This Week at RHE

I love working with many different horses, but I also really enjoy seeing them find their person and move on in life–and hopefully blossom. Of course any time a horse leaves your possession it’s a giant risk, but as I don’t have the resources to keep every horse ever, it seems most useful to try to improve the creature in some way and set it sail on the very best tides you could pick for it. That surety in my mind has led me on a winding path of ponies that has been vastly informative, inspiring, depressing, and never, ever regretted.

My latest foray into other people’s ponies was Sparky, who came home in early May to get ridden/potentially sold. A big 10 year old coming off 17 acres with prior endurance experience, we trained about 80 trail miles together all told, and completed 3/3 rides in our few months together (WW35/30, GC50). His new match came along quite quickly when he was listed, and it was my very great pleasure to send him on his way with a caring local endurance rider this past Sunday. She brought me a 20 lb bag of carrots as a thank you–soo thoughtful!!

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 Meanwhile, on the rest of the ranch…

Sparky’s departure meant Apache was alone on the east side of the property..so I gave him a mini! 

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a quick reminder from Napoleon just what sort HE is

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meanwhile, Desire’s seroma is diminishing nicely

and Melinda’s Farley has been moving some fillies and water and stretching her sassy wings

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2 bantam roosters having dinner   😉 

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Rory was fabulously lame on Monday, she led herself on her lameness exam of course

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…and 90% better the next day..and fine today. #FillyFirstLamenessDrama

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love my big silly fillies!

and 4 month Jazzy keeps on growing! 

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And now–the heat is very much back (105 anyone?) and a fire started a mile away from us as I was in Auburn with my Tevis rider. It was a rather stressful drive home and these were views from our driveway as the amazing firefighters and air teams hit it with everything they had. They were dipping out of ponds at the bottom of our pasture with incredible speed for hours as ash rained and we huddled around the fire scanner. The fire headed away from us as of this morning and is currently 45% contained. Such a scary season. Many many thanks yous and prayers for the firefighters!

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If things calm down…off to Tevis to crew tomorrow morning!

Just Roll with It

If anyone is accustomed to giving up on grand schemes by now, it’s me. I will credit past experiences for making my decision not to take Sheza to Hat Creek Hustle ride camp this weekend a matter of 30 minutes of angsting at my husband and buddies instead of days. I’m amused at myself that it was even a struggle to set the goal down, but it was, for a moment. This thing called ego gets wrapped up in our decision making and if we’re lucky good sense, gut feelings, and close friends talk us down.

Ideally I suppose no horse is, but Sheza really is *not* a Hope for the Best horse. You know, that type where in moments you perhaps haven’t done all the appropriate homework you’ll go for it anyway, hope for the best, and usually get away with it. I won’t say it’s just because she’s a young horse, as I would call Rory a hope for the best horse already, she’s such a calm cool customer.

Let me paint the picture:

I tossed a (Horse sized) fly mask on Rory the other day, literally tossed, and she didn’t even pause chewing. I often sneak up on her and go BOO!! just to see if I can startle her. Nope.

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Sheza has been fly masked since birth and has a 20 minute hissy fit before the mask goes on almost every time. I always make tons of noise and alert her to my presence ahead of time and she still disappears in a dust cloud half the time.

Because HER EAR!  And stuff! 

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You can imagine then how when it comes to going to ride camp for the first time, involving travel, chaos, standing tied at the trailer overnight, etc, I would want Sheza properly prepped. My plan has been to do a few hours long sessions standing at the trailer on the Hi Tie, which will probably first involve her having a hissy over the Hi Tie being over her head. Also consistent work in the days leading up to leaving for ride camp, age appropriate so probably not riding, but absolutely moving her feet and finding her brain. Sheza is undeniably more sane the more she works and I don’t relish the notion of her fresh in her first camp.

So…none of ^^ that^^ happened this week.

I showed and sold Sparky, pending vet check.  Blaze was very enthusiastic to be along for the test rides, for at least 4 miles each time, then he started heaving dramatic sighs and shuffling his clodhoppers, because Why Human?

bay boy derp

11774757_871879280046_1027747935_nOur shepherd pup went to the vet for a UTI and to get her rabies shot, while Georgia rode the old dog roller coaster of health and UhOhIsItTime.

Either Rory or Napoleon-mini kicked the bejeezus out of Desire on Sunday and left a grapefruit sized seroma on her side, so I had Loomis up to diagnose and sort that out midweek, leaving me to do daily hot compresses and apply Surpass, to move to cold hosing in a few days.

Day 1, it did get larger                                                                                          day 4, post vet ultrasound/poking

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It was my husband’s birthday, happy days and to many more! We spent a peaceful evening by the river.

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Trim and boot appointments snuggled in around all that fun, and before I knew it we were at Thursday and I had a fresh Sheza and no spare time or energy to make the ride weekend happen. So I’m just not going to force it–and I have to say that I’m feeling a nice release of pressure having decided that and am looking forward to spending the time on Sheza anyway. Maybe we’ll pop out that Hi Tie and see what’s what, or play with her new boots, or maybe we’ll just go for a hike. No pressure. 🙂

meanwhile, the fillies are roommates again, look how big and gorgeous they are ❤

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Sheza Vipers!! 135×125 fronts already, big beauty

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Coming Up

Farewell Sparky

Crewing Tevis!

Sheza boot/ride prep work

Scrappy

ApacheWorld: Dirt and Lessons

Apache has been with us for 4 months now. This tiny adorable horse encompasses so many quality life and training lessons for me that I have to seriously marshall my thoughts both to work with him and to write about it. He’s a wonderfully complex character, let me see if I can explain why:

What Was, What Is: I certainly didn’t rescue Apache, he came from a lovely endurance couple in Oregon who entrusted him to me, after not having great success with him but diligently trying to find him suitable placement for months. As a well bred, well built, handsome little fellow, he has in 10 years had no less than 4 homes (and probably more than that). He was bred multiple times early in life, before testing positive as a SCID carrier and being gelded. He came to me as Having been Ridden, but with very mixed results (a hoped good trainer gone bad, and both of the couple getting bucked off thereafter). He is a horse that internalizes, not reacts. The best way I can describe it is that he stands and takes thing when he’s not okay, where my Haat Shaat horses absolutely won’t stand and try and take things *until* they’re okay. And by okay I mean in a suitable frame of mind to encompass human shenanigans and learn things, a mental space generally accomplished by them voluntarily moving their feet and blowing off some steam.   Apache is on self imposed lockdown, in a way. It’s fascinating and different and sad and I love him.

And that’s why I ate dirt 🙂

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Thing is, what happened in the past doesn’t ultimately matter. What you think might happen next year *definitely* doesn’t matter. What we grasping humans have to wrap our heads around is the *moment,* the right now, the animal before you and what it’s presenting. In my past experience a horse standing, trying, meant acceptance and move forward. In this instance my gut said Mmm, Really?  (don’t ignore that gut, right!) but my human brain, flashing back on what he should know and what this might mean pushed me onward. It was the third time I’d been on his back, but the other times were bareback, in a halter. That day was his first day in a saddle and breastcollar.

The thing about Apache is that he ticks the boxes on what you ask quite quickly, okay, different speeds in each direction, facing up, etc. Then he shuts down and forces himself to be okay through the next step, and the silly human pushes her luck and gets lucky–just a scraped knee and a bit of a bruise on the back after the impressive HOLY CRAP ACK! buck he threw about 15 seconds after I’d quietly mounted. I moved his feet after that, probably all told another hour at least, more groundwork but definitely not getting on again.

I was interested in my reaction to getting bucked off, since I’ve been life flighted from being dumped after mounting before. I’ve worked off the residual fear over the last few years, and this time I felt only ashamed of myself, and spurred on to unlock this horsey mystery and get it right. Telling my dubious but supportive husband I got dumped was another test–and he took it quite well! There’s something in the stars for this horse, I tell you.

but it isn’t a Cashel fly mask..so much for Arab size! 

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My long lines arrive just in time for our next session. I consulted heavily with my favorite horse experts regarding my mistake and how to proceed, and we generally agreed lots more ground work and exploration of precisely *what* set him off was needed. I can see a general lack of connection from his head, mouth, neck, to body, if that makes sense. As if his body is one entity, and his stiff neck and head another, and they aren’t quite all communicating together. And my trainer’s voice tolls in my head when I type things like that: “Work them til they look like something you want to get on” No, the ticking time bomb of apache wasn’t something I wanted to get on, but I felt that I should, and he should, and well why aren’t we darn it, impatient foot stomp. Well you know how that went.

new splint boots, new driving lines…yawn…boy is the potential there..

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Now *this* was a good session! We started at liberty, went to the line, then spent a while flapping the long lines all over him, ran them up through the surcingle and let him drag them, and finally went to baby attempt ground driving.

fresh, little tense, boy though that stride

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He had started wanting to stop and face up when I was jumping up and down and climbing and doing general tomfoolery, but my trainer said he needed to be okay moving his feet through that, so we worked on that as well. Basically no freezing and shutting down is the goal with this one!

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starting to relax 

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just in time for more human shenanigans

11695939_870103443836_6948831827166642539_nThe lines on his flanks made Apache shudder, the notion of me being behind him made his eyeballs bulge, and the encouragement on the lines to bend a little, Left, right, turn, stop, made him freeze and glare at me. At first. Slowly, calmly, quietly, using all the building blocks of queues I eventually will when it’s an appropriate time to be in the saddle, we made it a step and squiggle at a time until we had driven a nice circle, stop, direction change, and circle in each direction. Deep, deep breaths all around. No, he still didn’t look like a horse that I wanted to get on. But one that I wanted to spend a lot of time on, and be better for, and take a journey with.

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Aside from probably 6 hours of groundwork put into Apache this week here and there, life has been gloriously busy with trims, boot clients, selling Spark for his owner, managing the rest of the herds and acreage–and celebrating my husband’s birthday this weekend!  We did some multi  tasking yesterday, hauling Farley to the lake to help out Mel then popping over for some dog adventures and fishing.

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New Shepherd pup Jazzy continues to grow and thrive with the pack, and little miss Rory’s 2nd birthday is *finally* next week! What a big goober she is, can’t believe she’s still so young.

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Coming Soon:

Sheza’s first ride camp experience

ApacheWorld continues

Scrappy..

Working Critters

The temperatures are climbing higher every day but there’s still work to be done, critter or human. Be you curvy pony or enterprising dachshund, there’s a task for you.

First time being caught in a while, Apache had a serious life question to consider

To Be or Not to Be With Human

As the husband intoned from across the early a.m. pastures: “He Chose…Wisely.”

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I discovered my round pen had regrown it’s star thistle army working on the line in the arena it was

Apache’s current task: breathing, giving at the poll, and all things associated with or helpful to that enterprise

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Rushcreek Aurora’s full time job: Training Assistant/PITA Creeper

seconds before this photo she had 3 coils of lunge line crammed down her gullet..

can’t you almost hear the innocent casual whistling?

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the bantams work at composting

at least 2 are now crowing, or some version of it

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dachshund fish finders never run out of batteries  and rarely err

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After the human did her job of clearing the round pen again..

Sheza’s job: eye candy, and storytelling

BLARGH

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OH! HUMAN!

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brainlesspeedtrotbrainlessspeedtrottrot

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 Huhhh, human is still here, hello again11202116_865782083876_7389485397298842835_n

not ready, noNoBLARG!

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huh, it’s hot..and human doesn’t object to this speed,  maybe this is a better speed

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oh yeah, slower is better, hmmphh, I’m fat, I’m sweaty, Humannnn I’m done

(human must not let herself be convinced by filly. Human is boss!ish..)

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a nice, slow, low, working trot compromise, tongue out and all

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A few more nice circuits at an ever slower and bendier walk, dragging the long line around in the rustling grass, and that was that for Sheza’s story this morning. Oh, and a cool bath, as a princess must have.

And the rest?

Spark is having a few days off after WW, with one ride to be done between now and Gold Country 50 in 2 weeks.

Blaze, Desire, and Napoleon can’t claim to be any more useful than endearing old friends, at the moment.

dear old Georgia crew chihuahua is hanging in there, for now. She loves the hot weather fortunately

Coming Soon

A fellow blogger mare will be moving in soon to mix things up!

Gold Country 50

Apache Trail Time

Youngster Lessons: Sheza

Today I got flattened by my Sheza filly, and the Why made sense. Doesn’t mean it was acceptable, but it made sense, and it was a great reminder/learning experience when working with greenies and youngsters.

What I Did:

Pull Sheza and trim her hooves, standard practice here every 2 weeks or so but she’s not worked on any sort of schedule. Today was her first day trying on and moving in Renegades ever, and when introducing horses to boots you really do want to let them get used to moving in them installed properly and improperly before ever getting on their backs (my flattening had nothing to do with her actually wearing the boots, as I’m well aware of those factors).

I *did* slide them on for a quick sizing and pic, of course!

(note momma Desire haunting her <3)

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Next I strapped the boots on her saddle to go down to the round pen, mentally acknowledging it had never been done to her before but she does carry pommel packs and bottles up there so it’s not totally out of line.

 Here’s where it got tricky: Back when, Sheza got accidentally bopped in the rear with a gate when passing through it *and it stuck.* Almost every single time we pass through a gate in hand she’ll get tense and I’ll often have to make her do 2 or 3 passes in and out of the gateway before she’ll politely go through without squirting her butt through at the last minute. It’s a rude and dangerous habit for a horse to even think about having, exactly because what happened today can happen..anyway back to it, today, with the boots on her saddle, she was just coming to her Sticky spot in gate passage when she spotted the boots “above” her in her peripheral vision, started to spook forward, snowballed that into her Gate spookiness/squirting, and completely flattened me as she bulled through the gateway.

What I Did Wrong

My mistake was in my lapse of attentiveness to Sheza going through that gateway, something that I know is a sticky point for her, coupled with the addition of the boots up there. My focus was more on the ever helpful Rory not escaping out the gate, and it was to my detriment. No, Sheza should never flatten me, but when working a fresh youngster and adding new things, you must be mindful.   I also wish I could go back in time and NOT let her get bopped with a gate, but if it wasn’t that no doubt she’d find something else to be squicky about.

What I Did Right

My successes were in the basic fundamental training that I’ve put into Sheza (and April definitely helped cement), and that is that she knows there are expectations (no, her baby brain is not always capable of functioning within them, but ever more so, and when she reverts it’s to higher rungs on the training ladder mostly), she wants to stick with me, and, perhaps most importantly of all and maybe only because of the other two–she has some sense of caring for my preservation. But she flattened you ?  you say. Refer up to 3 lines to that line in parentheses. Personally I couldn’t have spoken to that preservation thing before today or in the instant when she knocked me down–but lying in the dirt under your 15+hand 4 yr old as she rears over you and watching her decide to back on her hind legs and plant her front feet decidedly not on you is something, I’ll tell you.

After working on a polite re passage through the gate with no thoughts of coming over top of me, which included me ninja kicking Sheza in the chest (WWHD?)* while my husband was throwing rocks at Rory (horse Whisperers R Us), Sheza had a great round pen session including doing some quite nice moving out in Renegades for a first timer.

*What Would a Horse Do?

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We also worked on her other hot ticket reverting item,her right ear. The right ear goes back to her momma Desire, who has a scarred right ear and will still occasionally sling her head dramatically away from being touched–why Sheza does it I don’t know besides a genetic quirk (yes she’s been medically checked for things), and I’ve had others tell me they’ve seen the same odd habits appear in offspring. Anyway it’s something we work on as much or more than the gate..

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11272296_860832657566_570550459_nGeneral Conclusions?

Be attentive to your early training, in implementation and consistency…the occasional squeak becomes the squeaky wheel becomes the broken wheel (the gate issue). Don’t be lulled into false sense of security, your fresh youngster is a fresh youngster (the adding boots to the saddle, divided attention). Set yourself and the horse up for success by minimizing extraneous risk factors (Rory charging the gate, etc). I *am* of the camp to see ridiculous shenanigans as “extra desensitizing!” but when it comes to something that can be managed to minimize risk in a learning environment I think it’s worth doing.

P.s. Hilarity

Rory put herself in the arena and lunged herself–circles in the half arena size, fast but perfect circles, even changing direction periodically, while I worked Sheza. She creeps me out with her smarts, when she’s not annoying me with them!