Friday, April 30, 2010

Washoe!

I'm in the last stages of packing for Washoe Valley. Good luck to everybody riding this weekend!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crew bags?

What's in yours?

I don't have anything remotely like a crew bag. It would require a crew, and I'm cavalry only right now. And my total pile of Horse Stuff is so small that I can sort through it and find anything I own pretty easily. (Once I get a trailer with a tack room - watch out!)

I think it's the stuff you want at a vet check - hard feed, hay bag, elytes - plus maybe spare boots and ibuprofin? What else would go in one?

Oh, EvenSong - I picked up a cheap plastic bridle holder and sticky-taped it to the tack nook wall. What a good idea!

Stuck in the 90s

No riding today. Woke up at 5:30 and the wind was already HOWLING -
gusts over 50 mph, sustained of 40.

At least we're not south of the city, where gusts are up to 100 mph.

Anyway, the power is out! And the 3g on my phone is out! I can surf
the internet on a 3" screen at 56k or read a book by the window. What
did we do, when the weather was inclement, Before The Internet? I
really can't remember. :(

I'm gonna read all day, I guess.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, April 26, 2010

All is well

Today was the last clear day before the latest round of storms moves in to the area. I'm gonna try really hard to get in one short ride tomorrow, before the storm comes, then another short one later in the week. But I'm taking Mel's clever words to heart and not stressing about Serious Training this week.

"Very little you do in the last week will make a difference as long as you have the essentials covered - plenty of rest for you and the horse, good nutrition, and NOT forgetting something essential."

So today I took the dog and horse and went out for a fun ride. Dixie was perfectly normal and we were constantly arguing about which way to turn and how fast to go. Cersei got dehydrated pretty fast so we turned around quickly - I don't think I can take the dog out without water any more this year. My bad, for forgetting to bring water, but I didn't realize she'd get so hot so fast. I will take better care of her!

On the way back, right as I was getting off to walk Dixie home, we saw a Mexican jockey. Tiny little dude, strapped bareback to the horse with some kind of leather strap cavesson that just barely held his knees on the horse. The horse had all those bizarre extra bits to her bridle, a lot like this picture of Sarah's, except with a tongue tie too. The jockey fellow had a crop, an eventing vest, and no helmet. (WTF? What's the point of a vest but no helmet? Don't you lose the macho points of riding bareheaded by putting on a wussy vest?) I've seen him cantering out there before; I just never was close enough to realize he's a real (underground?) jockey actually breezing, not just a cowboy who likes to go fast.

Even though we just went wandering around the hills by the sand pit, not trying to accomplish anything in particular, we still went 5.7 mph average. Dixie was fresh and not at all tired when we got back... but I had to cowboy up and try the damn crupper already.

So I tied up my not-very-tired horse, pried up her tail, wrapped the crupper under it, and leapt back waiting for the explosion. Nothing happened. I snapped the crupper on the saddle and looked at her. She turned her head and looked at me like "Ok, you're doing another weird thing to me. Whatevs." I took her to the round pen and got her to canter both directions - nothing.

This is yet another reason that I just love Walking Horses. They so rarely buck, for any reason, no matter what you do to them. She's got her hip cocked in the picture because it's nap time.

IMG_0485

So I think this is my Plan for the Week: Tomorrow I'll get out early in the morning, ride over to the arena, put the crupper on, and ride in the arena. The dirt is fluffy and she can't run too far if she does freak out and buck me off. Then later this week, probably Thursday, I'll head over to the airport side where the hills are very near the houses and ride up and down some hills. It's not soft and fluffy, but I still won't have too far to walk home if she freaks out and bucks me off. And honestly, I think it'll be fine - I just want her to get used to the feeling before this weekend.

Hopefully Henry will be at the ride and I can buy a brightly colored biothane crupper and give this one back to ~C! If I see him, I'm going to give in and buy a pommel bag too - something designed to go over a saddle, with lots of straps to keep it from bouncing. I keep meaning to try to make one... but buying one is supporting a local business, and that's important too, right? ;)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I don't have to win them all

First - I'm gonna do this post as a two-parter. I'll write about my Transportation Issues here, then I'll write about the actual trail trial ride over on Tales from the Trail, Gundiva's other blog.

So today was our shakedown cruise in the new trailer. Boy, I'm glad I did it! I had an awesome time at the ride, I hung out with awesome people, and I ran into and worked through some Big Issues. I hope I worked through them. We shall see.

I got most of my horse stuff stowed in the tiny tack area - everything except the bale bag, the shovel, and the horse blankets. I can cram the blanket bag in the tack area, and the bale bag will just have to ride in the back of the pickup (or backseat of the pickup if it rains - sorry, honey!) The shovel and muck fork can ride in the bed even if it rains.

Dixie loaded in the trailer pretty well, and the trailer really does tow like a dream. I left the divider in the center as a straight load. We were on the highway, headed down the hill into town, when she kind of had a fit back there - she flailed around for a few seconds, then settled back down before I could get really worried. It happened twice more before we got to the ride. Every time, I weighed the pros and cons of pulling off and finding somewhere safe and trying to fix whatever was wrong versus just getting to the ride where I'd have help to fix whatever was wrong, and less chance of a loose horse on a road. I decided to keep going, but I was very glad when we made it.

What was happening was that somehow she was getting tangled up in her feet and stepping on her front heel bulbs, then flailing around trying to get her feet back under her. Poor thing, her front heel bulbs were bloody with interference marks. She was covered in sweat and trembling - and she couldn't figure out how to unload. Maybe she hasn't ever had to back out of a straight load? She sure acted like it.

It took forty five minutes for Dixie to decide to back out of that trailer. A ton of people came by and we tried all kinds of things, then I finally told them to go ride and pulled out my folding chair. I sat down and all of a sudden Dixie backed out of the trailer like it ain't no thang, walked over to a patch of grass, and started eating.

Then we rode - post forthcoming. I will say that after the ride, while I ate lunch and hung out with people, she cocked a leg and went to sleep tied to the trailer. And she never pawed or got pissy about being tied there, so that's a good sign.

When we got ready to leave again, Dixie decided she'd rather live at Washoe Lake than ever get in the trailer again. I can't really blame her - it bit her feet and made her back off a cliff - but sometimes you gotta suck up and do what you don't want to do. I did change the divider from straight load to slant load, but it was still a big fight to get her in the trailer.

Well. I tried very hard not to fight. I had to tie her back up and go sit down somewhere else and breathe deeply several times. But I didn't lose my temper. And she eventually got in the truck. And she rode great in the slant! She even had an extra-long trip - I made it most of the way back to 395, realized I forgot something, drove back to the park, got caught up in talking to Sarah for a long time, then drove back to LV. No pawing, no kicking, no interference freakouts, just stood and ate hay. So that was awesome.

But then she wouldn't unload. She just refused. I waited her out and did the same things I did in the morning - jiggling the halter and asking her to back up, pulling on her tail and asking her to back up, poking her in the chest and asking her to back up, cussing her and threatening to sell her at the Fallon auction - nothing. She wasn't budging. I got some grooming supplies and curried her side and brushed out her mane and tail completely, on the theory that she doesn't like to be groomed so I'd annoy her out of the trailer. Nothing (but she sure looked fantastic!) My PBO hung out with me the whole time, and she tried luring her out with grain. Nothing.

After an hour and a half, I decided Dixie was going to stay in the trailer til she died rather than back out. I tied her head back up and pulled the partition, then untied her and let her turn around. I really worried that she'd get stuck or cut herself somehow turning around (and what on earth would you do? Call the fire department?) but I felt like I was out of options. And I felt SO sorry for my poor horse - she just had this look in her eyes like she had completely given up. I feel so bad for putting her in that kind of position.

She turned around just fine and stepped out really gracefully. She let me hook a finger in her halter and walk with her back to her pen, had a drink of water and a good roll, and stalked around pinning her ears at everything like she was perfectly fine. I'm often in awe of how hard these creatures try to cooperate and how readily they forgive us. My poor horse - but she still likes me :)

So I'll haul her with her head tied up front and no divider. She'll stand slanted and should ride pretty comfortably. I can't leave her untied or she'll turn around and ride backward and god knows that idiot might take it in her head to try to leap out of the damn trailer. And I don't think I want to leave the slant partition in for the ride then pull it to get her out. It's not really easy to get it out, and it's dangerous to be in the trailer with a horse, so I want to minimize that time.

I did think about getting interference shipping boots, but I am going to wait for now. I don't want to wrap her legs with anything that might trap heat, so if she hauls ok to Washoe and maybe a couple of local trail rides, I won't get them. If she kicks her legs again, I'll buy shipping boots.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Banana Stand

Are any of yall fans of the late lamented TV show Arrested Development? The Bluth family owned a frozen banana stand, shaped like a banana, which featured prominently in several episodes. I shall name my trailer the Banana Stand, and I checked - BLUTH is available as a tag!

Here's the only decent banana stand clip I could find that might explain it, if you haven't seen Arrested Dev. And if you haven't - get some Netflix or some Hulu and watch it!



Ok, the trailer. A couple people asked about rust - it's got surface rust where you'd expect it, but no structural rust. There's no spare tire or wheel - eeek! But the local tire store said they usually have the wheels and tires in stock - I just need to get the number of lugs and tire number to them. I'll take care of that Monday, before I go to the DMV and register it. And the small white light over the license plate is broken - the door swings too far and hits it and breaks it. I won't replace that until I can get someone to weld a little metal door-stop to keep the door from opening too far. I'm not planning on trailering at night anytime soon, and if I get pulled over anyway, I'll just cry. ;)

I have been very busy spending even more money, getting equipped. I ordered a truck tent, a bale bag and rear Renegades (not trailer related, just got bought at the same time). I joined US Rider. And I got most of what I think I need today at Walmart:

air mattress (I might regret it, but it's only $15 - it's ok if I hate it and switch.)
foldable camp chair
LED battery lantern
LED battery stick-on light, to go inside trailer
a sponge
instant cold packs
digital thermometer
maxi-pads
Betadine
a pack of moleskins - my token effort at a human-oriented first aid kit
a couple of glowsticks
a pretty blue 5 gallon bucket, for water
a couple of heavy-duty clear plastic boxes, to store first aid stuff and dirty horse tack

I still need a couple rolls of vetwrap - human vetwrap is actually MORE expensive than the horse stuff! That might be the only time human products are more spendy than horse products. I need some muck buckets and maybe a manure fork. That Wal mart didn't have any muck buckets - unbelievable. And I need a sheet of 1/2" plywood, for a "tent floor," cut down to 6'6" or however long the truck bed is - I'll measure it tomorrow.

I'm going to print out an "emergency info" sheet for me and Dixie - husband's contact info, preferred vet / release for ride vet to emergently treat, that kind of stuff. I'll tape it into a sheet protector and tape that to the inside of the tack nook door.

I actually spent a lot of time last night trying to go on a shopping spree, but I honestly can't think of anything else I NEED. Suggestions?

First trip is TOMORROW! There's some ATTA trail trials at Washoe Lake. It's $20 to ride unjudged, 8 miles of trail, and should have a really good turnout. It's a good chance to load Dixie in the new trailer, tow her down there, let her stand tied and eat and stuff, and figure out what I really wish I had. Then hopefully we'll be really ready by the Washoe endurance ride, next weekend.

Finally, I leave you with more Arrested Development. Here's Mr. Loblaw, an inspiration to lawyers everywhere. ;) In a later episode, Bob started his own tonguetwisting legal blog.

Bob Loblaw

Yellow

I am the proud owner of a banana yellow 1979 Barrett 2 horse trailer!
Sorry yall, I was too busy shopping for accessories last night to
post, then I woke up late this morning. If you go look at my flickr
you'll see pix. Real post to follow.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/funderspix/

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Green

When I was 16, my parents went to New Mexico to paint a friend's house- kind of a working vacation. I got bored and they thought I'd enjoy it too, so they flew me out to join them. It was summer, the "wet season" where there was a pretty predictable gentle rainstorm every afternoon at 2 pm.

The land looked completely alien to me. Warm tan hills, with rocks and scrubby grey bushes. The locals all kept talking about how green it was, and it was like they weren't speaking the same language as me. Green was back home, green was an explosion of bright sun-dappled verdant jungle lushness. These brown hills with the grey shrubs weren't even in the same ballpark. I didn't understand how anybody could live in such a weird barren place.

I have no idea why 16 year old me thought New Mexico was so gross and brown while 31 year old me loved Nevada at first sight. They look pretty much the same, except Nevada is more extreme - bigger hills, better mountains framing the view, higher elevation.

Also, we have passed the point where only the natives would think it's green here. The sagebrush is respectably green - kind of spring green with a greyish tint. There's grass everywhere! All the little brown hills look like they've been Astroturfed. I know it'll all burn up soon, but man it's gorgeous now!

Tomorrow: Yellow!

Monday, April 19, 2010

*Not* hit by a truck!

So ~C and I had a wonderful long ride yesterday. She led us on the Moonshine ride loop, up through medium hills and smallish canyons with killer views of the city and the big mountains. Everything was very green, if you've been in Nevada at least six months. Otherwise I suspect you'd call it "greyish green." I got my first sunburn of the year, and not even a bad one.

Dixie had a major meltdown about a stump. Not even a particularly weird looking stump, but she freaked completely out about it and had a really hard time calming back down. Sigh. Then a couple miles further up the hills, we had a close encounter with a dirt bike, and she was a total rock star. This guy on a blue bike in all-blue gear rode up and cut the engine about 100' from us, then immediately started talking ("Is that Lemmon Valley behind you?"). We rode the horses near him and talked back, and the horses decided it was just another weird thing that humans do. He asked what Dixie would do when he started the bike, and I grinned and said "Let's find out!" What she did was nothing - a tiny shiver, but she stood her ground and watched him ride off. It was textbook-perfect.

Stumps are evil. Blue bikers are cool. :rolleyes:

We did about 15 miles in boots, but when we stopped at the cattle trough, we took them off. They just make for a slightly bouncier, slightly off ride. Dixie's little 8 mph trot is almost a jog without boots, but it's sproingier with them on. She doesn't rack til about 9 mph, and we never went that fast - Dig is still trying to find his fast trot.

My total ride was 19.48 miles - C's was a bit shorter, because I rode to and from the arena. It was a really slow, comfortable ride, and the horses never got tired. I definitely think they could've gone back out after a bite to eat at the trailer, and I'm not at all worried about Washoe anymore.

I was reeeeally tired when I got home last night, so I crashed early. I feel totally fine today. Not like I got hit by a truck at all! The sunburn is pink but it doesn't hurt or itch, my knees aren't creaky, my legs don't hurt - I could ride again. Maybe 2 days isn't such a dumb idea!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mobility

Oh! Yall aren't all my Facebook friends (why not?!), so you might not know that I am going to get a trailer. For reals! My awesome husband is getting some inheritance money - we're going to pay bills with most of it, but I stamped my little foot and told him I want a trailer. In the interest of being a grownup, I am going to get a 70s 2h straight load BP (under $1500) and save up for what I really want, a used 2h slant with tack room ($3000-4000). Both Dixie and I will be happier with a slant, but we can make it through a year with a straight. And I do not want any new debt.

Fortunately, almost all the 2h straight loads on the market are painted original vibrant colors. Red! Yellow! Black and white art deco! I am going to have a pimpin' trailer.

I think I'll get to make my trailer purchase next weekend - the week after at the latest. I need a safe trailer for the horse and some kind of shelter for me. I think I will get a truck tent, a twin air mattress, and a piece of plywood. Maybe an eggcrate or a pad, to help block the cold air? I've heard that standard air mattresses suck all the heat out of your body.

Dixie can stand tied to the trailer til I find some lightweight panels for cheap - I think I want solid portable panels, not a hi-tie or a portable electric fence. Thoughts?

I've signed up for Washoe Valley, and even worse, ~C has talked me into both 25 mile days. It sure seems like a good idea now, but I think I will cuss her on Saturday morning when I have to get back on my horse.

Busy day

The Backcountry Horsemen were doing a pack clinic at the LV arena this morning, and I'd volunteered to help sign people up. I had considered riding Dixie over to the arena, tying her, and doing my volunteer bit - but that plan fell by the wayside when I realized how much earlier I'd have to wake up. Like, 6 am early. On a Saturday. Instead I drove, like a 21st century American.

A couple of my friends were volunteering with me (Hi J!), so we had a good time talking. Then I noticed Zach and his mom pulling in with a trailer, and sign ups were pretty much over, so I went over to say hi. And I stayed for two hours! I kept meaning to leave, and saying "Ok, I'm leaving now," and then we'd all start talking about something else. They'd come down with the horses to meet their trimmer, so I got to meet the Famous Sassy and the Loudly Colored Bo. Sassy is stunning. She briefly made me want an Arab! Then she got all hot and bothered about a loose dog and went bolting around the large paddock and I realized I never want to go that fast, so I became content with my slow-ass Walkers again. ;)

Eventually I really (no really!) left, got briefly stuck in conversation with J and M again, then made it home where I had lunch. I grabbed the Cersei and went back over and took Dixie for a short ride.

I put the boots on her again and went over to the arena. The BCH clinic was closing up, but a few people were there for me to talk to. Cersei got a drink from the stock tank, Dixie got the great displeasure of standing still while I talked, then we headed back for home.

The boots (Renegades) are performing fine, I think. Dixie only stumbled once, when she was totally not looking at the trail, and she is starting to feel less "clunky" in them. I am still kind of wary about letting her canter in the boots, but she's gotten a few strides in here and there and we haven't crashed and burned. I think if I keep riding in boots til Washoe she'll do ok booted there. I'd love to show off her totally amazing feet for everybody to see - but I don't want to stone bruise her on those nasty Washoe Valley trails.

Tomorrow I'm going to do a longer ride with ~C, up into Hungry Valley. I'm thinking 10-15 miles? We'll see!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cursed!

Yall remember when I rode somewhere for a while? That was off to the northwest, behind the airport. All the rest of my riding has been to the east or northeast. I really enjoy it, but motorbikes are allowed to the east, and they're technically not allowed to the west. I thought I should go back to the west and scout it out.

Well, Monday the weather kind of sucked. Usually, Peavine looms dramatically over everything, looking like the Lonely Mountain:
Peavine crowned in clouds

On Monday it was 50, very windy, and huge snowclouds were rolling down from the Mountain:
DSCN0100

We went out anyway, but my heart wasn't in it and we called it quits early.

Today I woke up with new resolve: Make horse wear boots. Make horse explore western hills. Take pictures and cool GPS tracks to share with blog friends. Well, two and a half out of three is pretty good, right? I think I'm cursed to not get GPS info from that area!

The GPS battery was dead. I could've sworn it was fully charged and turned off before I stuck it back in my backpack, but apparently it was fully charged and turned ON. And I strapped the brand new slightly bulky expensive camera very securely on the horse, but I only took a few pictures - I dare not try to fumble it out while trusting Dixie to stand still on the side of a mountain, so I have to dismount and fumble it out.

I got a few pictures, at least!
Peavine

Here's the adorably named Swan Lake, an alkali lake:
Swan Lake, Mt Rose, Peavine

See the snowy mountains on the right of this photo? They're the ones that Rides of March is held at the base of.
DSCN0108

Later, I was leading Dixie through a redneck valley filled with dead appliances and car parts, all full of bullet holes, when I noticed... a house? It was SO weird - there's NO real roads anywhere nearby! I took one very quick iPhone picture, hoping to get the GPS info from the pic, then mounted up and we rode out of there.
IMG_0476

Of course, it didn't grab the GPS coordinates on that one. :( And the mystery house is newer than the sat photos in google maps - but it really was there!

The boots stayed on, no rubs, and Dixie seemed to get used to them pretty well. At first she cantered like a padded horse, but she figured it out eventually. I walked and jogged a lot - almost all of the downhills - and I feel like I broke something in my knee. Cersei is sacked out, doing her Dead Dog impersonation. Time to cook dinner!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hay dammit!

Dixie is trying to drive me insane. She ate half the bale of Lemmon Valley hay, but now ehhhhhh not so much. She's picking at it. I just bought a bale from the feed store across from the Bonanza (apparently THAT'S Green's, not sure what the name of the one in LV is) and tomorrow I will offer some to my princess. I predict she'll eat half a bale of it, then decide she hates it. It's like having a very large cat.

We had a lovely long ride today. Averaged 6 mph even though I kept stopping - once to pee, and twice to offer water to Cersei. Hungry Valley is such a pretty place to ride! I promise, I'll get brave and strap the camera on the saddle and take pictures next time we go out there.

We rode up the valley to the little mini airport for the RC planes. Found a cattle tank on the way - of course Dixie didn't want to drink, but Cersei was glad to see water. It's too high for her to drink out of, but I brought a gallon ziplock bag for a collapsible bowl. I hopped off, filled up the gallon bag with water, and held the bag on the ground for the dog. I think if we went all the way up the valley and did a 20 mile ride, when we hit that tank on the way back, Dixie would drink. I'm not too worried if she doesn't want to drink at 5 miles.

It took right at 7 miles before Dixie settled down and really got serious about things. She's such a fun, tough, honest horse. I judged all three of us fit to continue when we got back - Dixie was still bright-eyed and willing, Cersei wasn't exhausted, and I was ok. Well, I was really regretting wearing jeans, and my knees aren't happy, but nothing too terrible. Do they have Adequan for humans? ;)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hay baby

So the last time I fed my own horses was in Memphis, where everybody bought local bermuda hay. If you wanted, you could buy overpriced alfalfa in the feed stores, but very few people did that. I became a pretty good judge of good bermuda vs. shitty moldy cow-hay bermuda. My horses always ate their hay cheerfully, and I never really understood yall in other parts of the country talking about your weird hay.

In Ohio, the barn owner fed pretty hay that the horses liked. Then out here, S fed half grass and half alfalfa - I didn't pay a lot of attention, but the grass hay wasn't bermuda. It was some of that mystery non-southern hay. Dixie liked the alfalfa better, but she ate the grass hay pretty fast too. When I moved Dixie to Lemmon Valley, I got to re-enter the world of hay buying.

So I went to a hay yard (Mendez, for the locals) and bought a $10 bale of mixed grass/alfalfa hay. I thought it was really pretty hay, and there wasn't much alfalfa in it at all. It was green and leafy, not dusty or moldy or full of tree branches or kudzu or blackberry canes.* Dixie kind of picked at it, but she ate it. I went back and bought two more bales... and she decided it was horrible. She nosed it around and sulked for two days - there's a really impressive pile of rejected hay in her pen.

I decided she wasn't just being picky and bought her different hay today, from the feed store in Lemmon Valley. (Greens?) I got an even bigger bale for $11.50, and it's completely different. There's like five different species of grass in it! It smells better, and most importantly - my horse is eating it!

*Actual things included in hay in Tennessee.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Blow me

OMG, it was SO windy today! Cersei was sure that she was going to explode if she didn't go somewhere, so I rode anyway, but man it was windy. My face is windburned. My helmet would've blown off my head if it wasn't for the chin strap. My horse went noticeably slower into the wind (even though "into the wind" was headed home!) But at least the dirt bikes weren't out :)

We did six miles in just under an hour again. Dixie's rack continues to improve - it's about 10 mph, and she can keep it going longer and longer. She likes to (step) pace on slight downhills, which is fine with me and just as fast. I was very happy with how steady she was, even in that wind.

It's funny, the weird regional superstitions we develop. In Memphis, I would never have ridden in that kind of wind - horses get stupid when it's windy! But out here, it's incredibly windy like 30% of the time, so the horse and I are learning to deal with it. And it's not like we were all wusses back home - we'd ride at speed on ground no sane Nevadan would walk her horse through.

Oh experienced endurance peeps, tell me how to deal with trails with "waves" in them! You know how they get hollowed out from quads and dirt bikes, where the crests are 15-20 feet apart and the troughs are 1-2 feet deep? It seems like there's no good gait, there's no way to stay centered on the horse, and it feels like it's really rough on the horse. Almost all of the walking we did was because the road was wavy - I won't ride that trail again, but how am I supposed to deal with it in the future?

I have this love-hate relationship with Dixie's mane. Yeah, sometimes I do think longingly about pulling it - it'd be so thin and short! It wouldn't get tangled in my reins! But it's just beautiful. Today in the wind it was like a living thing - it looked like a sea anemone waving around my hands, or like Medusa's hair, or like foamy waves crashing on the beach. And yes, it totally got in the way of the reins. Sigh.

Got a new camera. It's too new to take riding, but I did get a nice glamour shot of Dixie before we headed out. I made it my profile pic, but here's a link to the bigger version.

DSCN0028

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Always fun

It snowed some more today. We were completely unimpressed by it. I'm not even surprised that it's April and snowing! Random snow flurries are the new normal.

Yesterday I rode for a while and went some places, but that's the best I can tell you. Yep, I forgot the GPS! Eeek! I think we got close to the end of American Flat Road, circling around behind the Stead airport. I rode on land that's not supposed to have dirt bikes, and of course there were 5-6 dirt bikes, and of course Dixie lost her freakin' mind. We spent 20 minutes stuck on the side of a hill, doing one rein stops - every time I'd tell her to walk and point her down the hill, she'd try to take off and I'd haul her back around in a circle. It was way too far to walk, so I didn't want to get off, and she was way too hot, so I didn't want to let her trot down the hill. Yes, babe, dirt bikes do make scary noises, but you've heard them before, and I promise they won't eat you. Sigh.

When we got back, I worked a bit on trying to teach the sidepass from the ground with clicker training. I think the first step is to move a back leg over, then a front leg, then back-front-back-front. The first step of "move your back leg over" is "move your back leg, just a bit, without moving the others, and without going forward", so that's what we worked on. At first Dixie wanted to move forward, then she wanted to ignore the tapping, then she gave me a tiny bit of what I wanted, then she started moving into the pressure - sidepassing perfectly toward my whip arm. WTF? Took a break from it and did some reverse and some head down, then tried one more time and got a bit of what I was looking for and quit for the day.

Today I went out and did more clicker training. First we worked on the sidepass lesson again - she was a bit better, so I just repeated it a couple times on each side and then quit. Then we tried targeting, since there's actually a traffic cone in her paddock already. I am trying to gradually stretch out the distance so that one day she'll walk over, touch the cone, then walk back to me for her treat. Right now she just gets frustrated and starts pawing.

Whenever Dixie gets frustrated or impatient, she paws. She's always done it. It's actually what she's doing on trailer rides - not real kicking, just "why am I tied up standing still" pawing. I don't think it's something that I can effectively punish, and I've been hoping it would go away on its own, but it hasn't. Hmm.

Anyway, I did a bit of rope desensitization with her legs (not popular), then I played with her tail. Partly just because I should be able to, and partly because I think we need a crupper for down hills. I am not at all eager to actually try putting a crupper on her and then riding, so right now I just get off when the saddle scootches forward on downhills. But maybe one day I'll get up the nerve to do this insane thing, so I'm getting her used to having her tail messed with.

The last thing we did was at-liberty backing up. The first time, Dixie gave me one step of grudging reverse. Then we walked forward, stopped, and I asked her to back up again. She came forward and sideways and tried to slam me with her hip, so I smacked the hell out of it with the lead rope I was carrying. She leapt away, slung her head once, stopped, and looked at me. I said "Come here" and she walked over. She stopped when I raised my hand, then started backing up (straight and with impulsion!) when I said "back up." Much better! She's never easy, but she's always fun.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Settled in!

J kindly helped me move Dixie to her new digs yesterday. She seems to like it ok, and I think we'll be happy there. I took a lot of pictures.

She was so sure that the phone was actually edible.
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I never managed to convince her otherwise.
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I had to retreat to the aisle to get my whole horse in the shot.
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It's an individual run, but it's a very good sized one. She is paying the other horses just enough attention to let everyone know that she does see them and she's choosing to ignore their antics.

Today I got out there pretty early and took her on a shakedown cruise. She was very fresh and full of go, and it was almost all smooth - probably 20% trotting, 20% smooth fast pace, and the rest a lovely rack. Gaited horses are the way to travel, yall.

Dixie racked down a gravel road today. Usually I steer her off the road onto the softer shoulders, but she didn't want to leave the road so I didn't make her. I know I need to start riding her in the boots, so she can get used to them, but she is SO sound!

More on my thoughts about crossing the Rubicon: (If you don't know - it's a phrase from when Julius Caesar led his army across an Italian river. It was the deliberate point of no return in his rebellion.)

  • There is no more walking. Well, we still walk, obviously, but I think the days where we walked to calm down and walked to get places are over. I'm glad we spent so much time walking, but it's a lot of fun to go faster.

  • She wants to go. She doesn't drag-ass as badly as she used to. It's like she realized that she can keep moving out forever.

  • There is no more "well she'll get tired and then I can make her behave."

  • I am not so worried about saddle fit. I still don't think this is the perfect saddle for us, but it's good enough for LDs.