Thursday, January 31, 2013

Plow the trail, Mom! Found Big Foot(s) too!

Corky and I set out for a ride today and looked what we got a glimpse of!  Can you see Bigfoot just on the edge of the trees to the left?  Remember those hats I found?  He's wearing the red and black checked one!  How did he get that?  Oh, I left the hats in the barn.  He must have went in there to warm up and found the hats!  We had been having pretty warm weather up until yesterday when it went from about 30 to single digits last night!  Brrrrrrr!

Today it was about 12 degrees when I set out.  We've gotten about six or so more inches of snow.  It had also rained earlier in the week, so the snow was kind of crusty, but Corky was trudging through until we came to a Y in the trail and I wanted to go right and he wanted to go left.  When I insisted on right, he just stood there and stood there and stood there.  I couldn't get him to go.  He has never not responded to my request to move forward.  What the heck!  It did occur to me that maybe the snow was too deep for him.  My husband just said this morning that he thought I should let him plow the trail, but I was hesitant about that because I didn't want it to turn to ice.  After a couple of minutes, I decided to turn Corky in a circle trying to get some movement out of him.  I guided him to the right, he bought his head back to my stirrup and laid down!  No warning!  I had no time to tell him no!  He wasn't breathing heavy, but I think his legs were just tired.

So I got off and got him up and realized I was 2/3 of a mile back from the house and I didn't want to walk through this much snow either!  So I retightened his saddle, which was really loose, and climbed back on board and let him head for home.  I felt bad.  My poor baby boy.  But look what we saw again!

Another Bigfoot!  Or the same Bigfoot with a different hat on?  I don't know!  I bet we have a Mr. and Mrs. Bigfoot!  Awwww, I wonder if we'll have babies? 

Corky kept trudging until we got to where the two trails meet near the barn and then he stopped again.  I asked him to go the few remaining feet that it would be to where I tack and untack the horses, but he said, "No.  I got you this far.  Get the heck off!"

Never a dull moment!  Keep warm!

First Rain, Then Snow

Once again, we're under snow. 

If that sentence comes with a note of disappointment it has been misinterpreted. But...

Once again it is freezing balls outside plus a nasty wind chill.

That sentence should be taken with disappointment. I love snow, but can't it just show up and then lull around 30 degrees to prevent it from freezing without making life miserable for us non-hairy apes?

We had a hint of spring show up, went from snow and ice all around us and negative temperatures, to a balmy 50 degrees with rain, rain and more rain. We even had a thunderstorm roll through! As I predicted, that one tepid day would ruin the rest of winter for us as we yearn again for a day worthy of wearing a tee-shirt and not being immediately shuttled to the nearest ICU for frostbite injuries. 

In fact, we had standing water. Everywhere. And it was glorious, did I mention that already? 

Our water hydrants even had a chance to thaw completely! Three of the four froze it was so cold and I was getting pretty tired of running water out by hand everywhere (four horses and a henhouse will drink more than imagined). 

The horses seemed to congregate more than usual to discuss the warm temperatures and impending rains too.

I did take full advantage of the nice weather to get some ride time in on Jobi at the very least. Aligarh has to wait until we get the rest of the stalls finished in the arena, but that's another story to be told at another time.

The spring-like day seemed to kick off some sort of disillusionment on the part of my horses too, as my cousin's mare came into a false heat and my Paint gelding (ahem, who isn't a gelding..) decided he's mature enough to talk sweet to her over the fence. That gelding party won't come quickly enough this spring. :)

Here's a picture of Corbell, Paint "gelding", before spring kicked in. See the standing water? That's just snowmelt, the rain hadn't even shown up yet.

At least he's polite about it.

Lunged Jobi last night in the arena for a bit, keeping an eye on his feet. They're feeling better since I added in the daily routine of applying a new anti-fungal to the frog. Him and Corbell both actually. But I bought some dental syringes that have a special narrow tip to help get the cream down in the crevice in his contracted hooves. "Get in and stay there!" is what I say when I apply it, seems to help the potency. 

He's such a good horse to have around. I did the same with Corbell afterwards, applied his fungal cream and did some lunging. Just left Jobi to wander freely in the arena, he decided to park himself at the outer edge of the lunging circle so I had a reason to school Corbell on why we don't make lunge attacks at horses in passing while being lunged. Short lesson, helps to have a horse like Jobi just stand there like, "I don't care what you say, I'm NOT moving so get to it pony boy."

And here's one of Aligarh with his "girlfriend" Phoenix.


Danger in the Alps! That thing's gonna eat me!

The weather's been bad for ages. First, it has been well below freezing, and some snow. That is good. But, then it warms up each day and there is nothing but mud and muck! Turning out the horses has been difficult because of the danger of injury on slippery fields instead of the normally snow blanketed, white hills. The wind has been howling, like it is now. And some days a fog rolls in so thick you cannot even see neighbors houses.

The ground was just starting to freeze, and we were looking forward to a normal January. Then yesterday, it struck, the warm wind called, Fuehn (which means Blow Dryer) that comes up from the Sahara Desert in Africa, and drops down over the North side of the Alps. The temperatures climbed to over 55 F! The thaw kicked in (in January!) and then in the night it rained, it really rained, hard and the wind blew.

This morning, the sky was blue and clear. Everything, including the roundpen was under water. The wind was still at it, but the temperature was now about 46 F. A bit cooler. Now, with all this crazy weather, Lark had been in the Open Stall shelter at the start of winter. Several years ago, she took a nasty kick to the head (thanks to Montana Blue Magic) and the wound, although immediately treated by the vet, got infected affecting her respiratory system. Since then, she's suffered from hay allergy, we guess as a reaction to the infection at that time. This year, due to the foggy, warm, wet weather, she began to suffer allergies. The vet was out and treated her with antibiotics, and we got her onto some asthma inhalation treatment and some medication to loosen phlegm. But, with the nasty weather, she was deteriorating. It was time for stall-rest and the addition of a special musli with herbs for breathing, and the total removal of hay from the diet by using straw (which she is not allergic to) and hay cubes soaked in water, a strict regime.

Three weeks into stall rest and no turn out, it was time today to see how she was doing with a little excercise. After saddling her up, we started with a 15 minute walk on the hand as a warm up. She did great, and her breathing seemed regular and not too fast. Up into the saddle, and we were off! The wind driving against us as we made our way into the beautiful valley on the roads. Uphill she was doing fine, without heavy breathing, and we walked to the top of the nearest hill on a neighbor's farm. That went well, and she was relaxed if a little hyper for being in the stall. We made it down the hill and to the the next neighbor, who also has horses but they were not outside.

We often ride a one hour stretch at the walk on the streets where there are a few gallop stretches on farm roads. I chose this route, by turning left at the bottom of the hill to walk in the direction of the big horse stable, yet another neighbor! We walked along, and had to move over for two cars. Now, Lark being a very well trained school horse with years of trail riding experience started to dance. Uh oh! Staying calm and using the lead line tied to her roper halter, I would stop her and then ride slowly forward (I didn't want to be pulling on the bit you see!) As we rode between the farms, we crested yet another hill looking down onto the horse farm.

The sun was warm, and the crest of the hill blocked the wind. Down below to the right, I could see our friend Nici with her Haflinger on the soaking wet outdoor riding arena, getting ready to free lunge her horse over a jump. It is way down the hill though. And directly before us, under a tree was a massive, multi-colored, Bumble. Lark began to dance, she snorted and threw her head, and I stepped down.

Horses were out in their pasture enclosures, running around tearing up everything! And, the Bumble panted and loomed beneath the tree next to the road. Everyone knows that in the Alps there are Bumbles! And, everyone knows Bumbles bounce! And, Lark knows that Bumbles eat horses for lunch! Slowly we made are way down the street that passes through the middle of the farm. Nici's horse began to buck and run and jumped the jump and ran to the entrance of the arena, and Lark jumped her mane flying and did the best impression of a Spanish horse you'd ever seen!

Some riders were there next to the wash area, and the Bumble moved! Standing and slinking away toward another area of the stable. We stopped to chat, as Lark danced and pranced. A nice lady says, what is that for a wild horse you have there! I said, oh you know Lark don't you, and she said, yes but I've never seen her like that before! Just then two shetland ponies come up on the right at full gallop in the turned up pasture, mud flying! Lark, half-rearing, thought the shetlands were another form of Bumble!

I explain that Lark has had box-rest for a while, and usually I lunge before riding, but it was not possible (my riding area is under water). And, the last couple of times Lark came through here she thought the Bumble would eat her. The nice lady says, but he won't eat Lark. I said I know, but for some reason she's decided that that Bumble isn't getting anywhere near her. And, I guess because of the size, she thought the shetties were Bumbles too!

With that, we moved on. Walking slowly through the farm until we were past the last of the 30 horses, and on the way back up another hill that we need to crest to get back to our farm. Lark was again calm, and so I remounted. This is a farm tractor path, and as I look to the right, I can see far down into another valley. There is the Haflinger breeder's farm with two small horses with riders working in the riding arena. And farther down the valley, deeper down, in the middle of a swath of green field, there's a rider on a black horse entering the Riding Clubs dressage arena. It's a good day to ride, the sun shining, the lake farther below is turquoise from the snow melt. The mountain, Traunstein, almost void of snow towers over the lake and plunges down into its depths. We reach the crest and I start to talk to Lark, tell her that St. Bernards are not really Bumbles, and they don't eat horses.

She'll have none of it, and at the crest, we turn for home. A slow walk. She gives a cough and blows out her nose several times. No slime, no congestion, she's looking good. Down the steep hill I concentrate on my seat, lifting the upper body. opening my hips and letting them take up the movements of the horse. We reach the point were we have to cross the main road. We stop and watch cars go by. It's a dangerous spot as it is in a sharp curve and the cars come fast, and the curve is pretty blind on one side, more dangerous in my mind than Bumbles, who I think are rather friendly! I listen for motors, then we trot across and up to our road. Back down to a walk, Lark is breathing a little bit harder now, but it is good for her. She's not sweating and the excercise helps clear her lungs.

(Note, that isn't a belly on me, I've got my gloves stuffed into my vest! I know, everyone's going to say, yeah right, Karen!)


Hi Denise, Everyone~Nooner & I look forward to the first game in April. Meanwhile I'll look around for tasks and game like stuff to do. It's just me & Nooner in the pasture so I've got to figure out what to do! If you have any suggestions before April or can recommend a spot where I could find some that would be great.  Parelli & Carolyn Resnick waterhole games are on the ground as far as I know. More soon, here the temps went from -5 to 60. Ice to mud. Thanks, Vicki

Brief Admin Message

Hello Everyone!!

For those of you visiting that are not part of the RAC team you may be wondering what on earth is going on with all the crazy Big Foot stories! =] Let me explain: It was simply a fun way to to spark up one of our very own RAC members who has been with the contest since it's start in 2007. (Harold Fairchild) while also encouraging riders to be creative, get out and enjoy their curlies during this cold winter month of January. =] You'll continue to see a few posts for the next few days. So sit back and enjoy what the RAC Team is up to!

Specific games will be planned throughout the year. I will post the idea of the games here on the blog so you know what the team is doing.

Thank you for visiting and enjoy!
Denise Conroy

Baby steps

Here's a picture from a few days ago, Voelie found tracks in the snow near her toy in the field.. after hearing all my RAC stories about the Big Foot travelling around the USA Voelie was worried that Big Foot might just have crossed the ocean coming here to take her toy!

But luckily as you can see the tracks are small. Probably a rabbit. or are these baby steps and should we be worrying about a baby Big Foot! Please help, give us advice!

On the training side I am the one taking baby steps with Voelie. My goal is to start her saddle training this year. What I am mostly doing now is incorporating activities into the games we do to keep thinsg fun for Voelie. I stand on my high step (for easy mounting:) and swing my leg back and forth over her back, touching her but putting no weight on her. I practice when she is loose in the field juming up and dowen standing next to her (as if I were going to jump on to her back or dismount). She loves all these games. I hope by taking these baby steps she will keep her trust and learn to stay calm. She is more high spirited than Suri and can be quite jumpy, so relaxing and taking things easy is important.

Here are some more snow pictures of the horses, these are from last week, notice the lovely curls:)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Foster George is awesome

Today I worked with George again . He was playing catch me with one of the mares. But making him believe you have a treat over for him :-)

This was the second time I saddled him and he acted like it was all normal. The cinch the stirrups dangling to his belly , he was all fine with it.

We had rain.. freezing rain..rain so everything is a mudslide including the arena, roundpen and trails. So I decided to go for a walk. We just have a new boarding horse and the owner had not a proper saddle yet, so she joined us.

George was having fun, walking along exploring the trails for the first time ever.
Sometimes I would JUMP or Wave my arms and he would spook. But he needs to know it is all alright sudden strange  like that happen. In the end he was all relaxed and I did some groundwork in a field.

When we walked back towards to barn I felt warm air in my hair. George was giving me a kiss snuggle on my pony tail. That was such a melt moment . He is a sweet horse.

We have some obstacles set up and I walked him true a tunnel with rope dangling . He just followed without any hesitation . Boy I was so proud of him.

When I got him unsaddled and gave him a treat the phone rang.....somebody interested in adopting. That would be great. George loves to have a job and his very own human to take care of him.

Sorry forgot my camera no pic today.

Marion , Hidden Cave Ranch, KY

Snow gone, a short ride and promoting curlies!

Yesterday the snow was almost gone here and for the first time in about a month I got a chance to have a short ride on Suri. I rode her on the grounds with the barebackpad and she was great! I wanted to see how she was because some people were coming over to meet Curly horses for the first time. Suri was so calm that I let both their daughters also have a short ride (on the leadline). I am sure both Voelie and Suri have some new fans now in the Netherlands! Suri was a great example for the breed with her lovely temprement!

I hope to get in more riding and also more pictures soon. I have a photoshoot planned with the horses on friday so hopefully some great pictures soon!

Cows, injections, and fun times

Hello All,
Last week was quite harsh in WI for weather so I didn't get out much during the week but Saturday was the Ranch Show at the barn and I was determined to at least ride one class with Abby.  Well we ended up doing 3 which went "all right".  Abby has been very stiff lately but per the vet  I needed to keep working her so we set out to do some reining.  I tend to mess up any sort of pattern call it a curse and memorized the wrong one. Had I known the right one required flying lead changes I wouldn't have signed up but oh well it was practice right!  Did I mention Abby was really stiff?  Yeah we did "flying lead changes" several times but it was only in her hind legs...cross firing is never fun...
I kept her moving in between classes and decided to try out Working Cow Horse... Abby has only tracked a cow once for about 1 minute but the show was for fun so why not.  I learned allot in that 3 minutes about Abby.  She likes to chase cows!  Oh my I almost fell off twice because she stopped so short to cut off the cow without me even steering her.  I was so caught off guard.  Everybody was hooting and hollering for her cause she was such a natural.  No more stiffness issues after that she was fired up and ready to go.
The last class was trail and Abby was a rock star.  She was one of the only ones to do all the obstacles and only sniffed at the bridge cause it wasn't there the 100 times she passed that spot.  All in all a great learning day but it made me even more sure that I was going to pursue doing whatever was needed to help her stifles.
Abby on Saturday taking notes on how it's done...

Enter Monday... Today was the day the vet was going to prescribe our next steps with Abby's stifles.  If I haven't mentioned it before Abby suffers from locking stifles.  Some times it's a fitness issue and you can work them enough to fix the it but after several months of focused conditioning they just don't seem to be improving.  So we decided to hold off on surgery as a last resort but did inject her joints with Legend and then injected a solution into the ligament to stiffen it.  She has a few days off but I'm suppose to continue to ride her slowly at first but within a week back to normal.  I'm really excited and hope this helps Abby feel 100%

Poor Abby very sleepy getting ready to be injected.

I've also been riding Mr. Theo and it's been really great.  The trainer rode him in a boxing class which is where you do a reining pattern and then work a cow on one end of the arena.  He did pretty good but the cow came running into the arena which kind of spooked him and he took off...silly horse he's done quite a bit of cow work in the last 6 weeks so I was puzzled as to why he would be scared now. My only guess is there have been whispers of  a Sasquatch around these parts and perhaps Theo had an encounter with it and maybe thought the cow was Sasquatch.  I'll be keeping my eye out for tracks now.
  Today I have a lesson with a 3 day eventing coach and I'm super excited.  I hope to get some video and post some pictures of us.  We are just working on flat work I have no intentions of pursuing 3 day eventing with Theo he is on the path to being an endurance horse but a little dressage work is always a good thing.

That's it for now sorry about my limited photos I hope to have more for the next post!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Going Bitless Is A Breeze

Perhaps it's just a fluke. Hmm, nope, not a fluke. Thought finding the right bitless option would be more of a... process? 

Anyone heard of an Indian Bosal before? I had not, before my journey of Google-searching for various types of bitless bridles. Well, I broke down and ordered one last week.. actually two (hey if I'm paying shipping on one I might as well order a second in case I like them.. I do have several horses you know!). I have this problem with purchasing things where I throw all mathematical logic away and then convince myself that it would be better to order more than I currently need in order to save on paying shipping again later (that is if I even like what I ordered). 

I'll just leave that one with saying that I have a lot of duplicates of things, many of which I will never need/use/buy again (hey, anyone looking for some great priced and much loved used tack message me).

One factor that played into me trying out the Indian Bosal first was the great price. It costs me $75 to fill my car up with gas once she's on empty (turbo engine, gotta put premium in there...) so really anything coming in under the cost of a tank of gas (plus shipping, which is where they get ya ;)) I can usually handle splurging on for the sake of experimentation. 

Second, was that I could use my existing headstall because all I'm paying for is the noseband portion for control. This meant I didn't have to relegate tack that already works (the headstall) to some storage box with all the other tack that is now obsolete for me.

.. I was having a really hard time swallowing the idea of paying well over $100 (again!) for a bitless bridle (like the Dr. Cook) that I didn't know would/wouldn't work. Sure, I could buy the less expensive version but I'm rather fond of leather, and if I'm already forking over a tank of gas I may as well fork over two and get the better quality version (see how despondent my purchasing logic has become?! I blame this on my addiction for horses wherein we quickly learn to throw logic to the wolves and buy yet another horse.. ahem, curly, despite the fact that we already own 2+ perfectly well functioning and suited curlies already). 

Okay, back to my original point of the story.

Package came in the mail today, and it being a false spring day (30+ degrees, yay for the water hydrants finally thawing), it was the perfect opportunity to saddle up my pony (i.e. Jobi) and test out this new piece of tack.

And enter the phrase "complete success."

It helped that I tended to his hoof needs a few days before so there were no hesitations on his part due to his hooves. He walked off in complete relaxation (has never happened since he's been back home). Actually offering to stretch down on his own without any asking on my part (yay!). Halt was perfect (gotta test that out of course), trotted off completely relaxed as in stretching out, back up and round (double yay!). 

Then came the big test... dun dun dunnnnn! Canter of course silly. 

Which he moved into straightaway with very little effort and on the first request. Relaxed, round, reaching out and stretching with his neck (something he has not always been apt to do even before he left, he would relax but always tended to hold himself in a bit rather than reaching down and out). 

Lots of big sighs from him during the ride as well. 

So overall, I'm smitten with this new tool. I think Jobi might be as well. Is it wrong that I'm now mentally assembling a list of horse friends I want to purchase an Indian Bosal for and just "secret sasquatch" it to them in the mail?

I blog with BE Write

Back in the saddle, minus the saddle

After a few weeks of severe and bitter cold, we've had a few days of relatively balmy (-15) weather. The horses are happy to run and play and we're happy to be outside without running for your life from car to house to barn, repeat (Can you pick out the curly, haha. Here he's meeting his young friend Levi for the first time).

As you can imagine, my curly Spirit doesn't actually mind the cold. When the other horses are brought in to the barn, he'd much rather be outside with a run in shelter. But when he does spend the night indoors, he has the funniest sleeping habits ever. The owner of the stable where he is boarded gets a kick out of how he ruffles up his bed of straw, circles a few times like a dog, and curls up for the night.

So other than a few short in-hand sessions in the covered arena, I haven't done much since Jan. 14. Even a covered arena isn't much help when it's in the minus 30s. But yesterday I finally got time and weather both on my side.

As per his usual curious self, he came to the gate and away we went. We did some lunging and leading (I like using obstacles and leading from both sides, at different gaits and speeds to be sure we are in tune) before I slipped on his bridle and got on. I decided to forego the saddle as we both quite like the different contact without it.

I wasn't quite sure how this ride would go because we were in the arena while there was a riding lesson going on, and another person was working with her very young horse on the ground. Given that the young horse was a filly, and the lesson horse is studly old Arab gelding who is ancient but thinks he's "all that" I thought it would make for some interesting distractions, since Spirit likes to be the ladies' choice too.

However other that a bigger trot than I asked for at first (could have been that it just felt a whole lot bigger), he did great, even when they both left. This has been something that we've had to work on. Most often we are riding in the arena or corral alone. He loves company but even when we start off alone, then are joined by another horse, and then they leave, he voices his opinion with some balking and head tossing. That wound up spring feeling like you don't know what's coming next is something I don't love when I'm on bareback, since he is wide and round and hard to grip with my short little legs at the best of times!

He made a half hearted attempt yesterday but was quite content to give it up quickly. Times like this I realize how much I've come to know this little horse with a big heart and occasionally big attitude. He really is a lot of bark with very little bite! No doubt because I am confident enough now to be firm and consistent with my requests.

Discovered he is a little wider than he was, so I guess the extra hay is doing more than keeping him warm! However there is nothing like riding bareback on a curly in the winter, hands down the most comfy ride ever!

Hats, a dog and a warm day!

Chance sniffing out Big Foot
Today was even warmer than yesterday here in the UP and I couldn't resist taking a short ride at least, especially since it's supposed to rain/freezing rain tomorrow!  Boo hiss!  I decided to make this ride a little more challenging for Corky and take our dog Chance along.  Chance picked up on a trail, as you can see, and I'm thinking it was Big Foot!   You can see all the old footprints from last night before it snowed this morning and covered them up.  Eventually Chance got a little intimadated and decided to use Corky as her shield against Big Foot, so she followed Corky.  Corky was really good with all of this and I think he was a little calmer because we had company on the trail.

About at the quarter mile mark (as I call it), I found this hanging on a tree!

What in the world is that?  I asked Corky to go over to it and he ran right into it and backed up real quick, like it bit him!  It's a rabbit hat!  No wonder Corky was startled!  It didn't feel like a tree branch at all.  I can't figure out how that got there!  Corky went back up to it and I took it off the tree branch to take back home to show my husband. 

We continued around the trails with Chance following us, all the time I'm wondering where that hat came from!  I'm sure Chance at this point was wondering what she had gotten herself into.  She has always wanted to come on the horse rides, but it was hard work keeping up with Corky, even at a walk.

Just as we were coming around the next to last bend in the trail going home, all of a sudden Corky stopped dead in his tracks, looking at this strange track going across the trail.  He started breathing deep, which made me wonder what he was smelling!  The track was too small to be a bear or coyote or wolf.  I urged him on, but he was hesitating, but continued on slowly like a good boy.  He kept taking deep breaths, which concerned me, but I couldn't see anything.  Something definitely had passed in the area recently that concerned him, but Chance wasn't picking anything up.  Just as we turn the final bend, I find this!
Another hat in a tree!  What the heck?  I ask Corky to go up to it so I can get a better look and take it off to show my husband!  Where are all these hats coming from?  I'm hoping I can go out on Wednesday and continue to investigate, but there are some strange things going on in my neck of the woods.


Once in a while, I get all fired up again about putting Ah-D to a cart, and this time it happened to hit me right smack dab in the middle of January.  This looks fairly simple, but getting my Curly to understand that he is supposed to be out in front of me has been quite the undertaking.  He had an epiphany on Sunday.

He looks nice and relaxed in this photo, the way I would like him to be, with a nice forward cadence to his walk.  You can see that I am working hard to keep up with him.  I ground drove our Haflinger first, thinking that Allie is a slowpoke, so it wouldn't be too much of a big deal, but if you imagine walking as fast as you can through fairly deep snow (or a sandy beach far up from the water line), that is what it was like.  I was reasonably tuckered by the time I had done the trail loop with Allie, and so by the time I worked Ah-D, well lets just say I didn't practice "whoa" and "stand" just for his benefit.

Here I am gasping for breath.  Most of the time I had to hold him at the stand, because he was quite excited and did not want to stand still, but a couple of times he nailed it.  We have made huge progress with the ground driving, but we still have a ways to go, for sure.  I realized when I was doing this that I really want to be driving from Ah-D's left (because I am right handed??), so several times I switched over to the other side.  Same with the "stands," a couple of times on the gee-rounds (circle to the right) and haw-rounds (circle to the left) Ah-D sailed smoothly on through it, and sometimes he was confused.  Once when he was confused it was driver's error; I called a haw-round a gee-round - ooops. When he (or I!!) get confused, we stop, calm down, and do a "do-over."  The only time I let him trot was when we were back out on the road.  By the time I have him in a cart, I am hoping to build some muscle and up-my metabolism a bit.  That, Ladies and Gents, is what is known as a win-win situation.  Harold, I had no time to look for Bigfoot on this outing because I was too busy concentrating on my pony, but I promise to try to be more aware next time we give it a go.

 Saturday night i  had my first  night  time  beach ride  on  Runner.   he did very good!   but he looked at the " glow"  on the beach  from the full moon  with a " corner  eye"   We only rode an hour.   and  then we enjoy a  nice  campfire,  with some  wine.    very fun night.  ( don't worry,  had a "designated  driver"  for  trailer  ride  home.  

 this week I'm heading to  west  Texas  for the Alamo  Trail  Ride  although  Runner has done 4  endurance  rides,  the trail ride will  be very different.   and the  west Texas  terrain  can be very technical. Looking forward to our  New adventure.  :)

Suspicious shadow behind trees

Nooner & I were on a short ride up the lane on our property when we saw some kind of a curved shadow dashing behind the trees on the ridge. Nooner stayed calm but I spooked! By the time I came down Nooner had side stepped to catch me in the saddle. Thank God for her Curly nature. We rode back to the other horses and finished our 30 minutes around the big bale feeder. Am I just nervous?  Vicki

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I'm here, I'm here!

I'm not sure how much time I'll be able to blog, as some folks know, my life has been a bit dramatic over the last year or so, and there has not been much time for horses, much less blogging.  But, I am here in spirit, and have been since Denise's very first RAC, so I just had to join :-)

For those that don't know me, I'm Michelle in Connecticut, and Amanda's mom.  We have two Curlies right now, Lakota Gem, who is (or was) my horse, and Morningstar Jen.  Lakota and Jen are full siblings, whom we have rescued at different times in their lives, from different places.  I bought Lakota at the age of 7, unhandled, she will be 17 this year, so I've taken it REALLY slowly bringing her along *ahem*

Jen is 16 years old, and we have had her for 6 years.  Jen's story is here:  Amanda is riding Lakota this year, because as it turns out, Jen is almost completely blind.  We are now sharing a horse, and as the vet said, when she declared Jen blind and unfit for trail riding, pointed to Lakota's obvious rubenesque' figure and said "PLEASE have your daughter ride *that* one,  Please?"

Lakota is a sensitive horse, and always has been.  I like her sensitivity, and don't want to dull it out of her, but we need to find a balance between over-sensitive vs. lightness, reactive vs. engaged.  We are finally pretty darned good at the walk, and I do need to begin some trot work with her.  This should be interesting. She needs to get used to, and understand, that I will move around on her back when she trots.  She will pick up the trot, but when she feels me moving around up there, she stops, afraid I'm going to fall off, I guess, or unsure, unconfident.  She does need work on confidence, also.  A lot of confidence.  Lakota is always looking for Bigfoot in the woods.  She swears he is around every corner or bend in the trail, behind ever big rock waiting to leap out.  Sasquatch eat horses, did you know that?  That's what Lakota told me, anyway.

So while I am the ever-watchful mother, always nearby when my daughter rides, with Amanda and Lakota's differences in language, I have made it a point to get on Lakota after Amanda is finished, just to make sure that Lakota's funny little habits while Mandy rides aren't really becoming ingrained habits, but just feedback, as we assume.  And so far, so good, just feedback.

Here is my comment on Janeen's question about Amanda's post on her "spagetti arms", a term from one of my all time movies.  Anybody know which movie that is?.

"Hi Janeen, as Amanda's mom, ad hoc instructor, and inadvertent trainer of Miss Lakota, I can explain because I used the term "floppy wrists" and "spagetti arms" with Amanda today.  Lakota is a very green, very sensitive horse.  She doesn't know how to fill in the blanks for unclear cues.  She honestly doesn't know what you want if you aren't clear, both in your thoughts, your cues, and your body language.  She can be very frustrating to ride, until you understand what she is trying to tell you, get out of your own head/ego, and listen rather than blame the horse.  Don't ask me how I know this ;-)

Anyway, Amanda tends to "drop" the reins.  She holds them with such a loose hold that they look like they will fall out of her fingers.  Her wrists kind of flop down, and when she wants to cue the horse, she does it in a half-hearted way.  She kind of twists her wrist backward, rather than using a very clear signal with a hinge at the shoulder and 90 degree bend at the elbow with a straight line from elbow to bit end (well, rein end I should say, we use bitless here).  When Amanda opens her rein, she kind of half-heartedly opens it very loosely.  Lakota needs  to know what is being asked.  If you are going to open the rein, then open that rein, dammit, and give her space to move into!  She has a very big personal bubble, and needs space to move into or she feels her movement is impeded.  This shows up in lunging or free lunging her, also.  She will stop dead in her tracks if you get the tiniest bit ahead of her girth line, and just turn and face you.

amanda also lets her reins get too long probably because they are literally sliding out of her hands, and then when she shortens them she tends to hold them too tight, or forget to lengthenn the outside rein when engaging the inside rein in order to allow Lakota to bend.  When this happens, Lakota's neck gets short and thick, she twists her head to the side and sidepasses.

These are all things that lesson horses, all Mandy has ridden so far, will make up for, or ignore.  Lakota, however, does not.  She also will walk around the ring backwards if your butt is too tight.  Don't ask me know I know that one, too.  

Lakota is really a GREAT teacher when it comes to this stuff.  "

Chilly Weather and Macaroni Hands

Since it was about 10 degrees all week, Lakota and I didn't get out at all until today! Although I have to say a plus of this frigid weather is that the ground is nice and frozen, so we don't have to skip around mud puddles (which Lakota is an expert at, being a princess and all). Our last two rides pointed out our problems with each other, however today I really feel we addressed these problems and Lakota has begun to retrain me! Having only ridden lesson horses and Jen, I have a hard time with clear cues. So as our last two rides proved: SLOPPY CUES + GREEN HORSE = FRUSTRATION. Today I learned a lot about Lakota and how she lets you know whats going on in her head. I have the horrible habit of having "noodle arms" and "spaghetti wrists". When my wrists become floppy and askew Lakota lets me know by shaking her head in protest or rubbing her face on her legs. So I have really got to pay attention to every little thing that she does, and correct myself before we both get stuck. Even though we didn't move around a lot, it was a pretty successful day as far as communication and understanding each other goes! Didnt seem to get any action shots today, but here is one before I dismounted after getting one full nice relaxed loop around the round pen. :)

Lakota & Amanda <3

Was Bigfoot Watching?

Today I invited a friend over to ride the trails here as it was a little warmer than yesterday even!  Yay!  She likes to ride gaited horses and I do have one, so it was a win-win situation.  We got to ride together and I got an extra horse exercised!  It was an enjoyable ride and lasted a lot longer than either one of us anticipated.  We were out almost 2 hours on the meager trails I have.  I'm not sure how that happened, but it was fun going around and around.  The weather was perfect and we didn't get cold.  The horses were pooped though, that's for sure!

Corky made me proud again today.  I just can't get over how he acts like a seasoned horse when I know he's not.  My friend's saddle had slipped to one side, so I had gotten down to help her readjust.  See, she has a debilitating disease, so once she's on it's best to leave her there, especially in this weather.  We got her adjusted and then I realized that I'm in the middle of the woods, standing in snow up to my knees and I've got my Carhartt suit on and can't get my foot in the stirrups to get back on!  Yikes!  I looked around for a log or something and didn't see one, but we were next to a ravine, so I asked Corky to step down the hill, so I was on higher ground.  Now I could get my foot in the stirrup, but would I be able to get on admist all these clothes and my saddle not slide?  I boosted myself up, the saddle leaning toward me and to my amazement, Corky just stood there while I got all the way up and adjusted.  I was just beaming inside. 

We continued to ride for about another hour and just enjoyed the weather!  After -20F last week, 20 above was awesome!   I do have to say, though, that I need to get back out there because I kept seeing signs of Bigfoot, I thought, and I want to go check it out.  Maybe Susan is right, maybe he did move!  Or are there many Bigfoots?

Harold!!! Sasquatch in Maine!!!

Saturday morning when I went out to feed up, Ah-D was eagerly awaiting my arrival and immediately called me over.

Evidently, the commotion over near the stone wall last night was NOT a fox, like we had thought.Sure enough, I looked down over the fenceline, and I almost died when I saw what looked like Bigfoot tracks!
Apparently, the cold air they’ve been experiencing in Minnesota and the upper peninsula of Michigan (or, Donna, is it Canada?) have pushed Bigfoot across New York state and over to Maine, because there have been many sightings recently.  So as soon as Ah-D had finished his breakfast (we have priorities around here, ya know!!!), I set out on my beloved boy to explore every nook and cranny of our pastures, looking for more Bigfoot sign.
It was 18 degrees outside and the wind was blowing, but let me tell you, after -2, 18 above felt almost tepid.  I actually unzipped my parka.  Instead of my usual helmet, I wore my Mad Bomber hat, because all Mainers know that is proper attire for Sasquatch Searching.
The sun was so nice and bright, and my Curly pony was excited to be searching.  He looked around alertly, but we could not discern any sign.  Bigfoot is crafty! And Krista is right, he has a rank odor, but we couldn't smell a thing.  Of course, my nostrils were just about frozen together.  I zipped up my parka.  Ah-D and I decided we would head back up to the house and get The Great White Hunter, aka Dana Lejonhud aka Grouch.

Grouch donned his bomber hat and a sweatshirt (yah, a sweatshirt for 18 degree "breezy" weather, you don't have to tell me the guy is nuts, I live with him every day).  Oh, and I forgot to mention, proper tack for Sasquatch Searching in Maine must include baling twine reins.  My Curly looks pretty happy here, listening to Grouch discussing Sasquatch Searching with us.  Oh yeah, that's right, I dismounted so he doesn't have to haul my butt around at the moment; no wonder he is happy!

Sure enough, The Great White Hunter was able to track Bigfoot!
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Bigfoot in europe?

I'm glad we live in europe and i haven't seen Bigfoot on our ride yesterday. Maybe he's dangrous and we would have to run as fast as possible if we see him?
It was a bareback ride and i just had a rope halter on Blössy, but she's the best and if we had seen him and he would  really be dangerous, we would get out of this situation safe! ..i hope. ;)

BIg Foot in Eastern Ontario on Saturay

Yes!  I'm in Eastern Ontario too.... Not too far from Donna...
Big foot can either travel fast or there's more than one...  I swear I saw the same black hairy 'thing' on our ride yesterday (Saturday).  Sunny and I were out for a trail ride in our back 40 and I knew I saw 'something'.... and it was the same colour... maybe we have a different variety of Big Foot here in Eastern Ontario...?  I'm glad you saw it too, now I know what it was! 
We're going out again today... We're coming to find you Big Foot.....;-)

Hello From Eastern Ohio

Hello Curly Nation!!
This is my first post of this contest, so please allow me to tell you a little about myself and ALOT about my beloved Curly mare Sassy.  Sassy will be ten years old in April and became a member of my family at age five.  I also have KAllie~Girl (Retired) who is a thirty year old recessive Curly.

We love having adventures and spending time together.  We clicker/target at liberty horse agility ... are learning dressage.... and are helping in a study at Cleveland Clinic for the effects of Hippotherapy on migraines!!  Since the last contest we have been blessed to work with Shawna Karrasch and Buck Brannaman. Sassy's favorite activites are  climbing...sticking her head in the hay hut ....  being brushed and having her picture taken.

I also love to trail ride and Sassy *who really doesnt do nature*  is sharing my enthusiasm for being outdoors!!  We currently live in Eastern Ohio, about an hour and a half from Columbus. There are two rather good sized state parks within thirty minutes of us. One of which is the notorious Salt Fork ~ Home of Grassman aka Big Foot!!!  Having a curly in a "Sasquatchy" area is such a plus.  They say that the creature has an unmistakable odor and will just appear out of nowhere!!  Here is some of what we have been up to :)

Crinkly Balloon

Trail ride at Salt Fork AKA Big Foot Abode
Nothing like a relaxing trail ride

Curly Kisses 

Sassy smiling~ I think she knows something I Dont~~

Sassy and I look forward to getting to know our new Curly friends...and Seeing Everyones Curly Adventures 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bigfoot Sighting in Eastern Ontario!!

What a frigid week of weather we have had here!! Riding before today was out of the question. Not only would I have frozen (even more than I already was!) it would have been too dangerous to risk letting Linus get too warm and then possibly chilled. 
Today warmed up enough for a light ride and we added some adventure to it too by seeking out Bigfoot!! Harold has been after me since he found out I live in Canada to try to get a sighting and pictures. Today was that day Harold and I must say we had some success....I think!!!

My beautiful boy was ready and very willing to get out today. I started just in the paddock  but he was a bit miffed with me for even considering that!! He wanted OUT!! He and our herd bull, "MAC" have worked things out and are happily sharing space right now. They kept breaking the fence between their pastures so we just left them be as long as it was safely working. Linus and Mac had to work out their dominance issue and it seems they have done just that! Phew!! Makes things much easier and it gives Allie, our Arab mare, some company when I have Linus out. 
So anyway, I dismounted and led Linus through the gate and clambered not so gracefully back onto my big boy. What a reach getting up there!! I love doing the gate from his back because I like the challenge it gives but the packed snow has made it way too much of a reach so it wasn't possible. I do have to give credit to my awesome man, the driveway was a bit slippery in places. There was some ice that was covered in dirt; not enough to risk a slip (or we wouldn't be there!) but he shortened his stride, I gave him his head and he was so careful! He looked at me as if to say he didn't like having us here but, bless his big heart, he did his darndest to make sure he kept us safe. This is the first time I have ever had him on footing like this while in the saddle and he impressed me very much! My husband was there too for picture taking and he also commented on how careful Linus was. 

Here we are searching for some signs of Bigfoot! As you can see, Linus is somewhat relaxed about this adventure - maybe he and Bigfoot have already met???
We have our lasso in hand on the saddle ready to rope him in should we get close enough! My husband suggested bringing along the .22, but I believe that Bigfoot is the friendly sort.  I think he secretly looks out for our farm and keeps an eye out to make sure the coyotes stay away from our calves!

Here we take a rest from our perusing for a chuckle and change of direction. No Bigfoot to the East, so maybe we will try the West. 

"Oh Bigfoooot!!! Come out, come out, wherever you are!!"

Linus came around that brush up above and his head went up and his ears forward. His step quickened and he let out a snort. My big red steed had spotted something. Or smelled it, at this point I wasn't too sure because I couldn't spot whatever it was that he had! I kept him steady and let him follow his instincts. 

Look closely in the picture below, see the dark hair through the trees?? I always thought Bigfoot was dark brown, but maybe his coat turns darker in the winter to help him blend in on the dark nights in the bush?? 

We inched closer as quietly as we could to see if we could get a closer glimpse - Bigfoot is known to be exceptionally camera shy!! 

In true Bigfoot fashion, he ducked away just as my camera was ready to go so this was as close as I could get before he just...disappeared!! Who would have thought that Bigfoot (if it really was him!) has such curly hair too!! And keep in mind that while I do own a Curly, he is smooth coated and sorrel at that! Not black!! Therefore this could not be an imposter! Make what you will from the photo, but to us it appears that this is possibly the top of his head and shoulder?? Maybe as he was turning to duck away??

Sadly, there were no prints of Bigfoot left in the snow. The thaw then freeze that we had has left the snow very packed and hard so nothing is leaving tracks. Maybe next weekend when it is supposed to be more mild out we can trek out and look for more signs!
My trusty young "stud" (he's a gelding, but he likes the nickname) is ready and willing for more and he loves being on a mission!!

Thanks for coming along on our wild, wonderful and slightly dangerous journey!!
Donna, Linus and Bigfoot!
Lunenburg, Ontario

It's a heat wave!

After a bitter, bitter week it is finally warming up in Michigan! The sun is shining so brightly today that you can't help but smile! Corky and I set out about 1:30 for an afternoon jaunt. I rode yesterday late afternoon for only about 1/2 hour before my face was too cold, but today I could have kept going and going! As we started down the trail Corky wasn't as eager today and I felt it was because he was probably a little tired and possibly sore from yesterday. Our snow depth is getting deep, but it's pretty fluffy, so it shouldn't be too bad on him. I was ready for an easy going kind of ride and so was he. My intention was to do some "off-roading" in the woods instead of just staying on trails, just to see how he would do with it. He must have read my mind, because at one point he headed off into the woods on his own. I know I shouldn't let him do that, but I agreed with his choice! I don't think anything will ever stop Corky from going where he wants to go, because at several points there were alot of little trees in our way and he just plowed through. Sometimes that wasn't such a good idea and I had to stop him, which gave us a chance to work on "back." He's still learning it. He would take half a step and stop, but then get frustrated and start pawing on the snow. I've learned that's his signal to me that he's confused. Toward the end of the ride the last time we had to back up, he did much better and I was pleased with our progress. Below is a picture that's almost at the corner of our property. Down the slope to the left is a small stream/ditch and if I can figure out how to get across and get the neighbor's permission there are miles and miles of trails across there! We continued to just take little off-road views here and there and enjoy our day!  Corky is such a good trooper and curious too!  One section I took it was small hills up and down and he just did it without hesitating.  Corky finally was showing signs of being tired, so I decided we better call it a day.  When we got back and I was taking the saddle off I realized we must have been in some deep snow because his belly was all snow. 

My husband took our picture before he went to work and he told Corky to take care of me and Corky did.  We hope everyone is having a good weekend!

What an amazing way to spend a Saturday!

Today was my first ride that counts toward RAC, and it was amazing!!!  Both my friend, Lara, and I had told our husbands that we would not be riding this weekend because Lara was not feeling well and I was trying to let my body heal from some chiropractics I had done a few weeks back.  All week long we stood strong on this stance, until last night. Then we started talking to each other on facebook about how it was going to get up to 46 degrees and be sunny.  We both hinted to each other that we wanted to ride but neither one came right out and said it until Lara finally said "You know that if you said "I don't care about the cold or it being slippery, I need to ride because I need stress relief " you know that I would be there at 9:30 to get you!!!! You know that I am up for a ride anytime!!!"  Of course my answer was yes!!  So we met at Standing Stone park which is a short 5 mile ride for me.  It is nice to have someplace so close to ride, the only drawback is that the trails are actually old logging trails and you may ride a mile or two out and then you have to ride the same trail back.  For the life of me I don't know why they don't interconnect them.  Shya was in a wonderful mood and it didn't even bother her that her sister wasn't there and she was all about whinnying when her paint "friend" Vegas showed up.  She has a love/hate relationship with him.  He is a former stud and occasionally gives her that "Lothario" look which just seems to tick her off.  She usually pins her ears back and squeals at him, but not today.  They were best friends, even riding next to each at some points, through her own choice.  She was forward moving and in great spirits, just taking in the scenery.  We rode a mile down the road to check out a trail, only to find out it ended 100 feet into the woods, what a bummer.  So we turned around and headed back on the road we had rode in on.  Both Lara and I agreed that we wanted to ride longer and would do the loop on the other side of where we had parked.  I figured Shya would get all grumpy about it, but she didn't.  We even stopped at the horse trailers and tied the horses up for a few minutes while we grabbed a few things.  I untied her and hopped back on, totally expecting resistance from her when I asked her to head toward the trail, nope. It was just pretty much a walk ride because the trails were so slippery but it was very enjoyable.  Shya has come so far from the horse I bought over 4 years ago.  Back then she acted like she hated being ridden and did not enjoy trail riding.  She would actually get to points on the trail where she would just stop and refuse to move forward.  It didn't even matter to her that the other horses were leaving her.  She would actually turn around and head back to the trailer and I would have to fight her to make her stay with the other horses.  So to have a ride like I had on her today is truly amazing!