Saturday, June 26, 2010


So, my facebook friend Jessi Phillips Speer (you can friend her too!) is working hard at rescuing horses from a kill pen in Texas.  For some oddball reason, I decided I needed to rescue a horse. I have 3.  I have 4 actually.  One is in Kansas (she is one month old--Lacey--ooh ooh and her cousin  just won the non pro reining at the NRHA Derby--the cousin, County Custom's mom is Lacey's mom's full sister....CC was ridden by Kim Dooley) 

Ok but back to the rescue.  Jessi described him and for some reason I decided I needed to save him.  So I sent her my 400 bucks via Paypal and this is what we got: WINSTON!  4-6 years old, broke to ride and sweet as can be.  Can't wait to get him here and I can already tell I am going to be real particular when it comes to finding him a new home (although there is someone who is already interested!)

Tabooli went on a ranch vacation with his dad, Peter. They are up near Tres Piedras  (TP)--um I think that is where there are anyway, and Tabooli probably is getting to pack a little and hopefully push a few cows.  I was DYING to go too (not that I was actually invited--was just going to stow away in the trailer!), but had hay delivered and stacked today (super nice for 5.40 a bale--it was like winning the lottery!), and am going to the Pecos Wilderness tomorrow to pack out some trail workers, which will also be fun! (But I am afraid it might also be very wet....)

This week Peter came to ride Tabooli and it went pretty well, but Tabooli was a bit of a butt on the loping.  He was tight and wanted to hop around with me, he didn't steer great, and he wasnt forward enough.  Now granted he has only 30 rides and I have been taking him really slow, but you know I wanted him to look perfect.  He is trotting really nicely though and he did listen very hard and did what he thought he was supposed to do for Peter, um well, most of the time!!!  Tabooli will be back tomorrow I think.

MAY is doing much better after two applications of Shoshana's magic scratches formula.  The vet informed me that this was NOT scratches but was a photosenstivity reaction....I think I mentioned that...whatever it is, the magic potion is helping.  Should have redone the application today...but I am just done for the day.

Penny had some really nice ring days thsi week and some not so nice ring days.  I keep thinking I can use a snaffle and improve her lightness, but I just am not doing well.  I just need to stick with the shank bit (except when I work cows with her--Mark suggests I stick with a snaffle in case I end up in her mouth accidentally, not that this would EVER happen to me!!)
I am still trying to get her withers up more and her poll and jaw soft at the lope.  To the right we are ok but no so much to the left.  More flexibiity exercises and TIME.  I just need to tell myself:  I HAVE TIME, a al Kathleen, a la Colonel Podhasky (spelling is in question), a dressage guy that rode Lipizanners whose book My Horses My Teachers, I read in high school; my friend Kathleen is reading it right now--she read it TWICE IN A ROW.  That is how much she liked it.  Now I need to reread it....

RISA is naturally very light in her face and up in the shoulders.  Her new nickname is Fussbudget (Cheryl N--right on!) due to her over all cranky pessimistic outlook.  But she just cracks me up and I love the light catty feel of her to ride.  She is a dinky one--14.1, but man she is quick.  Her lope is improving little by little (although she wrings her tail 1/2 the time!).  Her flying lead changes are starting to be more consistent in response to cues.  She pretty natural at them, so it is easy to set her up to get them.  Working slowly toward all on cue changes.

When Risa goes with a quiet mouth and a quiet tail, while doing all the cool athletic thngs she can do, I will be so proud.  Don't hold your breath though.  I think it will take 2 more years, at least!

Penny and Risa both worked cows on weds.  Penny is pretty low key aobut it but interested,  Risa got very animaated but had one tremendous turn.  Other wise, I am pretty much walking her behind the cows, letting her just get a feel for it all.  It was her first go at it after the "i will kill Leon the burro!"  attempt 6 weeks ago or so.  Probably won't take her this week as I will take Tabooli instead...and with a 3 horse trailer, I think one stud with Vicks in his nose, a empty space, and one filly, is about all I can do.

THOR the gaited pinto came today.  He is cute as a button with a beautiful black and white mane and a lovely arched neck that he carries with great style.  He hasn't been ridden in a year and is not sure about having to go back to work, but a little ground work showed he is a pretty willing guy.  I also rode him out and about (he was supposed to be very good out) and he was tense and a little jiggy and snorty, but his feet generally moved forward, not sideways.  I thougth he did awesome for having been off for so long.  Also, it seems that maybe he often got his way instead of the rider's way, so he is a teensy bit willful at times.

Coyotes are yipping out back and I need to go get some supper and pack up for tomorrow!  Until next week. 
Oh hey --I have a Friday blog, too on the website of my friend and author Doranna Durgin.  Here is the link: My page/ blog thingie is called The Write Horse.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A lot can happen in a week!

Congratulations to Richard!
Richard bought a beautfiul buckskin (love that color!) Kentucky Mountain horse and took him to the Pecos 6/19/2010.  They did great--stayed over night, high altitude, steep climbs, water, bogs, other horses, tying to trees..all fantatistic.  (I didn't get a picture!) Yeah! More on the Pecos farther down.

Tabooli.  Lost a shoe, but got my size 0 easy boot epic on so can still ride him! 

He pulled that shoe off when he was running and playing.  He was out grazing on the dead cheat grass--this place is beginning to look like much for perennial grasses--we are getting over run with short-lived annuals and after the initial green rush of spring they die.  Now there are big swathes of straw-colored dead grasses.  "Forutnately, they are still tasty!" says Tabooli.

The neighbor kids came to the upper fence and the horsie girls all took off to see what they were up to.  Tabooli, being in a different pen (being a stud and all) was quite miffed that he was left out. So he began running, bucking and sliding at the fence.  After all that, I found his missing shoe.  He caught his hind foot on the edge of his front shoe and pulled it off.

Riding-wise we are up to ride 27! He is getting lighter and trotting really well both in and out of the arena!  Upward bit pressure, lateral work and always trying for immediate release is working.  Also, I am working to keep him improving off my leg, too, so I can use the reins less. He doesn't need a show frame--he is going out on the trail, but he does need to be responsive.

Loping is also steadily improving.  Our biggest day was Thursday 6/17.  We rode out in an open field where I have ridden enough that I have scribed a big circle.  He loped out there on the circle--first time loping outside of an arena.  He picked up both leads (with a little struggle to set up the right lead without a fence to work against--took a few tries!). he was pretty relaxed about it, too!

Still need to work on:
1. standing still right after mounting.  He was so good at that to start with I let it slide.  Mistake.  Must reinforce that now. I get on.  he just stands there.
2. Whoa.  He stops fine, but I'd like it to be a little more direct and softer--always softer.
3.  Soft in general.  He is, as I have mentioned, not super soft naturally, so it has to be built in him.

He is slated to go home at the end of the month....10 days to hoo! But he is far enough along mainly he just need the ol wet saddle blanket treatment--ride him.

May and Scratches. According to one vet, it is not scratches but a photosensitivity event that leads to skin inflamation, cracking and bleeding.  I have changed her diet to grass because some alfalfa's can contribute to this.  I have her in the most shaded pen.  I keep treating the cracks with MTG and keeping her legs covered, but her left back leg is somewhat swollen and painful and doesn't want to respond.  She is relaxed and friendly, but that one leg hurts!

I have a friend with a magic cure for this---don't have all the details yet, but she said to shave the leg and I am scared to do that....less protection from the sun!!!! Will find out more about it.....

Penny and Risa.  Both are doing well. I am still working on Penny's softness and suppleness and I like how she is doing. Her lope is becomng more up in the withers, but she still will stiffen her neck and jaw, so have to keep dong flexibility exercises and pay attention to my hands.  I am also riding her out on the trails a few times a week.  She likes to get out of the arena. Sometimes I pony Risa and sometimes Risa ponies Penny. 

Penny is a good lead horse (and now she does water and mud with little effort AND she learned to drink from streams this Pecos trip.)  Penny is also good at being the ponied horse. Risa is the lead mare in the herd, so Penny naturally follows her.  Plus Penny, takes a lot of things in stride.

Risa is super sensitive which I love, but it is also hard sometimes because it is easy to cause her to feel that I am being too hard on her.  At the same time that she is senstiive, she is not always interested in cooperating, so getting the balance between her sensitivity and convincing her she needs to give it a try is interesting and fun. 

Loaded with 100 pounds.  The blue thing is a table.

Risa is also working on learning to pack and she is carrying real loads (we've done 2 real loads so far).  On the trip this weekend, the Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen
brought tools and supplies in for a group that is doing trail work this week in the Pecos Wilderness. Risa carried food (coffee--it smelled great! and tables that roll up.)

I think you are getting a little close there Buddy!

Risa has a large personal "bubble, and doesn't like to be crowded on the trail.  Her problem is complicated: She is the lead mare so wants to boss all new horses; and she is afraid at the same time.  And she becomes is herd bound when in new places.  She seems to figure that her best defense is a strong offense!!! As with most things, time and repetition will allow her to be more at ease.

Risa is doing well on water crossings and is drinking from streams also.  This seems like no biggie, but some horses just won't do it and run the risk of dehydration in the back country. Mud bogs--not so much--still jumping those.  Wish I had a photo of her 10 foot leap from a stand still.  She got high as well! While fully loaded.

In the arena:  Risa is loping better and better.  Lead changes are doing well, spins are coming along, as it stopping.  As her mind quiets, her catty, light and quickness will be channeled.  She is multi-faceted and I am really enjoying bringing out her best qualities.

The Pecos trip was really fun this weekend and hope to go back next week. During the week, we will do arena work as well as some trail and ponying work.  And if the weather cooperates--cow work on both Risa and Penny!

Monday, June 14, 2010


May is back for just 2 weeks while her mom is on vacation in Alaska!   

While May was home, Linda rode her all around the neighborhood and on a trail ride or two.  Everything went great!!!  May is a bit of a looky-looer still, but she handled a weedeater without a problem  The whine of those things can send a horse (um Risa) right out their skins if they have never heard them before!

Scratches. May's got 'em.  Scratches is an interesting, if annoying, ailment.  It causes the skin to become inflamed, and crusty and split. Like an extreme case of chapped lips (X100) on the back of the pasterns.   Plus it spreads.

What is the cause?  Well, some combination of bacterial, fungal, and viral agents plus photosensitivity.  The exact agents vary from case to case, but the photosensitivity seems to be related to diets high in this part of the world, we are talking alfalfa.  It almost exclusively occurs on white feet--and May has 3 of those!

The cure: If you look on line, the "cures" are many and varied!  But man the stuff is hard to get rid of, until winter when the cold and lower light levels often allow it to go away on its own. But here is what I am doing, courtesy of Dr. Dralle and Albuquerque Equine:
1. gloves on
2.  Glob furazone on the affected areas (softens and is antibiotic--kills stuff)
3.  Wrap it all in splastic food wrap (right around the leg)
4.  Wrap that with a piece of the old mattress pad.
5.  Wrap that with a polo wrap.
6.  Repeat every 2 days until the affected areas look pink and not covered in crispy crusties.
7. It could take a while.....2 weeks?
8.  Apply (off the internet) a mix of cortisol (anti-inflamatory) desitin (yep the baby butt stuff--soothing, has zinc oxide so should decrease light exposure) and tiple anitibiotic (that one is yep--antibiotic)
9.  Cover and wrap until the hair starts to grow back....

So, did steps 1-5.  May thought I was attemping to cut off the circulation in her legs.  Nevermind that I have done this before and no one ever lost a limb.  She was not convinced.  Took her to the arena and  rode at the walk, working on flexing side to side and vertically, turning, stopping etc etc.  It was not long before the saran wrap slid out from under the right hind job and flapped around her foot, prompting stomping.  Fixed that. Turned her out, rode Tabooli.

By the time I got back, she had removed the wrap from the front leg, along with partial shredding of the polo. She left the debris for me to clean up in the pasture.  So kind.

Rewrapped and tied her up while I rode Penny and Risa.  By this morning....wrap off.

New plan formulated at 5:45 this morning as I got ready to feed: Rewarp, isolate he in her own pen,  feed her (oh yeah put her on grass and off alfalfa); hope she paces all day instead of messing with her wrap.  That worked, except, she didn't pace!  She was relaxed as a clam (how can you tell clams are relaxed---they have a shell--???) and her wraps were intact! 

Tomorrow the unveiling will occur....more than likely:  Good progress and repeat steps 1-5 again!

RISA: Is getting more and more cooperative!  She is either reaching her vit B threshold or she is starting to mature a little--or a combo.  Either way I like it. She will have her work cut out for her Saturday--20 miles in the Pecos.....She'll be packin'....

PENNY: The bigger bit is working. She is softer.  Her lope is slwoing down but I must really work on rythym and drive to keep her from getting mechanical--it should look natural, if you ask me.  Trouble is I can feel it, but I can't see it.  It feels pretty good. 

TABOOLI: He is out grazing for the evening. Today was ride 24.  He is riding well at the walk and trot.  His whoa could be better, but it is decent.  We really worked on moving off my left leg because he has been reluctiant to do that.  Today went well and he also picked up both leads well, instead of giving me grief over the right lead--well did it well most of the time. 

Did have a steering issue at the lope.  He gets stiff and heavy still, so I have to keep him pointed in the right direction and use a lot of leg to keep him from bending his head one way and leaving his shoulder out the other. Focus!

He will put his head down and hump up for a step or two--so far no breaking in two,  and I don't expect much more than what he has shown me because he doesn't play hard in his pen (and it is a big pen--lots of room to cut loose), but that needs to quit.  So here are the options I use: Push him faster and through it, bend him to a stop, make him move his hip and get going again, hold my hands higher and keep his head up.  All work to redirect.

Tabooli will go home at the end of the month as will May.  Donati the Fjord will be coming for the weeks leading up to the Fjord evaluations in Colorado, so we will have fun gettng ready for that!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Riding in the Brush = Torn Clothes or Wow it was HOT at the Show.

Tabooli: Rides 18 and 19. 6/5 and 6/7.
Time to start seeing the neighborhood!  He is so calm in my arena, (except when some random thing scares him and he skedaddles, but we will ignore that...) I decided to take him out.  Both days he got tense as we left familiar surroundings and our rides progressed like this.  Tabooli:  I can't go any further.  Me:  Ok, let's stop and take a look.  Tabooli:  I can't stand still any longer! Me: Ok, let's move along. We'd go a little ways and he'd  see some new thing-- and we have the same conversation all over again, with variations such as: I cannot go in a straight line from here to there because there is a THING over there.  Me:  Listen to my leg and move over.  Tabooli.  Ok........No. I cannot do that right now.  Me:  I think you can.  Tabooli.  Oh...well,  Ok I 'll try.  Me: Good job!  Tabooli:  There is a THING over there!  Repeat!  To give him credit, he got better!

With my hands, I kept asking him for lightness in his face.  Two hands and wait for a flexion following by immediate release.  Then a little lateral flexion, sometimes with a little leg to ask for a sideways movement, with immediate release.  These both work to refocus, but generally are not very hard for the horse.  Sometimes, I got no response from Tabooli so more pressure was needed, followed my an immediate release when I got a try. 

Key:  Don't nag, but don't give up until getting a try and then RELEASE.  Easier said than done, and if not done the result is heaviness.  If done right, you can get light without having to argue with the horse's face.  Let me just say, I try, but I don't always get light right away, and then I have to go back and figure out how to fix it.  A bigger bit is the easiest, to be honest.  And sometimes that will create a permanent solution.  Plenty of training articles talk about bit progression when the horse gets heavy on the current bit....hmmm.  I feel that when my horses are Penny right was a training fault.  My solution for Penny?  Bigger bit.  Why?  because I know it will work and it is pretty easy.  I am totally happy with this?  Nope.

Over grown trail = torn clothes.
Took Risa down to the little canyon the other day, where she walked over water....I honestly think she may not have noticed it because it was in a little dtich and there was a lot of grass.  Plus, she didn't really hesitate, and she is the Queen of Hesitate.  Tabooli has got nothing on her.  I walked some because the trail was too overgrown for a rider on horseback.  The cienega by the old cotton wood has changed since I went there last, years ago.  It has silted up and  the standing water has moved up stream a little.  The boggy spot is no longer boggy, but there was lush grass!

I mounted up and we began to climb out of the canyon.  I ducked under junipers and broke old pinon branches. I sort of waded through the live branches and leaned away from others.  In some places the tree trunks were crowding the trail and I had to be careful of my legs.....and then, the outside of my pants at the  ankle area snagged on something...Risa was pushing up an incline.  My foot was still snagged and was gettng left behind.  Hmm--this could be interesting...I may just end up coming off the over the back of the saddle while Risa heads on up the trail.  My leg was pretty far back toward her hip, when RIIIIP, my pants tore and my foot came loose.  Much easier than dismounting over her butt!

This latest rip goes with the missing buttons on my long (sun protection) sleeve riding blouses--don't jump in a western saddle unless your shirt is tucked in because otherwise, the shirt hooks over the horn and when you land, the buttons rip off. I also have shoulder rips from ducking around trees on those over grown trails.  I think I destroyed any hope my daughter had of becoming a horse person because when she was little I used to take her riding on the trails and invariably, we'd end up going through something and she'd get scratched....She didn't cry or complain, but she stopped wanting to ride with me....Bad mom card...

100 in the shade.
That describes the show on 6/6. In the shade, with a breeze, it was quite bearable, but when I left the shade for the arena, it felt like stepping into a spot-lighted oven.  "Blazing" actually describes the situation quite well!  Penny handled it with aplomb except for getting duller as the day progressed.  She did very well in English, all first or seconds, but in western, with a different snaffle, she was dull and flat.  In trail, she could not quite make one turn and pick up the correct lead, and for this I don't harbour any ill will.  It was a tough maneuver and she is not quite there yet. Faster response time and a lighter feel in the face would have surely helped though, so will work on I have been nagging her somewhere.....

How to make Risa rideable at a show:
1. Double her vitamin B the night before and the day of. (she is the only one that gets Vit. B and it really does help her stay more focussed)
2. Lunge her when you get there until she settles down (30 minutes)
3.  Tie her to the trailer and let her bake (actually she was in deep shade with food and water, but it was still hot no matter how you look at it.)
4.  Lunge her again.

I did all that and went to talk to my friends Liz and Chance.  Risa stood there a sweet as could be.  But when I went to leave, we had to walk off the grass onto the dirt.....Oh heavens no!  You'd think I was asking her to step off a cliff into an abyss

Made it to the warm up arena and I had to keep remindng her to PAY ATTENTION!  (flex your neck, go sideways, turn, stop, back etc). At this point in her training I don't care that much where her head is, so long as when I use the reins, she responds and she looks where she is going.  She is naturally pretty light, so despite her extreme looky-looness, she responds.  Here is waht I was albe to do:  Lope large medium speed circles in both directions, perform flying lead changes (she is a natural), slide 8 feet form a lope, and get some energetic tries at spinning and nice free backing.  Wow!. So, I want to rein on her, and was aiming at State fair in September for a first run.  Can I order the extreme heat ahead of time? Or maybe I can bring a heat lamp.  Ok that is just scary because PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO THAT to their horses.  Ugh.

Have any torn clothes or extreme heat stories? Love to hear them!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tabooli the trail boy and Risa's evil rubber matting

Rides 16 and 17 (6/2 and 3). Tabooli survived the weekend as an only horse--everyone else went to the Pecos.  The neighbors fed him of course!  Had to work Tues all day so got on him yesterday and today.  Yesterday, we did arena work and he is definitely a hanger on the bit kinda guy, but his steering is gettng softer, very very gradually.  He still gaps his mouth at the bit pressure (and I know this because he is not wearing a cavesson--to wear one or not.... I am going with not so I can see when they have gotten the quiet mouth idea on their own....will use a cavesson if I want to get there faster on a show prospect someitmes....there is more to that story, but haven't time now).... Tabooli usually doens't lighten up right away!  We are doing lots of turning and flexing and movng his hips and shoulders.  He is loping complete circles on both leads, although he preferred the right lead 6/2.

Got him out on the rocky loop and he was just a s nice as ever.  When we hit the road, there were cycliists, so I got off, but the bikes didn't bother him! 

Bushwackin' was the word of the day for 6/3.  We headed out to a trail that was over grown, so I tied him and trimmed some branches with my handly dandy saddle saw, complete with scabbard. I drug branches by him.  He thought the branches were annoying but not especially frightening! 

Once the low hangers were out of the way, we made it over some rough terrain to the bottom of a small canyon.  The grass is still green there.  There are sand stone? cliffs with deep holes in their sides that are filled with old dried leaves and pine needles..  I kept thinking there should be petroglyphs, but I didn't see any.

Scrambled up  the other side, over big flat stones covered with grey-green flaking lichens and padded (or slickified, depending on your point of view) with ponderosa needles.  Tabooli just motored on up!  He isn't light in his steering (we are working on it, really we are!) so there was a bit of hauling him around the trees while I ducked under branches, but since he is not in a huge hurry, it worked all right.  Got up to an old road that I haven't been to in years.  I was looking forward to dropping down to the big cottonwood tree and the cienega--where there used to be water year round.  The cliffs pinch together there, so maybe that is why there is water...but it was fenced off.  It might be possible to get there by going down the canyon instead.  That used to be impassable, but there was livestock on this land for a few years and they broke down some of the thick veg in the canyon bottom to get to the grass. Or there is always the saw......

6/2 with Penny: We are aiming at a show this weekend, so I did arena work and I am really pleased with the progress her WP lope has made.  D. came by and we rode togther in the arena and then hit the botancial trail.  The James Penstemmon is in full swing, but the dry weather has withered the cheat grass and the fox tails so it doesn't look as lush around here as it did a few weeks ago!  The bigger buckwheat is starting to send up flower talks, a composite that I called Bahia (but I was wrong and I can't recall what it really is) is also onthe verge of blooming.  The scarlet guara is flowering too! 

Penny was loath to lead and I swear she was just trying to embarass me in public--after I bragged on what a great trail horse she was in the Pecos.  THEN, she refused to cross an erosion ditch.  We have been over this trail, what? 50 or 100 times in her life and she has never once refused or even really given it a second look.  I actually GOT OFF and led her across.  Sheesh! (and then we went back, and forth and back and I got on and rode). Duncan the Lippi had NO problems and he has been over that ditch only about 6 times.

6/3 and the ditch. Rode there alone, and kept her moving forward.  Guess what?  She went right over.

RISA PEESA 6/3. She got off until today!  I mounted up near the pasture gate and rode toward the strip of rubber stall matting that has been lying by the tie racks for 2 months.  Risa walks by or over it at least 4 days week, twice each day--over and back.  Today, she refused it, then put her foot on it, yanked it off the mat as if her foot were on fire then levitated straight up and over it.  Athletical little cuss.  But my question is "what in the tarnation is she thinking?"  Does it morph at night and schlep about like some sort of evil black shadow and then just lay there during the day waiting to suck in unsuspecting horses? Apparently Risa is the only one that suspects its true nature because everyone else just traipses right over as if it were barely there. Even May.

Used the thin bit with a German Martingale on her today.  She seems to like it.  Worked on soft turns, lookng for the release; sideways; neck, poll and hip flexibility.  The did some leg yeilds against the fence and  asked for a lope.  Got a wonderful soft lope almost the instant I asked.  That only lasted 4-5 steps but I'd say there is potential there and it is finally peeking it's head out!  Maybe the Pecos packing job did her good.  Hope she liked it because she is on the docket for 2 more pack jobs in June in the Pecos....!

My 5:30 lesson showed up and Risa didn't react too much to the trailer, but the two boys popping out of the grass at random intervals suptised her!  Of course I was talking on the phone when she gave the big sideways.  Not super pretty but not a horn grabber, so we have that.  She got over the boys, as she ought, and was able to do more loping around the lunging lesson horse, so that was very good. 

C. got her horse to set up and pick up the left lead, not by giving a cue and hoping, but by really wating for him to give her his head, pushing his hip and driving him quietly into it.  He rounded up and took it.  Very cool! meanwhile, Risa waited for the lesson to end by standing quietly tied to a tree.  Will wonders never cease!  I thnk more packing for the girl if it will keep her attitude in check!!!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Trail Work in the Pecos with the Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico

Penny in Camp

Have Saw, Will travel.
On Saturday May 29: We rolled in at 9 ish and were supposed to be ready to ride at 9.  Oops.  Fortunately, we were tacked up and just had to load the pellets (practice packing pellets) on Risa and head out.  The weather was fantastic.  It is still early spring in the Pecos due to the elevation. (8000-10,000 ft)  The grass is not tall, the aspens still have new leaves that are a tender green while the pines and firs are darker.  In the picture, you can see how they patchwork across the mountainside. Down by the creek, the willows are leafed out and there is a sharp tangy smell.  Up on the dry hill sides, the scrub oak is just beginning to bud and the scent of the pines comes and goes.  The mountain irises are blooming in the seeps and there are red and yellow shooting stars, purple violets, and a few pink geranium types along the trails. 

Cometa (well, really Jim) ponied Risa because Cometa is experienced in the mountains and can handle being bumped without falling down the side of the mountain.  Jim is really calm and doesn't worry too much if things go wrong. Wasn't so sure Penny was up for being bumped and besides Jim's extra measure of calm doesn't hurt anything!
Water Crossing. Our first big thing was crossing the Pecos River.  It was flowing pretty well and there was a rocky drop off of a few feet to get to the rushing water.  Everyone ahead of us made it across except Black Tie and his rider.  Penny looked, and decided:  NOT.  So, Jim held Risa close to Cometa's hip and dragged her on across.  She leapt in, and rammed Cometa, but he just kept on going. 

They left Risa and came back for Black Tie, who stuck close to Cometa and only pushed on him a little.  They left Black Tie and came back for me and Penny.  Cometa went and Penny took a huge flying leap and rammed Cometa pretty hard.  This sprayed water everywhere, but Cometa kept his composure and we all made it.

Risa needed a few reminders to stay behind and both she and Penny were balky over mud.  Risa frequently jumped, ramming Cometa, and Penny just tried to avoid, but didn't need assistance.  Near Cave Creek, we had to cross water again.  Black Tie followed his buddy across really well.  Risa rammed into Cometa on her leap across and Penny refused.  Thus, Cometa was pressed into ferry service again.  Penny jumped into Cometa and this time Cometa had had enough.  When Jim got Risa back, Cometa let her know that she needed to stay behind....OR ELSE.

Cave Creek is really cool because the stream goes INTO  the cliffside and no one knows where it comes out! Or so rumor has it...

Tree of the day
The tree at an angle in this photo was pedastalled on the aspen truck you can see between Jim (on the left and Cheryl (on the right).  The aspen was partly split.  First we threaded a lash cinch (from the Joker the mule's pack) through the split and we all pulled to break the split off.  Didn't work.  Added a wedge.  Didin't work.  Raised the lash cinch and we all pulled again and got the split off.  However, the tree remained firmly in place atop the aspen. 

To dislodge the pine, we tossed one lash cinch over at the upper end of the tree and another lash cinch over near the aspen.  Half of us pulled on one and half on the other (and Mad filmed--maybe she will put it on you tube and I will link that in....) Anyway, that worked great and the pine fell to the ground!  We cut it with the two-man saw (we were working in the wilderness so only hand tools are allowed) and pry-barred it off to clear the trail!  Very satisfying. There were a few more trees, but nothing dramatic.  The return trip mud and water crossing got progressively better until Cometa lead, Risa followed closely and Penny was right on her tail.  No jumping! We were back in camp at 6.

May was waiting! So, I saddled her up and along with Linda on her Thoroughbred, Star, we rode to the river.  May was wonderful.  She was happy and relaxed and she was even, in the dusk, able to lead some!  She looked at the river crossing, but we didn't push her.  Linda got on and rode her back to camp!  Awesome!

Cometa and Doc were in adjoning pens.  Cometa had Risa and Penny with him and Doc had Star and May.  Cometa is small and Doc is big, that did not matter to Cometa, or Doc and the two of them kept charging the fence and trying to pick fights.  So, I tied Cometa to the trailer. 

Risa started crying for Cometa (apparently she decided he was a worthy mentor after all his work as the lead horse).  He called back.  So, we moved May in with Penny and Risa, and eveyone settled down.  Cometa spend the night at the trailer.

Sunday started with Risa being pressed into service as a REAL pack horse.  She got loaded with the tools of the trail clearing trade.  In her usual photogenic way, she doesn't look thrilled.  Atually she loaded well, although we took a little extra care with the big two man saw because that worried her a little bit, so we let her follow it, smell it and then distracted her a little while it was loaded.  Richard supervised loading as I hadn't really loaded tools before.

Next up:  water crossings. They went so well at the end of yesterday, we just blithley put Cometa in, Risa ollowed and Penny......  took a giant flying leap and crashed into Risa.  I have the bruise to prove it.  That could have been prevented but I didn't expect her to  jump!
Copper the trick Pony
We cleared all the way to Horsethief Meadow (see last picture) but before we got there, there was a water crossing and Richard K. decided the horse he was riding, Copper, who was on loan for the day from the Kazmar's, could cross on the bridge instead of going through the water. Who knew that Copper was interested in being a trick horse???
Monday, Risa and Cometa got the day off and Penny did a short ride.  She did a super steep down hill and we came back up it too.  It was so steep that I did not ask her to walk it.  I asked her to GET GOING.  I felt like if she went slow, she wouldn't actually make it.  She is one good horse!

Great weekend!

Catching up!

5/26-May ride 29: Working mainly in the arena, she was soft in most everything. Got 14 soft relaxed jog steps (average 8, up from 4).  She picked up both leads, but did feel stiffed necked at the lope, yet not real rushy.  She had a great gate to finish.  I changed saddles and girths to stay off the tender girth area...(turned out to be a skin issue--maybe a fungus--- not a cinch sore...good thing I washed all my cinches)

5/27 Tabooli ride14 :  Holy Hail. The clouds were heavy, the wind was fresh, and I could see rain coming up the canyon.  But a lot of times it doesn't end up making it to me, so I saddled up.  Tabooli had been off due to his sore knee, so we did some sideways and some lunging at the trot with me on the ground.  He looked fine! 

We did a little arena work: sideways--felt good!  Trotting:  felt good!  Loping:  Steering not there yet, but felt good.  The wind was stronger and the rain was closer, but.....

what the heck, we headed up the rocky trail.  We got to the top.  It started raininig.  We kept going.  A huge bolt of lightening flashed out of the sky and the rain drops got bigger.  Thunder rolled.  The rain drops got bigger.  We turned around and I asked him to hurry it up.  Hail started to fall.  Go faster!  Trot!  Nevermind that we haven't ever trotted on the trail!  This is getting bad!  The hail started to increase and in the space of 2 minutes I was already soaked.  I got off, (why ride a green horse on a rocky down hill, while getting pelted by hail?) and started to run.  Tabooli came right with me and we ran right over the rocks, across the street, down the driveway and into the hay barn.  Ahhh. Safety! I was completely wet, water was pooling in the front of the barn, Tabooli was soaked, but he was not phased.  He started eating hay scraps and we hung out, waiting for the storm to ease....

5/28-May ride 30: May is heading to the Pecos with Linda and Vicki today and Jim and I will go up with our 3 horses on Saturday.  So, I rode May out at 8 am this morning. Have been just getting on and riding. My plan was to ride around the neighborhood.  She started out tense.  Surpisingly tense. maybe it was the early ride since I usually ride in her in the afternoon. Her neck was stiff and she wanted to trot rather than walk.  Up over the hill, turned, went by the dogs and out on to a field.  Then she began to relax and drop her head.  All through the field she got more and more confident, and then we hit the dirt road.  We walked up a hill and came to the.....

DOGS....  Not mean dogs, but BIG dogs.  Two Great Danes have a pig pasture (with a horse) and the fence is close to the road.  Furthermore, that side of the pasture is very steep, so the dogs just suddenly "appeared" at the fence.  Then May noticed the giant rock with a name and address on the other side and THEN the horse appeared with the Great Danes.  That was the end.  She began to back and I asked her to go backed more.  I stopped her and here is what I thought: 

"May is 3.  May is a horse who needs to have a her confidence built up and she generally gains confidence gradually with through lots of gentle reinforcement.  She doesn't usually "work through" things and end up exhaling with a big "I get it" on the other side. She holds on to her nerves a bit.  My goal is to help her gain confidence and gradually is ok", so....

I got off. Her front legs were trembling (which I couldn't feel from on top because her whole self was quite tight).  I petted her, talked to her and walked her home. As we walked, she relaxed, her neck softened and she breathed a sigh of relief--she was happy to follow me.  I was glad I decided to walk.

In the early afternoon I rode Tabooli (ride 15):  I saddled up and leaned forward to adjust his bridle and this scared the tar out of him for some unknown reason, so, we left, rapidly.  This is annoying, because one minute he feels like warm putty and the next minute he is gone.  Not that predictable...unless you consider that a horse wth 15 rides is inherently unpredictable.....

I told him he was ok (he needs that reassurance) and very shortly, he was back to his ho hum state.  At least he recovers quickly! It is funny to feel him physically deflate. That is a good thing--now we just need to stop the random ramp ups!  Just time.  Just more time.

Loping complete circuits.  He was able to lope complete circles in the arena and then we rode out a bit.  Linda and Vicki came to pick up May and as they walked her by him (30 feet) he got very loud and excited.  He got in trouble, but in this case I don't think I was hard enough on him because although he stayed with me in body, I don't really feel that he was there in mind.  Tied him to the trailer far away from May and he did that fine.  May loaded up and went to the Pecos!