Friday, January 30, 2009

So what if it's cold

Horses live outside. Well, they're supposed to live outside, at least. Tule and Dillon both have stalls in the barn and sleep under cover at night. Dillon will move to the pasture on April 1st. Anyways I'm reminded of this fact of life on days like today, when it never got over 34 degrees and yet there I was, at the barn, playing with horses.

Pepper needs to learn respect. She's a good mare, she's calm and dependable...just don't ask her to actually do anything. She wants to eat, and be petted, and wander aimlessly around the field for the rest of her life. Actual work is not something she is interested in doing! However, I'm not exactly interested in supporting this indolent lifestyle as long as she's capable of more, so it's off to school we go. Today we walked down to the lower hayfield, I got on, and we proceeded to discuss the importance of going where one's rider insists. And overall, it was successful. There were occasional moments where she considered rebellion, but for the most part we had a good experience.

Tule already knows what work is, and he loves the attention no matter what, so of course today's ride with him was dreamy. He is having issues with mounting, as in he's been feeling the need to move his feet a lot when I'm trying to haul my fat tushie up there...that's dangerous, so it'll be worked on again and again until he figures that out again. We did a little bit of work in the arena, he's awesome, and then we took a walk down the road. He was great. (I love my horse.)

Dillon got to be last today. He got himself brushed and then I took him for an arena walk, where he got to go over the ground poles. I did get some beautiful photos of him today, too, so I'll be heading over to CVS to print them tomorrow. I know I take too many photos of my horses but I can't help myself.

As I've just figured out how to add photos to my posts, I am going to add in a few!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cow chasin'

My horses are living at a wonderful boarding barn that is mere miles from where I live. It takes me between 7-12 minutes to get there from here, depending on traffic. The property's been in their family for generations, and has gone from dairy farm to trail barn to boarding barn. They still keep a few cows around (this is how I know Tule's got "cow sense" because I've seen him chase them). This morning, the owners came to load up a couple of the girls for auction. And I got to help a little bit :)

While they were gone, Tule got his Wednesday ride. Today I decided to work on riding outside of the arena, and responding to my legs inside the ring. And he was a pill to mount on the grass, but under saddle he was responsive and wonderful. I'm afraid I may have taught him to move away from being mounted on the grass, but eventually we sorted that out. I'll have to see what he does next time.

We had a lightbulb moment today. He is working off my leg aids beautifully now, and I can use the reins just to support the idea. In fact I got him to walk then trot in half-arena circles using just leg pressure today. It was incredible to feel that, and really understand it, for the first time. I knew the I know it practically too.

When I got Dillon out to groom him I was running out of steam. But, it's important to do something, even if it's a little thing, with him every day. So today, it was twofold...first, I tied the halter's lead into reins, then I asked him to bend both directions with rein guidance. Turns out that Dilly's right-sided, as Tule's left-sided. Tule does better going counter-clockwise, he's got better balance and more confidence. Looks like Dillon's strong side is the right, or clockwise; I got an almost perfect turn on the forehand out of him to the right, but not so great to the left. And that's okay :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's like knitting but without needles and really thick yarn

I learned how to tie a rope halter!

I am addicted to buying tack, equipment, and supplies for my horses. It's a sickness, really, when you think about it...because I have something like four or five halters PER HORSE. I don't think I'm exaggerating, either. I have three Parelli rope halters, the halters Tule and Pepper came with, and all the others I've bought since. Purple, lime green, black, leather, blue, multicolored pink...not a good thing. And every time I go to the tack store I look at them some more. Well, no more!

Rope is such a useful sort of thing. And I've looked at the bulk rope several times, too, thinking I could make stuff out of it. Like reins, for example. I love my Parelli reins but I don't like paying Parelli prices, and while the set I have are great for Tule, I need more control for Pepper so I need a shorter set. For a while I've been planning how to make my own. So, I wandered into the rope section at another store the other day.

And they had a 100' skein of perfect halter weight rope for like ten bucks. In a multi-color red pattern, which works on all three horses. So I bought it...and I researched how to tie my own...and I can do it!

So when I was at Tractor Supply this morning I bought more rope in a black with red specks pattern. I think Tule and Dillon both look better in black anyway, and I can use the red too. I also bought 13' of lead rope to attach to Dilly's new black custom halter when I'm done with it :)

Today, I worked with Dill-pickle first. He was actually a bit of a snot while being groomed...but I think I may have touched a tender spot. He's been playing rough with Mozart out in their paddock lately!

Then I went to get Pepper. She is such a wonderful horse...she comes when she's called. Her pasture is 40 acres, and the four-horse-herd that she is in is often at the other end of it. But my voice echoes well off the hills, and she comes trundling in for her meal. I've seen her trot to me a few times, and once I did see her break into a canter but that was because the boys were with her and Charlie the OTTB was instigating. Trust me, the canter did not last mare is a master of energy conservation. I am working with her to 'fix' a lot of issues she has from past owners who let her get away with bloody murder under saddle. All I ask is that she move out and go at the speed I set, in the direction I point her. And this provokes Battles Royale. Today she actually did quite well!

Tule got to try on his new bridle today, that's all, and go right back out to play. I'd been riding him in a traditional English bridle with a noseband, but all those straps around his eyes have been kind of an issue. He's hard to fit anyways, with his Arab cheekbones and TB nose. So this time I broke down and got a simple Western headstall, without a noseband. The only strap on his face is holding the bit. And it looks good...we'll see how it works tomorrow or Friday.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Another HT'ian has a blog here, so I'm sending a shout-out to that blog page!

As soon as I can figure out how to do it, I'll post a few links....

The First Year, of the rest of my life

Hi! My name is Rebecca. As "wild horsefeathers" would put it, here is one (big) girl who'd rather clean a stall than her own room. I spend as much time as I can with my horses, and I even managed to get a job working with horses too. I can't believe I get paid to be with them, in fact! (But I do have bills, so keep those paychecks a-comin', please.)

I'm a proud member of 's web forum community. There, I'm known as DappleGrayMyWay. I chose that screen name as an honor to my first horse, Tule, who is as you may have guessed a dapple gray horse. I'm occasionally saddened to think on his color progression to fleabitten, but that is still years away...I hope!

I have three horses.

Tule (that name is pronounced too-lee) is almost six years old now, a TB/Arab gelding (what some call an Anglo). He's more of the classic TB in most ways, including his general willingness and somewhat more excitable temperment. Tule has "cow sense," which came as a complete surprise to me...but on the other hand, I shouldn't be surprised, because this horse can quite literally do anything. We've been taking lessons together now since last April and I think we've really come a long way together. In fact, our trainer just yesterday suggested that we're probably ready to consider our very first dressage test. Tule appreciates having a job to do, and with me, he's going to learn them all.

Pepper is the horse I intended to be my son's. She's a chesnut grade quarterhorse mare of unknown age, but our best guesses put her at about fifteen years old this spring. To my dismay, Pepper was sick from the moment we brought her home last March, and we spent months trying to make her better. Finally, in August, Pepper had surgery to deal with a badly infected gutteral pouch on the left side. I'm happy to report that she made a ful recovery. However, in the time it took to get her better, my son's riding skills surpassed her abilities. So, Pepper will live out her days as a pleasure trial riding horse that anyone can hop up on. She doesn't mind that one little bit.

My newest equine family member is Dillon, or GBM Pocos Smokin Dun, a rising 2-year-old AQHA dun gelding. Dilly is pretty much my dream come true horse; I've loved him since I first laid eyes on a photo of him way back in April of last year! His breeders, the Ganns of Tennessee, are wonderful people; here's their website for more about them and their program. I was able to bring him home on January 17th, 2009. Dillon has a sweet personality, lots of intelligence and curiosity, and I know that we're going to have the most incredible time as a team together.

This blog will serve as an online journal to chronicle the journey I've been living for the last year and a half as I've taken steps to make my dreams a reality. I will post updates often, and share photos along the way. Feel free to make comments or send me emails...when I'm done knocking the mud off my boots, I'll sit down to share!