Sunday, December 21, 2008
We got more snow on Friday and it's snowing now. Our tree farm is doing okay, sales are down from the past, but we know it's because of the economy.
Sam was sick this week, on Wednesday and Thursday. He's doing better today but there for awhile he was just miserable. It's one of the hazards of having a tree farm; we stand outside for hours in the bitter cold, or somedays we spend our time going in and out of the house, going in and out of the cold air really hammers on a person's body.
I love the snow, not so crazy about the cold or driving in the snow; too many crazy drivers out there. Getting out to see Duke every day is a challenge; the road closest to my house is a steep, winding hill outside of the city limits and low on the counties priority list (it now looks like the street I live on, pic below), so to be on the safe side I go the long way. It's an extra 6 miles out of my way, but the roads are maintained and pretty bare. Yesterday when I went to feed Duke and clean his stall my fingertips and toes were so cold I couldn't feel them, and I was layered in clothing. Had my CuddlDuds on (thermal under garments), jeans, turtleneck, sweatshirt, winter coveralls, a Pacific Trail coat, two layers of gloves (knit and ski but not too tight), and my heavy Columbia boots. In this cold we increase the amount of hay we feed to help the horses generate enough body heat to keep warm. I'm keeping track of his weight to ensure he doesn't gain too much and prevent another laminitis event.
Friday when I took him out for a little walk in the snow Duke's energy came up and I could tell he wanted to play. I thought about turning him loose in the outdoor arena, but hestitated because of the ice and concern about him getting all worked up and breathing in too much cold air. Yesterday, I decided to stop worrying so much and I turned him loose. I thought maybe he'd roll around, trot some, canter a bit, but I never thought he'd do what he did!!! And here I was worried that all that extra hay I'm feeding him would make him heavier.
Apparently he's feeling pretty light on his feet. :) I just hope he never does that when I'm in the saddle! :O
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Brrr, it's getting a bit chilly out there. Tuesday it was 2 degrees, right now it's snowing. Duke has quite the winter coat...he looks like a big plushy toy.
But he still enjoys his daily roll, mud and all.
Pre-snow rolling, of course.
Last week during his daily turn out he engaged in a little friendly game of sparing with another gelding.
Mr. Tough Guy. Ears pinned, nostrils flared, seriously mean look. "Back off!" He looks very serious, but this is all what makes horses who and what they are. Everything they do is driven by order, establishing a hierarchy...a pecking order. In a herd of two or more, there can only be one leader.
When I'm around, when it's just me and Duke, I'm the leader. It's taken me months to earn Duke's trust. Every day he tests me because horses vote for their leader every day. Every day he checks to see if I'm paying attention, if I'll let him get away with this little thing or that. He's teaching me a lot.
And when I watch him interact with another horse, I've observed something interesting. The dominance games he used to play on me are now directed at other horses.
Another gelding checks out the scene.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Before I got Duke I truly thought I'd done all my homework about horse ownership. Oh boy, was I in for a major shift in my thinking. There is sooooo much I don't know.
Duke is no ordinary horse and he has issues, having spent the last five years of his life as a pasture pet and basically allowed to do whatever he wanted, when he wanted. On the ground he was disrespectful of my space, pushy, dominant, willful and greeted me with pinned ears and hard eyes. In the saddle he pushed through the bit, wouldn't stop or listen to my leg cues, was bracey, and definitely had more go than whoa. On the other hand, he is calm, smart, gentle, friendly and very curious.
In May I became a student of the Parelli Natural HorseManShip teachings. I'm currently studying Level 1 (Partnership) and on the brink of beginning Level 2 (Harmony). When I'm ready, my goal is to have my Level 1 skills assessed by a professional; I've learned this can be done by video and YouTube is an excellent outlet for these assessments. It's a bit scary but it's what I want to do.
The relationship I now have with Duke is due in large part to what I've learned from Parelli. At the stable there are always people ready to hand out advise, but I've learned to filter most of it away from me. At one point I had to bring in a professional trainer to address three critical short comings in Duke's training: trailering, backing/stopping, and pulling back when tied. She was a huge help and much better prepared to deal with these areas than I.
From Duke I am gaining valuable insight into the horse. Man I thought I knew horses, but I didn't know nothing. And you can't fake it with horses, they will see right through any bluff or pretense. They keep things real. Very real.
The journey continues...
Music for the video is "In Your Shoes" written and performed by Katie Drake (niece of Pat Parelli)
Friday, August 15, 2008
Something worth while....
The company I now work for, Public Consulting Group, has a relay team involved in this.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Meet Monte, born 7/16/08.
Cute lil fellow he is. And what about that background...isn't it gorgegous? Monte is one of the foals born to my farmer friends who raise Morgans, wheat and hay. Who wouldn't want to wake up the this sight everyday?
Last weekend we brought my friend Barb's mare, Elvira, down from the farm so she could be closer (the farm is an hour away). A couple of days later, we turned Duke and Elvira out in the large outdoor arena so we could clean their stalls and corrals. The two bonded immediately, and are now fast friends.
Rock 'N Rollin'
Duke gettin' down and dirty.
Still shots from a very long video of Duke and El playing.
Tags: Morgan horse
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Came across this while on hold at Delta Airlines. I've read a little bit, seems legit. Worth looking into because there is nothing wrong with the American people learning more about this issue. This is a huge problem and the time has come for us to stop it.
If what I've learned is true, did you know that:
* most trade activity is all on paper
* current barrel price levels have $30-$60 in unnecessary speculative cost per barrel
* speculators buy and sell oil just to sell it again, rather than use it, thus driving up the price over and over
This being an election year, I'd be most interested in hearing McCain's and Obama's plan, or at the very least, their ideas to restore the balance of supply and demand within the oil commodities market. Does either candidate have any solid ideas?
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I'm sitting here on the couch writing, and wishing I was riding, again. Tomorrow I'm either riding early in the morning, or early evening. Sam is on call this weekend so he has to go into the office for an hour or so, and after he got home we went to Applebee's for a pancake breakfast in support of a local American Legion baseball team. Then is was down to the feed store to get Duke's hay and beet pulp. Then we stopped at the house so I could get changed into my riding clothes and Sam wanted to find the electric clippers to clip a bridle path on Duke. Sam never found the clippers and we concluded that our youngest had run off with them.
By the time we arrived at the stable it was almost noon, and getting very hot. After we put the hay up and visited with a friend who'd brought his granddaughter and her pony down for a ride, I saddled Duke and led him to the outdoor round pen. I wanted to use the indoor round pen, but it was already being used.
Once inside the round pen, after a brief lungeing exercise I slipped off his halter and put on his bridle. Sam stood by, camera in hand, ready to capture these moments in time. Getting up into the saddle is starting to get a bit easier for me and I no longer need someone to boost me up.
Duke did great! After he quit playing with the bit in his mouth, and settled down (I'm not sure who was more excited about this ride, me or Duke). The day I bought him he needed work on his stops, but today his stops improved. He still needs work on backing up, and I may ask the trainer at the stable to work on that for me. We walked and for the first time, trotted. He has a real floating trot, it not jarring like so many horses are. It felt nice and smooth...oh so floaty. Tomorrow we'll canter for the first time. I can't wait to feel what his canter is like...I wonder will it be a rocking horse canter or a glider chair canter. We'll see tomorrow.
Of course he had to poop, and smell another pile left by some other horse.
Sam took lotsof pics, as you can see, and even a video of us trotting around the pen. The file is too large for me to upload to AOL, but if I can get it uploaded somewhere else, I'll add it later.
Friday, June 20, 2008
So, Duke's 30 day stall rest period is nearly over. For the past month I've been counting down the days...June 21, the day we ride again. That's exactly 30 days. Duke's been doing so well, he's ready, I'm ready and the time is near. I've told everyone...June 21, we ride again. At night I have drifted off to sleep dreaming about it. Saturday...Saturday...Saturday. Then this morning I thought today is a good day to saddle him, ease him back into the routine. And see if my shoulder would handle hauling my 28 pound saddle onto his back. Today after work, and physical therapy, I headed down to visit Duke.
I'd like to say I got the saddle on Duke the first time, but I can't. It took two tries. But I did it.
He looks so good tacked up!
My saddle is a Fallis Balanced Ride built in 1961; I found it on-line in a saddle shop in Iowa. It's a little different than most western saddles, and has the brand M-7 (M Bar 7) carved into the cantle. I've often wondered what stories this saddle could tell. Did it belong to a cowboy working a ranch? Or is the carving from something else? Who knows...and while it's history may be interesting the best thing about the saddle is, it's mine.
Now the plan was to take Duke for a walk and just let him get used to having a saddle on his back again. And after a little work out, I had a thought, and went for it. I climbed up and went for a short sweet ride. It was very short ride, as I only had his halter and lead rope on, but it felt so good to just do it. He was ready, I was ready and I thought, why not. Could I, would I?
And I can't wait for tomorrow.
I'll say one thing. The 30 days we had just hanging around, spending undemanding time on theground paid off. In the beginning it was a little rocky, he tested me as all horses do. He thinks he's the leader, and he's got all the other horses cow-towing to him. And that's fine, but in our relationship there can only be one leader...me. Duke is teaching me so much, about him, the nature of horses, and even myself. He now trusts me, completely, if he didn't trust me or feel safe he would never roll around on the ground in my presence. Horses, being prey animals, are not so trusting of humans, being predators (yes, we are in the eyes of a horse). So I've learned that if a horse is willing to expose his soft underside to you, take it as a good sign, and a complement.
Yesterday during our little walk I turned him loose in one of the round pens and then began to initiate some play with him in the pen. I'd done this before, from the safety outside the pen, but yesterday I decided to stay in with him. And play he did! I cavorted around the pen while he stood watching me like I was some idiot, and then he got that spark, trotted away from me, and kicked up his heels when he'd reached the opposite side of the pen. From there he trotted around the pen, following the edge of the panels while I stood in the center, watching. Then he stopped, turned toward me and slowly walked to me and softly rested his face on my belly. What a horse! He has my heart that Duke does, and I believe it goes both ways.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Texas' lil colt only 12 hours old. Born sometime early morning, June 16.
Awww, he's sleeping.
Sweet dreams little guy. Don't cha just love the crescent moon on his forehead? Or is that a Nike swoosh?
And, of course we also have a wee baby girl...
Cream Ridge filly only 2 hourse old. Born 10:20 pm, June 17.
Interesting side note: both foals were born during a full moon cycle, and this is no accident. Mares in the wild often foal during a full moon, as they have done for thousands of years. It's instinctive, and innate...so much so that even domestic mares wait until cover of darkness to foal, even though the threat from a predator hardly exists. Mother nature is strong and powerful.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Duke is responding so well to the treatment. Last Friday I took him for a little walk in one of the indoor arena's at the facility. He was so glad to get out of his area and stretch his legs, but I could tell what he really wanted to do was find a nice clean place in the dirt so he could roll around. For a brief moment I almost let him, but decided against it for safety's sake since he might get tangled up in the halter or lead rope, and then might panic. So instead we walked, nice and slow. He was a bit excited but I kept moving his feet. Then, Sunday morning Sam and I took him for another walk in that same indoor arena, and in the arena is a round pen, about 40 feet in diameter. I walked him into the round pen, slipped off his halter and watched as the spark lit in a fiery frolic of horse and hooves. I quickly stepped outside the round pen and watched him be a horse again. Kicking, bucking, running, snorting...and free. He threw dirt on Sam and me but we didn't care. Duke is back to being Duke again. :) Within seconds he was kneeling, then flopping onto his belly before pushing himself over onto his back. Sam laughed and said, "Duke, you're too fat to roll over." And for a few seconds it seemed that he was...but then I watched with a huge grin as Duke's momentum froze momentarily, his front leg curled against his stomach and his back legs sticking straight up toward the roof, kicking and twisting...and then he rolled completely over. He was so happy he rolled several times before getting back to his feet, and then taking off running around the perimeter of the pen. And then, a couple of minutes later he settled down and stood quietly as I reentered the round pen, slipped his halter back on and we continued on our walk. I really enjoyed that, and look forward to the next walk I plan to take him on tomorrow night.
He was such a trooper during the treatment. He didn't fight us when we had to give him the bute. And as for soaking his hooves in the ice water, he absolutely amazed me and everyone else at the stable. Every evening Sam and I would bring a large bag of ice, and gently ask Duke to step into the tub we purchased for this purpose. At first he didn't quite understand what we wanted him to do, and he'd step out of the tub after a few minutes. But then he figured it out. It must have felt good to him, because he'd stand in that tub of freezing ice water for a half an hour. Every now and then he'd shift his weight and try to step out, but I'd press against his shoulder and he'd stop. One of the other horse owners who has the stall next to Duke's stood with us during a session and couldn't believe he stood so patiently and quietly for so long. At one point she remarked that her next horse is definitely going to be a Morgan. :)
And, in the next few days we're expecting two foals to hit the ground. One of the mares at the stable, named Texas, is due any day. And so is one of the mares owned by my friends who have the Morgan farm. They are expecting Martina to give birth either tonight or the next. Then next month another mare of theirs, Coalette, is expecting her second foal. When it happens is anyone's guess, but I will get photo's of Texas' baby because her stall and run is just across the hall from Duke's. Exciting times are ahead.
And best of all, my 30 day waiting period is almost over. Saturday, June 21st is the day I'll finally be able to take Duke for a little ride. I've watched him when he sees other horses being rode just outside his area. He always watches the other horse and rider intently, and whinneys. Then he'll look at me, and back at the horse and rider again. Last time I watched him, toward the end I could swear he let out a deep sigh. Duke thrives on interaction, and I think on some level he misses that. My friend Barb took a lot of photos the day we picked up Duke and I finally got copies of those pics from her. She got several really good ones.
Duke giving me a good sniff and a quick nuzzle.
Looking good enough to grace a magazine cover.
In the moment...big smile inside and out.
At Duke's new home, he's making new friends...
Duke's lady friend, Painted Lady.
Another friend, a two year old jenny mule.
Does this tail make my butt look big?
Friday, May 23, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Introducing...Diamond B Duke
The first meeting
Meeting Duke for the first time and leading him out of his corral while my friend Barb (Elvira's mom) takes our picture. Looks like Duke's posing for the camera, doesn't it?
Duke struting his stuff. Getting warmed up by Keith, the seller.
Our first ride.
He has the sweetest face and the kindest eyes. They are so unusual in that they are a very light brown, rather than dark brown. And he's just gorgeous. Still has a bit of his winter coat to shed (it's the darker brownish black you see on his neck and body). Duke is getting settled in and adjusting to many changes. It was difficult taking him away from his home and after a couple of delays he was loaded and we were on our way. It was hot, 97 degrees and I worried about him, but he seemed to take it all in stride, and now he's home with me. He's all mine. :)
More to come...time to get rested for my new job tomorrow!
Friday, May 16, 2008
Yesterday was a weird day. Surreal, but not different. It could have been, perhaps should have been, but through it all it was just like any other day. The one exception is that yesterday was my final day at the job I've held for the past twelve years.
May has been a month of changes.
It was bitter sweet and a difficult decision to make, one that Sam's been urging me to make for at least ten years. And it was time.
So today begins a new day, and another new chapter of my life. I am currently not employed, but that will end Monday morning when I stroll into the office of my new job. It's a major change for me, from fiscal officer to administrative assistant, but I was ready to step back from the over whelming demands and pressure cooker I've worked in since 1996. I'm so excited about this new opportunity that presented itself to me last month, now I'll be the right hand of the operations manager for a company that helps people put their lives back together. Great changes. Oh yeah...life is good.
And then there's tomorrow. My search for a horse has brought me to a happy trail, he he. At this time tomorrow I'll be on the road to the Yakima area, with horse trailer in tow, to bring home the new brown eyed boy in my life. His name is Diamond B Duke and he's a 13 year old bay Morgan gelding with a soft eye and a huge heart. I've been in constant contact with his owner, whom I was put in touch with last month after looking at a beautiful 10 year old black Morgan mare (whom I didn't take, see layout below). On the drive to the mountainsabove the community of Kamiah a friend told me about Duke, just in case the Morgan mare we were about to look at didn't work out for me. Well, she didn't and once home I got a query off to Duke's owner, introduced myself and one month later I'm one day closer to making my life long dream a reality. I may seem calm in my writing, but believe me I'm jumping for joy all over the place. Duke's owner, like many horse owners, screened me very carefully and throughout the process I could see he loves his horses and wants them to only go to a loving home. He closed one of his last messages to me by saying, "This makes my heart glad that he is going with you. It sounds like a perfect match."
Pictures, and Duke's layout, will follow, after I bring him home. :) I'm sooooooooooooo happppppyyyyyy. Last month, Sam purchased a beautiful horse trailer for my birthday present...the one I really wanted. He's such a great guy, and a wonderful person. I'm so lucky to have him in my life. :)
It's a 2006 Trails West 2 horse slant load with sealed tack room. Hard to believe it was used, the previous owner only used it three times before she realized she couldn't afford it.
And, if you love horses, you'll love watching this. Click on the link below.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Hello my friends,
I know...it's been a very long time since my last entry...over a month. Eeee gads, how did that happen? Well, there is a complicated reason, which I'll get to later, in another entry, and there is an easy reason. I'll tackle the easy one now.
One word. Horses. I feel like a little girl again and I've renewed my love...ummm, okay, obsession...with horses. I haven't felt this giddy in years, and it feels so very good. I feel alive again! This obsession of mine must not be too excessive, because Sam isn't sick of seeing and hearing horses...yet. :) Oddly enough he's even getting into it. A few weeks ago he came home and immediately told me about a two horse trailer he'd seen for sale. This is fantastic, and so not like it was when I was a horse crazy child; I drove my family, especially my older sister Lyn, absolutely crazy. Seriously, I did. And I don't think they ever got over it, tee hee. I know I didn't...but the dream of owning a horse just wasn't practical and so I tucked that dream away...deep into the recesses of my soul and left it in a restful slumber until such time in the future when circumstances were more favorable.
Finally, that time is here.
And since I've decided to awaken my long slumbering childhood dream, I've realized I am starting from square one and there is much work to do. The horse, of course (which I've found, btw), a trailer to tow the horse (for trail rides at the cabin, and maybe more), saddles, bridles, hay (currently $150/ton thanks to the hay shortage...ouch), a place to store all the hay, hoof care, stabling...oye! At least we already have a heavy duty pick-up to pull the horse trailer. I'm sooooo excited!!!!! At night I find myself dreaming of hoof falls and four beat gaits, swishing tails and kind eyes. So, that's where I disappeared to this past month..I've been researching everything horse related.
The horse I found is a 16 year dark bay Morgan mare and she is gorgeous. I have a photo of her with her current owner but the sale won't happen until later this spring for two reasons. First, my left should is messed up and I must get it fixed before I do anymore riding, and second the mare hasn't been rode much lately and the owner/trainer wants to spend time working with her before handing her over to me. I've been undergoing physical therapy for my left shoulder since before Thanksgiving; it's really causing me immense distress. It started as a little annoying pain in early August and escalated into an inflamed rotator cuff. There's talk of either surgery which I'd rather avoid, or manipulating the shoulder under a local anethesia in order to tear through the scar tissue that is restricting my range of motion. Progress with physical therapy has plateaued and the pain is getting worse each week...sometimes it takes forever to get dressed in the morning. I'll know more in the next few weeks what will happen after I see my doctor next week and then get my first consult with the ortho surgeon. And so, I wait...
In the mean time, I HAVE to share this video I found. What you are about to see is a young woman named Stacy Westfall doing bridleless reining. She is fantastic, amazing and such an inspiration to me. The flying lead changes are smooth, flawless, and send the crowd into a awestruck frenzy. WOW!