Sunday, June 30, 2013


Saturday was an amazing day. N and I were able to finally ride out on a trail ride for the first time in weeks. Maybe months.

It started on Friday when Michelle came out and trimmed Ashke and Cali. Ashke was so sweet. He really likes Michelle and greeted her when she got there. He kept trying to help her while she was rasping his front feet. He was doing the plucking at her clothes with his lips thing. Michelle said his feet were very hard, but there still wasn't much sole over the front of his hoof where the canon bone is closest to the ground. She took down the heels, recreated his breakover, but left the sole untouched. Hopefully by the next trim, they will be even better than they are now.

After doing Ashke, I held Cali while Michelle trimmed her feet. Michelle said her feet looked great and there seemed to be no problem with the injury to her right hind leg and in her opinion, N could ride her.

On Saturday, I met N at the barn at 8 am. We groomed the horses and then took them to the outdoor jumping arena. N was rightly afraid that if we didn't give the horses a chance to express themselves themselves prior to saddling up, she would regret it. We turned them loose and the two of them tore around the arena at a dead run, for twelve or thirteen laps. They were snorting and prancing and running all out with their tails flagged. They hadn't been out to turnout together all week and Cali was a bit up.

After they had worn themselves down a bit, we went back to the barn and saddled up. I had talked to N about the problem with the girth rubs I've been getting and she asked me where I was checking the cinch. I was checking it where I learned to check the cinch on a Western saddle. She told me I should check the cinch at the apex of his belly. She said it would always be loose at the elbow, but the correct tightness would be between his front legs. Lightbulb moment. I loosened it two full holes. It was still snug at the apex of his belly. He seemed so much happier to have a looser cinch. I just need to have N check it for me next time I ride, just so I can be sure it's still not too tight. I rode for almost 5 miles and it didn't slip at all.

After we saddled them, we went to the outside arena and N lunged Cali to see how she was doing mentally. She was in the game. While N did that Ashke and I worked on opening the gate from the right. This time I was calm and patient, rewarding his try and giving him a chance to think about what I wanted. By the time N was done lunging and ready to ride, Ashke and I had opened the gate from the right side twice. The second time he did it perfectly. He was rewarded with lots of love and a peppermint.

It was time to ride. Both horses were booted, Ashke in the Backcountry Gloves and Cali in the regular Gloves. We headed up the Mesa.

N was as excited to be out riding as I was. Cali and Ashke were so happy to be together out on the trail. At least until we started up the first climb.

Ashke walks up the road with his head to the left, looking uphill. I can't tell if this is because he needs to walk that way to compensate, still, for his right hind hip, or if he is looking for deer on the hillside. Or maybe he was walking that way to double check that Cali was still behind him. Once we got to the top of the hill, he stopped, which makes me inclined to believe he is doing it to compensate. The good news is, he didn't do it as long as he had last time and on our way back, going uphill, he didn't do it at all.

Both Cali and Ashke were puffing and sweaty by the time we got to the top of the hill. We gave them a couple of brief rests, neither of which Ashke wanted to stand still for, and then pushed on. The Mesa is still fairly green and beautiful, with very long green grass.

We headed around the mountain toward the parking lot for North Table Mountain. Neither of us thought Cali was up for the climb to the top. There were a couple of parts where N said she was feeling very nervous about the drop off, which was more of a slope than a drop off. She was even more nervous on the way back, which we both found very interesting. You can't see her, but Cali is standing in front of Ashke snorting at the log just to the left of his head.

N was trying to get a pic and he wouldn't hold still for anything.

He's just not a stop and stand around horse. The more we went, the stronger he seemed to get.

Finally, seventeen thousand pics later, he stood still. Kinda.

Okay, if you look really close you still won't be able to see it, but take it from me, somewhere in the grass is a six foot Bull snake. Ashke was within two or three feet of it when both N and I saw it. It was in the little gully at the edge of the road. Ashke actually stopped and backed up a few feet when I asked. Bull snakes are colored very similarly to a rattlesnake, but with a different head and tail. I realized about the time we were backing up that it was a Bull not a rattler and let N know. She's pretty freaked about the whole nature thing and is especially wary of snakes. And drop offs. The snake turned and wound it's way up into the grass. I could see it when I took the photo, but even when I enlarged it picture bit by bit, I couldn't find the snake.

We didn't make it to the parking lot. When we crossed the second bridge we left the path and headed uphill at a trot. The grass was pretty deep and I didn't  feel safe cantering, which is what Cali and N really wanted to do. There was no visibility. So instead, of taking the trail straight back, I took N all the way to the dirt access road, which is flat and well graded. When we turned onto it, I interrupted her story and asked if she wanted to canter. She did and then we did, for probably a quarter mile. We hit an upgrade and Cali began to slow down. Ashke had jumped like he wanted to bolt, but once he figured out I was going to let him run, he settled under me. Our boots allowed us to travel over the rocky road without any incidents and it was a great run. We slowed the horses down and turned them back up the hillside to the trail, while N picked up her story.

Ashke knew where home was and he jogged a fair bit of it going home. I worked on getting him to move in a slow collected trot, flexed at the poll and relaxed. I figure if I can get him to do those things, even if it's on the trail going home, I can eventually get him to do the same in the arena on command. He has such an active trot, but nice and slow, when I can get him to do it. Cali was pretty tired by this time, so I made Ashke trot at the speed of her walk. It was fun.

This is the standard, over the shoulder while trotting, shot. Cali was feeling pretty done by this point, although she wasn't dragging. You can tell by the earlier photo, Ashke was still going with his head up and his ears pricked. Five miles is not enough to wear the boy down. Hopefully, the next time we ride we won't have to let them tear around and wear themselves out first so Cali has more energy at the end of the ride.

N wanted a pic of Cali in her boots. Doesn't she look styling? Of course one of them is already falling apart. A screw that holds the top part onto the glove came loose and was lost at some point in our ride. It can be fixed, but is pretty disappointing.

When we got back, we unsaddled and rinsed them off. Ashke didn't feel fatigued and was pretty excited about his carrots. When the horses were settled we went to N house and changed clothes, then loaded up for Parelli Horse and Soul at the National Western Complex. We didn't get there until about 1. We met L just about the time they were on a break. We stayed for the driving class and a loading class with Pat Parelli. I am impressed with his ability to work with horses and could see how the "games" he plays with the horses set them up to do whatever he is asking them to do. The horse he was working with had a fifteen year old handler who didn't seem to be real excited or connected to the horse they were trying to teach to load, so a lot of the class was him teaching her how to handle the horse. An hour and a half later they still didn't have the horse in the trailer, so we left, which is a lot like having sex and not reaching that moment, if you know what I mean. I complete let down.

I was not real impressed with the marketing of products at the show. I can see how they really push their website and their DVD's, which N said really helped her in a lot of ways with Emma and Cali, and how some people would say they are way to commercialized. I thought the program was interesting and learned a couple of things, plus I found a military style hat of awesomeness. All in all I have no complaints.

It was an exhausting, but, great day.

I think the time is off on the app. We rode for about an hour and a half, with a stopped time of about 25 minutes. (I forgot to turn off the tracker)

Decent elevation climb, despite not going to the top of the mesa. One of these days we will get up there.

The part of the map that overlays the road is where we had a sweet canter/wild gallop, depending.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Looking Back

I was going to do this post for my 300th entry, but I missed the boat. I decided it was still a good time to look back at our journey, because I am in amazement at this horse. I stand in awe of him.

June, 2013
June, 2012
May, 2013
May 2012
April, 2013
April, 2012
March, 2013

March, 2012
These photos can still bring tears to my eyes. He is so strong and forgiving and he has come back from so much. One year of great care, good food, proper vet care, careful, balanced work and a great deal of love made a huge difference in both of our lives.
So glad we brought him home.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shoulder Spot

Do you see the black splashtch on his left shoulder? That is from a fly sheet rubbing all of the white, grey and bay hair away and leaving a patch of skin. Yes, his skin is black except where he has patches of white - on his face, his legs and a place on his neck. This is typical for a grey Arabian and actually helps reduce the heat they absorb in the sun, reduces the risk of sunburn, et al.

Why does he have a black splashtch on his shoulder? It's because I mistakenly thought that the fly sheet I purchased late last summer when Christensen's had the Pigeon Fever outbreak would still fit him six months later.

I should have twigged to the fact that it was too small now when I buckled the chest straps at the very last hole on the straps instead of the tightest hole on them.

What this means is my poor skinny thin boy of a year ago has gained more than six inches of beefcake across his chest. Woo Hooo! My weight tape measuring device I got at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo puts his weight between 1100 and 1200 pounds. Really?

I am amazed and enthralled by this horse. As J says every time she sees him - he is so strong.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Today, J and I were at home alone. T spent the night last night with his oldest friend. J and I had a quiet morning of her fixing T's controller for his xbox and me making social arrangements for next week. A little bit before noon we loaded up and headed to the barn. J brought her bike and we both brought our hydrapaks, plus lunch. The weather was decent, with cloud cover and temps in the upper 70's and low 80's for most of the day.

We checked on Cali when we got there and her leg was looking much better. Ashke was in his stall in his fly sheet, which had completely worn the hair off his left shoulder. He has put on so much weight and muscle that the fly sheet from last August doesn't fit him any more. I feel bad that his shoulder is hairless, but at least it didn't do any additional damage to the skin.

I pulled him into the grooming stall and stripped him out of the flysheet, then started to work on him. He didn't like it at all, as you can see from the pictures.

His withers were very itchy.

His nose was twitching and wiggling, and he kept trying to groom J. He was so cute. I had to trim his hooves a little in order to get them into the boots, which is freaking difficult. I don't know why anyone would want to trim their own horse's hooves. I have no problem shelling out $50 to Michelle to do it for me. Ashke was good about resting his hoof on an upside down bucket, which allowed me to shape the outside edge, which was all I felt I could do. I got them shaped enough to get the front boots on his feet, which was my goal. Once the boots were on, and I was sweating like I was in a sauna, I finished tacking him up and we headed out.

We were going to do the Fairmount trail, but I also wanted to explore, so when we reached the edge of the soccer fields and were supposed to turn north, we kept going East on 58th to Easley, then we turned North toward 64th and then cut back West to the ball fields. It added several miles to our journey and a ride that is normally 7.5 miles or so, turned into 12 to 13.

Ashke is so funny. He treats J on her bike like another horse. He prefers to have her beside or just a touch in front of him and he gets anxious when she gets too far away. He was engaged and excited to be searching out new places and we rode most of the ride at a trot. We walked when my back and legs began to hurt or if he needed a breather, and then we would pick up the trot again. We had a couple of really nice canters along the way and I finally feel like he is beginning to understand what I want in a trot and in a canter. I'm beginning to think that the struggles we have been dealing with were caused in part by the weakness in his haunches and back and now that he is stronger, it is much easier for him to do.

J used the word floaty when talking about his trot. She said he looks so much more comfortable and his action is nice and clean. We had a lot of nice trots today.

J said the pace was great and she was able to ride for a longer period of time because we weren't going super fast. On the downhills she went ahead and then waited for us to catch up. On the uphills Ashke and I did the same.

We did some exploring, which J knows is my favorite thing in the world to do. Ashke seemed to like it as well.

I realized about half way through the ride, I had forgotten to turn on my tracking app on my iphone, which I had reformatted just for riding. I turned it on when I remembered, so we have about half the ride documented.

My new favorite picture. Although it didn't pick up the purple that was all over the field.

Or maybe this one. J said that she remembers when she first met Ashke, the horse she saw in her mind's eye, is what he looks like now. He spent most of the ride with ears and tail up.

We had a great ride and it was a lot of fun. By the time we got back I was plumb tuckered and Ashke no longer wanted to trot. He was pretty tired too. I untacked him while J put her bike in the car. We fed him peppermints to get him into the wash stall and I rinsed the sweat off of him, plus hosed down his legs. I can't believe how much bone he has laid down on his cannon bones, knees, fetlocks and upper leg (can't remember the name of that bone and too lazy to look it up.) We sqeegeed him off and I walked him outside to dry, which didn't take long due to the sun coming out for that fifteen minutes. Back to the stall we went where he stood without fussing for fly spray and then a good feed of cookies. He could hear the feed truck coming around and was very ready for his dinner.

I was so tired that I fell asleep while sitting on the toilet after I got home. Not a recommended place for a nap.

Can I Wrap My Horse in Bubble Wrap?

. . . or even better, can we wrap Cali in bubblewrap?

I first really got to know N when Cali was hurt at Christensen's, last summer. She was stamping at flies (we think) and managed to clip the inside of her left front leg right over a major vein. Thankfully, she did this when there were people at the barn and one of the women who boarded there saw the injury and called the BM. They quickly applied a compression bandage and called the vet. The gash was about two inches wide right over the main vein (thankfully not the artery or she could have bled out) but serious enough to need immediate medical attention. If she had managed to clip herself like that in the middle of the night, she might have died from blood loss before treatment could have been available.

N and I started talking and hanging out when Cali was hurt and in the inside barn stall. She quickly became a favorite and I firmly ensconced myself and J as the bringers of good treats while she was recouperating. N and I started working our horses together, first in groundwork and then in starting our horses under saddle. We have become close friends and I admire and appreciate her knowledge and horsemanship. It is rare and valuable when you meet someone who shares your philosophy on horses. We have also become each other's go to person for things related to our horses. Everyone at the barn knows we are friends and so yesterday I was the person they called when Cali cast herself in her stall and they couldn't get ahold of N.

As soon as I saw the phone number, I expected something to have gone wrong at the barn. I wasn't expecting that it was Cali. J, listening to my side of the conversation, immediately sprang into action gathering food and drink in case we were there for any length of time. I loves her. Four minutes after answering the call I was on the phone with N, who was at Waterworld with R and T, reassuring her that I was on my way to check out the injury and would send her pictures when I got there. Good thing we didn't go to Waterworld like planned, because then neither of us would have known what was going on.

Cali had managed to put her back right leg through the front of her wooden feed bin. There had been a hole there, much smaller than now, and somehow she managed to fit most of her lower leg into the feed bin. Henry found her and with help, managed to extricate her leg from the bin without injuring her further. Denise, rider of Wrangler, and Erika, rider of Aron, cold hosed the leg and searched for any remaining wood splinters or debris. It was clean, no longer bleeding and not real swollen yet when I got there. She managed to scrap off a pretty decent strip of hide and hair. I think she was probably stomping at flies again.

In probing the injury, it didn't seem as though it had reached any of the underlying structure, although the skin was cut shallowly, probably by the edges of the broken wood. I texted N this picture, then called and told her it didn't look serious enough for a vet. She asked me to make sure it was clean (I used Betadine) and slather it with antibiotic ointment. I did so while J, true to form, fed Cali cookies. :)

As you might be able to tell, I rinsed the leg good with the Betadine, which for those of you who don't know, looks like blood on a white leg. Kinda freaked out Dessa when she walked by. I quickly reassured her the bright red stuff soaking Cali's white leg was not blood and the injury was not as serious as it now looked. Once the betadine was dry, I slathered the antibiotic ointment into the trough of the gash to the point that it began to slag down her leg as it became warm. I figured more is better, right?

I had Dave, who was helping Henry, and who had already fixed the front of the feed bin so a reoccurance couldn't happen, walk Cali up and back down the aisle of the barn. I couldn't see any lameness at a walk. After I slathered her leg, I walked her again, listening to the sound of her hooves to see if I could detect anything. I had Dessa listen and watch her as well. She sounded fine, although Dessa did point out she was dragging both toes of her hind feet. I figured both were better than one. I also asked her for a five step trot, which she did so sweetly, and I couldn't see or hear any lameness. We stopped and said hi to Ashke and then she went back in her stall.

J and I went to Ashke and gave him love and some treats. He kept trying to pick J's pocket, looking for snacks. I had put the fly blanket on him the last time I was out and it was still fine, although I am going to need to upgrade because he has put so much weight on in his chest the blanket is to small now. Beefy little boy. His fly mask was gone and we found it tore up on the blanket holder on the front of his stall. By the looks of it, I would guess Aron thought it was great fun to pull it off Ashke's head. I'm not sure I want to try again, because I've read enough blogs to know that geldings think this is a very fun game. I don't need to pay the money to replace an endless series of fly masks.

N said the leg was swollen and hot when she checked on Cali last night. She cold hosed her and plans on doing so again several times today. J and I are going to do a trail/bike ride together, since T is spending the day with a friend and going to see a movie at some point. We will check on her at that point too.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Catching Up

We got home from Oregon on Sunday, and although we loved visiting with our friends, flying kites on the beach, picking out wedding attire, wandering around the quaint shops, sharing meals with the group, playing with the toxic baby, eating a ton of food, being in the wedding and viewing starfish, I was pretty happy to be home. Everyone is sick. Some more than the rest of us. Toxic baby gave her mommies bacterial bronchitis, while the rest of us are dealing with congestion and coughing. It's made it hard to get back into the swing of things.

The good news is Guinness, our last and oldest boxer, survived our vacation in very good health and was a wiggling, kidney bean of delight to have us home. On the downside, the littles did not fair as well at the kennel. They both gained height and lost weight. Unfortunately, they are scheduled for their spay today, so they are having a rough couple of weeks. They were so happy to have us home. J and I decided we were only going to do vacations where we could 1) drive, and 2) take the pups with us (and Guinness for as long as she is with us). Luckily, we have a truck we can pull a camper with that allows us to put the giant kennel in the back. Wheew. Wouldn't want to have to trade in the Big Sulley truck.

I went out to see Ashke on Sunday night and spent an hour and a half grooming him. He was sucking on my shirt and licking my arms and standing with his nose pressed against my chest whenever he could. He missed me. I pretty sure all of our animals thought we were never returning.

Tuesday I made it back out and rode him for a bit. He was nippy and not happy about being saddled so I turned him loose in the round pen and let him work it out of his system. He bucked, kicked, snorted (Arabian style) and double-barrelled at me. I think he was pretty pissed. But once he had expressed himself and galloped around the round pen until he was tired, he was fine. We didn't ride for long, but he was perfect while we were out.

Last night I rode again. This time I loosed him in the large, outdoor jump arena and he tore around like an idiot, high-stepping with his tail flagged, snorting, shying at the jumps, until he was starting to sweat. (I don't think the 20 minutes in the round pen five times while I was gone was enough work.) I then rode him out on the Mesa, the three mile loop. He did ok. He was pretty warm going up, but cooled off while we were coming back down. He walked out but trotted most of the way back . . . that easy, sweet, almost-a-jig trot that I wish we could find in the arena. He cooled out well, but I didn't like how the front right boot was fitting and so I need to figure out how to use the hoof file Michelle left me for shaping his feet when we are at the end of the trim cycle. Since he gets trimmed again on 6/28, that would be now.

I really need to come up with a plan of action for riding him going forward. Nicole has very set ideas in her head and I am more of a fly on the seat of my pants kind of girl. It makes for a very unfocused ride. I'm thinking I might need to do a lesson with Cassandra, if only to give myself focus and a plan. Of course, there is a show on next Saturday that I am planning on entering Ashke in, at least for the trail class. That might give me some focus, once I know what type of things the judges look at. I would also like to look at the Western Equitation class and see what that entails. It will give me something to focus on outside of trail riding. I also plan on having Ashke learn to open gates from both sides. Plus, we need to work with the rope a lot more.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Final Friday

Early morning ocean on our last day here.


At low tide we hiked down the beach to the tide pools.


Thirteen is such a strange age, full of changes with the last glimpses of childhood fading from our man-child.



Star fish.


And more starfishes.


The mussels were huge - longer than my hand.


And the starfish were working very hard at prying them loose from the rock. We figure the reason for so many starfish is because of the size of the mussels.


It takes exactly two minutes for the tide to change and start coming back in.


Triumphant starfish. Soon to be eaten mussel. Relatively soon, I mean.

Didn't take long for the water to trap us in the rocks. We headed back.


J caught the God-daughter plague (I forgot what kind of germ mobile small children are) and spent a couple of hours on the couch. T and I enjoyed flying our kites in the incredible wind (30 mph) until we managed to tangle them and his kite cut my string. We are going to hit a kite shop on the way out of town to replace them.


End of our day.

End of our week. It's been an incredible time. Tomorrow we make our way home.