Saturday, October 29, 2011

How do I look?

Here are just a few pictures of Slick taken a few days ago. Does he look any thinner? I finally got a weight tape and I think it is defective. It says he weighs 982 pounds. I'd a sworn he was more! 
He is smaller than I thought though-about 14,2hh,  I can stand next to him and put my arm across his back and rein him back if necessary. 

He had his best work out yet today. The area where this picture is taken is a round pen, and it has great sand footing. The boarding operator moved some branches that had fallen into it, so now it is available to use. Yippee! 
Slick is friendly- in fact he is one of the friendliest most lovable horse I've ever worked with. BUT he has NO work ethic. 
Why would he? 
He hasn't had to work in a really long time. 
But all that has changed. 
After the clinic with Jaq I decided to use some of the showmanship tips with him. 
Hmm... can you say respect the chain? 
It didn't take Slick long to figure out where to put his feet. They aren't perfect, but they are getting close. He stands like a statue- unless another horse comes by. Then he gets goggle eyed and wants to gaze at them longingly. 
Can't say I blame him, after being alone for so long- but it is still unacceptable. It almost breaks your heart to see him try to pay attention to me and yet keep one crazy eye on the passing horse. 

Today I saddled him up and rode him with spurs in the round pen. He zigged and zagged around, didn't want to track along the wall of the pen. 
So remembering what Sandy Collier always says, you change their direction to change their minds. 
Every time he lifted his head to look around, he got pulled into the center of the pen and we changed direction. 
The railroad tracks run alongside the road next to the pen too ( oh joy) and when the locomotive came chugging down the tracks, hissing and snapping, he lifted his head... and got checked into the middle of the pen and changed directions. 
When a car drove into the driveway, slinging gravel and blaring the radio, he spooked sideways, got checked into the middle of the pen and changed directions. 
All this time we never quit trotting, as fast as he wanted to go, as long as he tracked along the pen and didn't drop the inside shoulder. After twenty minutes, he was puffing pretty hard. 
So was I! 
He never offered to buck though- which is a blessing! 

Then it was time to work on Whoa. 
I said whoa. Nuthin'. 
So I said whoa and squeezed my legs. Still nuthin'. So I said whoa and squeezed my legs and pulled him down to a stop, then backed him up repeating whoa,whoa whoa, changed directions and trotted off. 
A few more of those repeats and Slick was listening for that wonderful 'W' word. 
Whoa! He lifted his back,got his legs under him and stopped. We did it a few more times, just to make sure he was getting it.
I think that he did great! I can't wait to see how much of it he remembers tomorrow. 
On the other pony front though I am very discouraged. 
Still no one has bought Desi. 
I've even dropped his price radically. 
I have never in my life had this much trouble selling a horse!
I can't buy TC until Desi is in a good home. 
I'm still trying, marketing him to other horsemen and putting him on websites, but with winter just around the corner it seems like a long shot. 
I am really depressed about it. 
Such a nice horse, and broke to death, and no one is buying.
Desi is too nice to just give away. 
And since I've tried to separate myself from him ( emotionally) now I feel like if he doesn't sell I'll have to try to fall in love with him all over again. 
I know that sounds totally stupid. 
I feel totally stupid too. 
And yet, I just can't give up on the idea that TC should belong to me. 
And that there is a perfect girl out there just waiting for a nice horse like Desi to be her one and only.
I'm not getting much sleep, my mind keeps running schemes in my head. 
Like The Mask said, 
"Somebody Stop Me!" 

Monday, October 24, 2011

When is a Clinic not a clinic?

Answer...When it is given by not only a wonderful horsewoman but a personal friend!
Jacqueline Allen Burke , owner of Superior Quarter Horses in Clements Ca, came to the Dolittle Ranch in Loma Rica and gave a few of us 'show-girls' a real informative and hands on riding clinic. We didn't just do ONE thing- we did EVERYTHING!

Darryl and his new best friend Roxxy.
Remember the gelding I posted here named Darryl? Well, a friend of mine bought him for herself and she brought him to this clinic. Boy he's grown and gotten a whole lot redder. But the best thing - he is perfect for her!
Ms Jaq riding Ms Mel's dun filly

We started the morning on Saturday with English Hunter- Quarter Horse style. She had those gals posting and posting. I remember now why I don't ride English!
Sheesh! What a lot of work!

Then we went to Western Pleasure. This is where I got to ride TC. He is soooo smooth to ride, even as a growing colt. And cute! Man o'man! Jaq worked on our leg positions, our hand positions, working the corners of the arena, how to position yourself on the rail to optimum advantage, when to school and when not to school. More info in that hour than in any other clinic I've ever been to. Makes a cowgirl hungry!
 So we had to have some fantastic pulled pork sandwiches for lunch.
One thing about the Dolittle Ranch~ the chow is unbeatable!

After lunch, Trail, and Horsemanship- finishing up the afternoon with Cocktail Showmanship.(Which is way more fun than regular showmanship!)
The nice thing was, you could ride any of the segments or just one or two. Of course you learned a lot by even watching and listening. I used some of the Showmanship info on Slick today!

I feel particularly lucky because Jaq brought The Colt- the little QH stud I'm trying like hell to buy- and I got to ride him a lot of the day. He was especially good at Trail even though he has never been anywhere before, was surrounded by mares and  was asked to pay attention ALL DAY!

Jaqueline and TC ( The Colt)
Aside: I thought I had Desi sold, but the young girl backed out. My frustration level at people right now is at the top end.  I'm sure Jaq feels the same way about me trying to purchase TC. 

Desi waiting his turn
Ms Linda in the Cabana
 Any how- after the riding portion of Saturday was over, we retired to The Cabana for Cocktails and Hamburgers...

...then to the fantastically relaxing hot tub! (Sorry no flash photography there! EEGADS!)  The stars were close and bright, the October weather was balmy and the company was more than excellent!
Krissy on her new horse Xena.

The next morning we got up and saddled, warmed up with Jaq coaching and then Big K ran some BIG calves into the arena to work. Desi got a little snorty at first, but then he figured out what I wanted and he started getting under himself and turning when they turned. If I could work him on cattle more frequently, I'd bet he'd be great at sorting. Too bad the nearest sorting is once a month, on a Sunday, in the evening, about 100 miles away!
Big K has just bought a big grey gelding to work cows on. He was freshly gelded, and is only two- but he was sure cute! Did the Trail obstacles, and really went to work on those calves! I like him bunches!
Big K's new Colt (freshly gelded) Shasta. 

Remember Darryl? Here he is!

Jaq and TC. Looks like he's smiling doesn't it?
A beautiful morning in Loma Rica. 


Jaq was great, and Deniserita and Big K are the most gracious host you could imagine!
We can safely say that a good time was had by everyone!
Thanks D and K!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Best quote this year!

“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.”
Bertie C. Forbes

This was extracted form the first Horse Training Tip on this website.

I know it's hard to persevere, it gets harder with the bad weather, your age, your ability, or what ever else ails you.
I know- I get discouraged too.
But I keep at it.
Some people call me a cock eyed optimist.
But listening to other people who have trials helps me stay the course.
I hope this website and especially this quote, helps keep you motivated.
Ride happy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sometimes it's the small things

Working where I work, I run into little bits of History every day. 
Some times it is easy to see the historical significance of an item; like Hitlers Chair, Mussolinis' wool coat or a weapon used by a famous outlaw. 

But sometimes the significance is hidden. 

Such as this cavalry spur.  

It was in a lot of other stuff- non horse related, in a manilla envelope marked, "Important Spur".

Of course I had to peek. 

I found an English type spur, brass colored with a broken and rusted rowel. 

I closed the envelope and went back to work.

But I kept thinking about that spur. I had to look again. 

I took it out of the envelope, setting it on the table.

It seemed unimportant at first glance. 

Attached to the side of the item was a small typed note: 
" Confederate Cavalry soldier's spur. Killed in the Battle of Gettysburg."

I thought about that for awhile. 

This spur, this one lonesome little item, was a battle scarred veteran of The War Between The States. 

Some young man had strapped this spur to his boot and ridden into  battle.  

 This spur had touched the hide of a war horse, urging it into a charge.

This spur, with its rusted and bent rowel had lain on the bloody Gettysburg field.

 The battle had lasted three hot days in July.
 So many men were killed, horses too.

As I held this spur, images flitted through my mind, heroic and horrific. 
One little brass spur. 
Still here. 
Still with a story to tell. 
Who will listen? 

Monday, October 10, 2011


No, we are not getting ready for a parade! But he's cute enough!
After a week of getting to see and hear and smell other horses and people, Slick was ready for his first lessons. 
Actually I was ready to find out just what he knew.
I've rehabbed horses before- mostly when I was wearing a younger woman's clothing- so I wanted to be a little careful. 
First I needed to see if he knew how to longe on a long line.
He didn't. 
So we spent the first day learning about going, and staying, on a large circle. He was a little worried about it, but with some encouragement, he finally figured it out. 
Whew! He was so relieved! 
The next day we did it again. Again- worried! 
But he got it a little bit sooner, both directions, and he's starting to 'understand the words that are coming out of my mouth'. 
Walk, Trot, Whoa! 
Then it rained and he got his first taste of outdoor weather in nine years! 
I was more worried about it than he was!
So I put a blanket on him. 
He stood for it, but he didn't know what it was. 
This weekend I decided to put the bit on and longe him. 
I usually take the reins and just run them back to the cinch rings, and then over the saddle seat. It doesn't put a lot of pressure on the mouth, but gives a little contact if they lift their heads up too high. 
He was really worried about it!
We started out at the walk, and he kept getting his tongue over the snaffle. 
"Figgr it out" I said. 
He walked and fooled around and finally he did figg'r it out. 
Then I asked him to trot. 
And when his head came up- he hit the bit,
and went straight back and down. 
He whipped his head back and around and jerked my shoulder something fierce. 
But I eased him back on the circle and kept him going forward. 
He kept wanting to raise his head just a little too far- 
he sat back and jerked himself down three times. 
Forth time, he started to do it again- remembered and with a little more encouragement- he moved forward, flexing and dropping his neck just a tad. 
Yeah Slick! 
We did the exact same thing the other direction. It took him only two times around to figg'r it out that time! 
Woke up today with a HELL of an ache in my shoulder. Ouchh!
But had to go back out again today of course, I only have three days in a row to work him.  
Saddled him up, tied his head like before, 
around and around he went! 
Walk,trot and lope. Stop and back. 
No flinging himself!
No jerking my arms! 
I decided I would step up on him. 
Took off the long rope, untied the reins and tightened the saddle- actually I call this particular saddle 
"The Barcalounger" because it is heavy but comfy. 
He wanted to walk around and not stand still, so we just walked in little circles - I actually hopped- until he stopped. 
Then I swung up. 
And there we are. 
I got up and down several times. He quit the circling after the third time. When you're this fat it is just too much  trouble! 
I just sat there. lifting on one rein until he turned his head to it, then back to the center. 
Then the other rein, and then back to center. 
Then we walked around in a few circles. He's sooo stiff in the ribs. 
But if I press my inside leg hard, he will step away from it and cross his leg over- and that is a good sign. 
He spooked once, but not too badly, and we kept going around. 
Finally I let him stop and just stand. 
He was sweaty! 
So was I! 
So I think our first three days of lessons went extremely well. 
I found out~
He gets worried early but with encouragement he relaxes. 
He tries to please.
He remembers from lesson to lesson.
He stands without being tied for everything
He loves cookies.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Further Adventures (and Humbling) of Vaquero Girl in the Bay Area

It rained today.

I wouldn't even mention it, but being in California and all, we don't see a lot of pre-sip.
But it rained today- the first rain of the season ( just before Cow Palace as per usual) and today it sucked more than usual.
Some people like the rain. I don't.
It grew dark and the warehouse was clammy and cold. The people didn't come and the day just dragggggged by.
Finally it was time to drive home- via rush hour traffic on Hwy 80 and Hwy 24.
If you have ever driven in rush hour traffic in the Bay Area, you that there is NO Rush to it at all. It should be called Slow Crawl Hour or This Sucks So Bad Hour.
There I was... doing the Slow Crawl towards home. It had been a super slow day at the Auction House because of the aforementioned rain, and I was looking forward to a glass of wine and a chicken breast;
 Something blew up in the engine of the BMW.
Smoke and Water Vapor poured out and the damn car just DIED in the second lane.  I was able to finally get it started ( First Thank you to my Big Guardian Angel) and pulled over to the middle median. Luckily during Slow Crawl Hour everyone goes at a slow crawl. People shook their heads in pity and joy that it wasn't them pulled over in the median.
And contrary to belief- there are a few Good People left in this here world. Even though THREE tow trucks passed me by, several motorists of all persuasions rolled down their windows, in the rain,  to ask if I was ok and did I need them to call for help!
 Bless all of you people!! 
I called 511 which is a free service in the Bay Area that will help stranded motorists. I was at the edge of Oakland and that is a poor place to be, anytime of the day, but especially in the glowing twilight. 511 did send a tow truck and Bless his little Heart, he hooked up and pulled me off of the freeway.
As he did , I realized that had I driven just four more minutes I would have been inside the long, dark no shoulder, no median length of the Caldecott Tunnel. ( Second Big Thank You to my Guardian Angel).

The Tow Truck driver took one look at my sorry , wet, OLD, blonde, self when I asked, in a small voice,       " Will I be SAFE in the part of Oakland you have to take me?" before he tucked me about a mile closer to the tunnel, on a frontage road that was easier to access and MUCH safer instead! ( Third BIG Thank You to that Guardian Angel!)
My cell was nearly dead ( of course).
I managed to call Hubby and had him call AAA Towing to come and get me and the car and take us home. Thanks AAA PLUS plan!

My old friend Jerry who is a retired CHP and knew me and my Step Dad heard my name on the radio. He called my cell to make sure I was ok.

Then while I was waiting for the 2nd Tow truck another  CHP came by and checked on me. What a little cutie pie he was and a nicer young man I have yet to meet.

The AAA Tow Truck Driver just happened to be around the next bend and he showed up in about 30 minutes.( Fourth Big Thank You to the Guardian Angel, in case you are counting!)  He got me safely home, parked the car in front of the house and refused the tip I offered him.

So even though my day totally sucked- the forces of the Universe that I insist exist- formed around me, not only to protect me in body, but to renew my spirit and faith in the humans that live and work around me. And to make me feel lucky and to count the blessing that the Universe has heaped up on me that I have a tendency to forget.

A hard lesson, relearned once again.
I am humbled.