Thursday, September 25, 2008

The other child.....(horse)

Talking with friends the other day and they questioned why don't I ever blog about the other horse? Good question. I guess I just do more with Harley and it seems interesting to write about. Not that Tank is not interesting, actually he has had a very interesting life and maybe I should share it with you.

Meet Tank

Tank is somewhere around 25 years old at best guess. We never got his papers.
He has lived with me for around 14 years. He is absolutely the best boy anyone could ever want. He came from a ranch horse sale in Ocala Fl , the people who sold him brought him from Rome Ga. He has been used as a roping horse, team penning, sorting and trail riding machine. He can run like the wind......still.

His ground manners are impeccable and he will stand tied forever. He has been ridden English as well and could jump fairly well. Not so anymore. He has some early stages of arthritis and stocks up if left in a stall. I used to trail ride him frequently but must tell you I haven't even been up on him since last fall. No reason other than the lack of time around here. He still gets loved on and brushed and bathed and all the regular trimming and such. I realize he needs more than this and he has a lot of life left to him. Selling him is out of the question. There is no price worthy for such a great steed.

But because I want what is best for my friend, I have made a decision. I am sending him to a warmer climate to live with a family who have time for him and will enjoy him for all he is. I can tell you it is a fellow blogger but that is it. It was agreed to keep it private and if they want to share they will. The delivery is set for November when I will take him there personally. I prefer to look at it as sharing him not losing him. I think he will be very happy.

Happy trails......

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend round up

Sorry for the suspense guys. My Internet has been on the fritz today, maybe I can make it through this post. Ready for the dirt? Oh there was lots of dirt and my littlest one had so much fun playing in it!

That's him on the right, weaseling in on that other kid's dirt mound.

I left for the show around 4:30 Friday afternoon and drove 45 minutes before hubby realized we forgot the cooler! Yikes! Turn around and go back, add another hour and so onto the 3 hour trip. The kids were spastic back there, so excited to be going with mommy to the show. Traffic was horrendous, no interstate to this show just straight up 31 on a Friday night, hit every loving traffic light there was. Got to the show grounds around 8:30, pitch black luckily I had been there before so I knew the roads. We parked unloaded a very hungry Harley and attempted to set up camp.
We have never had an awning before so that was the first fiasco of the evening.
We managed to rack it and get it jammed, my husband was getting aggravated and of course did not want to ask for help. TO BAD! Off I went in search of tools and help.
(mental note to put my tool box back in my trailer) We did get help from Jeff and got the blasted thing out and all was good. Next was setting up the blow up bed for the kiddos since we don't have the bunk beds done yet. Well, it was supposed to be for the kids, ended up I slept on it both nights! We got the boys (all three) in bed and off I went to ride Harley. It was around ten when I saddled him up and not too many folks in the arena, I think two others. Harley did not seem fazed by the lights and unfamiliar surroundings. I decided to do exactly what I had been doing at home with him and keep it simple. Let me just say how nice the footing was in the arena!
Oh, I wish for an arena......
He was good except for one minor balk at a pile of gravel next to the rail, I was anticipating it though and kept him working and his mind off of it. Corey would have been proud at my focus. I only schooled him for around 20 minutes as he seemed relaxed and I knew that tomorrow was going to be a long day for him. While I was riding another trainer from Northern Indiana asked if he was the same horse I rode at the last show. I answered yes, he said that he looked "broke" and was so happy to see I was getting along so well. It felt so good that someone noticed. I untacked Harley and helped out in the show office for a bit than crashed on my air bed.

There were no dog races, darnitt! Not enough people brought the pooches. Betty had to be happy chasing her gopher ball all weekend.

Saturday a.m. not sure what time, I woke up freezing! I forgot to put a blanket under me between the air mattress and my sheet, the air got cool and I was actually shivering, so was poor Betty dog. I found a towel and put that under me and got a few more winks of sleep. Seven a.m. my dear little rooster awakened me, that would be my oldest son he get up between 6 and 7 Always! I fed Harley grabbed some breakfast and helped in the office again. I decided to show conformation classes as Harley is just about at his ROM (Range of Merit) for both classes. Here is a shot of that lovely little scabbed up head of his. thanks Luanne!

I look like I am ready to eat someone in that photo, he would not stand up kept cocking his hip and resting on three legs. We placed 4th out of nine horses in Open and 6th out of 12 in amateur. I was happy with those placings as there were several nice geldings there. After halter classes I ate some lunch and saddled Harley for a warm up. The ring was bustling, we had 99 horses on Saturday! Great news for our club and we were happy to see so many new faces. My first riding class was a ranch riding class, sort of like western pleasure class only we actually move these horses.
No dig on anyone out there showing pleasure. I swear! There were 22 horses in my class, the judge asked for extensions of every gate! Harley especially liked the extend the lope call. He was great! I was having an awesome go, my best ever I felt like I could actually win and then..... yup, mental error. We were at the walk and I was in a corner with three horses breathing down my neck and two directly in front.
The judge asked for the lope, should I hesitate and let traffic pass or just jump in??? I should have hesitated, I didn't.... I did not move his hip over and I blew the lead. I fixed him in two strides but the judge was looking right at me. Sigh.... I knew it was over. When the judge came down the line up to ask for the back she stopped and said, "you had this won and then you blew the lead." I told her I knew it and that it was still the best ride I ever had on him, she said what a great attitude to have.

This is a shot of that class trotting, I need to work on that leg position some.
Next class was horsemanship, a pattern class. It was easy basically just three cones and you had to walk to the first do a 180 degree roll back, lope off on the right lead 1/2 circle to next cone, change leads and lope 1/2 circle to next cone stop back up. I had it going great again, Harley was anticipating the lead change and I was holding him up right up to it. I cued him and could not tell if he switched (darn horse is so smooth at them) so I looked down, my bad.... got to far over in my turn and missed he cone. I was DQ'd for that. Judge again said I had a great ride going until the damn mistake! Here is a shot of me holding him up on that lead change.

I was feeling OK about all of this in case you were wondering. Just happy that my little horse was riding so well. I felt so good that I entered a western riding class, I have never showed this before in my life. It basically consist of working a gate, trotting over a log then doing NINE yes nine lead changes between cones with a lope over that same pole. There were 8 horses including me, I was 6th to ride and most people were missing a cone or the lead changes. My plan was to just stay on pattern and hope to place. It started well, my heart was pounding! Harley sensed it and started reving up after the first change. I actually reached down and two handed him for a moment, should have been a DQ I guess the judge did not see it. He was flying through those cones changing on his own, I just stopped cuing him since I could not tell what lead I was on. He ticked the log on the lope over, I was happy he did not jump. I only have loped him over poles twice just last week. I ended up in second place for the class and 1/2 point off first , yep the log tick... WOW!
My next class was ranch reining and a pattern I had never done before. It was late I think around 8 pm now, I was tired so was Harley. He started nice and I blew it again by doing both my rollbacks the same direction instead of one left , one right.
He did a beautiful pattern and I was so happy with him I cannot describe it. His stop was great and I went directly into the back without pause. Several people commented to me on it on the way out of the arena. It was a little trick Corey taught me for some added points. Harley has so much get back it is easy for him to do. I ended up 7th out of nine in that class. I decided to skip the trail class as it wasn't going to be until midnight and I just could not do it. Instead I called it a day and went and had family time and watched some of the other reining classes.

Sunday was cattle day and I was going to sort but again the classes were big and it wasn't going to be until late afternoon. Hubby needed to get home so we watched some cutting and left for home around 12:30. All in all a great weekend and I couldn't have been happier with the Harley man. Apparently I need to work on my mental focus before the next show in October.

Friday, September 19, 2008

And their off.....

To the horse show that is.... we are packed up and ready to head out, just missing our truck and daddy. We head to Rochester, Indiana today for a two day show. The weather is great! Tonight I hope to do the dog races with my jack Russell " Betty".
It is a crazy little game we do with our pups and it is just for fun. I will try and snap some shots of the craziness this weekend. Harley is about to get his minimal clip job (bridle path and outside of ear) then a bubble bath. Wish me luck I am looking forward to seeing if we can put it all together under pressure.

Happy trails....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Progress in frazzle land

Here I am in my own self induced frazzle mania these days, but I am making progress.
I know I am not making sense again..... just my own babbling brain on the fritz.
You see I have way over extended myself again, something I tend to do a lot. It seems I am not happy unless I have fifteen things going and all in different directions. Let me explain this month's craziness.

1) I have a show this weekend I am preparing for.
2) Still getting the big blue trailer put together with my stuff.
3) I am doing a Heritage day festival next weekend with my signs and boxes.
4) I am still cleaning up ten acres of sticks from IKE.
5) Having to run my youngest to school once a week for testing to get into speech
6) The normal day to day junk that comes with being the super MOM.

Hubby is back on the road, which means here I am in single mom status during the week. I am happy to say I think I am done picking up debris from that dang hurricane IKE. I now have two piles the size of school buses to burn eventually.
I think I can mow now without shooting projectiles.

Harley is coming along nicely, I have been riding every other day and this seems to work for him. Last evening we schooled again and I practiced loping over poles for the first time, he jumped them for about the first six times. I worked on side passing down poles and he did OK at that, not great more practice. Then .....drum roll please..... we did the rope, again, and guess what? PROGRESS!! He did not back up when I drug it back to me and when I dropped it on the ground in a coil he barely flinched! YEA! I know silly to get so excited about but I have been diligently working on this aspect. I rode him around it some then side passed over to it and dismounted again. This seems to be working. I AM going to do the trail class this weekend!

As for the signs and such, I have purchased a domain name and am setting up a website to sell them on. It will be called Beyond the Barn Door. Thanks for all your encouragement in my endeavor. I will let you know when it is up and post a link on my blog. Get thinking about your Christmas gifts as I can personalize things.

The big blue trailer is going to make her debut this weekend with the whole family in tow. I am trying to outfit it with all the stuff we need to be comfortable. Well, shall I say my hubby to be comfortable with two small hell=yens. It doesn't take much for me, but he is another coin. I am happy he is coming along and hopefully it will work out.

There you go all caught up with me, I am off to school for the last testing on little man and then got to mow all ten acres today.

Happy trails.....

Monday, September 15, 2008

When the wind blows

Ok, I moved to the midwest to get away from hurricanes! Not really but it was one of the benefits, or so I thought....
This weekend I had about seventeen days worth of stuff I wanted to get done and well you know not much of it happened. I knew Ike was going to pay us a visit but I had no idea how much damage it would do, I mean criminy it traveled through like 6 states before it got here. I got up early yesterday and told my hubby I was riding Harley first thing before the wind started and more rain got dumped on my already mushy riding area. I have a show this coming weekend and am trying hard to stay riding all week. I saddled Harley and we schooled on the log lope overs and worked on the rope gate again. Yes, I did the rope throwing again and he still is a giant freak about it being on the ground. Corey suggested I drop it on the ground and then school him around it and then make him sidepass to it and get off there and walk back to the barn. His feeling was that soon it would be a reward to sidepass to it and I would get off then, that would be his reward and he would come to know the coil as the end of routine. So I did that and we shall see if it helps or not.
As predicted the wind picked up around noon and when I tried to get the boys to come in to the barn they ran from me. I wasn't happy that they were out in the storms and high winds although my pasture is pretty clear of trees and we are surrounded by mostly farm crops. We lost power at 1 in the afternoon and it did not come back on until 8pm, that really sucked. When I went out to feed the horses my yard looked like a war zone, there were tree limbs everywhere and sticks and leaves well you get the picture. I went down to the pasture to feed and immediately noticed Harley's left eye was swollen shut and weeping. Damn.....knew I should have left them in the barn after riding. I went digging in the old medicine kit and found the eye ointment and then had to put Harley in the head lock to get it in the eye. I worried all night of course and was relieved to find it almost back to normal this a.m.. That is all I need with a show coming up, a damaged eye.

Today was a cleanup extravaganza, my youngest and I picked up sticks and debris for over three hours this morning. I now have a burn pile the size of a school bus out there. I must share a very funny thing that also happened while picking up debris.
I had the mower out with my little steel cart attached and was throwing sticks in it by the pasture fence. The horses of course were curious to see what I was up to and came over to investigate. The weather is cool out 64 today and Harley was feeling frisky I could tell. I threw a rather large limb into the cart and it made a loud bang, I looked up to see Harley with a small branch with leaves sticking out of his mouth and he was spinning in place beautifully!! He must have done 6 spins to the left all the while holding that stick, talk about funny wish I had my camera.
Maybe I am schooling him to much on spins??? Crazy little horse......

Friday, September 12, 2008

They make it look so easy......

I got a call on Tuesday evening from Mike down at Craig Performance horses and he said he had a few more saddles for me to sell. He suggested that I bring Harley down for a little tune up as well. Being that the rain has started here again and thus my riding area is mushy and slippery I decided that was a fine idea. I have been having some little issues with my spins and of course my stops always need work.

So yesterday when my little ones went down for naps, Harley and I escaped and made our first run in the big blue trailer. It started raining just 15 minutes into the drive, I didn't care, just me and my boy off for the afternoon. Ah the sound of silence in the truck was amazing! Love my two little munchkins, but boy howdy they are a noisy little pack. Wonder where it comes from???? When I got to the barn an hour later, Mike was nowhere in sight but I saddled up and found Corey outside riding. The rain hadn't made it that far south yet, just the humidity. I schooled Harley on the outside track and Corey of course was full of little comments on what I was doing INCORRECT. He told me to save some horse as Mike was on his way. It started to drizzle so into the indoor I went and worked on just standing still, not a strong point for Harley (he thinks he must be doing something always). Mike arrived and had me fence.....Ugh I hate fencing because I hate the stop! But he did help me get Harley more under himself at the stop and told me that my lines were straight and that I looked very comfortable. Next we moved on to spins, I was a wreck, just all over the place and not pretty at all. Mike kindly asked if he could ride Harley a moment. He climbed on up and POOF! Harley was spinning beautifully and in place and on no rein...... sigh.....they make it look so easy. You know what?
It is easy. I just make it hard. Harley knows all of this and I am just doing to much. I tend to rein him all the way through instead of just starting him and dropping my hand and trusting that he will stay there. You know what else? When I got back on and dropped my reins he spun beautifully for me! I am always amazed at what I forget so quickly and how just one lesson can make me feel so refreshed.

Driving home it occurred to me just how far Harley and I have come. Twice I have put him up for sale and yet here we are. It has been just short of two years since I bought him and I feel like finally I am starting to click with him. Mike said he had more try in him than most horses he trains and I believe it. I am so glad I stuck it out and kept trying with him, it may take us 10 years but we are gonna be a great team instead of just a good team one day. That being said, I did ride a little mare Mike has for sale while I was there. She looked just like Harley and was five, she was great but not nearly as athletic as Harley. Never hurts to ride just one more, if anything it lets me see just how good of a pony I have!

For the parting shot today I thought I would share this picture I took on the way home. It is of a field of sunflowers close to my house. Sunflowers are my favorite flower and I think this was just what I needed to end my sunshine filled day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Teaching a young horse new tricks

You know the old saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks. How about teaching a young horse new tricks?? As I posted previously, I am training Harley on some new obstacles for trail classes at my local ranch horse shows. You would think that with all the trail riding I do with him that I would not need to school him on obstacles. Not true.... riding in the woods is one thing, put those same type obstacles in an arena and ole Harley sorta loses his mind.

ARHA (American Ranch Horse Association) rules state that for a trail course there are three required obstacles and three additional at judges discretion. The three required ones are working a gate, roping a steer head and loading in a stock trailer. I have the gate working down and even got him comfortable with a rope gate since sometimes the show grounds do not have a workable gate to use. Harley will generally load in most trailers now that we have worked through those issues. The roping of the steer head is and area we are working on. It is not counted against you if you in fact do not make the "catch", they are just looking to see if your horse is quiet when you make the loop and throw. Good thing since roping is not something I have ever done or practiced. That may have to change. Several folks have told me Harley would make a jam up heeling horse. But I digress.... Harley is actually fine with the swinging of the rope and it landing out in front of him, it is when I drop the coil after the throw. He acts like it is a thousand rattlesnakes down there trying to attack him.
So...... on the advice of my dear pony cousin Pony girl last evening after our riding session I got off and walked Harley with the rope dragging behind me. He was none to crazy about it at first but then he started trying to walk on it. I practiced throwing it in front of him and to the side of him and pulling it back to me. I had him walk over it and around it while it was on the ground. I don't think we made any great progress but I don't think we slid backwards any either. I guess it is something I just need to keep working on. Anybody with other suggestions fire away. Tonight is tackle the tarp night. Yes, out comes the big blue tarp to simulate a water crossing, we shall see what he thinks of it.

Happy trails......

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back in action

Good day bloggie friends! I am finally feeling back to my old self, notice I did not say normal? I don't really know what normal is......
Anyway, I am just about over the kid induced crud until the next virus comes along.
I managed to work on my wood art and ride Mr Harley wild pants this weekend. Oh yes, he was a wild boy. It had been just over a week since I last rode him and he was full of the wild oats. As usual when I asked for the lope he went into his rendition of a rodeo bronc, bucking and twisting and trying to get that head down. Too bad mama has his number and I do not get intimidated or mad anymore, nope we just roll back and lope the other way. When he continues so do I with more roll backs and loping off, I keep the mantra "make being bad more work for him". So, after about four rollbacks he decided it was just not that fun anymore. We finished the ride up nicely by working on the headset and staying in straight lines when we lope. Harley is a gawker, by this I mean he positively must look at everything around him, ALL the time! Keeping his attention is like trying to get a three year old child to sit for pictures! LOL I really have to stay in the moment when riding him and concentrate on keeping his attention on me.

Sunday evening I rode again and set up my little trail course again with some new elements for him. I hope to show him in trail at this next show in two weeks. I only tried to show trail once with him when I first got him and it was a true nightmare. He was so scared of most of the obstacles and I basically just helped him through the entire class with his little heart just pounding on my legs.
He was much better last evening and no buck at all. I do not have an arena here to ride in so most of the time I either ride in my three acre pasture or in the area in front of my pond. Yesterday I rode in the pond area, all was going well until the wild ducks decided to take flight and spook Harley. I couldn't blame him they startled me as well. We recovered nicely and worked on our flying lead changes on the straight aways. Harley tends to get chargey after lead changes during patterns so the last clinician told me to work on lead changes on the straight away until they become a non issue for him. I have been practicing this and am happy to say last evening he did all of them without getting reved up or chargey. YEA! It is so great to make progress on things. Yesterday's trail obstacles were a rope gate, L shaped back thru, three pole lope over and the rope a steer head. Harley is a little nervous of the rope gate, I think because I have him on electrified rope fence. He did work the rope gate pretty well after a few tries. The back thru went well, we just have to work on slowing Harley down. (a common theme with him) The lope over was sort of like learning to jump hurdles, he wasn't sure if he should jump or stop or what. He got the hang of it but we need lots more practice. The steer head was funny, he doesn't mind the swinging of the rope (even when I whack him accidentally) he just FREAKS when I drop the rope! I am not sure if he thinks it is a snake or what. Not sure how to solve this one, I guess just keep practicing dropping the rope. Any suggestions??? The roping of the steer head is a required task in our trail classes as is opening a gate and trailer loading. There are then three additional obstacles chosen by the judge. Well I am off to the wood shed to create some more.

Happy trails........

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My new name

Since I have been made an honorary member of the pony cousins out there on the west coast, I feel I too must have a new "cousin" name. I have chosen this one, "she who writes with fire". I will explain.....

My newest craze and hopefully money making venture is pyrography, or for us simple minded folk...wood burning. I am making signs and plagues and boxes and picture frames and whatever else I can come up with and personalizing them and drawing with "fire" on them. I am having a blast!

It all began with the death of a barn.... I know weird . I have several barns on my ancient property here and one poor building just caved in and surrendered after 100 years or so. Being the recycling mama that I am I kept trying to come up with a use for all that barn wood. The barn was 30 feet across and 80 feet long. I even contacted some folks about taking the old wood or beams but got no takers. I think I have a picture of the barn when it was still standing I will try and dig it up for a later post. Anyway I decided to try my hand at sign making and wood burning and such.
I will be setting up a website and will be doing custom orders for stall plaques and signs real soon. Here are a few of the things I have done so far.

The picture frame below is not from the barn just one I purchased and then decorated by burning on it, I think it came out cute. I will include the cheesy photo that I cut out of a magazine!

Anyway that's what I have been up to and will share more with you on this project later. I think I feel well enough to climb up on Harley today so wish me luck!
Happy trails......

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Check out my chinks!

OK, finally I can post about my chinks! I know I have been teasing you with a post on them for some time now. First a little explanation for those of you unfamiliar with chinks and what they are. Maybe some trivia for those of you who do know what they are.

Chinks are leg coverings similar to chaps only they usually fall just below the knee.
I guess they would be sorta like half chaps for the western rider. Hee hee.
Chinks are usually worn by working cowboys and cowgirls during ranch work. They are short enough to allow the rider to perform daily tasks without tripping over them each time they exit the saddle to mend fence, doctor cow etc....

They usually have fringe although not always. Do you know why they have fringe??
The fringe originated to help the water from rain run off the leather legging.
A tidbit I just learned recently.

I wear my chinks when trail riding and competing at shows. Can't help but think if I had these when at Buffalo river I wouldn't have been stung so many times by those bees.

Without further ado I introduce you my new chinks:

A close up of the detail

I guess you may have noticed mine are not all that fancy..... I am not a bling girl so I like them sort of plain. They have the stamping up top with the double heart carved in there as well. I really liked the diamond shaped conchos on the wear leathers and I had to have the twisted fringe, just to be different. I got this pair from a girl in Wyoming off of Ebay. These were not the original pair I wanted but they were a lot less expensive. I need to put longer screws on the conchos as I almost lost one last time I wore them other than that I love them.

I promise as soon as I feel human enough to ride I will model them on me for you to see how they look on Harley.

Happy trails....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Queen for a day....

When I checked my inbox this morning I was pleasantly surprised by not one, not two but three awards! I feel like a Queen! Whoo HOO! If I had a voice I would cheer. The crud has moved to my chest now and I am hacking like a three pack a day smoker, no I do not smoke. Any who
I am deeply moved that you folks think my blog is worthy of any awards, I mean after all it is just my ramblings and rants from day to day. My first award which is one I am so happy to receive is.......

Better Than Gold Award Honorary Pony Cousin

Can you believe it??? I am an honorary Pony Cousin!! If I had wings I would fly my big ole butt right over to the west coast and join in all the fun these gals have.
They certainly have a fun time and make me wish for my own pony cousins.
Thank you Middle of the road for
bestowing this fabulous award upon me!

The next two awards are the I love your blog award!

This lovely gem was actually awarded to me by two separate ladies:
Saddle Mountain Rider and Latigo Liz Thank you both for sharing this award and for reading my blog.

The rules are to
1. Post the award on your blog
2. Put a link to the award giver
3. Name others for the award

Yes I probably changed the rules but whatever, I have never been known to follow rules :-)

I think I will send this award onto a few bloggie friends as well:
1. Seatbelt for my saddle - Southland blogger and fellow trailrider
2. Gecko Musings - Australian gal who keeps me laughing and helps with my cattle fix
3. Cowboys, Kids and Sunsets - Neat blog I have been stalking lately
4. Pony girl rides again - This girl keeps me in stitches, love her writing

There are so many others who deserve it and some have already achieved this award so I will just say thanks to all of you for sharing your stories of life with horses.

I will get that post on my chinks done sometime here soon, hang in there.
Happy trails.....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Blue for you

Well, it was a blue weekend.....not really just I was in sick bay most of it and not feeling like doing much of anything. So, in order to feel like I accomplished something I re did the blog page and added a few goodies. One of the joys of having young ones in school is that they bring home lots of bugs, viruses and whatever you may call sickness at your house. I am not a good sick person, I mean who is? But seriously, I cannot just sit around waiting to feel better. I tried watching TV but the girl meets cowboy show was just well..... stupid and nothing good was on RFD so I did watch Tennis a bit....yawn....I slept alot! Today I am back in action and trying not to overdo it. The mounds of laundry await and the rug looks more like the great outdoors than the great indoors so I guess I need to vacuum it. Promise to try to get those pics of my chinks and the story behind them up later today. Just could not bring myself to go model them for you this weekend. Hope you all had a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Happy trails...