Hearts, Hay, Horses, and Headaches

The letter for today is apparently H. I shall start with hearts, since it’s a cheerful topic and something to be proud of. After finishing the camo blanket, I went back to work on my heart afghan I was making for Kathleen. Today I finished the heart section.

heart afghan
It’ darned cheerful!

It’s way too small to be useful to keep one warm, so I am already a third of the way through with making a border of squares to go around the hearts. I have ten colors of yarn for the centers and need 30 squares. That’s pretty dang good how it worked out!

squares
Pattern from that book I got on crochet quilt blocks.

After that, I’m gonna do something else as another border, probably also from that book. I have a lot of yarn. Well, except for the cream. I may need another skein of that one. All the other colors I haven’t even finished the first skein on!

Hay

I decided that since hay had gotten so expensive due to the drought, I should “harvest” what was left when the front pasture was shredded. There was some long and very nice coastal Bermuda out there that got mowed.

That’s a good amount of hay!

It was fun to pick it up. I feel ranchy!

Horses

Sometimes the horses mystify me. Both Fiona and Drew had smears of blood on them this evening.

Just a schmear.

No horse had a cut. Maybe Apache had another nosebleed? His nose looked fine, though. A mystery.

I’m still thrilled Mabel looks so much better.

Mostly they make me smile. They see me coming and pick those heads up to see if perhaps there’s food.

We see you. Is it dinner time?

When it’s been a hard day, watching their antics and rubbing those soft necks can make everything better. Which I needed.

Drew’s relaxed enough to drop and roll around with me right in front of him. Probably trying to wipe off the blood.

Headaches

Have you ever had a day where you start off sorta irritated and then actually irritating things start happening? That was me at work today. Sometimes I wonder how people get hired. Or how they keep their jobs if they don’t understand what their job entails. It’s like signing up to be a carpenter but you insist on hammering the pointy sides of nails. That’s not how nails work!

But I’m way better at shutting up these days. I didn’t write the software I support nor their job descriptions. I’ll just do my job and let their bosses notice the quality of their work.

Still. I got a headache.

Occasionally this helps.

Plus I missed a meeting this evening. My calendaring skills are something my boss should have a chat with me about.

Ups, Ups, Downs

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

That’s a relaxed dog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Report: Horse Color Explored

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paints also have spotted skin. Everywhere.

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

He’s at the dapple gray stage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing Is Daring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty Gray Things with Horsepower

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

One Horse with Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

355 Horsepower Grayness

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

What not to get. Fifteen passenger van. Overkill.

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

It’s a vehicle!

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

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

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

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

What’s Pink and behind My House?

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

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

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

Look at that bill!

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

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

Bye!

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

Why was today fun?

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

Dusty eye. He has blue swirls.

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

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

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

Yep, it was time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Horse Dentistry Hilarity

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

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

Drew having his front teeth straightened out.

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

He’s out of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Learn Horse Stuff

Today was a good horse day. Lee was kind enough to drive me and Sara met me at Tarrin’s ranch where we filmed Drew’s next set of obstacles for the Working Horse Central third quarter virtual show. I learned a lot more today, particularly about my capacity to do things in humidity.

Yep. Not my best skill jogging, carrying multiple objects and trying not to get stomped on by a large animal.

I had already gotten too hot bathing the heck out of Drew and grooming both horses, and I just went downhill from there. It wasn’t even all that hot! Just effing humid.

But Drew looked good and relaxed.

Everyone was kind to me and insisted I focus on what went well, even pointing out that when I dropped the lead rope after the jump he stopped and waited for me. That was way better than running off! I was actually pretty pleased, too.

He had no trouble with the bridge obstacle.

All these photos are screen shots from the video Sara took, by the way. He did very well on some new obstacles, like moving a cup, stomping on a tractor tire full of sand, and doing a series of tight turns. He’s really improving on so many levels. I wish I’d been up to the challenge of all the trotting.

Apache had a lesson after we sat in Sara’s car to cool off a bit to discuss his issues. I needed help with backing up, so Tarrin volunteered to work with him a bit, though she wasn’t exactly dressed for it! He was not thrilled, but got better.

I recovered enough to get in and practice. Sara filmed it, which was really interesting to me. I’m doing better with insisting on doing what I ask. By the end, it was much more smooth. We learned more stuff!

Back up, Jack.

When I finished backing, I had fun trying some of the obstacles with him. What a guy! Other than the backing up obstacle, He did all the things I tried like a champ! The bridge, the turns, the cup! He does have skills! I was so happy.

The thing I’m proudest of, though, was that Apache did his best job ever going through the “scary” corridor and to the trailer. There was only the smallest amount of nervousness! We are learning!

I guess it was worth the heat. That’s good, because this is a busy horse week coming up!

Droodles Making Progress

While it’s been rather rainy and my work has been eating into my horse time (work funds the horses), I’ve had time to make progress with my beautiful, dapple gray teenager, Drew (or Andrew or Droodles).

She thinks I’m pretty! Aww.

While there hasn’t been any cantering and jumping (blame mud), there has been a lot of other stuff to work on, and I’m proud of his progress and mine.

I’m proud of me, too, though I didn’t like standing under this hackberry tree full of giant bees.

I’m working on keeping his trot and my jog both slow and steady when we are in hand. It’s improved! We are also practicing side passing and other walk-level activities.

But first, Suna had to groom me. I do like mud. I even had it on my face.

But mostly I’ve been spending time with him and the others, just enjoying the day. It’s paid off!

I like to walk together.

Yesterday it dried out enough to go to Sara’s and practice obstacles for the next couple of shows. We skipped a clinic this weekend because they are hard to do in the ground and I had no driver. Rainy times are not ideal for trailer pulling practice!

See, I ain’t scared of the “bridge!”

The highlight was actually the walk between our place and hers. He was much calmer than in previous trips, and we practiced stopping, starting, transitioning to trot, and staying in synch. We had fun!

I like to walk right behind Sully and her pretty rear.

He got distracted by long grass and other horses once we arrived, but did pretty well practicing. Since I’m just out to enjoy the shows and just trying to improve our skills, I think he will be fine.

Oh, I’ll side pass if I must.

We are trotting much calmer if I just concentrate on it. There’s just so much to remember! What obstacle is next, how to do it right, what side of him I need to be on, whether he’s trotting or not, blah blah. More than my ancient mind can do all at once. So I’ll just have fun!

Sully can do it, too!

That was a pep talk for me. In any case, it’s great to see Sully and her improvement, and to enjoy her and Sara working together.

Sully and I both are working on this new obstacle.

I also took pictures of Sara and her new mat for standing horses on while working with their feet. It’s just the right size! I enjoy doing horse stuff together like we used to.

Droodles gets a break today, as the plan is to ride Apache with Sara on either of her grays. Sully is still working on going forward. Aragorn’s feet are looking well enough he may not need his shoes for a while! Good job to all who worked on his feet!

Note that wet ground after mowing means lots of grass in your tack room.

Now, enjoy bonus photos while I vacuum.

Helping Your Friends

It was a fun morning, another one spent with our friend, Sara, and her Andalusian charges. Solly and Aragorn both came over today so we could work on things together and give the horses new experiences. Aragorn did a great job ponying his mare buddy over to our house. He seemed proud of himself.

And he still has both shoes on!

It was the future mama’s first trip over here, so she did pretty well. The sight of all my horses thundering up to see who was coming would be enough to startle me!

As Sara warmed Solly up to be ridden, Aragorn ate grass in the round pen (his favorite!). There was no grass eating for Drew. Everything Sara asked Solly to do, Drew tried to do on the other side of the fence. It was really cute. There was no need for me to exercise him today!

She’s running, so I’ll run.

Then we got to work. My job was to lead Solly while Sara rode her, to keep her moving forward. We had much success as long as I led. She kept a-going through all the obstacles. But, without me, she kept stopping. I have no clue what’s going on in her mind. But, she got better as we kept working on it. We will have to get together and work some more. It’s interesting how young horses have such different issues. We just need to have patience and keep at it. Sara is doing so well.

Here she goes!!

After that work, Aragorn and Apache did a bit of practice. Neither has been ridden much lately, so they just practiced obstacles. Apache was fascinated by the cute girl in the round pen, which gave me good practice making him pay attention to me, not her.

Bending, with tail swish.

I enjoyed my time very much, especially getting to play with Sara and the big grays. By the time the foal comes, Sara will be very practiced in working with young horses and Solly will be ready to be worked with by Trixie, who owns her. What a great arrangement!

We’re all tired from running around and looking at large, gray horses.

Working with the horses is just so fascinating and educational. I’m glad to have such good horse friends to learn with. Honestly, I’m glad to have such good friends.

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