Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Turkey Time

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I had a great time with my family.
My dad and I took Rosie the dog for her morning romp. She looked for bunnies and wild turkeys.

I kid, I kid- no wild turkeys, but there was evidence of bunnies and she was very excited.

Back at the house, Bogie and Lily the cats were snuggled up and as lazy as could be. I'd hope for a little more snooze-time myself, but there was plenty of family to see and errands to run to keep me busy.

One day, Mom and I went out to see her horse, Dusty. She had to fetch him out of the gelding pasture. It was nice to watch a horse take haltering so nicely. Maybe the Dustbuster needs to give My Boy a few pointers!?

After I got my new Muck books, I passed my old ones on to my mother. She quickly regretted forgetting them this day as the pasture was getting rather muddy near the gate.

I also got to meet the horse my aunt is leasing. A few weekends ago I told you that we went to look at an older gelding to purchase for my aunt, but that he didn't work out. She decided to lease the Arabian gelding, Albert, that she is taking lessons on at the barn.

I was very impressed at how well my aunt is doing with horses. She just started riding and taking lessons this past year and I can see that her confidence has grown!

Isn't he a handsome boy? He was so kind, too!

My mom and I did some Parelli groundwork with Dusty. At her old stable, most of the boarders did natural horsemanship and she practiced quite a bit of it with him. I also got to ride Dusty. He is soft and responsive in the snaffle bit and moving off of my legs. A little trouble getting him to take and let go of the bit when bridling, but nothing a little patient work can't solve. This horse hadn't been ridden in a bit for over three years, so he's basically green in the bridle.

Bye Dusty, thanks for the ride!

Rosie wasn't very happy to see me leave. She whines and cries and yelps when I arrive, then she looks mopey as I'm loading up my car.

I'll see you at Christmas, Rosebud!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blogger Celebration?

OH MY GOODNESS! I am rapidly approaching my 200th blog post! In like, 7 posts! Is this a big anniversary or what? No wonder I have some kind of carpal tunnel syndrome or bursitis going on in my arm right now!

How should I celebrate?? Should I play blogger hooky for a while? Right a rip-roaring amazing post? Go buy myself something bloggilicious? I don't know. I need your help! But I must celebrate. We must celebrate! Because without you reading, I wouldn't be blogging. Then again, knowing me, I would probably just blogg on and on and on to nobody.....

Write what you think I should do in the comments section. If there is a particularly good suggestion and I chose it as my method of celebration, well, you win! I don't know what you will win yet. Maybe just your name in glittered lights. Maybe something I find this week while shopping with family over Thanksgiving. Maybe a white elephant gift, it is that time of year, you know. Oh- and don't get all clever on me and suggest something like "Pick a blogger buddy to hit the best spa in the country with!" I mean, great idea and all but who do you think I am? Wait, that is a really great idea...hmmm...hee hee! Have fun!

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Post of Random Porportions

Today was the first day that it really felt like winter was around the corner. I actually had to scrape frost off of my car this morning! And the sunset tonight just had a winter glow about it.

I've been tagged by my Arabian loving friend over at her Fantasyk Voyage blog. Here are the rules:

Link to the person who tagged you.

Post the rules on your blog.

Write six random things about yourself.

Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.

Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six random things about me? Am I only limited to six? Okay, I kid, I kid. Here are six random things coming from a pony girl who has a major viral infection brewing in her sinuses right now, so beware!

1. I am a product junkie. My bathroom shower and drawers and counter top look like the isles of your local Ulta or Sephora or drugstore. I've been this way since a small child, so I am sure it is my mother's fault. Hi mom, love you! In particular, I am obsessed with hair care products. I love the challenge of finding a new shampoo. I have used everything from products that cost $1.99 to $20.00 a bottle. I am still trying to find my "holy grail" of hair care products. The ones that don't pass? If I can't return them, I pass them on to my family members, or use them on my horse's tail. He's not as particular as me.

2. I have never been to Europe! I hope to one day. There is a slim chance I could be going to Italy this spring. Really, it's just a chance, but I'm happy to live on that chance for now.

3. Three years ago, if you'd asked me if I would ever be riding or owning a horse again, I probably would've have said "Oh sure, maybe someday." I never would have expected that someday to come so soon!

4. I love Christmas. When it's over I am sentimental and depressed for a month. I know it's not all about the gifts. But I love trying to be creative and finding unique gifts for the loved ones in my family. Some years have been better than others in terms of intuitive or inventive shopping. But last year, it was I that got the best gift of all~ MY BOY!

5. I have never broken a bone! Actually, I have never fallen off of a horse. Maybe that's why?

6. Keifer Sutherland, of 24 and The Lost Boys (the original and best vampire movie, thank you very much "Twilight" fans!) kind of hit on me in a bar in Canada around seven or so years ago. I say kind of because I don't think he had any specific intent, he just came up and talked to me. Well, I guess he did kind of put his hand on my knee when he leaned in to talk to me....hmmm. Let's just say this was before his career took off again with 24 and he was not in the best frame of mind at the time, if you catch my drift. Oh, and speaking of Keifer, the time he actually kind of left the Hollywood limelight for so many years, he was actually riding, ranching, and rodeoing. Who knew? Maybe he could have been my cowboy. Here is a piece I lifted from an interview with Keifer:

So in 1998, he took time off to ride horses; he had picked up the basics on his film The Cowboy Way, and he learned fast. "Those two years on the ranch were my college years," he says. "Three or four guys riding round in a truck from rodeo to rodeo. It was fantastic." Sutherland is genuinely modest, but this masks a formidable sense of purpose. Of his rodeo career, which saw him win the national team roping competition twice, he suggests he was really a glorified groom, shoveling manure half the time. John English, his roping partner in those victories, disagrees. "Keifer was accepted very quickly by the other cowboys," he tells me. "He's a mild-mannered guy, but he was as aggressive as any of them once he got out there. They appreciated that." Sutherland will only admit, "What I lacked as a roper and a cowboy I could make up for in horses. Roping is one of those sports like polo where you get infinitely better the better your horses are. I had some great horses."

Well, as it's nearly Thanksgiving and I am sure you will all be busy spending time with family and cooking delicious meals, I have opted not to tag anyone at this time.

I also want to thank my friend Lisa over at the the Laughing Orca Ranch for a great award! It's the Hot Blog award, hot bliggity-blog!

I want to pass this award on to the following hot bloggers:

My cousin K over at Saddle Mountain Rider

Meg over at Lucchese to Louis Vuitton

My energetic equine and canine loving buddy over at her Smrp Blog

Karen over at a great new blog I've recently discovered~ Life at the Rough String

Another new blogging friend, Natarojo at Just Horsin' Around.

Well, I am off to my parents' place in a few days for the Thanksgiving Holiday. I hope to spend some time with my mom's horse Dusty while I'm there, so I will report on how that goes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Weather Gods Smiled Upon Me-Again!

Saturday was another lucky Saturday. By this I mean it wasn't raining, which meant I could keep My Boy's morning farrier appointment. If it rains, we have to reschedule because we don't have a dry place for shoeing. My farrier won't shoe in the rain because the equipment or nails could get wet or rusty. And, he doesn't like rain running down his back, which I don't blame him for. In the year and a half I've owned my horse, we've only had to reschedule once and that was due to an impending chance of snow. I didn't want to risk driving up in a snowstorm. And it did actually snow, so it was a good thing we cancelled.

Since I live 45 minutes from my horse and teach during the week (and now daylight hours) the weekend is the only convenient day for me to have a farrier appointment. A lot of farriers don't work weekends. My farrier is flexible and accommodates me on Saturdays.

What? The farrier's coming?

My Boy let me catch him, but was still a big pill about the haltering. We had less of an issue than last weekend, though. I brought him out and longed him in the grassy lawn next to the house. It was squishy but not slippery. This is the lawn formerly known as the arena before Paint Girl put in a paneled arena out back. After a warm-up, I walked him over to the grooming area just as the farrier pulled in.

I had the farrier pull My Boy's back shoes for the winter. Since we aren't doing any winter trail riding and My Boy is pastured on soft ground, I knew he'd be okay. When I first started leasing and subsequently bought my horse, he only had shoes on the front. But he was tender on rocky parts of the trail and never seemed to toughen up, which is why I went to four shoes for the summer months.

The farrier also said My Boy's hooves were really soft. There isn't anything we can do about the pasture the horses are on, it's just muddy and wet this time of year. The farrier suggested using venice turpentine, or a 7% iodine solution to help harden his hooves. Since Paint Girl had some venice on hand I slapped some of that on his clean hooves, but I am thinking I might try the iodine because of it's antiseptic properties. Any recommendations either way?

My Boy got to be Paint Girl's winter lawn mower for a bit after his farrier appointment. I won't get to see him today as I just came down with an awful cold and need to spend a day recuperating on the couch. Once I'm on the mend, I will get to spend few days with my spotted turkey over the Thanksgiving break!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Flashback

Earlier in the week I posted a bit about horses and safety. Holly from her dognhorses blog shared a story in the comments section about a scary trail ride and it reminded me of a crazy ride my sister and I had on our ponies when we were pre-teens.

We often trail rode on logging roads with our neighbor, the one who gave us lessons and taught us how to ride. To access these trails we had to ride through the neighbor's pasture, up a long driveway, cross a two-lane paved road, and then into the logged land. My childhood friend also took lessons occasionally, but did not own a horse. One weekend afternoon, the four of us went out on a trail ride. The neighbor rode her Arab/Quarter horse gelding Ringo, my friend rode the neighbor's Morgan mare Maggie, my sister rode her pony Angel, and I rode my Appy/Welsh pony gelding, Shannon.

On the way home from the trails, we were riding down the steep dirt driveway towards the pasture. Maggie and Ringo were side by side in the lead, with Shannon and Angel walking side by side a few feet behind.
We were just walking along when out of nowhere a black dog came running down the hill behind the horses. We were completely caught off guard. Shannon and Angel spooked, and literally rammed themselves right into the hindquarters of the horses in front of us. Then, somehow, the ponies just kept on going. I have no idea where the other two went, I think they were pushed off to the side. I remember Angel and Shannon running side by side down that streep grade like they were racin' down the homestretch of the Kentucky Derby, all the way until they got to the bottom of the road, where we were finally able to pull them up. The insides of my knees were scraped from riding perched up on my saddle and rubbing against the conchos. I have no idea how we stayed on those ponies, except we were kids that still had great centers of gravity.

We turned around to see Ringo and Maggie come running down the hill behind us- riderless. I think we were still shaking as we dismounted and fearfully walked our ponies back up that hill. As we rounded the slight bend, we saw one body laying near the ditch and another sitting up in the road. I think we were almost too terrified to find out if they were okay (we were only around 10 and 12 years old at the time.) Other than a bit bruised and scraped, our neighbor and friend were relatively unharmed. Ringo had fallen on top our neighbor but luckily she had landed in the ditch so his body weight was over her, not pressing down on her. My friend had lost her balance and fallen off, and unfortunately, she had not let go of the reins and was dragged along the road for several yards before letting go.

Luckily, nobody was hurt that frightful day (and nobody was wearing a helmet, to my recollection. I know my sister and I did not own helmets back then.) We did find out after the fact that our neighbor was newly pregnant with her first child at the time. The fall did not affect her pregnancy and she went on to give birth to a lovely little girl that grew up to adore horses as much as her mommy and became a great little rider.

My friend never took many more horseback riding lesson after that. My sister and I went on to continue our trail riding and crazy pony escapades- still helmet-less, I'm afraid to say.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book Tag Deja Vu

Shortly after I posted my book tag on Buck Brannaman's book, I was tagged again by my cousin Palomino Girl (why am I always it???) It just so happens that my newest book arrived from yesterday so I thought I would share it with you!

Here are the rules:

Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 56.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the next two to five sentences.
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book or the intellectual one, pick the closest.
Tag five people to do the same.

The title of the book is "Starting From Scratch: The Adventures of A Lady Dude Rancher" by Alice Gleason.

Well, I'm afraid I have to cheat a bit as the book has nothing but photos on page 56! So I decided to just quote the back cover of the book:

Alice Gleason, a slip of a woman with steel backbone, twinkling eyes, and a passionate love for mountain life, wrote as she lived, with forthrightness and good humor. These charming tales describe the times she lived in- the old days of country schools, crank phones, wringer washers, good horses, fresh mountain air, dangerous blizzards, and the occasional flood and rest fire. Alice and her husband Kenneth stated the Circle 8 Guest Ranch by homesteading west of Choteau, Montana in 1930 and bringing their first guest with them. From that year until 1978, the Gleasons shared with many their simple mountain life along the East Front of the Rockies, and Alice recorded anecdotes and stories as the years went by. Found in a closet after her death in 1997, Alice's stories take the reader back to another era along the East Front. These witty first-hand observations and tales capture the essence of a way of life long gone, while providing the reader with an entertaining glimpse into Alice's unique life and the roots of the Circle 8 Ranch.

I first saw the book in an Outfitter's Supply catalog, then found a used copy on I have not started reading the book yet, but I enjoy autobiographies and my dream is to someday visit or work a summer on a real "dude ranch," so I thought I might find this book inspiring. Has anyone heard of it or read it? I did a little digging and the Circle 8 is now called the Pine Butte Guest Ranch and is owned by the Nature Conservancy. You can click here for more information.

Last time I didn't tag anyone, but seeing as the holidays are nearly upon us and books always make good gifts.... share some good reads with us, my blogger friends:

One great Rancher Woman herself, Linda over at the 7msn Ranch

The Wades over at Galloping Grace Youth Ranch

TJ and Mark at The Ranch at Salmon Creek

My favorite Brown-Eyed Cowgirl

My spotted friends at C-ing Spots Appaloosas.

Thanks and have fun!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I won!

Seriously, I never win anything! This was so exciting! In September, Bush Babe had a mystery photo contest over at her blog and I was the first to respond with my guess. Well I guessed correctly and I won one of her prints! I was so excited and asked her to just pick one out for me. But not only did she send me a print, she sent me an extra print for the holiday! What a sweetheart. I loved them both!

Here is the first one: "Mustering at Granite Glen"

The second one is "Campdrafting at Granite Glen"

To find out more about "mustering" and "campdrafting" you can head over to Bush Babe's blog here. and here, respectively.

Bush Babe is one talented photographer and writer, and I always enjoy reading about her adventures in Australia. Lucky for us, she has also recently began offering her prints available for purchase. Click here to see a preview of her available photos!

As for the prints she gave me, I am searching for the perfect frames so that I can get them mounted. I have yet to acquire any western art since my foray back into horses almost two years ago, so I am excited to begin my collection. Thanks again Bush Babe, and keep up your inspiring and entertaining blogging!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Saddled Up

After our unsuccessful horse shopping trip and pizza for lunch with my mom and aunt before they left town, I headed back to Paint Girl's house to see My Boy.

Catching him was easy but haltering was worse, he pulled back twice and did this again later when putting the reins over his head and bridling. It seems so random. At this point I'll just keep working on it.

My Boy was dirty! It took a lot of currying to get all the dirt out of his thick winter coat. My horse has a habit of standing in the rain, despite having shelter. I want to keep an eye on his coat and make sure he doesn't get rain rot. He didn't last year, but I just don't want him to. Doesn't rain rot sound awful? And who is crazy enough to live someplace where you can get rain rot, anyway? (That was a rhetorical question.)

We stopped at the mare's water trough on the way to the arena. Whatcha looking at, My Boy?
I can't help but staring at Fritzy's muddy face and bridle path mohawk, Pony Girl! I expect my mares to keep themselves coiffed a little better than this!

Ah My Boy, she's a lost cause. Let's go, you're saddled up and I'm ready for a ride.

Huh? What?! A ride? Whatch you talkin' about, Pony Girl?

I lounged out My Boy first and he wasn't crazy like I thought he'd be, hardly breaking into a brisk trot. This horse, on orchard grass hay, is not the same horse I had last fall. That horse was on a very rich alfalfa and typically was feeling much more snorty and broncy when I lounged him out before riding.

After I warmed him up, I climbed aboard. We worked on walking, bending, backing, and jogged a bit. He was actually very responsive and worked well off my legs (which goodness, are going to be sore tomorrow!)

Hi Pony Girl, was I a good boy today?

Mostly yes, my cute boy, you were good. Except, no making fun of Fritzy's mohawk while you're sporting two halters, buster!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shopping Explained

Nope, I was not shopping for my horse. And I was not shopping for a horse for me either, although that would sure be fun (My Boy is not laughing.) I was helping my auntie shop for a horse. You see, my aunt, my mom's twin sister, has been taking lessons for a while and her confidence is growing. She has been thinking about leasing one of her lesson horses, or perhaps purchasing a horse of her own.

You might be able to relate to this: someone who is thinking about purchasing a horse probably spends hours pouring over for sale ads, picking out their dream horse. We've all been there! While on one of her many searches, my aunt found a gelding that sounded perfect for her. One small "but"- he was 22 years old.

Paint Girl, my mom, and I convinced my aunt that age isn't everything. Many horses remain sound and rideable into their mid and upper twenties. My sister's co-worker has a 35 year old horse that she was still riding until recently. It just depends on the horse, how it was used, and how well it is cared for. And like people, probably some genetics. Pat Parelli's gorgeous black stallion is at least 20, and doesn't look a day over 5 years old!

The grayed out Paint gelding my aunt found was a roping horse. He was originally a ranch horse in Wyoming. Here is a picture of him from his sale ad, in his earlier years:

My aunt was told that he was pretty much unflappable, still knew how to head and heel, and was great on the trails. His owner had only been riding horses for around 5 years, had started roping on this gelding but had upgraded to a new horse that was younger and more challenging. She had told my aunt on the phone that this guy showed some wear on his knees from roping, but otherwise, was healthy and could still hit the trails all day.

The horse sounded perfect for my aunt in temperament- calm, been-there-done-that, child and husband safe. However, when we saw him this morning as he was eating his breakfast, he moved about his stall and it was obvious he was sore. The night before, he'd laid down in his stall and couldn't get up. Apparently the stall cleaner hadn't put in enough bedding and that mats they use were slippery. One of his pasterns were swollen and he seemed overall in pain. The owners felt bad that they hadn't known he was sore or they would have called and had us come another day. They obviously hadn't given him any bute and said he'd been feeling and looking quite spry the day before. Aside from the present soreness from whatever happened the night before, his knees were pretty knobby. I've never seen knees so knobby on a horse! Probably bone spurs?

Despite his winter fuzz, the gelding sure was a handsome boy with a nice head and kind eyes, but showed quite a bit of good muscle tone for his age. He had a sort of a ranch horse wear-and-tear look to him, though. Like a high-mileage car. He was very calm and a bit like my own Boy in personality- a bit indifferent. They said he had warmed up a lot in the past few years. In the past, he was a "working" horse and not much for affectionate chit-chat or conversation.

I don't think my aunt was too disappointed. Although open to the idea of giving an older horse a continued useful life, I think she was realistic in realizing that although probably perfect for her in disposition, this boy was a little beyond what she was looking for in soundness and age. Especially since she will have to board the horse. If my aunt had property and pasture, it would be possible to ride him a few years until he couldn't be ridden, then just give him the retirement at pasture that he deserves.

My auntie will know when she finds the right horse. For now, she might consider leasing the Arabian she is taking lessons on. I think that is a good place to start. Hey, look where that got me!

Sunday Shopping

It's a foggy autumn Sunday morning and I am going......HORSE SHOPPING!! I bet that woke you all up faster than a double-shot espresso!

Details to follow!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stay Safe

In my last post, I mentioned that I had noticed myself doing some unsafe things in these old photos. Here is what I had noticed:

Photo One:

There is too much slack in my reins here. I am leaning forward out of the saddle. Should My Boy have jumped or spooked, I not only was in a precarious position, but would have been struggling to get a hold of those reins to get some contact and regain control of my horse.

I did not even notice the helmet until someone mentioned it in the comments section! Here is the scoop on Pony Girl and helmets. I wear my helmet a lot. I really do. This particular day, I was just working my horse over obstacles, walking and jogging. If I had been doing any loping, I absolutely would have been wearing my helmet. I almost always wear it on trail rides. I don't always want to wear a helmet though, for whatever reasons. I know it is safer to wear one. I witnessed Paint Girl fall off her mare and put a crack in her helmet. But sometimes I just go with my gut and I don't put one on. I also think that helmets can also give me a false sense of security. I might ride a little less carelessly because I am wearing a helmet.

Photo Two:

This photo shows me using my Parelli 12 ft. line when it was fairly new (notice how white it is?) I was still getting used to working with a rope of this length. If I am working with My Boy on this line and want it short, I now try to bundle the rope into my hand, instead of holding it in a loop. It was not wrapped around my hand here, however, had my horse pulled back, the loop could have tightened around my hand.

The extra rope is hanging near my feet. What you don't see is that not much of it is actually touching the ground, mostly just the leather popper. But the potential is there to step on it, or get my legs caught up in it.

My Boy is not facing me here. He looks as if he is thinking of what our next move will be. If I remember correctly, I was preparing to ask him to go forward and away from me, which would explain why he was not looking at me. I think I was holding the carrot stick in my right hand and he was probably wondering what I intended to do with it if he did not move forward!

At the Buck Brannaman clinic I attended two weekends ago, he referred to safety several times with the participants. At one point, a rider had dropped his reins to take off his jacket. His horse caught sight of the jacket and subsequently spooked and jumped forward, which caused the jacket to flap around more, and the horse spooked even more. Buck witnessed the whole thing (he appears to have eyes in the back of his head) and did berate the poor guy a bit for not having good control of the horse before attempting this. This is something I do quite often on the trail as we are riding and get either a bit warm or cold in our ever-changing climate. It does usually require two free hands to do efficiently. But on the trail, where at any moment a duck could fly up out of the creek or a dog could come crashing out of the woods, it is best to make sure you are in a safe position, the horse is stopped (as well as the other riders you are with), and that you have a hold of the reins before attempting to put on or remove a jacket via horseback. It might seem more time consuming, but it is the little moments where one can be caught off guard and find themselves into trouble.

Has anything like this ever happened to you, on the trail or in the arena? A simple action where a decision ended up being an unsafe one? An experience that you learned from, perhaps helping you to rethink your habits and practice safer ones?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No Blue Monsters Here

This is a picture of an area I had to walk My Boy through on Sunday, to get to the grooming area. Paint Girl had someone at her house finishing their bathroom remodel, and he had pulled his car right up to where I needed to walk my horse. Paint Girl's truck was on one side, the wood pile covered with a blue tarp covered was on the other. There was barely a three-foot wide pathway to weave through.

Yet, My Boy followed me through this seemingly claustrophobic obstacle course without hesitation and hardly a second look.

I credit this to desensitizing him a variety of ways with a tarp last summer.
Remember, the videos of my "tarp boy?"

I also credit playing the Parelli "squeeze game." In this game you send your horse in between you and an obstacle (a fence, for example) stop and have them face you, then resend them through again. You narrow the gap between you and the obstacle as they become more comfortable. This is good practice for walking a horse in narrow isle ways, through gates, in between buildings, etc.

I firmly believe you can never do enough groundwork, even with a nearly 15 year old horse like My Boy. The more situations, obstacles, and "scary things" you can expose your horse to, the calmer he is going to be.

Now, in the last two photos, I critiqued myself. I noticed that I could have done a few things differently in regards to safety. Can you guess what they are?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Raindrops Were Fallin'

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head.

And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed.

Nothin' seems to fit.

Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'.....

So I just did me some talkin' to the sun. And I said I didn't like the way he got things done. Sleepin' on the job.

Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'. But there's one thing I know. The blues they send to meet me won't defeat me. It won't be long till happiness steps up to greet me.

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head. But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red. Cryin's not for me, cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'......

I hadn't seen my horse in two weeks. That has been the longest I've gone since last winter! Sunday was supposed to be the better weather day out of the was not. But other than a light drizzle and puddles in the arena, all was well.

My Boy was fairly easy to catch. While he watched, I cleaned his turnout shed first. Then we played cat and mouse a bit. I staying calm and relaxed, approached, rubbed him on the neck, then walked away. Eventually, when he stopped turning away from me, I took him by the halter and snapped the lead rope on. Then, we worked on haltering over the breakaway. He remembered what we worked on a few weeks ago and was really good today. He dropped his head when I put light pressure on the bridge of his nose, pushed his nose into the halter, and stayed relaxed as I put my arm over for the crownpiece....his nose was practically already on the ground looking for reinforcement. I don't care if I have to cookie him after every haltering for the rest of his life, as long as he doesn't pull back. We'll work on this all winter, until I can get him to drop his head on command, along with some round pen work to get respect. By spring, once the pasture has dried up, my goal is to remove the breakaway halter and go back to catching him while halter-less. I can't play the chase-the-stinker-until-he's-tired game right now, it's too risky to have him running all over the slippery muddy pasture.

I really don't mind bundling up and working with my horse at this time of the year. As long as its not pouring. I like the sight of the fall leaves, the soft drip of rain from the trees, the smell of someones wood stove in the air. It's a quiet, peaceful time. I know that I will soon get to go inside, put on warm dry clothes, and curl on the couch with a mug of cocoa. And, that I'll be feeling content that I made the effort to spend some time with my favorite equine friend, even when just staying in and having that cocoa was probably my first choice for a wet Sunday afternoon.

Because I'm free....... Nothin's worryin' me......

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Book Tag and Buck

I was tagged, I think by two different blogger friends and I can't recall who at the moment, but I am finally getting to it!

Here are the rules:

Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 56.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the next two to five sentences.
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book or the intellectual one. Pick the Closest.
Tag five people to do the same.

The book that is closest to me, since I am reading it any chance I have a free moment since I purchased it Sunday evening at the local bookstore, is:

The Faraway Horses by Buck Brannaman


And that's when things fell apart. The moment I got on the colt, he pulled back and bucked forward. We had a hell of a time, and then I'd peel myself off. After a little bit of this, I was sitting there thinking things were going pretty well. I was enjoying the elevated view when the colt pulled back again and broke the halter rope six inches from the halter. If that happened to me today, I would be in a six-foot tall round corral, from which it would be hard for a horse to escape. On that day, however, the only thing I had surrounding me was a hog-wire fence about four feet high. The ranch didn't have a round corral or an arena or anything like it, just a hog pen. There are moments in life where certain odd thoughts go through your mind, and this was one of them. The sun wasn't quite up yet, but that sky was a bright blue. I remember thinking how pretty it was. Then, after a nanosecond of stillness, off went the colt bucking and kicking with me pulling leather for everything I was worth.

It is a fascinating book so far. Buck has had quite the life, as a child of abuse, foster care, and a stint as a pretty successful trick roper (he was in the Guinness Book of World Records.)

Another interesting tidbit about Buck Brannaman. I did not know this before the clinic this past weekend. But Buck was consulted by Nicholas Evans before he wrote his book The Horse Whisperer. Now the book was good, but the movie is one of my all-time favorites and I always loved Robert Redford's portrayal of Tom Boker's character. Little did I know he was based on Buck! Buck was also Robert's body double in many scenes and was a consultant on the movie set. Buck also used one of his own horse's, Pet, for one of the horse actors that played Annie's damaged horse, Pilgrim.

While at the clinic, I noticed people filming Buck with large, professional looking camera equipment. I overheard someone saying that they were making a documentary about him. I am assuming they were filming footage for this. I have read online that they are making a motion picture about this book The Faraway Horses, so I am not sure if this is the same as the film or not, but I am assuming it is.

My cousin K over at the Saddle Mountain Rider blog asked me via email what some of the differences and similarities were of Buck Brannaman from the Parelli and Ken McNabb clinics I have also attended.

This is my perspective. Remember, I have only watched Buck in a clinic one weekend, I am reading up on him now but do not have a lot of experience with his "way" yet.

I felt that all three horseman have similar overall concepts regarding the understanding of horse behavior and natural horsemanship. I felt they (at least Parelli and Buck) credit the same people (Ray Hunt and the Dorrance brothers.) Buck follows the vaquero cowboy tradition, which really values horsemanship, pride and artistry in their equipment, and solid roping techniques. To me, it appears that Buck's work leans toward working cow/rope/ranch horses, but also applies to any style of riding. In fact, there were a few dressage riders in the clinic. I think his manner was true to his character- he cussed, was direct with the riders, told it like it was, yet was as soft as fleece and humorous, too. No doubt about it, Buck gets to the point. He's honest and appears to notice everything.

Now the horse's Buck rode last weekend, oh wow. His horses were true QH's, no little munchkins that you see dominate the reining barns these days. I believe they were younger and green (Saturday morning Buck said that the horse he was on, he just "pulled it off the hill" from back home. That horse didn't look off no hill to me!) His horses had huge hindquarters, and were almost more Thoroughbred in type. They were real working horses, that could cut cattle or rope, yet could do dressage with all the skills he teaches them. They were really athletic, calm, and responsive. I would love to know the breeding of his horses, if anyone knows, please share!

One interesting thing I noticed about Buck is that he is completely the opposite of the more commercialized natural horseman out there today. In fact, on Sunday, I actually asked the woman at the table where you pay for auditing if they had any of Buck's books or videos, because the flyer I received via email had mentioned a limited number might be available for purchase. She pulled a plastic bin off the floor of the dusty arena, set it on the table, took the lid off, and let me peruse the few books and DVDs inside. I mean, could you be any less commercialized? This was completely the opposite, of say, the Parelli event I attended last spring. I have nothing against marketing and hey, it works on me! In fact, I wish there was more Buck "stuff" because he'd make a few bucks off me if there was! But I honor his intentions, which appears to be to share his gift helping people become good horseman, not making a ton of money. Please note that I am not implying this is the Parellis' goal, I am a Parelli fan as well and I believe they truly love horses and educating people. I am just comparing the approaches.

In regards to riding, I think that the Parelli's have accessible information and equipment to everyone at all levels and they have really broken down step by step so that people can study at home. I love the Parelli groundwork I have taught My Boy. However, when it comes to riding, it gets a little weird for me (riding w/two carrot sticks, bareback, bridleless, etc.) I am not sure I am comfortable with these methods. I am sure they build upon the groundwork skills and are a stepping stone to communicating without carrot sticks. If anyone knows more specifically, please let me know. But since I have a choice, I think that Buck's approach to snaffle work and his approach to building a soft feel and responsiveness in horses makes more sense to me.

Fellow blogger Latigo Liz over at Cowgirl Up is posting soon about her experience riding in the Buck Brannaman clinic.

For more information about Buck, you can go to his website here.

As for the book tag, I'm not going to tag anyone specific....if you would like to participate, please consider yourself IT!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I am A Sponge

Buck Brannaman

When I was in college, I had to write a paper for a psychology class about my philosophy of Psychology. "A sort of zeitgeist, if you will," my professor declared (Zeitgeist: the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.) As I work towards my my goal of becoming a horsewoman, I realize that I am constantly developing my beliefs about horse behavior, horsemanship, equipment, and philosophy.

My cousin B, who has recently started horseback riding lessons for the first time, asked me at the clinic this weekend how long I had taken lessons. I kind of chuckled then told her of my limited lessons in horseback riding. I took beginner lessons when I was around 11 years old, and then again in my early twenties for 6 months, when I rode hunter/jumpers. Yep, that's it. Everything I know is self-taught, from the trial and error of riding my ponies and horses, reading a lot, observing, talking about horses, and asking questions. And mostly, just through trial and error.

In my job, I am supported via funds for professional development. Even though I have been in the classroom for over 11 years, which is truly the best field experience one can receive, it is through opportunities such as meeting with other colleagues, learning the latest research, learning new techniques, and having intellectual discussions, that my passion for what I do is renewed and enhanced.

Many early childhood education institutions label themselves with a particular philosophy; for example, Montessori. Others claim they are "best practice;" meaning, they borrow from a variety of approaches, using ways that are best known for children to learn, based on research. In regards to horsemanship, I find that I am still trying to figure out my "best practice." Right now, I feel as if I am heading towards an eclectic approach to horses.

I compare myself to a sponge. I am in the stage of continually soaking up information, exploring philosophies and techniques. I want to become a good horseman someday. I know I need miles in the saddle and time in my chinks before I am even worthy of the title horseman. I may never be. But I believe I can work towards the goal of being the best rider I can be for my horse, and the best person I can be for myself.

I attended and thoroughly enjoyed a Buck Brannaman clinic last weekend. I felt engaged by this man, it was nearly impossible to not be pulled into the lull of his cowboy voice for every story he told or everything he said about horses, people, life, and riding. There is something about his approach to handling and riding horses that just made sense. And to watch him ride a horse is just plain mesmerizing. He just has it, whatever it is. Very few horse people do or ever will. They think they do. They call themselves horse trainers. Buck said horses hate horse trainers. But they like horseman. And when you see a horseman work with a horse, it becomes crystal clear what the difference is. It's feel and timing. Some of us will work a lifetime trying to get just a penny's worth of that feel.

I may never be a horseman at the level I dream to be. I'm okay with that. Regardless, I want to be a lifelong student of horsemanship, continuing my education, if you will. I want to be inspired, empowered, and for my skills to grow. It can be challenging at times. It can be hard to go out there and apply what you learn, to not get frustrated, to find support, and to hear encouragement and criticism. The horse world can be a lonely place for those of us that can't travel to all of the clinics or shows, or board at stables with people with similar goals and interests. I know that everything I do with my horse and his improvement is connected to how I am working with him. It's all up to me. If we fail, it is my fault, not his. Buck says that you have to love it, to want it, to make the time, or there is no point.

More on Buck in my next post, the book tag, which I'm finally getting around to!

Note: My blogger friend Liz over at Cowgirl Up was also at the clinic, unfortunately unbeknownst to me before I left town! However, I am sure she will be posting about her 4 days of riding in the clinic on her blog in the next few days, so be sure to check it out!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Move With Life

Nope, this picture wasn't taken from this weekend. I didn't get to see my spotted pill at all. Partially due to uncooperative weather. And partially due to the fact that I went out of town to attend a horsemanship clinic. I intended to audit (watch) one day, spend the night with my cousin and her family, then drive home the next day to see my horse. But I enjoyed Saturday's clinic so much that I returned to the clinic the next day too!

So, what horseman did I see? Here are a few of the tidbits I walked away with:

This horseman shares many stories of and gives credit to Ray Hunt, and Tom and Bill Dorrance for much of his knowledge during his clinic.

During clinic exercises, this horseman tells riders constantly to "find your soft feel."

This horseman says that many riders don't know how to properly tell a horse they mean it. Usually, they are angry and bang and kick on their horse because they are just mad and are trying to get even. A good horseman knows when to take a horse to the "dark side" and when to get out.

This horseman believes in giving a horse a chance to figure it out. And he rewards small attempts with a short break (release) and often a soft stroke on the neck.

This horseman wants riders to get the most out of their horses with less. Every time you get what you want with less, you ask with less than that, to get more. And so on. Eventually, a horse will respond with the lightest feel.

This horseman is not a fan of horses being kept in stalls. He finds it surprising that stalled show horses function as well as they do. He feels stalls are unnatural for horses.

So, any guesses as to who I saw? To my reading family members, no fair, you can't guess!
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