Sunday, November 8, 2015

Nothing says I Love You like a barn full of hay! (and chocolate)

I've got some hay that the horses like, so of course I thought it was good. I had it tested and it isn't bad, nutritionally-speaking, but if I look at it from the perspective of having three easy keepers, then the carbohydrates are too high (water soluble carbohydrates and starch). I spent the past week emailing and calling a bunch of hay growers in the area who test their hay. What a treat to be able to see test results before deciding which hay to buy! I finally found two sources - one has sold out for the year, and the other had some first-cutting mixed-grass hay left. I planned on getting 1-2 tons.

Colin thought that it might be too much for our little dump trailer to get 1-2 tons, so he had the idea to rent a flat-bed trailer for the mission. Good idea. I was planning on going with him, but I've been sick and he suggested I stay home, so I did (probably for the best as I lost my voice and can't talk anyway, and how much is a sick person going help with loading hay?).

He called me from the hay barn and said that we could buy 5 tons if we wanted to. I said if it will fit on the trailer and if it is the specific hay that was tested that I wanted then go for it, so he did.

Here's what he brought home.

And the finished work.

We have enough hay to last us until next summer, by our calculations - yay!

In my appreciation of all of Colin's hard work in getting the trailer and loading AND unloading the hay, I gave him my chocolate. xoxoxo

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Getting lost on purpose

OMG, I just love Mac, he's so smart!

Last weekend we went for a trail ride on the BLM land nearby. We have to cross two waters to get to the most open part of the trails, and then there are a couple main trails with maybe some off shoots for looping, but I haven't figured them out yet. Some of what look like offshoot are actually game trails or trails that the free-range cattle have sort of made so they don't really pan out.

I was riding Mac out there and thought I'd try to connect two of the main trails. This is high desert riding, so lots of sand and trees and scrub brush with no real landmarks to see from this particular location. I'm not too far away from home because probably if I went in any direction I'd either go back to the water or find a farm or a road, but when in the middle of it, it all looks the same . . . sand, trees, brush.

After following what I thought might be a side-trail or a game trail without coming to one of the main trails, I figured I'd call it a day. I left it to Mac to find his way home. I dropped my reins and let him go. Without just turning 180 and following the same tracks he made heading out, he turned maybe 45 degrees and started walking through no-mans land. Then he came across his own tracks and we followed those for a little while. Then we came to the main trail and followed that for a little while. But always the guy who doesn't like to exert more energy than he has to, he knew a more direct way. He went off the main trail and back into no-mans land. I told him if he could get us to the EXACT spot where we cross the water (he's got options maybe a mile long), then I'd give him a cookie. So he stopped so I could give him his cookie. I told him, no, I'll give you a cookie when we get there. So we continued on through the scrub and trees and sand with no trail to follow. And lo and behold he got us to the EXACT water crossing spot! So he got a cookie and then we followed the trails the rest of the way home.

He is so smart. It would be one thing if he just followed the trails to get us there, that would be the easy thing to do. But he knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line so he cut out the trails and blazed his own.

If I ever get lost in the woods, I will 1000% trust him to get me home.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mac is so smart!

It has been quite a while since I've posted - bad me! We're not 100% settled into the new farm yet but as each week passes, it feels more and more like home.

I've been enjoying the trails on our property and actually prefer doing my work with Mac out there. We usually do just a small walk warmup in the covered arena, then go out to the trails for walk-trot-canter and lateral work. It makes the work more interesting and he certainly enjoys it more than being in the arena.

I groomed the trails using the box scraper with teeth to pull up the weeds, and then the riding mower to cut down any tall grasses or weeds that were left over. It has been a good system and I'm so happy with that feature of our property.

I think I taught Mac something the other day. After our ride on the trails, we went back to the covered arena. There was a tarp laying over the fence between the arena and Princess Fancy Pants's paddock and I thought I'd pick it up and play with it in front of PFP so she could see that Mac doesn't care about it. Mac started playing with it (biting it) and pulled it off the fence. I was too lazy to get off and grab it and get back on, so I told Mac to pick it up and give it to me. Well, he did! First he picked it up and played with it but when I reached up to grab it, he dropped it. I told him to hold it so I could get it. He dropped it a couple more times. Then the last time, he held it and I reached around and got it (and then gave him a cookie!) and we walked around with it. How smart is he!?

Yesterday we went trail riding for a couple hours on the BLM trails near us. We have a couple water crossings to go through to get to the open space where you can ride forever (seemingly). The past couple times I've been there, I've meandered my way along the water to find the best (most shallow because the ditch is narrow - wide and deep is okay, shallow and narrow is okay, but deep and narrow doesn't make a good combination for walking through) place to cross. But it is hard to find because part of the trail was closed off for cattle grazing so my usual route had a detour. On the way home, though, Mac decided that the shortest distance between two points (meaning where we were and where home is) is a straight line. We got to the ditch, he put his nose down to have quick drink and eat grass, then he jumped the ditch from a stand still (I was prepared so let him have his head and grabbed the horn) and we went on our merry way. We did this twice because he wanted to go home and he's got quite the built-in GPS system so knows the fastest way. Historically, I usually let him pick the way home and he always picks the fastest way. I don't every worry about getting lost with him because I trust that he can always lead us back to home.

Then when we got home and I was untacking him, he put his nose down to the hose in the aisle that I use to fill the water buckets. He was thirsty! Okay, I know horses aren't stupid by any means, but I just thought it was interesting that he recognizes a horse for what it is and he was telling me that he wanted a drink. We went into the wash stall and I hosed him down then put the hose in front of his head and he took the nozzle in his mouth and had a nice long drink.

He'll get the day off today and then maybe another trail ride tomorrow!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

We moved!

I posted an update on Princess Fancy Pants's blog a couple weeks ago, but we moved from California to Oregon a few weeks ago!

The horses have settled in and are quite happy here. The horse set-up was very well thought-out. The barn has four stalls (only three in use and three paddocks) each with a paddock. At the end of each paddock is a gate that goes out to a drylot area. There is an irrigation canal through the drylot, then across that is an irrigated pasture. There are two other irrigated pastures as well. There's a (small) indoor arena, a full-size outdoor arena, and trails on the property!

I've been doing a lot of fun things with Mac - we started with a couple days in the indoor, then ventured out to the trails where we did some fun conditioning work. The neighbors behind us have a playground, a skateboard half-pipe, some tarps flapping about, a dog, and they are building a shop. That is great de-spooking stuff! The other day we were working out there and the guys were using their nail guns to put up siding and we just went along with our work.

Mac ponied Princess Fancy Pants for the first time last week. They both were great! Mac seems to really enjoy having a job to do versus going around in circles. Hes nice and forward and happy when we work on the trails. He's a great leader for ponying the pony. It is so nice to have the indoor because PFP's paddock is right outside and she can look over the gate to the arena and see us working. I use that to my advantage to work with a rope, a lunge whip, a flag, a tarp, whatever. It seems to help.

I've been working him in his new western saddle, but today I rode him in his dressage saddle to do a proper dressage school. He's been a bit fidgety in the cross ties and I'm trying to figure out why. I've been stretching him lately - don't know if that has anything to do with it (like he's asking me to help him stretch). I palpate his back and his muscles feel good. He does seem to be reactive when I curry his neck and chest (although he's always been like that). I've got to find a new vet, so when I do that I'll see if I can find a chiropractor also.

I did find a clinician who has a hackamore clinic coming up, so I'll see if I can go to that . . . if the trailer is fixed by then. A wheel fell off of the trailer the other day! Just fell off! The bolts just sheared off and the whole wheel drum rolled right away. The good news is that we were actually driving it to be serviced. The bad news is that the part they need to fix it is discontinued so they're trying to track one down online.

I haven't been good about keeping up with pictures, but now that we're settling in, I'll try to get pictures and/or video every now and then.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Video: Mac and Princess Fancy Pants out together for the first time

Well, today was as good a day as any! PFP wasn't acting like she was in heat when I put her out with Paddy. She didn't immediately run over to where Mac was in his paddock when I let her out so after I got back from an afternoon yoga class I decided to let him out so they could be together for the first time.

And here's how it went.


Friday, February 13, 2015

JJ Maxwell saddle - it has arrived!

My new saddle is here, and boy is it gorgeous!!!!!

I rode in it on Wednesday for the first time and it is a great fit for Mac, it seems. I'll ride in it a couple times more just to be sure before I declare victory, but I can report that there was no side-to-side rolling, which is the problem I was having with the Crestridge. Also there's an appropriate amount of flare so there's no digging into his shoulders or the loins at the back of the saddle. There is an inlaid bicycle seat, but it is still hard on my bony butt and I don't see a way around that except getting a seat saver if I wanted to.

I got a 15" seat for lots of reasons. 1) The first western saddle I had was a 16" and it was too big, 2) the Crestridge that I got was a 15.5" and it was just right snug-wise, but it had a really padded seat and I would have been happy with a bit more room, and 3) I was afraid if I went any smaller then I'd have crotch problems like I had with a painful dressage saddle. Joe suggested I actually get a 14.5" seat, but I was worried about it being too small. I did sit in other friends' saddles that were 14.5" and they just felt too small to me. Well, lo and behold, I probably could have gone to a 14.5" because this 15" feels a little roomy. It does have a nice sweet spot, though, so there is somewhere that my body just wants to go to be balanced, so that is good. Someone suggested putting bucking rolls on might take up a little extra space and give me a closer seat feel, so may try that.

I really like the Hope rigging on this saddle. To quote from their website, this rigging style "lessens the cinch pressure, and spreads the pressure down the side of the saddle. This makes it unnecessary to have a rear cinch..." The saddle felt very stable but I didn't have to overly tighten the cinch to make it so.

Mac seemed really happy in it and at the end of our ride there was a very good sweat pattern with even contact and no dry spots.

I'm going to hit the trails again today and tomorrow. :-) LOVE IT!