Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Overdue Update

My god, not really too sure where time is running off too, but it certainly seems to be flying.

Apologies for the total lack of meaningful updates on the mare, but I suppose this is where I'll assuage my guilt by saying "no news is good news."  Right? especially with the beast ponies.

So, just to recap, last week's visit was a blast.  Getting there took a little longer than normal, since the Lavender Festival was in full swing (apparently that means every woman over 50 and hippie in the Seattle area was cramming onto ferries and crowding the small highways that The Boy and I needed to use to get to the mare).  It did make for some fairly fragrant pit stops, but that wasn't exactly high on my priority list...

Upon our arrival, the mare was out in pasture with the herd, pretty calm.  Apparently the herd integration has gone pretty well.  She spends her days with the group (not nights yet) and moves with them, when they move.  They only exception (and slight trepidation) that she's been showing is that she won't follow the heard around to the back pasture.  Instead, she'll return to the barn (where there's a sweet old mare she loves) and wait for the group to return.  I guess this means she isn't totally comfortable with the group yet and that her night time stall still offers her a lot of comfort.  But, to the untrained eye, she looked pretty darn content grazing away with her little birdies on her back in the middle of her new friends.

She was kind enough to nicker when we showed up and came ambling over right away with ears perked.  It was the sort of friendly, loving attention that this horse deprived girl totally needed.  My heart melted a little and The Boy commented that "we're gonna be here a while, aren't we."

Uh, yeah. Yes we are.  I miss my pony and she's being cute. In fact, we might never leave.

We chatted for a bit with Cowboy man about how she's been doing and discussed her ongoing groundwork.  Her body looks GREAT.  Stance is relaxed, feet are growing, her hind hooves are doing great barefoot, and P's shoulders continue to look looser and more relaxed.  On top of that, Dr. Finn has been doing level 4 laser treatments on her knees and they look fantastic.  The hair is still course and discolored, but the skin is soft and totally healed.  Two things it definitely hasn't been since she took that spill after her second myelogram.  Apparently additional treatments might even return the hair to its natural black, but I'm less concerned about that.

Once I was satisfied that the mare was happy, healthy and looking like a champ, Cowboy Man led her (at liberty) up to the barn so he could show us the sort of groundwork he's been working on.
getting ready for a snack...
 He reiterated that when he's working the horses in the arena, he takes a few buckets of alfalfa cubes/grain/whatever with him so that P doesn't just associate the ring with "work" and "frustration," but also with goodies and snack breaks (a girl after my own heart..).

Seems like a basic principle, but making a conscious effort to keep something obviously positive associated with the geography of "work" makes a lot of sense to me.

Anyway, first he demonstrated the basic "rating" work he's been doing with P.  Essentially, asking her to maintain a distance of 6' (give or take) regardless of the speed Cowboy Man walks.  She's supposed to be cuing off his body language as well as a very exaggerated exhale when he slows and stops.  The actual word "whoa" is saved for once P's feet stop moving.  The idea is that she associates "whoa" with an actual stop, and not the discussion or request.  That way "whoa" becomes our safe word of sorts, or an emergency brake should when we need one.

Sounds simple enough, but I was a moron at it.  When it was my turn to try I felt like an eight year old pony camper.  It was really hard for me to get P to respect my 6' bubble at all.  She followed me ok, but the whole stopping before she was in my space thing, was... well slightly more difficult.  So were the exaggerated body movements, which I was having to make much more dramatic than cowboy man.... A sweeping bow/open arm to ask P to step forward, and square stop/arms over my head as a request to stop.

If/when she invaded my space, I wiggled her lead and stomped at her feet (she was unimpressed).  We did get a bit better and the frequent stops for snacks seemed to keep P mostly interested.  The Boy even had his turn with the mare and did a pretty darn good job for someone who enjoys patting and looking at ponies, but not leading or (god forbid) riding them.
Frankly, they both looked a bit suspicious of each other, but points for trying!
When P's attention started to wane, Cowboy Man took her out of the ring to play with Obama the Llama.  Apparently his new role is to be nosed and herded around by P.  She is still somewhat terrified of him, but does a good job of being a big girl and eventually getting her nose on his matted self (good mare). Obama the Llama did attempt to spit on P... but she scooted away..

Anyway, we did a few different exercises.. working P on a longer line, at liberty, etc.

All in all it was a great day that we capped off by Cowboy Man demonstrating how he's been working with P on her "food aggression" in the stall.  She's getting a lot less witchy about her food, but it's taking some serious work to get her to be polite when you are close to her (as opposed to only being polite when you chase her off her food).
Playing nice with our foods
It was a great trip and the really fun news is that for our next visit, we'll likely be on a trail ride!!!!!  Cannot wait.

I'm quite certain that I'm leaving out important details.. but my brain is fried from a week of family events, more moving and total lack of horsey stimulation.  Hopefully this isn't a continuing trend (yikes, I'll be a marshmallow brain in no time).

Hope everyone is staying cool and getting some great rides in!  Now if only summer would return to the northwest....

Monday, July 18, 2011

All Good

I've been a terrible, terrible blogger.  BUT I did go see Miss P this weekend, which was fantastic.  She's the dirtiest and rattiest that I've ever seen her, but she looks GREAT.  More to come when I actually get my pics/videos (videos!) uploaded, but here's what we have to look forward to:

- Lucky knees! the lasers are working!
- Obama the Llama is our new favorite thing to chase!
- Balls! We play with them
- Groundwork! with Cowboy, yours truly and (AND) The Boy!
- Happy feet! (though I forgot pics of those)

Also, the mini-tack-corner in the garage is complete and ready to be revealed.

All in good time... But here's a sneak peak of the princess herself, somewhat horrified at her lack of spa treatments and doing her best impersonation of a ranch horse. 
I want a bath now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

boring, boring, boring, pony!

So.  I've been desperately thinking about what to post about.



Yeah, I got nothing.  The horse is still gone (wah), the house is still waiting for furniture (wah) and my ability to wax poetic on a random equine topic seems to be totally stifled by whatever lack of brain waves seem to have dismantled my cognitive powers. (wah?)

However, UPS did bring me my pretty garage-tack-room hooks, so maybe I'll attempt to bang those together (though at my current level of brain power I should probably not handle tools or any sort, power or not)...

Also, I've decided that Saturday will be another pilgrimage to go see Miss P.  I miss her face, and while I've been getting updates from Mr. Cowboy Man, it's just not the same.

I'll save details for after I confirm them with my own eyeballs, but suffice it to say that it sounds like Pia is continuing her education and relaxation as planned. :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

"Hanging" in there

Thanks to everyone for their comments and support.  It has been a extremely odd week, but ultimately it's resulted in some wonderful family time, rest and catching up.

The Boy and I are back home, (or we were.. now he's in Alaska) and once again my idle, horseless hands are starting to twitch from the lack of a giant beast to groom, tack to clean, and grime to become inexplicably covered in...

I certainly can't claim boredom.  Between family occasions and a continuous fight with contractors over actually finishing our house (I kid you not they are redoing the floors today for the fourth time. 4th, four. cuatro)

Anyway, since I can't move in, can't ride my horse and can't sit still, I'm creating new projects for myself as quickly as I can.

Current task?  Mini Tack Room in the garage...

When I was little I insisted on keeping my saddles safely in my room.  Although my dad had cobbled together a pretty good tack area in my little barn, it wasn't totally climate controlled and it was all I could to do to keep green mold from exploding all over anything left alone for more than 12 hours..  god bless the northwest.

Ever the handyman, Dad quickly hammered together a rather impressive, legit looking saddle rack to be bolted to my bookshelf which would allow me to not only safely store my prized possessions, but also keep my quarters looking plausibly more like a bedroom than a barn (something my mother greatly appreciated). 

The saddle rack quickly became sacred and has since made a home wherever I have been: college, apartments, my cute loft, my parent's basement and most recently, our new garage!  Although there's only space for one car, there are fantastic giant shelves, an alcove for a workbench and the perfect little corner for me to claim in the name of horsey-crap.  Dad wasted no time in installing the saddle rack and transporting my saddles from his basement to my new horsey corner, but my random pads, blankets, bridles, and bits are still heaped in a pile.

Since I still keep my tack significantly cleaner than I keep my kitchen, a heaped in a pile will not do.  Consequently, I've been dreaming up the perfect hooks and racks and shelves so that I might have a little mini barn sanctuary tucked away in a corner of my garage. (there's also this little walled off closet that currently has brooms, and paint and a few other items in it that might eventually be re-purposed into a legit tack space.. but that's more of a project...)

Here's the rack, as it currently stands.  Two saddles (not in use.. tear) and pads are tucked in the shelves beside.

I plan to keep the shelves dedicated to blankets and tubs 'o things, but I also just ordered some decently polished looking bridle hooks and blanket bars to help organize the heap of headstalls and nosebands and to also give a bit more "equestrian" feel to my little corner.

As of this morning, these babies are on their way:
 I went for the all brass version.. Nothing over-the-top-creative or fancy, but I like the brass casting.. dresses up the everyday bridle hook...

Also, we snagged a couple of these bad boys:
They're significantly more than I would spend if I were outfitting an entire barn... but for a few nicely placed bars, for some (nicely cleaned) pads and sheets... I like 'em.  Although, maybe I'm just going through withdrawals from our former BO's stunningly equipped tack room... sigh.

It's not much of a project, but it's keeping me occupied with browsing websites while the mare lounges and plays and wiles away my dollars on her recreation.

Aside from my sacred-saddle-rack, I've never really organized my "home collection" of tack and things beyond miscellaneous tubs of out of season blankets and such... anyone out there have a mini tack room? Tips? things to consider?

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