Monday, November 29, 2010

Milo gets a new Do!

I had been waiting the past few weeks until the BO was ready to help me body clip Milo. She was out of town, than had her own horses to clip, than we had that huge storm last week (which in hindsight is a good thing he wasnt clipped yet). Friday I got to see my boy again. It was a great day filled with horses and friends. My close friend who is away at WSU in Pullman was up for the Thanksgiving holiday and I was able to pick her up Friday morning and spend the day with her. We stopped at Sarah's to get her saddle for the show the next day too.

Daylight for my Friday cleaning! Being that it was Black Friday I didnt have to work, so I took the opportunity (plus the extra set of hands) to get the pastures done. But first, I had to go see my Milo!! I gave him lots of hugs and kisses and he gave kisses in return! Its not just wishful thinking, I could tell Milo was happy to see Mom too, nickering to me and coming to the gate. It was so good to see him, and he watched me during most of my pasture cleaning, almost looking at me like "Hello? When are you going to stop doing that and come and get me?"

Heather had pulled Missy (Milo's girlfriend) out of her stall and began clipping her. Clara and I watched and waited until she would tack up. Than I remembered about wanting Milo clipped, and reminded myself to ask Heather's Mom, the BO about when we could get it done. Heather said well Ive got clippers right here, lets just do him after Missy. Well ok. So I went and got Milo from the pasture and threw him into Missy's stall until she was done.  Missy got a sort of modified trace clip.

We put Milo into the cross ties and I went to grab the clippers from Clara. She held tight to them saying she wanted to clip him. Clara had helped me do a semi-trace clip on Milo two years ago, so I wasnt fearful for what he would end up looking like. I told her to just clip his neck on both sides and I would decide what I wanted her to do for his body. When finished with that, we proceeded to clip his shoulder and chest. I had originally thought that I wanted him to have a full body clip. Than I pondered that there wouldnt be much support on his back where the saddle sits, and as I could recall, body clips left a patch on the back for a saddle. So I had her do a trace looking clip along his sides, still leaving hair for the lower cinch area and is belly since his blanket doesnt have a belly band. Than I decided that he really didnt need his butt clipped off because he never sweats up on the top, just below near his gaskin. So I had her continue the straight line across his belly along his rear.
We stepped back and had a look. Her lines werent very straight so I took the clippers from her and fixed them. I later discovered that the clip lines at his poll on the right side where really botched up but I would have to fix that later.
Milo looks so butt high! Hes not that downhill!

Sarah had not only lent me her saddle but also handed me a bit to try on Milo. Im not sure of the exact name of it, but its made by Les Vogt. I cant find a decent picture of it online, I will try and take a photo tomorrow. She said to try it out on him, saying it will help him really work over his back and break at the wither and poll, not the third vertebrae. I didnt put it on on Friday for two reasons: a) I hadnt ridden him in a week and wasnt sure of the horse I would be riding today and wanted to keep things the same for him which ties into b) I was taking him to the reining show the next day and didnt want him confused. I think I will try it out this week though. But I really want to get him on track in the bosal than a shank bit. I need to get some lessons going with Sarah to get him into the bosal.

Edit: Melissa from sent me a photo of the bit:

Sorry, sidetracked. I had a great ride Friday evening. Milo was moving oddly at the lope to the right, which if you remember, is the lead he kept trying not to take on the longe line. Well, I had only longed him at a walk and trot before getting on because the arena was literally packed (one other longer besides me, and five other riders on the rail!). Our first lope to the right he didnt feel like he was engaging his hocks very much, moreso, he wasnt reaching up underneath him like he usually does. He didnt feel lame, just not engaging. The second try at the lope by the third circle he felt much better, and loping to the left he felt perfectly fine. So Im not sure what is going on, I thought maybe I hadnt warmed him up enough in our body exercises that Sarah had shown us - really losing up each part of the body to get them working together. But he was moving strangely a few weeks ago too. And I cant blame it on the cold weather for that reason either.

But the clip sure helped for cool out time! I of course still cooled his muscles down, but didnt have to spend a half hour or more with the cooler. I fitted him in his heavyweight turnout blanket and the neck cover I just bought him (than realized the blanket doesnt have a ring on the wither for the neck attachment - oops hope it stays on overnight), packed up the truck for the trailer, than put him away in his pasture with a carrot. It was so great to see my horse again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Being Thankful

Well, the power just came back on at our house this morning, we were out for 36 hours! But we luckily had gotten the woodstove put in Sunday, so we beat the storm! Sunday night the temperature dipped below freezing, than began to snow lightly. By morning, it hadnt stuck to the roads too bad so we ventured out to work. It was forcasted to start snowing again Monday afternoon, but Mother Nature had other fact, two hours after getting to work (8:30am) it began snowing lightly in Poulsbo. But we continued to work, seeing as it wasnt sticking too bad. I got a call at about noon from the Boyfriend who was sent home due to weather (hes a commercial truck driver - no driving means no work) and he said that the roads heading home were looking pretty bad, I should try and leave work soon. So I left at one. I really wanted to make it out to Milo since I hadnt seen him since the Friday before, but knew that if Boyfriend in his huge F350 was saying roads were getting bad, I shouldnt chance it in my F150. So I headed home, hoping the snow would melt soon and I could see Milo the next day, or maybe Wednesday.

Boyfriend was right, the roads were bad. I fishtailed twice on the highway, and again on Holly road (about ten minutes at speed limit from home). After the third fishtail, I said uh-uh and put the 4x4 High on. I 4x4ed it safely home (at 20mph - can you believe people actually were PASSING me?? I was like what the heck people, Im going this slow for a reason). There were about 4 inches of snow at home and it was already starting to freeze over.

We then lost power at about 5pm Monday night. We sure did crank that fireplace up. Tuesday morning it was cold. It had hit about 20 overnight and it made the roads a literal sheet of ice. But we ventured out down the road in my truck (which apparently fares better in the snow than Boyfriend's) to make phone calls into work (no cell coverage at the house, and no home phone with the power being out). No work. Boo, that means no horse either (remember my post about my horse needing to be home? Ya lets add to that!). We made it to the gas station just down the road to pick up some supplies, than heard that power was out to over 3000 people in th county, with power back in Seabeck estimated on about Friday. Oh poo.

Another dark night last night, another cold night too - 13 degrees! We had closed off the other side of the house (where the bedrooms are) to conserve the heat to the living room, than slept on the couch where it was warm.

Well there must be a God because power came back on here at 8am this morning. Its still cold outside, and its still frozen over. Now if there was a loving God, he would melt the roads so I could see my horse today!! Im guessing that either the show this weekend will be canceled, or we just wont be able to go (boo!). Oh well, I just want to see my horse its been five days today!

Oh right, I was making the post for the things that I am thankful for. Well, Im thankful that the power is back on, as well as our fireplace :) But since a picture says a thousand words, here are a few:

But Im also thankful for my family, my friends, my home, and my job, I just couldnt find good enough photos to represent those. Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and heres to hoping there is a Thanksgiving miracle for Boyfriend and I in the roads thawing and being able to make it to our family's feast.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why My Horse Needs to be Home Already

We got our first snow of the season here in WA. While it (so far) is only a dusting - just enough to cover the grass and trees - it still threatens access to work (and horse!) tomorrow. I live 35 minutes away from work and 40 minutes away from Milo, in an area that get some of the worst snow in the county. There are also two huge (and when I say huge I mean it) hills that are the only access from our town, Seabeck, to anywhere else in Kitsap County. So no matter which way you try to get out of Seabeck, you are faced with the dilhema of which potential ice hill you want to tackle - long hill, or shorter, steeper, windier hill. While I have a 4x4 F150 to drive, the hills still scare me a bit. So needless to say, when it snows I am not all too pleased.

I wouldnt mind staying at home from work - save for the part of course of losing money by staying home. I also wouldnt mind riding in the snow, that is fun. But not so much when you have to juggle the safety of getting to horse and back home. But if Milo were home, I wouldnt have to worry! Just saddle up and hit the trails.

So thats my complaint for today lol. I wish Milo were home so that I wouldnt be so concerned about him 40 minutes away right now in his pasture. I think they turned on the water heaters but Im not positive. I just hope he has access to thawed water. But I did see him on Friday and threw his heavyweight blanket on him, so at least I know hes cozy warm (and he hasnt been clipped yet either). Hopefully tomorrow will be clear enough I can leave for work in the morning, and what would be even better is that it is clear enough to see (fingers crossed for riding too) Milo after work and still make it home safely.
And P.S. Ive been absent this week due to being sick, so was only able to see Milo twice this week. But he was a good boy and we enjoyed two great bareback rides!! :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Sundays are usually a day of cleaning the house, getting necessary chores done, and spending some quality time with the Boyfriend. Well, Boyfriend has been in Idaho hunting since last Saturday so needless to say its been a little lonely around here this past week. But I did get some of the regular Sunday rituals done today. I cleaned a badly needed house; mine - and now I feel so much better coming back home to a clean abode!

Since I dont think I will be using Milo for the drill team, a fellow Cowgirl offered hers to me - but she needs some work. After a few weeks of meaning-to-come-out-and-work-with-mare, today was a good day to do it. I had nothing better to do being that the house was clean by 10am and with Boyfriend gone left bored me at home. Not to mention it was a clear(ish) day (meaning not raining). The mare, Doll, is just down the road from where Milo is boarded (how convenient!) so I decided since I would be in the area some much needed Milo-time would be in order.

I got to Milo at about a quarter after 11 and being that it was a Sunday there were no lessons going on (score!) I had the whole place exclusively to myself (except for Edgar, the weekend cleaner). Taking full advantage of this rare opportunity, I set some poles up in the indoor and turned on the country station over the speakers. I started Milo on the poles and he worked very well. I than hopped on (with my pink bareback pad - while I feel like I could be working completely bare right now, I feel like the pad offers some more support for Milo than just my butt directly on his back, so I will continue to use the pad) and Milo worked very very well. I was a very proud Mom indeed. He just went right to work, holding himself (effortlessly on my part) correctly and driving under himself. We got to work on circles, large and small, use the rail when we pleased and even go over the poles I had set down the center. Milo was moving beautifully.

I pushed him into a lope and he lifted his shoulders like he never has before for the lope departure. He rocked right back onto his hocks, lifted his back and shoulders and very strongly (but smoothly) picked up his left lead lope. It was cool! And so correct and effortless! I got to lope a circle at either end, move onto the rail than back into a circle (can you tell I was ecstatic about being able to go where I wanted when I wanted?). I thought that today could have been  good day to work on our lead changes being that had total access to the arena, but he just didnt feel quite up to that. While he was moving great, I guess I just didnt feel like pushing something that could hinder our beautiful ride.

When I asked for a right lead departure from the walk, he pinned his ears flat back, picked up the lead fine but kept his ears flat back for a few circles. Hmmm. We was working well however bulging his shoulder to the outside. I brought him back to the trot and corrected the shoulder, than asked for the lope again. Again he flattened his ears but picked up the lope. This time they remained flat for only about half a circle than they went relaxed and bounced rhythmically. I than remembered that when I asked for the right lope on the longe line it took two attempts for him to pick up the right lead, he picked up the counter lead first twice. I wonder if something is going on again with his rib? He seems to be moving very effortlessly in all other aspects and is really using his body well. Maybe with the rib in place now we just have to get the muscles used to moving a little differently? I wont get too concerned now however, Ill give him a little more time to see if its something he just needs to be worked out of.

All in all it was a great ride. Not too long, but productive and fun. I felt so connected to him and we seemed to be working in sync together. Just one of those great rides that just stands out to you.

Than it was time to work with Doll. I brought my Crates saddle out and my headstall. Shes a cute mare. Still pretty green in that she doesnt know very many buttons. Her topline is weak and her throatlatch is thick - I later concluded shes developed a lot of muscle there from bracing against the bit. She also held a lot of tension right above her shoulders - a similar spot to where Milo holds his, although his buldged muscle there is reducing everyday. Fortunetly for me, Doll's owner has a similar mindset to how to ask and ride horses as well as aspects on the ground. This made things easier to work with her on the ground. I was concerned I would have to teach her everything I do on the ground via the longe. But I was pleasantly surprised. While everyone will ask a little differently I was able to work with her well.

When I got on I just worked on suppling her face. She is very heavy on her mouth. She also is very one-sided. She is stiff and braces on her right side. She will need a lot of suppling work. She also has next to no back. We worked on this - but I had also noticed she has nearly no back on the ground either. Just something else to stay consistent with. I had taken my spurs off my the guidance of her owner, that she has a lot of go. That she does, but just when she feels like it. I eventually put my spurs back on as she has no lateral aids. She responds fairly well to outside leg pressure, but gave me nothing for inside. Funny enough, she sure seemed to know what I was asking once my spurs were on. I think she was just messing with me. Shes very much the mindset that "I will do what I want when I feel like it". Not mean or sassy, just a bit stubborn. But very smart. Within a short amount of time I got her to move off my leg and hold a fairly decent circle. She also is the type of horse that easily gets "stuck". I discovered this first on the ground but it was very evident undersaddle - especially when I asked her to disengage her hind. If she doesnt know she doesnt try. She will just stand solid and ignore your aid. I can tell this mare will need a lot of control over her feet before I even consider riding on the drill team with her.

But we were making progress. Than we briefly introduced her to the flag, which is didnt care much about (sweet!) than went for a short trail ride. We got to work on a lot of backing on the trail. She doesnt rush, but she likes to set her own pace and take the front. Oh she also relys entirely on her face for direction. No seat and no leg. A stop is all on the reins, which not only is bad in the sense that you shouldnt ride off of their face, but she already has bracing and backing issues, stopping on her mouth only encourages her to raise her head and nose up and out and brace on the bit.

She will need time. But we have time. She has a good mind and I think could do well on the team. Doll's rider (owner's husband) wants to take some lessons on her with Max Salisbury - the same ole cowboy whose clinic I attended last January, and also took a lesson with. Max will help them get her buttons in place and supple up her face. That will help a lot too if there is a lot of consistency between all of the people who ride her (myself making three: owner, owner's husband, and me).

And on a final note, the offer of working off partial board with Diamond Hill Ranch has been withdrawn. So no-go on being able to move Milo out there, which is a huge bummer because the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go. But oh well. Its just too bad I got so excited for it to then not be able to be made into reality.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Boarding boarding boarding

Let me just preface this by saying I am getting a good deal (money wise) at the facility I currently keep Milo at. I love the BO and its a great facility. Now with that out of the way, here are where my frustrations lie: indoor arena access. The facility Im at makes a lot of money off of their lesson program(s). There are lessons nearly nonstop in the indoor arena. In the summer there is no problem, I can just use the outdoor arena or go for a trail ride. In the winter, it makes things harder because all I have to use is the indoor. I arrive at the barn around 4:30, prime time for lessons. Kids are out of school, people are off work. I really dont mind sharing the arena, its that a particular instructor doesnt much like to. And the arena really isnt large enough to comfortably accomodate 2 lessons plus a boarder rider (or more). Not to mention poles, cavalettis, cones, etc in the arena in lessons. Makes things difficult.

I love that Milo is on pasture. He is so happy. But honestly, I am tired of cleaning muddy pastures. Yesterday I was cleaning in the dark and in the mud, and I just got so frustrated. But I have no other option. I cannot afford board where Im at unless I supplement with cleaning. I dont mind cleaning per se, I would rather clean stalls than pastures (its not a grass is always greener scenario, I used to clean stalls before I moved Milo to our current facility).

We are also having an issue with feeding. Milo and Jake are kept in the pasture together, Ive shown you all an image of what their shelter/stall looks like. Theres no real division, or way to keep one from going into the other. The problem is that Milo gets less grain than Jake, and gobbles his down than goes and steals Jake's. This isnt something that will necessarily adversely effect Milo, but I feel terrible that he is taking Jake's grain and supplements. Also, the barn workers dont check the waters in the pastures. That responsibility lies with me, and Jake's owner. My concern is that with winter coming, what if I cant get out there for a week or more? Can I guarantee that someone will be breaking ice and filling water? Im not so sure.

Ive talked about Diamond Hill Ranch before. Its where I haul to to work with cows. Its where our drill team held try-outs. Its a great facility and I know the owner well. As I plan to take more lessons with Sarah (who is a trainer at DHR), I will have to haul into DHR every lesson adding $10 to the cost for haul in fee, as no outside trainers can come to where I am currenly. Cathy at DHR a few months back offered me a good deal for board with only Sunday cleaning/feeding. At the time, things seemed to be working well where Im at (I could use the outdoor arena), so I had turned it down. Now Im hoping I can strick up another good deal with her. She said she has availability in her outdoor paddock/pasture with shelter.

So for my visual mind (and I have to think things through carefully) here are my pros and cons for each.

Current Facility:
Good deal $250/mo                                
Pasture board = happy horse                   
Hot water rack                                        
Locking heated tack room                   
Indoor arena                                           
Outdoor round pen                                 
Outdoor arena                                        
Friendly BO                                           
Lots of trails
Grain and hay included
BO lives on site

Cleaning pastures weekly
Muddy living conditions for Milo
Not close to home (close to work)
Busy facility (lots of lessons)
Small arena - hard to work in irregardless of lessons
No outside trainers
$10 trailer parking

Diamond Hill Ranch:
HUGE indoor arena                               
Indoor round pen                                   
Outdoor arena                                       
Trainer on site - save $                                
Cows on site - save $                               
Hot wash rack                                         
Pasture type board
Locking tack room
Friendly BO
Person on site

More money (but nearly the same after taking off haul in fees)
Not close to home (closer to work)
Leased facility - scared of lease ending unexpectantly.
Cleaning on Sundays - one more day of driving to Poulsbo (35 min from home) meaning more money in gas and less weekend availability.
Steep driveway.

I know where I want to be at. Im just not sure that I can financially afford it. Than I wonder if I should just stick it out until Milo comes home in (hopefully) about 6-8 months. Not to mention, if Im spending more, that could delay my getting a (new) truck, and/or effect any extra money for farrier/food/gas/shows. I need Wes to be home from hunting so I can talk things over with him....sigh.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Realizations at the Show

We watched the cutting on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed a sandwich. After everyone was finished and left, and the panels were put up in the arena for the sorting the next day, we brought our horses in for an easy ride at eight. I just put Milo's bridle on and hopped on bareback. Sarah handed me a dressage whip to aid in bringing his hip in on an arch, something he was reluctant to comply with with only my spur the night before. However being bareback Milo was much more sensitive to my leg aids than in the saddle. Oddly enough, when I got back into Sarahs saddle for our ride the night before, I felt like I had to re-learn how to ride in a saddle. And I felt like I couldnt feel my horse, I think it was an adjsutment for Milo as well.
We worked on the couple exercises from Sarah again, than quickly noticed Milo wasnt working over his back. He would drop his head to my leg cue, but wasnt lifitng up his back. So I stopped and just asked for a lift. Asked and held. Milo tried to drop his head and walk forward. Again I asked. And Again. And still Milo wasnt lifting. Confused and frustrated, I asked Sarah for some advice. She had me try to back him when he didnt respond which would get him to lift his back. Than stop and ask again. If he did than say good boy and walk him forward with his back lifted. It took a while, but eventually he got a nice lift. So I stopped and got off. I only rode for about 15 minutes but it seemed beneficial.

Sorting was on Sunday but the Green Novice was at the end. Melissa and I watched the Open and #7 classes until Sarah came back from a client's. We were able to observe that those groups that took there time and didnt get greedy were able to finish with a good amount of cows and a clean smooth run. Those that went in hot headed and rushing hardly ever finished with a clean run. Not to mention their horses took the brunt of their frustrated score with heavy jerking hands and spurs in the sides. It was a good reminder to Melissa and I to take our time in our runs.

The open class was smaller than the month before, so it initially gave promise to a faster day. But the #7 class and novice proved to be large, making our Green Novice class not beign until almost 4.

During warm up, I continued to school Milo on the new concepts given to me by Sarah. As I worked on the new exercises, it became clear in my mind how each piece flows into the next. And I got a better understanding on using my outside aid as support. It was amazing how light and responsive Milo was, moving off my leg and rein. I even pushed him into a turnaround keeping him in an arch, with my leg back at C to keep the hip to the inside than just laying my rein onto his neck. It was great! Finally what Sarah was saying was actually coming into play. And he was working over his back and engaging his hind end so nicely. Sarah commented on how pleasure Milo looked (well that is his breeding afterall...). It was great. I told her shes a magician and that we will have to get a t-shirt for her.

We stood and watched the last of the Novice class finish their rounds, than waited for the announcer to call our names for our runs. Tonya and Cindy where there again, but this time Brittany and Heidi were there as well. I was able to run with them all except Heidi, I had one run with someone I didnt know. My first run though was with Melissa and Grace. We had agreed from our earlier observations to take it slow and easy, no rushing.

As soon as Milo got into the pen and locked on a cow I lost all of my body control. His head flew into the air, his back hollowed out, he ignored my leg cues, but most worst, he refused to listen to what I instructed him to do. He danced in the holding pen, chomped at cows when we pushed them, and overall, got way too excited and tried to pick a cow to chase without listening to the imput from me on his back. He would lock onto any cow that happend to be in his path or sight, diregarding me telling him to stop biting the one in front of him and work the one I pushed him to.

It was frustrating to say the least. And from our experience at the rodeo, Milo has learned how to flip his nose straight out thereby giving me no control in the snaffle. I considered putting a tie down on him so when he tried to flip his head up to avoid my direction, he would hit the noseband, disallowing him access to gain control. But after my second run in, I thought it might be a bad idea to put something new on him in such a high energy environment. While I think it could have been beneficial, I thought it would be a safer route to introduce something new at home.

Here is one run of Melissa and I.

After each run however I worked him again and was able to regain control over him, get him lifting his back and moving off my aids. So it isnt a matter of him not knowing, its him seeing a cow and tuning me out. That is not ok.

I was a bit bummed to be ending on a rather negative note to an otherwise great weekend. I had a lot of really good chats with Melissa and Sarah, had some good food (Mexican :) ), and an overall good time. But I decided that before Milo was going to step into a sorting arena again we have to establish that when a cow is in front of him, he still listens to me. I think we will be able to regain this through going out to Diamond Hill Ranch as much as we can and just pull a cow out into the arena to work, giving me a good opportunity to get off the cows and school if necessary, than easily go back on a cow to try again. I also affirmed that I want to pursue taking lessons from Sarah. It really amazed me how logical everything she told me seemed to be. And how quickly things progressed for Milo and I. After our warm up on Sunday morning, I got this high excitement to learn more. I am excited for what lies ahead of us.

Monday, November 8, 2010

On the Road to the 70

Milo and I completed our second reining/sorting show this past weekend at the Tacoma Unit. With Boyfriend hunting again during this show, I was able to hitch a ride with Sarah (saddle fitter/trainer) and Melissa . We hauled up Friday evening to get the horses all settled in and ready for the show Saturday morning. Friday evening we were able to ride in the arena, and I got some amazing pointers (basically a lesson) from Sarah on getting Milo to use his body together and not be "crooked" as she put it. He was lacking in implusion and was really requiring a lot of spur to keep moving. She gave me a few good exercises to work on to get him supple, able to use his body independently and as a whole and how the two work together to create an overall balanced working horse. She also reminded my brain that I can use multiple aids at the same time. For instance, right hand with in inside bend, push the hip out to the left, but I can support Milo with my outside (left) hand for him. I knew this, but for some reason never took into practice. No wonder when I would ask Milo to move the hip with an entirely loose outside hand, he would bulge his shoulder out and generally felt unbalanced. He had no support on the outside from me. Overall, I learned a lot and was extremely appreciative of her advice and help.

Saturday morning was our reining class and it was only Melissa and I entered into the Beginning Reining. I hadnt ridden the pattern since the last show - for lack of space available from sharing the indoor arena at the barn, and also for concern with not over patterning Milo. But of course, we worked on individual parts of the pattern. I didnt get much of a chance to warm up in the show pen, but wasnt too concerned as we had worked in it the night before. However this meant that I wasnt able to school on our simple changes in the warm up arena. Instead, I was able to work on the few excerises Sarah gave me the night before and get Milo thinking about my aids. He was a bit looky in warm up, and wasnt coming up over his back very well, but we got a decent enough warm up in. I was called to begin my pattern first.

Same pattern as the month before, this pattern will remain the same during the winter series. We walked in along the wall than came to the center to face the judge. I remembered that right was right. We begin our spins to the right. I was not going to make the same mistake of beginning the pattern the wrong direction as previously done in the show before.

Part of what Sarah showed me was in arching. And while I cant remember which name she called it goes to each exercise, this one was focusing on keeping Milo in a forward motion throughout the turnaround. I had previously been working on getting Milo light to my outside rein, as described in a few posts back with the video series from Larry Trocha. And while Milo has been working well off the rein, he was continueing to plant his outside leg instead of the inside. I was more focused on getting a correct inside leg versus a tight fast spin, and keeping his body in the correct frame as depicted from Sarah. This includes turning him with my outside leg in C, holding his hip in on an arch, and turning the shoulder with the rein. Milo did well, he will get there eventually. But he was picking it up nicely after only one lesson on it! I was scored a -1 for each spin.

Our circles were as fabulous as they could have been, but again, I havent been able to work on circles much in the indoor arena - too many lessons going on all the time. Our left circles were scored at a -1/2. His lead change was surprisingly well as was our three circles to the right. Those were scored at a 0. As we came back around and down to finish with a slide and back, I was focusing on keeping Milo straight and trying to maintain our last stride the largest/fastest. With so many things going on in my head, I didnt time the stop very well, popping me out of the saddle. But I did say Woah this time, and Mio did put on the brakes. Our stop and back was scored at a -1/2 and -1/2. Our final score was a 66 1/2. Not sure if it is better than last months, but Milo did feel much better. He didnt come up under the saddle as well as I know he can do, but did work much more relaxed and forward than the month before. Irregardless of the scoring, I felt we did much better this time around than the month before. The icing on the cake was when we were called to take the blue ribbon. I didnt expect that outcome, but Milo sure pleased Mom!

More on our Sunday cow runs to follow...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I am Confident in my Seat...Right?

Yesterday was a rare beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest. Typically here, we have maybe two weeks of sunny nice fall weather, than the rain hits, and it stays until at least May. So I was more than eager to take on a trail ride invite from my close pal. After I accepted, I than realized that humm, Im still riding bareback. I pondered if one more ride in my saddle would be that awful, but quickly remembered Milo's woes on Sunday. Well, if Im going to go than its in my pink bareback pad.

Milo is a good trail horse. Not a super trail horse, but he does what I request of him, just stares on alert and has an occassional spook. As I always do on the trail, I wore my helmet. And I also thought it would be stupid on my part to not when I was bareback on the trail on a beautiful crisp day.

I informed my friend when we took off that she was not to laugh at me if I fell off. And yes, Milo's but does look big in the bareback pad. She said she wasnt laughing at that but rather the pink pad itself. Yeah well Milo is confident in his masculinity.

So off we went. Theres a particulary scary area right before the trail head with (what sounds like) a big giant dog on the other side of a totally enclosed fenced yard. The bark of the dog always makes the horses twitch or side step when we walk by. Milo had little itty bitty baby steps past the dog/fence and tried to skitter sideways from it. I made him sidepass into the fence. He did, tensly.

Milo bravely (cough cough) walked into the trail, a little confused at my feet rusling the bushes on his sides. He walked through the mud and puddles. I even worked on suppling, a little on lifting his back (did much better on the walk back home, LOL). We two-tracked from one side of the trail to the other, we did haunches in, and we worked a lot on stopping on his butt and backing. He eventually gave me a few good stops.

At one point, Milo got behind Missy. Milo likes the lead. He also likes to torment the horse in front of him; bitting their butt/tail, and generally being a pest. However, Milo and Missy as you may recall, have a certain love for each other (Missy more than Milo). She had no problem with his nose in her butt and he surprisingly didnt torment her. He did well in the back. A few times I had to back him off a bit as he starts to just go as the horse in front goes and tries to tune me out.

A squirrel ran in front of us. Neither cared much, looked but didnt do anything. Thirty seconds later, they both spooked big at something behind them, each giving about a half stride leap forward. We stopped and looked behind us. Nothing. Horses will be horses right? Maybe it was a killer squirrel.

Later, three teenagers emerged from a trail head, causing Milo to side step away from them. They seemed to that that was pretty cool. But we continued on our way.

Throughout the entire ride (more frequently on the way back home) Milo would stretch his nose down and lift his back. He first started doing this after his first adjustment from Sarah last winter when we first discovered his rib was out. Sarah said its a good thing, as in Milo is kind of trying to correct himself. Milo has been doing this a lot in the last few weeks, and a TON on the trail ride. So I knew something was definitely up from the saddle issue on Sunday. I have been working on trying to get his rib back in place, but Im not sure my efforts are working. One more day, Milo! You will get adjusted tomorrow!

The ride lasted until it was getting close to dark, about an hour and a half ride. I have to say too, I was pretty proud of my seat. Recalling now, even through the spooks, I didnt tense up and I stayed centered on my horse. It was a great reassurance for me. At the beginning of the year when I first established my New Years Resolution to get my seat back I would have never stood a chance of staying on. Even a few months ago I would have been questionable. With the continued bareback rides that are ahead of me, I think its safe to think that by the end of the year I will almost entirely have my "old" seat back. While I wont be taking three foot jumps bareback anytime soon (no desire, and no jumping horse) I think I will be as confident in my seat as I once was.

On a final note, an old barn friend saw a plea of mine via Facebook for anyone selling a cooler. She was gracious and gave me hers.
I was lazy and didnt buckle all the straps before taking a photo, and Milo wasnt too sweaty anyways. It fits his body well, but is too snug on the neck to velro down. Ive been able to use it though about four times now, and it works really well in drawing the sweat from his body and onto the blanket. Plus he looks pretty cute in it, doesnt he? :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Trailer Makeover

Today I decided I am going to make a deadline for all of the upgrades and items to be duplicated for my trailer. I have this goal in my mind of having my trailer nearly always stocked and equipped with necessary basics and safety precautions. That way, any time I haul all I need to worry about is basically packing the saddle and bridle, along with no concerns of being unprepared in an emergency situation.

Because cash flow can be a problem for immediete upgrade, the goal for the completion of this project/makeover is March 24. Not only is it early in the spring so my trailer should be equipped and ready to go for spring and summer events and happenings, but it is Milo's birthday :)

Without further adeu, here is the list:
Trailer Makeover/Stock List
To be completed by March 24
 Water Jug
 Pitchfork
 Manure Bucket
 2 water/feed buckets
 First Aid Kit
     To include:
          o Mercury or Digital Thermometer and Rubbing Alcohol
          o Cutters/Scissors
          o Clean Leg Wraps
          o Gauze and Bandages
          o Vet Wrap
          o Tweezers
          o Disposable Diapers
          o Anitbiotic Ointment
          o Stethoscope
          o Sheet for vital signs
 Grooming Supplies
     To include:
          o Curry Comb
          o Medium and Stiff Brush
          o Hoof Pick
          o Mane and Tail Brush
 Duct Tape
 Hay Twine
 Two Blocker Ties
 Two Blocks of Wood
 Add hinged lower latch to rear door
 Add flood light(s) to rear
 Door block/stopper for tack room
 Flashlight
 Hay Net/Bag - potential: corner feeders
 Spare Halter and Lead Rope

I may be adding to/subtracting (not likely) this list as thing come to my mind.
"A goal without a plan is just a wish." - Larry Elder

Monday, November 1, 2010

Im Sorry Milo!

Sunday was the Thunderbird Cowgirls Drill Team Try-Outs. We had a large turnout of girls trying out, 11 to be exact. They were all given a pre-tryout questionnaire as well.

Brittany hauled Milo and I up with her boy, Cuss. There is limited parking at the facility, so we thought that car-pooling would be a good idea. The saddle Ive been borrowing had been previously arranged to be at the facility that day for my usage, so I didnt bring mine. The try-outs were to begin at 10, and we got there at about 7:30. But it gave us a chance to get the trailer out of the way (and by the arena, so when our horses were tied we could keep an eye on them), and the boys a chance to munch some breakfast. I tied up Milo with his hay net than went to the tack room to retrieve the saddle.

Hmm. No saddle. Where is the saddle? I called Sarah, asking if maybe the saddle was left somewhere other than the tack room. No answer. I texted her. No reply. Crap. I told Brittany I could ride bareback, as thats what we have been doing anyways, but she advised that bareback holding the flag might be a bad idea. Good point. Brittany had an extra saddle in her trailer, so we threw it up on Milo. It pinched behind his shoulders pretty bad. But I didnt have any other options. So I longed him in it than hopped on. Worried and upset about the situation. Another Cowgirl said she had a spare saddle in her trailer, that she believed would be wider. So I threw off the Hereford saddle and put on her Billy Cook. Better, but not by much. By this point, I was running out of time and needing to warm up.

I got on Milo and trotted around. Man he felt awful. Choppy strides, angry ears, and hollow back. Poor Milo. He probably was wondering why mean ole Mom was subjecting him to this torture.

Milo and I were designated to set the pattern that the girls trying out were to complete. A figure eight lope, lope to the wall, walk to first cone, rollback to left, trot to second cone, rollback to right, lope to first cone, stop, back four steps. Milo did well. A lot of pinning ears and swishing tail, but he did the pattern well. We had three judges volunteered to critique the girls and give their input. Oddly, the first girl in did the pattern as far wrong as you possibly could. Really? Did you not pay attention to my ride? Oh well.

I tied Milo up to the trailer with his hay and watched the rest of the girls run their pattern. There were a few girls who really stood out based on their pattern, a lot of girls that were questionable, and a few that were definite no-s.

Next, four of us Cowgirls were there with our horses, so we rode a drill with the try-out girls. We taught them the pattern, than split them into three groups. We ran one trot through of the pattern and one lope through of the pattern (all with flags - although one gal opted to not carry one, and another had to ditch hers due to a bucking horse) giving this enough time for the judges to get an idea of the girls' abilities to work on a team, as well as their horses skills.

Milo was upset the entire time. At one point he broke into a small fit of bucks. I pushed him out of it, feeling bad because he needed a reprimand from bad behavior, but I knew exactly why he was upset. I pulled him out after the second group, because not only was he tired and angry, but it was an odd numbered group, so we didnt need four Cowgirls in it.

I tied Milo up again, yanked the saddle off of him, than threw his cooler over his sweating, steaming body. I found a bucket and quickly filled it and carried it over to him. Milo eagerly drank and drank from the bucket, nearly drinking the entire five gallons. I gave him a pat then left him at the trailer.

The girls were going to have their interview with the judges next, for an insight as to why they want to be on the drill team, along with some knowledge questions about our rodeo. Again, some we really liked, some mediocre reponses, and some definity no. They each had a final run through the arena and were finished. Sadly, a few of the horses looked a little lame, one very lame.

The afternoon was the try-outs for the rodeo Queen. We stayed and watched, but we were not involved in the decision making for that portion.

I was very proud of Milo. I think that was the longest he was expected to stay tied at the trailer, especially without Mom standing nearby. Although like previously mentioned, he was in a location where I could keep an eye on him, but he didnt do anything. Stayed quietly tied to the trailer munching on hay for probably close to two and a half hours. By the time it was all over and done, we loaded up and got back to the barn at 3:30. Milo was a tired boy (im sure his back was hurting and fatigued as well) and was happy to be released back into his pasture.

I still feel terrible about the saddle though. I know it may not seem like one ride in a bad saddle is that big of a deal, but it was apparent how upset Milo was about it. Its my job to make sure he is comfortable with our gear, I wasnt able to provide that today. Only a matter of time, Milo, until my saddle sells and I will own one custom made to your contours.