Life on an Arabian breeding farm in Capitan, NM.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Super Moonrise...

I almost missed the Super Moonrise. Luckily Rudy went outside just as the moon was coming over the horizon. I don’t know about where you are, but here the Super Moonrise was, well super. I missed the deepest color by the time I got outside, but still got some spectacular shots. My good camera wouldn’t come up with anything but the moon itself, so I ran, and got my other camera while Rudy fiddled with the settings. My old camera, which is on its deathbed, caught the moon, and the surrounding landscape. It is real hard at night to get photos of the moon without moving. I hold my breath to steady my hand. Then this morning we had just as spectacular a sunrise. We have beautiful sunrises here, but by the time I let everyone out, make my coffee etc., it’s too late, and the sun is already up. Rudy got up first, and let the dogs out, so we were able to watch the sunrise as we talked, and drank coffee. It was a wonderful morning, save for a bit of wind. I figured it would be an indoor day after the forecast last night, but by the time I finished feeding the wind had stilled, and the sun was shining bright.

We took advantage of our time together by both riding. It was interesting to say the least. All things considered both Ibn, and Marina did well. Marina only threatened Ibn twice. Both of them were excited. First of all Rudy hadn’t ridden Marina for a long time. She loves him to death, and whenever he gets on her back she gets overexcited. In addition to that she was out with Ibn. She kept an eagle eye on him making sure that he didn’t get too close. She hates boys, except when she’s in full bloom. She’d just as soon kill them as look at them. Ibn on the other hand is both terrified by her, and totally in love with her. He loves all his girls, but Sadie, and Marina are his favorites. Being a complete alpha mare, Marina barely tolerates anyone. She and Sadie are buds, but that’s because they were our first two mares, and both had our first babies the same year. Everyone else she lets know, that she’s the boss, end of story.

We only did about half my normal ride, Rudy fighting Marina, and me trying to keep a goodly distance between them, and us. Rudy hasn’t ridden for quite a while, and no doubt will be sore tomorrow. Hopefully between now, and July he’ll be able to get a few more rides in. I will have had 4 months to work up to the 35 miles, but he won’t have that luxury. If this were ten years ago it would be no problem, but as he keeps reminding me, and I him, the body just doesn’t work the same anymore. We both keep looking, but can’t seem to find replacement parts, which is the pits.

Both horses were sweated up from excitement ten minutes into the ride. Marina wanted to go, go, go. Ibn only cared about the fact that she was there. I’m certain he looked gorgeous with as much prancing as he did. Marina always looks gorgeous, even though now she is still showing the effects of Cushing’s syndrome. I can’t wait until she completely sheds out as it really makes her look dumpy. She is already loosing her swayback, hay belly look, and the little fatty deposits characteristic of Cushing’s have disappeared.

For those of you who don’t know, Cushing’s syndrome is caused by a benign tumor on the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland in turn controls which hormones will be released when. The classic symptoms are long, sometimes curly fur, which does not shed out, a swayed back, and a big hay belly. If not treated, horses are prone to founder as well. Some Cushing’s horses become IR (insulin resistance) as well as having a host of other complications. As with some horses, Marina does better when she is pregnant. I plan to breed her this year, so she should be in great form for the ride. All this exercise is doing her wonders. There are two standard medications, Thyroid medication (Thyro-L), and Pergaloid, which was designed for human Parkinson patients.  We have her on both until she has about three months left in her pregnancy. The Pergaloid inhibits a mare’s ability to produce milk, so she is off of it until after the foal is weaned. We left her off it for too long this year so her symptoms came back. It will take a little while for her to get back to normal, but once she does she will have regular cycles, and we can then breed her. If I breed no one else I will breed Marina.

When we got back to the house, I let Rudy unsaddle Marina while I played with Ibn in an area we want to eventually turn into a dressage arena. We worked on side passing since he seems to have forgotten everything he knows with me. I also worked on spins, albeit very slow spins. Rudy put Marina in her stall, I unsaddled Ibn, and rinsed him off much to his dismay. Marina was much better behaved than Ibn, but he was out of sight by then, and when he was there, he just knew Marina was right there in the first stall. Poor thing it was all too much excitement for him. If I can get it in before the winds start tomorrow I will take Marina out for her 10 miles. She’ll be much calmer with just me. I do have to change up my routine though. Part of the reason she was acting up with Rudy is that I pretty much do the same thing in each place even though I change up the route we take. She wanted to canter where I usually let her canter etc. I can’t let her memorize the routine completely because then she won’t be listening to me, or responding to my cues, but doing her own thing. There can only be one boss, and it’s not her. If I let her think that she can just do whatever she wants, then when it’s important, she won’t do what I want her to do, and I can’t have that. We’ll see how she does tomorrow.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Where have I been you ask? Nothing exciting, trust me. The weather has been absolutely beautiful the last number of days, and I have been stuck inside. Well one thing was good at least, I got to spend two days with Rudy. He was fried, and needed some home time other than overnight. When I wasn’t spending time with him, I was doing tax related stuff. When Rudy went on the road, he stopped taking care of the finances. Since I now had to do everything, I tracked finances on a spreadsheet, and now I have to convert everything to our financial program. In addition he didn’t set up some new accounts related to his new business, did nothing with the credit cards, and shall it suffice to say that I still have a lot of catching up to do before I send everything to the Tax Accountant. I don’t mind it when the weather is bad, but the days have been perfect riding weather (sigh).

Today I finally went out with Ibn. I couldn’t take it anymore, besides it’s not good to let the horses go too long without being ridden if I intend to ride them in July. It’s all about conditioning. I went out late, spending too much time this morning talking with Rudy, and watching the news programs. Before we left I had Rudy take some pics of Ibn, and I. I can’t take pics of Ibn, and hold him at the same time. Why I don’t know but such is life, I’m just not that talented. He’s still a fur ball, but he doesn’t look too bad. In another month he’ll look much better. He is starting to get more definition in his muscling which shows he is toning up. He’s not where he should be but getting better. Stallions always stay in pretty good shape, after all they have to look good for the girls, and all that testosterone keeps them pumped up.

Rudy asked if I worked him a little before I started, because he was being antsy, and of course I hadn’t. I reminded him that Ibn doesn’t do well just standing there. Still he posed, and we got the job done. Actually except for being a little spooky he did very well. We started out at a nice trot. It was warm with a cool breeze every now, and then. I even wore a kerchief around my neck thinking I would be sweating before the ride was over. I generally wear it around my head to keep the sweat from dripping into my eyes, but with the helmet on that wasn’t going to work. As it turned I ended up needing a slightly warmer shirt instead.

I have found that with Ibn he seems to work better after a few days off. As I said he was a little spooky, but I think that was more because it was later in the day, and the shadows were different. Horses are so funny, they spook at the silliest of things, and if things aren’t exactly the way they were the day before, then it’s a whole new ball game. I put Ibn into a light canter at the first meadow, slowing to a trot, and then a walk when it got rocky or narrow since I don’t particularly like getting scratched arms. The horses don’t seem to understand that our skin is thinner than theirs. Trees, and branches don’t bother them after all. He kept up a good pace down to the first loop. I finally slowed him to a walk, as the road was getting rocky, and steep. He’s still unsure of himself, and gingerly picks his way through the rocks. Everyone talks about the horses getting stone bruises if they’re not shod. Ibn will never get a stone bruise the way he tip toes through rubble, trust me.

He acted up a little as we rounded the turn to pick up the second half of the loop. He wanted to trot so I let him trot up the steepest ridge on our track. Halfway up he stopped to catch his breath. I told him it wasn’t a good idea, but he just wouldn’t listen. We crested the hill, and since what goes up must go down he partially slid down the backside of the ridge. From there on it’s pretty flat until you get to the grassy knoll, and since the track goes along the knoll except for the end where you cross over the other side, we cantered a nice comfortable canter. Towards the end it was more of a gallop, but that’s because you climb to get over the ridge. We got over the top, and I pulled him back into a slow trot. He had gotten nicely sweated up, if there can be such a thing.

Over the crest we went, down to the road, across the ridge, and back. I kept him to a calm trot most of the way across the knoll to the other long meadow, there we cantered. Since we were going north again he was more of the thought that we could gallop home. All we really do is a big loop skirting the meadow. We got to the end, turned back the way we came on the other side of the meadow, and he got all disappointed because we were going south away from home, even though we were actually on the way home. He doesn’t seem to understand that even though we are going in the opposite direction, we are going towards home. Marina gets it, but Ibn doesn’t.

I kept him to a crisp walk back towards the main road. He was happy to turn back north, but didn’t understand why we turned west on the next loop. I wanted to increase the distance as I had with Marina. Going this direction the ridge is very steep going down. I had to really encourage him going down, as he was sure he couldn’t do it. Maybe by July he will get it into his head that he’s a horse, and he can do these things quite well. To his credit, even though he’s sure he’s going to die, he does what I ask even though its with trepidation. Horses are no different than us. They too have to overcome their fears. He’s getting more certain of himself all the time, but he still has a long way to go to get as confident as Marina, which I’m sure will never happen. She is absolutely fearless. I have only seen her balk at one extremely steep downhill, which quite frankly I wasn’t willing to go down. This was years ago when we first moved here. Rudy was riding Marina. I’m not sure who I rode, but it had to have been Sadie I’m thinking. At any rate there is a process the horses have to go through much the same as people go through before they have the confidence to tackle something new, and scary.

We finished the loop and were finally on the final leg home. When we got to Baker’s property I noticed a white truck over by the windmill. As we got closer I could see that no one was in the truck. I thought maybe Dwayne might be doing something to the windmill when I heard a loud crack. Ibn went straight up, and sidewise. I jumped too. Someone was taking target practice. I looked for the two horses but couldn’t find them. After about the third shot Ibn realized that the loud noise wasn’t hurting him so he settled down. Whoever it was kept shooting. I spotted the two horses chomping on some fresh alfalfa on the far side of the pasture. I guess whoever was taking target practice wanted to make sure that they stayed cool, calm, and collected as well as far away from where they were shooting.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. We were cantering the last meadow on the state trust land when Ibn realized just where he was.  We got back to the barn, and when I checked the time, I was very pleased. Even though we did more than the 10 miles he still made it in 2 hrs and 20 minutes. Not bad, not bad at all. He was cool, and dry so I rinsed him off, and threw him in his stall. I went into the house, and took a very short nap before I had to feed. By this time it was a bit cool, so I put a jacket on to feed.

After dinner Rudy, and I visited while we watched TV. He’s leaving tomorrow, and taking Skye with him. Skye is all primped (meaning he got a bath), and ready to become a road puppy. Ok he may not be ready, and he’s not a puppy anymore, but Rudy is going to take him anyway. Frankly once he gets used to life on the road, he’s going to become even more spoiled than ever. I’m really going to miss him, but that’s nothing. Rudy has to miss being around everyone. I can give up my little Skye so Rudy can have a little bit of home with him.

Maybe I’ll ride again tomorrow, and work on the taxes in the evening. That sounds like a plan I can deal with. Right now the only plan I’m interested in is one that includes a nice warm bed. Yep, that sounds like a good plan to me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

El Brato...

Ibn was our first El Brato. Now every foal is at one time or another an El Brato. Yesterday however, Ibn was definitely everything that name insinuates. Like today it was a beautiful spring day. I even wore a sleeveless shirt. Ibn had been so good the last time I rode him I was excited about riding him again. Little did I know what was in store for me. I suppose he might have just been having one of those days as we all do once in a while, but I doubt it. He has such a sweet expression one would never guess that underneath that sweet expression lies a spoiled little brat.

It started well enough, except he wouldn’t move over for me to get the quip off of the gate. I had forgotten to get it before I mounted him. I was going to just leave it there, but at the last minute I decided it would be better to have it, and not use it than not to have it, and need it. Good thing I took it anyway. Now mind you even when he’s acting bratty he doesn’t do anything bad, like buck or rear or anything like that, its little annoying things. He’s more like a “Dennis the Menace,” looking at you with those big innocent eyes saying “what?”

Off we went my spirits high reveling in the day. I had even remembered to put on sunscreen, bring my camera, and everything. When I first asked him for a trot I should have been warned because he wasn’t really enthusiastic about it, but went into a nice posting trot. I’m not fond of posting as I’ve stated before, so I sat back, and forced him to collect. Well that didn’t go over very well as he flipped his head, and continued in his fast trot. I’m just as stubborn as he is so I continued bumping him till we got to the narrow rocky, skinny path through the trees. Annoyingly he came to a stop, and when I pushed him forward he just happened to pick his way closest to the trees so I scratched my arm.

We got through that, and I pushed him into a trot only to get that fast posting trot again. By this time I knew, it was not going to be a fun ride. Determined to make him work I pushed on. Up to this time Ibn had not really worked up a good sweat. Now that can mean one of two things either he was in great shape or I wasn’t working him hard enough. I know for a fact that he’s not in that good of shape so I was determined to give him a good workout whether he liked it or not, so I continues to push him. When we came to the little gully that leads down to the road to Baker’s land, he all but refused to walk down it. Ibn doesn’t like rocks. He is after all a prissy city boy. Too bad so sad is my reply, and down the gully we went.

When we came to the two horses suddenly he acted all studly. He knows better than that, and when I corrected him there he goes flipping his head again. Of course this only made me more determined to make him behave. It’s about this time I’m also thinking maybe I’ll have Rudy ride him, and I’ll ride Marina. Marina may be a pistol, but she behaves herself, and now that I’m getting used to her gait, she’s becoming the easier ride.

We go down the first turnoff, and I let him relax a bit, besides we are coming to a good sized hill, and he has to walk up, and down the rocky ridge. The minute we turn the corner to cross the ridge in the opposite direction, he picks up the pace only because it turns towards home. The road winds the other way, and he sees the ridge. I can feel the deflation in his little mind, as he slows to climb the ridge. The good thing is that I don’t have to worry about him taking a misstep as he carefully, and I really mean carefully picks his way over the rocky ridge, and down again.

We come to the Y, and regretfully I don’t lead him back home, but in the opposite direction, and then if that wasn’t bad enough I ask him to trot. Woe is he, you’d think I was asking him to go on a 100-mile trek. Each time I ask for a trot he shows his displeasure by flipping his head. Finally we come to the grassy knoll, and to add insult to injury, now I ask him to canter. Ibn has such a smooth easy canter, but not today, he all but galloped down the road, tucking his head only when I forced him to. He is being such a brat that I don’t let him slow down even when we have to climb to the top of the knoll. I let him relax by letting him trot as long as the path is soft ground, relenting only when it gets rocky.

Down the opposite side of the knoll I let Ibn walk, as he needs to cool down. He’s worked up a sweat in the nice weather, and he needs to walk to build up his endurance. We take the trails around the other side of the ridge, and head back to the grassy knoll. True to form, I ask him to canter again, across the knoll, and up to the other meadow. Well he thought we were heading back home when we went to go across to the other long meadow, and he took off like a bat out of Hades. With the quip in my hand I lost my balance, and had to grab on to the horn to keep my seat. I hate that. With all my pain issues I no longer have the strength I used to have making it difficult to grip, and keep my seat. Luckily Ibn does respond to vocal commands, and when I yell at him he pulls up. I have to spin him around to keep him from going back towards home much to his dismay.

I point him in the right direction, and we proceed down the other long meadow. I trot him for a while, and then when we get to the rocks we slow up. He acts as though he’s never been through here before, and even takes a sideways jump when he thinks he sees something. We walk back the length of the meadow, down to the main road, and finally he gets to go home. It was a good workout for him, and a better one for me. He took two hours and 11 minutes to do the 10 miles. I unsaddle him, get myself something to drink, and get out the stethoscope. It takes me forever to find his heartbeat. Give me a break I’ve never had to take a horses pulse before. We walked most of the way home, and it took me about five minutes to unsaddle, and refresh my self. His pulse is 48. I have yet to find out how good that is. I have to email my friend to find out.

He’s totally cooled down by now so I feel comfortable giving him a quasy bath. It’s still a bit cool for a full bath, but I have to wash off the sweat, and dirt. He didn’t like that at all. It’s one thing to be rinsed off another to get washed down with cold soapy water. I feel guilty because the water is really cold, but he really needs it.  He squirms around, and around. Finally I get the worst of the sweat, and dirt off, rinse him down, and squeegee him dry. He is really looking good. His back end is bulking up with good muscle definition. I still need to build up his shoulders, and chest. He is narrow built, so looking at him head on, he actually looks more like a young horse instead of a horse in his teens.

Now that we’ve done our ride I have to go get hay. I got a slow start because my mother called all upset because my father was back in the hospital, and she didn’t know what was going on. Luckily I hadn’t started my ride yet. I go down into town, pick up the hay unload, stack it, and then I get to feed. Needless to say not only do I hurt, but I am quite puttered. I’m afraid I won’t be able to do more than two days on the ride in July. My body just can’t handle it. As it is today I spent the day in bed even though it was a beautiful day. I really wanted to ride but my body just said no. No doubt about it getting old is the pits.  At least I should be able to ride tomorrow. I’ll try to get an early start (good luck with that), but I’m making no promises to myself or anyone else. Oh well such is life, we simply have to enjoy the good things, and forget the not so good things.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Could it be I'm getting stronger...

Today was Marina’s day for riding. I was very tired this morning, and got a late start. I really didn’t feel like riding at all, but I started this, and I’m going to finish it. Marina of course was delighted. She hadn’t been ridden for a few days so she did several extra rounds around the arena. With Ibn I simply take him out of his stall, saddle him up, and go. With Marina that would be a death wish. I always throw her out into the arena so she can get some of her energies out before I get on her back. When she’s done she walks over to me, and then I saddle up. A foolish child I am not.

Since I don’t have to worry about her speed, I decided that I would increase the distance by one extra loop. Now that she knows that this is going to be a regular thing she’s not so antsy when we go out, something I am very grateful for. At the first little meadow I cued her for a trot, which she did for about two minutes before she went into a canter. It was a nice canter, and I discovered that I after riding her on a regular basis I am finally becoming used to her gait. Marina is the old fashioned Arabian, small, compact, and a powerhouse. She is short waisted, and has a sort of rocking horse movement. I’ve never been comfortable with her gait. Since we’ve been married I’ve really only ridden two horses for any length of time, Moraddinn, and Sadie. Moraddinn we traded for Sadie. Sadie I don’t ride anymore because when she gets too excited she goes down. Sherry said it sounded like she might have Equine Epilepsy. I simply don’t take a chance anymore.  Both horses are longer waisted. Ibn while short waisted has a good length of leg, giving him a totally different feel, which I have also found very comfortable. Marina is Rudy’s horse, and while I have ridden her this is the first time I have ridden her on a regular basis. Finally today I felt comfortable with her gait, both at the trot, and the canter.

The day was overcast from the beginning, and oddly very still.  I only wore a flannel shirt, and thought it might be a little too cool, but as it turned out it was perfect. The sun slowly broke through the clouds warming up the day. A gentle breeze came up so soft that it could barely be felt. It was the perfect combination of sun, and wind. All the worries of the day melted away, and there was only the land, the sun, the wind, Marina, and myself. I was no longer tired, no longer hurting, I was having a lovely time, and so was Marina.

We continued on our trail, and I let Marina canter a little more than I usually do. I was letting her pace herself. Marina is a very sensible mare. I don’t want to push her, but by the same token I don’t want her to get frustrated because she doesn’t have the freedom to let go when she wants. I won’t let her go into a full gallop, but a nice canter now, and then is enough for her to be able to feel as though this is as much for her as it is for me. If she can’t enjoy what’s she’s doing what’s the point? 

Towards the end I took her on the first loop in the opposite direction. This particular loop has two very steep hills. Sensibly she walked picking her footfalls carefully. The ridge we go over is extremely rocky, and rutted. The first time she went over it she took it at a canter, and while she never slipped it is wiser to walk than run. It also builds more muscle, and stamina at a walk. Finally we came to the final trek, and true to herself she just had to canter one more time. I was very impressed not only that she still had energy at the end, but also that I wasn’t as tired as I normally am. When I looked at the time I was even more impressed. I increased the distance, and she decreased her time. It had only taken 2 hrs, and 18 minutes for our ride. I unsaddled her, rinsed her off, and rubbed her down before I put her away. Since I still felt good, I swept out the barn. I used to sweep it out every day, but since the first bad storm we had I have had so much to do that by the time I’m done I don’t have the energy to do anything but take a nap. It was so nice to see a clean barn again.

I went up to the house fixed myself something to eat, and then took a short nap. I guess that this means that I am finally getting stronger. I get very frustrated because I continue to do more, but don’t seem to make any progress. Today I actually felt good after our ride. Now if I can only loose some of the fat that has accumulated around my middle I would be really happy. I know I am building muscle, but that “O” fat refuses to go away. I know I’m not twenty anymore, but give a person a break. The least I can get for all this work is to have at least half the body I used to have. I still have four months to go, maybe by then at least some of the fat will go away. One can always hope.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

He missed me…

I haven’t been able to ride for a few days, not so much because of the weather, but I have a lot of work yet to do on our taxes so I’ve been working on that. Today I had had enough, and I really needed to ride. It was Ibn’s turn, and as usual he patiently waited while I primped him, saddled him, and got all my gear together. Off we went. I was bound, and determined to get a better time out of him so when we rounded the main road to go down the trail parallel to our fence line I put him into a trot. To my great surprise not only did he go into a trot with no more than a cue, he actually trotted off with enthusiasm. Now this is a new Ibn. I think he actually missed our little excursions. He didn’t baulk at the culverts, went up the steep inclines without so much as a never you mind, and when we came to a flat meadow easily trotted out.

I on the other hand forgot to put on my back brace so I didn’t have the support I needed when he trotted out. That and the fact that he did it with such enthusiasm kept me posting for much longer than I would have liked. It was a beautiful day for riding. There were high thin clouds scattered through the clear blue sky. I feel sorry for the city folk who never see the skies as we do. Their skies are dulled with smog, soot, and dust. They miss so much of the beauty that surrounds them. We are so blessed here, and I am doubly blessed to be able to get on the back of one of our horses, riding through God’s country. Granted I didn’t feel quite so blessed bouncing at a fast trot when Ibn wouldn’t slow down. Finally I figured out that I wasn’t pulling him in to collect. My bad, once I collected him in we had a much more enjoyable ride.

The air was crisp enough for me to be wearing my vest, but warm enough to only have a thin shirt underneath. I did remember to put on some sunscreen (thank you Lord), for the sun was warm on my face, and neck. When we got to the grassy knoll I put Ibn into a trot, and then a canter. His gait was smooth, and clean. It was as though we were in one of those movie scenes where the girl is galloping across the plains on her favorite horse, which is so much more to her than just a horse. There is a beautiful freedom when you are riding a horse where there are no fences, no clocks, no deadlines to meet, only you, your horse, and the land. Yes, I know there are fences, and the freedom is limited, and civilization with all its demands is down the road, but for a little while all that disappears, and I am that girl in the movie. Of course I’m not exactly a girl anymore, but that’s beside the point.

Finally it was time to turn back on our loop. Ibn still had to stop every time he heard deer rustling in the underbrush until he could actually see them. He has deer, and elk visiting all the time, but somehow the deer, and elk in our backyard aren’t the same, and whatever was rustling in the undergrowth (500 to a 1000 yards away), just might come out, and eat him. Yeah right.

Ibn was very good coming home. Of course the closer we got to home the faster he wanted to go still he behaved himself. When we got to the barn I looked at the time. We left at 1:15 and it was now 3:30. What a difference from the last time I rode him. He even beat Marina’s time. It was warmer yet he was hardly sweated up. I didn’t even rinse him off. I took a soaked washcloth, and cleaned all the sweat off. He was cool calm, and collected, ready to tell Storm, and Little Big Man of his adventures. There was still a bit of hay to munch on as well. Life is good.

I on the other hand was not in as good of shape. I went to the house, took some Tylenol, had a grapefruit, and a couple of flour tortillas w/cheese. By this time it was 4:30, but I hadn’t the energy to feed quite yet. I lay down for about an hour before I went to feed. The days are longer so I have the luxury of feeding later. I was still tired, but not hurting as much. Yes life is good.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don’t know why I’m tired…

I just put the little ones to bed. First I let Benji out (he always wants to go out), and stepped outside with him. It’s a beautiful star filled night. When Rudy first came out to the southwest (from the Chicago area) he couldn’t believe all the stars we had out here. Even though they lived in the country, he had never seen so many stars. They were mesmerizing.

I remember when I used to drive from Tucson to Nogales all the time, it seemed I would always see falling stars. Even during the monsoon season there were millions of stars filling the night sky. The monsoons would build starting about 2:00 in the afternoon. It would get very humid, and there would be this special scent in the air, and you knew there was rain coming. I learned years later that it is actually the trees sweating. Yes the trees would sweat. When the humidity reaches a certain point in the southern desert the trees react by letting go of some moisture that has it’s own special smell. To me that smell is always associated with a beautiful cleansing rain. The clouds build, the thunder rolls, and the wind blows fiercely, and sometimes violently. Then the rain comes, not the drizzle that other areas have, but huge silver dollar rain drops. It could be perfectly clear with the sun shining, and suddenly it’s like a faucet is full open above you. Then just as suddenly it stops. When the desert has scattered showers, they really mean it.

The temperature drops at least a good 10 degrees, and where you were sweating profusely, you are now looking for a warm sweater. After the skies have dropped their life giving rain the clouds that stretched from horizon to horizon, dissipate, and you are left with a clear star filled night. We get the same monsoons here, but they don’t feel quite the same. Still the nights here are filled with stars that change with the seasons, and remind me of my youth.

I remember that riding all day would never bother me years ago as pain shoots down my leg. I could go on, and on all night, get up early in the morning, and feel refreshed. Now I don’t even like the idea of getting out from beneath my nice warm, comfy, cozy blankets let alone feel refreshed. Still and all I got up around 6:30 today, let the dogs out, made my coffee, and started my day. I wanted to really get an early start not just say I wanted to get an early start. Since I actually got up about when I was supposed to get up (I have parrots for an alarm clock), I took my shower first then got ready to go feed. Rudy called of course, and we talked for a little bit then my day really started.

I knew I had to check the pasture horses water first, so I headed towards them. Walking into the pasture with hose in hand, I kept looking at Lightning, and something looked wrong. I couldn’t figure out what was hooked to her head. A stick maybe, no of course not she broke her halter. Well I knew she was growing, and I was going to buy her a new halter soon anyway, so I guessed I was going to buy her one today. Granted it’s an old halter (it was Marina’s first adult halter, and she’s eighteen), but it should have lasted at least 20 years, shouldn’t it have?

Off to the main barn I go. By the time I get back to the pasture horses, their tank should be full.  Well there’s water all over the barn again. I know I closed the faucet as hard as I could, I just don’t understand why it was leaking again. I pull the hose (100’ hose) out down the barn into the road. It shouldn’t make any difference but maybe if the hose is unwound it will stop leaking. Don’t laugh it worked. Don’t ask me why either, I don’t really care, it worked.

The rest of the morning went as planned, trust me I’m just as surprised as you are. Well there was this one little interruption. Just as I was about to mount Marina, Larry called about some financial business (new job). Since every morning he has called I have been ready to ride, he asked if I was going riding. I was very nice, and I simply said yes. If he had called five minutes later I would have already been gone. The quick conversation lasted at least 45 minutes, but that’s ok, I was still earlier than usual. Marina, and I set out, but she was unusually quiet. Rudy suggested I use the Kimberwick on her as she behaves better with it when he has used it on her. I have been using it for Ibn, and it was a little loose on Marina but still ok. Just changing the bit couldn’t make that much of a difference could it? No, it couldn’t not on Marina, but I didn’t find out why until later on our ride.

Marina being calm and quiet during a ride gives one a very strange feeling, so I counted my blessings, and thanked her. Now that I had a specified route to take, we didn’t take extraneous excursions into unknown territory.  There was one little surprise, when we followed one trail, it ended up on an unfamiliar maintained road. I saw a white truck go by before I reached it, and thought this isn’t right. We got to the road, and went down to the cutoff to the other trail. Another vehicle came by, and as they passed the woman simply waved at me. This was a gated area so I was very relieved to have her wave. We came to the other trail, which actually made for a big loop back to the main road. This trail was the one with the super steep hill that was mostly bedrock. Marina took this at a walk, something she has never done.

I’m appreciative, but getting suspicious as this is atypical behavior. We reach the main pipeline road, and suddenly Marina lifts her head and breaks into a fast trot. Now this is the Marina I know, and love. She has the trail memorized, and is pacing herself, trotting in her favorite places. That means we will canter once we reach the grassy knoll. She slows down once the trail turns rocky conserving her energy. Sure enough once we got to the grassy knoll she took off in a canter. The rest of the ride was very predictable, and in some ways boring. It was actually nice to go into a canter through the knoll, and the meadow on the other side. Somewhere along the way, I lost my pedometer. I looked all the way back but never spotted it. At least I got a route mapped out that I know is over 10 miles before I lost the pedometer. I’ll get another one next time I go into that part of town, and have a spare $20.

According to my friend I have to start checking heart rates, and how long it takes them to get back under 60 beats per minute. I can keep it in the pouch I stole from Rudy’s work area. It’s a tool pouch that attaches to your belt. It worked great. I put my camera in, and my cell phone so I can wear a light weight shirt, and still have a place to put stuff.

When we got back I was very pleased to see it was only 1:30 pm. Marina did the 10 miles in 2 ½ hours. Boy did she put Ibn to shame, and I held her back. Just think what she can do if I just let her go. That won’t happen for a while, as she still needs to get in better shape. When I unsaddled her she was filthy so I gave her a quasi bath where she was the dirtiest, then rinsed her off.

Next I have to go to town to check the mail. I don’t even change except I put on a clean shirt since the one I was wearing had mud all over it. By the time I got back from the post office, it was just about three, and time to go get hay. I’ve been getting 20 bales but that only lasts five days. This time I asked if they could fit 28 bales in my truck. Penny said she thought she could. Now I only have to get hay once a week. It’s the first time I have carried that much hay so I go up our road very, very carefully. By this time I am pretty tired, but the hay isn’t going to unload, and stack itself. Luckily I only get two strand as I can’t move let alone lift the three strand bales.

By the time I am finished it’s almost time to feed, so I sit down, make a cup of coffee, and relax for about 15 minutes. Once everything was unloaded, the dogs were fed, and the chickens were put inside for the night, Rudy called. We talked for about an hour mostly about the ride. I looked the ride up on the Internet, and found some disturbing information. The horses have to be shod, and it’s actually a 6-day race not a 3-day race as I thought. That means we won’t be able to enter the race. We can however do the ride for whatever number of days we want, just for the fun of it. Since Rudy can’t take that much time off (mostly because we can’t afford it), we’ll pick three days to ride. I will have fliers, and business cards available. A friend of mine said she would pass them out at her photography table. The whole idea of this is to introduce Ibn to the Endurance world to try to drum up business. We have to sell some horses especially since I have a lot of mares I want to breed this year. I told Rudy I was going to pasture breed, and he is staying out of it. He said I’m running the ranch so I make the decisions, and take the responsibility for whatever happens. He refuses to say anything, you can draw your own conclusions about that. So far I have done pretty good. I have thought things through, and I have a plan. With a little luck things will turn around. I’m really counting on the ride to help promote Ibn since people come from all over the country to ride here.

I’m falling asleep again, and tomorrow is going to be another long day. I have to attack the stalls, and get some (ok a lot) of manure spread elsewhere than the barn after I ride. And I wonder why I’m tired? Of course that’s just the plan, which is subject to change based on the weather. If it’s an indoor day, well I do have to attack the taxes. I only have three months of data entry, of personal information, and two businesses. Yeah I’ll be just as tired no matter what I do. So if I don’t post you know why, I’m puttered.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I did it!

all rinsed off

I did it! I did 10.764 miles today on Ibn. Now I have a route I can follow, and know it’s the right number of miles. I went down our fence line looping around to the main road past Baker’s property line. Then instead of continuing all the way down the road, I went right down another trail, which it turns out was a big loop around by the gated house, and back down the trail that leading back to the main road. We were doing great (if slowly) till we came to a culvert pipe. There was no way on God’s green earth that Ibn was going to go over that shiny thing, even though part of it was covered with dirt. He didn’t know what it was and it could leap up and eat him. Round and round, we went getting really close, then he spun around flipping his head, and caught me right on my forehead, and cheek. Man he has a hard head. I told him if I ended up with a black eye he was dead meat. I tried a few more times then I took him away from the dreaded shiny thing, dismounted, and walked him over it several times. I mounted him again, and rode him over the culvert several times. He was still suspicious, but he walked over it. Thankfully the next culverts we found were no problem. Horses, they have such a big imagination.

 We reached the main road again, and crossed to the road that led to the grassy knoll. Unlike Marina, Ibn had no desire whatsoever to take off at a dead run. I did get him to trot a bit of the way, but I had forgotten to take the quip so he basically ignored me. Why we can’t have normal horses I don’t know. After the knoll we went up, and over the ridge. I wanted to follow the maintained road to the right, but it just led to a paved road, and since Copper Canyon is a gated community I wasn’t about to trespass down their main drag. Back we went to the trail that went up, and ended in a loop. There had to be something at the top of that ridge, I just knew there was something.

Part of this road is maintained, that is until you get to the big wash. That’s when it changes to more of an ATV trail. We got to the little loop, and I went up to the top of the ridge. What a view. You could see the whole of the valley. There was no way down, unless you had a parachute. With a cliff in front of me I was very careful turning Ibn around, getting my camera, and trying to get him to stand still for a couple of shots. I had no desire to have him back up and over. For some reason the thought of falling down that cliff was not appealing to me. The photos I took don’t do the valley justice. I would love to follow the main drag through the valley, but as I said it’s gated. Besides that would take me way over my 10 miles.

We returned to the grassy knoll, but instead of going back we went across to the other meadow. It ends at the top of another steep ridge, but it makes a nice loop. Finally we went back towards the main road home. We went back the same way we came up, making it a longer route, but I needed to get those 10 miles. I got back to the barn, and low and behold, Marina came out of her stall, and squirted making goo goo eyes at Ibn. The only time she tolerates Ibn is when she is in season. Then he’s the handsomest stallion in town. Of course so is every other stallion, but that’s beside the point. Now her dripping milk a few days before makes a little more sense. Her hormones are all screwed up. Franklin’s office is going to order the Pergaloid for me, but he said to watch her, and if she shows any signs of an infection call them.

At least she went into season. This is the first time I have seen her in season since she came home in November. It’s a good sign that something is working, we just want it all to work better. The Pergaloid will get rid of her hay belly, and get her back to a normal coat. I have also noticed that her skin is getting a little yucky under her tail on her back legs. That’s another sign of Cushing’s. That should clear up too. Of course she will also feel better, and will probably have even more energy. Woe is me, that’s just what I need, Marina with more energy.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to get off to an early start. I have to get hay, and I still need to go to town. At least Marina will take less time to do the same route, so that will help. I have to start working on the kids too. Since the storms I haven’t worked with them because I have been concentrating on riding Ibn and Marina. Now that I have a specified route to take, and won’t just be wandering around, the rides should take less time. If I would remember to take my quip when I ride Ibn that would help a lot too. I know that riding slowly actually builds them up faster, but it took him nearly 4 hours to do the 10 miles. That’s not acceptable. They give you three hours to complete the 10 miles so we have some work to do. Marina’s no problem, if I let her do what she wants, she’d probably finish it in less than two hours. Until I get her going on the Pergaloid, and her hormones balance out, I don’t want to push her. Besides I have four months to get both of them in racing shape.

I wish I could compete in more races, I know I would win hands down every time with Marina. I could probably do the same with Ibn, he would just need some coaxing (a lot of coaxing). Who knows, after a couple of months he may decide he likes doing trail rides, and step up to the plate so to speak, but I’m not holding my breath on that one. There has to be something he likes besides being a gentleman stallion, I’m hoping this might be it. The funny thing is, so far his get are sweet, but considerably more hyper. Breeding him to a hot mare, is not the mare of choice we have found. Jeri on the other hand, turns out sweet calm babies when bred to hot mares. Go figure, Ibn is as laid back as they come, and Jeri is actually a hot stallion. The kids come out backwards, Ibn’s kids are hot, and Jeri’s are laid back. I can’t figure it out, I just go with the flow.