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

New Roommates, Good Friends

It’s hard for me to articulate how special the intertwined group of horse gals I find myself in has become to me. I tried to state it as local friends, but it expands over this broad state of California and into others, and there are certainly feelings of warmth sprinkled to many others across the country and beyond. Which is weird, because I don’t do sprinkly feelings of warmth and groups of girl friends. Or didn’t? I’m honestly pretty anti social, finding my clients, blog/FB, endurance events, and very few riding buddies I actually join IRL entirely enough social life without crowds, cities, strangers, or excessive indoor activities needing apply. That’s an accurate description of me even in this very moment, but I do undeniably now have a pretty cool core of people I am honored and stoked to call friends. And it’s great. So thanks, folks!

That sentimental ramble did lead somewhere, I swear..last Saturday, Mel of Boots and Saddles brought her endurance mare, Farley, up to Mare Camp. I struggle to even remember when we first met at this point (blogging/Renegades/Tevis?), but Mel has become one of those blog-to-real life friends who the above paragraph very much applies to. She inspires me and makes me laugh, and I respect her and her opinion (and stellar UC Davis DVM title) immensely; you might see where I was both happy to help a friend and a bit thrilled at the trust, to have her stashing her mare (to be swapped for her filly as needed) here. Farley was due for a bit of pasture relaxing, and we had grand notions that she might help curb long yearling Rushcreek Aurora’s rather voluminous ego.

welcome Farley!

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aaaand here we have yearling Rory routing Farley. Le sigh

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well hello, gorgeous

(Desire…is an aptly named loose lady of the night)

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 Farley is no dummy, she headed for safe quarters far away to assess

(Sheza the Breyer model…sigh, swoon)

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Rory is deemed substantial. To match her ego..

Long story short, Farley did not and has not yet stepped up to squash egos in any way. In fact, I had to deploy an extra feeder and trough and close off a side gate so that she could eat her meals in peace. Rory and mini Napoleon are twin towers of terror but fortunately Desire’s amorous intentions got Farley enough under her wing that direct harassment by Rory wasn’t allowed for long. Current status? Everyone is getting enough to eat, no undue violence, except from my mini horse, who is back to literally backing at horses at high speed squealing, to hell with pinning ears. I hurt from laughing and I know, we need a video!

Spark is looking and feeling good after Wild West. I need to get a shake out ride in before Gold Country 50 next weekend!

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Heh..heh…Spark and Apache, the odd couple

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And now..another new roommate, found through a good friend. We lost our good old buddy JJ the Shepherd mix at the beginning of May. My husband had rescued him before we even met and he lived a grand ranch life, passing peacefully with us stroking his head.

JJ the firewood collector

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It left a hole in our outdoor dog force, something we very much need living in a rural area with small animals and predators of enough types that you just want a big barking dog outside. Thanks to that vine of friendship I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was recommended to a local with years of experience with Shepherds, and the day after boarder Farley arrived we were very excited to bring home 3 1/2 month old Shepherd pup that we named Jasmine, “Jazzy.”

no big deal, just a car ride with strangers..

our first glimpse at her awesome brain (she did vomit copiously, but that’s only fair)

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I feel like I barely need to caption these..she just fits in. And gets it. And is very trainable. Thrilled with our Vista Farms girl. Thank you.

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so that’s how it’s done..

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Now ME try! 

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even old Georgia is taking to her well 

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Meanwhile, it’s been over 100 degrees *every day*. Our amazing firefighters stopped a 75 acre fire 3 miles from us on Wednesday. Last night, heading out in a hot breeze we were nearly first witness to another fire roaring up in a residential area, as thunder rolled and lightning forked through the sky. I’ve been recruited to the county fire scanner Facebook administrators and I am so happy to help in any way. It’s an intense and good time to be alive, and we need to watch each other’s backs.

foothill sunset

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veggies beating the heat…one moon til Tevis! I’ll be crewing again

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sunrise after last night’s rain(!?!)

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Coming up..

Gold Country 50

Sheza’s First Endurance Camp

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!

Potters Ravine A GoGo

I plinked out my last herd Riding Photo Roll just in time to take a whole bunch of pictures yesterday on a fabulous 19 mile training ride at Potter’s Ravine side Lake Oroville trails with Melinda and boot client/buddy Cindy.   If you’re like me and have dismissed the Potter Ravine side trails for years because of the paid parking thing–you’re missing out! Cindy kindly got our parking for us yesterday but seriously, after the awesome sustained trotting areas and ground we covered, I’d certainly say it’s worth $6 once in a while.

It’s a bay party

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perky Sparky leads the way

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such fun even the mare is grinning

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some great long trotting stretches, shade, a breeze!

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a bit higher up now

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primitive horse camp I never knew about, trail access only–but there’s corrals, bbq pits, bathrooms, etc! 

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dignified blogger portrait, still laughing over this one

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are we there yet? almost

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looking good around 18 miles

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  Sparky moved and drank well, ate his carrot bites religiously, and was quite unphased back at the trailer. I’ve already had to remove some of the shimming from the Specialized to accommodate his growing muscles. He’s an interesting mover, feels a bit of a hot mess on his own, body parts in all directions feels like sometimes, but when gathered up and pointed straight it’s a nice ride.We’ve had about 5 good rides together and I look forward to his continuing progress. 11329765_860627019666_8182792751263114536_n

In the meantime, might as well send in an entry to Wild Wild West!

Riding!

Nothing delights me more in website editing than to compile a post of hay, riding, and shiny horse photos!

 Oregon hay, 25 tons, BOOM. Lifelong dream right there

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Kahleau Spark who has become Sparkydoooooo (love ya Scrap)

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trail time with C and Sonny

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Coming from 17 acres pasture, Spark has a good base. Topline, carriage, and hind end building are my priority

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always good to glance over at your horse while hustling by and just start drooling..

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Oh yes, Sheza riding! 

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redhead powa!

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10 spicy solo miles with Sparky

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hiking back down, he actually dragged my back on trail after untacking, pleasant surprise

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OKay so I’m not riding her yet but darn near feels like some days..

14.1 hand, not-yet-2-yr-old Rushcreek Aurora sleeps through first surcingle

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bareback evening cruises on Blazer keep me smiling

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..but not quite as big as this smile!! 

HELLOOOO from Apache’s back 🙂

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Look for the Lesson

One of the best things about horses in my opinion is that the lessons they teach us transcend the animal or hobby. I suppose it must be possible to be around horses with no further emotional investment than “this is fun” or “a job done,” but personally I’m not capable. My own ongoing journey to being a calmer, better, and brighter human has been so irrevocably linked to my failures and successes with horses that the one is inextricable from the other.

11304040_10152785288102031_117548517_nThis isn’t the post to tell all the tales, but for example this: I didn’t used to like Arabians. My first experiences on horses were English riding lessons in Maine on a variety of breeds; my first favorite horse? An ornery chestnut Quarter Horse mare named Ruby. Another favorite was a Morgan gelding who’s ground manners were of the shove tiny me into a wall on his way for vittles type. My first personal horses, years later as a Californian, were a greyhound bodied and minded Appendix mare and a Welsh Pony/QH mare.

You can safely read into that that I didn’t shy away from sassy and smart horses by any means, I just didn’t see the appeal of Arabians at first. As a teenage trail guide at a riding barn on the north coast that also did endurance, I was around numbers of Arabians for the first time– and really? They seemed completely over the top. As a transplated strong willed redheaded youngster with East Coast roots, a somewhat self imposed desire to naturally understand and be good at things right away, a family instilled need to be efficient, and a natural born cowl of impatience, Arabians and I were just made to butt heads at that place in my life. In my world we didn’t *express* and we got shit done, period. Stopping, staring, snorting, spooking–emoting! Well what good is that. That’s not accomplishing anything.  Get on with it. IMPATIENCE! 

Between those years of guiding and buying my first Arabian, there was much Young Person Angst. You’ve been through it or you’re going through it, I don’t think I need to labor the details. The point comes around to being, I bought and bonded with my first Arabian, Blaze, in early 2009 at a raw and new place in life. I’d moved to a new county with a man I barely knew, my Welsh cross mare was freshly and harshly retired by a truck accident, I had no local friends, connections to family were more tenuous than they’d ever been, I could go on. My 2008 model first-ever personal chi-mutt Georgia was my friend, that I knew, and this short, trumpety, spooky, horse aggressive bay, Blaze, was going to be my friend too, by god.

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^I’m overpointing at this meme because it’s true, it’s so damn true. And horses will teach you this, over and over. They will give you the highest highs, the lowest lows, and if you’re lucky you’ll wake up every morning and get to decide how you are going to handle it all–not deal with, not cope with it, but *handle* it all. The years between Blaze coming home a snotty jerk and becoming the amazing little man he is today are all chronicled on this blog, feel free to browse back.

From Lds with Blaze to 2012s first 50s with Desire to her early retirement– to the *2 year* saga that has been endurance with Scrappy, I have absolutely been discouraged, kicked in the gut, and completely done. Then I got up the next morning, fed those ungrateful gorgeous four legged wretches, and carried on. The horses don’t know how much they cost, in dollars or dreams. Regardless of what emotions or expectations we project for them or inflict on them, the horse *is*. Initially, the sensitivity the Arabians showed to the world and to my own roiling emotions was what repelled me, but as I struggled and grew, it was their honesty that made and kept me honest, with them and myself. The more willing I was to look at my own behavior, in life and with my horses, the better all results became. The calmer, truer, and more open hearted I am, the better they respond, and the better we are together.

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So here we are. Scrappy is out to pasture for a year. I’m riding a nice, but borrowed horse. Things are not as I had imagined or planned, and that’s okay. The struggle isn’t over, all the obstacles are not yet seen or even imagined. I have no idea, in this moment, how I’ll handle them when I encounter them. But I know that I will, and I’ll learn something from it, and be better. I urge others not to grasp too tightly to labels and expectations or grand plans made. Yes, dream. Yes, make goals. But recognize and embrace a positive flexibility– often found rooted in an elusive acceptance of yourself–look for the lesson, and thrive.