Drew and Sully Part 2: The Good Gray Horses

This morning Sara and I took advantage of the cooler morning temperatures to film the second part of Drew and Sully’s in-hand virtual show. She was going to do Aragorn, too, but he lost one of his fancy shoes that is fixing his foot issue. Tarrin spent a lot of time on that shoe, and showed Trixie how she did it, but horses get into stuff! They’ll get it fixed. But for today, she could not film Aragorn and ride with her new saddle. Boo.

Ready to do their show, and matching Sara’s classic old truck perfectly.

We both agreed that setting it up was a lot more work than anticipated. I really appreciate that Sara has a dressage arena set up on her part of the ranch and has kept it so nice. It’s a lot of effort, not to mention scooping poop and arranging all the other stuff we’d need. For my part, I had to bring both Drew and my stuff from my house. It’s too close to trailer him, but far enough that pulling the wagon with my stuff in it was hard. Drew, though, did fine walking beside the wagon.

I like this. It has my halter and a banana in it!

I’d hoped that walking over to the dressage arena would be enough warm up for Drew, but I don’t think it was. He ended up being a bit “spirited” when we tried to do the patterns the first couple of times. Once he pushed himself out of the arena boundary (BZZT – disqualified), and the other time, he pushed me all over the place when we were trotting and just didn’t seem to want to turn left, sort of like that model in the movie who could only turn one way.

I did a lot better than yesterday, though, and kept calm. It helped that I got rid of some of the distractions. For one thing, I wore different boots, which were more comfortable and less slippery. Sara let me wear her hat that has a string on it, because the wind kept blowing mine off. And I figured out a way to deal with attaching our number, even though I apparently left my actual number in Sara’s tack room. Geez.

Our pretty gray buddies Notice my shoes. I took my boots off the second I was finished getting videoed.

Luckily, after getting the pattern down, Sara set off with Sully and did a spectacular job on the pattern, PLUS the video software thing worked and caught it all. Winner! She trotted so calmly and did the backing up part perfectly, after not doing it well at all every time she practiced. Yay, she came through when she needed to. What a gal! She’s only had four lessons, so she is both an easy-to-train Andalusian and has had great work done by Sara. Trixie, who owns her, should be so proud!

After being tied up to the truck and watching Sully (and looking chastised), Drew and I tried again. I used his regular halter this time, and maybe that helped. He did a GREAT job on his pattern the last time. I was so proud of him. Our mistakes are mostly things we aren’t good at yet, but otherwise, he did well and so did I. I talked to him and that may have helped, too.

Apache took all the water, Suna. I want some.

We both ended up with smiles on our faces and felt like the hard work was worth it. Teamwork made the dreamwork as we helped each other and encouraged our gray beauties to do their best.

I love you, Suna. Thanks for the cookie and reminding me we have two water troughs.

I’m glad the next show is indoors, however. And of course, I am very grateful for all the support from our extended equine community and our families, which allows us to have this fun.

Drew Goes to Summer Camp

It isn’t summer yet, but Drew went off to Camp Wild Type yesterday, like a little man.

I’m gonna cry cause you’re making me leave.

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!

Camp? With food? You can see my ribs, you know.

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.

Hey there.

We were a little worried, as you are when two strange horses meet. But these guys just sniffed faces, sniffed shoulders, and sniffed butts.

Yep. You smell just fine.

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.

We like each other.

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.

Spending Time with Horses Is Educational

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.

Aragorn had fun, too, until he was ready to LEAVE. I like this over-exposure photo

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.

Sara does great at the dressage part, and has learned a lot. Aragorn has more experience, but has learned better form.

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 tried to only take pictures of Sara, but there they are.

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.

Aragorn was not phased by the menacing sheep.

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.

Aragorn barreling

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.

Triumphantly replacing the cup, with the correct hand.

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!

Bowing to the judge. Tarrin pointed out Aragorn’s beautiful chest muscles.

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.

Tarrin is showing me how to tap the opposite side of his butt.

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.

My happy place.

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.

Enough horse stuff!

Trail Ride For Us

We had a fun morning today, as Sara and I took our new and improved horses on a trail ride, along with Dusty, who’s not been out for a while, but was ready for fun. Sara’s his-daughter, Rachel, who is visiting this weekend, came with us.

Out trailing. Dusty is looking good after all the grooming and supplements!

They brought Aragorn and saddles over here to get ready. I’d already done all Apache’s schooling and had him ready to go. I’d groomed Dusty, but he is shedding mightily, so more grooming was good. He likes it.

Sara and I rode around and practiced things while Rachel got used to Dusty in the round pen. Aragorn would not go over my low OVC pipe jumps. All the pipe and fencing on the other side made him concerned. I don’t blame him.

I’m smart.

Apache had an episode when I first got back on him. I guess he thought he was done for the day. So I let him back up for a while and eventually got him doing circles and going around barrels. Yay me.

Practicing. Dusty looks fancy.

The ride went well, with Aragorn having lots of gate-opening practice and Dusty challenging Rachel by wanting to go back. She handled it, though! Since I’d been having my own fun with Apache, I just admired everyone else dealing with whatever horse they got.

I’ll get that gate. And yes, Vlassic tagged along for a long time.

We got to the entrance to the bottom pasture only to find there was an electric fence in front of the gate. So we trudged back. I’m sure the horses were thrilled. As we got out, the tenants showed up and said they’d take the fence down. That was nice! Back we went.

Apache flung himself at grass less than he used to, but still did it some.

We did pretty well with the challenges of the big pasture. Apache crossed a muddy spot just great and might have crossed the stream, but the other horses said no. I’m really proud of how I handled Apache wanting to go back and acting nervous. We did all the things I wanted him to do after a bit of leg action. Yes, I did it!

I’m happy. I kept hearing Tarrin in my head, so it was like a lesson.

When we got back, we had the obligatory Fiona photo opportunity. I have missed having guests and doing that! I sure was impressed with how Rachel dealt with Dusty, who did some rearing and scooting.

Yay for Fifi. She wanted to come, but no. She’s a bad influence.

I had planned to wash horses after riding, but my new horse washer won’t attach to the hose. I’ll ask someone for help later. It was challenging to wash Apache since the only hose I can use is next to the shipping container that has been emptied out, but I did it.

I left him out to dry for a while, since I had to move Remington back to the right pasture (he had escaped earlier when I didn’t latch a gate well enough and he wanted to be with Dusty. So how long do you think it took after taking off his halter for Apache to roll?

Filler image.

Four seconds. At least he didn’t roll in mud.

Horse Show Live! Drew Lives!

Today we went to our first live horse show. All of us lived. We each have things to work on, but hey, that’s the idea! I enjoyed putting on my fancy, if unflattering, outfit and showing off Drew’s cuteness.

Cowgirl and friend.

Sara and I enjoyed taking out Tillie the Trailer out for her first spin. It went great. The facility was gorgeous. There was a beautiful covered arena and actual bathrooms.

Drew and I did two tests, functionality and trail. He did well on the first, though I messed up some. On the second one, he would not trot. That messed up our score, but it was good to not keep pressuring him.

Here we are not trotting to pick up the jug.

He was sweet, though, and was not phased by all the new sights, sounds, and people. He seemed to be having fun. How about that? He liked the fancy stall I rented for him lot, too. Mostly he liked all the food.

Mmmm.

Sara and Aragorn did really well, too, and won their group. There were some ups and downs, but I was impressed with their performance. And Sara looked really good!

Looking good!

I learned a lot from the other competitors, too. Some of the folks from last week were also there today. I found them smart and brave, especially the ones who put their horses’ needs first.

Saragorn in the beautiful arena.

I’m fine with how we did, though I know we could have done better. But now we have an idea of what we need to work on. I sort of feel silly having a bunch of ribbons even though I’m the only one in my category at the moment.

Oh, geez.

But, hey, I did well. I could have chickened out and not gone, because it was cold. Or I could have messed up so much I’d have disqualified! So, I won. And so did Drew.

We are lucky to have had the opportunity. Tarrin and her family sure worked hard on the show. And the host was very kind.

They got banners. But they were ready to go home and not cooperating!

I have to say my favorite part of the whole day was spending time with Drew, watching the others, and bonding. It feels so good to be with his sweet spirit. I think I’ll do another show at some point.

It does feel like we have a clue when we are in such a nice spot.

By the way, I never won a ribbon for anything before. Probably that’s because of never entering contests. You gotta enter to win. Ha.

Drew Gives a Belated Birthday Gift

Drew is a young horse, so he has his moments. He can be pushy and disinclined to pay attention. And he’s had a couple of challenges with his health and scary trucks. But, this morning he had his turn to give me a birthday present.

Show time!

We went over to Sara’s new dressage arena area again today. The first two times we went to practice at her location were not too great. I did a few things to help out this time.

First, we walked through the pasture rather than over by the cabin. That way, even if a loud truck went right by him it would be further away. I also made sure to warm him up in the round pen with a lot of cantering before we headed over.

He still doesn’t like the tree corridor but did better today. Apache also always disliked that area, even before the trees. I think the electric poles bother them.

After the scary trees came green grass!

It was time to do the second part of our Working Horse Central Spring Virtual Show. It was really windy as usual, but my hat blowing off in our practice pattern didn’t phase him. We did our Functionality test in one try. It had its flaws, but he didn’t run me off the course or refuse to walk like he did last time, and he trotted most of the time he was supposed to trot. He backed up crooked, though. Still, we did it!

Sara and Aragorn did great, too. It sure is nice having her Peavo to video us.

When we got done and I was getting out of my fancy boots, Sara tried an experiment of ponying Drew behind Aragorn. It went pretty well! Once I clicked to tell Drew to move, he followed. They even went through some obstacles.

The idea is that Sara could ride over here and then I could ride Apache and she could pony Drew so we could all three practice. I think we would need a hitching post or something for the inactive horse, but it could work

I did a video!

She is going to do stuff with Sully, the beautiful mare she’s borrowing to have her colt. So that would be another horse friend to hang out with.

Now I plan to rest a bit and have a belated birthday meal this evening with my patient husband. A fine weekend!

Aragorn Has a Good Day

Woo I’m tired, but I know who’s more tired. This guy:

Aragorn!

I followed Aragorn and Sara up to the same facility near Waco where we first discovered working equitation, Highlander Ranch. There, he had his first clinic, and first experience off ranch since she got him. He was a trooper.

Here we come!

I learned a lot from the clinicians, Doreen and Kiki. I can take the ideas straight to Apache. Great ways to stay straight and do transitions, etc.

Here’s Sara successfully spearing a ring with a lance with Kiki helping.

Sara and Aragorn did a great job on all the obstacles and learned how to fix any missteps.

The double slalom, the hardest one.

I also enjoyed all the other horses and their riders. They ranged from a woman who had never tried the discipline but had a very willing horse to Aragorn’s breeder, who cantered everywhere.

Cantering in a circle.

Here’s a cool horse. He was so shiny and was so sweet, and had been abused, but you’d never know it.

Shiny guy.

We also had Trixie join us, and now she’s ready to participate, too! It was such a laid-back event, but full o’ education.

Having fun, with the Abby dog.

I enjoyed the facility, too. Wow they have a HUGE barn, where Aragorn got to rest after he learned his stuff.

I am so tired, though of course Aragorn and Sara are more tired. But they can be proud of themselves. Here are a few more photos. There will be more tomorrow!

I’ll take lots of videos of Sara learning dressage techniques tomorrow. I took a lot today, so she can analyze her technique to improve. I’m glad I got to tag along.

More Horse Stuff

There’s always a surprise around here. Today’s surprise was a horse I didn’t know in my pens this morning.

Hello, I’m a large, black mare.

I knew that someone had come back last night after I went to bed, because the dog alarm went off. But I didn’t know who. It turned out to be the nephew and the stock trailer. I recognized Dusty, Remington’s buckskin buddy, but who was the black beauty?

I’m built like a brick house.

I finally figured out it’s Kathleen’s horse from the farm, T, who I’d only seen once before and who did not look quite so fine at that time. It turns out she’s here to get all checked out and such. How about that?

Look, I’m friendlier that Apache and Fiona!

Do you see how shiny she is? Her secret is living for 3 years in a herd of cows and eating grass (and cattle cubes). It works!

She seems happy to be around other horses, and they all seem to be getting along. And she is friendly under all that muscle.

Meanwhile

I didn’t go into detail about my lesson with Drew yesterday, but it was very enlightening to see how hard he is working to learn new habits and build good muscles.

Developing his back legs

He is now going over his little hill under saddle, backwards and forwards, and he is working on using a bit. He doesn’t like them, probably because he had a pretty uncomfortable one before I got him.

And he is developing patience.

We talked about the plan for him, and currently the thinking is to bring him back home at the new year to do ground work and grow to a more adult size. Then in some number of months he can get back for finishing. I’d still be bringing him in for lessons.

Canter practice

I got a lot out of watching Sara’s lesson on Aragorn, who had been feeling agitated for a few days after being spooked by a horse wearing a blanket. He was trying his best to annoy Sara, but she didn’t let him. We were impressed at how she kept her cool and fixated on getting the job at hand done.

Here I was trying to capture his red mane tips, but it didn’t come through.

We had a darned pleasant afternoon with our horses and our trainer.

Today was also pleasant. I walked Apache all over to build back our relationship. Yesterday he turned and walked away from me, but today he came up, eventually and we had a good walk. Fiona, of course, is the best. What a donkey.

We’re all good.

My bruises on my lower abdomen are swollen and painful. I hope it’s just healing. If it gets worse, I will have it looked at.

Fiona Makes a Friend

I was heading over to Sara’s horse playground today to get some poles for my playground. Fiona and Apache were in the dry pasture (unhappily). As I approached on Hilda the utility vehicle, Fiona began to walk away.

Maybe Suna will open the gate.

I noticed that there was a little bird beside her. How cute, I thought. Then I noticed it was going with her.

Let’s go over here!

I wondered why the heck she suddenly had a bird friend. Then, right before my eyes, I figured it out.

That blob above the poop piles is the bird catching a bug.

Yes, the little starling had figured out that as she walked, Fiona was stirring up bugs, making it easy to catch them. I was charmed as I watched them head out the gate and into the pasture. I guess that will be one sated bird!

While I was over at Sara’s, I watched her work with Aragorn on his playground. It was fun to see all the things he can do. Someday I’ll be able to side pass and all that cool stuff. I did get a nice preview of things I’ll learn in the future, which was a lot of fun.

Her serpentine setup looks much more legit than mine!

I looked to my right as she was riding and realized I was not the only audience member. There were many moos of applause, and I was happy to see Aragorn totally ignoring them, as he should.

That horse is fascinating.

I took all my poles (seen below) and put them in the round pen, for Apache’s future practice. I hope I have time to ride him and check it out tomorrow.

Sara’s fancy circle world, and my poles loaded on Hilda.

An Equine Visitation

Yesterday marked another milestone in working with all the new horses around the Hermits’ Rest and Wild Type ranches. Sara and Aragorn paid a visit to us. After the challenge I had riding Apache over there a couple weeks ago, I was really hoping this visit went more smoothly.

Everybody’s happy (even Vlassic, who hung around for the whole visit)

The lesson I learned was the ole Scout motto of “be prepared.” I thought I was doing a good job by heading out to open all the gates to our pasture, but I had not thought hard enough about the fact that horses are very observant prey animals. I figured Kathleen’s horses wouldn’t even notice Sara and Aragorn approaching and riding toward our barn…until the sound of thundering hoofs told me otherwise. At least it was pretty watching them run, especially Mabel, with all those legs. On to Plan B.

Who’s that cute donkey over there?

So, I told Sara to go on the other side of our fence, and I’d let her in our back yard, since dogs aren’t scary to Aragorn. I hoofed it on to the other end of our area, managed to shut the dogs into the house (yet another minor miracle), and opened the gate. Now, poor Aragorn was far from home, surrounded by weird things, like the pond, and getting distracted. After a bit of circling, Sara got off and led him (she had thought to bring a lead rope, so she was prepared!).

We got over to the horse pens with no further incident. Hooray! Then we were able to have a nice visit, discuss our training progress, our career progress, our families, and normal friend stuff. Since I rarely see others during the day, other than to say hello or goodbye, that was a real treat!

Aragorn is focused.

When it came time to go, I got to watch Sara ride Aragorn for a while, which was fun, since he’s so pretty and strong. I was more prepared for them to leave, because I shut my horses up in their pens, and shut Sara’s up in the outer pen (they had conveniently all come up to see what was going on, which was mighty nice of them).

Making circles.

I was able to go ahead and open all the gates, and Sara had a very smooth ride back home! I think we can do it again sometime! And one day, when I’m allowed to do more than go in circles and figure 8, I can go again, too (at least we’re doing well with the circles and figure 8, and I am happy to take our time).

On their way home

Other News?

At least here at the ranch, there’s not much other news. I needed this weekend to relax as much as possible in preparation for a hard work week, so that’s great. I do think a couple of the new hens have started laying, since I had four eggs this morning, and two were smaller. I hope the colored eggs start soon!

Artistic egg display.

Trixie comes back to work on Drew again today, I’ll get the start date for the pool tomorrow, and I think the other shipping container will show up soon, to complete the pen arrangement. All those things are good distractions from hurricanes, COVID, and other illnesses.

It’s always something, because that’s life! I’ll just do my best to be prepared and keep sending out that lovingkindness to the world.

Crissi McDonald

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