Saturday, February 12, 2011

Update on the Riding Solo Dilemma

(That's my euphemism for "my loved ones worry I'll be unhorsed and coyotes will eat me." Isn't it nice? The Riding Solo Dilemma.)

This is still an iPhone centric post. You know you want one. Even Verizon has iPhones! Go get one!

Last time, I recommended installing Find My Phone. It's free, and it serves multiple purposes (in case somebody steals your phone or you lose it), so I still recommend installing it. But Chris Martin (MONK's owner) has a couple other recommendations. He uses JourneyCast, which has some different strengths.

I am not going to tell all yall my login for FMP, but if I used JC, I could just link you to the private website for that particular ride. That way my out of town hubby AND my local friends could check in on where I am (or where my phone stopped moving!) I don't think JC gives GPS coords, but as Dom found out GPS coords don't always help your rescuers. I think locals would be ok with "she's just east of Highway 178 and south of that ridge of hills."

Chris also recommended the Digifit app. I don't think it resolves the Riding Solo Dilemma, but it might be a great HRM solution for me - I'm still thinking about buying it + a HRM and trying it out. If I do, I'll let you know.

In actual horse news: I bought some athlete's foot cream and antibiotic ointment today and mixed them into Pete's Goo. I'm going to treat those little crevices in her frogs maybe 3x a week between now and ROM and see how her heels look then.

Dixie has also decided that she's headshy and hates her halter, but I have her number. I halter her every day and lead her out to eat her 1 lb of ration balancer. If she doesn't want to stick her head nicely in the halter, she doesn't get her delicious grain. She sees me dump the grain in the bucket, so she knows what the reward is. I push her back when she crowds me or tries to slip by, and I offer the nosepiece of the halter for her to stick her precious angel (rolleyes) nose in. I am treating this like extended clicker training - I pull the halter off her nose well before she yanks her nose back on her own, and I never try to tie the halter before she's totally resigned to me doing so.

I am pretty sure this cropped up because my housesitter just feeds her in the pasture. I don't blame M, if I didn't own her I wouldn't want to halter Dixie either, and sometimes even I feed her in the pasture. But sometimes the goats launch a concerted attack on the grain bucket and it's hard to run all three off without spooking Dixie from her grain. Plus I think it's good for her to get haltered and led and groomed once a day.

I don't blog everything in excruciating detail like I used to, but sometimes I feel like I should mention my tactics - that's how I learned them, after all, reading other people's travails with their horses. Dixie usually leads very well, follows behind my shoulder on whatever side I'm holding the rope, and stops when I stop. If she doesn't, I spin her around in a small circle or two and remind her that I am leading her and she settles back down. She pushes me (crowding or something) about once a week - that's just the kind of horse she is. She's always had good ground manners, but she's always a little pushy too - she would turn into a monster very quickly with the wrong person.


  1. Ha, your training techniques with Dixie sound hauntingly familiar. How else did my bossy mare get so very good at backing up...with verbal commands? Yep. Jim and I boss her around the food that way!

    I do want an iPhone. Money is a problem. Also, it's big, i.e. doesn't fit into my "phone pocket" (um, brassiere). If I wait a year, do you suppose it will get cheaper/smaller? Cuz I don't think getting a bigger phone pocket is a good solution.

  2. Aarene... you're an endurance rider. You're not remotely stylish. It's ok for you to ride with a purple fanny pack with your iPhone stuffed in there. I am even less stylish, so mine is grey and came from Walgreens.

    The tech news says that Apple is making a smaller iPhone, so if you keep waiting you may get your wish. Smaller = fewer features, though. If it doesn't have GPS, none of this will work!

    I spent a whole year agonizing about how big the iPhone was and how could I ever ride with it and what if I fell off and landed on a rock and the screen cracked and maimed me, and as soon as I got one, I quit worrying. It's not that big, it's very lightweight, and falling onto lethal rocks is extremely unlikely. It lives in my inner jacket pocket for fall/winter/spring, then in my fashionable fanny pack for summer rides. :)

    Can't help you on the more expensive part :(

  3. I have that riding solo dilemma too even though people know where I'll be. Because I tend to ride young very green horses, there's a good chance of getting hurt when no one is around. Looks like dialing 911 on my new phone is not that simple so I find myself thinking I need to have some kind of plan. I'd probably lay there for hours before my hubs realized I was late. Not good.

    Hope you find something that works for you.

  4. The phone app sounds it really free? Only for i phone?
    I've a samsung "Captivate"and its bigger than the i phone. Yea, it doesn't fit anywhere my other phone did!
    I got a leg safe from Cashel. My truck keys, phone, flashlight-all fit there.
    I hate my jackets being any tighter. And of course summer- no pockets!
    Funny, I'm not so worried about me...I'm worked about my horse...she runs. I'm trying to figure a safe way to keep ahold of her, should I come off again. After last time, and her falling on the road. I don't want to be stupid, but I'm thinking her lead rope, off her halter, velcro'd to me somehow. It could go wrong...but maybe I could test it some how.

    Dixie, she and mine..push, push, push! If someone would let her, she'd push them to China! I have to reiterate ground rules too. Hope you can get her to release her head to ya.

  5. Thanks for putting me (and others) on your blog roll. There are some I haven't read before, so looking forward to checking them out.

    Finally Verizon contracted with the iPhone. I have a Blackberry for a work phone which I love & just an LG for a personal phone. I prefer the Blackberry over a touch model, but have to believe LG & Apple aren't comparing 'apples to apples'. May make the switch to a personal iPhone. Sure wish we could test drive one first...

  6. Hmm JourneyCast is interesting. I've never seen that app before.

    My husband came out to the barn to check on me the other night after I didn't answer my phone twice and it was past the time I said I thought I'd be home. I forgot my phone at home and ended up taking a little more time than I thought with Tricky. It was so sweet that he came to check on me though.

    My iPhone has been pissing me off lately. When the battery gets low it will restart itself.

    Hehe, Klein used to be a little pushy but she knows her role now :)

  7. Goats are great at launching feed attacks. (Also, where are the pictures of the new ones? I only saw like, ONE blog post with them in it. Not cool. :P)

    If the goo doesn't work for the frogs, try 'Today'--it's a cow mastitis (omg, did I spell that right?) medication that livestock stores (like Tractor Supply... Do you have those/Royal Kings out there?) will carry. (Different name brand is fine, I think the main ingredient is penicillin). It's in a little syringe type bottle with a thin tip that is GREAT at getting into the crevices of the frog. I am battling it out with Key's hooves at the moment so perhaps I will be trying Pete's Goo too? And apple cider vinegar. And salt water. And whatever. Sigh.

    Good luck! I am always inspired by your hoof pictures and wish I wasn't so paranoid and would do mine myself. ;)

  8. RR - Yeah, your problem is worse, I think. You are riding in a small area, so it's not like someone will think to check if you don't keep moving! You might like a Spot - it has a panic button. Costs $100 a year though.

    Kacy - Find My Phone is free and iPhone only. Journeycast is $1 and it looks like it's iPhone only too. Tammy - That's really one of the strengths of the iPhone - there are a bazillion apps. I thought I'd hate the touchscreen too, but I am used to typing on it now and it's so much better for non-typing.

    Stacey - LOL, I bet Klein still has a little pushy left in her on the longe line! She's a mare, she's gotta give you a little snark from time to time. ;)

    DiJ - I will get you some goat pics! Are yours Nigerians too? I can't remember. There are no big box farm stores in Reno, it's kind of sad :( but I know one of the independent feed stores has Tomorrow.

    A good way to ease into trimming is to take a little off right before the trimmer comes - then you can point and say "the quarters were long so I took a little off" or whatever. :)

  9. great post - i wanted to add that i'm using pete's goo right now in 3 of 4 frogs but i also pack it in with cotton. you probably know this, but the cotton just keeps the medication in the area a little longer. i use those round makeup pad things, torn into pieces, they're easier than regular cotton balls.

    you might have to do it every day though, as with any thrush treatment, daily is better.

    i use vinegar on the 1 of 4 with no thrush.

    aarene - apple has a history of always coming out with something cooler and smaller and i think it takes a lot of patience to find the right apple product. my man and i love our ipods but if they got any smaller, the video screen would not be visible: )

  10. Lytha, I'll try the cotton too - I'd forgotten about it. Have you seen the NANO touchscreens? We went looking for some TV-computer thing in a Mac store in SF, and I couldn't believe them. I don't see how the touchscreen is even useful at that size...

  11. I love my nano! My brother got it for me for christmas, and it's perfect for exercising with. If you wanted to fiddle with it a lot... probably not so much. ;)

    Question; the bacteria in the frogs is a problem with Key, but especially since it's been so WET here. They have a whole pasture to stand and nibble and move in, and he chooses to stand in the crappy mud-up-to-his-ankles. Does the bacteria get into the frog because it's unhealthy? Or will it stay no matter what I do until it's dryer out here?

  12. I have a very old non-touchscreen Nano, and it is perfect for exercising. Assuming one exercises. Cough cough.

    Here's what I think about thrush: the bacteria and fungi are everywhere. They're always eating away at the frog, but the frog is always growing too. A healthy horse's immune system will keep them in check, plus they're anaerobic - they can't spread too far because oxygen kills them. If your horse, for reasons known only to horses, likes to stand in mud, there's a lot more anaerobic room for the bacteria to grow - so he'll need some help vs. the germs. And my horse mostly stands on dry sand, but she has some narrow cracks in her frog heel bulbs that are a perfect environment. Maybe if I get the thrush treated in there, her heels will spread a bit more and not be such a good environment.

    That's just my theory about thrush. It might be off-base but I don't think so.

  13. My blood boils all over every time I think about that dispatcher...

  14. Looks like I have pushy mare #2 or is it #3? We do turn in a circle, turn in a circle, back back back back. Two rep's usually get the job done unless she's really torqued about something. *sigh* ~E.G.

  15. On the leading issues, have you tried whip training? My mare was a beast this summer and my trainer showed me this.

    Basically, she's been taught to halt if I raise the whip in front of her, back if I tap her chest, move laterally away from me if I tap her shoulder, move forward if I tap her barrel, and pivot if I tap her hindquarters. She is expected to take only one step for each tap. This is really important, because she has to respond then wait for the next cue.

    The training is really easy; it's basically pressure/release. We worked on this before every regular training session (I still do, if she seems distracted), so she learned exactly what was wanted before I applied it in a pressure situation.

    Training only took tap/tap/tap of the whip until she responded the way I wanted, then praise. No beating; the whip is just an extension of my hand and provides a clear signal on what I want.

    I love it. If she forgets her ground manners, it lets me remind her to get out of my space and also that she should be listening to me at each and every step. And I can correct her very precisely; she is particularly fond of barging into me with her shoulder, so this lets me move her shoulder away from me first. Spinning in circles or backing her doesn't really address that in the same way.

    I love it. I use it all the time now that she knows it -- to correct ground manners, to refocus her when she's distracted, to get her through scary situations (trailer loading, walking over planks on the ground, etc. - the 'go forward' button she has now is awesome).

  16. HNX - I like that idea.

    That's basically how I trailer load her - she gets sticky, so I keep her head pointed at the trailer and very gently and annoyingly tap her hocks til she moves forward, then release. She "understands" that, so I think learning to move one body part one step at a time from the whip would be easy.

    And part of our clicker repertoire is similar. I point or poke something and she'll move that part - if I poke her hip, I want her to step her back leg over the other leg. And with clicker, it's always one step at a time - sometimes I'll cue her twice before I reward her, but the cue is always asking for one motion.

    A whip sounds much more refined than a finger.


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