly lush grass they were eating from.

I quickly got the halter and some horse treats and cheerfully approached the naughty ones. Fiona was all like, “Hey, good to see you, Suna!” but Apache moved to an even longer patch of grass. I got worried he was going to leave, but no, as soon as I called him and offered the treat, he picked up his head, walked over, and let me halter him. Thank goodness for all that training.

I got them back in the pen with some hay. I could not figure out how they had gotten out, because I recall putting the safety chain on the gate, in addition to shutting it. We know Apache can move the latch, because he’s done it before. My guess is I didn’t wedge the chain in hard enough and he figured out how to lift it.

We would prefer to be out in that grass.

So I went out and found an old lead rope. I proceeded to wrap it all over the gate latch in various ways, just daring him to untie all those knots AND the fastener I put in the safety chain.

Try and unwrap THAT, horse. Note there’s a fastener attached to the end of the chain, which is now firmly wedged in, as well.

I went back to finish my meetings, along with googling grass colic and laminitis from too much green grass. I also called the vet. Around noon I headed back over there, to check on things. Apache was happy to see me (both he and Fiona peed in greeting), and I got him to walk up and down the pen a couple of times. So far, no signs of intestinal distress or lameness.

This is me, proving I can still walk just fine.

I canceled my trip to Austin for this week, so I can continue to check on him every few hours. He now has access to his dry-ish paddock again, so maybe he won’t be so starved that he’s driven to escape again.

I have nowhere else to put it, so look at this excellent moth I found last night! It is, I believe, a lettered sphinx moth.

I’m hoping that the drama for the week has all happened and I can get stuff done now! I hope you had a good weekend!

Just Some Love

I wanted to share how pleasant it was today when Trixie came by to trim the horses’ hooves. When it was Apache’s turn, he was so relaxed that he kept leaning his big horse head on my shoulder. When I had to move, Fiona then showed up, and after a little fooling around, she let Apache rest his head on her. Such friendship.

They both have closed eyes.
Goofing off while getting hooves trimmed.

I made him happy by letting Apache graze while Spice got looked at. At least he let me get a couple of pictures of his Arabian-esque profile and his newly slim physique.

We are considering letting Fiona become a mommy to a pony mule. Wouldn’t that be cute? Another buddy for the rest of my life!

Sorry for all the horse posts. Apache’s energy really helps me feel centered and grounded. Who can’t use that today? Plus, horses smell so good and let you brush their hair.

Bravery, Equine Style

Apache is one of those horses who does better around his friends. He’s braver than he thinks, though. Today we walked around, and he happily investigated a truck and two giant tanks full time f a mystery liquid (probably fertilizer). He noshed on grass, since he’s grass deprived.

Hee hee. Fiona knocked into Suna and messed up her only photo of me.

But, as soon as I walked over to the side of the property where Spice was, he remembered to be scared. I just had to laugh as he called to her, pranced, and was totally ignored.

I reminded him that Fiona and I were still there, and he settled down, eventually. Then, when I put him in his pen, he realized Fiona wasn’t there! Neigh, canter, tail swish!

I’m coming, already! I was just enjoying some solo Suna time.

They acted like star-crossed lovers when she came in with me. Then I got to hug each of them a lot. I sure love them.

Failed selfie.

Now that I’m all goal focused, becoming a better horseman is something I’ll focus on. Did I do great today? I give myself a C+. I didn’t get frustrated, though, and that helps.

My Best Accomplishment of 2020

Now that it’s getting near the end of the year, I guess we can look back and see what we’ve accomplished. I’m grateful that so many of us are still here, and sad to have lost others in this pandemic. But, in a more cheerful vein, I learned only today what my best accomplishment of 2020 has to be.

This is a hint

Happy Horse News

Yes, today at his farrier visit, Apache was declared to be in his best physical shape ever. Trixie kept repeating how good he looked. He also is in great mental shape, because she also remarked many times about how well behaved he was.

Here is Apache behaving well during a delicate procedure on his back quarters. You can see his heart-shaped chest patch.

His feet look really great, and that’s a tribute to how carefully Sara and I have managed him since he got all lame after eating spring grass in the big pasture. I’ll be able to ride him now! I’m very grateful for all of Sara’s and Trixie’s help and advice (and everybody else’s, too), because apparently putting him in the little pasture with poor fodder and supplementing with last year’s hay was what he needed.

He is at his ideal weight!

Not only did he lose the fat, but his coat is in much better shape now, too. Even his winter coat is shiny and soft. That may be the result of worming him sufficiently, for which I thank Sara very much. His mane and tail are growing back in well, too.

Yes, it’s a horse’s butt, but it’s an important image. That is a straight tail.

Best of all, now that he’s lost weight, Trixie can see what’s going on with his skeleton and musculature much better. This let her figure out what might have been causing his tail to veer to the left so significantly. So, she was able to don some gloves, put on some lotion, and manipulate some “intimate” areas to where they are looser, which loosened the tail.

Whee, my tail feels good. So does the rest of me.

We decided not to photograph exactly HOW happy the manipulation made him, but it was mighty impressive. We thought it might hurt, but apparently it was quite the opposite.

Through all the prodding, tail pulling, and leg stretching, Apache was a true gentleman gelding, albeit a happy one. In fact, when a leg stretch didn’t quite work, he cooperatively picked his foot up and angled it over to Trixie as if to say, “Try again, I’ll do better this time.” At a certain point, Trixie and I just stood there grinning at how great he was doing. She said that this is why she does what she does, seeing an animal with an improved quality of life like Apache has.

“Who am I, chopped liver?”

Not to be outdone, Fiona was quite a little lady as she got her tiny little feet trimmed. It had been twelve weeks, and all the little issues she’d had were also completely grown out. It amazes me how Trixie can sit on the ground and trim Fiona’s feet, with Fiona just standing there and picking up whatever foot is asked for. This is most un-donkey-like!

“Look, as long as someone is petting or brushing me, I can stand here all day. Treats never hurt, either.”

Even Fiona’s health seems better. Her normally pretty dull winter coat has shiny parts, too, though she’s still a bit plump. It just doesn’t take much to feed a donkey, even one as active as Fiona.

“You’re gonna WHAT?”

Trixie and I talked about getting her a little cart and sending her over to learn driving (cart, not car), if Trixie’s first donkey-cart training client goes well. I think that would be incredibly fun. However, we’re pretty sure Fiona won’t be thrilled at the idea of having to work for a living, having gotten by on cuteness for all these years.

I am SO proud of having the patience and receiving the good advice needed to help my horse friend back into good health. He’s back to cheerfully going wherever I lead him and doing whatever I ask him to. He and Fiona run happily together. And I get the benefit of the love my horse and donkey give me.

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