Monday, September 18, 2017

Dog Days

One of my deepest wishes is to take both the horse and the dogs to Vedauwoo and ride for the day. The dogs love going and are getting much better about listening to voice commands, that I think it might be a possibility next year. In the meantime, it is an either/or sort of situation. This past Saturday, we took the dogs.

 They love being in the front seat in J's lap for the drive.
Usually, it is a rotating lap dog dance. This pic was taken during Lily's one turn.
Skittle is a jealous little beast.

Our first offroad adventure with Antiope.
Unfortunately, it would end with a long scratch on the driver side of the car.
Wounded before our first oil change.

 We parked at the base of these rocks.
This was the area where we were caught in the massive snow storm years ago (like 15).

 The view from our vantage point.

Climbing up on the rocks.
The dogs ran circles around us, but stayed within view for the majority of the day.
Came back immediately when called.

 My heart place.

The dogs handed the rock climbing like pros.
They treated the slanted rock like it was flat.

 They also got pretty good at listening to hand directions.
I was able to point them in the direction we were heading and they would range out in front of us.

 Tia came with us.

Silhouettes against the sky

 There were a lot of trees down. The forest here is going through it's dying and rebirth process.

It really does feel like you are on top of the world sometimes.

 More rocks

 So much rock

 Some of it was too difficult to climb.
And impossible to take the dogs through/over/up/down

So much fun to clamber across

 I could ride forever out there.

 Bushwhacking through the trees.
There's two dogs in there somewhere. And people.

Lily playing chase games with sister

The two of them together

 Alerting on Tia and J coming through the trees.

There be giants in these rocks. If you look carefully, you can see his squished head, held down by another giant's foot.
Best rock formation of the day.

 Hiking back through Aspen to where we left the car

 The only good way to spend the rest of the afternoon.

 I could have fallen asleep, except that would have been rude.
Sitting in the hammock sideways in order to still be able to see what is happening.

 It got pretty cold. A fleece blanket would not have been remiss.
The temps were in the mid-50's, but the wind gusts were 40 mph and the wind chill made it feel more like mid-40's.

 J sitting in her hammock

 Tia in hers.

Dogs tied up

I have to tell you, we had a first. We were in what was obviously our "camp" with two Malinois dogs off leash. A couple of city slickers pulled up and parked their car ten feet from ours (in the middle of National forest - it wasn't a freaking parking lot), pulled out their little snack dog and proceeded to walk past us to climb the rocks. It goes against every camping/hiking protocol and courtesy I've ever experienced. They are lucky we saw them coming and tied up the dogs.

The dogs were awesome and didn't even bark. Lily stood guard (she takes her job seriously) but did not jump or try to go after them. She listened and eventually came to lay down.

 They didn't ever relax though.

 Being good dogs

Eventually, we headed home due to the chill. My hands were icey and it just wasn't so much fun to lay in the hammock. We loaded up and headed out.

This would be where I got to close to a mean bush to my left and scratched the hell out of my new car.
Good thing I love camping.

 Skittle laying in Tia's lap for the drive home.

Lily sacked out on the dog bed next to them.

It was a very good day.

Friday, September 15, 2017


As you all may know from my posts, I'm a bit passionate about Working Equitation, and since WE takes a lot of dressage, I have also been a bit passionate about my dressage lessons. September 22, last year, was the first of our regular lessons with Amanda. I think in the year, we've missed two weeks, she's done three training rides, and we have competed in three shows. I've learned to love this discipline, because discipline it is, and I am as shocked as you are at how much I like it.

A year ago, we were working mostly on rhythm and bend, riding serpentines and spiral circles. This year we are schooling leg yields at the trot from center line to the wall in 20m, half pass, trot-stop-back-trot off while maintaining shoulder in (that one is tough), and I have started wearing spurs for our arena rides. Overall, Ashke has developed the skill to move in the steep lateral leg yield the Novice B test requires, much more willing to listen to the request for a transition from my seat, better able to maintain contact while working the canter transitions, and once he figures out what we are working on, he tries so hard (the ten meter half circle to X, two straight strides, and then the leg yield to the wall went much better once he figured out what I wanted him to do. Still tough though.)

Last night, his canter and canter transitions were the best we've had. Other things I'm incorporating in our rides: backing in a circle, backing uphill (when the opportunity presents itself), backing in water (obviously a trail exercise), and consistent canter work. I think the last piece of our puzzle is getting Ashke to the point where our canter transitions do not include pinned ears and expressions of exasperation, nor should they include trotting into the transition, something he wanted to do last night. I think he doesn't feel as strong or sure in this gait (we've been working on a decent canter for five years now) and fears to fail me. I made sure to reassure him last night that he is so strong and doing so well.

Both Amanda and I were marveling at the amount of muscle my little beef cake has put on. The muscle along his topline is getting thicker and meatier every day, with heavy muscle over his withers, and behind his withers. There is muscle behind his shoulder (in front of his girth) that relates to the "sling" muscles necessary to lift up and through the withers (Amanda says "sling muscle" is not a anatomy term :) but they are the muscles around the shoulder that connects the withers together. Overall, he is much stronger and able to self carry for longer periods of time.

Hopefully, these things will help when we show in October. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cautionary Tale

I think we have all, at one time or another, commiserated with each other over the many ways in which horses seem to find to hurt themselves, sometimes tongue in cheek and at others with deadly seriousness. Yesterday, we had one of those moments at our barn, where the combination of events lined up perfectly to wreck havoc on one of our four-footed friends.

If you are squeamish or don't want to see blood,
 do not go any further!! 

First - it started with this type of bucket hanger, which had a cross tie attached to the ring by the clip. That ring was round. The clip dangled down from the strap/crosstie.

Second - there was a mare in the crossties being unsaddled after her jumping lesson.

Third - there was a bored-to-death gelding in the stall next to where the crosstie was attached. He has been on stall rest for about a week due to an abscess.

As far as we can piece together, the gelding was messing with the crosstie, the mare flipped her head as mares do, and the clip on the bucket hanger slipped over the gelding's nostril. The heavy part of the clip was inside the gelding's nose, with the latch part on the outside of the nostril.

The gelding pulled away.

The barn owner saw it happen in her peripheral vision and we got to him before it had even started to bleed. Several phone calls later and the vet was on her way. One of our boarders is a small animal vet. she used saline to keep the torn flap part of the nostril damp.

Sedated. The wound has been cleaned.
She started with stitches on the inside, then did the outside.

The vet was very meticulous and careful about lining up the edges of the flap.
She did debride it first, since the flap had begun to dry, and to improve the chances of the flesh reconnecting.

Finished product.
Such a great stitch job. 

He was such a good boy throughout. He was calm and easy to handle. Accepted peppermints and direction. Didn't fight or fuss. Hopefully, his beautiful nose will heal with no other issues. 


Monday, September 11, 2017


A little while ago, a friend on FB started a group called "Girlz Ride Out" to facilitate local riders "meeting up" with other riders to explore trails in our area. A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked who was riding where. I answered with information about doing the Buffalo Creek ride and a woman (AY) answered and asked if she could join me. I gave her some information about where we were riding and the time frame, and in the end she decided to ride to Horsetooth on her own. We did, however, make plans for riding at Chatfield on Saturday.

We parked at Waterton Canyon (she beat us there by almost 45 minutes) and after getting Ashke saddled up, we headed into Chatfield. J, A and Iz had some issues with one of the bikes, so they were a little bit behind us. We rode down the South Platte river trail and discovered that the park had done a bunch of trail maintenance. The fallen trees brought down by the beavers, the beaver dam across the South Platte and the undercut river bank were all gone. The path was three foot wide, covered with crusher fine gravel and beautiful to ride on, even if it wasn't as challenging. I immediately started planning a moonlit ride sometime in either October or November.

It was a really great ride. Ashke and AY's horse, Quincy, got along awesome and Quincy has a huge walk, nice jog and solid canter. AY was easy to talk to and seemed to enjoy my company as much as I did hers. Ashke was so happy to have a trail companion, that he was doing cartwheels in his mind.

They both had so much fun in the river.
The second time, they both splashed so much that my legs were wet to the knee.
They were so funny together.

 After the river crossing.
Quincy is a QH/Appy cross. And he can motor.

Me, AY, and Iz on her bike. The rabbitbrush was high.

 I love riding through the prairie grass when it is thigh high.

For once, Ashke wasn't stressed about being second. 
Quincy was, so we alternated to work on our stuff.

Like working on cantering nicely upon request, rather than bolting off down the trail after your new found friend.

We cantered a lot on our way back to the trailer.
I showed AY a new trail back, since she was thinking to riding out alone on those trails. She's new to Colorado. I look forward to sharing all of my favorites with her.

We finished with 11.25 miles on the ride. We could have made it longer if we had planned better and brought lunch. :( 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Little Scraggy 2017

When I went to get Ashke from turn out so we could start our adventure, he was out with Destiny (his sweetheart - she lets him graze next to her) and when he saw me he turned away. I ignored him and started talking to her, eyes on her eyes. Ashke snorted and moved in between us, almost thrusting his head into the halter. I snorted a bit with laughter.

My green-eyed boy!

I was going to make this a media dump, since I had a ton of pics, but my computer ate most of them, lucky you, so it's not as much of a media dump.

Suffice it to say we did 12.6 miles with 1600 feet of elevation gain and loss in six hours. It was slow, but both J and A made it (not without three falls off trail - A was not hurt and got right back on.)

As we were finishing the ride on the road back up to the parking lot, J said to Ashke, "Thanks for waiting for me buddy. I know it was really frustrating for you to have to go so slow, since you are strong and could have done that so much faster. But if you hadn't waited for me, I wouldn't have made it."

Ashke reached to his left and touched J's arm with his muzzle, leaving a bit of foam. Do not ever believe your horse does not know what you are saying, because they do.

 If foam is an indication of how much a horse likes his bit - we have a winner.

 He can just reach the slobber bar with the tip of his bottom lip, and he plays with that while walking.
The foam drips from his lips.

 So much foam.

 On top of the elevation climb and loss, was the heavy fire smoke in the air from the West burning.
It was a problem for everyone.

 Ashke waiting patiently.

 One of the breaks where I actually got off the horse.
I need to get a halter-bridle so I can drop the bit at times like this. He can't graze with the bit on.

 Pleasure? Pain? Stupidity?
I have no idea . . .

Gorgeous country

 And a fun trail with lots of obstacles.
They run an endurance ride up here the first weekend of August.

Ashke was very patient, even when he didn't want to be.

 Where A went off trail.
I did figure out why she falls to the left, when she falls. It's because she reaches down with her left foot first and on trails with the drop off on the left, she misses the trail and overbalances.

 She rolled all of the way over and carried the bike over her body and further downhill.
J carrying the bike back to the trail.

 It was really steep here and we were lucky that all that happened was a bruise on her right buttock.

Where Little Scraggy meets the Colorado Trail.
Another one of those "one time a year" rides.

 Ashke and J communing.

On the way back we finally crossed a seasonal stream that had water. We hadn't been moving fast, but we had been out for a while. Ashke stopped to drink, but the water was so shallow I could hear him struggling to slurp it up. I got off and removed the bridle, whereupon he drank for a solid five minutes. Then we put the bridle back on and headed back to the trailer.

There was a lot of slick rock and Ashke and I made our way around everything we could. He did a great job of taking care of us and I only felt him slip once. The slick rock is why the mountain bikers funded and expanded this piece of trail into a loop. There was one pretty big piece of slick rock that J rode:

 J riding the slick rock down.
We went around.

Here are the videos from my gopro. Many of them appear to be the same  and most are just walking. The ground is incredibly rocky and there was no real reason to hurry since bikes+elevation. I won't be offended if you don't watch them all.