Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

After so long...

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

One more day...

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?

I did.

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 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.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

They're here!! Yea...babies!!!

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 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.  

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On the mend...

Oh, I'm getting very, very noncommittal with this journal. And it's not because I've nothing to say, heaven knows I'm not short on words or the expression of what's on my mind. No. The problem lately is time. Time can, will and does slip away. I really shouldn't say it's a problem because I'm not wasting time. I will confess to one thing...being obsessed with my horse. It's funny but there are times when I'm standing next to him, leaning against his rotund side with my arms resting on his back as he munches busily on his hay...and I'll take in a deep breath, letting the essence of the horsey smell linger momentarily...I smile. This is my horse. Finally, I've realized a dream. And I almost have to pinch myself. But I don't, I just rest my head against his ribs and listen to the rhythmic sound of his teeth grinding happily away on his forage.

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?