Life on an Arabian breeding farm in Capitan, NM.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A few days with no rain…

Yes we need the rain, but I’m glad for the respite. I re-did get the door between the hen house, and the run, and used a slide bolt to keep it up. I had to use washers for spacers (taken from some roofing screws). I figured it wouldn’t stay up by itself, but since it was I thought well maybe. Wrong. It blew down twice. I was supposed to get something at the Mercantile when I got hay, but of course I forgot. I found a slide bolt in one of Rudy’s little trays, and that did the trick. Then I got out some Thompson’s, and coated the run door, the framing, and the first door going into the hen house. That should do for the hen house until I buy some wood for the framing I want to do around the tin. Yea for that.
So what else have I been up to? Riding maybe, no such luck. Besides working on the hen house, I got the mower out, and have been mowing taking advantage of the dry weather. The last two years have killed us just when I was getting grass to grow. Then last year when the mower wasn’t working, all my hard work trying to encourage grass, and not weeds to grow, really messed things up. I was getting the weeds under control, now this year I have tons of weeds again (mostly sunflowers). It’s not as bad as it could be, I actually have patches of grass growing without weeds where before you couldn’t find hardly any grass let alone whole patches of it.
The arena is a total loss. There are hardly even any weeds growing. When Katie’s horses were here I had them in the arena for a while. They ate what was growing in the arena down to the roots. That followed by drought, and the arena is mostly just dirt. Oh well, I’ll just start putting manure in it again to try to get some grass growing. Then too it’s still early, and it may recover some yet this year. More than anything else I have anthills. All of a sudden this year I have huge anthills popping up everywhere. Some of them are killing my trees. I got rid of the one in Ser-Haat’s stall, but now there are dozens more. I’m afraid I’m going to have to get some ant killer. I don’t like doing that, but I’m afraid I’ll have no choice.
I also did some drainage repair. Lizzie, and Marina’s stalls weren’t draining (again). I have to do this every year it seems. Of course if I had a tractor it would be no problem. No I did it the old fashioned way with a fork, and rake. I needed the exercise anyway. Then I had to build up the dirt for the gate into the arena. I couldn’t get the mower in, so I dug up some dirt around the rails, and threw it into the gate area. There’s a lot more work to be done, but even if I did nothing but maintenance I wouldn’t get it all done. I’m not willing to give up riding so I’ll do a bit (like stall cleaning or mowing), and then ride a bit, or vice versa. The days are perfect. There’s a nice breeze keeping things cool making it perfect for riding or working. I really need to ride though. I haven’t been on a horse since the whole chicken affaire. Star needs to be worked before she’s forgotten what I’ve taught her. Not that I think she’ll forget, she just needs as much practice as possible if I’m to get her solid under saddle before winter hits. I also need to get Stormy started. I’m not sure about Ser-Haat. I don’t know if I can start him. Everyone says I’m a great rider, but I’m not as confident about my abilities. We’ll see, I’ve got a lot more to do before I attempt Ser-Haat. Hot as he is, he’s been so good about letting me do things with him so long as I take it slow. Who knows I may get brave, and attempt to start him myself foolish child that I am.
Woodcutting is also high on the to do list. After messing with the hen house this morning I was going to go riding. I started out, and of course it started sprinkling. Change of plans. It wasn’t raining hard, and that’s really the best time to go out cutting wood. It’s hard work, and the cool breeze, and light rain really feels good. I went to the tree in the back of the property that blew down last winter. I still had the main trunks, and some medium sized branches I could harvest. I already had the chain saw batteries charged up in anticipation of just such an opportunity. I cleaned all the branches off the main trunks, and cut one trunk into two pieces. I may have gotten a bit stronger, but not that strong. By the time I finished, the gator was pretty much full. I was going over to another old piece when it started raining a bit more. I opted to take a break under a nice full tree. After a bit Pena came over to join me. I guess she felt the same way. The boys have so much fur they didn’t even know it was raining I’m sure. Bree went up to the house so it was Pena, and I under the tree. The rain felt good, but that was no reason to get sopping wet, besides these rains never last that long. When it cleared up I looked at the tree trunk, and decided that my little chain saw just wasn’t quite big enough, then too I wouldn’t have enough juice left in my battery to finish the job. Back at the house I got all the wood cut into lengths except for two logs. I also found a hitch hiker. I picked up one of the logs only to discover a baby lizard cling to it for dear life. We have two fat lizards in the garden so I figured they could use a little one to help keep them from over eating. Hopefully he will stick around. It was after 4:00 by then, and I was just a wee bit tired.  I feed at 5:00 so that gave me a little time to rest before having to feed. Once at the barn I noticed that Penny had pushed the panels into Ser-Haat’s stall again. Good thing he’s a skinny little thing. I pulled out the long chain threw it in the gator, and when I finished feeding everyone, I wrapped the chain around the last panel, and pulled it straight with the gator. Wouldn’t you know right there, there was actually some nice green grass growing. Well now there’s nice green grass with some tire spin marks interspersed.
I still want to ride, I still have mowing to do, and then there are always stalls to do. Everyone needs grooming. They just all had to sunbath in the mud. Ibn is the worst. He rolled, and squirmed until he was completely covered in mud on both sides. Then everyone’s feet are all packed with mud so they all need to be cleaned out. I love the rain being desert raised, but it sure makes for a lot of work. The one good thing is Jeri is no longer peeing in his stall (thank you Lord for that). I put in a layer of wood pellets (which he tried to eat of course), and he just stopped. His stall is nice, and dry the way it’s supposed to be. Now if I could get Lizzie to stop peeing, and pooping in her stall, good luck with that. It’ll never happen!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Big Red has arrived…

We have two groups of hummingbirds that pass through. The first group arrives late April early May. They are mostly Greens, and Ruby Throats. Then about late July, early August the other group appears. Big Red is with the second group. He showed up a few years ago, one small feisty little bird who was always ready to take on all the rest of the hummingbirds. Now he’s actually a Brown Hummingbird (I think, I looked it up anyway), however depending on the reflection of the sun, he’s anywhere from red, to copper, to a brilliant bronze color. The first year it was just one, and every year thereafter there seem to be more reds. The other day for the first time I saw a minimum of three reds. I knew they were here as soon as I saw one bird not just chasing another away, but chasing him from tree to tree doing actual combat. That’s my red. I think they have a short bird complex. They are about half the size of the greens, and rubies, but they make up for it big time, thus the name Big Red. Already we have too many for me to count, and a lot of them are reds. In a week or two we will be inundated with hummingbirds. I put up three more feeders, but I don’t think it will be enough. It seems like every year I need more feeders. I’ve become one of their stopover’s on their way south.
We’ve had a little rain almost every day, and things are starting to green up. The girls in pasture aren’t even at the fence line when it’s feeding time. I’ve had to call them, and call them to come in at night. I see a little gleam of white, and here they came running. It’s such a beautiful sight seeing them run like that. They’re free, but not wild. Yeah I know it’s only food that brings them, but still it’s something special.
April came, and was going to spend some time at her mothers cleaning for her, and then we decided that the next day she (and Katlynn) would clean stalls, and I would mow. I also decided to clipper the little ones (inside dogs) as long as April would be at  her mothers. They needed to be done a long, long time ago. Well April got sick, and had to go home so I mowed the next day anyway, or at least I tried to.
As I mowed the sky got darker, and darker with huge thunderheads forming. The cloud formations were unusual with layers upon layers of white, and dark clouds. Finally about 2:00 it started to sprinkle. I got in, and no more than 10 minutes went by, and the sky opened up.
We had a deluge of rain that lasted well over half an hour.  After that it rained off, and on all afternoon, and into the night. When I went to feed everyone’s stalls (inside barn stalls) were wet, but Jeri’s was the worst. The rain was coming in from the south right into the stalls. The skylight above Jeri’s stall needs to be replaced so I have a feed bucket there to catch the rain. Well it overflowed, and he peed in his stall to boot. I was not pleased. Then this morning I go to feed, and he peed in his stall again. What’s the point of having a nice dry stall if you’re going to pee in it? He has a nice big paddock he doesn’t have to pee in his stall. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that. It’s not the right time of year for wood pellets, and besides if he’s going to do this all the time, that gets mighty expensive. I’ll put a water bucket in his stall to catch the rain since we supposed to have another big storm this afternoon, but I don’t know what to do about the pee. Maybe if it gets mucky enough he’ll find another spot. Stallions, and their pee spots!

I have to re-do the chicken slid door. It works great when it’s dry, but guess what? Wood swells when it’s wet. Duh! I found some small hinges I can use, and a nail, and hook should serve as a latch. I’ll have to put some more Thompson’s on the door since it’s such a thin piece of wood. I don’t know why I can’t think of these things sooner, ah yes the “O” thing. I love that excuse. No one can dispute it because it’s true. I did get a load of medium sized wood while I was out feeding. It’s soaked clear through, but when it dries up I can start cutting wood. Summer’s half over, and I haven’t gotten any more wood. Everyone in town is stocking up, but I wanted to ride so I’m behind the eight ball. Days like this I can’t ride (way to wet, and slick) so gathering wood is a good thing. I’m also charging up my chain saw batteries so when it does dry up I can take the chain saw out. I’d really like to figure out a way to keep my woodpile at least semi dry. I can’t put posts in the ground (Rudy tried that already, bedrock you know) or I would make a lean-to affair. I have plenty of roofing tin that’s for sure. Which reminds me I have to bring in the damaged roofing tin from back of the arena. Sounds to me like I have a full day ahead, let’s see how much I actually get done.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The babies have flown the nest…

When I came back from feeding the horses I found the garage babies flying around the garage. This was the second clutch of babies for our flycatchers this year. They are insect eaters, and the parents were trying to call them out of the garage so they can take them down to the barn. There are a lot more insects there. One baby refused to leave the nest. It was probably the last egg to hatch, and I’m sure she’ll be gone by tomorrow. Hopefully some day we will have our own flock, and they’ll help keep the fly population down. With the monsoon moisture the flies have finally come out. Thankfully it’s been cool so we don’t seem to have as many. Also the tape I put up a couple of years ago really helps a lot. I need to buy another roll as last year’s roll is almost done. In Auberry we had tons of dragonflies plus the parasites we bought, which made a big difference. I see some dragonflies every year here, but not enough to do any good. I think we’re probably too high an elevation for them. At any rate I’ll take whatever help I can get.
Bear, I think has passed the last of the chicken bones. For the first time since the chicken incident he had his tail up, and he hasn’t been bloated all day. He started barking last evening so I went, and checked mother hen. She was in her hen house safe, and sound. I closed the door anyway. I know the foxes can’t get into the front of the hen house, but just in case… Thankfully she’s recovering her composure. She’s eating much better, and not wandering around whimpering in her little chicken way.
As for everyone else, I think they all liked the moves I made. Jeri carried on the first night, but since then he’s been fine. He just loves being in the barn, he can watch all the goings on. Once Marina let Espree, and Lizzie know she was the new boss she settled in. Then when I was unloading hay I noticed she was in front of Lizzie’s stall. That’s not where she’s supposed to be. She’s going into season, and she wanted to meet the new boy in town (LBM). I caught them touching noses. He’s just tall enough, and she’s short enough to give me a late baby. Well not too late, but I don’t want any babies from him yet. It doesn’t really matter since his stall has a stud chain on the gate. Now her gate sports a stud chain too. Sarashea taught her too well. This particular gate is a real pain to open. You have to lift it then pull the bar back. Not a problem for her, of course that evening I think she was a little peeved at me. I kept hearing the gate clanging. Hey she opened it once after all.
Jazzy has always loved being in pasture, she can get all her energies out, and ends up being a much calmer horse. Now if she can get rid of her gut, and put on some muscle that would be great. I have to get on a schedule!!! The only problem I foresee is now that there is grass growing (thank you Lord, but we still need a little more) they’re not up in the front of the pasture. I may have problems getting Star so I can ride her. Fresh grass is more important than coming when called after all. Sere has room to move around again, and since there’s no competition (she was in pasture before, and then there was Penny) she’s quite happy. Stormy being a boy helps a lot. Penny, and her were always fighting, but Stormy is like Ser-Haat, her son, sweet, and lovey. As for Penny, she seems quite content with Ser-Haat next to her. She’s not fighting with him while she’s waiting for her hay. I was afraid the stall wall (cement) was going to come crashing down with her, and Sere always fighting, and kicking. Ser-Haat doesn’t care who he’s next to. He wants to be friends with everyone much like Star, and Stormy. All in all I think things will be just fine with this new combination.
The Mercantile is out of Chafhay so I’m soaking Alfalfa pellets along with the beet pulp for Jeri. I’m hoping it will put some weight on him. I know seniors all have a hard time with weight, but without molars it’s nearly impossible to keep Jeri’s weight up. Still I keep trying.  I’m bound, and determined to find a combination of feeds that will put weight on him without making him high. Problem is most grains will do just that, and he won’t be able to digest them well either, because he can’t chew them properly. Maybe I need to increase his oil. I bought Smart Blend this time. It’s a combination of Olive, Canola, and Safflower oils, no corn. I don’t want to give him too much or he’ll get diarrhea. I’ll have to watch his stools carefully. I think I’ll try that before I spend more money on weight gainer, which I’ve never had much luck with. Of course I’ve only bought the weight gain they have at the Mercantile, and they only carry one brand. I checked the internet, and Smart-Pak has one they guarantee will work (or your money back) so maybe I’ll try that one if the added oil doesn’t help. I have to get more weight on him before winter. Even in the barn stall it still gets mighty cold up here, and without a layer of good fat, he’s sure to get sick from the cold. As a last resort I may have to buy a blanket. We stopped using blankets years ago because the horses always destroyed them. I don’t even know if he’s ever had a blanket on, probably not. In Central, and Southern CA you don’t really ever need blankets. After the first year we were here the horses started growing a thicker winter coat. It’s very seldom that they shiver. Of course if I know it’s going to be a very cold night I give them extra hay to keep them warm through the night. I usually try to mix some alfalfa with their grass when it’s really cold. They love it (of course, who doesn’t like candy), and it gives them an extra boost. That won’t work with Jeri because he can’t really chew the hay, and the little he does eat doesn’t really do him much good. Then too because he’s a stallion he burns a lot off.  At any rate I have a few months before cold weather sets in (please Lord). With my luck we’ll have an early cold snap, and poor Jeri will be shivering in his timbers. Too bad he doesn’t have Cushing’s, then he’d grow plenty of fur!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bear has been vindicated!!!

Sunday I decided to take a day off. I putzed around, watched some TV, and just plain relaxed. I could start on the chicken house Monday when April was supposed to come over. I couldn’t do much by myself anyway, as I needed an extra pair of hands. Well April didn’t come, so nothing got done. I also forgot to shut the door to the chicken house. Later in the evening I heard Bear barking, remembered about the chickens, and went outside to close their door. It was dark, and the outside light didn’t do much more than make it easier to get there without killing myself. In the morning I let the dogs out just before I fed. Nothing seemed amiss as I fed the horses. I feed the chickens after I feed the dogs. When I went to open their door I saw the carnage. I only had one chicken left. Bear was all bloated so of course he got yelled at the most. There was a small tear in the front of the house, and I could see where Bear had tried to get in, in several places. The one hole would have been hard for him to get through which was confusing, but I yelled at him anyway.
April finally came over, and we started working. I wasn’t going to loose the one hen I had left. We worked all day Tuesday, and Wednesday I had to go to town. On the way we made a discovery, there on our road not far from the house, I saw a gray fox. She was so beautiful I had to take a picture so I stopped, and then April exclaimed there are her two pups, no three. They were absolutely precious, and very well fed. One of them was so brave he came all the way up to the jeep. I didn’t want to scare him, but I told him he needed to go away. Cars were something to be feared. Now I have no doubt they are the ones who raided my chicken coop. Foxes climb trees very well, and there’s a tree just beside the chicken run. Part of the tree has limbs that go through the fence. During the day the chickens like to roost there, and that’s where I found three of the babies hiding the first time they raided the house. Bear was dong his job after all. The fact that he helped himself to the spoils is beside the point, he’s suffering for that yet still. Dogs are not supposed to eat chicken bones as they splinter so badly. I’ve been giving him stool softeners to help things move along. The first day there was a little blood in his stools, but since then his stools have been normal. He’s just been getting bloated now, and then. I give him a stool softener, and it clears up.
We finished the hen house yesterday (well it’s almost finished). I still have to buy some wood for trim, and some paint. Then it will be finished. Right now it’s safe. My one hen is very lonely though.
She’s not eating all that well, and she keeps hanging around me whenever I go into or around the coop. Well she was part of a flock, and now she’s all alone. The good news is her feathers are growing back. For some reason the last two batches of chickens picked on each other something terrible. They all had bald butts, and backs. April is going to try to get some fertilized eggs so we can hatch them, and start from scratch. The problem is, it’s so late in the year finding fertilized eggs is going to prove to be a problem. I may have to wait till next year for more chicks. We’ll keep trying.
As for the horses, it has been beautiful riding weather, but drizzly, and rainy for the most part. Poor Jeri (who has a very fine coat) has been shivering almost every morning when I go to feed. He has no fat on him to keep him warm either. I decided I really needed to get him in a barn stall where I might be able to fatten him up some more, but most importantly he’d have more protection from the elements. Now moving him into one of the barn stalls presents some interesting issues, like he’s a stallion, and I have mostly mares. Rudy came up with the best solution. I decided to move Jazzy out to the pasture (with her dam, and half sister). That would give me one free stall, and help to get her feet back in shape. She grows as much toe as her dam. Thankfully Star grows a much more even foot. Jeri would have to go to Marina’s stall, as it’s the largest. I could move Marina into Jazzy’s stall, move Penny to Sere’s stall, and put Sere in Jeri’s stall. That leaves an empty stall between Jeri, and Penny. Sere is too dominant a mare to put next to Espree, and putting her next to Stormy gives her a long run. Her toe has almost completely grown out, and she does better with more constant walking, that’s why putting her in pasture was so good for her. This arrangement is actually good for everyone but me. Sere, and Penny were always fighting. Penny’s much happier next to Ser-Haat (gelding). In the same way Sere, and Stormy get along just fine. The only problem is now every time I take a mare out to work in the arena Jeri is going to get all studly on me. It will be good training for the girls, but more work for me. Then when I take Ibn out, I really don’t want to think about that. Needless to say it is going to be interesting. It wasn’t a problem with Ibn in that stall (that was a long time ago), but Jeri is another matter. He went 15 years without any nookie at all. Once he found out what it was, well let’s say he wants it all the time.
Before we moved everyone I wanted to clean feet, brush them up, and put fly spray on everyone. With the rains we didn’t have much of a problem, and it was so cold, not really cold, but too cold for the flies. Today was our first dry warm day, and I knew the flies would come out in droves. Then too everyone I just knew would be sunbathing in the mud. Sure enough Marina was black (she’s a gray), and everyone else had some caked mud on them somewhere. Marina, and Lizzie are already shedding their summer coats, and growing winter fur. Medication helps, but they still grow more fur than normal. Their feet were packed, and I had to medicate some of them before thrush took hold. I was also able to get rid of some excess sole, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to have April trim everyone. I did have her trim a bit of Jazzy’s feet before we put her into pasture. Maybe the next time April comes she can work on feet.
Tomorrow I have to go to town for feed, but I really want to get a ride in too. Then as soon as the stalls dry up a bit, I have to get to them. The rains made a mess of everything. I have to figure out a way to both train, and clean stalls. Both undertakings take a lot out of me, but I really want to have both Stormy, and Star well under saddle. Stormy I have to start from scratch, which makes it difficult, as I really need April for that. I never know when she’s going to be here, and most of the time she’s working over at her mothers. I’ll figure it out just like I figure everything else out. You think about a problem long enough, and eventually you find a solution. Hey I made a fortress (Rudy’s words) for my no longer existent chickens out of scraps around the property. I can surely figure the rest out.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

No riding for a while…

Just when the weather gets nice (not too hot, not too cold) something has to happen to muck up the works. Ok something is always happening to muck up the works, but that’s beside the point. I never should have bragged about the new chickens. Wouldn’t you know it, Bear ripped open the chicken wire on the chicken house again. I don’t know what set him off this time (no skunk), but it could have been the squirrel that has been helping himself to the extras the chickens leave. At any rate I lost six chickens, three babies, and three hens. With the help of my father, I managed to save two babies that were staked out under the tree next to the run. That was fun. Here I am kneeling in the mud under a tree trying to convince two little hens I’m not going to kill them. It was not a pretty sight let me tell you. At any rate I got the hen house temporally fixed. That means I repaired the chicken wire put up new boards, and screwed a big board on the corner so he can’t get at the chicken wire to pull it out.
The only reason I say it might have been a squirrel that started the whole thing is that Rudy noticed one in the chicken run. The dogs have chased that particular squirrel many a time. On top of that there’s one in the barn that is driving the dogs crazy. The barn framing is metal, with regularly spaced holes. This makes it very convenient for the squirrel to escape from the dogs. For over two weeks as soon as we enter the barn I hear squeaks, and paws skidding on the cement. I tell them to leave it alone to no avail. Now while Bear isn’t too smart he is persistent. One day as I was leaving the barn I hear this terrible howl. I run into the barn, and sure enough Bear has his mouth hooked inside the hole. I said he wasn’t too smart. As soon as he saw me he gave one last yank, and pulled himself free. He was trying to tear the girder to get at the squirrel. Thankfully he only tore up his gums, and he hasn’t tried to pull the metal apart again. He does learn eventually. Also thankfully, the squirrel hasn’t been in the barn of late when I go in. Maybe he learned too, or maybe he just learned to time it for when he hears the gator. Of course I keep the barn pretty clean of goodies to steal. He did steal two of my measuring cups though, and he’s ever hopeful that I will forget to cover something (which I do often enough). If Bear saw a squirrel in the chicken run that’s all it would take. If he couldn’t get one squirrel another would do, and since the chickens are easier to catch they served the same purpose. Then once the chickens started fleeing out of the chicken house it was nothing for the other dogs to catch what they could, pack mentality you know.
I was ticked off all day, and I finally came up with a re-model plan. We have lots of tin roofing left by previous owners. I’ll put a tin border all around the bottom of the chicken house, and make a proper door to let them into the run. I have three 2 x 4’s from the roofing that blew off last year (shuffling barn) to make a frame around the tin. Bear can’t get through that. It won’t look godawful, and it will keep the chickens safe. I haven’t quite figured out how to do the door to the run yet, but I will. I want a pulley sort of lift I can attach to a string so I don’t have to go inside the house just to open, and close the door. That may have to wait a while since I can’t operate Rudy’s circular saw, and I need to cut a piece of plywood for the door. At any rate I may not post for a few days, as it will take a while to do the re-modeling. I swear if it’s not one thing it’s another, and just when I was getting into a routine.
When I came back from feeding the horses, and went to feed the chickens, lo, and behold one of the babies found her way home. I only found evidence of three dead chickens, the rest I assumed were lost somewhere, and soon enough would be coyote bait. Well one of the babies actually made it home. Trying to catch her was another trip. Pena came over, and when I told her to go she walked off a bit, and waited. Actually her being there helped me to catch the chick. Once I caught her I called Pena over, made her lie down, and put the chick on top of her. By then Bree came over to see what all the fuss was about, and basically ignored us. Pena was very good, and got lots of praises. The boys never even came over. This got me to thinking maybe I was too quick to condemn the dogs especially Bear. There are lots of critters besides skunks around here that would be more than happy to raid my chicken house. That’s why we have large dogs in the first place. Bear doesn’t let anything get on his property unless I say it’s ok (like for people). Some critter could have gotten in the chicken house again, and Bear being Bear would do everything he could to get it out of the chicken house. Besides it just doesn’t make sense him suddenly tearing apart the chicken house for no reason. When the chickens have gotten out before both he, and Taggot ignore them. Bree has always been the one to go after the chickens. Of course once they are dead none of the dogs have a problem eating them, but they eat any carrion. Where they find it I have no clue, but they do. The upshot of all this is I still have to make the chicken house critter proof even if I don’t totally believe Bear suddenly got it into his head to have some chicken for a midnight snack. Actually something else getting into the house makes a lot more sense. We’ll see how far I get tomorrow with my re-model.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Why is it…

Why is it that no matter what time I go to the barn, if it’s going to rain it starts as soon as I get to the barn? It was a wet morning yesterday morning, but that’s ok. We’re finally getting into our monsoon flow. The rains we’ve had thus far have come down from the north. They say it’s going to be dry till about Monday or Tuesday, but that’s what they said yesterday too, and it rained anyway.
I was able to ride Ibn day before yesterday, and Penny yesterday. It really makes me angry that I can’t ride all day anymore. I took Ibn for another trail ride, and found that meadow I couldn’t remember how to get to. Then I followed the fence line, and tried to crest the ridge. Ibn was just going wherever I pointed him, and I’m thinking, but how are we going to get down??? He is such a great trail horse, with never a misstep, traipsing up the ridge as if it were no more than a grass filled meadow. About ¾’s of the way up I couldn’t see a way through the brush (scrub oak, and pinion) so we started down. On the way down I discovered trees with markers on them. I followed them the rest of the way down the ridge. Someone has marked a trail up the ridge, that’s not to say it was a smooth trail, just passable. I’m going to try again, and follow the marked trees to see if I can top the ridge. I want to see what’s on the other side. People are putting up more, and more fence lines making my rides shorter, and shorter. This could lead to more riding area for me if I’m lucky. I’ll also see if I can get a picture of the ridge we’re climbing to show how rugged it really is. I wasn’t too sore when we got done so maybe I can ride longer than I think. Ibn doesn’t rein well keeping my arm in a position it doesn’t like. I get piercing pain from my chin down my neck, shoulder, and arm. I can relieve the pressure if I let my arm hang down holding both reins in one hand, but most of the time I have the reins in both hands. We’ll see. There’s also a new chiropractor in Capitan, and when we catch up a little I want to see if she can help me. It would be nice.
I rode Penny on the trail for the first time. She tried the moving bit when I went to mount her so I worked her in the round pen until she stood still. It took three tries of hard cantering before she figured out it was a lot easier to let me mount her. The honeymoon is over, and she is seeing just what she can get away with. Unfortunately it doesn’t work, she can’t get away with being a brat. I calmed her down in the arena, and then took her around the property (41 acres all together). Once I was confident that she could handle the trail without much fuss I took her off property to the state land next door. We were on the rode, and all of a sudden she did a 180, which I turned into a 360. The rains left one little puddle that reflected the clouds, and sky. I tell you when she wants to she can turn on a dime (reining possibility?). I couldn’t have asked for anything better on her first time out. Needless to say we got beyond the puddle (after numerous tries, and sniffing’s), and on the way back she was still suspicious about it, but didn’t give me too much trouble. Of course we were almost home by that time, and getting home was far more important than any old puddle. All in all she did very well. We spooked a rabbit, and she didn’t even break stride. Another time I caught movement of deer, and she didn’t even take notice. Ibn stops every blessed time. He doesn’t do anything he just stops for a minute, and then goes on. She also kept a nice even trot. She even collected on her own most of the time. I set my reins, and she would lightly bump up then bring her head down. I’m sorry she’s a long waisted mustang. I’m used to nice short backed Arabians with a very smooth gait. Her trot isn’t as bad as a Q/H, but it’s close.
All in all I was very proud of her. It was a short ride (I don’t want to sour her), but it told me a lot. She’ll make a good trail horse, which is what April really wants. We’ll do more trail rides, and then when I think April is ready I’ll let her take her out. By then maybe I’ll have Star ready to do trails as well, and we can go out together.
Tomorrow I’ll try to ride Ibn, and Star. I have to get beyond one horse a day. Of course today I was going to work some horses, but when I finished with Penny, it was thundering, and lightning. Best not to work a horse just in case all you know what cuts loose. I’m not stupid after all. It was 3:00 by then anyway, time enough to quit, and rest before I had to feed. Just now it’s time to put this child to rest. There’s time enough tomorrow, and the next, and the next…

Thursday, July 11, 2013


The weather has been beautiful. We’ve had spits of rain almost every day. We even had a couple of good soaking rains a few nights. I’ve been able to ride or work the horses almost every day I haven’t had errands to run, for some reason I have to keep going to the Mercantile to get hay once a week. Of course we need to eat as well, and there are the trips to Ruidoso for meds, or tires, or other foolish things like that.
Marina is still lame. I was going to check her again today, but I puttered out (more about that later) Ser-Haat has another sinus infection so I had to get more antibiotics. I know it’s the weather that is causing it, but this is the first year it’s been this bad. Jazzy is positively fat. I’m trying to work her on a regular basis, but there is nothing regular about my life. Lizzie continues to improve. Espree is Espree. She has gotten really good about getting the halter on. I think she has finally figured out that it’s more fun going out to get some exercise than staying locked up in her stall all the time. It took her long enough. Stormy forgot all about the saddle we put on him last year. It’s going to take a while to get him back to being comfortable with a saddle on. I don’t even want to think about breaking him. He throws big bucks. I also forgot to tell you about our newest members of this menagerie. I lost some of my chickens (sad story), so Sherry said she would buy some chicks if I took care of them. That way we could simply split the eggs once they start laying. I got her seven chicks, and kept them in my bathroom (of course) until they were big enough to put with the others. They are now about half grown, and as cute as they can be.
Star is doing very well with her training. She was getting a bit overwhelmed with the arena so I enlarged the round pen by one panel (10’), and rode her in there. She did much better. She can walk, trot, and follow my direction pretty well. I’ll wait until she’s completely comfortable with that before I try to canter her. I haven’t been collecting her at all, but the last time I rode her I used a martingale. She was much calmer, and I got a hint of what she will be like to ride once she is well broke. I won’t use it again (I don’t think) till she knows more, but I wanted to stop her head flipping before it became a habit (like mother, like daughter). Rudy said he doesn’t introduce a martingale till after a couple of months, but he knows some trainers use it at the get go. Since I really don’t know what I’m doing I’m relying on my gut for a lot of my decisions. I wasn’t hard in her mouth, but she got the idea that she can carry a rider comfortable w/o all her antics. As I said she seemed to calm down, and relax during the ride. We’ll see if she remembers what she learned with the martingale, and carry it through with her next ride.
I learned a little more about Penny. While April was here I rode her to show April what she can actually do. When I put her into a canter she bucked on me (first time) so needless to say she got a harder workout. When I was done I put April on her in the round pen. I’m having April ride w/o stirrups, which worked fine since Penny still had my saddle on her, and her feet only reach to the top of the stirrup. She was doing so well at the walk that she wanted to try to trot. I told her to go ahead, and she was amazed at the difference in Penny. Part of the reason she was afraid to trot was Penny trotted off like a mad woman. She now trots like a lady. After her session (which went very well) we were talking, and she told me that the woman who had Penny got rid of her because every time she went into a canter she bucked. Of course she never warmed her up (because a horse shouldn’t need to be warmed up), and she was training her for barrels. That of course puts a whole new light on the subject of Penny. No wonder she tears off like a bat out of Hades, and jumps whenever she gets the lightest touch. She was probably whipped too. I use a whip, but lightly especially with a youngster. A tickle is generally all one needs. At any rate it explains a lot. Once she discovers she doesn’t have to bolt every time she’s cued I think she’ll be fine. She even kept a perfect headset all the time April was riding her.
Now Ibn. Since we’ve been out here he’s had nothing to deal with except his girls, his kids, his herd. He’s become herd bound. He’s a stallion in his prime, and in very good condition. I took him out on a trail ride as I said I would, and he was perfect until he thought we were headed home. We had a couple of battles so when we came to our gate I rode him past it much to his chagrin. Today I worked him again, and he was being such a pooper I took him out on the trail again. It was hot (the clouds hadn’t rolled in yet), and humid so he actually worked up a sweat. We were out for two hours, and he was still full of it. I was exhausted. I took him back into the arena, and he was a little better, but not much. I don’t know what to do about it except work him hard till he figures out that if he behaves himself he can get back to his girls. I hate the thought of riding him down Laughing Horse with all the horses there, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to resort to that battle or no. He has to remember that when he’s under saddle he’s no longer a stallion, but a performance horse. For once I wish he wasn’t in such good shape. I was so tired I couldn’t work anyone else. He does look great though. If I looked half that good…
Tomorrow I’ll try to get to Star, and Penny. I’ll do Penny first. It’s easier to retrain, than to train. Star is good, but she still doesn’t know anything, and since this is all still so exciting for her she tires me out. If I have any energy left I’ll work some of the others. If only this were twenty years ago. I had plenty of energy then!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Busy, busy, busy…

The weather finally broke (thank you Lord). It was 66 when I went out to feed, and only got up to the high 80’s, still hot, but doable. Of course as soon as I got to the barn to feed in the morning it started to rain. Thankfully it quit by the time I finished, and we got no more rain. It’s not supposed to really start raining until Sunday so I still have tomorrow to ride. I got an advertisement for Aussie saddles, and come to find out mine is a Kimberly, and to of the line to boot. I also found out that I can get proper leathers, and stirrups. I’ve been using my English irons which I knew weren’t correct, but it’s all I’ve got. Now I know where I can get the proper ones. I can also get a saddle pad there. My saddle is really too big for me, but the horses especially Ibn love it.
After I fed the dogs, and inside animals I went down to the barn to ride. Ibn got first pick. He was a total idiot. I discovered in the process that my knees, and thighs have gotten considerably stronger. It was the only way I could keep my seat. Ibn has the smoothest canter of any horse I know, but not today. I described what he was doing to Rudy, and he told me he was cross firing.  He said he had done it to him before, and the best thing was to stop him, and start him up again. Well I did that numerous times, and he never corrected himself. Tomorrow I’m taking Ibn out for a very long trail ride. After the arena I took him out for what was supposed to be a relaxing ride around the property. He couldn’t even do that right. He’s getting ridden till he drops (not really) or until he at least starts behaving himself. This is ridicules. He knows perfectly well what he’s supposed to do he’s just being a little snit to see if he can get out of being worked. Well he’ll get worked tomorrow.
After riding Ibn I took Star out. We warmed up in the round pen, and then into the arena. That was a big step for her. On top of that I made her trot. I’m used to the tip toeing thing, but she didn’t tip toe. At first she trotted only about three steps, and then stopped. This was way different, and she just didn’t know what to do our how. She finally figured it out, and while we didn’t go the entire arena, we still went more than three steps. I was very proud of her, and she got three carrots.
Next Penny was up. I discovered that Penny has been very well trained. Whoever trained her knew what they were doing. I just have to slow her down, and teach her how to collect. She’s a mustang so she has a very straight neck, but she can still learn to collect.
After Penny I rode Star. She did so well I took her to the big arena. This was a big step for her, and she did great. She went all over the place thinking that she’s the boss not me, but that’s to be expected. We also trotted a little. The first time it was a bit shocking to her. It’s different when you have someone on your back after all. Still and all I was very proud of her.
This was just the beginning…