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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hay-Hay-Hay - you say........

Here is my beautiful fantabulous new hay tucked up into it's cozy little bed - I could have cried when I came home to this

We figured out that I have 58 days worth of feed here - plus the trash that I WAS feeding for backup  - which gives me an extra 12 days of feed if I so desire to use it( I'm thinking that the old hay is kinda like Spaghettios or Spam - you eat it if you absolutely have to - in an emergency). By The way - have you ever noticed how similar sounding the second syllable is in Spaghettios to Ghetto? Just sayin'.

Here is the very exciting thing about my new hay - very little shake and the bales stay TOGETHER once you cut the twine. I can not say how close this is to a Religious experience - it has literally been years since I have experienced this. Look for yourself - I have no idea how to use Photoshop :

Seriously - this is Oat Hay. Ask yourself - when is the last time you cut a bale of Oat Hay open and it did not explode all over Hell and Creation? Obviously, I was so in awe I had to whip out my camera and take a photo of possibly the most inane of all inanimate objects.

So - after all this very scientific calculating and oohing an aahing over the GD hay - life goes back to normal. Until I wake up and realize that I left the fan on all GD night and I never took anyones mask off - here is my morning greeting ;

Can you not just hear them saying Good Morning Moron? UGH! Better yet - I am sooo distracted by my faux pas that apparently I forget to latch MPS stall gate. That would be the unflappable Pinto in the Lady Gaga Headgear you see pictured to the right. He was out and about on  a 1/ 2 acre of unsecured horse yard until 3 pm that day - because MCH was in the front of the house with the dogs watching History Channel and our guy who comes everyday without fail at 12pm got a part time job and showed up at 3pm.

Guess what? I now have 55 days of really great feed and mucho DG work to tend to.
AHHH Horses. If I did not love them to the ends of the Earth I might be supporting the black market in Europe. Ok ! Ok! Simmer down - it was a bad joke. I DO Not Support any of that  - no matter how mad I get. But - Bitches - I KNOW you feel me on this.

So one more photo of a horse calling me out on my lack of consideration for their comfort that ill fated morning in August:

See - he was clearly waiting for me to mess up -

Happy trails until next time!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nothin like a hay rash to end the day

Oy - I spend more time obsessing about hay. There was a time where it was easy to get, easy to buy and the quality rarely was bad.


Now - there is always some hay drama going on - prices up, all the fields being sold overseas, rocks, dirt, mold, dust. smooshed rabbits, tarantulas. It goes on and on.
new fabu hay on the left measly old hay on the right

We drove 136 miles round trip to go get hay today. Was it worth it? Oh yeah!

It was so flippin windy when we got there it actually moved me off my feet a little. I have hay in my hair, wind burn, I have a nice hay rash and my leg is pretty much swollen. Still - totally worth it.

I had no idea what to expect. Thank the Sweet Baby J that I actually had the presence of mind to call ahead and find out what entrance we had to use. We passed it anyway.

I don't know what I was thinking really. I used to help with haying in the NW. I should know better to not wear jeans and a long sleeved shirt. Oh well.

There were some people there buying up their 3rd cut Alfalfa and looking at me like I was crazy with my 3 way and Grass mix. This is some sweet Orchard, and the 3 way - nice!The Alfalfa was pretty loud, you could see the green from the main road. Not for me. But a killer price none the less.

Thanks to Simms Bumpy Road Ranch for the tip.

So what did I pay for an excellent quality feed? I got twice as much at half the price as my last 3 loads from my local dealer. I got a better ratio grass to alfalfa mix for 3 dollars less than the hay dealer who totally dropped the ball on me. Cost of gas and time? Still worth it. I'm a pretty happy horse owner right now!

One last Picture : this is  3 weeks worth of shake out of the hay barn. In another three weeks I will repost how well this new hay holds together. At least we have cows to feed so it does not go to waste - but wow - that kills me everytime I look at it.





Sunday, August 14, 2011

What would you expect out of a pig but a grunt?

If The Ocean were Whiskey and I was a Duck - I'd swim to the bottom and never come up......
Rye whiskey, Rye whiskey, Rye whiskey I cry...........................................................

My wee drunken Irishman come back to life as a Heinz 57 Terrier . I think of the Whiskey song (www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA0TaMsp88w) every time he does something remotely testosterone inspired.When I say that this dude is an Irishman reincarnated as a tough ass dog - I say it with as much conviction as the Dali Llama speaking about World Peace. 

His name is Riley. Cute right? 
I picture him like this(but with much bigger arms) previous to asking to come back as a dog. Or maybe  like this 


Coming back as my dog was a good call - but he truly went on a firewalk to get to my house. 


Prior to moving into our current house I went for a visit to a friends house down the road a bit from our new house. I was horrified to learn , with my own eyes, that the rats here come with their own tack and they really are belligerent little buggers with us two legged sissys. Sauntering about, back and forth - loitering and leering ; they have opposable thumbs and prehensile tails too( I exaggerate for effect here). They have mastered the art of flipping the bird, which is so frustrating for me because I just have never been any good at it. The worst part is they reduce me - and a few of my friends into sissy, screaming, jump on a chair ,Tweedle Dee and Dums. I hate the sound of my girly scream - so embarrassing. I could use a little less estrogen in that department. 

 Enter my decision that we HAVE GOT TO GET ONE MORE DOG!! I just don't see how my two current dogs,Cash and Babe, are going to git r done. I won't think of a cat at this point. Not one of my brighter moments, by the way. 

I decide I want to get a Corgi or maybe a Border Terrier. I'm going to buy (GASP) one, dammit! Now - none of my dogs have ever been purchased. They all have come to me someway or another - mostly free and don't let the door hit you on the way out please and thank you. 

Out of guilt I tell my friend Jill about my plan. Now Jill must have been Saint Francis in a previous life. Ask and ye shall receive, not one hour later - I get an email with a picture of what appears to be a Corgi/Border Terrier. Oh my God - this dog is sooooo cute!! I call right away - because there is no way he is still available. He's at a rescue in Redondo Beach( www.roverrescue.com). Any of you who have called a rescue for any reason whatsoever, know they do not answer the phone. Its an unwritten code. 
Imagine my surprise when someone picks up. I tell James all about myself and our life. That we want a dog who is a bit of a bastard because he needs to help me keep the rat brigade out of the yard. He has to get along with other dogs, blah blah. I also ask - what is wrong with him that you still have him - the answer : food aggression . I am in over drive now. This is one of my easier to manage canine issues. Great! When can we see him?
MCH is not pleased with me - why Redondo Beach? Why on a Friday late afternoon? Why does he have to come? Why do we really need another dog? Why?Why?Why? He's going to cost how much??
We all load into the SUV, MCH, Cash and Babe. We drive almost 2 hours in traffic. We arrive and out he comes. Popeye legs and cute little beard. He is not pleased at first to see 2 extra dogs. We walk and talk and in about 15 minutes we are back at the house and they are all running around like old pals. 
We are sprung on this dog. But - does he get on with horses? 
Two days later poor James drives to THE VALLEY. Those beach people just don't leave the coast. Its a mild day by our standards, but he's dying. He meets me at Gibson Ranch (www.gibsonranch.us) and I put one of our more dog friendly horses into the round pen and James brings him in on a leash. He's scared but not barking. All I need to see. Home Check done! Paperwork signed! Check filled out!
James is hemming and hawing a little bit, and he says to me that Riley can be a little territorial and we really have to stay on top of his obedience and that he can get a little growly at times. I wave him off - "it's all good James. I train aggressive dogs - it's no biggie. " He leaves. Riley cries at the door for almost 2 hours. 
 I have fostered and trained a lot of rescue dogs in my day. I have been the one to drop them off at the new owners home. I have never been on the other side of the door for one of the tougher placements.It was heart wrenching. I almost called him to come back and get him. Riley had been with James for 3 months. Before that he was being boarded at a dog care facility that works with Rover Rescue. Before that he had been with a family who adored him, but returned him because of his resource guarding (food aggression). Before that he had been with Rover Rescue after being pulled from The Baldwin Park Animal Shelter as a puppy. That is a not so great place - mainly because they have a very high number of strays in the area they service and not enough homes - which translates to a very high kill rate and they also were at one point selling dogs to research facilities. If a dog comes in as an owner surrender they have maybe 3 days, a stray will have maybe 5. Can you imagine? Ugh! 
James put an extraordinary amount of effort into making Riley the best dog he could be. Imagine my delight at having a dog that was already trained. He does it all. That NEVER happens to me. It was 3 months later that we found out what this dog had going on - he is a pretty gnarly dude. First he has throat damage - so he reverse sneezes - looks like an asthma attack or when a dog has something lodged in his nostril. He panics and you better stay away from him or he might snap at you. He also does resource guard more than food. He guards me. Or he did. I'm pretty sure I know why that family returned him. I can also say that my house is the best house for him. He does not communicate like other dogs do - he growls and bares his teeth all the while rubbing and rolling on his back and finding your hand to pet his head or belly. It's the craziest thing I have ever experienced. I initially tried to correct it, but I realized it was part of his ritual with MCH. He's a little more subdued with me. 
He is also one Hell of a hunter and he can peacefully co-habitat with the horses better then the rest of the pack. 
He has become our ambassador. You should see him when my girlfriends come by - he has a million expressions and he will literally try them all out on each person until he finds the one that gets him the most attention. Each friend elicits a separate posture and facial expression from him. It is a riot! He also will not use his growly talk with any house guest. Men get a whole other experience - he will launch himself at them and invariably makes contact just below the navel - You know what I'm talking about...
The Irishman reference you might ask? Without prompting each and every person who has spent any time with him equates him to the friendly yet somewhat belligerent and pushy drunken Irishman stereotype. I really must agree.......








Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Poncho - the Great and Ornery Cuss

Photo Courtesy of www.kids-n-cowboys.com

Now - just look at that photo above - Poncho looks like a pleasant enough fellow - while his equine buddy Loco looks , well, Loco. Someone never gave my wonderful 18 year old grade Sorrel Quarter horse the memo that he was supposed to emulate his namesake and not take the horses name to heart.  
The American Heritage Dictionary defines Ornery like this: or·ner·y  (ôrn-r)
adj. or·ner·i·eror·ner·i·est
Mean-spirited, disagreeable, and contrary in disposition; cantankerous.

The Ornery American www.ornery.org gives us it's origin:  "The word "ornery" began as "ordinary." In the days when you were either of the "gentle" class or merely "ordinary," parents would say to their stubborn children when they refused to do as they were told, "Don't be so ordin'ry."


Funny. He is certainly an ordinary horse who is most certainly Ornery. 


He's also a cuss. The American Heritage Dictionary describes the word like this: cuss  (ks) Informal
intr. & tr.v. cussedcuss·ingcuss·es
To curse or curse at.
n.
1. A curse.
2. An odd or perverse person or creature.

 I mean that in the most loving way of course. Kind of how you would possibly refer to a lumberjack frat boy in the outskirts of Siberia - you don't want to know about that kind of mischief, but he's your boy, so you just gotta love him despite the fact that some of his pranks just border on downright mean spiritedness. You know what I'm talking about - like some of those Deadliest Catch Boat Captains. 


After I bought him and had him safely tucked away on my property-in my pasture - the father of the man I bought him from says to me - "Yep , you want to watch out for that one - he's gonna kill someone one of these days. I told my boy that was a bad apple" and I just laughed at him and thought what a silly old farmer. This is a GREAT horse. He shucks everyone around, he's always lagging at the end of the line. Sure he'll kick another horses teeth out if it gets too close, sure he'll buck out when you ask him for a lope - but really - he's a good ol boy. I'm only using him for mountain trail riding anyway. Hmfph!


Weeeeelllll, he was great when he was living on a 10 acre pasture, free feeding Timothy to his hearts content to the tune of 300 lbs overweight, and only being asked to go for a few trips a month, and he was the guest horse - no one EVER asked him to do anything but stay slow and steady except for the guy who sold him to me, and he LOVED that horse and it was mutual - so he would ride with me most of the time or I would pack my stuff on him when I took off for the day up the mountain. 


Fast forward to moving him to California into the High Desert. Gone were the trees, the creek, the good clay soil, the grass. Enter the wind, the rocks and the scrub, and a 2 acre pasture. All we had on a good day was a blustery cow pasture and some utility roads. Poncho was not happy. Enter the goofy trainer who told me I had to be aggressive in my movements with him in order to get him to mind - ha - yeah right crazy Gorilla man. I wound up moving him to Ojai (www.osopaintsonline.com)where we had better feed and trees and much better weather.  I am asking him to cart me around an arena every week, and go out on trail - BY HIMSELF ! I am also asking him to do things he's never been trained to do . I have MCH  (my Cowboy Boyfriend back then) who knows how to ride and how to ask for things, unlike unsophisticated me, who just rode game trails and had done some speed events back in the day. Lordy, the pressure was on. 


I finally settle in a place and bring the horses close to home (www.summerhawkranch.com). He is now living in a 12 x 24 for the first time in his life. Did I mention he has a tough time making friends? OH BOY! He gets himself all banged up - and then I realize that its not his shoulder - it's his feet - his coffin bones have turned an 1/8 th of an inch - this is where I learn how bad Alfalfa can actually be. So no more Alfalfa and 8 months off from the trail. I get my stalls built, I move him home.


So what happens when you take one Bully and you have no pasture, a healthy dose of fear of all the traffic in the park where we ride,and no more barn traffic ? You got it - Bad Bad Leroy Brown, the baddest cat in the whole damn town. He has bit, backed up , spun, tried to roll and rear, bucked in place, bucked up a hill and lastly fired both guns at not one head ( me) but two heads ( MCH). He was shipped off to a trainer and put on cattle. 60 days later I had an amazing horse who will Head, Heel and Sort. Until we got to the part of the trail where the bicyclists are allowed - he regressed in no time flat. 


Now his back is out. He also has a couple of bicycles keeping him company around his stall. Turn out every night all night and I am starting him on clicker training. Just like I would a fearful dog.


Yesterday was his first session - I taught him not to mug for food . After about 25 reps  I can now use my verbal cue and he will flex his head to the right away from me. Today - I turned him out and walked a bicycle around the round pen. He only freaked when I was obscured from view and popping out - he then exhibited all the behaviors I have had to deal with out on trail and occasionally in the arena. I also found out that my Percheron/Fresian needs to get sacked out on bikes as well. 


If you want to learn more about Operant Conditioning this is my favorite for Horses : http://shawnakarrasch.com/blog/


Happy trails



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What having a jacked up leg will do for you and other fun facts

8 weeks ago , Monday, my unflappable Mounted Patrol Steed( hereon in MPS),Cisco, got flapped. He's the one laying down. You can see how flappable he is - CLEARLY. It stands to reason that if you spend at least 1/8th of a ride speaking of horse related injuries, you just might have tempted the Fates. All I can say is thank the sweet 8 oz Baby J , that I got in a lovely 5 hour trail ride before it all came crashing to a very interesting end.
Let me say now that this whole shabang was due to the fact that I just had to - and I mean REALLY had to - check my smart ( ha) phone whilst deciding whether I would be crossing the street and going the longer way home( as agreed upon with My Cowboy Husband - MCH ) or ..... staying on the bridle path on the super busy street that doubles as the Indianapolis 500 Speedway 24/7.
I started off strong - getting off my horse before the Elementary School - which was very close to being let out - buses - parents - you know - super horse friendly folks and equipment. I also thought my kneecaps might actually begin to remove themselves from my body if I did not change position from seated to upright. Good Ol Cisco, was doing all the right things - which we have trained incessently for - he was at least 2 feet behind me maybe even 3 feet - head down, dragging his feet. We made it past the school, air brakes, adults running across the street , a loose banner on a fence, 15 screaming children running at the fence alerting me that I had a horse on the end of a lead rope - all good - he was just about sleep walking. I get to the next street - and then my epic fail - my knees hurt - should I go ahead and break my promise to not walk down the raceway or should I cross the street and do what my gut says is the right thing to do  - I think my screaming knees must have been pointed down the raceway while my torso and head were twisted towards the right way- at that moment I decided that I simply must check my text messages and at that same moment the Ginormous Black Schnauzer picked his moment to lunge at the fence forcing my MPS to go into survival mode - kick out and run like Hell - sadly for both of us I still had the lead rope and due to my dog work - I automatically planted and put my lead rope hand to my center of gravity . His head turns - and mid stride the front of his back hoof nails me right in my planted calf. OH MY GAWD - I have no words - except for whatever escaped my potty mouth at the exact moment of impact. I made it to the moment in life where I am truly grateful for my Russian side - big and strong like Ox.
Soooo - I now have the thought that he may have broken my leg, the bridle is on the ground under prancing hooves, my oh so important phone is still in my free hand ( really?)and I'm wondering if MCH is going to hear his phone because he was planning on doing dirt work with the Bobcat. The choice is now clear - thank you FATES - that I will be heading home via the Raceway. Mind you, Ginormous rude dog is absolutely rabid behind his fence, the trash truck is coming and I still have to either try to get up on my massive horse who is flapped quite badly by now, or put weight on the offending limb.  I man up and put weight on the leg, delighted that it is clearly not broken and he did not get me in the joint. All of this in probably a 10 second or less span -feeling like a month of Sundays. I hoof it ( ha ha) down the road, pleased with my progress - except that my MPS is very needy now and will not remember that he is supposed to be 3 feet or more behind me. I'm 4 houses away from home - and dontcha know - there is a loose Pit Bull who is dodging everything until she lays eyes on my horse - locked and loaded - could care less about the cars - people - just wants some horse flesh - yay...... I pull out my pepper spray... place myself in front of my jacked up horse - and a kind hearted pick up truck drives in front of her, giving me enough time to ..... wait for it........... JOGGGGG home.
Good times. We make it. I can barely think straight at this point. MCH takes my horse away from me and I go into the house and Elevate and Ice - which I have been doing for the last 8 weeks and am currently doing now.
It is much better - I got really lucky.
So here is what my leg has forced me to learn - in lieu of riding or doing ground work, I groom and do low impact things like clicker training and nightly rotation turn outs. Alfalfa - while never my feed of choice - is used as a treat or to supplement wretched Oat Hay. Ever handled a hot horse in clogs or flip flops? I do not recommend it.
Yesterday was my first day on horse back - I have been able to handle doing ground work in the round pen for the last week while wearing tennis shoes. Yesterday - I wore boots. Oh - I did wear boots about 3 weeks ago for my wedding reception and I danced too - I also was out of commission for the following week and went to Urgent Care. Nice.
What I learned however, is that I was making much too big movements when doing groundwork prior to this - lots of acting up in the round pen - my leg has forced me to slow down and really concentrate - hence - the worst offenders - are surprisingly docile and willing to work. My saddle caused me a great deal of pain in the calf yesterday - so I dropped my stirrups for comfort and was surprised by the fact that my MPS followed my cues willingly. Today I used my Barefoot Cheyenne - pretty much a really fancy bareback pad - switched out the endurance stirrups for a pair of cutting stirrups and I had one of the nicest round pen sessions on him in forever.
I have very high hopes for my onery cuss Poncho now. I was pretty sure it was me - and now I know for a fact it was me.
Til next time - Happy Trails