Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Ride With Poco

Recently I've been spending a lot of time getting to know Bob, the Quarter Horse I recently purchased.  Poor Poco hasn't been getting very much attention so yesterday I decided to spend some time with him, starting with a nice long grooming session and then a ride.

I've been working on turning my paddock into an outdoor riding area.  I've installed outside lighting and will soon have outdoor speakers so I can ride to music, something I really enjoy.  The space has recently been serving dual purposes - for riding and also giving Poco and Bob a break off of the late spring grass.  Now that the grass is drying out from the warm weather they can stay out in the field and I get the stock tank out of there.

Hank, following behind me as Poco and I rode.  My husband would open the gate and bring him out but Hank would sneak behind the barn, under the fence and then back in with me.

Here he is again - trying to be discrete about sneaking back inside.  And yes, at 50+, you bet I use that mounting block!

Bob, my new horse, watching from the outside.  I think he was a little jealous at all the attention Poco was getting.

Poco is the kind of horse that can sit in the pasture for months but always gives me a great ride with no issues.  He is a good boost for my confidence and riding Bob, who pushes my envelope a little bit.  It was a great ride on a nice day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuna, the Mighty Hunter

I came into the kitchen this morning to find that Tuna, our cat, had been hunting and left us a present.

The sight stopped me dead in my tracks.  Whatever IT is, she has drug it in from the garage, through the pet door and laundry room into the kitchen.  The rug appears to show a great struggle in fighting with IT.

I stood without breathing, wondering if IT was still alive.  What in the world had gotten into our garage? 

IT didn't move so ever so slowly I approached IT to have a look. 

What could IT be??!!!

Tuna had caught us a (fake) coonskin hat that lives out in our garage, accompanied with some blue baling twine (on the right). 

I laughed so hard I thought I'd fall over.  Then I praised Tuna, who was very proud of herself.

Tuna, the Mighty Hunter

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A New Horse, Part 4 - Pre-Purchase and The Decision

That's me on Bob, so happy I can hardly stand it!

Bob passed his pre-purchase with flying colors.  The Vet was impressed with Bob's soundness and quiet/agreeable personality.  Her last comment as she was leaving was, "You've found yourself a good horse.  Bob's in great shape and has the personality to match.  You have no idea how many people are looking for a horse like this."

I think I do.  I was one of them.  I've bought horses before, purchased on gut instinct and high emotions.  Most of them didn't work out because they weren't the right horse to begin with. 

I took a different approach with Poco and Bob.  I knew what I wanted to do with my new horse, kept my priorities to a manageable number, set an amount that I could/would pay, requested a second set of eyes from my Frainer (friend and trainer), Rachel and ended my search with a pre-purchase exam. 

Lastly, after missing out on some good prospects, I moved quickly when I found Bob.  As the owner noted when I went to purchase Bob and pick up his papers, she'd been inundated with calls and potential buyers were waiting in the wings in case I decided to return Bob.

Sigh!  It has been a wild 3 weeks.  Bob's Bill of Sale and Registration Papers are in my office, ready to go into a new folder called "Bob".  Tonight Poco and Bob share their loafing shed/pasture for the first of many nights. 

Life is good, very good!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A New Horse Part 3, The Last Ride Before Pre-Purchase

Yesterday Rachel, my Trainer/Friend (Frainer) and I put Bob through the remaining steps of what we wanted in my new horse. 

Due to EHV-1, we've had to be creative with our challenges for Bob.  My agreement with his owner was that he wouldn't leave my home nor be exposed to other horses and I've kept my word.  But as a result, I couldn't haul Bob off on a trail ride, nor could I haul him to join my 'sorting friends'. 

With the pre-purchase exam coming up, we decided to put Bob through some experiences that one might not find on a trail ride nor going to what I call, "walking amongst the cows". 

With minimal ground work Rachel hopped up on Bob and we proceeded down my mile long gravel drive.  May not sound like much but riders from near and far avoid riding on my road. 

As we headed out my gate we were met on the right by my neighbor's aggressive Stallion who wanted to show us how important and wild he (thinks he) is. 

On the other side of the road we were met with another neighbor's dog, thankfully inside her fence.  She's a Cur and comes across as very aggressive.  In my morning walks I've found that with a few kind words and some dog biscuits she may seem aggressive but constantly wags her tail.  Regardless, glad she's on her own side of the fence and not mine!

After we passed the Stallion on our right, Bob was next met by a herd of Mares.  They charged up to the fence line at full speed multiple times while the Cur barked on the other side of the road.  Bob had enough.  He spooked forward a few steps before Rachel brought him back to a walk (I would have done the same thing too if I was Bob). 

We proceeded down the road, leaving the Stallion/Mares behind on the right and eventually the Cur on the left.  Now on the left we were met with the challenge of another bunch of Mares and a Stallion.  But they are fenced away from the road and didn't seem to care much about our presence.  Bob ignored them and down we went to the end of the road where Rachel turned Bob around to return back from whence we'd come.

Although the Cur continued to bark, the Mares who had charged and the Stallion who had been so pompous seemed no longer interested and grazed quietly as we went by.  Bob ignored them all and seemed happy to be on a walk.

Back at the barn it was now my turn to take the ride.  Down we went again and this time is was a non-event.  I returned back to ride in the paddock, pleased with how Bob had responded.  I took an IOU to hand-walk Bob down the road with me on my daily walks in order to desensitize everybody.

That was the last ride before the pre-purchase exam.  What will the exam bring?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Shopping for a New Horse Part 2 - Test Drive!

Here's Bob, my possible new horse, with my friend and trainer (Frainer) Rachel during one of our recent "test drives".  I've asked Rachel to assist me in assessing Bob to make sure he's the right horse for me. 

Rachel has worked with me for over two years and knows my riding strengths and weaknesses which are pretty weak right now as I hadn't been riding much since I'd brought Poco home in March of the wettest spring in history. 

Bob is a Registered AQHA 15-year old Sorrell Gelding.  He's 15.1 hands with a history of working at a feed lot in his earlier years.  For the past eight years Bob has attended sorting events and been on many trail/overnight camping trips.

Our test drives always start with ground work.  Our first drive found Bob was "goosy" and "touchy".  Rachel spent most of her time on the ground desensitizing Bob and then briefly rode him.  I didn't ride the first day but observed her techniques and results.

Bob hadn't been as calm as I'd like.  We took into consideration that he was at a new place and isolated from any other horses for the first time in eight years.  I also wondered about his diet.  Bob had been getting a flake of Alfalfa and Orchard Grass at feeding time.  I decided to eliminate the Alfalfa and put him on straight Orchard Grass.

We're happy to find that Bob is now much calmer.  Here's Rachel doing some ground work to check on how sensitive he is.

Bob's sensitivity level has dropped dramatically (good).  We find he's a willing partner, trying his best to give us what we want.  He's pretty smart too.  He may not know how to do what we ask but figures it out quickly and doesn't forget the next time.

Bob has a soft mouth and neck reins on a dime.

This picture is a good example of how hard Bob tries to do the right thing.  From what we understand he's never been ridden in a snaffle yet he picked right up on it.  Hmmm, I wonder if there might be a future for schooling shows in Bob.

Bob's gaits are smooth; he responds promptly and moves off your leg nicely.  He also has good brakes.

That's one thing about being up on Bob, I can't take the pictures and Rachel is busy coaching us so neither can she.  We have to settle on whomever else is there or go without them.

So far Rachel and I have given Bob a thumbs up.  We'll keep working him on the ground and riding him for the rest of this week.  We'll be taking him down our private gravel road and riding him out in my pastures next to see how he does.  Pre-purchase is scheduled for Friday so stay tuned!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shopping for A New Horse

I've been looking for a replacement horse for Champ since the beginning of this year.  It had been almost ten years since I'd gone out shopping for a new horse and that horse hadn't been for me, it had been for our daughter.

Last summer I had decided to find a horse for my friends to ride so they could join Champ and I.  I met Poco at the barn where I used to board.  Guess you could say he had come to me; I hadn't gone out looking for him.  This has left me as green as grass on this adventure.

I've ridden Poco this last year.  He is exactly what I was looking for.  His kind spirit and gentle ways helped me mend my broken heart and get through the loss of Champ.  Yet, I still wanted to have two saddle horses to share with my family and friends.  So the search began.

As I've gotten older I find I feel stronger about what I want in a horse as well as what I don't want in a horse.  I am not up to a rodeo every time I ride.  I know I'm a Type A rider, thinking, talking and moving quickly.  I need a Type B horse that calmly takes it all in and doesn't flinch.

Then there was what I planned to do with my new horse.  There are so many things I wanted to do today and try tomorrow.  But the reality is what I want to try tomorow and what I want to do today are two different things.  So I narrowed it down.

I knew I needed a list to help me stay on track with this purchase.  Here is what I came up with:

1.  A Type B horse.  Steady, quiet and calm.  A horse I can pull out of the pasture and ride even though he's been sitting idle for a period of time (noting ground work is always part of my ride).

2.  No taller than 15.2 hands.  Champ had been 16.3 hands.  I would like a smaller horse.  Face it, at 50+ I don't get on as easy as I used to.

3.  A Gelding.  I have always preferred Geldings and I live next to a breeding farm.

4.  A horse that has had miles of trails and been exposed to cows.  I kinda cheated by combining these into one line item but that's the background I'm looking for.  I figured that if I ever wanted to do any schooling shows I could set that as one of those tomorrow goals.  But today I want to be able to join my friends when they go out on the trails or to weekend sorting events.

5.  Sound and between 12 and 18 years of age.  My new horse must pass a pre-purchase exam with flying colors.  I also want a horse that's had some age on him but also has a few years left.

I also know that I'm an emotional sucker for any horse and would throw those above items out the window at the blink of an eye, so I enlisted the help of my friend/trainer (I call her my "Frainer"), Rachel. She knows my skill level, what will work for me and what won't.  I knew she'd keep me focused and help insure I got what would work best for me.

So off we went looking for horses only to find that they were either misrepresented or sold before we could get to them.  Each time that happened I'd step back and regroup for a few weeks or even months.

I was in one of those regroup stages recently.  I'd had coffee with a friend and told her I was going to hold off on my search until the fall.  But upon arriving home there I was back up on Dreamhorse.  A new listing called my attention.  Hmmmm, this horse sounded exactly like what I was looking for.

He was local and the next day in thunder, lightning and pouring down rain, I met the owner and her horse, Bob.  The following day Rachel, my daughter (who has been interested in this event) and I were back to ride him.  We were impressed.

I asked if the owner would agree to let me try Bob out at my place.  We discussed EHV-1 and I assured her that Bob would be separated from my horses (for everybody's safety) and wouldn't leave my place. 

A few days later Bob arrived.  Here he is checking out my horses across the gate:

Will Bob be "the one"?  Stay tuned.