Friday, December 24, 2010

Sick horsie....

So it happened. The C word.

Colic.

But don't worry, he's ok now!!
Sorry, didn't mean to totally scare the heck out of you, but trust me, I was terrified. I got a call from my barn manager on Saturday- "Horse isn't acting right, rolling alot, not feeling well and not wanting to eat. The vet is on his way down."
She called the vet for me, and I raced down to the barn, which was the longest 30 minute drive of my life, considering in my panic to get into my car, my jacket caught on the turn signal lever and SNAP, awesome, my left turn signal was now stuck ON.
Me, driving as fast as legally possible traffic would allow, with my left ticker on the whole way.... tick, tick, tick, tick....."eye twitch".

I grabbed my husband for moral support and we got to the barn to find my kid standing in the round pen. Just standing. I walked up, and gave him my usual greeting. He didn't move.
Didn't even twitch. Just stood there, head down, tensed lips, ears back. He rolled a couple of times, and finally settled to the ground, just laying there. Thankfully the vet arrived right then, or I would've started crying, seeing my big guy like that.
The vet checked his gut, and found a huge gas bubble on his right side, and let me listen to it. He had Altivo stand, and then got the long glove out. Rectal exam time, sorry horsie!!!
He didn't feel any impactions, so he gave him a shot of pain meds, and then some mineral oil through a tube in his nose that snaked down to his stomach. Altivo felt so cruddy that he didn't even fight any of this, just stood there stoically. The vet told us to observe him, and let us know how he progressed, since he had to rush to another horse colic. We put him into a stall and offered him some food, and by now, his pain meds were kicking in, and he seemed interested in the pellets we offered. Husband and I needed to grab some food, so after watching him for a while, we decided to go get something to eat and come back immediately. Horsie seemed ok, not rolling or thrashing, so we decided to run in to a store really quick for some cat food (cats do NOT appreciate starving just because a horse is sick.) and around that time, got another call. Altivo was down again, rolling and kicking at his belly. Barn manager offered him a nice mash with tasty things in it and he turned it down. One of the barn girls was handwalking him while the vet was called back and we rushed back down to the barn. Sorry kitties, you have to wait on dinner!!

We got back and the vet had arrived shortly before us. He said his pancreas seemed a little swollen, gave him more pain meds, and another rectal exam. He pulled out some icky stinky feces and said there were still no impactions, and that things should start moving soon. If they didn't start moving, our next step would have been surgery. For those who don't know, surgery for colic is ginormously expensive. Like, more than 4 grand expensive. Yikes.

I walked him around the arena, since, oh yeah, it was storming like MAD and freezing cold to boot. We walked for a few minutes, and I hugged him and told him to get better or else.

The pain meds made him mildly loopy but he still wasn't feeling great. I put him back in his stall and we ran home to let the dogs out, feed them, and put on warmer clothing. Husband was wonderful, and even though he probably could've found a million better things to do, he insisted on going back to the barn with me. We sat at the barn for about 3 hours, watching my horse's every single move. I looked up from checking my email at one point and didn't see a horse standing there, so I peeked into the stall. It's not a great picture, but here's something showing sick pony-

Normal Altivo: hungry, mouthy (bad habit), hungry, outgoing, hungry, interested, hungry, curious, hungry, and friendly. Oh, and hungry.

Sick Altivo: listless, disinterested, sad, and sadly, not hungry.

Around 10:45 that night, I grabbed about a cup of pellets and threw them into the feed bucket. He was standing, and heard the pellets drop. He turned around, sniffed them, and then dove in like a crazy person horse, chomping and munching until they were gone. He looked up, and said, "got any more?" I gave him a little bit more, and he drank some water after eating them. We were cold and exhausted, and decided to head home for the night. Barn manager is an angel in disguise, since she got up a couple times that night and checked on him, and he was fine each time.

We got back to the barn early the next morning, and walked up to the stall. He nickered, walked up to the front of the stall door and tried to search me for food. "He's back!" we said. I walked him around and then gave him more food. He was the Normal manifestation of my horse. During the day, we had a commitment to go to, and the barn kept an eye on him. He had a relapse of rolling and unhappiness, and I was too far away to get back to the barn to be of any use (I'm fairly useless in a barn anyway, lol) so I had him walked and my barn manager gave him some electrolytes and he seemed better but still ill. We finally headed to the barn and when we got there, he was seemingly well, wanting food, and I gave him about a handful, knowing the barn staff had been feeding him small meals, and I didn't want to throw a wrench into his diet. (Though he would probably try to eat a wrench if I did give him one...)
He couldn't eat those few pellets fast enough, and was drinking and wandering around his stall, so when he finally settled down and took a nap, we went home to sleep and get ready for work the following day.

The next day, it was as if nothing happened. He was bucking during his turnout, eating like a champ- trying to eat everything and everyone, and had no issues. I went the following day to see him, and he wanted to know where his treat was.
So where does that leave us?
Well, apparently, an enlarged pancreas can either be an angry pancreas, a pancreas getting shoved around by intestines that are gassy, or perfectly normal in certain horses. This means that this issue could rear its ugly head later on, or it may never be an issue. We won't know until it decides to happen again, which could be never.

It was heartbreaking to watch him in pain, and not be able to do anything about it. I now know the signs of colic, what to do while waiting for the vet, and what to do after the vet has come. I'm grateful I have a support network of horse people to help me out during these things, since I had NO clue what to do, ask, or anything.

This is just a reminder of how much I don't know.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The MakeGoStick brings guilt

So it's been raining off and on since I posted last- I was soooo bummed that we didn't get to squeeze in one more trail ride before the rains came- and the worst part? We cancelled the ride, let everyone know, and the day came, and the sun came out, and it was a great day after all. GRRRRRR.

I'm plotting when I'll be able to get back out on to the trail again...I know Altivo is bored with the arena work, and I know I'm getting there...

He had some more body work done, and his hock was sore, so he's been on a "no tight circles" regimen.

He seems to be testing me more lately, and I have read/heard it said that when your horse is being "naughty", it's usually because you're not doing something right. I wonder about that...sometimes he seems to test me just to test me. Like today, he decided that he was going to dance around the mounting block as opposed to holding still like usual. Not like a spooky dance, but more of a, "I'm going to wait till you get to the top of that thing and then sidestep all over the place, haha!"
I did something I've never personally done to him....and I felt SO guilty! After resetting him a couple times, then moving the mounting block a couple times, I got frustrated. I had his reins in my hand, so I hopped off the block and made him lunge around me a few times while waving the riding crop at him. I then put him back next to the mounting block and he stood perfectly still.
I still felt bad, since I knew that part of me had reacted in anger, and first off, it wasn't something that should have sparked my temper, and second, training isn't the right setting to be negatively emotional. He seemed put off that I actually punished him and that made me feel worse. I made sure to give him lots of praised and encouragement during our ride, and he was super good for the most part. He tried jumping head first into a tree to grab some leaves, so I made him walk by it several more times, and I only had to swing the riding crop between him and the tree once to give him the idea that the tree wasn't worth the effort.

I've decided next time I head out to see him, I need to just sit for a moment and clear my head and calm my nerves, because I'm not usually like this with him. Maybe I'm the one having an off day?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Husband Horse!!

So when I was reading sale ads for horses, dreaming of owning a giant beast, occasionally the term, "Husband Horse" would come up, as a positive trait in the horse.


Basically this means that the horse being described is so well behaved and amiable to a complete idiot riding him, and therefore, can be trusted with one's idiot, er, husband. I jest! I guess because it seems in the horse world, unless a guy is out there making a gajillion dollars a month on training/rodeo/dressage/whatever, (think Monty Roberts/Clinton Anderson/Ken McNabb, etc)  he's not into horses at all. Therefore, he must be relegated to a boring, bombproof, and reliable mount.
So, one day while perusing CraigsList, I mention this term to my husband. Would Husband ever consider a horse of his own, at all? I got a shrug of disinterest, a "I dunno", and nothing else. I asked him if he'd ever consider riding with me. He said, "Sure!! On my motorcycle!" hm.
Where am I going with this? Well, I suppose I could describe Altivo as a husband horse, but really, he's an anyone horse. Oh, I got sidetracked again.
Ok, here's the story-
I was on the phone with my sister one day, who isn't really into horses, but she mentioned to me that she'd like to ride Altivo someday. I told her that could be arranged, since he puts up with me on him, I figured he probably wouldn't notice a difference in the horsemanship level between her and I. Well, I hung up the phone, and turned around to see my husband looking at me. I looked back. I asked, "what?" His facial expression didn't give much away, but he said to me calmly, "I've never ridden Altivo."

Whatwhat??!?!?!?!?!?
Of course he'd never ridden him, he never asked!
So last weekend, I plopped my helmet on his head and told him to hop on. He did, and he meandered around on mah pony.
Would you know that my stoic, unaffected, food driven horse was watching me for direction??? Holy My Little Pony, he kept his eye on me the whole time, almost asking me, "hey, is this what I should be doing?"

He didn't stress, he listened to what Husband was telling him to do, but he still kept turning his head to watch me....and at one point, I went around the side of the arena, out of sight, and Husband reported that while Altivo still followed his directions, he kept his eye on the corner where I had disappeared.

So I guess that's what horse bonding feels like? I wasn't sure he had even gotten attached in any way to me, as he never nickers at me when he sees me, he doesn't seem to "perk up" or get excited when I show my face, unless I have food in my hand, and even then he just wants to relieve me of it by any means necessary.

But to know that he looked to me for direction was a wonderful feeling- I hope our bond grows even stronger!!

As for the Husband- He's not into riding, but I will say that he does go to the barn with me occasionally, and helps me groom and tack up so that I can ride. And I think I'm ok with it that way....Some days that I ride by myself, I have a chance to be in my own mind, focus on the horse, and even occasionally, just sit up on that big guy and we zone out together, him almost dozing off with me laying on his neck. It's a good place to be.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!!

Due to some family issues going on, I went to the barn before Halloween and took these pictures, but figured I'd wait till today to post them.

I love Halloween, because it's the only day you can put anything on that you desire, and people can't call you out on it. Plaid and stripes? No problem. Fairy wings and a water gun? Great. No one can say you're crazy, since it's a costume!!
Haha!!

So....I thought long and hard about what to make my horse dress up as for Halloween. Now, he's sorta white, and really big, and loves to mow down anything in his way to get food. So....I searched through my spare fabric reserves and spent many a minute sewing it. I dressed him up...any guesses as to what his costume is?? Ok, ok, a sailor collar isn't a good enough hint...


Maybe seeing his hat will help...

He's the StayPuft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters!!!


 He was such a good sport for the whole thing, holding still for his sailor collar to be put on, and then I showed him the hat, and after trying to eat it, I held it over his head. I plopped it on and he lowered his head and held still while I tied it under his throat. I snapped a few pictures before relieving him of his embarrassing getup, but he seemed unaffected by it and probably would've worn it for as long as I asked.
This was just for fun, no costume contest or event, just because I could. I've already got plans for next year....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

YES!!!

That's what I said on Saturday afternoon...at least in my head. Ok, so here's what we've been up to:

Altivo and I had a lesson last week with our instructor about how a horse can possibly be in a horse trailer without breaking it. (in case you don't remember, here's the blog posting explaining that...) So, my teacher brought one of the lesson horses with us to be a trailer buddy. When horses are riding in a trailer, some of them can be more comfortable if they are with a friend, so we made sure to put the trailer buddy in first, then loaded Altivo up.
He went in without fussing, but wasn't too excited about letting the divider close near him. After some encouragement, he allowed it to close and lock, and we stood outside the trailer to make sure there wouldn't be any anxiety attacks on the inside.

He made it that far! We then drove around in a large circle, and ended up where we started. We stopped, we listened. We got out, we listened. All quiet. We opened the trailer, and unloaded him. No issue. Now, this was important, since I had secured a slot in that very same trailer for the impending Saturday- a trail ride at a lake about 20 minutes away. A. Trail. Ride!!!!!!! Trail ride!!!! ahem. Trail ride.

Saturday came, and I could barely contain my excitement!! This was one of the reasons, maybe even the MAIN reason I have always wanted a horse- to go wandering around the wilderness on horseback, taking in the scenery, and discovering trails. All total, there were 3 trailers, and 7 horses. We made it to the lake, and unloaded Altivo.

The look on his face when he looked around was that of shock and amazement. His ears were perked forward, his head was up, and he sniffed the air, trying to figure out where he was. He wasn't scared, just curious.
He must have been quite a sight to see, since some people who were returning from their rides came up to meet him, and one of them even asked if riding him was possible, since they didn't think draft horses were able to be ridden. Say what?? Oh, sillies.....I educated them, and they were very nice with a pretty palomino. 

After tacking him up, I stared at him, trying to figure out how to get on him....mounting him is a pain as I'm 5' 4" and he's 16.2 hands...so I looked around....and found....a picnic table!


I led him to one of the picnic tables nearby, and he stood nicely while I hopped up. All 7 of us started down the trail that would lead to a lovely 2 hour jaunt. Oh, there was one thing he did NOT like!!




 Yes, a yellow wheelbarrow was parked near a muck pile, and as we came around a corner, it seemed to appall Altivo that anyone would make a wheelbarrow YELLOW. He startled, looked at it, quickly determined that it wasn't food, and walked on.  I'm aware that with alot of horses, the words, "Horse Eating" maybe be applied to the beginning of an object to describe things. Like, "Horse Eating Balloon", or "Horse Eating Mundane Object", since, being prey animals, they tend to fear things that to us, seem silly. One of the horses on the trail ride startled at a large rock, so therefore, it became a "Horse Eating Rock". Get it?
Well, nothing beside the wheelbarrow wanted to eat him, even when confronted with a lone cow. (HF calls it a steak-horse, and anytime I think of that, I giggle.)



Anyhoo, we meandered through the lovely countryside, up hills and down them, over a fallen tree, and to a lake bed. And he didn't trip once! I asked for a trot several times, and he happily obliged without the use of a Motivation Stick (aka Mr. Spanker), and he seemed to have a good time. Both of us, being out of shape, were dragging a little on the way back, but I can't wait to go again!!!
So there you have it- OH!! And Monday, he had his teeth floated, and I didn't get photos cuz there's this pesky thing called "work" that I had to do, so that I could pay the vet....but, the vet said there wasn't anything remarkable, just the typical points on the teeth, which to me meant that they needed to be done.
And I'm working on Altivo's Halloween costume- stay tuned for pictures!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Improvement? We haz it!

So, first off..

An open letter to Altivo.

Dear Lazy White/Grey horse:
I cheated on you. I went on a trail ride on another horse. A mare, even. I blame HorseFriend. She's the one who threw a bareback pad on her Quarter horse and told me to hop on. She was there with her Morgan, so I can't lie about it- I have too many witnesses. Next thing I knew, we were out on the trail and I just couldn't help it!! I was a little scared, since I was bareback, and her mare is a little green, but her personality is similar to yours so I did all right. I know you won't really care since I bring you apples and pears but I just needed to come clean. Guilt is an awful thing.

We didn't ride for very long, really, and the brush wasn't that edible....so don't be mad, ok?

-BigGreenGirl

Ok, next on the update-
Big improvements with the big horse (my sister said he's as big as a bus....) since I blogged last!!

First, here's what we did.

1. I had a bodyworker touch him. I admit, I was skeptical that the bodyworker would be able to do anything for him, after all, a horse bodyworker doesn't seem to be able to do much, but really, it was interesting watching her. She lifted his ribcage, pushed and pulled on various parts of his body, and yanked on his tail. She showed me how to do certain moves sort of like a "horsie yoga" and how to stretch parts of him to keep things aligned and happy.

2. Asked the trimmer to back up his toes a teeny bit. Basically, he shaved down the hoof in the front of it slightly, so that it gives lazy horses who don't pick their feet up a little more ground clearance as they move.

3. Bought a new bit. This one is a sweet iron twisted snaffle. That means that the part that goes in the horse's mouth is made of "cold rolled steel" which rusts and supposedly has a sweet taste to it. I didn't get the bit for that reason, I got it because I wanted a twisted snaffle bit and the sweet iron one was the only kind in his size....Yeah. Most bits are 4-5 inches wide...he's a 6 1/2. sigh.  Moving on... Twisted means that instead of a straight piece of metal, it's twisted around to give the horse a different feel in his mouth. It doesn't hurt them, but it does make them pay attention just a little more. Here's a picture-



4. 2 times a week he gets a "schooling ride", where he is put through his paces by someone who knows what they're doing.



Now....all of this combined....and the tripping has all but stopped. I took him out this morning for a ride, through the sand arena, the pea gravel round pen, the dirt arena, the back pasture, and the gravel road. He tripped once in the back pasture, because he was staring at a cat in the field and not watching where his feet were going. I worked on trotting him and controlling his direction at the same time, as he seems to be rusty on it, and he trotted willingly and without issue.


I'm overdue for a lesson, but I was on vacation and then the weather got so insanely hot that I backed out of a couple- I can't concentrate when it's 100 degrees out and I'm on top of a 100 degree animal. But I'll blog about it when I take another lesson. Should be soon.

Oh, and I found yet another horse blog that I love- here ya go!!

www.horseandman.com

Monday, September 6, 2010

Altivo in the arena

Lesson recap!


 Actually, I've had 2 since my last post, but I'll lump them in together, since they were quite similar, just with different horses. Why am I not riding my big baby? No, he's fine, I'll get to that in a second. Both of these lessons involved trotting, and learning to post the trot. Posting is where you let the horse's gait raise you out of the saddle, in a timed and controlled manner to make the trot comfortable for both of you. It's a TON worse if you just sit and jiggle about for the trot, and I don't think the horse appreciates it too much either.


 So you have to time your muscles to "catch" yourself and lower your butt in time to have it thrown out of the saddle again. It's all about finding the rhythm of the horse and going with it. The first horse I rode while trying to post the trot was Casper- remember, he was the very first horse I rode at lessons?? He is a Quarter Horse, so his trot is very quick, meaning lots of little posts, rather than lots of time to find the rhythm. His advantage, though, is that he's small, very wise, and is sort of a "babysitter" for newbies.

Next, Chinook. He's a big Tennessee Walker, around the same height as Altivo, so I was familiar with that, and his trot is quite similar to my horse's. A very slow, even trot that is easy to follow, however, he's very eager to go, and may offer to gait for you, instead of trot.


I have to say, Chinook was more comfortable, however, it was good that I rode Casper first. I had that tripping issue with Altivo- remember?  I have to admit that it made me just a teensy bit fearful of trotting...afraid that the horse I'm on is going to trip and fall and I'm going down with him. This, I recognize, is not good. I seem to be more comfortable controlling the horse on my own, and I think that it's because on the lunge line, it's a tighter circle, there's the element of turning fairly sharply thrown in there, whereas if I'm controlling the horse, it's in a larger area, no rope connecting us, and I have more balance. I talked to myself (don't we all?) and tried to tell me it wasn't a big deal, I need to relax, but I'll need to keep talking.





Ok, so the big guy is stumbling occasionally while under saddle at a trot. Y'all remember the blog post about the tripping episode....right? Well, here's a video of him, and it's not until the veeeeerrry end that he trips.....so if you don't watch it all I can't blame you...it's a giant white horse running in circles. I am unsure what to do since he doesn't have anything wrong with him that anyone can find....but that's why I'm not riding him in lessons. I need to be able to learn on a dependable horse who doesn't trip all over the place, and until we know what causes his fumble-footedness, I can't ride him in lessons. I know every horse is dangerous, inherently, but I'm not sure what to do for him, short of taking him to UC Davis for a full workup. BLARGH.






Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Self propelled guilt trip

It's been waaaaaay hot these past couple o'days, and I haven't gone out to the barn to see the horsie.

I feel bad!! Honestly, though, I'm not sure he's concerned, since he's still getting fed, and that's Altivo's main concern in life.

But, prior to my hiatus from the barn, I started training him to lay down for mounting. (Read the last post if you need to know why...)  I found a few videos on YouTube and immediately headed to the barn to make use of my new-found expertise.
Well, Mr. Lippy was more concerned about getting his treat than figuring out what I wanted, but he at least figured out the idea of lifting his foot up when lowering his head, so even if I ask him to lower his head for his carrot stretch, he picks his foot up.

I've got a lesson scheduled for tomorrow night, but on one of my instructor's horses. We both think I'm ready to move to more advanced things than walking in circles, but Altivo isn't advanced enough in HIS training to allow me to learn what I need to know. Once I get more advanced on a better trained horse, I can use those learned techniques while riding him. He hasn't shown any more tripping or falling episodes, so I've been riding him and walking him up and down hills and the steps in the outdoor arena.

Well, I know this wasn't a very exciting update, but have no fear, bold readers, I'll be back with more hijinks later!!!

Oh, and here's a link to a great horse rescue- the owner updates the homepage every morning, never archives it, so if you don't check it everyday, you don't get to read that day's post. He also never updates the horses for adoption on his ranch, but trust me, this guy is an angel, and his writing style is lovely!!

TB Friends

Till next time!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do horses get ADD???

Ok, so I wrote about my experience at the AFatGirlAFatHorse forums, but I'll re-post it here:


Well, the other night, Altivo was all saddled up, my teacher checked the saddle to be sure I'd cinched him up properly, and we started my lesson- all went normally, until she put him on the lunge line to trot him, so that I could work on my seat and balance.

All of a sudden, while he was trotting, he stumbled in the sand arena, and fell down on his front end, and I got lurched forward. My instructor quickly got him up, and I had put my hand out forward to stop myself from tumbling over him, and ended up gripping with my legs, holding onto the saddle horn with one hand and pushing against his neck with the other.

As soon as he got up, I dismounted so that she could lunge him and check him for any issues (there were none), and she chalked it up to his being out of shape, and I hopped back on. She trotted him with me up on him without incident after that.

Holy crud, that was scary!!! I was scared, but at the same time, dang proud of myself that I managed to stay on. It happened so fast that I have a hard time replaying it in my mind, and I know a fall is bound to happen eventually, but never having had one, it's unsettling to be reminded about it.


Ok, so, my amazingly awesome teacher and I talked about what could potentially be wrong....and I made a vet appointment. We still used him for my lessons, and I still rode him, but we only asked him to walk, no more than that.

 Then, a couple days later, the vet showed up, and she spent almost 2 hours with him. She had me trot him in various directions, she did flexion tests, where she held a foot in a specific way and then had me take off trotting with him, then she touched all of his legs, walking him up hills and over curbs, and then there were 10 essay questions. Ok, so I made that last one up.

But she really looked him over, and figured out.....

He's lazy, bored, and has a short attention span.

Really? Well, as far as anyone can tell, yes. That, and he's out of shape, which could be a small part of it.
Unless he gets worse or this becomes a more prominent issue, then that's the diagnosis at the moment.

So I'm continuing to ride him, and we've noticed that he trips less and pays more attention when he's outside....I suppose I'd get bored turning in circles in an arena all day, but I will still continue to monitor his progress.

So BGG got curious....What is Giant Inattentive Horse like bareback??

I'll tell you...but first, I will tell you that as of last night, I had no clue. Let's rewind to yesterday, shall we??

I went to the barn alone yesterday. When I arrived, I realized, no one else was in the barn either. I'm pretty self sufficient nowadays, what with a very patient horse and all. So I tacked him up, and we went for a short walk around the property. He did well, though he tried to eat some yummy looking grass a couple of times...if only I'd thought to bring Mr. Spanker with me!!! I managed to yank him away with a sharp kick, and we finished our ride.
Then, I thought, I shall get on him bareback!! I removed saddle, saddle pad, breast collar, and put them away. I walked him out to the arena with his bridle, and I parked him next to the tallest mounting block there.
I took a handful of mane along with the reins, and looked at his huge back. I swung my leg up, and....

Stood there.
With one foot on the mounting block. One on the horse.
The horse stood there, calmly, waiting for the half mounted idiot on his back to either get on or fall off. It was surreal, how quietly he stood.

I hopped with my left foot. Nothing.
I used my right foot to try to heave myself over the rest of the way. Nothing.
I grabbed at mane and pulled at air. Nothing.

Then, something.
Altivo took one step backwards. One. With that one step, he dragged my foot off the mounting block and I was hanging on to his neck, in a sort of weird performance art-type pose. I'll call it, "Girl, unfinished".
I slid down the rest of the way, thanked Altivo for being as quiet as he was, and put him away for the night.

Now, tonight, I asked told BigGreenHusband that he was coming with me to be a stepstool. I bridled him, led him to the arena, and grabbed the tallest mounting block. I swung my leg over, and BigGreenHusband shoved my butt up, and poof!!

I was on my horse, without saddle or stirrups!!! He was comfortable, and wide like a recliner. His skin didn't shift alot, so I didn't feel like I was going to slide to either side easily. I had to grab on to his mane to steady myself about 3 or 4 times, usually when he was turning, but for the most part, I felt balanced and solid.
Granted, we only walked, since I'm not solid at a trot yet in a saddle, let alone bareback, so walking was as fast as we went.
AND....since this was the first time I'd ever been on him bareback, we stayed in the boring ole arena, because even though I wear a helmet, I didn't want my first fall off a bareback horse to be too ouchy. (ok, so I didn't fall off, but I like to be prepared...)

Photos or it didn't happen, right?

There me are!!!

It felt so free, to just hop on and go....but it seems to me until I have a ton more experience under my belt, in order to work on my posture and seat, I need to use my saddle more than not....but maybe a treeless saddle will be in my future???

Friday, July 23, 2010

Watch her go!!!

So I, being the diligent (over thinking really...) horse owner, cleaned out horsie's feet like I do daily (or mostly daily), and I came across this:

A piece of his sole just lifted right up, and I was told this was "Thrush", which seems sorta like athlete's foot for horses....my instructor had told me before that spraying apple cider vinegar on the hooves helps prevent it, so that's what I bought...I sprayed it on his back feet last night, and I'll do that every night from now on. He didn't seem to care, and it only takes a second.
I also started making him stretch- called Carrot Stretches- basically making him stretch to get a treat, which in turn helps keep him limber and flexible. Well, he didn't get it...still doesn't really get it. I want him to stand still and bend his neck to get his treat...he wants to walk in circles around me to get to his prize. So I ended up walking in circles with him for a little bit until he caught on. Day 2, same thing, he tried to walk around me to get to the treats, then realized I wanted him to stay put- he figured it out eventually. I'm hoping that in a couple days he'll catch on.
Also, I grew some HUGE carrots in my garden, so I cut one in half and let him chase me around the arena with it...

I'm glad no one was around, or at least I think no one was around, watching a heavyset lady run around a covered arena waving a giant carrot, with her heavyset horse trotting after her, waging a battle with himself between trotting for the yummy treat or being lazy and standing still.....

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I haz a saddle!

The heat of the summer is officially here, and it needs to leave now. I've never done well in heat, and I can't see myself forcing my horse to work for me in the blistering heat, so we've been waiting until dark lately to do any groundwork.

And the other day, I let him see his old friend, Mr. Hose. Altivo didn't seem to care about the hose or the water spraying him- didn't seem to really like it, but he also didn't fuss about it. Then he turned his head toward me, and I aimed the hose at his mouth.



He's a mouthy horse to begin with, and letting him chew at the water stream coming out of the hose was heaven for him!! He followed the hose when I moved it, licking at the water and opening his mouth really wide....silly horsie!!

Oh, and the mail came!!! Lookie-



It's the Abetta draft saddle I talked about last blog- it's way comfy, and I put it on him without a cinch just to snap a picture. I'll put my cinch on it and snap a picture of it actually ON him....I put it on him last night and tightened it on- I made sure to go slowly and bit by bit like my teacher said, since yanking it tight the first time can make a horse sensitive to the cinching up process, and I want to make saddling up as happy as it could be with me. I bought a back cinch to help keep the saddle on him, since he's round like a barrel, and it didn't come with a back cinch connector strap. That's one of these:




It connects the front cinch with the back cinch so the back one doesn't slip back and work it's way into the horse's no no spot. That can cause them to become annoyed and think that bucking you off is a great idea.

Oh, and I went with the ESP saddle pad by Classic Equine- I got a great deal on eBay, and it's black and cream, which is nice and understated....though I totally wanna get one of these to go over it!!

The next thing is to find a pulling breast collar that fits him- but I was hoping to find a fleece lined leather one in black....but it seems that in the draft horse world you can't be too picky....I haven't managed to find what I'm looking for yet.

I can't wait for my next lesson- I actually have everything I need to tack him up and have him ready to ride when my teacher arrives! Whoo!!

And on the training note- kissing and tapping his leg now has a 50% chance of him lifting his foot for me....what a change from the day I got him- when the girl showing him told HorseFriend- "if you can lift his foot up I'll buy you a soda, he just won't do it"....HA!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Updates again...

Well, I had my lesson on Thursday- I managed to mount fairly gracefully, I think. Altivo accepted the bridle and bit pretty easily, and we walked around the arena for a while, circling barrels, traffic cones, and any other obstacles in our path.
My instructor then put me on the lunge line, to work on my trot, and Altivo kind of gave a little head toss, so to be safe, she had me dismount so we could see if there was an issue there. It seems like his left stifle is bugging him, and the term "patella fixation" came up. Since he hasn't been exercised regularly in eons, there's a chance that his locking knee is from basic un-fitness.
I've hired my teacher's daughter to ride him twice a week to work on him, since my saddle still isn't in yet, and he needs a more experienced hand to trot and lope him. My job, however, is to walk him and free lunge him in the meantime, and we are going to evaluate him in about a month or so. I hope his leg gets better, I don't want him to see being ridden as a horrible scary thing that locks his knees up.

I finally ordered my saddle!!! Because I'm still learning, and eventually want to get a supercool endurance saddle (maybe even treeless?!?), I decided to go with a beginner, easily kept up saddle- the Abetta. They only make two styles in the draft tree, both with horns, but they're comfortable, inexpensive, and simple looking.
I am still shopping for the right saddle pad, but he doesn't have any weird back issues- no swayback, no extra long or extra short back, no high withers, and nothing seems to bother him, so I am debating between the Reinsman Tacky Too, the Team Equine Durango, and the Classic Equine ESP pad.

All have good reviews, all are around the same price, but I've heard the Tacky Too pads can get slick if your horse sweats alot- he does at the moment since he's out of shape! And I've heard the ESP's can break down, and the Team Equine's website isn't that user friendly.

And I want a good pad that'll hold up to use, but I also want it to be pretty!!! I'm such a vapid consumer, but seriously, looks are a minor concern too.

I've been working on having him stand near the mounting block some more, and he's gotten really good at standing quietly, even if I step up to the top step. He used to side step or bounce around slightly when I got that far- it's so awesome to see progress!!

I also think the hoof glitter helps too. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

How did I live without these links????

Ok, so lesson was postponed last night, due to the 102 degree temperature last night at 7:30pm!!!! That type of heat is inappropriate!!! So I worked on spritzing Altivo with a water bottle to de-sensitize him to spray stuff, and it was so hot out, he was leaning into it and at one point, he opened his mouth, and I spritzed water right at him- he loved it. He lifted his lip and stood there with his eyes closed and let me spray water right at him...what a clown!!
Oh, and I had a little bit of fun.....sure, too hot to ride, but not too hot for glitter!!!
MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! He was a good sport- just looked at me like I was nuts and stood there hoping for a treat.

So today I wanted to throw up a couple of links of sites I found, and this first one is wonderful- it's a blog about a big girl with a big horse (hey, that's like me!!!) only she actually seems to know what she's doing.

A Fat Girl & A Fat Horse

She has some really neat posts up there about her, her horse Bronwyn, and her adventures...pretty cool!!

I've been looking for accessories for Altivo- I need a saddle pad and since I don't have alot of experience, I've been reading what others have to say about them- here,

HorseTackReview

And of course, I still frequent The Worst of CL Horse Ads, whose snark is fun and educational!!!

Lesson was rescheduled for Thursday, I'll have a recap then.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Catching up....

Ok, so I jumped ahead of myself last blog, so we'll do a little bit of looking into the past, and a little sneak peek into the future.

We'll travel back in time first-

Altivo had his feet trimmed- actually about a month ago. When I bought him, his feet were HORRIBLE!!
I didn't take pictures of them before, but I do have a couple pictures of his first foot trimming, and in this first one you can see the trimmed one in the background, versus the untrimmed one in the foreground.
The front left one was actually starting to flare out a little, so the trimmer had to come back 10 days later to reshape it again!! I'm glad I have good resources since I'm so green, my hoof trimmer is John Tucker, a well respected trimmer in the barefoot community.
Here are a couple more pics- I giggle at the next picture since it shows the size of his feet compared to a human sized foot!!

And this next one is the finished product!! He was so good- I guess draft horses can be a pain in the youknowwhat about having their feet poked at but he doesn't seem to mind at all.


THEN, after that fun was done, the mailman letter carrier person showed up, and poof!!!
We haz bridle nao!!! whoooooo!!! Yes, his halter is underneath, since I didn't have my reins yet, and was just trying on the fit....he took the bit fairly willingly, but he also knows that if he holds his head up I can't reach him...brat.

And after that was done, I got to go to the Western States Horse Expo, and we found a drafty size fly mask,


So now pest control is underway, just in time for the icky summer heat.

I ordered my bridle and reins from The Distance Depot, and I got my 6 1/2" bit (yes, you read that right) from eBay.
Now begins the search for a saddle that'll fit the monster little angel.


I have a lesson tonight, and will blog about that this evening or tomorrow- it's the first lesson with his bit and bridle!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Where has BGG been?

I'll tell you....she's been working!!! Work has gotten crazy lately, and when I come home late, blogging is on my mind, but I end up passing out before I make it to the keyboard. I am fail.

But Altivo is NOT fail!
He is good. He is teaching me alot about horse behavior, and I'm starting to recognize certain personality traits and am figuring out how to respond in the right way. My instructor says he's a good match for me, and I would like to think so as well. He is a Percheron, and very laid back. Some horses have a lot of "go", meaning they like to move, are energetic, etc. Altivo has a lot of "wait and see". He doesn't spook easily, he doesn't tend to react quickly to things that I've shown him or done to him. If it's an Object, he likes to sniff it or see if it's food. That's his main goal in life, to eat.

I looked at the Parelli horsenality chart and I think, according to that, he's a left brain introvert. He's calm, food driven, has a tendency to stop and is low key. He's not incredibly stubborn that I've noticed, but I suppose he could be if I let him.

So until last week, since I haven't bought a saddle yet, I visited him every day with the occasional day off, and I'd halter him and work on something with him on the ground. Whether it was picking his feet up, standing while I brushed him, working on his mouthy-ness, or taking him for a walk, I made sure to do something with him everytime I set foot in the barn. I also lunged him on a lead and without (free lunging?). He already knew everything I asked of him as far as changing direction, stopping when asked, but the first few times of doing any of these exercises, he tested me. He'd move away from me, bend down to mouth whatever part he could reach of me, chew on his lead rope, or refuse to pick his feet up by planting his weight squarely on all four hooves. He also wanted to try to be in my personal space, or he'd try to run ahead of me while leading. Verbally correcting him and checking him with the lead line worked for the most part, but for the cases when he stopped listening to me altogether regarding the nipping, lead rope chewing, or running ahead, we got Mr. Spanker. Please don't think I beat my horse, nor do I take pleasure in having to use Mr. Spanker, but I needed a more aggressive approach to the 2000lb animal that was taking advantage of me. So here is Altivo meeting Mr. Spanker for the first time. No, I'm not hitting him! I was letting him sniff it and become acquainted.
How can you not name a riding crop something silly when it looks like that?? So Mr. Spanker came out and all I needed to do was wave it at him and he would cease his naughty behavior. I think he has met Mr. Spanker before in another time and place. He learns quickly.

So then last Sunday, my instructor pulled out her Abetta Wide Tree Saddle, and surprisingly, it fit him!!! So we all cheered and then I called it a day and went home.

Are you kidding??? Did you actually fall for that??? Of course I didn't go home...I got on mah horsie!!!

Oh, and I asked Mr. BGG to come and take pictures, and I don't like any of them...you'd think he had no interest in horses or anything, but I got a good picture of him!! Wanna see Mr. BGG?? I bet you do.

Here he is, with Altivo.
Isn't he cute?
Ok, ok, here is one picture...proof that I actually rode him!!

When I ride him it's like sitting on the comfiest couch on earth, with an amazing view of the world. My bit and bridle hadn't arrived yet, so we left him in his halter. I wasn't sure he'd be ok with that, and it made directing him just a little more difficult, but overall he was very responsive. I'd like to go bit-less with him eventually, once I know more about what I'm doing and he is more familiar with me. Oh, and don't worry, my instructor was there the whole time to correct me, give instruction and advice, and to generally make sure I didn't hurt myself. She lunged him while I was on him so that I could feel his trot, and afterwards Mr. Lazy Altivo was a little sweaty....out of shape horsie!!
I have more to say, but I'll put that in another post later tonight or tomorrow.

Monday, May 24, 2010

You want me to do what? I'd rather eat, but fine, whatever.

The title of this post seems to sum up my new kid's take on life in general.

So now begins the search for tack that fits my new mountain, er, horse. My sister called him a mountain when she met him, and a few moments after meeting him, she asked about another horse at the barn. I replied, "oh, her? She's a Quarter Horse." She burst out laughing and said, "Yeah, Quarter Horse all right, exactly one quarter of YOUR horse!"

sigh.

Since I lack tack, I've been working with him on the ground, which, according to a few horse people, is a good way to start off a good relationship with your horse. I mean, I wouldn't want to get on him without knowing him a little better, and I'm sure he doesn't want some random stranger on top of him either. So I've been going out to the stable every day (ok, I skipped tonight) and haltering him, walking him around, and doing basic things- like asking him to back up, stand still, yield hindquarters, and I've been picking his feet up, brushing him, touching him all over, and just talking to him.


He hasn't destroyed too much at the barn either...he bent a fence panel with his butt, but otherwise seems pretty settled. The farrier comes on Thursday to trim his insanely overgrown feet, so I'm excited for that.

And there have been NO purchases of hoof glitter whatsoever yet. Yet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BIG news!! No, really, really really BIG news. Seriously.

Ok....so, the last time I left you, I was whining about not getting a certain horse, and really, I never even met the guy face to face, so I can't be too disappointed, right? And in between then and now, I inquired about a draft cross, who got a home the day after I asked about him, and not with me, a bombproof Thoroughbred, and after several positive emails, as soon as I asked to see him, the seller forgot how to use a phone or computer. But it all worked out.

Well.....last weekend, there was an adoption event in the area (I know, there's always an adoption event), and myself, my husband, and my horsefriend (we'll call her HF) all went out to look at the pretties. Really, in my head, I was only looking. Yes, yes, I had been inquiring about a few select horses, since one can't overlook the right thing if it comes along, right? But I wasn't forcing it, just checking a couple websites every so often. See, I had made a deal with my brain. The conversation was something like this:

Me: Ok, Brain, we want a horse.
Brain: That sounds nice. How are you going to afford that?
Me: Well, I'll save up so I can have a wide choice available, so I can get the right one.
Brain: Good idea. But wait, there's more to a horse than just the purchase price, right?
Me: Well, yeah, but....
Brain: So, logically you should have a stockpile of funds put away for all sorts of stuff, tack, emergencies, teeth, feet, vaccines, and-
Me: and purple hoof glitter!!! 
Brain: uh, yeah. I don't think purple hooves really matter to the health of a horse. But anyway, shouldn't we have a ginormous horse fund first?
Me: Well, yeah, we should. But it doesn't hurt to look, right? That way I'll have a better idea of the type of hoof glitter, er, horse I want.
Brain: Yes as long as it's only looking. So let's save all of our pennies for a year, yes? And that'll be a huge amount of money to purchase everything you could ever want. Even if it's hoof glitter. Ugh. So remember, just looking, and we're going to wait to-
Me: OOOOOOHHHH wow...look at that one!!!! I wanna test ride him!
Brain: Yes, but remember, we are waiting a year-
Me: Move it Brain, I gotta horsie to get!!

And that's how it happened. My heart fluttered and I got all giggly as I rode that horse around the ring...HorseFriend looked at his feet, his mouth, and applied pressure to various areas of his back, checking for sore spots or anything out of the ordinary. After I test rode him, HF hopped on and really put him through a workout. I wonder if an earthquake registered when she cantered him? Husband grinned at the horse, but gently reminded me that I had told myself I was waiting on adopting a horse, or something to that effect...I don't really recall....who listens to their husbands anyway?
Before anyone else knew it (I was perfectly aware ;) haha), I had a horse. And no way to get him home.
I texted my instructor...I got a horse hehe.... can you come get him?
She, of course, being of sane mind, wanted to know what kind, how old, and was I completely out of my mind...ok, not the last part. At least she didn't text that. She simply said, well, let's get him into the trailer....

Which he promptly broke on the way home by shoving his butt against the dividers hard enough to break the welding on the hinge...not even home and he was already re-inforcing the fact that horses are lovable, adorable, rewarding money pits.


Now, I'm sure you're dying to know what I brought back to my lesson barn.....

This is Altivo. He is 10 years old....a Percheron gelding!!!! 17 hands worth of Percheron to be exact. Yeah...for a better idea, here's another picture, just after I test rode him. Apparently the only saddle they had at the rescue group was this english one, which was mighty comfy.
Yeah. Well....It just hit me yesterday that I adopted a huge (HUGE) horse, and he's mine and I am now responsible for this guy. He is due for vaccines, so I'll be learning about those, and his first hoof trim is Sunday. He picks up his feet pretty well, and I worked with him last night on it, with good results. He's very personable, gentle, and willing, though a little lippy, which we're working on.
He had been a stud at a PMU farm (google "PMU horse" and you'll see what I mean) until around 5 years ago, when he came to my area, got gelded (yay!) and trained.
My instructor thinks I'm nuts, for sure, and I'm not sure I'm fully sane either, but who knows?

More on Altivo later....I must go to work, to pay for my baby....

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Really?

So.....I didn't screen cap the ad, but I was poking about on CraigsList, and saw an ad that said pretty much this:

For sale, 10 yo Draft gelding, sorrel, broke to ride, has been in parades and medieval events, great around everyone, 17 hands, only vices- occasionally throws his head up when bridled and is kind of pokey, not a very excitable horse.

The ad was long, detailed the horse's positive and negative points, had great pictures, basically, they had bothered to try to actually sell the horse. There was a ton more information, but I'm not remembering it all, so I'm not going to type it. But, suffice to say, it sounded like a nice horse, oh, and they wanted....  $800 for him!!!

$800 for a horse as well rounded as they claimed is a good price in today's market, and for a draft horse, that is even better. (my opinion only, but feel free to correct me in the comments if you think I'm wrong)

Being of larger stature, a thick stocky horse is appealing to me, so I stopped thinking with my brain and immediately forwarded the ad to my instructor, and emailed the advertiser asking for more photos. Within a few moments, I had pictures of this nice, thick, happy horse in various situations- being ridden at what looked like a renaissance faire type event, standing quietly for a photo to be taken, standing with a smiling girl (the owner?) with her arms wrapped around his neck...wow, seems perfect! I was giddy like a child going to an amusement park for the first time, like a teenager driving my car by myself for the first time, or like that time in Las Vegas! (umm..let's not go there right now...)
But it's a great sounding horse!! I thought so, and my instructor thought so....and so did the rest of the world, apparently. It all went downhill from there. The ranch owner AND the horse owner were both taking calls regarding this horse, and it didn't appear that they were communicating with each other regarding who was coming to look at him and when. One told me that I couldn't come until two days from now and look at the horse, the other told me I could see him the following evening, which unfortunately didn't work with my schedule. Then an hour later, I was told I could see him the very next morning, and then I got a call telling me that no one would be available to show him to me since neither the ranch owner or the horse owner would be available.  I was assured no one was going to look at him for 5 more days, due to both the ranch owner and horse owner not anticipating having to show him so quickly to potential buyers and their busy schedules, then from the other source I was told that someone else was coming in the morning to see him, which is why I was told I couldn't come to see him. That afternoon, I got a call that he had sold. UGH.

I understand that you want to sell your horse quickly, so when you put an ad up that he's for sale, be prepared to show him as soon as it goes live. Also, don't give conflicting stories out to people...I had gotten so much of a run around that when they told me he had sold, I was relieved, since I felt I could no longer trust a word that either one of them said to me (not saying they were deceitful, just saying that once there is something minorly fishy in a business transaction, it puts doubt into every aspect of that dealing) and I was too exhausted about having to switch my schedule around to match their ever-evolving one. Oh, and my instructor was waiting to hear from me the whole time to know if she needed to clear her schedule, since I need her to look at any horse that I might be considering buying. (I know I don't NEED anyone to "help" me buy a horse, but the idea of a knowledgeable person standing next to me is kind of a good one.)


So, suffice to say, I think things happen for a reason. Maybe that horse wasn't the right horse for me, who knows? Maybe I wouldn't have been the right owner for that horse....maybe I'm just not ready and that would have been bad for both of us. It would be awfully selfish to think only of myself when considering the purchase of a horse- I need to be the right fit for the horse as well.

Is all horse buying like this????

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Update time!!

So I was feeling like horse-puckey in a bad way Thursday, so no lesson for me- no mucking either! Some people would cheer, but I'm still finding enjoyment in it, so ha!

My lesson last week was a blast- I rode bareback for the first time ever!! Ok, so I didn't have full control of the horse, since I'm a new rider and my instructor is awesomely aware of this, she led the horse around the ring just so I could get find my balance and figure out how to stay on the horse before worrying silly stuff like controlling the horse.
I'm torn: I liked the idea of being able to just "hop on and go" without tacking up, but the stability of the saddle and  the ease of mounting and dismounting with a stirrup is convenient too....I think they make bareback pads with stirrups, but that seems to me like just a floppy saddle, so it's a tough decision to make....though I guess you have to have a horse to worry about such problems. ;)

It was so odd- I could feel the muscles in the horse's back as they flexed with each step, I felt like I could slip off his back at any second when his skin shifted, even when we were at a full stop. I'm not entirely sure moving at a quick pace would be comfortable for either of us, since his spine and my butt bones/crotch would be banging together...that doesn't sound like a good time at all. I have a new respect for the people you see galloping down a beach bareback in movies and commercials...and a new pity for the horse that's underneath them.
Also during my lesson I learned the basics of longeing a horse- which isn't necessarily good for a horse. It can strain their tendons and legs running in such a tight circle, so while it has it's uses, but isn't the best way to exercise them.

Oh! And I got my helmet!! Hooray for brain protection!! I got the grey one, the blue seemed a bit bright, and like a little kid, I instantly wanted to start wearing it everywhere...to the grocery store, to the movies, to work...yeah, I ride horses people, that's right, keep staring, it's because I'm AWESOME! But my husband gave me a weird look, so I decided maybe I'll just keep it on at the stables, and be awesome there, and just normal everywhere else.

AND, remember my blog-crush from last post? Well, the CL Ad Queen Bee gave me mad props for a crazy ad I pointed her way...you can see that here. Her snarky commentary is amazingly entertaining, and she often blogs what I'm thinking when I read those ads.

Still on the fence about a horse of my own....like that's news...but a friend of mine just purchased a horse from a ranch (her previous horse passed away suddenly) and saw another horse there for sale that sounds amazing...but I can't make myself go look at him!!
I know that there will always be horses for sale, but the BLM Prison Auction is coming up, the Sacramento Horse Expo Auction is coming up, and then the Wild Horse and Burro Expo auction is approaching...what's a BGG to do?!?!?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My first Horse Auction


Well, I found out there was a horse auction today, and while I wasn't buying (I made sure not to show up early enough to preview ANY of them!), I wanted to go and get a feel for how one goes.
In this auction's case, there were 45 horses of various breeds, and all except 8 had their lineage printed in the auction catalog.

Now, I know everyone in the horse business is aware of the horse economy and how low it's gotten...but...wow. All I can say is, I'm glad I didn't have a bidder number, because these horses were selling for WAY lower than they should've. This little mare in the picture above, 9 years old, disgusting amount of experience with cattle, sold for $1400! And this pretty brood mare below, at 11 years old, halter trained (they didn't say she was saddle trained though :( only went for $300!! It made me sad....to have to listen to such low numbers.




Well, I talked to my teacher at our lesson Thursday- she had me ride in a different saddle so I could learn the differences between them. This saddle had more of a flat seat as opposed to a "wedge" seat, and boy, it made my butt hurt! I knew that there were different styles of saddle, but it was interesting to learn there are even more differences- I feel overwhelmed by the idea of purchasing a saddle someday. There is a horse expo coming to my area, so I will definitely be going to sponge more information into my brain.

I'm still waffling about buying a horse of my own. On the one hand, it seems like fun, being able to go to the barn whenever I please, to hang out with my horse, groom him, clean him, and of course, ride him, and try to make him into the best horse for me. Or even just to stop in and say hi, here's a carrot.
But on the other hand, there is the expense involved, and the commitment. A horse is a living being, not just a toy you can get bored with and throw in your closet or sell at a garage sale. All of the overflowing rescue organizations out there are proof that not enough people considered these factors when entering into owner-hood. Am I prepared to have vet bills that would make a serious dent in my finances? Prepared for the horse's possible "off days", where he's not ridable, for whatever reason? Am I prepared to care for him even if I could never ride him again? Am I prepared to spend time to bond with this horse, so that he doesn't become a pasture ornament at a boarding facility, where the other people at the stable say "Yeah, that horse is owned by some lady, but she's like, NEVER here. I haven't seen her in ages!"

I need to think about this. I need to make sure I'm not going to get a horse irresponsibly. I need to make sure this wanting is real....

Friday, April 9, 2010

I'm in Blog Love!!

So I know I have linked Fugly Horse of the Day here before- a beautifully snarky blog about the nasty people in the world who don't take care of their horses....but this is a lovely blog that relates to my last post-


Best and Worst of CL Horse for Sale Blog!!!

This blogger puts it all out there- and it encourages me to keep looking on CraigsList- maybe there might be a friend on there that needs help.

In other news- teacher has been on vacation, so it's been stable duty only, no lessons. I'm getting more comfortable about communicating to the horses exactly what I want from them while they're poking their noses in my face (and wheelbarrow, and shavings fork, and everywhere else!) while I'm cleaning their stalls, and I have learned a little more about horse behavior just by watching them interact with eachother in the pastures.

I'm heading to the tack shop today to buy my helmet, since my noggin is a valuable piece of me- I have been told that the Tipperary helmets are a good schooling helmet, so that's the direction I'm heading in. I stopped in the other day but they were out of them, and said they would call me when they came in- they called me yesterday, so let's hope there wasn't a crazy demand for them!
Here's another horsie picture....
Next lesson is on Sunday, so I'll be back with a report then.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Oh Craigslist- you are a wellspring of hilarity.

I have been known to peruse CraigsList from time to time....but I feel like there are really only 3 types of ads for horses for sale. I've decided to show you these examples, with appropriate typographical and spelling errors on the first one, so you can see what one will read when looking for horses.


Example 1(AKA, The perfect horse that is so perfect it's perfectly perfect. Perfect.):

Hi I am selling my horse hes the sweetest horse ever hes been out to pastchur for 2 years or so but he had training when he was younger and you can ride him and everything you could do anything to this horse and he just stands there I think hes like 5 or 6 and you can ride him western or english or on trales or in the arena or on the streets or anywhere you could put your kid or husband on him and he is sweet and gentle never needs his feet trimed or his teeth neither he had shots 2 years ago and I hate to sell him but I need the money to buy a car he trailers great and stands for forever if you want him to hes the perfect horse you wont find any better out there asking $300

Example 2 (The out of touch owner, AKA either I don't want to sell this horse or I am just looking for money):

Selling 3 year old filly, AQHA, really sweet horse. Not broken, trailer shy, really pushy, has herd issues, needs training,  really pretty head. Doesn't like to stand for the vet and doesn't like to be touched. Asking $6000 to approved home only!


Example 3 (AKA I want to make some money): Selling 2 year old filly, Dam is DOCSMOSTEXPENSIVEHORSE, sire is IMAKEMYOWNERSMONEY, both were great money making horses!!! Halter broke not gentled saddle trained but ready to make money for your money winning project! I sold a colt from the same parents for 20,000 dollars 3 years ago, this filly is a steal at $10,000. (No pictures are posted)

I feel like people are lying all around- I understand, you have a horse that you're trying to get rid of, but be realistic- no horse is "perfect"....if that were the case, they'd rule the world instead of people, and we all know how perfect we are....lol.
Secondly, the horse economy is in the toilet. If you need to sell your horse, take the time to find out what the horse you have is actually worth- one that's never been handled, not broken, and needs alot of training is NOT worth what some people are asking- and not posting up pictures of something that you're trying to sell is just plain silly.
Oh, and the whole "I bought him for my husband but he doesn't ride" bit? Yeah, don't be so stupid as to buy a horse for your husband without asking him if he is even remotely interested in riding!! Are men that stupid on horses that to point out how gentle a horse is you call him a "husband horse"?
I know I know, I don't know alot about horses- but I'm not stupid in general- If your horse is so darn wonderful, why do you only want 200 bucks for him? And on the flip side, if it's a crappy economy, why would I pay over $2,000 for your trainer's nightmare? And if I wanted to make money on horses, I'd invest in the Stock Market on my iPhone while I'm riding at my next lesson, since that's the only feasible way to me, it seems. Oh, and for all of them...post a picture, and make it a better one than the horse's butt, or a picture of numerous horses without saying which is the one for sale...and spell things properly!!
I'm done ranting....

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Puckey?

This, my friends, is horse poo. This is horse poo in the outdoor riding area at the stable I take lessons at. After agreeing to the glamorous position of stable-bitch, I have activated my radar to find and gather horse puckey. Yes, horse puckey. I like saying it, it has a nice snappy sound to it.

So, Thursday, I didn't have a lesson, just stable duty. My teacher is going on vacation and I've been so disgustingly busy at work that I put my lesson off for a couple of weeks. I got there, and there wasn't anyone in the arena, no one visiting their horses, and none of the stable owners...just a quiet, sunset filled barn with the soft sounds of horses, birds, and fresh air. I cleared my head and realized I had work to do. I mentally went over everything I had been instructed to do, and took a quick survey of who was in a stall and which ones needed to be cleaned. Well....remember, I'm GREEN.... I wonder if there was a hidden camera, because it would've been hilarious to watch....even play a drinking game to.

Big Green Girl's HorsePuckey drinking game rules:


  • Take a drink of whatever you're having for every time BGG says, "hi horsie!"
  • Take a shot for every trip BGG takes to confirm her duties on the bulletin board. (I was so worried I'd forget something)
  • Take a shot for every trip BGG takes with the wheelbarrrow for more hay. (This will be many, considering she kept losing count of how many flakes she needed and for which horse)
  • Turn around in a circle while staring at the floor for the number of times she didn't put the shavings fork within reach.
  • If you're not passed out by now, you're not human.
Suffice to say, I had fun- as I have said before, cleaning around horses is very calming and fulfilling....though I do wish one of those horses were my own.....I feel like a student who is waiting for a master to tell me, "Ah, yes, Grasshopper, now you are ready for your own horse." But really, is anyone really absolutely ready?


When you got your first horse (assuming you have one) were you ready??

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Horse Poo!!!

I didn't blog Thursday, since I technically didn't have a lesson...at least not one on horseback!




I'm going to be doing some stall cleaning and feeding for my teacher, so we needed to go over the do's and dont's before she leaves on vacation. So, I learned how to clean a stall!!

This may not be exciting for anyone who's grown up around horses, but remember, I haven't been around horses! At least, I've been around horses in a very limited manner.... one of my co-workers thought I was crazy for wanting to clean up after "stinky animals", so I put it into perspective. If you're someone who is into car racing, and one of the car racing teams you love so much asked you to push a broom around the shop just for the opportunity of being there, would you?
Well, most people would say, "Sure! That'd be fun!"
So, I said, "oh please may I?"

And you know, there's an odd "zen" experience to be had when mucking out stalls. It's quiet, there are birds chirping, the general sounds of the horses, their breathing, the satisfaction of cleaning, making something good again, and the serenity of just being in the barn. And there's the occasional visit from a barn cat, or sometimes moving a horse from one place to another, and it all comes together and is very mind soothing.

So, I am now a "stablebitch". See, the old term was stable boy....but I'm not a boy. Maybe I should change the name of my blog?


Ok, and for today's lesson-

I worked more on directing Forrest around the arena, and I learned how to "post a trot". That means you're sort of standing and sitting alternating with the rise and fall of the horse's gait- it sort of gives you a specific rhythm when they're trotting so you're not bouncing around like a sack of potatoes. Then we took a short jaunt around the corrals to practice stopping and going. It was super warm today, so I actually worked up a sweat!!

I did way better tacking up and un-tacking, and I'm really getting the hang of basic horse language- I've definitely gotten more comfortable moving around them.

I also started thinking about a horse of my own....ok, when did I ever stop thinking about a horse of my own?!?

I can't wait for the day that I can be an independent rider- to be able to drive up, get my own horse, groom it, tack up, and go for a ride. I am sort of leaning on the idea of a prison-trained BLM horse... but I know I've got a long way to go.

So antsy!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I won I won!!

Well, dressagerider over at Confessions of a Struggling Dressage Rider picked lil ole me for a Beautiful Blogger award!!! How cool is that?!?!?
Here's how it works...I have to tell you 7 things about myself that you may not know. AND, I get to pass this award on to 15 other blogs.












First, the things you may not know about me:

1. I am a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. I started a blog about it a while ago, but I didn't feel comfortable exposing the stories of the families I serve, and the process of embalming out of respect for people who have to face death unwillingly.
2. Mickey and Minnie Mouse attended my wedding. The wedding picture of me and that pretty black horse was taken at the Disneyland Hotel, where the service was held. And yes, they were there!!
3. I love greyhounds! I have 2 greyhounds and 1 italian greyhound. The big ones were rescues from Golden State Greyhound Adoption. They were the best dogs to bring into our family.
4. I collect antique books- one of my favorites has "horse remedies" in it, it's from 1886, called "Cures for Man and Beast".
5. I was a member of FFA when I was in High School. My project was raising Mini Rex rabbits for show.
6. I was a small animal Veterinary Technician before I worked in Funeral Service.
7. One of my first jobs was being the Easter Bunny at the local mall.

Now....for the 15 blogs who I think are awesome!! I'd put Confessions of a Struggling Dressage Rider up here, but I'm not sure I'm allowed to tag back...

1.  Fugly Horse of the Day- Her "tell it like it is" attitude is refreshing.
2. Tacky Tack of the Day- Being a member of the self proclaimed "Fashion Police", this speaks to me.
3. Riding Aside - All about a rider who rides sidesaddle on a beautiful Saddlebred.
4. Geekwithahorse - Well written blog of a man and his Belgian
5. Our First Horse - Blog of a family who decided to get a horse- all of their experiences are here.
6. Equus Girl Adventures - Hilarious and heartfelt blog of a horse lover
7. Not So Humble Pie - Not horse related, but this is one beautiful baking/cooking blog.
8. I am Boyfriend - Tales from the perspective of a beautiful horse...wonder how he types?
9. BitchCakes- Not horse related, but one of my weight loss inspirations!
10. The Jumping Percheron- Being partial to draft horses, this is one blog I make sure to read!
11. HorseyPants-  Another of my favorites.
12. Brays of Our Lives - As I have found blogs about horses, Bartholomule is teaching me about mules.
13. Horse Laughs- A blog of horse jokes!
14. It's Really a Long Way Down- Fugly Horse of the Day's other blog, about training and horsey life.
15. HighMountain Horse - A blog of Guest Ranch owner, her thoughts and experiences.

I'll be back for the next episode of "She didn't fall off!!" Thursday....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lesson 4, The Freedom is Mine!!

At tonight's lesson, I dragged the Husband along with me, to be my papparazzi. I got tired of putting up others' photos, and thought it'd be nice to prove I can haul my cookies onto the back of a horse. Unfortunately, husband failed. He whined about not having a flash on the iphone and that the camera we'd brought along wasn't working properly. So....my next day lesson I'll have him take more photos. Ugh. At least I got one....this was during the "follow the leader" part of the night.

As the riding portion of the lesson was starting, I looked up, and my husband was smirking at me as I talked myself into mounting Casper. I talk myself through alot of things in front of the horses. This is my basic mounting speech:

"Ok, get on the mounting block. Stand up straight, put foot in stirrup, pointing to the left. Now swing right leg up and over horse quickly, but gently, and down. Now go."

Keep in mind, this whole thing is said aloud, while I'm standing on the mounting block, not moving a single bit. Just standing, telling myself what I expect my body to do.....not sure if it helps or not, but I sound darn confident when I'm chatting it up. Even on the "now go" part, I still haven't moved. I'm sure my teacher thinks I'm a nut.

I learned about moving the horse on the ground with body language, commands, and touch, how to back him up, move his rear over, and move his front over. I don't feel like I'm getting the body language thing down. My husband said it looked like I was overthinking it by way too much. I'm way too worried about which way I'm supposed to face that I end up confusing the horse in the process.

As soon as I did all of the motions correctly, I mounted up (after my mounting speech, of course), and I was given the reins. I started off by following my instructor, which was easy, since the horse naturally wanted to follow her, but it was good for me to get used to putting the reins in the correct position.

After a few circles around the arena, she stepped back, and I was free to maneuver my horse anywhere I pleased....What freedom!!!

It was only walking, and my horse, being a lesson horse, made everything way too easy, but the feeling of working as a team with a horse was awesome. We turned in every different direction, practiced stopping, starting, and turning.

I got all proud of myself- my teacher said I look really balanced in the saddle. I feel balanced too, I don't feel like I'm going to slip off, and I don't feel nervous on a horse either, so I hope learning groundwork gets better, since I hope to have a horse someday.

Oh, Trivia Answer!!

What's the difference between a horse and a pony?

In some cases, ponies are under 14.2 hands or less, and horses are more, but it's also about ancestry and breed, since some horses are shorter just like people are shorter or taller.

WikiAnswers says this, "Different ancestry, living conditions, and conformations. However, the technical distinction relates to height. Anything measured 14.2hh and under is considered a pony anything measured 14.3hh and over is a horse.
However there are anomolies. For example a in the game of polo all equines are referred to as 'ponies' regardless of their size or breeding."

Oh, and a "hand" is 4 inches. So if a horse is 15 hands, he's 60 inches tall "at the withers", which means that's how tall the highest point of a horse's shoulders are, which is that spot right behind the mane...sometimes there's a bump there. 

Till next week, happy riding y'all!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

It's too nice out!

Waking up this morning, the birds chirping, the sun shining....it's just too nice to stay inside! I dragged the husband out of the house, we rode our bikes the 2.2 miles to the coffee shop, and had a nice breakfast. I surfed CraigsList on my phone, looking dreaming about horses for sale.

I know, I know!! I'm not ready for ownership!! Sheesh....you're like the thousandth person to tell me that....and that there's no such thing as a free horse. That I know too. But hey, it doesn't hurt to dream right? Besides, there wasn't anything on it in my area that was a good match.

Oh, but the main point of today's post- we got back from breakfast, and I got sucked in by my horse blogs. You know, blogs from people who actually know what they're doing (or at least know way more than I do), and people that actually HAVE horses.

Well, I figured I'd start to share some resources for my reader (I know there's at least one!) just in case you were wondering what other horsie bloggers are up to.

So here's the first of many a link I'll share with you-

Tacky Tack of the Day : Yes, apparently bad fashion runs in the horse world too...who knew? This blog is hilarious! While I'm still learning what the parts of a saddle even are, this is a great blog to see the "oh no you didn't!" pieces of tack, and is funny at the same time.


I'll throw more links up to other blogs every now and then, but for now, I'm going to go find something to do!!
Wheeee!!!!