Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New horse owie

Lena has managed to cut the back of her left front foot somehow. It's a vertical cut by the bulb of the hoof. She was probably - sorry - horsing around in her pen when she did it and keeps opening it up the same way, but I'd like for it to heal!

It's been about a week, maybe longer, and it starts to heal, but then she opens it up again.

It doesn't look fungal or anything, so I don't think it's Scratches. It's just weird. And it's in a sensitive area, so we've actually called Dr. Leslie to see if she think she should come out.

She's not limping on it or favoring it, so hopefully it's nothing serious.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What to do with Lena

We get this question a lot, along with suggestions, comments, and advice: "Why don't you train her to do [Fill-in-the-blank]?" Or, "She'd be a perfect [Fill-in-the-blank] horse!" Really, I don't think we want to do just one thing with her, but here's a bit more thought on where we are currently at with her and her training.

Lena was bred to be a cutting horse and is very cow-y. However, she's a little tall and leggy to be a cutting horse in real life. She also loves to run barrels and poles, and just plain run. (And run, and run, and run.)

She would probably be a great endurance horse, but I'm not sure any of us our are sturdy enough to be endurance horse riders. 25-50 miles seems like a really long time to be in a saddle and I worry about it being a hard discipline for her, too. I really want to keep her around, sound, and healthy for a long, long time. Katie was actually researching endurance racing, thinking she might be the one to ride Lena in them, but we'll see how far that goes when and if Katie starts putting in the time to train Lena the way she would need to be trained.

There is also the issue of going to the shows and hanging out all day. Maybe if we were all more social, it would be a different thing, but we aren't.

For now, I think the combination of arena work and trail riding will be a good balance. The arena work is good for discipline and just general strength and flexibility work. It's also good for the rider because there is a lot more balance and rider input needed than when we're all relaxing under the big open sky on a trail. But the trail helps her get more settled and calm, more able to accept and deal with new things and reminds the riders about why we are involved in this crazy hobby, anyway.

And of course finding new and interesting opportunities for her and for us to learn from and enjoy remains a top priority in our horse experience.


Just last week I was wishing Blogger had the option to post video, and now they do!

Here is a video of Steve and Lena from last week.

Tack junkies

One of the obsessions that seems to come with owning a horse is trying tack, finding new tack, finding the right tack for what you're doing, and - of course - caring for the tack.

We are currently looking around at other saddles that are more lightweight and comfortable for long trail rides. Of course, the ones we really like soon climb up into the $1,500+ range.

One option is an Australian-style saddle, like these. We both like the simplicity of the engineering and design, as well as the lighter weight and the support of a higher back cantle. Well, we like the way that higher cantle looks and feels, but have only sat in one on a wooden stand, not on a wild and wiggly spotty horse.

Part of the joy of tack is the workmanship, the way good quality tack looks and feels. Our Crates saddle is a great all-around saddle, good for both arena work and trail. But the other week, when we unwrapped our cutting saddle, the difference in craftsmanship was like night and day. I couldn't help but run my hand over the leather of the cutting saddle, feel it warm up under my hand, and admire the hand-stamped design on the skirt.

It's like art work, only I almost have more appreciation for it than a painting that's only use is to hang on the wall - the saddle has a job that it does well, all while looking like someone poured a little piece of themselves into it when they built it.

Guess that makes me less of an art aficionado and more of a cowboy.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Back in the saddle again!

Despite the expression on Lena's face, we are all excited that Steve is back riding again.

Here is Steve riding, yay!

We rode in the arena yesterday and then went out today for a short trail ride. (Only two hours instead of our normal three.) Unfortunately, I left the camera at the barn so didn't document Steve's successful return to the trail.

Actually, it may be better that I didn't because Lena was not on her best behavior today. She was in one of her flighty moods and took off on Steve twice - once we think because his sweatshirt came loose and slid over her butt and once because he picked up his sweatshirt from where someone had nicely hung it on the sign by the parking area. I think it goes back to the blanket trauma, but it was unacceptable nonetheless. I guess we have more horse therapy in the near future.

Doc was on his best behavior, however, so that helped some. It's definitely better to have another horse there, particularly one who is generally calmer and more steady than Lena.

Steve thinks that she also just wanted to run, but of course that's still no excuse for bad behavior.

Luckily, Steve was able to stay with her and didn't re-injure himself. I think she looked a little embarrassed when I put the sweatshirt on Doc, then on me, and neither one of us got eaten, but I'm probably reading too much into her expression. Ha!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Why dogs *really* love trucks

It's not the dog-sized back-seat or the open windows, or even the low-stress-about-dirt environment. Nope. It's really the cup-holders.

This is Jake, Katie's dog. He was thirsty; we had water and nice, deep cup-holders. It was all good.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Time with Lena

Katie and I spent the afternoon with Lena yesterday, complete with goofy Lena faces.

Lena was pretty feisty, and we did lots of running and circles and lead changes. I tried to ride her as fast as Steve does, but I can't tell if I succeeded. The dust makes it look like I got close.

Lena has gotten much better at walking over things since we started trail riding with her, and she will even go over the low jump, now. Sometimes she goes over it faster than other times, and sometimes she will step calmly over it. It kind of depends on her mood and where we are in the workout.

She also goes over the poles on the ground, which is good for her back and abdominal muscles.

And, yes, Katie and I did manage to match - totally by accident, I promise. Katie is the one with the helmet, much to her dismay.

One more silly Lena face.

I was rubbing Lena's neck when Katie took these pictures and apparently it felt good. Must have hit a spot that needed some attention.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Actual horse-related injury

It's amazing how fast it can happen, actually. One minute you're riding along like normal, the next you're hoping you can stay in the saddle long enough - and well enough - to get back to the trailer.

Steve and I went out yesterday and had a great ride. We went on a steady uphill trail that really worked the horses, then stopped to have some lunch. Doc and Lena were enjoying the workout and each other, and - since it had been over two weeks for both of them - just being out.

Then we went up the trail a little more to explore, dead-ended at a fallen tree and turned around. I was up in front on Lena when I realized I didn't hear Steve and Doc behind us and I turned back.

Steve was hunched over the saddle horn and in obvious pain, though he really wasn't sure what had happened. Doc had lost his footing a little and Steve says he felt something 'pop' in his hip joint as they both caught their balance. We were at least an hour away from the trailer still, so Steve got off and walked a little, then got back in the saddle and rode pretty silently all the way back to the trailer.

It's a good thing Steve is as healthy and fit as he is, or it would have been a lot harder for him to stay in the saddle on the way back. He had to ride in the way that makes your knees sore, to brace pressure up and off the hip joint. I used to ride that way and my knees would ache for days, but I know it was the lesser of evils in this case.

Today, there is swelling and a considerable amount of pain, but he's keeping it stretched and moving. We've even been into town to get grain, cookware, and have lunch - plus taken a deposit for the van, no less.

It looks like I'm in charge of horse riding for at least a little while. How boring for poor Lena to have only one rider!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Two Truck Family

Howdy, Sports Fans.

I'm back from OSCON and Steve is back from his backpacking trip. Both were good trips, though in very different ways.

Steve decided two things on his trip: He needed a new camping vehicle and he'd rather have a horse do the heavy hauling.

Steve has had a 1991 Previa van since 1993. It has served him - and me on occasions where the Volvo failed - very well. It has traveled up the Continental Divide and hauled more lumber than any of the fancy trucks I see on a a daily basis. It holds lots and lots of camping gear, and 7 passengers if we ever really needed it to. Vanzo, as he came to be known (sorry, Grandpa, it just fit - Vanzo the Van,) is up on Craig's list, now, because Steve's long awaited small pick-up has finally made his debut.

Gus is still the towing machine - and no worries, folks, the Mustang will never leave the family - but the new pickup could come in handy in a pinch for towing, and is certainly a more nimble and powerful backpacking and camping vehicle for Steve alone, and for Steve and me. The most likely name is currently "Sam." Gus is much wider than Sam is.

And he's very fun to drive. I actually squealed tires, though I didn't spin him around the way I did Wanda the first time I drove her.

As to the horse doing the heavy work, we may actually get around to horse number two in the next year or so, which is very exciting. I do of course promise to keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Happy Horse-Owning Anniversary to Us!

Today marks two years since Lena officially came into our lives. Well, okay, technically she entered before that but today is the two-year anniversary of when she came into our care.

Week one: Here is Lena learning how to lunge. Little did she know how very little we would bother two years later.

Week two: Right after the nasty colic incident. She was still not allowed to eat and thought that was quite unreasonable on our part. The other thing I notice in this picture is that her mane has completely switched sides.

A year ago, we had been at Peter's for about 9 months and were even taking lessons off and on. We didn't have the trailer, so we were in the arena all the time, sometimes frightening other folks. Oh, well. Lena's weight was (finally) getting where it needed to be. This picture is her very sexy Mick Jagger imitation.

Fast-forward to now, two years after she climbed out of Ike and Cheri's trailer and sniffed the air of her new home - though our time at that barn was short-lived. We have:

  • bought a trailer
  • taken her to the beach
  • barrel raced
  • taken her for a cutting lesson
  • bought saddles and bits and wormers and fly sprays
  • had the dentist out

I've taken farrier science and massage classes, but avoided nutrition classes, lest I get even more obsessive. Her coat has become more roan-y, her mane and tail are sun-kissed and long, and she grew a little more just in the last year. We think she's finally stopped growing up, though, and now we have to keep her from growing out any more. We all continue to grow and learn in any case.

She's beautiful and we love her - even when she's being ornery. Happy anniversary to us!