Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Last night was all about spending time with my boy. I went out right after work and groomed him, paying special attention to his itchy parts. He is shedding pretty heavily right now and loved the soft rubber curry comb and the shedding blade.

The only thing that was new was a scrape on the upper part of his right foreleg. I have no idea what he did but it is the second scrape in a week. The other one is on his forehead. I know he loves playing with the horse next to him - Fool. (Why name your horse Fool?) His legs were tight and snug, no swelling or heat from our ride. Can't wait for our next ride!

After grooming him, we went to the indoor arena and I just turned him loose. He trotted and cantered around the arena. He looked so great. There is no hint of any kind of tension or tenderness in his right hamstring. He moves with his head up and his tail flagged. And no hint of any soreness. While we were in the arena and he was running around loose, another horse came in. I gathered him up and put the lead rope on him, then started moving him around me in a very loose circle. He managed to pull the lead rope out of my hand and took off. I called to him and he still trotted away, somewhat spooked by the lead rope. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a peppermint and crinkled the wrapper. He slid to a stop and turned back to me at the sound. Not really spooky, just being a pill.
After we were done in the arena, I took him back to his stall and gave him a warm mash with carrots. Then I checked on Cali. No heat or swelling in her legs either. Nicole and I have plans to ride together on Thursday evening right after work. Should be fun.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ten on Tuesday

1. Ashke is getting very solid on the trail. We rode on Saturday and Sunday and only had one issue either day - which involved a white covered rock.

2. I like giving him hanging molassas and grain treats to mess with in his stall. The first one I put out lasted about a week. The second one lasted less than one day. He had molasses in his forelock. Silly horse.

3. I hate how tangled the hair directly behind his ears gets when he has a bridle on. He hates for me to mess with it when I am on him. I'm considering shaving another bridle path but haven't really decided yet.

4. The short mane he is currently sporting is growing out super thick and looks really good. All of the bad, damaged hair is gone.

5. The last time I rode in the arena, Ashke was giving to the bit and bringing his head down. On the trail, I mostly rode on a loose rein, except when we were cantering.

6. The first bridle I bought, which was a web bridle/halter combination with straps that attached the bit so it could be taken off rather easily, and which was way too small for Ashke's head, has been repurposed for a light weight but effective halter. It is light weight enough that I can leave it on under the bridle for our trail rides. The single rein I ride out in can be used as a lead rope too, which makes leading him rather easy.

7. He reached out and bit my shoulder on Sunday. I immediately flicked the rein in my hand back over my shoulder and whacked him on the forehead. He got the message. Poop head.

9. Sunday we are riding to the top of the mesa. Next weekend we are trying for the lake and a new trail Cinnamon told us about.

10. Provided he passes the vet check, Lisa will be taking her new horse home on Thursday. Yeah!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Friday night I went out to the barn and rode some in the indoor arena. Ashke loved being groomed and left several pounds of hair on the floor. Boy thinks it's spring. Of course, we had rain on Saturday night, so he's probably not far off.

When we got to the arena, there was no one else there. I took the reins off his bridle and turned him loose. He galloped around the arena like a complete fool. I was moving poles out into the middle of the arena for him to move over cavelletti. He galloped around me, snorting and kicking out. In his defense, he hadn't been worked in a week. Unfortunately, I think because he was acting the fool without our typical warm up, he strained his right hamstring. You can't see it or hear it when he walks, but I can feel it when I'm on him. On Friday night, he wasn't real excited about the cavaletti or the 18" raised pole I asked him to step over. I'm now thinking lifting his feet that high and kind of jumping over the pole may be putting additional strain on his hamstring.

On Saturday, Nicole and I rode out onto the Mesa. This time we rode to the left around the Mesa. It was very new and got pretty scarey for both horses and riders. Nicole had to get off a couple of times. The first time was because of the horses working in the arena of someone's house (why in the world are unknown horses so scarey?) and the second was due to an ass on a mountain bike who thought it would be a good idea to ride up Cali's butt. We didn't get very far. First, it was incredibly rocky and second, it was very steep. Nicole and I are both kind of afraid of heights, so we were both really nervous about the drop off to our left. On top of that, the trail goes up and tops off and the closer we got to the top the more nervous I got about some idiot on a bike flying down the mountain (happens alot) at forty miles an hour and no one having any place to go. It was good that we turned around when we did, because the ass on the bike flew up behind us just after we left the steep, narrow part of the trail.

We went back around to the right and followed are normal path back to the barn. After fighting the rocks, we didn't ride very far. I think both Nicole and I are ready to move farther on the path around the mesa to the right. We are talking about trying to get to the top of the mesa on next Sunday, before the Super Bowl.

Not a lot of mileage, but definitely some descent elevation.

The day ended happy for Ashke, however.

He loves his bran mash with carrots. He will lean out of his stall and whinny at me while I'm getting it ready. He prefers it just a little on the dry side, all wet through, but not mushy.

On Sunday, Nicole and I decided to ride the Van Bibber Creek trail to the South instead of north.

Cali decided to test Nicole's resolve and act like a toddler before we got on the trail.

There was a lot of kicking and squeeling and bucking and rearing.

The temper tantrum lasted about fifteen minutes.

Ashke was not real impressed.

We hand walked the horses to the trail head and then mounted up.

It was a pretty decent trail and we did walking, trotting and a couple of canters.

Cali settled right in, once her little fit was over.

The path was a little rocky and I think Ashke was a little sore on his right hind, because of the hamstring. Nicole said she couldn't see it, but I could feel it. Especially on the way back when he was tired.

We went along the canal until it deadended behind someone's house. At least the pathway did. The canal went underground at that point. We almost reached Hwy 58.

We met some idiot bike riders, and some polite bike riders. We met some people with their dogs on leashes and some people with their dogs off leash. Jokingly, I told Nicole I was going to teach Ashke to kick at anyone who got to close to his hind end on their bike. Ashke must have understood because he started to pin his ears and swish his tail at the bikers when they went blazing by. Cracked me up. (And for the record, I would not teach my horse to kick. That would be really stupid. Really.)

The temperature was perfect and it couldn't have been a better day. Both Nicole and I were a bit sore when we got off to hand walk them back to the barn. It was a longer ride than we have done in the past and I was giddy with happiness at the ride.

Almost seven miles. And the time is a bit misleading since I started the app when I was sitting on the log waiting for Cali to chill. I figure we did the seven miles in about an hour and forty-five minutes.

One of the best parts of the day was knowing we had ridden half of a LD.

And Cinnamon gave us some new trail ideas for our next ride, although on Sunday I'm pretty sure we are going to tackle the top of the mesa.


Friday, January 25, 2013


Yesterday was the day I was supposed to go straight to the barn to ride Ashke. Instead, I got called home to clean up the disaster that is current state of affairs at home. See, we hadn't expected (okay who am I fooling - I wasn't prepared) to bring home two puppies and had forgotten how much we needed to do to puppy proof the house. I thought I had devised a decent plan with three child gates and the dining room table to keep the puppies contained. But no. Bad plan.

T was a trooper and cleaned up the larger piles of poo, plus most of the pee that was all over the house. Puppies can't just pee in one spot. No. They must pee in a lot of spots. And also poo. Which they then walk in and track every where. Which T discovered when he was ambushed by playful puppies and got poo in his hair. He decided to wash off their feet and that turned into a complete disaster, when the water got a little overwarm and Lily let him know in a shrill, puppy voice. (She was not hurt, just a touch uncomfortable until he got her out of the water. However, she sounded like she was dying.)

I am at work with a screaming puppy and a hysterical son on the phone, trying to calm him down while also trying to assess how serious the damage was. Thankfully, the puppy calmed right down and had no signs of burn and was back to her happy bouncy self in a matter of moments. The boy child did not bounce back as easily, and cried himself to sleep at the imagined injury he could have caused to his puppy. (In his defense, he was in the master bath, with the jacuzzi tub and he really doesn't know how to adjust the water temp like he knows in his bathroom. He had tested it when he put the puppies in the water, but didn't double check it a few minutes later. The water was about the temp I like for my shower, however, it was definitely too hot for Lily.) I skipped going to the barn and headed home.

Our evening was spent cleaning the house, walking two puppies who had never been outside before we brought them home, shopping at Lowes and then building this wonderful cage for them to exist in until they are through the "chew on everything, pee everywhere" phase. The cage cost us about $40. It took about an hour to cut and put together the wire and although I wish the gauge were a little heavier, I think it will do the trick. (I sold all of our kennels about a year ago! I really thought we would be done with dogs when we lost our boxers, but I was wrong. It really was too hard without them.) The cage is on top of a water-proof tarp which is covered with pee pads. That way the cage will hold the pads and the tarp in place preventing them from becoming puppy chew toys. They have a dog bed in the corner and bully sticks and rope bears to chew on.

Last night I went to bed at 10:45, got up at 12, 1, 3:20, and then up for work at 5:45. It's a lot like having a baby. The puppies have to be carried from the bedroom to the back patio, since they have also never been on leash, and they have a tendency to drop and piddle if they aren't carried. (However, they did follow me down this morning and outside without being carried, which is pretty impressive on the second day.) We are using the same verbal cue of "find a spot" and "hurry up" to indicate they should go now. (This worked really well with the boxers and I expect it to work well with the new pups as well. Sure makes traveling so much easier.) They get lots of praise for doing their business and we ignore the mistakes. They have to be a lot bigger before they are going to have any control.

Guinness has adapted to the puppies. She is much bouncier and seems to be much happier than before we brought them home. She is also eating better than she has been since Spike passed over. She got bounced by Lily this morning and I don't think it will be very long before they are all playing together. The puppies love to lay with Guinness at night. One of the only issues we had last night was between Lily and T. T talks and sometimes yells in the middle of the night. He was very vocal last night. Everytime we heard him Lily got up and stood at the gate in the doorway and barked. A lot. And whined.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

WW: Lily and Jami

Farrier Revisited

Michelle came out again yesterday evening and did a trim on Cali and Ashke. (I also referred her to Lisa and she is going to do Maar's feet the first part of February). She started with Cali.

Michelle said Cali's feet looked really good, just a little high on the inside front, because she has a tendancy to be pigeon toed and sometimes farriers will trim to try and correct that. Michelle balanced them and told Nicole that overall they looked really good.


I was standing around watching and chatting with both of them, when Ashke realized where I was. He whinnied and I called back to him. He started flipping his head at me. He was not happy at all that I was in Cali's run and he was alone in his own.

Cali didn't care. She wanted more love. But the long I waited for Michelle, the more upset Ashke got. It should be interesting when Nicole is gone, because I am going to hand walk Cali for exercise for two weeks. Ashke is not going to be happy.


Michelle said Ashke's feet looked so much better. He only needed a maintenance trim and the only hoof that was completely improved was the one on the right rear. The frog on the right rear is not as hard as the other frogs, and it has spread open in the same way. It is much improved from last time, but still not where she wants it.
When I walked him after the trim and then trotted him, Michelle said his hips are still tight. His legs are moving much more freely, but the top of his hips (SI joint) is still tight. I told her we had moved Ashke off the alfalfa-grass mix and he was now on straight grass and she said that might help. She had seen other horses that were tight in the hips loosen and relax after being moved off of grass. She said it was just something she had observed and we would see if it makes a change in Ashke.
I didn't have time to ride, since it was getting late by the time we were done. Maybe tonight. I'm going to give Ashke some obstacles to work with in the indoor arena, provided there is room. He and I are both tired of going in big circles.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why An Arabian

When J first agreed that I could get a horse, I started shopping online, familiarizing myself with lineage, ability, costs and looks. It had been so long since I owned a horse (almost 20 years) and my last horse was such a horrible choice, that I was committed to not making the same mistakes twice. I knew I wanted an Arabian. They were the only horses I looked at.

Why an Arabian?

I have been in love with Arabians since the first time I visited Azhderarian Arabians in Van Nuys, California. They were neighbors to my Grandparent's gas station and we were invited over because I was horse crazed. There I met Azh Naborr, the last born, living stallion son of Naborr. He was a stunning grey and we almost leased a mare in foal to him, which would have given me an pure-bred Arabian when I was nine. Alas, we did not. I was, however, given a membership directory to the Arabians in Southern California - a 200 page, picture-filled packet of horse eye candy for me to peruse and dream about.

Then, when I was living in Southern California in my early twenties, I worked briefly for a small breeder to later move to Lancaster, CA. He owned a Bey Shah colt and had a small stable of brood mares. I worked with the foals, handling them, teaching them to lead, grooming and picking their feet. It was part-time work at best, and although I enjoyed interacting with the foals, I was not crazy about the sexual harrassment and constant barrage of pointed suggestions I grace the owner's bed as a condition of my employment.

When I moved to Colorado, I quickly found people who had horses I could ride. Many of them I rode because no one else could, and managed to work them into decent horses within a couple of months. In 1991, I decided to purchase a horse and ended up buying a National Show Horse (Arab and Saddlebred). It was a horrible decision and a bad purchase. She was sweet but shortwired in her head and we just never really clicked. I ended up selling her in 1993 before she killed someone.

So, when I decided to start shopping, a well-bred Arabian was the only horse on my list. And here are my top reasons why.

1. I love the looks and lines of an Arabian. They are sleek and well-muscled. They are well put together. I love the dish face and the wide, gentle eyes. I love the tippy ears and the broad forehead.

2. Movement. Arabians have movement without coaching or training or effort. They float and bounce and flirt with the wind when they move.

3. They are very expressive in movement and mannerisms. I love the WTF snort when Ashke is startled. I know we haven't even begun to stretch his ability to go, and so far it seems as though there is no quit in the boy. Long distance is what they are designed to do.

4. They are incredibly smart. Ashke isn't afraid to experience new things. He loves to look around. He loves to explore new paths and is okay going out by himself. Once he knows what is being asked of him, he is more than willing to do what is expected.

5. They are very connected to their people. This breed, more than any other breed of horse in the world, has been bred and raised to be trusted companions with their humans. The Bedoiun housed them in their own tents, as hand-raised members of their families. And just like cats have never forgotten they were worshipped as gods and goddesses in Eygpt, Arabians have never forgotten they were royalty.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Last Dog Standing

At one point in our past, and for seven incredible years, we had fourBoxers. We bred the mom and kept her entire litter of three pups. We lost our Princess, Red, the end of September, 2011 to cancer. We lost the mom in December of 2012 and our only boy a couple of weeks ago. That has left us with one dog.

Guinness. Our protectoress, the dominant one, the only one that doesn't like any other dogs than her pack. The one who fell on her head as a small puppy. The most needy one who loves to snuggle with J in the recliner. She is all alone now. We can't bring a new puppy in to be company for her, because she's not fond of other dogs. So, we are taking her with us whenever we can. We introduced her to Ashke, who was curious about her. Guinness, however, hackled and snarled at Ashke, so terrified she was shaking. So, J left off and took her for a walk.

Yesterday, J and T hiked the mesa with Guinness while I rode. It didn't take long to tire her out. Nine years old might not seem like many years, but to a Boxer it's old. They enjoyed the hike, although T was pretty freaked about the rattlesnake shed he found. I guess it could have been a Bull snake, since they are very similar, but either way it convinced T to stay out of the rocks and on the trail in future hikes.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Ride

Nicole on Cali, Denise on Wrangler, Dessa on China and I on Ashke went for a trail ride on the Mesa today. It was upper forties and the sun was out with no wind. You can't ask for better riding conditions in January in Colorado. Ashke was so happy to be out of the arena!

After saddling them, Nicole and I went to the arena to warm up and make sure neither of our younguns was going to be nutso in the wild blue yonder. Ashke was great at the mounting block, standing still while I got settled and not moving off until I was ready. He had a great, brisk walk. Then when we moved to the trot, he got all riled up. It got bad enough that Nicole moved to the center of the arena and talked me through working him around the arena until he finally settled. He is finally starting to bring his head down once we get to the point that he's no longer cantering in place. Nicole had us doing half-halts, where I tighten the reins but push him into the bridle with my legs, making him maintain a controlled trot. Once he finally relaxed and trotted correctly, we left the arena and headed for the Mesa.

Denise was already out on the Mesa waiting for us when Nicole, Dessa and I started out. Her horse, Wrangler is 17 and just had most of his incisor teeth removed from his mouth because of some type of tooth nerve decay. It wasn't keeping him from eating the grass on the Mesa, however. He has had a month of rest and Denise was pretty ready to ride. From Wrangler's disposition, he was pretty happy to be out, as well.

All of the horses seemed to really enjoy themselves. It was fun to have a couple of other riders with us. It was a perfect temperature.

Wrangler led most of the day, which was really good for Ashke. All four were pretty well suited for riding with each other.

We did the same circuit as the last time we rode out, with a slight adjustment. China has laminitis and the steep hill coming down off the mesa is difficult on his feet, so we used the cutoff that heads to the bridge and went back down there to the same trail we took out.

Cali did great. There were no bridge issues this time. I rode Ashke across and at the far side I swung him around to face the bridge. His eyes got really wide, like he was trying to figure out why the bridge had made such an intense noise the last time we were out.

Ashke walked the entire ride. It was hard work. A lot of slow up, which is great for his back and butt. His feet were a touch tender and I'm going to talk to Michelle on Wednesday about boots for his front.

At the top of the circle we made, there were deer on the hillside, feeding on the old grass. Ashke stopped and perused them. Nicole thought they were very cool, not having experienced a lot of wild life prior to moving here. She's from New York City, after all.

None of the other horses even seemed to realize there were deer on the hillside. Ashke stopped and counted them.

Nicole and I rode back together, which gave us the opportunity to have a brief photo op. Cali is such a great horse. She's so different from Ashke, and yet such a perfect match for Nicole. She also knows that I have treats for her so she is very affectionate with me.

Nicole said something really special on our way back. She pointed out that Ashke was so much more relaxed now. I answered that we just needed to get out of the arena and stretch ourselves a little bit. She laughed and said he was lucky he came to me, since he wouldn't have been very happy being owned by someone who wanted only to do dressage, or western pleasure. He is going to be happiest with me because I want to do the kind of riding he really loves. I thought that was pretty cool.

Nicole suggested that we do other stuff in the arena besides just riding in circles. I told her that we had been, that I was working with Ashke on turning left and right with neck rein pressure and weighting the stirrups. I was inadvertently doing just that as I talked to Nicole, and Ashke responded by turning just like I wanted him to. Nicole recognized what he was doing and pointed it out. I was pretty delighted with his responsiveness.

When we got back to the barn, I helped Nicole install her new stall gate. I want one. Just saying. I want one that has Ashke's name on it.

And the detail from our ride:

I think the snarl down by the barn is the GPS having issues with trying to figure out where we were. I figure we rode 3 miles in 45 minutes. Not too bad.