Sunday, July 31, 2011


Indigo is a pretty brave horse. Shes never said to me "I WON'T". She might hesitate for a moment or give a few spooks. She trusts me and knows where her own feet are and finds her way through anything I have pointed her at with a little encouragement.

Last night I seen her old owner and we had a chat about this spotted pill. Her husband used to ride Indigo. He just wanted to, as she described it "John Wayne", get on the horse and toddle down the trail. Indigo is perfect in an arena or any controlled environment. She most certainly is not a dude ranch trail horse and likely will never be. The only problem is Indigo has an addiction on the trails. Indigo is a spookaholic.

Every person walking in the distance, every bird in a bush, every manhole, asphalt spot on the road or kid on a swing is a potential horse eating monster.
She does the classic dive to the side or the rocket ahead when a bird comes darting out of the bushes. The thing is with Indigo this horse never misses a beat; she sees EVERYTHING.

If you notice every picture I have taken off her back her ears are forward.

When shes in the barn she might fall asleep for a minute only to pirk up suddenly and stare with great interest out the door. She hears every sound, every cat fight and every bird (more on birds later), and probably every mouse. I often startle her when I just walk around the barn and the wind is blowing in the right direction she didn't hear me holler for her before appearing. She jumps, whips her head up, flares her nostrils and bugs her eyes at me, then stares, alternating her ears between whats going on around her and me. After a nicker and studying me for a few seconds she comes over. None of the other horses jump. They look and then continue eating.

Her biggest fear is birds. I don't mean she sees one flying in the air and goes postal. She hates when they flap in bushes. She especially hates when they fly out in any general direction. Don't even get her started on ducks in ditches. They quite possibly might be the end of the world. When all this erupts she just wants to get the hell out of Dodge.

I remember letting a friend ride her a few years ago. This friend has a good seat but not a lot of horsemanship knowledge. Fast forward a mile down the lane and bushes appear. Indigo spooks, my friend reprimands her. Indigo spooks, my friend reprimands her. Lather, rinse, repeat. I mean lather. By the end of that ride Indigo was spooking at things she normally wouldn't give a second glance to. We switched horses.
So I thought about my friends approach as well as many other riders who I have ridden with that had the same reaction to a horse spooking: punishment. Now I know some riders will disagree and say sometimes horses spook to get out of doing work. I do not necessarily agree with that because when you stop work and focus on reprimanding the horse spooking your giving the horse what it want's; an escape from work.

I often talk about how much people teach me about horses. I don't mean sitting there watching someone working with a horse, I mean watching people interact. Maverick and I were at this amusement park called worlds of fun. We just got on this ride called boomerang and a man and his young daughter got in the cart behind us. The young girl was totally terrified. Instead of the dad going "it's going to be ok, it's just a ride" he was bullying her "I don't know what your so scared of, quit crying, STOP IT, ENOUGH, YOUR JUST FINE" telling the girl how she felt when obviously she was scared. About this time the girl was bawling her eyes out and the ride attendants were telling the man she cannot ride because obviously she was that upset. They got the girl off the ride and she went down the off ramp and the father rode the ride alone. We sat there shaking our heads. After we got off the dad caught up with his daughter who's eyes were now dry. He continued to shatter her confidence and respect in him by telling her he couldn't believe she didn't ride and it wasn't even the scariest ride there and she couldn't expect to ride other rides if she couldn't go on that one. Parenting at it's finest.

So backtrack to riders punishing their horses for spooking. Put yourself in the role of that parent and your horse in the role of that girl. By the sounds of the conversation that girl had been on rollercosters before. Maybe your horse has been on trails. Obviously something about that rollercoaster scared the girl. Maybe something about the trail your horse has been on is scary today. Are you going to be the parent who bullies and scares his kids or the rider who pats their horse and tells them it's going to be all right?

So putting this into perspective what do you think will give a kid/horse more respect and confidence in you? Grabbing at the reins and getting upset, making the kid go on the rollercoaster or praise and encouragement?

It takes a long time to make a confirmed spookaholic come clean but it's possible.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

You won't hear me complaining

Last week we broke records for heat.
I really never remember it being in the triple digits here too often. Now before you all go getting your nickers in a twist we have horrible humidity here compared to a lot of places. Of course it's not as hot as say, Arizona. Something that is 95 here feels like 115 elsewhere. You sweat just standing still. The day I left Oklahoma it was 95 and I was just comfortable in shorts and a tank top.

Last Wednesday and Thursday were two of those scorching hot days. Wednesday had no breeze. At about 1 pm on Wednesday I looked at this thermometer inside one of my barns it says 104 Fahrenheit in the shade. Yikes! The cement was sweating, the horses were sweating. Standing in front of a fan just blew hot air at you and hosing yourself off just made you more hot once you stopped for 10 seconds. I found a little relief riding horses before 8 am or after 7 pm if the bugs didn't carry you away. This meant a lot of stomping, which meant some loose or lost shoes.
So on the hottest day, Thursday the 22nd of July, 2011 I get this call from a client it went something along the lines of she had to show her horse on Friday (the next day) and her horse lost one of it's sliders, which are crucial in the sport of reining. I asked her how long the horse had the shoe off, expecting to say she found it in the paddock that morning. She replies with "Oh Monday I think, maybe a few days before that". *insert the sound of me hitting my head off a solid object repeatedly* Yup, I'll be right over.
So after this is all said and done and I mop up my weight in sweat, I hose Indigo off who was also drenched in sweat. I was also extra kind and braided her mane since her neck under it was drenched with sweat. She repays me by immediately doing this.
Thursday luckily there was a bit of a breeze so it took some of the edge off the scorching heat. I went swimming in a pool that was as hot as the hot tub and still couldn't cool off so I decided to ditch my work boots and go for a bareback ride in the evening. Only my feet were tired and sweaty so I ditched my shoes as well.
Indigo always has had a thing for smelling boots. You get on her back and she turns to smell where you have been . Toes were quite intriguing.

Then of course when I do get home and drink a few gallons of water I start reading facebook. I have a love hate relationship with that site. I love it because I get to talk to and see my friends and family that live far away. I hate it because I have to read everyone venting about everything that's horrible and wrong with the world and people. Gossip, childish fights, passive aggressive statuses. I see on there a couple days ago a fellow rider complaining about riding breeches and how hard they are to peel off after a one hour ride. I piped up. I would gladly trade a pair of riding breeches and a one hour ride for shoeing 6 horses in jeans and a tank top with sweat dripping down your face and into your eyes wile you wrestle a horse trying to do the macarena on three feet wile you hold the fourth. We'll trade, then we can talk about who gets complaining rights about the heat.
Not that I am complaining, I would take his heat over winter any day.

Today we finally got a break in weather. I got a lot done today even managing an evening ride around 7:30 on my own horse.Can't summer stay around forever?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sweet summertime

I had a wonderful 10 day vacworkation.

It started with me jumping out of the truck and onto the hay wagon. Not that I mind I like baling and having never used baling wire, hay hooks and baling on and over terraces (did I mention how flat it is at home?) it was a bit interesting. We had to do straw though and it was a lot hotter than it's been.

I spent some time with this little fellow who has stolen my heart with his big ears, little muzzle and liesurely way of getting someplace in a "hurry", AKA- I'm going to bray at the top of my lungs the whole way wile walking to you.
This one too. Same thing as above minus the fur and big ears. Though he does bray at the top of his lungs if you eat the top and cherries off his pie, the last piece of cherry pie he made a special trip back to the table for. Then leave him the crust and some filling goo for him to discover. He gets all kinds of excited about it. True story.

Vacation involved other things than sabotaging Maverick's desert.

Chickens who lay green eggs and ham and are named Lucky. So I was told by a little blonde girl.

Snapping turtles

Cats. How they always find me I will never know. I must have sucker for scritches written all over me.

Peculiar looking moths.

New boots

Maverick in boots.

Maverick on tractors.

Sitting by farm ponds at sunset.

And putting hand prints all over dirty trucks just because.

mmmmhm, good times. Summertime.
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