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Friday, August 26, 2011

How to catch a horse

There they are, the three Musketeers. The three of them get along pretty well. As long as food is not involved. Then Beamer gets pushed to the side until the "ladies" are done eating. In the picture above all the food was gone so they could be nice to each other.

Monday, August 22, 2011

White Olympics 2011

Westernaires White Olympics was this past weekend. Westernaires is divided into three divisions, Red, White and Blue. Blue division is the entry level riders. They don't do any shows but they do have an inter club competition for horseman ship. Next year, early in the summer, watch this blog to see how Kira does in here first inter club competition. White division is the middle level and Red division is the top. Red division travels to a lot of places for shows and they have their big show in November. If you go to the National Western Stockshow here in Denver you have probably seen Red Team doing their show. Kumi is in White Division and every August, just before school starts, white division puts on their big show for the year. It is a two day event and it is judged.

The show starts with White Grand Entry. The kids have to try out for the team and Kumi made it. This is Kumi and Beamer in their post position for serpentine. The show takes place at the local fair grounds so sometimes the backgrounds for pictures are, well, less than photogenic.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rain Clouds

I took this picture from my cell phone. This was a practice ride at Westernaires one evening when the sky was filled with dark clouds. The sun found an opening and the resulting contrast between the bright sun and the dark clouds was spectacular. I'm afraid my cell phone camera didn't do it justice.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fall is sneaking in

Little touches of fall are in the air. On the 11th we had our first morning below 60°. The evenings and nights now have a cool edge that is really quite pleasant but bodes of things to come. Soon the deep green of the trees that has invited us to sit in their shade (and invited the horses to a snack) will be replaced with the reds and yellows and browns of autumn (and the horses will still snack). The mornings will begin to sound like "school mornings". As the air grows colder in the mornings sounds carry father and are crisper and the mornings sound different. Ever since I was a kid, it is a difference I have always noticed most pointedly at the beginning of school year. The girls start back next week, Kumi as a Sophomore and Kira in her first year of middle school (7th grade). It wont be long until a light jacket is appreciated as you go out the door in the morning yet you can still ride in short sleeves in the afternoon. It is a interesting time of year as our little slice of the world prepares for it winter slumber.

Sunday was a good day. I got to ride Mariah by myself. I love riding with my daughters but I don't get to do a lot of drills with Mariah when I'm having fun with the girls. So it was just Mariah and me. We started with drills to work on collection and maintaining a gate. She is doing much better and feeling much more controlled. We were trotting in a nice controlled slow trot in a straight line and she was doing a fair job of holding her pace. So I urged her up into a lope and away we went. She is fast! It was a blast. I still need to work on her breaks. But once I did get her stopped we went up and down the steep banks of an empty pond. We argued over stepping on the concrete bridge (I won). We argued over snacks. With the grass being as high as it is, she figured out that she only needed to drop her head a little to get at the seeds on the top of the grass so she won as often as she lost. And maybe best of all, when we were working on or circles, she cued off of my seat for the direction I wanted her to go. That is a pretty cool feeling!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Christmas is 131 days from today.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Birthday

Kumi celebrated a birthday yesterday. Beamer got all dressed up for her Westernaires to help celebrate. The picture is not the best because there was hay nearby. Happy Birthday to Kumi!!

Speaking of hay, the great free feed experiment is over. It failed. They were up to two bales a day. For three horses, that is a lot of hay. The neighbor came over and asked when Mariah was due she had gotten so fat. So we are back to tow feedings a day. I am contemplating some NibbleNet feeders. Actually, I am thinking about making my own to cover the feeder. I have an idea that might work really well. Trouble is, me sewing skills are not nearly good enough to match my grand designs.

What really ended it was the cost of hay. It has gotten expensive. I have it delivered because I do not have a trailer to haul my own. It cost me $8.00 bucks a bail. When you need 150 bails that adds up in a big hurry. Could be worse. I hear Texas is paying about $16.00 bucks for a bail. Part of California have been paying upwards of $20.00 bucks per bail. ANyway, two bails a day was both expensive and too much food.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Horses and Vacations

So you have horses and you want to go on vacation. If you are boarding your horses go and have a great time. If your horses live in your backyard then owning horses and going on vacation almost become mutually exclusive terms. I know one guy who raises Desert Arabian's and he and his wife took seperate vacations for 20+ years!

Well, we wanted to go on vacation so we needed to figure out what to do with the horses? On one vacation my Mom and Dad were kind enough to come over every morning at about 7:00 am and again at 6:00pm to feed the horses. Interestingly, Mom and Dad had planned a vacation for exactly the same week we did this year (they claim it was a coincident but I'm not convinced) so they were not available.

Its summer vacation for the schools so one of Kumi's friends who has fed in the past was not available to feed this time. What to do? Kira to the rescue. She really wanted to take the horses on a trip. So I got on-line and searched for horse friendly bed & breakfasts in Colorado. There were several. We chose one just outside of Winter Park. Kira wanted to go to one near Pikes Peak but with temperatures in the mid to upper 90's, I wanted some place cool. At 9000 ft, the temperatures were cool. It felt wonderful. We even needed a blanket at night!! I loved it.

The horses loved it too. We've had an unusual summer in that we got hit by monsoon rains. Normally, we are good for an afternoon shower that cools things off. Not this year. We had about 10 or 11 days in a row where it just poured. (It even flooded our basement again but that is another story.) We went on our vacation the last week of July. Normally, by that time of year things are starting to dry out. Not this year. This is what the horses found when they got out of the trailer.
Lush green grass that tickled their belly's, inside and out. (Do you see the little scratch right next to Ebony's eye? Trailer accident. A few days before we left on vacation Ebony came up lame. She was limping bad. I took her to the vet to rule out joint problems which she did. Ebony needed shoes. All that rain made her feet soft and when things dried out she bruised her feet. All four. I took her to the farrier for a set of shoes. I backed her out of the trailer and when her back feet were on the ground she decided she needed to rear back. She smacked her head on the door frame of the trailer. It must have hurt something fierce because when I got out she curled her upper lip up and wrapped her head around me with this look on her face that said, "OW! OW! OW! OW!" Poor horse. She didn't seem to believe me when I told her it was her own fault. Go figure.

So over to the farrier we went. He found the right size shoes and went to work. When he was done with the first foot Ebony wouldn't put her foot down. It really hurt. But when she did put it down she discovered that that foot felt better. She was eager to get the next foot done. And the Next. And the next. She winced with each hammer blow but when it was all done the farrier was scratching her back and said she should be much more comfortable with the shoes. At that very moment Ebony heaved the most contended sigh I have ever heard a horse heave. She didn't limp at all as we loaded her back in the trailer and headed for home.)

So where was I? Oh yes, happy horses. We let them into the pen and they set to work. Beamer is our flower child. He was at peace with the flowers.

Ebony enjoys the tall grasses.And all three of them enjoyed laying around for a spell. We didn't ride them that hard. We stayed on the property (some 30 acres) and mostly walked to give Ebony's feet a chance to recover. (If you look closely you can see that Mariah is actually eating while she is lying there.)

No, the horses did not eat all that grass in that pen. Our horses live on an acre that they allow nothing to grow on so they get hay. This much green grass could cause problems so I mowed the pen and shoveled out the clippings. Yes that's a lot of work to do when one is supposed to be on vacation. On the other hand, I slept quite peacefully knowing I would not have to deal with three cases of colic in the morning. I would let them into the adjacent pen for a few hours each day to let them enjoy the green, lush grass.

I rode Mariah a lot and made some progress with getting her to collect. I had the most fun at a small wooden bridge. She did not want to cross that bridge. She would stand in front of it and dance. I used light hands and feet to keep her focused on going forward. When she finally went forward she launched herself across that bridge. It was only about a 6' bridge and I think only one foot actually touched the bridge. So we turned around and went the other way across it. This time I got two feet on the bridge. By the end of the second day she was crossing the bridge at whatever pace we were doing. Pretty cool.

Once while crossing the bridge heading for the barn she decided she was done for the day. She made a break for the barn and did not appreciate me turning her around. She decided to buck. That is a first for both her and for me. I have never been on a bucking horse. I am proud to say that I have not fallen off a bucking horse (yet)! I stayed on, got her head pointed back to the bridge and way we went. She was fine after that. I am glad her heart wasn't really into bucking me off or we might have had a different outcome.

Anyway, we had a wonderful time. We did nothing. We cooked steaks and Smoores over a camp fire, we watched movies, sat in a hot tub and went out to eat once or twice. It was so very relaxing! We all loved it.