Saturday, December 26, 2009

News from the Frigid North

A blizzard rages on outside tonight. This storm moved in during the wee hours of Christmas morning and the wind and snow haven't let up since. It is supposed to be moving on tomorrow. I've always thought it's kinda fun to be snowed in, especially if the power and internet stay up. This time we were lucky and have had power the whole time and while the internet has been spotty, it's stayed up for the most part. I am eager to get back to the barn and do more than feed, water, and flee back to the house.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I had a very horsey holiday. I received several horse books, including nearly all of the famous books by Marguerite Henry. I had owned all of her books as a kid, but my collection of books was ruined in a flood 10+ years ago. It's nice to have some of my favorite horse stories again. I also received a very useful gift of a hoof knife and hoof rasp. The boys' feet are due for some attention again and I'm so happy to have my OWN tools now - rather than having to borrow them again. I'll have to buy a nipper eventually, just to have on hand, but for now the knife and rasp should keep the boys in good shape.

I have big news! Tonight I finally registered a domain name for what will be the future online home of my studio. It will be a place devoted to all of my creative pursuits and hopefully a place where I can sell some things now and then! This has been a project in the making for several months now. First I had to decide on a name, that took a while. Then I hemmed and hawed about making it "official" and buying the domain name. After learning some html in building my personal site, I think I'm ready to build the studio site.

That's all for now... I'm off to bed!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I have heard of Thankful Thursday on other blogs and I've always thought it was a good idea. It is, after all, very important to have an "attitude of gratitude". So with that in mind, I thought I'd make my first ever Thankful Thursday post.

It might seem strange, but... I'm thankful for power outages. Yesterday we had a blizzard blow in and the power kept blinking. I was annoyed because I had a bunch of things I wanted to do on the computer. Finally the power went out and it seemed like it would stay out. I ended up spending a few hours on the couch, under a warm blanket, reading a great book. The icing on the cake was that my (usually antisocial) cat decided to join me. She spent the entire time curled up on my belly/chest area while I read my book. When it became too dark to read, I set the book aside and dozed off myself. So after reading a couple hundred pages of a great book that I hadn't had "time" to read lately, I took a nap with my kitty in the late afternoon as the wind and snow blew outside.

Yesterday I ended up being thankful for an "inconvienient" power outage. Last night when the power came back on I decided to finish the book. It left me inspired, which in turn inspired me to return to here my blog and make this first Thankful Thursday post. I'm hoping to post here more often again. Goodness knows there's plenty I could write about!

We have another blizzard brewing outside at the moment and the warnings sound like this one could be pretty severe. Maybe I'll get more reading done tomorrow if the power goes out again.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Professional trainer?

So for this blog I take you back to the Mustang Makeover in mid-April... During one of the open practice sessions in the wee hours of the morning (pre dawn), I took Onyx to the big arena. There were a whole bunch of other riders in there, but I remember one in particular. He was riding around on his mustang, and her tail was full of shavings. Now this guy was one of the "big names" and I'd heard him bragging about all the money he'd won in whatever horse sport he was into. I remember being struck by him riding his horse around early that morning, with bedding in her tail and thinking, "That's not very professional...". Sure, it was a practice session, sure it was 5am, but there were plenty of other people there, riders and spectators. Maybe it's just me, but I thoroughly groom any of my horses before I do anything with them. Most especially if they are going to be in the public eye, casual ride or not. I would expect a "pro" to do the same...

All that came to mind again out of the blue just a few days ago when I took Bo, my stallion, out of his stall for a quick ride. I was going to hop on him bareback in the indoor and cruise around for a few minutes before heading to work. There were other people riding in the arena already that afternoon. As I brushed shavings from his tail, for some reason I thought back to that "pro" trainer and his horse's tail that morning.

Now just a few minutes ago I checked my email and found a message from YouTube, where I had hosted several videos of Onyx during our time together. A lady has written me, wondering if I have any ideas on how to contact that particular trainer. It seems she bought his mustang and needs some paperwork from him, but he appears to have dropped off the map. His website is down and his phone doesn't work. She says she is thankful she paid for the horse by check and that she noted it as such in the memo of the check. I have no idea how to get ahold of him, but I certainly won't forget the "shavings tail" on his mustang that early morning. Barring that anything bad has happened to him (hopefully not), I have to think... Professional? Doesn't sound like it after all...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day and other ramblings

Last night Jeff and I went to Mount Rushmore to watch the fireworks. We went with a guy he works with and his family. We all got there several hours before the show and found a good place to sit and wait until dark. All was going well until the clouds moved in and then mist and fog. Soon we couldn't see Mt. Rushmore, then we couldn't see any of the closer rock formations... Then we could barely see the trees just across the street. Unfortunately it stayed that way the rest of the night. They ended up doing the fireworks show anyway and all we could see were the clouds/fog glowing different colors. We heard the booms and could even smell the powder/sulfur from the fireworks, but couldn't see them at all. At one point the fog shifted a bit and we started seeing about half of each firework when they went off. We saw half of about ten of them and then the sky closed off again. The grand finale really sounded great. I think it would have been the biggst finale I've ever seen - based on the rapid fire booms going off for quite some time. Jeff and I were talked afterwards, he said "you realize this means we'll have to do this again, to try and see what we missed". LOL Then everyone went back to their vehicles in the parking garage - only to be told by the police not to start our cars or move them because the highways were closed and would be for another hour or two. So... we all hung out in a parking garage for an hour or so. LOL It was a crazy night. I just wish we could have seen the show. We got home at about midnight and went straight to bed.

We're planning to go to Custer, SD tonight and try to see their fireworks. We went last year and they put on a really good show - the best fireworks I think I've ever seen. I think the Rushmore show would have topped it, if we had SEEN it. Unfortunately there are clouds rolling in right now so who knows if we'll get to see anything down there either.

On a totally unrelated note, I have joined Twitter. I've heard a lot about it over the past several months and I finally decided to give it a go. It's a pretty simple concept, you just post short updates about what you're doing at the moment. I like it, because it's another way I can keep in touch with friends and (so far) it doesn't take that much time to do. LOL I just pop on every now and then and type a little blurb about what I'm up to. Anyway, you can find me there at:

I've also been hard at work expanding my html knowledge and I've built my first little webpage from scratch. I'm going to use this particular page to share some pictures and information on my number one passion: horse training. It's coming along well so far. I have a lot more I want to do now that I'm learning how to do all of this html stuff. My computer stopped working over the last couple of days, right when I was going full speed ahead on all the html studying. So I've gotta get back to work on that. I'm testing out my computer right now. Jeff just finished fixing it and putting it back together. So far so good... Yesterday it wouldn't stay on more than 5 minutes. But here I sit rambling away and it's still humming along. I better post this now and not press my luck! LOL

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oh boy... Narrow minded sheeple

I frequent a few different horse forums. This morning I read a comment on one of them that got me thinking about the sad state of the world. Well, the horse world anyway, I suppose. Anyway, the poster said that until they heard how many World Champions someone had trained and how much money they had earned, she wouldn't listen to what they had to say. I thought "man, what a narrow-minded statement!" There is a LOT to learn in this life and I'd wager to say I've learned a whole lot more about horses from non-World Champs than I have from World Champs. Not to mention, stories abound about high ranking trainers who are crooked. A certain World Champion western pleasure trainer comes to mind who had a horse found in his barn that was horribly abused. Also a top ranked Arab trainer who was convicted of several counts of having plastic surgery and a myrid of other surgical procedures done to FIX conformational defects in his Halter horses. I'm sorry, but I'm not interested in anything either of them have to say. Maybe I'll never be a World Champion because of that - so be it. I find it really sad that some people are so narrow minded. The whole thing kinda falls under the category of two things I dislike - people with closed minds and people who are sheep, blindly following along without thinking for themselves. Both of those types of people seem to be in abundance. Has the world gone crazy or am I the one who is mad?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Checking In

*sweeping away the cobwebs*

Hello all my faithful readers! *cough, cough* It's dusty around here...

OK, yeah I'm a little odd.

It's been a couple months or so I guess since I last posted here. I got a wild hair up my butt just now and figured I'd write something.

I've been keeping busy with my horses and various projects. Right now I only have two horses of my own. My faithful Paint stallion, Bo and my newest addition is a yearling Spanish Mustang colt I call Cazador. (Spanish for "hunter" - or so the online translation sites tell me) I actually got him back in... late February/early March I believe it was, while I was still training Onyx. He was pretty rough when I first got him - shaggy, skinny, wormy, covered in ticks and pretty wild. He didn't want much at all to do with people. He's changed quite a bit and is now a slick, shiny, friendly young stud. He is a flashy dun overo and seems to turn heads wherever he goes. That's good, because I have quite a career planned for him. His main purpose will be to serve as an ambassador for the Spanish Mustang breed. There are only somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 Spanish Mustangs in existence (depending on which figures you read). They are descendants of the Conquistador's horses, the first horses brought to this country. In addition to being from a rare breed, my young Cazador also carries a rare bloodline within the breed. His dam has two doses of a stallion called Scarface. I've been told there isn't a whole lot of Scarface left in the breed. I certainly haven't been able to find him in more than a couple horses in my searches so far. So I plan to campaign Cazador quite extensively and use him to spread the word about the breed. Big plans! So far he's already been out in the world a handful of times and he has gotten rave reviews from everyone who's seen him - horse person or not. The future is looking bright!

The latest development in my horsey life is I believe that, for the first time, I'm going to hang out my shingle for horse training services. It's definitely something I LOVE and I suppose I'm pretty good at it. I don't consider myself an expert and I certainly don't know everything (NO ONE does, no matter what they think) but I can train a horse for sure. For many years I've resisted the idea of training for other people because, quite frankly I like horses more than I like people. But when my adventure with Onyx came to an end, I was pretty bummed not to have a training project anymore. Bo is far from "finished" and there is a lot more I can do with him. I do have Cazador, but it will be a couple of years or so before we get to do any riding. I've found myself missing the days years ago when I had SEVEN horses of my own, all youngsters and all in training. I used to spend hours everyday on chores and training and I loved it. I think it would be great to have more horses to train now, but my finances certainly don't allow having my own herd again quite yet. My business has been stagnating for a little while and I have my feelers out for a 9-5 job (yuck) but until the right one comes along I have a whole lot of hours in the day I could be spending with more horses. So, I think the time is right to dip my toe in the waters or training for other people. I've spent the last several days editing and re-editing a contract, picking other trainer's brains on what to charge and what to expect and composing an ad. I'm a little nervous, but I'm also looking forward to seeing how it goes. Wish me luck!! :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Recap

Ok, I did it again... I fell off the blogging wagon the past few weeks. Bad Bobbie. I figured I'd better at least compose a recap of the event and a the last few highlights of working with Onyx.

I guess we'll start back before the Makeover competition...

* Onyx had her feet trimmed a couple weeks before the show and she did really well. She was a bit suspicious of the farrier at first but he went a little slower introducing himself and then bent down to pick up her leg. She gave her foot to him and after that she stood like a pro while he did all of her feet.

* I caved to "peer pressure" I suppose and decided to clip her fetlocks a couple days before the show. Some people said it would make her look neater and that it would be better for the judges and potential buyers to be able to see her legs. So for the first time ever Onyx had the clipper running on her legs. I was THRILLED with how she handled it. I did the clipping in her stall and I didn't even have a halter on her. I clipped all 4 legs and she didn't fuss at all. What a good girl.

On to the show! This blog entry would be a mile long if I tried to tell everything that went on, so I guess I'll just type some highlights for that as well...

*Early on (the first night there) I met up with two WONDERFUL trainers who helped me SO much through the weekend. Dennis Auslam (you may remember I had met him at our Horse Expo here back in March) was there of course and he introduced me to TJ Clibborn. The two of them jumped right in when I told them I was struggling with finding the confidence to ride her in front of thousands of people. So that first night they helped me a ton. Right off the bat I learned two things that have been working against Onyx and I all this time. 1) My saddle didn't fit her. Didn't fit her to the point where it was pinching her shoulders and causing her pain. 2) Her neck was out of alignment and she needs chiropractic treatment. Both of those were things I had wondered about, but hadn't had confirmation of until Dennis and TJ. They went to work right away. They did a bit of adjusting on her neck and massaged it too. She felt a lot better after that. Then TJ loaned me a saddle to use for the weekend! The first time I rode her in the practice arena in the borrowed saddle and right after they'd worked on her neck, it was like I was on a different horse. Dennis and TJ were both there all weekend and they took time out a couple of nights to help me with Onyx.

* I opted not to ride her in the riding part of the competition. She seemed to be hurting and she was cranky. It didn't help that she came into heat at the same time. What with all the weather setbacks we'd had, I went to this event with only about a dozen rides on her - and even those were spaced out because of the crazy weather here. I was nervous about the thousands of people in the stands and the professional competitors we were up againt. All around I decided it was best to lead her through the riding course. Once I made that decision, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted. I had agonized over what to do for days. I knew that if I didn't at least try *something* in that big coliseum in front of all those people that I'd regret it. It was a relief to just decide that it was ok to lead her through. And everyone, from Patti Colbert (the executive director of the Mustang Heritage Foundation) to Dennis and TJ to other friends I'd talked to all backed me up and said it would be ok to do that. I had been afraid I'd be the only one leading through, but as it turned out a few other trainers did the same thing with their horses. With a big fat zero in riding our overall score was pretty low. BUT we were the highest placed of the "non riders" so I guess that's something. Ha!

* The horse fair was absolute insanity. I don't know what the attendance numbers were but I know that each time I had to take Onyx back and forth to the arenas, we were walking through a sea of people. She was a very good girl, she never really spooked, even though there were a LOT of new and scary things there. She was very curious and wanted to investigate everything.

* On the last day all the horses were auctioned off and most of the prices I heard while waiting for our turn were pretty low. I was nervous going into that, afraid that she wouldn't sell or would only bring the minimum bid. As it turned out she actually sold for MORE than some of the horses who were in the top 10 finals, so that was a very nice surprise. On the evening of the day we had moved in to the grounds, I met a guy who was wandering around the mustang stalls. He stopped and chatted with me for a while. We must have talked horses for over an hour. During the weekend, he'd stop by and visit again from time to time. When auction day came, he was the one who bought Onyx! All those times we visited I never even knew he was "shopping". I was so happy he got her, I had worried about her going off with some stranger I'd never even met. But this guy was really cool and I think she'll have a great home with him.

Overall I had so much fun at the event. It was stressful, especially at first because I had no idea what to expect. Unfortunately all this time I had been wrapped up in the competition and the fact that I'd be up against professional trainers and people who'd trained a lot of mustangs before. It really had me stressed out. I fell apart a few times at the show and hid in my tack stall crying. Wondering what I was thinking being there and thinking I didn't belong there. I just wish I would have realized long ago that the competition is just a side thing. The REAL priority, and really all that matters at the end of the day, is getting the horses trained and into a good home. I did that much and it was fun! :) I have to say that I'm hooked now and I can't wait to do it all over again. There are several other Mustang Makeovers still to come this year and I plan to apply for one or maybe even two more. :)

I do have some pictures and video to share, but the cable for my camera to hook to the computer appears to be MIA. Hopefully I can find it soon.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A couple more things

I forgot...

In the video you may notice the snow drift INSIDE the arena. The arena is an indoor and it's fully enclosed, but our last blizzard packed 80 mph winds in its arsenal and managed to ram snow INTO the barn and the arena. Funny thing is, Onyx seems to love the snow. The first time I rode her in there, she kept making her way over to that big drift and just standing in it.

And now I can't remember what else I was going to say. haha I guess I'll have to add whatever it was later on.

That is all.

Updates and MORE Snow

Well we are hunkered down inside for another blizzard. I figured it was high time I posted some updates. (does anyone even read this stuff? who knows...) ANYway...

* Onyx has no problem letting me pick up all 4 feet now. I can clean them out, wiggle her hoof around and tap on the bottom of her foot and it's all no big deal. I'm trying to get her ready for a trim before the show.

* We did some more work with the bit yesterday. I started off lunging her in the surcingle and I introduced side reins to give her some pressure on the bit. She's comfortable carrying the bit around now, but I'm still not sure how far we'll get with it in the next couple of weeks. I've been debating weather or not to ride her in a halter for the competition. If she's not comfrtable enough with the bit by then I just might do that. I'm not sure if it will help or hinder us at the competition, but at the end of the day I'm going to do what's best for her. She's totally comfortable in the halter and is very responsive to it so I see no reason to rush into the bit for the sake of the show. I'll continue to work her with the bit of course. If her new owner wants to ride her in a bridle I want her to have been exposed to it.

* We also did more in hand practice yesterday. I discovered that there was a wooden bridge in the pile of props in the arena. So I dragged that out and set it up. I was pretty sure it wouldn't pose much of a problem since she'll follow me anywhere I ask her to. Sure enough, she hesitated the very first time and afterwards we clopped back and forth across it several times. No big deal. Next I'll ride her over it and then we can cross that off the list. I've also introduced her to walking over a "pole". Hidden in the "prop pile" I found several long PVC pipes so I brought one out and had her walk back and forth across it. Again, she hesitated the very first time and then she was fine. I'm very glad to have found the bridge and the pipes there because I had started to wonder where to find poles to practice with and I had just asked Jeff if we could build one of the bridges. My only concern with the PVC pipes is that they are pretty small. I think the "standard" walk over pole is a much larger diameter, so I hope that doesn't cause a problem if we are required to walk/trot over some poles at the show.

* We've had a couple more rides in the past week. She's been pretty grumpy and I'm thinking it may be "that time of the month". She'll do what I ask of her, usully without a fight, but she was doing some pretty ornrey stuff as well. Our last ride this week, we worked on trotting circles and I did some more work with her on responding to leg pressure. She was doing well, but a couple times she swung her head around and tried to bite my boot. During the first couple circles at a trot, I felt her pop her butt up once. Not a proper buck, but she was letting me know there were ither things she'd rather be doing. I just pushed on through and she cooperated after that. She seems to throw little tantrums from time to time, but it seems that the trick is to just keep riding her through it and she comes out the other side more willing to work. She is a silly girl.

* On the grooming front I've been going after her every day with my trusty shedding stone and her coat is really starting to look good. She's not "slicked out" but she has this overall "plush" look to her, I think it looks nice. She's been introduced to the clippers and yesterday I did some trim work on her. I got rid of what Jeff called her "man beard" (the long hairs under her jaw) and did some other touch ups here and there. I unbraided her mane and brushed it out, then did some more scissor work to try and even it out. Her hair is SO thick and now that it's shorter it's pretty bushy. She has this long pretty section of hair at her withers and I haven't had the heart to cut it yet. I guess it would look pretty goofy for her mane to be all 4-5 inches long and then have a foot or so at her withers so I imagine I'll have to break down and trim that too. I'm pretty sure I'm going to leave her fetlocks and whiskers natural. I read in the rules that they aren't supposed to penalize for that. I'm no clipper whiz so I'm afraid if I tried to do her fetlocks I'd butcher the job, lol. Faces I can do, but I've never really done more than that.

I think that about covers it all except for the big piece of news....

Jeff rode Onyx!!

On Friday afternoon I was just getting ready to ride her and I asked if he wanted to come and watch. I walked her around, worked on turnarounds and did some trotting, stopping and backing. I also had him walk up to her and pet her. She gets really insecure when I'm on her and there are people around. So I wanted to work on that. After I dismounted, he asked if he could ride her. I hesitated, not sure if it was a good idea. He's only been on a horse about 5 times or so and I wasn't sure what would happen... She was a little nervous when he got up next to her to get on. Then after he was up, I walked around a bit and she followed me wherever I went. Then I told him if he was ready he could take her out solo. So he turned her away from me and... Well, I'll let the video speak for itself...

She did SO well! (and for the record Jeff did really well too - heehee) I had expected some sort of crazy rodeo scene, but I just don't give either of them enough credit. At dinner that night I told Jeff that I'm not good at taking credit for things I can do with horses. I've had so many people tell me that I've done a great job with Bo, my stallion. I usually just shrug and say "well he's a good horse". But I told Jeff that I think I should take some credit for this one. Just over 2 months ago she was a totally wild horse and no one could even touch her. And now, someone who's only ridden a few times can get on her and ride around. He said yes, I've done a good job with her and I should take credit for that. *blush*

I've selected a song for the finals, if we are picked for the top ten. According to the rules all trainers have to provide music for the finals and all trainers should have a finals performance ready. My goal in the beginning was to be in the top 10. Because of the setbacks in the weather and so on, I had downgraded my aspirations to just not making a complete fool of myself. But I'm back to daring to hope that I can make the top 10 again. We still have a LOT of work to do, and I'm certainly NOT happy about beig snowd in again. But I think we still might be able to do it. So I've selected a song and I've started envisioning what we can do for the finals. I think I've got a good "show" planned, hopefully we'll get to do it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Best Day - Then Another Setback

On Sunday I had my best day with Onyx. (so far!) I went into her stall and was able to groom her from head to tail without so much as a halter on her. Then, for the first time, I picked out all 4 of her feet, again with no halter or rope on her. She was SUCH a good girl! For somewhat of a reward I turned her loose in the arena and she ran and ran and played and looked to be having a lot of fun. Then we saddled up! She was SO much better for that ride. She didn't fight me and I actually forgot I was on a mustang with only a few rides on her. We strolled around the arena, going in and out of the narrow chute into the round pen and walking around by the barrels and cones in the corner. It was then that I realized a side benefit of her having a traffic cone for a toy in her stall. When she first saw the cones in the corner they had concerned her, but now she could care less! One cone was off the stack and she walked right over it. I had expected a reaction out of her before I realized - "duh, she has one in her stall!" So big orange cones certainly won't be a concern with her in the future.

Then we worked on trotting. She was unsure at first and I was a bit unsure too, because I'm not used to a horse with so much "forward". Bo is slow and lazy and most of the time I have to really get after him to get him to move out at all. Not Onyx! After we both worked it out (she knew she could trot with me on her and I knew when she launched into it she wasn't trying to bolt off with me - haha) all I had to do was say "trot" and she powered off into these huge strides. It was impressive! This girl can really cover some ground. Even her walk is done with a purpose, she wants to get somewhere. She's going to be a heck of a horse for whoever buys her.

So we ended the weekend on a high note. And then came another setback. This weekend our weather was gorgeous and on Sunday it was 75 degrees! That night it all went downhill and we awoke Monday to high winds and tons of rain/sleet. We had been under a blizzard warning for Monday and Tuesday. By early Monday afternoon the blizzard was in full force and everything was shutting down. The interstate from Wyoming to halfway across South Dakota was closed and they were advising no travel anywhere else. We couldn't even see across the street for most of the storm. It lasted until yesterday (Tuesday) and then finally quit around noon or so. We went out driving to view the aftermath and found several roads blocked by drifts that ranged from 2-12 feet high. Yet in some places, you could see bare road or bare grass. The wind howled for two days, they recorded a gust of 80mph, and blew the snow everywhere. It always amazes me to see bare ground right next to a 10 foot drift after one of these storms. So I've now lost another couple of days. The 10 day forecast looks pretty bleak, rain and snow and no temps over 40, or so they say. I don't have much choice but to bundle up and get back to work. Three weeks from today I'll be hitting the road for Wisconsin!! I really hope we have at least a few more nice days between now and then...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Great ride!

Yesterday I rode Onyx for the first time since she had gotten sick. We got off to a rocky start and I have to admit that I was getting intimidated up on her back. She wasn't doing anything horrible, but she was tossing her head, not wanting to listen to me at all and not wanting to stand still or pretty much do anything I asked of her. I started to second guess myself thinking maybe I should just get off and do some more ground work with her. Prior to getting on we lunged and did some in hand work in the outdoor arena. I also long reined her, driving her around the arena. She was doing great with all of that. Then we had gone to the indoor arena to ride. It was a beautiful day yesterday, except that it was very windy. Not wanting to push my luck in the wind since it had been a couple of weeks I took her inside to ride. There were a few people in the round pen in the corner working with a spunky green horse. Also another trainer was riding one of his green projects in the arena. Onyx was distracted by all of that, but mainly the antics of the horse in the round pen. Actually I don't think the horse bothered her, but the people standing around there certainly did.

Anyway I decided to stick with her since we are running out of time. As it turned out it's a good thing I did because I think we accomplished a lot. I decided to work on side flexing and circling and ended up working on thos while using them to teach her other things. She's good at "whoa" and will stop with me on her back, but then she immediately want's to keep going. So she was fighting me a lot on that... until I had her circle and circle and circle and she was getting tired of that. Then she was willing to stand. Her next bit of rebellion was to refuse to continue walking when we reached the gate on laps around the arena. After circling at the gate, she decided that wasn't a fun place to stop anymore.

In the end we had a good ride, I think she learned some things and I stuck with her through her little tantrums. We trotted for the first time, just a few strides, but it's a start. I also started her on her "socializing" yesterday. I had a few different people stop and fuss over her as they passed through the barn. Then after I finished riding, someone came over and got on her for a few minutes and I led them around. She was pretty upset at first about someone else being that close and then stepping up onto her, but then after we started walking around she calmed down and it was no big deal.

Today's supposed to be our last nice day before another big storm comes in. They are predicting a bad thunderstorm which is supposed to turn into a blizzard. There has been a blizzard wrning since yesterday for the next few days. So I plan to ride again today and get as much done as I can before we have to batten down the hatches again. *sigh*

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Onyx is Awesome!

That was the text of a message I sent Jeff yesterday from my cell phone after a session with Onyx. We did some in hand work yesterday. I was curious to put her through her paces and see what all she has learned. There were a couple of firsts along the way. We were finally able to use the outdoor arena, it's dry at last and the weather was beautiful. So we had our first outdoor training session in quite a while. Also she was introduced to the bit yesterday and she wore it while we worked. I figured it'd be easy to get her to take the bit since she is so cusrious and likes to play with things with her mouth. Sure enough all I had to do was hold it by her lips and she took it. Outside I lunged her a bit and then walked around with her. We walked and trotted around, changing speeds and practicing "whoa". She was very good at that, we'd be trotting around, I'd say "whoa" and she'd slam on the brakes and stop right where she was. What a good girl! We also did some backing (something I know she's quite proficient at - ha!) and she was wonderful. So, I feel pretty darn good about the In Hand portion of the competition. Now to work on more riding...

Oh, she met the clippers for the first time yesterday too. She accepted them quite well. Hopefully I can get busy on making her more presentable now! I'm planning to trim up the longer areas and hopefully make her coat more uniform. She's been shedding out nicely and on the big areas of her body she's looking pretty good. Her legs and face are pretty shaggy though.

Oh! One more thing, haha. I also picked up both of her front feet yesterday. I've touched her legs and picked them up for an instant or two a few times, but yesterday I held them up, tapped her foot, wiggled it around and so on and she was just fine. I also worked on the back legs and she was letting me run my hand all down them, on the inside and out, all the way to her hoof. I haven't picked them up yet, but I think she'll do ok.

The opening line of my text message to Jeff yesterday was "Onyx is awesome" - the next part was "I think we might just do ok as long as *I* don't screw things up" haha Yeah, that's pretty much it. Now we have to get busy on the riding part and I've gotta get busy realizing that I can do this!

Monday, March 16, 2009

All Clear

No more boogers.

Ok, a LOT has gone on over the past week, but at the moment I'm completely exhausted so I'm not going to give a total play-by-play. To summarize:

I left Onyx at the barn and went to the Horse Expo last weekend. I met a lot of wonderful people, and hung out with folks I already knew from the local horse community. One of the highlights for me was meeting Dennis Auslam, one of the other Mustang Makeover trainers who will be at the competition in April. He was a very nice guy with a great sense of humor and he extended an invitation for me to hang out with he and his family at the show in April.

Our weather took a turn for artic temps again right after the Expo. We had snow for a few days and bitter cold zero and below zero temps, so once again I lost valuable training days. It was just as well I suppose since I'm sure Onyx needed the time to clear up her snot fountain.

This past Saturday I spent the whole day at the stables. I did a lot of chores - stripping and rebedding stalls along with dumping the water tubs which had huge blocks of ice in them from the frigid temps. I also worked with everyone and Onyx's lesson consisted of being meeting a plastic bag on a stick. She did very well. Of course she was freaked out at first, and even tried to "kill" the bag (striking and stomping at it) but she accepted it rather quickly and I was able to touch her with it all over her body. Plus I waved it around "vigorously" (lol) in the air, around her head and over the ground. I'm sure by now - what with my spontaneous jumping up and down nonsense and now THIS - she thinks I'm crazy. At least that's what the look on her face seemed to say. Haha!

Anyway, that's about it I guess, in a nutshell. I'm off to bed!

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Well, things were moving full speed ahead to take Onyx to the Horse Expo for her grand debut. Then two days ago when I went to the stable I found her with a fountain of boogers coming out her nose. She went in to the vet yesterday morning. Her lungs and windpipe sound good and I was told to just keep an eye on her, make sure she's eating and that the boogers don't start changing colors. So it doesn't appear to be anything serious, but it means that she won't be going to the Expo.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Moving right along

Yesterday there was a minor breakthrough with Onyx. When I entered her stall with the halter and lead, she came over to me like she's done for a while now. This time however she seemed inclined to stay with me instead of wandering off and making me "catch" her once I got the halter ready. So I held out the halter, noseband open and she put her nose in it! That was very cool. I saddled her up and headed for the arena. There were two other people riding and I figured it'd be good to let her experience that. She hasn't been ridden around others yet. So after a few minutes of lunging at the trot, I hopped on her and we rode around a bit. She did VERY well around the other horses. There was a time when the other two were trotting or loping around together and she started to get a little fired up. She was tossing her head and wanting to GO but she listened to me and didn't take off. A bit later on I had her stand in the middle while one of the horses was loping circles around us. She was calm, just watching them go around. The other horse was green and a little fired up, they came pretty close to us on a couple laps but Onyx didn't seem to be phased by it. She did throw a couple little tantrums, tossing her head around when I'd ask her to turn by rein pressure so we'll have to work on that a bit. Otherwise she did very well and we had a nice little 3rd "official" ride. The Horse Expo is fast approaching but I think we might be ready to go... There's still a lot to be done so I'd better get to it!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Big News!

Well... I'll let the video speak for itself...

Yep, that's yours truly riding Onyx! (sorry for the poor video quality... as previously mentioned, the lighting in the indoor arena isn't the greatest, plus my camera is exactly the latest and greatest either!) The video is of our second solo ride this afternoon. The first one was this morning! She is doing SO well. I've had a goal all along to ride her in the Black Hills Horse Expo this weekend and it's kinda crept up on me. It seems like yesterday I was thinking "oh, I've got a few more weeks, there's time..." And now it's in a few days! So I decided to gather up the courage and go for it today, alone in the arena. She started out by bucking a bit and spinning in a circle. She was trying like heck to get me off (or maybe it was the tight saddle, or both) but I didn't go anywhere, so she stopped bucking and hasn't tried to do it since. Then we did some circling and finally she took off on her own.

The first ride was a good 30 minutes of just letting her walk around the arena, packing me around. Then I said "whoa", rocked back and forth and hopped off. For the second ride we did it all again, but no bucking this time. I let her go where she wanted for the first little bit and then I started reining her around toward the end of the ride. She is SUPER responsive. Jeff was in the arena with us to get a couple of video clips and at one point he walked toward her and she tried to bolt away from him. She only got about one jump, before I pulled back and said "easy" and she immediately slowed to a walk again like nothing had happened. I was grinning from ear to ear! :)

I plan to ride her 2-3 times a day over the next few days and I'd like to haul her to another arena at least once so she can see new surroundings once before being surprised at the Expo.

So far so good!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Weekend update

Slightly off topic at first. On Friday morning I had my dog put to sleep. I'd had him for 5 years. It was very hard to do and though I've had moments where I've second guessed myself (only natural I guess) I still think it was the right thing to do. I just don't think he was happy anymore. It was a decision I'd wrestled with for months and I think it was time. I was there with him when he went. He was laying on the floor with his head in my lap. I was petting him and telling him he was a good boy. It was very emotional and very hard, but I feel better knowing that I was with him at the end and that his suffering is over. Some thought I should just drop him off at the vet, but I couldn't do that. This was the first time I've made an appointment for something like that. I've had to euthanize horses and I've had all kinds of critters die over the years, but I've never made an appointment for it. The last dog I had, I'd had for 10 years and she died during surgery, there was nothing I could do. The horses I've had put down were because something horrible had happened (ie: severe colic) and right at that moment there was nothing else to be done so it was an "easy" decision. (it's never "easy" but when they are in severe pain and nothing can be done it's not a hard choice) I've struggled with depression most of my life and I've been in a "funk" ever since Friday. As a result not much was done with the horses this weekend.

Sunday was chore day. I stripped Bo and Onyx's stalls and put in fresh shavings. Onyx is SO tidy. Her shavings have been in there for about a month now and were just now dirty. Bo on the other hand? Not so tidy. His shavings have to be changed out every few days. Then I emptied and refilled their waters and gave each of them a turn to wander in the arena. Well, for Bo it was wandering. For Onyx it was stampeding around for a while. She is so funny when she's turned out. She'll run around and run round and then suddenly do a "turbo boost" and take off just as fast as her legs will go, RACING to the other end of the arena. The first time Jeff saw that he was amazed, "she's fast!" he said. Indeed!

They've changed my schedule at my job so now I'm working the day shift. I specfically went for the job there because they wanted someone for a few hours in the afternoons/evenings and that was perfect for me. And now somehow I'm on day shioft, working all day long, all week. And the weather is GORGEOUS here now. Yesterday was in the 40s-50s and today they are predicting 60. The sun is shining brightly outside and I'll be working. "Next stop: Bittertown!" *toot toot*

Anyway... Last night I was on my way out to feed the horses when I passed Jeff on his way home. He offered to go with me to the stables. We fed Bo and Onyx and then we converged on Onyx, rubbing and petting and scratching her on both sides while she ate. At times she acted like she wasn't crazy about the idea of being ganged up on, but her yummy food won over and she put up with us. At one point I said "and what visit would be complete without some jumping!" and I started my trademark (? lol) jumping up and down next to her. She wasn't phased in the least. Then I started goofing around, trying to jump up on her (something that I've already tried - and failed). Again, she just stood, munching away. Jeff asked if I wanted a leg up and I finally gave in and accepted. So then I sat on her bareback in the stall with nothing on her. She had hay in one corner and her grain in the opposite corner, so I started using her food locations as motivation for her to move. The first time she backed up around the stall from one feeder to the other. We both laughed at her. I introduced her to leg pressure and by squeezing and clucking I finally got her to go FORWARD. In the end we walked a couple laps around the stall and I stopped her on "whoa". Then I rocked back and forth (what I've done to tell her I'm going to swing off) and hopped off of her. It was fun and I think we had a good session. I just wish I could hop up on her on my own. I've never been able to hop up on a horse without a saddle and I've tried since I was a kid. I'm so jealous of people who can just swing up there and ride off! Maybe one of these days I'll figure out how to do it...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New 'do and a jaunt outside

A quick update....

Here is a pictures of Onyx's new hairdo. It still looks pretty wild, but at least her mane is all on one side now.

I had wondered which side to "tame" it too, but I decided that putting it on the right would allow her to show off her freezebrand.

Mustang pride, baby!
(or something like that, ha...)

We took a stroll outside to take some pictures since the lighting inside is so hard to work with.

On our trip outside, Onyx got to say hello to some of her neighbors:

There are only 3 weeks to go until the Black Hills Horse Expo! I've been planning all along to enter Onyx in their Breed Demo to give her the chance to get out in front of people and do a bit of a dress rehersal for the competition. We still have a LONG way to go in the next three weeks... I hope I can have her ready in time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Ok, the bad blogger has returned with pictures in hand! "In fingers?" (as in the keyboard and mouse?) Well, sorta in hand I guess.. Anyway, moving on...
(forgive me, I am EXHAUSTED right now, and I think I just may prove that it's possible to babble incoherantly with a keyboard...)

First up was our first venture outside together since being in the barn and indoor arena,
this was a couple weeks or so ago.
Please ignore the giant dork that is me:

And then, Onyx's first saddle!!

She wasn't too concerned, she actually kept turning her head around and playing with the stirrups.

And saved for last is the aforementioned (so far) single documented proof of me ON Onyx:

That was our first time outside with the crazy human on her back. The lighting in the indoor arena is horrible for photography. With the flash on all you see are giant dust particles. Without the flash the shutter stays open so long that anything like, oh say the slight movement of the earth's turn on it's axis causes the picture to be blurred. Observe:

Ok, I lied, there IS more documentation of me on her back.. but can you even tell that's me? or her?? Sorry to do that to you, what a scary pic, LOL.
So yeah.. we moved outside to try and get some sort of proof that I have indeed been ON her and have lived to tell about it.
Ok, I'll spare you from any more babbling. I'm off to the stable!

Bad blogger

Yes, I am a bad... no, scratch that - I'm a horrible blogger! Time has kinda gotten away from me and I realize I haven't posted any updates in a long time. I'll try to bring this back up to speed without turning it into a novel...

Let's see... Onyx has been saddled several times. She's been turned loose in the arena to run and play several times - and I can actually catch her again. (yaaay! haha) And the big news is that I've ridden her several times now. Nothing to brag about just yet. I've only been on her bareback with a halter and lead rope. (my preferred way to do the first few rides on my youngsters) She handled it quite well, no rodeo antics which is always a good thing. Unfortunatey I don't have any documentation of the rides save for one picture that was taken on our first venture outside.

I have to confess that I've had some "ground support" for her for the first few rides. I've recruited Jeff to be at her head and hold her while I get on and then lead her around. This last time though I gave him a longer rope and had him get further away from her. We also took a big step and unhooked the rope and he walked away. Usually I'm not so cautious, I've started several horses "my way" and have never had help, but I've been extra careful with her I suppose. I've seen her "blow up" a couple of times and I have to admit it was pretty intimidating thinking of being on her back during that - ha! So I tell her to "walk on" and guide her a bit with the reins and tell her "whoa" and he just walks along at her head for "moral support". She really wasn't sure about him at first and she still acts goofy if I've been working with her and then he steps in, but she listens to him pretty well now.

The first ride I had him take her over to the round pen fence and I stepped off using the fence, but the last couple of times I've swung off her to the ground. I thought sure she'd jump the first time I hopped off and landed next to her, but she didn't even flinch. I guess all my crazy jumping up and down antics have paid off!

We've noticed an odd thing about little Onyx. She is quite proficient at backing up and that seems to be her response when she's unsure what else to do. The first night we turned her loose in the arena with the lights on she backed all the way across the arena. She had run around and had fun and then she was just hanging out when she put her head down and started to back. She stepped pretty confidently backwards all the way across the arena, looking down the whole time. I've never seen anything like that. We were stumped. Jeff thought maybe she saw her shadow and was trying to get away from it, but then he didn't think that backing would be a very effective escape method! And then in the round pen when I had him unclip the rope, she stood for a bit and then started backing. I decided to just sit and let her do what she wanted to do to get used to carrying me on her own. Well what she did was back about 4 or 5 laps around the round pen. Jeff has asked a couple times if that behavior is "normal" and I say no... I did joke that maybe backing should be our freestyle - I could back her a whole lap around the arena.. or do the riding course backwards! haha I've always read that backing is something that's hard for horses or that it's something they don't like to do. Well she's QUITE proficient at it for some reason. We're not talking the usual short halting backward steps, she STRIDES OUT moving backwards and covering some ground. It's interesting...

She's very headshy and I haven't been sure why. She didn't start out that way, I had been stroking her ears early on and she was ok with that, but then one day she didn't want me anywhere near the top of her head. I had noticed that she REALLY doesn't like it if while putting on or taking off her halter any of her mane hairs get pulled. After noticing that I made a mental note to spend some extra time with her and work on getting her bridle path cut. I also wanted to braid her mane and start taming it to lay on one side. I'm still not sure what to do about the fact that a huge section right in the middle of her mane is only about 4-5 inches long and sticking up in every direction. Right behind her ears and above her withers she has a gorgeous long black mane, but in the middle it's crazy. And the long parts of her mane fall on opposite sides with the short middle section going everywhere. As much as I like the "wild look" I figure she should look somewhat civilized for the competition so I decided to try and tame the 'do! Last night after she had her arena playtime I tied her up and braided her whole mane. I started at the withers and worked my way up. Usually I go the other way, but I figured since she doesn't mind her withers being scratched and freaks out about anything near the to of her neck, I'd start in the safe area. Sure enough it worked great and she didn't even fuss when I got to the last braid at the top. Then it was on to the hard part - the bridle path. While carefully snipping away with the scissors I found what has probably been causing her some discomfort. She had a big tangle of hair up there. She fussed a little while I worked to snip it out, but after it was gone I rubbed the top of her head and she seemed MUCH happier. Hopefully that'll bring about the end of the headshy problem. Poor baby...

Ok I have pictures of the last few weeks events but I've gotta run for now. I'll post them up later on today - stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

News, News, News

We were on the News! I got an email from a friend who saw the piece about Onyx and I on the news. She said we looked great. I've been scouring the station's website everyday, hoping to see something on there since we don't have TV service. Well, my friend sent me a DVD of the story and I just watched it! Not bad for our TV debut I have to say. They did a good job with the story and even though I looked like a goober (I just about always think I look like a goober) it was very cool to see.

It's been frigid cold here, still. Highs in the single digits and even though Onyx is in a barn and there's an indoor arena, it's still COLD in there. So I haven't done much but a few minutes work with her before she gets her dinner each night. I can catch and halter her pretty easily now, so we are making progress every day, just not in leaps and bounds like we were at first. I'm still not too shaken by the lack of any big step, we're only a couple weeks in. At the same time I don't want to get too laid back - there's still a LOT of work to be done. I feel pretty good though, because I know she is wicked smart (I'm hip, I'm with it, har har) and she retains things so well. I see that the weather is supposed to warm up this weeked and stay that way for a while. I've got my fingers crossed!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Numb fingers and toes

Well after our lovely week of 50s and 60s (albiet most days with 50mph winds) we're back in the frigid temps. Thursday was 60, no wind and the sun was shining, it was gorgeous! Friday.. not so gorgeous. Winchill of -20 in the morning, -15 throughout the day and once again the wind was howling. We woke up to snow everywhere, it's so crazy here.

ANYway, enough about the flippin' weather. On our last nice day I spent 3 hours with Onyx scrubbing mudd off her belly and butt. I got her over to the wash rack and she walked right in. Backed her out and walked her back in a few times, then cross-tied her in there with a couple of lead ropes. And there she stood for a couple hours. Overall she was very good and pretty darn patient with me. She cow kicked at me a few times, but I tapped her and said "knock it off" and so she did. There were a couple times after that when she'd pick up a back foot... and then put it right back down. I keep saying it, but she really is a quick learner. I had brought a 5gal jug of hot water and had a couple buckets to mix in some colt. I used a "bug scrubber" sponge and got most of the mud off her belly. She and I were both about tired of the process by the time I got back towards her "girly parts" so I called it a day. I also got most of it off that side of her rump too.

That night Jeff came with me to give her dinner and he commented on how accepting she was of having her belly and butt rubbed. He was amazed that she was so comfortable with being touched. He said it was like "night and day" from before. He'd held her the first time I worked on her belly to snip some mudballs off and she'd kept bolting away from us. For a guy who doesn't know much about horses and had certainly never handled a rowdy one, he was a pretty good hand and wrangled her well. We were in the round pen and she'd bolt away, he'd give her some rope, but would just kinda go with her until he got her under control again. I'd told him to let go of the rope if he had to, but he never did. Good job, Jeff! Yeah, after 2+ hours in the wash rack with me all over her belly and rump, she's ok with contact there now.

She's had a couple of days off because of the crazy cold returning with a vengence. I've gone to feed her and I always hang out and rub on her, but hadn't done much work. Tonight I stripped out her stall and put in fresh shavings. Then I worked on petting her right behind the ears, that's not a favorite place of hers. I got her pretty calm with that by the time I quit for the night. Then I took a big step. I took her halter off. I can walk up to her in the stall and she's fine with me putting a rope over her neck and leading her with just that. Plus we've worked on putting another halter on over the one she had on, so I'm hopeful it'll be no big deal to get her caught and haltered tomorrow. She was acting like the halter bothered her and I didn't want to leave it on 24/7 any longer than I needed to. I'm pretty sure it was time for it to come off.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A lot of little things

Today I did a lot of little things with Onyx. I worked on swinging the lead rope around more and then tied her up for a bit while I worked on the "mudball crusade". I snipped a lot more mud off, but there is a LOT more to go and I think she's going to have to get wet to get it all off. A lot that's left is right up against her skin. This stuff is some crazy mud, it's rock hard. I used a metal curry and got all of the little bits off of her neck and a lot of it off of her sides and rump. Tomorrow is supposed to be our last nice day so I'm hoping I'll be able to get her belly wet and get the crud off once and for all! I've seen pictures of some of the other "muddy" musangs, but I really haven't seen one as bad as Onyx! Her sides and belly were solid mudballs, layers upon layers of them when I started.

After chipping away at more of the mud, I introduced her to a saddle pad. Not a big deal except she seemed hesitant to walk around with it on. "What is this thing on my back?"

Then it was time for the surcingle. Again, no big deal. She looks almost bored in this pic, haha.

I didn't tighten it because of all the mud still in the way. I left it on her for a little while and worked on brushing out her mane. She has a long pretty mane right behind her ears... aaand right in front of her withers. Everything in between is short, thick, and sticking up everywhere. I'm not sure how much of her mane will grow out by April, but at least a few inches would be cool.

In continuing with my desire to expose her to general "weirdness", I also introduced her to me jumping up and down. I think anyone who might have walked by the stall would have thought I was a little nuts. I stood in the middle of the stall, holding the leadrope and started jumping up and down in place. At first Onyx freaked out and ran around and around in the stall... I just kept jumping. Then she stopped, I kept jumping. Finally she looked at me (with an expression kinda like "what the hell??") and I stopped. A few minutes later I started jumping up and down again, she didn't try to get away, instead within a few seconds she turned and looked right at me ("you are so weird"). She really is a smart girl. I've noticed more and more that she seems to pick things up (and repeat them) very quickly.

Now I just need to finish getting the friggin mud off her so I can get the saddle on!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Onyx is a Celebrity

Wow! This morning I got a call from a gal at one of the local news stations. She wanted to know if she could do a story on me leading up to the competition in April. She wanted to meet today and again at times over the next few months to track Onyx's progress. I said yeah, that'd be cool!

Jeff and I hurried out to embark on the "mudball crusade" and over the course of an hour we had Onyx ok with me snip-snipping away at her belly hairs with my sharp little scissors. I took off a good 3-4 big handfuls of mudballs by the time we were done. Then I had to rush back to the house and to try make myself presentable for our big TV debut!

At the barn the news gal filmed me getting Onyx out of her stall and walking her to the arena. She asked a lot of questions about my background with horses, the competition and of course, Onyx. She filmed a quick interview with me (I think I rambled on, I was SO nervous!) and then she did some more filiming of Onyx and I walking around together in the arena. She gave me her cell phone number and asked that I give her a call whenever we reach a big milestone so she can come back out to film an update. I told her there are little milestones everytime I work with Onyx, but I'll probably wait to call until there is a saddle involved! *wink*

Speaking of small milestones, a small crowd had gathered just outside the arena to watch Onyx's TV debut... The couple who owns the barn and a couple of other boarders were there. There were also some dogs hanging out in the crowd. To take her back to her stall we had to walk right through the crowd and Onyx wasn't phased one bit. As we walked by, one of the boarders asked if she was a Friesian! (I have to admit that I've thought she kinda looks like one at times) I said no, she's a mustang. Both of the ladies went on about how lovely she was and what good conformation she has. I have to admit, I was thrilled! They asked if she was from an adoption or a sale and I told them about the Mustang Makeover. The owners of the barn have heard of the Mustang Makeover events and when they found out that's where she's headed they were really excited.

Tomorrow - more mudball snipping and always more groundwork!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Rant

I hate wind. No, wait, let me repeat that.. I HATE wind!! The last couple of days the wind has been absolutely horrible. What makes it even worse is that the temperatures have been in the low 50s the last few days and the sun has been shining. They would be perfect days to get out and enjoy the sunshine... if not for the 50mph winds!! Today they said the wind was a steady 40mph with gusts up to 60. While taking care of my horses tonight, I had several flakes of hay ripped out of my hands by the wind and they blew away, no trace left. After watering and haying the herd out on the property, I came back to town to go see Onyx. (yes I think that's her name now) I had planned to work with her a bit, but I couldn't get the barn door shut behind me which meant the *~#&#%^# wind was HOWING through the barn aisle. Sooo instead I worked in her stall a bit.

When I picked her up the majority of her body was covered in mud. Most of it was dry, clumped on her. A lot of it has fallen off and I've picked some off while petting her, but her belly is completely covered in dried mud. There are a ton of little dingleberry mud balls hanging off her belly hairs. It's gotta be uncomfortable and of course before I can saddle her I've gotta get all that stuff off of her. She's been touchy about her belly and I can see why. The hair down there is being pulled by all the dried up mud balls. The good news is that most of them are not right up against her skin so I should be able to snip them off with some small scissors. She'll have some chunky cut belly hairs, but she'll be a lot more comfortable I'd think! She was letting me feel around down there tonight which is the most she's let me do to her belly without fussing. I also worked on touching her legs and was able to run my hand down both of her front legs. I worked on desensitizing her to the lead rope, tossing it over her neck, back and rump and letting it coil around her front legs. The only thing that bothered her a bit at first was feeling it around her legs but she didn't try to run away and she accepted it pretty quickly. The last accomplishment for the night was putting the lead rope around her like a cinch and playing with that. I jiggled it around and tightened it off and on. She didn't seem to mind that at all. Not too bad for a few minutes in the stall with the friggin' wind howling by in the barn aisle.

I've heard it's supposed to be windy again tomorrow (*grumble grumble*) but hopefully I can get started on the "belly mudball crusade".

Weekend Update

I was asked if I could help the Humane Society on Friday to go get the last few horses who had been left behind. So on Friday morning I got in a quick training session with my filly before we headed out. (I think I'm going to name her Onyx...) When I got there she was covered in shavings, I had put down a nice thick bed of shavings in her stall the night before. She let me brush them off of her with my hand. Previously I hadn't touched her at all behind her shoulders, but she allowed me to wipe off the shavings all down her barrel, back, flanks and rump. She's still touchy about her belly. I worked on touching the top of her head and stroking her ears in preparation for bridling later on. Then we went to the (lovely!) indoor arena to do some work. I introduced her to lunging and had her trotting nice relaxed circles around me within just a minute or two. She has also already picked up "Whoa". She stopped and stood rock still when I said it. My word she's smart! Within 10 minutes I had lunged her at a trot in both directions and did a few whoa, trot, whoa transitions. I kept the session short because I had to go meet up with the humane society and move some horses! She comes to greet me at the stall door when I open it, I don't have to go "get" her in the stall. When I turn her loose in the round pen she follows me wherever I go. I think she's making great progress! We took yesterday off as far as training, but I did go and hang out with her last night. Jeff also got some hands on time with her, he was holding her halter and petting her in the stall. He said she's a very pretty horse. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

So Proud

I'm SO proud of my mustang filly. (still unnamed, I'm waiting for the right name to come to me) We had that one good training session back on Sunday, Day 1. On Monday the weather was horrible, high winds all day, gusting to 60-70mph. So I opted to just hang out with her that day. On Tuesday I got a call to help the Humane Society transport some horses and that was an all day and into the night project. Then yesterday I woke up to a couple inches of fluffy snow and bitter cold temps. I decided it was well past time to get her moved to a place up the road that has a barn with an attached indoor arena. I had talked to them a month or so ago about keeping some horses there and I had planned to take my mustang there at some point to get some work done in the indoor. But after losing training days to wind and snow I decided to move her inside right away.

I asked Jeff to go along because I was going to have to walk her on the road, up their drivway and into the barn. I thought she might get scared and/or decide to head out for the open spaces! Very quickly it became clear that I wasn't giving her enough credit at all! She unloaded after a couple pauses to look around and she walked with me all the way to the barn like an old pro. Slack lead and a curious expression as if to say "where are we going?" There was a parked car that we had to walk past and she was a little concerned about it, but she didn't shy or try to get away. I just told her it was ok, and she kept walking. I was full of smiles. Even more so when we got to the barn. The sliding door into the barn was only open about 3 feet and I couldn't push it any further because of the snow build up. So I went inside and let her take a look at things while I gave her plenty of lead. I kept talking to her, telling her it was ok, and after looking inside the door and thinking about it, she walked on in like she owned the place. I took her to her stall and turned her loose where she wandered around investigating things. I was completely overjoyed with how willing she was. Afterwards I kept saying to Jeff over and over "I'm so proud of her, she did SO well!" He agreed and said "I think you got a good one." Absolutely!

I can't wait to get to work indoors!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Mustang!

I made it home last night from the trek to southern Illinois to pick up my mustang. When I got there I found out I'd been assigned a black filly! Black has always been one of my favorite colors and I've had several black horses. I also found out that all of the mustangs for this event are female. The trip was fairly uneventful except for a bad snowstorm that came up in south western Iowa and forced me to pull over at a rest area and wait it out. When we started on the drive back she didn't want much to do with me at all, but by the time we made it home she was happily eating hay out of my hand and I was able to pet her nose. We got home after dark and she spent the night in the trailer. This morning I went out and worked with her a bit in the trailer. After a couple of short visits with her I was able to scratch her on the neck.

We took her to the roundpen and unloaded her. After a few hours of work I had her halter trained, standing tied without much of a fuss, plus loading and unloading out of the trailer. All in all I think we had a GREAT first day. There is still a lot of work to do of course, but I'm very happy with how today went.

Below is a picture of her and I during training. Also a video clip of her first unload out of trailer with me. She wanted to rush out of the trailer, but I had her wait and calm down a bit just inside before we hopped out. This is after only a couple hours together!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

All aboard!!

Today I'm "saddling up" the rig and heading east to pick up my horse for the Midwest Extreme Mustang Makeover. It'll be a day and a half drive there and back. According to the list of approved trainers, I'm the only one in SD and it looks like I'm the furthest west too! I'm so excited, I can't wait to see my new "kid"! Someone asked me a couple days ago if it's a mare or a gelding, but I don't even know that much. I think it's a totally random draw, where I just pull up in the rig and they say "here's your horse". I can't wait to see him/her!! I'm taking my camera and PLENTY of extra batteries. The other good news is that my good friend, Melissa, is going with me on the trip. I was going to go alone, but really didn't want to. So I'm happy that I'll have some company on the road, that's always nice. Stay tuned, my next entry will have pictures of my mustang!!