Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Homestead is Begining to Become more of a Farm!

We have lived in our house for four years now. For a while now I have wondered about poultry. Chickens in fact.

You see where this is going now don't you?
Well, obviously bringing Milo home was always the priority, other endeavors were on the backburner. But now that he is home and we are more settled in that department (although with plenty of work ahead I tell ya) I finally convinced the hubby on chickens.

A friend of a friend had an old smaller coop she gave me for free, which although falling apart and small, was the perfect means for "brooding" the chicks. Hubby is in the process of making my permanent coop.

Six weeks ago I got my first round of girls. :)

Sophia, Stella, and Blanche

Only a week later my little Stella (Barred Rock) was killed my a friend's dog. :( I was devenstated. (She's pictured just to the right of the red one above). I determined that to ease the pain of the loss I should get two more....

Bonnie and Dottie
The girls are getting bigger now (each about six weeks old) and I cant believe how enthralled I've become with them! Seriously, its insane how happy these chickens make me.

I have since discovered that at least two of the chickens are not the breed I had wanted from Wilco (they keep multiple breeds together in the same bins, so I understand accidents happen), and one is looking to be a rooster then a hen (which sexing is only guaranteed at 90% from most feed stores).

So lets meet the girls, shall we?

My favorite hen, Sophia. Identified wrongly as a Sicilian Buttercup, but I believe to be a Welsummer.
Dottie, a Silver Laced Wyandotte. She already looks different then this photo, taken a week ago.
Dottie, misidentified as a Buckeye, I believe to be a Rhode Island Red
And Blanche, renamed Blaine as I believe this chicken to be a Rooster. This chicken may become dinner if the sex identifies true.
Blaine/Blanche is a Black Australorp, beautiful birds. I was contacted last week from a friend about her coworker who had a chicken randomly show up at her house. She couldn't track down the owners and couldn't care for her herself so was trying to rehome her. Lone and behold, she is a Black Australorp hen, so I was happy to give her a home since my other Australorp may be leaving the coop.

I've named her Audrey and she currently resides in my horse trailer, as it cant transport horses right now....Not too much longer until the coop should be finished and all the girls can live together. :)

Stay next adventure may be in Swine.

My Poor Beautiful Trailer...

While I have SO many things to update about on here, first and foremost on my mind is the incident with my trailer this last weekend.

A friend and I were hauling to Lynden again for the second reining show of the NWRA series this summer. After a long and grueling day with loading, traffic, and minor stops along the way (bad luck in all areas) we got only an hour away from the show grounds and POP! The trailer starts to shake and wants to sway. It jumps and jumbles and we limp to the side of the freeway as straight and easy in the slow down as possible. Of course, we were in the far left lane trying to avoid a swerving semi driver (seriously, he was all over the road).

We see the right rear trailer tire has blown out and crumbled my beautiful diamond plated fender along the way. Now we had the awful task of trying to get to the right side of the road to replace the mangled tire, which was not fun at all. We managed, thank god the horses were fine, so scrapes and not even acting startled, although Milo seemed entirely over the whole trailer ride thing.

Of course, it was past nine pm, we had a heck of a time getting ahold of the show grounds and after the day we had had, decided to limp back to Monroe (where my friend's barn is) rather then press on and possibly have further issues farther away from home.

And the tire needed air, naturally. Guess what? Google said the closest gas station was 23 miles away since we were in the rural north. The first gas station we limp to doesn't have an air pump. Finally we get to one, get the tire aired, and arrive back at the barn, at midnight. I called Wes along the way of course, and just asked for him to come retrieve us and take us home. At this point I was so over the idea of even trying to stay focused enough to show the weekend (and still had to even arrive there), with a mangled trailer (illegal too without a fender flare). My friend had picked me up with her truck and we used my trailer. So hubby came the next day with my truck and we made it home, at four pm the next day. What an ordeal.

Now my trailer is disabled until I can replace all five tires (which I intend to do as these were ten year old tires anyway), electrical rewired, and a fender flare replaced. Why Circle J doesn't sell their own trailer parts is beyond me so now the task is to try and find one....or build one.

What sucks too is I was being so proactive (anal) about the trailer and it's safety. In April I had it thoroughly checked for everything knowing I would use it a lot this summer. Before we left for the weekend I checked the PSI in all four tires, ensured we had first aid kits and tools, and felt so prepared. And yet... it just shows you cant prevent everything. :(

Thankfully we are all ok, but it still stings a bit.

Monday, May 19, 2014

71, 70, 70, 71

I sat stride Milo waiting in the small chute for my draw on pattern. It had been nearly two years since I was in this situation, and my heart was pounding as I watched the other rider complete her pattern. Was it two spins to the right, or two to the left? I quickly ran through the pattern in my head:

Enter at the walk, stop facing judge. Lope off on left lead, first two circles large and fast, third circle small and slow. Complete two spins to the left.  Stop in center. I waved my finger in the air mimicking on small scale the written pattern.Lope off on right lead, first two circles large and fast, third circle small and slow. Stop in center. Complete two spins to the right, hesitate. Lope off on the left and complete a circle, changing leads in center. Continue on right lead another circle, changing leads in center. From that point on, I knew I had it nailed. The pattern would set me up for rundowns on the proper side, I just needed to remember to rollback into the fence and to stay 20 feet from the rail.

All too soon the gate steward swung open the green farm gate, and there I entered the pen, seeing the judge again after a few years. This judge I had taken a clinic with two years prior and remembered clearly his lack of enthusiasm for my horse. I tried to push that aside as I curtly nodded and began my lope to the left. We loped off nicely, Milo was between my reins well and I looked to the inside of my circles, constantly finding center upon my approach. Woah I breathed as we stopped in center. I made a mental note that the stop wasnt quality for the rundown, but that would have to wait. I began my spins to the left. Milo barely started to get his groove before the end of the second spin, cutting off his momentum as I halted him squarely. We loped off on the right lead, my circles felt wonderful as I watched our footfalls land directly in the curvature of the previous circles. I breathed back into the saddle and stopped squarely facing the judge. I set Milo up for two more spins to the right, again feeling as if just as soon as Milo got his foot placement right we were finished.

I breathed, finding my own center. We loped off to the left, and as we rounded halfway around the circle, I held my outside leg present to his hip, a reminder to keep it in place until I asked for a change. We came to center and Milo dove into the new lead. I put my now inside leg up to his shoulder to help guide him back to the circle, knowing there wasnt much I could school on now. Halfway around the new circle I picked up my rein, asking Milo to collect and come back to me to get ready for a new change. He easily changed at center once more. As we peaked the head of the rundown, I remembered Julie's advise to ride him fully around the corner, and slowly build some speed from there, but to make sure he was collected as we came around the corner. He felt good, and I started to count his stride as Julie suggested, trying to find the best moment to ask for the stop. One, Two, Three, One, Two, Three, One, Two, Three. I tried to sit deep on "three", forgetting to say the magic "W" word. Milo bounced a little. Was that two hops or one? Was that a timing issue or collection? I moved my hand forward slightly and urged him into the right lead rollback.

Milo loped out of the rollback nicely, square in his tracks and fairly freely into the lope. We reached the head of the rundown again, and once more I asked him to come back to me a bit. I didnt feel much, but I focused instead on the timing again. One, Two, Three, One, Two, Three...Woah. I barely breathed aloud, happy for the better hock engagement I received this time. I reached forward once more and smooched for the lope off. The final rundown was approaching - I needed to make this one count. In my head I counted my rhythm and stride again, but once more got a small bounce at the end. Picking up my hand I asked Milo for a back up, bumping him into it with my legs and looking to the marker cones for the right place to stop. We halted, and I glanced back at the judge, who didnt so much as nod or move. Well, I had indicated my completion, so I turned Milo back to leave the exit gate.

I heard the announcer state mine and my horse's name as I dismounted for the bit check. "A score of 71".

"A 71?" I couldnt believe it! I wrapped my arms around my painted horse's neck, slapping his off side with my hand in joy. "That's the best score we have ever gotten!" I exclaimed to the bored looking bit check girl, filling in for club volunteer hours. She approved my DM Lifter Bit, and out of breath, I led Milo back to the warm up pen. Clapping his neck a few more times from pride, then meeting up with my friends who had hauled to the big show with me.

My excitement was bubbling over, but I realized as I looked at the draw for the next class, Milo and I were second in. With only one run ahead of me, I quickly remounted and waited at the in-gate. I read over my new pattern, once more drawing figures in the air with my finger, trying to remember my new pattern. The butterflies ever present.


This was the first show for the NorthWest Reining Association, held in Lynden WA. I learned about the club three years ago and was eager to attend some of their shows which offered friendly, beginner, and modified classes, as well as full patterns for practice in those as well.  My problem was always the travel to get there, with Lynden being three hours from home and travel along I-5, a scary idea for me. But this year I had made friends with a few other local gals also interested in reining and was able to "horse-pool" with them to the show.

What an experience this show was. I had a real blast, and not just because I got the highest scores we have received to date, placing first, first, second, and first in our classes (with my smallest class being out of 12 people), but the camaraderie and support I received from my own small group as well as from complete strangers made the weekend a truly memorable one, and one I hope to repeat at their June show!

I had a wonderful time watching other riders in the Open classes, Rookie, and Non-Pro. Learning some valuable tips along the way as well, such as helping Milo to not dive into the new lead by continuing to look around the circle we just completed and only changing my glace to the new circle at the very moment I want the change. This helps to keep my subtle body language from not encouraging Milo to anticipate the lead change. I also had some great coaching on the spot from a "local" trainer, a friend of the folks I traveled with, who helped me reach my horse's timing better for the stop, set him up nicer for the rundown, and sit more squarely in the saddle for our spins, also encouraging me to bump my leg rather then hold steady pressure.

What an amazing weekend! I'm so happy we came back into the show pen strong and feeling good for the start of the season!

Fellow car-pooler and I. Check out my new outfit! :) And yes, she borrowed my other chinks. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Moose and the Jolly Ball

My good friend Stephanie with her cute patootey, Beau (remember from the mini show Moose went to?), came out to help me with my next step with Moose: desensitizing.

She shared a video with me of a local driving trainer who held a desensitizing clinic some time ago, and used a jolly ball as a good means for teaching them to drag something behind them that bumped, bounced, and skooted around. I am hopeful that I can find one of my own this week (Cenex was out of stock today, but I have a friend who said she would give me one of hers) to practice with at home.

So the first step was getting Moose used to the ball in general. My friend tossed the ball towards him repeatedly, you know, usual desensitizing antics until he finally got over it (which wasnt too long), then we followed her around with it dragging behind her, then looped it around Moose's legs for him to drag (which he was a SUPERSTAR) and finally, tied it to his halter so he learned to pull something that jostled.

He really was a wonderful boy. I just love this little pony - he has a phenomenal mind and is a quick study. It's not much, but check out the video of his ball dragging!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reining Clinic, with a Twist

Sorry for the delay in posting this, but as life so often is nowadays, posting, and time, come few and far between.

Two weeks ago, March 22, friends Kathy and Stephanie (who I have participated in the group lessons with Sabrina with) hauled Milo and I up with them to Enumclaw for a reining clinic put on by Sabrina. This was her first clinic held here in Washington (remember, she moved up here from Colorado three months ago).

Without going into a huge amount of detail, the best part of the clinic was that we ran through a full reining pattern, twice. Any other clinic I have attended we simply work on each maneuver, which is great, but actually running the pattern was so hugely beneficial to seeing were our problems really lie. We ran pattern number five, a favorite of mine, and the first run through we had some issues with. Charging Milo, kicking Milo, pissy Milo, running-through-the-bit Milo, but all in all not too horrible considering we hadnt ran a full pattern in two years already.

The clinic was wonderful, really helping to work on specific problems for the more patterned horses now (not just beginner exercises, but problem fixing exercises). Sabrina also noted a few things about Milo and I:

Milo was kicking out in the lead changes to the right, and after running through it a few times, she suggested that I quit babying him through it. I focus so much on "hopefully he changes this time" rather then realizing that Milo now has the lead change button on him  and we need to be cleaning up the lead change now. After a reprimand or two over kicking out (a big no no for a lead change), she encouraged me to focus less on getting the change, but focus more on riding him for a correct change. Its hard to describe, but it was a real eye opener to a few things that I dont expect enough from Milo with (sorry buddy).

Sabrina also noted how Milo and I are like an old married couple. We both know whats up, what to expect from the other one, and Milo knows exactly how to push my buttons. From an outsiders perspective, she saw how Milo does some of the things that he does because he knows it gets my goat, but isnt a huge enough thing for a true reprimand. Amusing how seven years together and he has learned how to continue to keep himself entertained. Never a dull moment with this horse.

We learned another great exercise for rollbacks working it at a trot rather then a lope.

It was a great clinic and I wish I had posted sooner for more details. But I'm tired now and a magarita is calling. Enjoy the photos!

That grey next to Milo is Diesel, his bro-mance buddy. They just love each other!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Milo Reached Double Digits

I'm having a bit of a Momma-freak-out today.

Because Milo turned the big 1-0 today. Thats right, he is now ten. Which means that in five years he is considered a "senior horse".

OMG how did that happen?

This June marks SEVEN years of proudly owning Milo and building our relationship. From a barely started three year old, to a quite finished ten year old, there have been quite the memories and milestones in between.

About a week after buying Milo. 
Milo's first western class. Stockseat Equitation with a Reserve Grand

One of many drill team practices. We were on the team for three years.  
We were in a handful of parades.

Played with a lot of cows. 

Gone on many, many trail rides. Some of our most significant training moments have been on the trail (like lead changes). 
Milo on his eighth birthday. 

And have dove head first into reining. 
Milo is a true blessing. He has taught me so much and has been faithful to me in any arena and interest I have had. A true all around horse, with a sound mind and a lot of try and heart. I would never ever trade him for anything else. He may have limitations, but I will never give up on him. This is my final year of going hard in reining and if we just arent getting there, we will try another avenue. I know this horse has talent, and he will try anything I throw at him. I just cant imagine a life without him.

Tenth-birthday apples from Dad. 
Happy birthday Milo. You will always be Mom's little baby boy. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Moose's First Show!

So this was last weekend and I already need to update you on what happened this weekend, but first things first.

I have a friend who also has a pony/mini (stands one inch shorter then Moose), who invited me along with her and Beau to a mini/pony in hand gaming show in Roy, WA. The entry fee was $25 for the day including six patterns. Sounded like fun! And although we dont really do the in hand gaming stuff, I thought it would be great exposure for him at a low key show (schooling level) and a good test on our ground handling and manners.

We loaded up in her friend's large three horse Logan gooseneck, and I swore upon arrival the folks there expected to see six minis pop outta that thing, not just two!

Moose got pretty attached to Beau, which is definitely something to work on, but we had a great day. Aside from herd-bound issues, he never spooked at anything and didnt mind the arena at all. In fact, when we were in the arena and away from Beau, he was quite focused on the task at hand. It was only after we left the arena and Beau headed in that Moose started having some screaming fits. For the most part however, he remained pretty good about listening to me and my direction even in his fits.

We were signed up for all six patterns which included in hand barrels, key hole, flags, cal stake, speed barrels, and modified poles. Moose and I were in the Senior division, 17-39, and only had one other competitor, who was handling a cute bay pony/mini that Moose was entranced with. I think he felt like he recognized the mare, and maybe he did.

All in all, we finished the day with five first places and one second place which, by default, we received the high point medal for the day! Although our times beat out the only other competitor they werent even as fast as Beau's who was in the Super Senior Division and who also received high point for their division.

I was surprised by how many people came to the trailer and complimented Moose. He got compliments for his red color (which surprised me - hes just a red horse not even with spots like Milo!), how soft his coat is and how handle-able he was. It sure warmed a Mom's heart though and honestly I couldnt agree more. And man, I thought my pony was shaggy from the winter? Many of the other minis there had twice as long of coats and not nearly as soft as Moose's is. It just goes to show what daily maintenance and good feed will do for a horse. When asked how I keep him so clean and soft I replied that I just feed him black oil sunflower seeds in his handful of grain, and he gets brushed almost daily.

And as a pleasant surprise, I won one of the raffles from the day, a super cute hand-made green rope halter! Moose loved showing it off too.

I couldnt have been happier with his performance at his first outing! The club as other mini shows scheduled for this summer and some class lists include ground driving, which I am quite interested in going to as additional practice before cart driving.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

That Did Not Go As Planned...

Last weekend I was oh so excited to haul Milo to my friend's ranch forty minutes away to have a group lesson with her and another gal with Sabrina, the reining instructor. Well, we here in the Pacific Northwest, have been in an endless siege of rain lately, and last weekend the reining lesson was canceled due to horrible driving rain (and the ranch has an outdoor arena). We moved it to that Sunday, but that was the day Milo was getting his sliders back on. I didnt want to have a lesson the very same day he got shoes on after eight months without them. So we moved the lesson to this weekend.

Well, Friday was a beautiful day, a nice break from the rain we got all the rest of the week. However Saturday morning was greeted with the pounding, non-stop rain again. We wouldnt let that stop us this time though, so we scheduled to meet in a covered arena just a few miles from the ranch. Cool.

I hooked up the trailer, and with the road to the barn destroyed by the rain and water run off, I towed the rig up to the house and fetched Milo later. I already had to use 4-by to get the empty trailer out so the extra weight of Milo seemed like a bad move. So once the trailer was all ready to go, I haltered up the baby. Within steps from the barn he threw a fit like non-other that he typically throws. Leaping in the air, pulling on a halter that didnt even have tension on it (you know, that weird uppity pull pull pull with a little nose toss? anyway it was weird). He was upset by the slippery ground, the mud, and the rain in his face too, but once we get to the trailer he loaded up fine. I said bye to hubby and we headed down the road.

Upon arrival at the ranch, the rain was just as bad. We unloaded Milo into her rig and two horses and all went collectively to the covered arena, where there Sabrina would meet us. Ranch owner Kathy said to appease her husband she needed to be back at the house by 4 for a 5 o'clock hockey game. If Sabrina arrived at 2:30 on time, she still needed to tack up her horses (for demoing) and that would barely squeeze an hour in. But alright, lets try.

We unloaded the horses after some difficulty with the teeny, oh so tiny driveway (WHY do people build horse facilities and take NO consideration into the driveway?? So many barns around here have the absolute worst driveways for horse trailers). Kathy's F350 and four-horse trailer barely made the small roundabout, We figured Sabrina with her gooseneck would have an even harder time. But we took the horses down to the barn and started to tack up. As I picked out Milo's first rear foot, I thought the nails on his shoe looked a little...out. Just not as smooth and tight into the shoe as they should be, but the shoe felt securely on still. Mental note to have a word with the farrier...and then I checked the other shod foot, whose shoe was nearly sideways on Milo's hoof. Oh good lord, really? The right side of the shoe was so loose I pulled it from the hoof with one hand, and at that point, the rest of the shoe had to go. With a pair of pliers on a pocket knife, I carefully pulled the rest of the shoe away, luckily leaving no tears in the hoof wall along the way.

Great. Well, people ride with one shoe all the time, I'll get on Milo and see how he feels. So I mounted up and rode off. The slight difference made Milo unhappy, but aside from that he also just seemed off. Not in a lame way, just not his usual self. He cocked his head just so, which seemed off and he resisted going forward. Yes, he would walk, trot, and lope, but he really didnt want to, and at any moment would stop if he thought I was asking. I sat on him for a moment, deciding what to do. At three occassions that little voice said that riding was a bad idea. So at that, I decided to tie him in the aisle way with a hay bag.

Once Sabrina did arrive, time was running short and they got right into work on counter canter for the lead change, which honestly, I'm not so upset that I missed out on being as this is an exercise I work on with Milo ALL THE TIME for lead changes. What I need some schooling in is just pretty-ing up the lead change because sometimes he throws a hop in there to change. But no matter, the other horses needed the schooling. Everyone was kind enough to offer there horse for me to try a few gos on.

Oh. My. God. Not to be snarky or anything, but riding three other "capable" horses really made me appreciate my dear Milo. There was nothing "wrong" with any of the horses, heck one Sabrina's is a pretty accomplished reiner, but her movement alone made by back hurt after I got off of her, and she really never moved off my inside leg on the circle. Another horse I got on was the very same way, trying to dive into the center of the arena at any moment. And I thought Milo was lazy! This one, although a sweet boy with some skills, you literally have to push him with every stride to keep going. Talk about a leg workout! The other horse I rode I guess is really touchy in his face, but not sensitive to the bit. I expected that a horse working on these maneuvers has a pretty good grasp of collecting from the bridle. So as I worked on the counter canter circle with him, I picked up the bridle for some softness as well. At one point he reared up and I thought would trip sideways. Again, a nice horse, but with his own quirks.

It sure made me appreciate the horse I have. Milo doesnt cheat my leg (and of course there are times when he needs a reminder to get off it quicker, but never as bad as what I rode on), he's honest with the bridle, he maintains forward pretty easily. He is, after all, the horse I've been riding for seven years so all of the things that I would expect a horse to do, he does. Which is awesome and I love him so much more for realizing it. I do worry though on occassion, how well I can ride horses, not just how well I can ride my horse. But thats another post for another day.

Well, the lesson ended, we headed home, I unloaded Milo (still raining btw) and asked the hubby where we wanted to put the trailer. He said to put it back under the barn, so he drove it down there. Well, truck and trailer got stuck in the mud, but thankfully the tractor was home so we hitched the tractor to the truck, and had to pull the truck and trailer all the way around the barn before backing the trailer back into its rightful place. At this point we were both soaked and tired so hubby took off to the store for some much needed alcohol!

I have to add really quick how awesome hubby is too. Yesterday he spent four hours in the rain while i was gone working on the property. He worked the dirt in the arena to allow for a better run off so hopefully it will be a bit more usable now, he made a moat on one side of the barn for roof runoff (as gutters arent installed yet), which allows for the water to run to the end of the property and not right into Milo's stall. And in Milo's stall he hand dug a little trench to continue to send the water out. He also spent some time clearing the blackberries away from the arena we will eventually have chickens and garden beds, and made more trenches on the road to keep the water run off from the house continuing to run out to the pasture and alleviate some of the water build up at the base of the road.

What a day!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Twelve Week Horsemanship Challenge

Not sure if anyone else has heard about this Facebook Group, but in the beginning of January a horse group went around on my Facebook feed that challenges riders to ride throughout the winter. I joined, reading the info and seeing that the challenge was for 30 rides and 40 horsemanship hours. After the first couple days into January, the challenge closed to additional entrants, some 600 people are a part of the challenge!

I thought that 30 rides and 40 hours would be pretty easy to do. It certainly would have been just two short years ago. But I have found that it is much harder to clock those hours then I originally thought. I am currently at eleven rides and eleven hours. We are halfway through the challenge and I havent made it halfway yet! Clearly once or twice a week rides isnt really cutting it. But in the end, even if we dont make those magic numbers, I am grateful for the challenge. It really has helped motivate me to get in the saddle more after work. It sure can be difficult when the dark comes quickly and the rain wont go away. This challenge has helped me take advantage of the few and far between nice days and prime opportunities to ride, allowing me to see the moment to ride when I may otherwise work on laundry instead.

Aside from general motivation, seeing the activities that others are working on has encouraged me to work on other elements to our rides rather then just exercising. As many single riders may know, sometimes its hard to stay focused when in the saddle riding by yourself, or even knowing what to work on next without an instructor there. Thats were the challenge, magazine articles, and talking with other really helps me find some tasks to work on undersaddle. For instance, when the weather cooperates again to allow for a ride (and work schedule, I am working overtime tomorrow), I am going to start working on dragging a log on Milo. This exercise was inspired from reading an article in this month's Horse and Rider Magazine.

Just some food for thought. How many hours are you really logging in the saddle this winter? Seems simple when you arent challenged to actually saddle up!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Milo's Little Fit

The last couple of days Milo has displayed some humorous behavior. When I drive past the property before pulling in the driveway I can see that he is quietly standing at the gate. He remains there nicely as I begin cleaning the stalls but as soon as I go in Moose's stall and give him a little attention Milo starts to get irritated.

First  he will begin by pacing the fence line. Heaven forbid if I head into the hay canopy and start getting their dinner served. When the food gets lain and Moose might get a few more "moose-a-woose" coos and ear scratches, Milo is not happy! Running in circles and rollbacks on the fenceline are his next steps to gain my attention. I'm not sure which he wants more: his dinner, his Mom, jealousy over Moose getting attention, or simply just wanting back in next to his buddy. The funny thing is when I go up to get him hes a perfect angel. Either way, the last few days have been amusing when I get home and I thought I would share.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Horses Finally Moved In...Temporarily

So the horses were supposed to have their temporary stalls in the barn in fall when the nasty weather began to hit, but thanks to some a-hole county inspector, more unforseen additions to the barn and property, and two inspections, we finally were cleared for the barn's first inspection which meant the horses could now be housed in it.

The whole idea behind getting the round pen panels were not only temporary housing for Moose, but to serve as the temporary stalls (Im getting tired of writing the word "temporary" haha) for the horses in the barn, and to be able to use down the road for paddock fencing, etc.

So now that the barn passed first inspection, and I had slowly began accumulating stall mats, it was time to set up for the horses! So last Saturday was busy. First it started with getting a ton of orchard grass hay, which we ended up waiting at the hay dealer's for an hour while their one-day-late hay delivery truck unloaded alfalfa, timothy, and finally the orchard grass. So we were a little behind schedule, but arrived home, promptly got a friend to come over and help, and carried (with great effort and difficulty) Milo's assembled carport canopy down to the barn were it would house our new hay. And this was the second temporary use of the craigslist carport (first for Milo's shelter, second for temp hay storage, third...trashed by then?).

Once the hay was put up on pallets and done, we set up what would be Moose's pen with the other panels we hadnt used yet. So we set those up, carried the HEAVY FRIGGEN stall mats down from Milo's old stall and the two from Moose's pen and put them in his new stall. Then Moose got to check out his new digs while we dismantled his temporary tarp shelter and moved (in ONE PIECE - dont ask Husbands idea) those six panels for Milo's pen. We had some extras hence making Milo's pen into a half circle so he has a little more space when confined. Then we repeated the stall mat task, only this time these mats are 4' by 8' so heavier and thicker at 3/4" versus 1/2".

We were finally done! And the part we were all waiting for! Horses moved in, and photos taken (actually these pics were taken the next daylight).

Milo's stall measures about 22' wide by 24' long (roughly as its hard to tell with the half moon shape).

Moose's stall is the same as before at 12' by 24'

A better view of the shape of Milo's stall. Lots of room for the baby when the weather doesnt permit turnout. 
 The boys have a sheet of plywood separating their stalls so they can have a little privacy (lol) and safe from kicks but plenty of face playing. The plywood on the posts are so Milo cant chew on the very important and very expensive posts (as we all know he would do).

What I'm doing right now is using the slow feed hay net for Milo during the day tied to the arena gate and turning Milo out in the morning when I feed and leave for work, and bring him in for dinner when I get home. I'll have to pay attention to the weather forecasts as there's no shelter up there now for him, but that was part of the reasoning behind the large stalls for when we have the crummy weather. :)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I just gotta say. ..

BOOM! Y'all notice the Pacific northwest yet? 

Go Seahawks!  First time superbowl win!

Milo and I had a pre game ride with friends on green mountain today and moose spent more time ground driving.  Btw....

They moved into the barn!! More to follow .

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Practice Ground Driving

So after my visit with my friend last week, she let me take home her saddle for Moose so I could practice driving with it. I was able to take some time today to work with Moose who was great! I wanted to utilize two things: the enclosure of the "arena" (Milo's pen), and using the area Moose likes to be in (Milo's pen). So I tied Milo to some twine attached to a fencepost to keep him out of the way and allowed me to work with Moose in the closure of the fence without taking Milo away and stressing both of them.

Moose was wonderful! I added in Gee and Haw to start introducing directional cues. Moose was so good in fact, I wonder if he has had prior work in driving, at least ground driving. He responds already fairly well to both verbal commands and although I would like to attribute it to his good brain and my training, I suspect he may have been taught basics before. Just like he had so issues with tightening up the saddle.

This is all very exciting! Im having so much fun learning with Moose!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Clinics, Lessons, and Good Times

OMG Im so happy I was able to write this post! Lately my computer wont let me access the post page, so Im thrilled I can actually type this right now!

In other news, I have a LOT to update on. Lets start from two weeks ago:

Group Lesson: The trainer whose Western Dressage clinic I attended came to the area for a group lesson myself and two others (the two I carpooled with to the clinic) others. It was so exciting to have a lesson again! And I absolutely love the trainer! Although her barn is nearly two hours away from home, she was more then willing to come halfway to my friend's ranch for our group lesson. She is a reining trainer transplanted from Colorado to Washington two months ago. What a fabulous trainer! It was wonderful to ride with two others who are very close to the same level as Milo and I so we all learned from each other. Sabrina (trainer) helped us with our lope and trying to get it back to the level of fitness we once were. We also got some really great advice for our spin work with additional drills to work on to help.  Sabrina said that I need to really get Milo to respect the neck rein in the turnaround as he leans on it too much. This also helps with my tendency to overbend Milo with the inside rein.

Photos from the Group Lesson:

From the Western Dressage Clinic:

Moose Meets a Friend: I was invited by a friend who has a 40" mini/pony to haul Moose over and help me with Moose's driving progress. Her mini, Beau, has pulled a cart before thanks to the work from my friend. I would be able to drive her Beau too and see how it is supposed to feel. So I naturally brought Milo with us to utilize the haul in fee and big covered arena. I had a good ride on Milo with Moose tied to the wall (additional great training) then swapped them. Moose was great and I got some great advice from my friend; one being that Moose's "heaviness" on the halter isnt actually a bad thing (or really heavy). My friend advised that cart horses require some feel in the reins and must have some "pull" into the cart and bridle to get going. It totally made sense and I got to feel it with Beau. That alone was worth the haul over because the last few weeks I was trying to get Moose to lighten up, as per normal riding horses, but in actuality the contact is a good thing. My friend sent me home with her starter "saddle" for Moose which is only a tad (like one hole) large for Moose but a great way to start ground driving with more confidence that the reins wont fall down. She also advised used some single loop reins (not the longing lines) as to not get as lost in the lines like I have been.
I got some adorable video of Moose and Beau frolicking together in the arena, but I cant get them to upload properly. But take my word for it, it was so cute! And the boys were pretty happy to romp with another their own size (Moose is only one inch taller then  Beau).

Third Reining Clinic: This last Sunday I attended my third local reining clinic with the same clinician I rode with in October and November. This time it was broken between Beginner and Advanced segments, so we hauled in for just a three hour clinic in the advanced portion. We reviewed the Five Easy Pieces to start, and I got some great feedback on our progress: first I was complimented on how well Milo has learned the pieces, but second I was critiqued on Milo mostly learning the sequence (like a pattern) rather then each part individually now. She recommended working on each part longer, and to really work on my timing of the cue with his footfalls, and also to work more on "less is more". I really need to get the both of us working on more subtle cuing as we are both falling to the spur too quickly. By the end of our practice time with the clinician Milo was moving off by just the tightening of my calf. She also recommended turning my spurs out (they have a natural bend inward) to practice using my leg more as turning the spur out makes it a bit harder to go directly to it. This is great because at home I forgo spurs a lot because I know they are used too much. But she commented that I still should ride with them so its there when I need it, but to relearn how to use them properly. Its humbling, but she nailed a problem I havent been able to fix on my own or even want to own up to.

We also worked on rapid transitions to help get our horses ready over the hind end, and backing with more leg. In both of these Milo did exceptionally well and was pointed out by her as an example of the finished product, which was really awesome to hear. It was great practice for us and another thing to remember to continue to work on. Finally we worked on rollbacks by using the wall as I have learned before in a previous clinic, but to cue it differently. Its hard to explain but coincides really well with general turnaround work as well as the neck reining we learned at the group lesson.

Well, I'm tired from typing now, but hopefully you all feel a little more up to speed. Even though its been quiet in my blogging world I still have a lot of horse activities going on. I hope to be able to update more often! Ill do what I can.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My schedule

I'm so sorry about lack of recent posts lately not only has my schedule been very busy but I'm also not able to make new post from my laptop anymore it seems it has a virus or something so post are done through my phone now which makes it's time consuming and difficult.

In recent news I got a apprenticeship from my work in temporary service Electrical which entails two weeks in school in 2 weeks in my shop. The apprenticeship lasts 4 years with three years in school and the final year work experience. At the end I will have a second associates degree, two certifications from the college and a certification from the department of labor. It's a really good program and I was only 1 of 6 chosen for my shop from hundreds of applicants. However this new schedule makes my horse time a little tight.

Last Thursday I took both moose and Milo down the road to the covered arena for a weekly ride. I had a great ride on Milo working on basic Western dressage concepts. Two weekends ago I carpooled with a friend to a trainer an hour and a half away who was hosting a western dressage clinic. The trainer is also a reining trainer so I was very excited to go. Western dressage has got me very excited in fact I am attending a local schooling show in early February which I am nervous but eager about as well.

Moose was great as well we continue to work on voice commands on the lunge line and made great progress in ground driving I even got a video but I'm not sure I can share it on blogger from my phone. The next step seems to be attaching some sort of PVC pipe to start desensitizing him to something behind him. I have another friend that trained her large mini to pull a cart and she invited me to come to her barn on Friday where she will help me with learning our next steps too. I was very proud of moose and his incredible strides in only nearly four months I have had him.

Just to add to my interest and schedule, long time readers might remember my interest in mounted shooting. This last weekend I audited a clinic for a new mounted shooting club to the area. Myself and the friend that I went with agreed to come to one of their upcoming practices to see how the horses react and if its another avenue we want to partake in. Although I have shot off of Milo a few times and he seems receptive I want to practice a few times before making the decision to invest in the necessary gear and commitment in order to compete. But I'm really excited about it!

To add to even more interest this year, I plan to attend a few reining shows which also offer ranch pleasure classes. Now, back in November I brought milo to a local show that offered a working rancher class however it was changed to a ranch pleasure class which we did compete in. Out of about 10 pleasure horses Milo and I took a solid 2nd which I was extremely excited about. I love the ranch pleasure class because it represents what a real pleasure class should still be like and I'm very excited to support it in some of my local shows this summer.

Well there are some quick updates for you, not sure when I'll post again unless I can get my laptop figured out but in the meantime I have still been reading and I hope everyone else is having a great and productive winter!