Autumn Lately

*log monster!!!*

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Betcha thought that was Sheza ^^. Nope, a nearby endurance riding buddy, C, is raising a chestnut filly of her own, and Blaze, Sheza, a friend and I joined them for a quite entertaining cruise at the lake last weekend. We had some hesitation in loading from Sheza and a dramatic high speed reverse exit from the trailer at the lake, which prompted re loading and polite unloading practice, but otherwise it was a grand outing.

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Sheza youngster face

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C and I both hiked a warm up, rode a few walking miles along the river,and hand walked our girls through the awesomely terrifying train tunnel on the way out and back. My friend piloted Blaze as our calming influence for the fillies and it worked perfectly. The girls were pretty tense in the cold echoey, graffiti covered tunnel on the way out, but noticeably more businesslike in their march back through a few miles later.

rider up!

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weary working filly 😉

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Amongst trim and boots appointments the next week, our Shepherd pup Jazzy got spayed and microchipped. It was a very smooth transaction all the way around and she has healed beautifully. I’m always relieved to tick that bit of young dog business off the list!

woe is Jazzy

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some dignity restored a few days later

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Seeing a friend and boot client’s steed move out beautifully in all 4 boots recently gave me an itch to experiment with hind hoof protection on Blaze again, and so I did. For background, Blaze is a bit base narrow and has an old what I can only surmise is interference scar on the inside of his left hind fetlock. I always found that he interfered, shod or booted, in the past, so I ride him up to LD distance bare in the hinds with splint boots, as I have noticed that even bare if he starts to tire he’ll whack that spot.

Bootwise, the Viper model of Renegades is slightly more streamlined than the Originals and I had used a credit to get Sheza some Vipers recently that I thought just might fit Blaze’s hinds. After a quick trim, sure enough the two sizes I had bought her were just right for him and with a quick cable adjustment, I booted Blaze on all 4, with splints, and went for a 10 mile solo cruise.

children in the woods! And humans say there aren’t critters in the shadows

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While 4 boots did not magically make Blaze a stellar walker, nor fix his distracted, somewhat graceless way of going in said walk–they did put rocket fuel up his butt for the first hill we approached! He trotted out nicely in them on a few warm up stretches but when we reached the fairly substantial Visitor Center hill he literally leaped from a walk to a canter and, with some encouragement in carriage from me, speedily ate up a hill that he usually trudges up.

xmas booties..hah!

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We had a great ride, but I did notice that he chewed up the lower part of his splint boots pretty thoroughly. No marks on the Vipers, just the protective boots. Hmmm. Food for thought for a few days.

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We did finally get some real October weather, and aside from a day or two bump, are luxuriating in it still. We had some sprinkles last week and there’s a whisper of rain in the coming forecast, shh, don’t scare it away. Hoof trimming is a bit more fun again with some moisture, let’s be honest, summer hooves are merciless!

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RC Aurora, 2 yrs 3 months..

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..and not overly concerned with table manners

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Because things come in 3s or so I hear, I had yet one more tire drama this past week. I took my trusty old Orange diesel Ford in to a previously helpful Big O Tires for front tires and alignment and got back front tires and–a $3500 estimate on repairs that “must” happen for safety and to even be able to align the truck. Eyebrows were raised and the truck was transferred to our usual mechanic, who returned the truck driving safely and nicely the next day for $400. Second opinions are clearly worth it these days!  *headshake*

Now we find ourselves back to the Blaze and hind hoof protection experiment. One of my trimming mentors shared a theory on Blaze’s interference online, based on her experience with a gelding who would appear balanced in a trim but then walk away landing more to the outside on a hind hoof, and would then interfere until that was corrected. I hit on that theory with interest because I had noticed Blaze walk away from what I thought was a balanced trim landing more to the outside just the day before. His fronts needed a clean up anyway so I went after his hooves pretty thoroughly before our next outing with trail buddies W and Aqua.

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a solid conditioning ride for the boys

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I didn’t solve the interfering issue, unfortunately, and with a brisk 14 mile ride including cantering sets, Blaze had interfered thoroughly enough to make his scarred leg a bit ouchy to the touch at the end. Humm. I can’t swear I nailed the trim theory, and will be working at it again, but I also probably won’t be subjecting him to hind boots very often in the meantime! He had a thorough warm bath and some Sore No More on his legs after that ride and is having a few days off. His back seems great with the Solstice still, though I’m having my chiro out for a herd check today so we’ll see if that reveals anything in anyone.

That’s about it for now. I hope that those who are graced with it are enjoying this fabulous weather.

sunset

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sunrise

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What’s Next? You Choose

Whether it’s a life design, job desire, schooling notion, thirst for partnership, or just what you want to do next weekend, there’s a pretty good chance it won’t happen quite according to plan. Or maybe at all.  When your master plan becomes an Also Ran, what are you left with?

I had an interesting exchange the other day with another rider who’d purchased what they hoped was “the horse” for endurance–and soon enough had found themselves at an unexpected crossroads. Upon request I shared what my experience with similar issues had been and was met with basically “Well, I don’t have time to mess about like that for [X time]. I’ve wasted too much time already.”

Sure, I suppose when looking back at various paths that it does kind of look like a bunch of messing around when why couldn’t I just see the right step/answer/logical outcome already? Of course, I’ve heard tell of hindsight being 20/20 and I certainly learned many a valuable lesson from past floundering. Anyway, aside from being slightly rebuffed, the commentary highlighted for me the huge absence of her very expressed feeling for me. Born impatient, easily irritated, independent, result oriented, and stubborn, I used to be very much in a headspace about getting things done properly, right now, this minute, no messing around. The thing is, the more that I’ve wrestled with being a good partner to my horses and my husband in life, the looser my grip on control and Plans has become, and the easier it has all become. Horses and life companions are pretty well The Chosen, no obligations born, but brought willingly into the fold. It seems almost counterintuitive to wrestle with the joy you chose but I and surely others have, and I do think it’s the need to Control and the struggle to Communicate that makes it so, human or horse. Mostly these struggles no longer seem to me like wasted time, I’ve come around to thinking that is a true disservice to the times that ultimately make you what you are.

It seems to me that when things haven’t shaken out as planned despite best effort, choosing, and planning, we’re merely left with how we choose to handle it and what we ultimately get out of it. To bring it around to horse specific again, for me, endurance has always been about a sanctioned reason to hang out with my horse all day and all night and then do it again. Would I like to be out racking up completions and filling my photo wall with gorgeous photos? Sure. Will I be doing that again in the future? Sure hope so. Meantime, lately, when I’m asked When, How Long, my answer is When it’s time, if it works out, and when I’m done messing around.

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Crewing Tevis 2015: It Ain’t Over til It’s Over

This was my fourth year crewing Tevis and as ever there was much to see, plenty to learn, and lots of strategic waiting to do. The weather also threw a nice curveball, as Tevis is always hot but this year it was literally raining en route to Robie, as well at Robinson Flat on Tevis morning. Eventually the sun came out and upped the humidity factor nicely, too. If it wasn’t a big tasty bowl of challenges it wouldn’t be Tevis, right!

raindrops into Robie–found my rider, “chasing” her to camp 😉

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the mighty Rushcreek Seth, attending to his vittles 

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Looking good team

1-11721937_873974596016_1719258177_nThis year there were 10 Rushcreeks vetted into Tevis on Friday, here’s a fun group picture. Also interesting to note, 50% completed, in accordance with overall Tevis completion average.

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I did my usual gathering of crew bags (including Dr. Lydon’s this year), dialing in of rider wishes (what do you want specifically met with, tack/clothes changes, highlighting small details not to be overlooked), and met my crew buddy. It was still impressively cool and grey as I headed back down to Auburn to my old friend Motel 6–aaand promptly proceeded to lock my keys in the truck while shuffling gear. Fortunately I’d just devoured a #2 Animal Style from In n Out so I was chuckling instead of raging when I called AAA. That was sorted out easily enough and before I knew it the alarm was pinging in the wee hours and it was time to head for Robinson Flat!

cool unsettled weather & Blue moon over RF, Sat am

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I’m always in the first fleet through ..

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..so we get a nice shady near the road and bathrooms

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guestimating off last year’s time, we were ready with the cart. time card and in!

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always good to check full protocols if you’re a meeting skipper like me..they needed a Pass or Recheck blood draw card as well as time card

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Seth is a typical Rushcreek trot-outter: “why human, this is stupid”

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And a fabulous RC eater, of course

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after a panicked “we need what sort of extra card to leave?!” (blood draw) sprint

Laura heads merrily out of RF at 11:55

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Finishing up at RF means cleaning up your mess including hay, and it’s a good idea to bring your own trash bags as they can (and did) run out.  We piled gear in the wonderful cart–every Tevis rider should have a crew cart, really, and I say that having crewed a buckle entirely solo with no cart— and we headed out, picking up someone else’s abandoned crew member along the way.

Foresthill parking lot was crowded, sunny, hot, humid–pretty well true to form, and I blessed my bright orange truck again as a crawl around the parking lot looking for a parking spot/sliver of shade resulted in truck recognition and being taken in under a boot client/friend’s awning and sweet trailer set up. Thanks again, W!

Bath road was busy as ever with the community and crews cheering the riders in

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grey skies again as Laura rolls in around 730 pm

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  Seth needed to pee so he took a minute or two to pulse down but once he peed BOOM did that pulse drop

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Foresthill trot out, Seth says “this is still stupid..”

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Seth continued to eat and drink nonstop through the Foresthill hold while our rider rested and freshened up, then about 8:40 it was go time again.

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This was the latest I (or my rider) had left Foresthill but all was in good order. After giving another buddy a ride I headed over to the Stadium and spent about 930 pm til 4 am switching between refreshing the Tevis webcast, chatting, and napping in the bleachers under a horse blanket. I made sure Seth’s stall was freshened up with vittles and poo removed, then closer to time brought the cart down to the Finish crewing area with hay and a mash pan and blanket ready.

In a bit of delirium and with the stadium announcer tiring I didn’t even hear or see Laura come in and do her victory lap, for all that. There is video (trying to add it) and he looks great trotting loosely around the stadium and under the banner. In the crewing area, Laura hollered at me where I was apparently sleeping with my eyes open and I snapped to it and whipped off tack and we headed in to vet.

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…and then Seth looked a little funny and we needed to recheck.

You could have knocked me over with a feather and I was doing my best imitation of a guppy fish at that point. We’re a low key team especially based off our success together last year, so I didn’t even have a cooler of ice to hand to get ice on his legs (lesson learned!!), but fortunately Laura has many friends and some ice wraps popped up pretty quickly. Begging pardons and with pleases I reestablished how much time we had left to recheck and she went for it–and sure enough Seth was slightly off on the right front and they were pulled at the Finish. While he did look good trotting in, once adrenaline wears off sometimes things are revealed, and that was that.

So now you know why the title makes sense. I think Laura said it best, classy and realistic to the end, so I’ll leave you with her message:

“For everyone who thinks I finished Tevis…I actually didn’t. Even after crossing the finish line after hundred miles, horses are required to be sound at a trot to receive a completion – and Seth was off on his right front. There’s a video that Jen Smith has that shows him trotting his victory lap and he’s not unsound at all. Sometimes things like that happen. It really sucks, but you know, if this were easy, everyone would do it. Thanks for all your support and best wishes.”

P.S. Seth is looking and moving great, picture by L as of the a.m., vacuuming up his vittles and bright eyed for the next adventure. Safe travels East, my friends

post tevis seth

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..