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!