Monday, November 29, 2010
When the weather is nice enough in any given day -right now- "We steal it back from winter" to go riding!
It was such a beautiful day today. I didn't think I was going to be able to ride because I had an extra barn to stop at but that fell through so I came back, saddled up and went for a ride, my compact camera in tow.
Come along for the ride! (Make sure to pause my playlist first and hear one of my favorite songs in the video)
I almost ate dirt in the making of this video.
Shortly after the gallop in the video we were going through the tall grasses on the field to the right. I was looking down at the camera when Indigo had a "get the hell out of dodge" moment. I sure didn't even have a second to know what the heck Indigo was galloping sideways about let alone see the deer as we were basically going in the other direction. When I stopped her 30 or so feet later, clinging onto her barrel sideways I planted my feet on the ground and looked to see three white tails bouncing off. The reason Indigo spooked so hard was normally deer run away from you. These deer ran sideways, pretty much in our direction. Soon she realized they were indeed not killer deer and snorted a few times before I got back on and we resumed our ride.
To think I was thinking as I haltered her in the barnyard "I haven't seen any deer in a couple days" Boy was I wrong.
Deer just might be the death of me.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I do have to say I only have a handful of images that were taken of me with my camera since it barely ever leaves my own hands when it comes to taking pictures.
I will post a few images I have, and for every image I will tell you something about where I was and why it was taken.
This picture is probably my favorite. I asked my best friend Lisa to come out and take some pictures of me for a magazine I was published in. They wanted an author bio with a picture for their website. There were a lot of funny faces that day but this one was decent. Indigo and I were watching the neighbor try and fix a lawnmower that kept backfiring every couple minutes.
My Aunt Gaye and I were off to the Michigan Ren fest. I wanted a picture of me in my pirate costume. I guess it so happened you could see my tattoo (which is still not completely finished). That was a fun day, rain and all.
I was at my friend Amanda's parents farm a county over. They have chickens. I love chickens. I wanted to pet them and chase them around and feed them things. These chickens happen to like to be held and petted and all that non-chickeny stuff. I held it, it laid it's head down on my shoulder and hugged it back going "AWW! It's like a chicken hug".
In mild terror it pooped on my sleeve. Thanks.
I know, I know. Supporter of helmets not wearing a helmet. I am young and sometimes stupid. I am also apparently ignorant to self tanner at this point as my upper body and lower do not match. Not to mention the fashion statement of shorts and cowboy boots. Go ahead, scream, run, hide. I am a terrible person.
This is not my face. This is my boot. I like boots. I won these boots from Ariat. Indigo likes my boots. She always smells my boots. Shes a boot sniffer and sometimes a boot licker. Chances are if you know me I am almost always wearing boots.
My camera got commandeered by my friend Korinne. We were at the beach down the road jumping in the water like little kids and taking stilly pictures. I loved these blue ones until they met the tile floor. I need another pair of blue mirrored aviators. I must have another pair of blue mirrored aviators. Anyone who finds me a pair of blue mirrored aviators can have my first born, but not "the firstborn". AKA my leatherman.
This was me after I cut my hair last. Family and friends far away wanted to see how much I cut knowing I always have long hair. Everyone seemed to love this picture. I like it too.
When I went to get my tattoo done Lisa took my camera yet again and got the "why are you taking my picture" look. This is the "yes I am up to no good" face.
This was the last picture of me taken that I can recall. Korinne wanted to go on an adventure to the city. She needed a cheap compact camera and got a Canon cybershot (highly recommend them if you are needed a compact). I was crunching up ice from an iced tea I had bought as I drove. Notice the aviator trend? This is my last living pair of aviators. Funny enough I have had them the longest. I paid $4 for them. I desperately need a new pair. Maybe a blue mirrored pair?
This has been a lot of fun. Thanks to Ed for hosting a challenge every week. I hope it never stops.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I used to milk cows.
I have been stepped on, squished, kicked, peed and pooped on (AKA: Christened).
Their tongues are like raspy sandpaper. When feeding they would find ways to scrape their tongues across unguarded skin.
Cows can be pretty dumb by human standards and in comparison to other livestock. IMO- They have the intelligence of potatoes, and taste good with potatoes. What more would one want from their future dinner? (I am sorry right now to all those anti cow eaters that may be reading this I can't help but love steak it's my favorite. I am a die hard member of PETA- People Eating Tasty Animals. No hard feelings ok?)
However cows can recognize up to 100 other cows in their herd. I guess that makes them pretty smart when they aren't oozing slime from every orifice. Which is always.
The first cow in America arrived in Jamestown colony in 1611. Until the 1850's, nearly every family had its own cow. The first regular shipment of milk by railroad was between Orange County, New York, and New York City and began in 1841.
In 1856, Gail Borden invented the condensed milk process. This process removed some of the water from milk so it would take up less space. Refrigeration came into use in 1880, and the first pasteurizing machine was introduced in 1895.
Dairying has improved through the years. Today, one cow can produce the milk that it once took 10 cows to produce. Before milking machines were invented in 1894, farmers could only milk about 6 cows per hour. Today, farmers use machines to milk more than 100 cows per hour.
It takes 30 gallons of milk to make 1 pound of butter!
The calcium in soy milk is not as usable in the human body as calcium in milk from a cow.
Cows are ruminants, which are cud chewing mammals. Sheep and camels also are ruminants.
A cow chews it's cud (Cud is regurgitated, partially digested food) for up to 8 hours each day.
Cows drink about a bathtub full of water and eat around 40 pounds of food a day.
Contrary to popular belief, cows do not have 4 stomachs; they have 4 digestive compartments:
Someday I will have a cow. It might just be a big fat angus. I might just name it t-bone because thats how I roll.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Of course I accepted the trial. The product he was sending isn't even distributed in Canada yet and I was more than willing to give it a shot.
So a day or so later this showed up at the door. From the images I seen it was the same type of non-aerosol bottle my sunscreen came in. I was correct, only it was much larger than I thought again comparing it to my little bottle of sunscreen. The cool thing about this was it was labeled for horses, cattle, dogs, camels, lamas (etc etc?) right on the bottle.
This is Absorbines Show sheen finishing mist.
Strait from the Absorbine website:
Celebrated worldwide as the best-selling hair polish in over 25 countries, ShowSheen is now available as a Finishing Mist. Perfect for last-minute touch-ups, ShowSheen Finishing Mist has a continuous, quiet sprayer that won't spook your horse and even sprays upside down.
• Continuous sprayer for uniform and complete coverage
• Original ShowSheen® is now enriched with Pro Vitamins and Silk Proteins to shine and strengthen better than ever
• Pro Vitamins nourish coat for a world class shine
• Silk Proteins strengthen mane and tail hair for a more beautiful appearance
• Repels dust and dirt to save grooming time
• ShowSheen® is the best selling hair polish in over 25 countries around the world
• Fresh scents of Jasmine and Sandalwood pamper your horse
I know some of you are gonna think I am crazy but the smell of original show sheen didn't make me want to sniff manes all day. This stuff however smells amazing.Unfortunately I really did not get to try it right away. I had three (and a bit) days of carriage rides ahead of me. I sprayed it into Indigo's mane and on her hindquarters and left it. Between that time I didn't brush her mane or tail because I was driving a horse or sleeping it felt like. It rained really good a night ago and the wind was insane. Long mane + Wind = dreadlocks. Fortunately there were none to be seen. Her mane was still manageable, as in I could finger comb it relatively easy. This was three days later.
So yesterday I wanted to see what it was really like.
Insert dirt horse.
Indigo has a very naturally soft, fine coat. She almost always feels slick and soft. Softer than any horse I have met and anyone who pets her agrees with me. In the winter it statics easily and collects mud (as any spotty white horse will). Fortunately for me her hair coat seems to be infused with teflon because the moment the dirt dries it brushes right off and she looks "white" again, or as close to it. However she does get dust in her coat and every time I swipe a brush over a confirmed dust spot you can see streaks of dirt and no matter how much you brush they just never go away. Unless you take a shop vac to the horse (If you are on my facebook you would have heard about this) effective, but not many horses would likely stand well. This is where sprays like this come in handy. The dirt does not stick in the hair and on the skin the same if they are sprayed with some sort of coat spray.
I sprayed her hocks a day before.
Her tail was easily finger combed after a minute or two of letting this dry without any snags or tangles.
Her mane was soft and manageable too. It continues to be soft and manageable.
Since Indigo really wasn't a completely filthy wild pony beast I brought in Stormy who desperately needed the burs taken out of her everything.
Her mane is so thick you can't even see the burs wound up in there not to mention several little tree's.
What was a forelock.
And her tail. What the heck did she do to the top? It was glued down with mud.I got to spraying some on and literally combed out the burs. No getting the little stickers stuck in my fingers like when I tugged them out by hand. I combed them out. I also found my sheepskin mitt was helpful. I sprayed it on and smoothed it with the mitt. The reason I did this was because I found it really made my hands slick long after it actually dried off my palms.
Lovely mane after
So there we have it.
The pro's and con's of Absorbine finishing mist.
Pro's- The spray is quiet and even the sprayophobe Sheba didn't flinch. It's non aerosol and friendly for the atmosphere. It smells awesome. Better than the original show sheen. It makes me want to sniff manes all day (I admit I may have a problem) it does indeed de-tangle though it is meant as a coat spray. The spray is very accurate enabling you to target little areas which is convenient for de-tangling. It lasts through weather for a few days. It keeps dust and dirt at bay on the hair coat.
NOTE: I have been using it for about a week now and I think it is safe to say it does not dry the coat like original show sheen does.
Con's- It is very slippery. It is labeled right on the bottle "do not use near saddle area". I find my hands are slick as snot after smoothing it into the hair so I found a sheepskin mitt very convenient ($7 at wal mart in the auto section) either that or you need to wash your hands or wear gloves if you intend to ride. The spray is very accurate. I both love and loathe this because sometimes you want a little bit of spray in a large area not the opposite. Depends on what you are using it for I guess. I am afraid to leave this in the barn because it's getting colder. Even under the heat lamp in fear it might explode with the cooler temperatures if it froze a little bit. Made braiding very difficult.
My conclusion- If you show and you need your horse to look shiny this stuff is a must have. It really did, in my opinion work better than original show sheen. It made the hair softer, repelled dust and smells great. I imagine if I need more and it's in our local tack shop I will pick up another bottle for next show season. Santa fe is still my favorite as far as concentrated detanglers, which Absorbine makes.
Plus the neat thing about the Absorbine company is it's a family run company having been passed down genorations. Sean explained in his e-mail:
"We are continuing to make ShowSheen in the regular bottles (16 oz, 32 oz spray, 32 oz refill and gallon) but are also offering it now in the "continuous spray" non-aerosol can that I'm sending you. Both the traditional style bottle and the new "Mist" style contain the same new formula- same stuff, two different delivery systems. I would like to stress that the new formula has all of the same properties folks have come to expect from ShowSheen, just that we've added even more nutritives to make the hair healthier. You can recognize the new ShowSheen that has added hair health ingredients by it's new bottle color and label (the bottle has a "pearl" color to it) or if it's in the Mist style can. We've had many reports form barns that the horses who use the new formula have nicer manes, tails and coats that the one who don't. "
I was sure glad to hear that. People usually get bent out of shape when a long loved product changes. I think this new finishing spray is a very good idea. Plus if I didn't love absorbines products before I read the history on their blog.
I love, love, love, love that the original absorbine was created as the alternative to painful methods of blistering. The history tells us right there that back in the day when the product was created the horses welfare was thought of first when it usually was last because the horse was thought of as a tool. Treating animals as we would like to be treated, something some people still fail to realize even in this day and age.
So who else out there has used the finishing mist? It's pretty new. How did you like it. Is there anything I missed?
Sunday, November 21, 2010
This is a hand forged clasp at the local John. R. Park homestead. This clasp belongs to the back door in the forge which is well over a hundred years old. However since modern thieves and no-gooders do not pay attention to a little latch (look carefully in the picture) a modern lock and key must be used.
This was me working in the forge a couple summers ago, complete with soot on my forhead.
For more high and low tech things check out Sunday stills
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Of course with fall comes the harvesting of crops and with the harvesting of crops brings in all sorts of animals. Mice to houses, coyotes out of hiding and deer to the fields.
Corn fields in particular.
Last year I seen a total of three deer in total when riding.
One was a big buck that ran out of the field in front of us and darted around the corner out of sight.
The second and third if you have been reading this blog will remember our first ride out after Indigo lacerated her shoulder. We came to the horse eating bush. The horse eating bush should not be big enough for a deer to hide in but they did. Literally right next to us this HUGE buck exploded out of the horse eating bush, bounding away from us. It nearly gave both of us a heart attack. Not even fifteen feet later and a horse with a "get the hell out of dodge" mentality a second deer exploded out of the horse eating bush going in the same direction as the first deer. Indigo was completely beside herself. The anguish that bush causes that horse I am telling ya.
Normally Indigo is not afraid of deer unless they are rocketing themselves out of bushes or fields like someone lit a firecracker under their white tails. Just like cows she knows they run when she goes in their direction so they cause her no grief once she knows what they are. It's pretty easy for deer to hide themselves in a bush or forest but a harvested corn field?
Four times now just in the last week have deer been sleeping in whats left of the short cut corn stalks only to hear us crunching through the corn rows, jump up alarmed before bounding of. Talk about giving me and my spotty horse a heart attack. Normally she jumps back a couple steps then stops and stares intently as they bounce away. However these deer are either a) deaf b) really not afraid. I seem to be able to get really close to them before they jump up and head for the hills. About 100 feet or less.
(The fourth was just off the image I did not see it until after) .
The day before yesterday they were grazing quietly under the turbine. Indigo stared at them with only a few double takes. They ran off
except one that seemed oblivious to the fact I was there.
We continued on.
Yesterday we were headed down the side of the field, almost to the end where there were a few acres mowed down really flat. Suddenly as I let Indigo stop to grab a corn husk stuck to a tall uncut stalk the four deer sprung up surprised about 50 feet away. Boy were we surprised too! I just about had a heart attack and Indigo jumped backwards a couple steps and bugged her eyes out. She quickly realized they were deer and resumed her corn husk munching. Two split off in the direction of the small bush and the other two were gone someplace in a neighboring ditch. We rode around the field without further incidence of more jumping up.
(Image of the dark deer courtesy of google images)
Then on Monday I seen it again in almost the same spot only it was standing already. We were far enough away it did not run right away but it stared at us with interest before bounding off, characteristic white tail, without a white tail. So a phone conversation last night got me thinking, what if it really was some sort of genetic mutate?
I looked it up and apparently there are such a thing as black deer. Well not black but melanistic.
A melanistic deer means it's a deer that creates excessive melanin, making most of it's body a very dark, sometimes black colour rather than the traditional tan a white tailed deer exhibits.
According to a hunting site:
"Melanistic whitetails are very rare, even more rare than piebald or albino deer. You can recognize a melanistic deer because their bodies produce far too much of the pigment known as melanin which makes them much darker than your average whitetail. Of the millions of deer taken each year only a few with melanism have been reported. Most people don't know they exist due to the extreme rarity, making a melonistic buck a true trophy. "
Some have white tails, some do not (being a white tail deer). This one did not that is what struck me so odd. Normally their white tails flashing as they bound off is such an eye catcher but both times this little guy was alone and bounded off without so much of a fluff of white.
I really hope no one shoots it. I don't think they would as most are after bucks and their horns. What a neat little guy this deer is. There really are very few sites talking about melanistic deer so hes kind of a mystery. I wonder, will there be more black deer in the future like this one if he/she survives long enough to have babies? Only time (and luck of seeing them) will tell.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
When I look for something to de tangle I want a product that is going to
- stay in the hair for a couple of days and make the next couple days combing either obsolete or very easy.
- Not coat the hair in silicon. Basically a lot of products, particularly human detanglers or shampoo's will contain a silicon or silicon equivalent that will coat the hair shaft and make it soft, shiny and manageable. The downside is once you start using it the hair stops producing it's own protection. Once you stop using the product the hair does not have any protection anymore. This leaves the hair brittle and more prone to breakage, defeating the purpose all together of using a product to protect the hair.
- Not break the bank. No one wants to spend a ton of money on something that you need to use a lot of and then buy a lot of.
- Not attract dirt. This is super important because of Indigo, the grey, dirt loving, manure lying in spotty horse. Again with a lot of products like this they are oil based and collect dirt which can weaken the hairs.
Cowboy magic detangler-
Sizes- Comes in more than one size
Price- Moderate. Between $12-$17 for the 8 oz size. 29-$40 for the bigger one.
Pro's- It makes the mane really soft and super shiny. Does not attract dust. Seems to last a good amount of time even outside. Dermatology tested, can be used on any animal or human. Smells great. Detangles hair really fast.
Con's- It is crazy slippery. My friend and I groomed her horse for a show and some of this and other cowboy magic product got near the saddle area. Her saddle fits pretty good and it slipped, causing her to fall. Word of the wise: be very cautious when this is near your saddle area! It also seemed to make the hair more prone to static and fly aways.
Santa fe detangler-
Sizes- One size, 8 oz
Price- Moderate $13-$15
Pro's- It smells great. Not strong to attract bugs or be offending like some hair products. A little goes a looooong way. It also eliminates fly aways and leaves the hair easy to detangle but also very manageable for braiding. The hair is light but not weighed down like heavier products. Does not attract dirt. Lasts a few days but washes right out with water. Has vitamin E and sunblock in it so you don't have to worry about it burning if it accidentally gets on skin. Not slippery on the hair coat.
Con's- If your horse is outside and it rains or is very damp you might have to use this every day. If you use too much it will make the hair a little greasy feeling and will stick together until it dries but nothing drastic.
Absorbine show sheen moisturizing detangler-
Size- One size 8 oz
Price- Moderate $15 and up
Pro's- Contains a lot of vitamin E and other proteins to enrich hair and keep it moisturized to prevent breaking. Detangles with a unique gel formula. Seems to stay in with wet or dry hair and does not evaporate out. Pleasant smell. Kept the hair detangled.
Con's- It's more of a gel. I wasted a lot because the gel slipped off my palm. I also found it was harder to distribute evenly. I found I had blobs all over the place where they others were more like an oil that I could rub between my hands and run my fingers through the hair. Made hair slippery.
Shapleys original MTG-
Size- 32 and 6 OZ
Price- $10 and under for the 6oz $15-$25 for the 32 oz
Pro's- This does detangle the mane and tail. It also makes the mane and tail grow, especially if a horse has an itchy spot they like to rub or a thin mane. It also works on just about every other thing you can think of skin or hair related including growing back hair and loosening scabs to ridding the horse of things like rain rot, sweet itch and scratches. It's an all in one miracle product. I gave some to a friend who had a rescue dog that had very little hair on it. Within a few days the dogs hair was noticeably thicker, actually growing in and the itchiness that caused the hair loss was gone. With repeated use it makes the hair softer and moisturized without silicon products. I also put this religiously on my pony every other day. It is the only thing other than steroids that will keep his allergic sweet itch down during the summer months.
Con's- It smells. I mean it smells like some sort of bacon campfire and it's hard to get off yourself. I use rubber gloves because the smell seems to stick to your skin for a long time. You have to shake it really well every time and make sure you distribute it evenly because it's a very loose liquid compared to other products. It's mainly oil so it can cause sunburn so not wise to use it during the daylight hours your horse is outside. It also collects dirt and grime like crazy. A white horse (See Indigo) will be looking dirty for days on end as the spots you used the MTG will stick out like a sore thumb with dirt. It's also hard to wash out so don't go using it the day before a show.
However I do firmly believe the usefulness of this product outweigh the con's.
Size- All different sizes
Price- Very cheap, you can get a good sized bottle for $1 at the dollar store.
Pro's- It's cheap. When it comes to burs and bad dreadlocks it's the way to go because you can waste a whole bottle and not feel your wallet depress. You can also get non scented for those sensitive horses/people. Very safe and effective at detangling. Can also be used as a muzzle and eye highlighter for shows.
Con's- It's very oily. It collects a lot of dirt and quick. It can burn a horse to a crisp in a few minutes. It's also hard to wash off. Don't plan on using it a few days before a show because it's going to require some effort to wash out unless you use dawn or other grease cutting soap.
Size- All different sizes
Price- Cheap, $2-20 or more for a large jug of it.
Pro's- I know your all laughing, all purpose lubricant. But it works, It's cheap and not only can you use it on bad burs and things without having to cut the hair but you can use it various other places around the barn and farm. It's uses are endless and if you are in a pinch and do not have anything else it can get out a witches knot without scissors. Leaves the mane and tail super shiny. Stays on the hair for a long time. Detangles super fast.
Con's- Do not use this on a horse that is turned out with another that chews tails/manes. It does have some toxic qualities if ingested. It also collects dirt after a wile and will make a saddle slip. I imagine it might burn too. I have only used it in spots that had burs or a large snarl that would have had to be cut out.
Other products- Is there something I missed? I have used a couple more but I want to specifically focus on generally/specifically products used on manes and tails. These are also ones I had somewhat satisfying results with.
Santa fe: It does not slip or slide, makes those fly aways lie flat and the smell makes me want to sniff manes all day long. The last time I bought a bottle it came into the house before making it's way to the barn. In that time my hairdresser mother found it. She discovered it's useful properties on her hair, fell in love and they have been married ever since.
I also use it on my own hair because my hair is long, thick, fine and strait all in one. Static shock anyone? Well it prevents that. No other product I ever came across did that without making my fine hair a greasy mess. I also love, love, love their coat spray and shampoo. Just an all round winning product line that has not been around a terrible long time and is often overshadowed by absorbines other products like show sheen. It out performs every other product I have come across.
I would not overlook:
MTG: I just can't say enough good about this stuff. It really does all it claims and more. It was actually originally made for men who balded in 1938! Now it's been proven time and time again to be a must have in the barn. I promise you will not be disappointed.
Cowboy Magic: In a pinch it works. I do love their green spot remover and rosewater shampoo. I would be lost in hades someplace without their green spot remover at horse shows. They have very good prices too.
Of course none of these (in exception to MTG) will miraculously make hair thicker or longer. Genetics play the biggest part in how hair grows. I want to prevent the hair from becoming tangled which might require more pulling or breaking and in the end thin the mane or tail. Thus these products are a must have for growing a long, thick mane and tail without breaking the crap out of the hairs every time you brush. It makes grooming a thick tail a breeze.
What is your favorite grooming product? It doesn't have to be mane and tail. Just list the price, pro's and con's. I would love to hear and possibly try it.
PS- I did not add mane n tail detangler in here because I wanted to focus on concentrated detanglers rather than sprays. I am also not that fond of their detangler. It leaves almost a dry, gritty feeling on Indigo's fine mane hairs, does not last as long and leaves a slippery silicon feeling on my hands. I do love their hoofmaker for my own hands and horses feet though so they are not excluded.
Note: This is not a paid review. I mean I paid for these products but in no way do the manufacturers very likely know of me or this blog. I just happen to like this stuff.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
This is my cousin Ken. I hadn't seen ken in a couple years. A couple years too many because he got married to a wonderful woman, Alaina whom I had never met until last Thursday. Now that I know where they both live I shall be making more frequent visits to have a fun day like we did Thursday.
When they asked if I wanted tea I jumped at the opportunity; not for tea but for teacups. I asked if they minded me taking pictures and they obliged.
Ken had ideas of drinking tea like he normally did out of a mostly manly, boring but functional cup. Alaina had better ideas and broke out the "bane of her existence" AKA a set of cups Ken is drinking out of in this photo.
They are quite retro. I mean that's back in style anyway.
For more coffee and tea cups check out others on Sunday Stills
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Today as I was out on a leisurely bareback rider on Indigo around the harvested corn field I got to thinking how much me and my little spotty horse have done this year.
It may not seem like a lot but she has gone 365 and a few days without being injured. *knock on a lot of wood*
What does this have to do with accomplishing things? A lot considering she hasn't had to be off because of some large cut, scrape, bump or bruise.
If you have been following this blog for any period of time you will know this is almost unheard of. Indigo, without any injuries? *again knock on more wood*
From spring this year and still ongoing she has been worked 5-7 days a week. Some days we just go around bareback, others we drive a few miles at a trot, working hard and walking a lot.
We rode bitless.
We drove bitless.
So did lil'red cowgirl.
She sure had a lot of fun following us around to horse shows this summer for the opportunity to take my spotty pill into a few classes, who I might add behaved excellently for lil'red and earned themselves some ribbons and winnings.
Photo's by Robin
Lately we have been working on not having meltdowns over little things (like people walking way off in the distance) and shes been doing amazing. She gets a little unsure of things still but instead of teleporting fifteen feet to the side and then assessing if it's a threat or not shes been stopping and staring at whats got her attention. I am much more happy to deal with this and encourage her to walk on when she stops. I want her to know the option to stop and look is there but the option to run away isn't going to get her any closer to home.
I credit a lot of this to my doing. Both causing some of her big spooks and now calming her before she has that spook.
See when I first got Indigo she was ridden by her previous owners husband. He is not a horseman but he wanted to ride with his wife, probably the reason why she was described as "not husband safe". In short if Indigo decided if it was time to trot off they trotted off. If Indigo decided it was time to stop and snack on things it was time to stop and snack on things. So long story short when I got her not only was her reign of terror over but there would be a lot more hard work involved than working when she wanted to (see trotting off).
Naturally being the opinionated mare she is Indigo rebelled. She dove at grass and weeds, yanking the reins out of my hands no matter how hard I made her work because of it. Every last tiny blade of grass was worth the work in her eyes. She trotted off when she felt it was time to trot, leaving me up on her back as a passenger instead of her partner. She took matters of how fast we went into her own hooves but never took off at any fast speed or was ever dangerous for me to handle. She threw a few big spooking fits in there too and got me all flustered.
I hollered, kicked, screamed a few times. "you should not be spooking you have seen -insert one of two: Objects that move and objects that do not- a thousand times!"
I would get mad at her and get after her for spooking. She would smarten up for a short wile but always find something else to be unsure and spooky about. I thought she was trying to get out of work. She thought I was a monster I am sure but put up with me through both of our confusions.
Sometimes this mare is a harder nut to crack than the young horses I have trained. She has some bad habits that came with her and had been doing those irritating habits for many years. A young untrained horse has the ability to be molded by you without the presence of those bad habits in the way.
I've ridden more horses this spring/summer/fall than I have all other summers. It's given me some valuable ideas and information especially towards Indigo.
Indigo is 18. Most of the horses I have broke or finished this year have been 5 or under in the exception to an unbroken 11 year old ex broodmare, a 10 year old gelding and a 21 year old mare that had not been ridden in 12 years. I treated them all the same: like they were a 2 year old being introduced for the first time to things.
So being the perfectionist I am I got to thinking, how come I could get these inexperienced horses to be calm and collected about scary situations, but Indigo would have a fit and want to get the hell out of dodge?
I thought about how I handled it.
An inexperienced horse would spook or become unsure I would scratch it's neck, give it plenty of rein and reassure it that whatever was scary was not going to hurt it and they would usually snort a few times and carry on.
Indigo, I mean she is 18. She should have a been there done that attitude being all the places shes been. I got mad a lot of the time because she would spook at things that shouldn't have been a big deal. Normally I would use some sort of negative reinforcement such as giving her more work for spooking. This only made her more anxious the next time she was to spook.
Finally I put two and two together and started riding her like she was two. Slowly but surely accompanied by some no-nonsense work (as in ignoring shying when we worked or reassuring her it's ok but not letting her stop) shes come to the point where rather than trying to gather up and spook at things she will a) stop, usually more than once and take a good hard look at what might be bothering her or b) make a wide berth around it. This isn't the end of the line but it's better than alternative c) get the hell out of dodge.
With breaking a horse I have said and still say miles and miles of WALKING is what breaks a horse. Not trotting or cantering or galloping. Walking. It sure came true. When we were headed back in the general direction of home and Indigo got a little upset and wanted to jig or trot home I insisted we walked. No thought to it might take us two times as long to get home, we walked, and walked, and walked and if she anticipated a place where we were going to change gait before I asked we walked that whole spot too. Soon she just thought about walking. Walking the whole few miles was always an option and if she behaved and walked until I said so and she did indeed get to pick up the pace.
The result? Well she doesn't anticipate changing gait anywhere other than the odd day she has a little burst of energy but instead of a battle about walking she quietly goes back to a walk and we resume what we were doing.
So as far as this year we certainly have accomplished a lot as a horse and rider team even further than showing and spooking. Not only have we accomplished my new years resolutions Indigo has become incredibly tuned into my cues and even more supple to the bridle both direct contact and her new found love of neck reining. Collection is a breeze now, she can feel my cues and I can feel her whole body round up and that lovely swinging motion of her stepping under herself when we ride.
I can only hope we can follow up with this through the winter and all through next year.
So how about the rest of you. What have you accomplished this year with a horse?