Friday, July 29, 2011

Sorting #2 - Taking Chances

It's a joy to have a horse that, although isn't pleased with being taken off the pasture from his best buddy, loads up in the trailer and upon arrival at the destination, unloads quietly. 

It's so nice to have a horse that although curious about his surroundings, stands quietly at the trailer while he's saddled up.

It's refreshing to have a horse that requires minimal introduction or ground work at a new destination and waits quietly while you climb on.

The above is what I believe hauling Bob to various functions every week has brought me.  The repetition has bought me very little drama when we go places.

Instead of "horsepooling" with my Cowgirl Pals yesterday, I decided to haul Bob to the local sorting event by myself.  I was curious to see how Bob and I would do all alone, without other horses in our trailer and friends with us.  Would our recent bond be strong enough to take us through being on our own?  This would be a good test of its strength.

I arrived at the ranch and parked back behind from my Pals, who had "horsepooled" together.  There they were, helping each other, handing tack out, etc.  Their horses were tied next to each other at the trailers.

There were Bob and I, alone by ourselves, doing the same.  Lots of activity around us, trucks and trailers arriving, horses being unloaded, people warming their horses up.  Bob was curious and a little jumpy but heck I was the same.

To seal the deal of this day, I ran through some ground work before getting on.  It settled Bob right down.  I took my chance.  No hand walking him around the grounds to "introduce" him to all the sights and sounds.  It was time to Cowgirl Up. 

My plan?  Unless I felt my life was at risk, I would "ride Bob through it" if needed.  On this beautiful day my confidence was high as the puffy white clouds in the sky.  I was up to the task.

With my trusty red mounting block beside Bob and my friend Haley available to put the block back in my trailer, I hopped on.  I found the horse that in the last six weeks I've come to know - my friend Bob.  We walked around and then stood quietly under a huge shaded tree in a nice breeze while we waited for the sorting to begin.  Did I mention how nice it is to have a horse that stands quietly?

I'd hung my camera on my saddle and grabbed a few pictures while we waited for our next run.

As I experienced before, as soon as Bob saw the cows he became very focused on them.

My Cowgirl Pal, Barb, waiting for her next run.  It was nice to be able to drop my stirrups and chat with pals while waiting for our next run.

My taking chances on Bob's and my bond paid off in spades.  This event, located on my own turf was a lot of fun with lots of laughter and great humor.  Many of the participants are neighbors of ours and good neighbor feelings abounded. 

As Bob and I headed home I had a huge grin on my face.  I took the chance to find that our bond is as strong as I hoped it would be.  As I drove down the road, alone in my truck with Bob behind me, I'm sure one standing on the side of the road could hear me as I Yee-Hawed my heart out.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Heading Out: Sorting Number Two

Last week I was supposed to go sorting but this is happened:

Drip, drip, drip...

Splatter, splatter, splatter....

Rumble, rumble, rumble...

Flash, flash, flash...

Do not get me wrong - as I read your Posts I know that rain is badly needed across the country and many of you are in a serious drought situation.  I know you have had horribly high temperatures and that you and your animals are uncomfortable.

I feel badly because around here it's been the opposite.  We've had temps in the 50's/60's/low 70's.  Every couple of days we get a touch of 80 degrees.  Usually this time of the year, that green lawn and pasture in the picture directly above is brown.  I've never before seen it green at the end of July.   If I could I'd blow some of this cool, wet weather your way.

This storm hit about an hour before I was to leave for sorting.  And it just wouldn't let up.  Bob was out in the pasture, soaking wet.  As I scanned the horizon for clearing, all I could see were more dark clouds.  So I threw on my sweat pants, which are usually stored away this time of the year and I cancelled.

What a difference a week makes!

My trailer is loaded.  Fly spray, a bucket so Bob can have water, grooming box, extra reins, a spare halter/lead rope and my helmet, which I feel kinda silly wearing when I go sorting.   Last time I went sorting there were two of us wearing helmets.  Me and a ten year old.  Thankfully, nobody made fun of me.

My "rig".  I'm getting more comfortable at driving the dually and 3-horse slant (although I did just run over a curb when I went to get gas). 

Although I'm ok driving my "rig" up here in the country where traffic is light and the roads are wide, there is no way I'm taking this down into the "urban area".  That isn't much of a problem as I make it a point to avoid leaving my higher elevation plateau at all costs.  I tell people I get nose bleeds if I drop below 800 feet for very long.  You should see their faces when I tell them that -  (they believe me)!

Bob and Poco.  I'll let Bob think he has the day off until I'm ready to load up.  I'll be joining my Cowgirl Pals for a night of sorting at a local ranch just down the road from me.  A quick and easy drive (and no curbs)!

Ladies Night #3: Saddle Sore

Ladies Night #3:  I am finding that I enjoy loading up the trailer with my gear and driving the truck as I head out for the day on Ladies Nights.  The trailer has a nice size tack room which I keep clean and organized and the truck has every bell and whistle on it, purchased specifically for hauling our horses.  It's a real joy to take Bob on an excursion.

On this day I headed out a little after noon with Bob so we'd have plenty of time to unload, locate the stall I'd reserved for him for the day and get into our frame of mind via ground work before our lesson. 

The indoor arena was empty and I could tell by the footing that nobody else had been in it prior to Bob and I.  There was a lot of activity in the barn that hosts the arena.  Horses were coming and going into the stalls which make up the outer walls of the arena.  One horse was having a fit that it had been left behind, screaming and kicking inside the stall. 

Bob's tense body and bulging eyes told me he was concerned and nervous about all of this activity and noise.  Good!  I wanted him exposed to all of this.  He needs to learn to ignore it.

We had ample time for ground work before Rachel, my friend and trainer (frainer) arrived with two saddled horses in tow.  She apologized, saying she was behind in her schedule and asked if it would be ok if she rode while she gave us our lesson. 

Excellent!  I have wanted her to ride with me so I can observe some of the guidance she gives me.  Sometimes I just don't get it when she tries to explain a concept to me from the ground.  I have thought that watching her on horseback demonstrate her point would be helpful and indeed it was. 

Another positive - our hourly lesson lasted over two hours since she was working horses.  Bob and I got in a lot of saddle time.

After I'd put Bob into his day stall to munch on some hay and take a break, I did the same.  A few hours later Bob and I were back in the arena for Ladies Night #3.

Tonight there were ten of us on horseback.  Rachel had used poles to design three lanes around the arena.  This night was about feeling how your horse moved.  We set out in the lanes at a walk and were instructed to close our eyes and try to feel our horses' back legs.  As we passed Rachel we were instructed to tell her the precision of the back legs (i.e., right/left or left/right).  We then tried the same thing at a trot and then for those brave enough, the lope. 

I haven't accomplished the lope with Bob yet although Rachel has.  My husband refers to the accomplishment as "getting your wings" and right now I'm missing mine.

It appears that Bob hasn't been loped much in his former life.  He takes off like a bullet into a full gallop, frequently on the wrong lead.  During my lessons Rachel rides Bob for a period of time to work on slowing him down and finding the right lead.  Initially watching them at the gallop/lope drained my confidence (me ride that??? No way!)  But they are making headway and I no longer gulp as I observe.  My wings will come.

The rest of Ladies Night #3 was spent riding straight lines and doing rollbacks - something Bob and I do well.  This night was two hours of high concentration.

By the end of the second hour of Ladies Night #3, which made for four hours of riding for Bob and I in the last six hours, I was feeling every bit of my 50+ years in every part of my body - saddle sore.  I could tell that Bob was also worn out.  I'm sure Bob was as happy to get me off of him as I was to get off of him. 

We were both relieved to be heading back to our trailer and loading up to go home.  The days are already getting shorter.  We used to drive home to brilliant sunsets but now drive home in the dark.  It's always a welcoming sight to see the barn lights on and my husband coming out the door to help me unload as Bob and I pull up.

Later today I head out with my Cowgirl Pals to go sorting.  I'm grateful to have a horse like Bob who has opened many doors for me.  As we pass through those doors I expect that being saddle sore will no longer be an issue as Bob and I get in better shape.  In the meantime the lessons and Ladies Nights, along with sorting events are paying off in spades for Bob and I.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ladies Night #2: Time

I told myself this day would be spent taking plenty of time when I was with Bob.  I would manage and take my time with every part of this day.  No hurrying on the day of Ladies Night #2.

I took time loading my tack and Bob before heading down the road, on our way to the barn where I used to board. 

Arriving at the barn, I took time to seek out my friend/trainer (Frainer) Rachel to get my stall number, reserved for this day.  Bob will spend some time in the stall between my lesson and Ladies Night #2.

Back at the trailer I took time unloading Bob before I tied him to the trailer and gave him a good grooming before saddling up.

I led Bob to the indoor arena and taking time, walked around the arena, stopping at the corners and entry gates so Bob could smell and have a good look around.

Moving to ground work, I took time focusing on backing, yielding and tossing the long lead rope all around, under and over Bob.

Soon my wide eyed Sorrel Quarter Horse had softened his eyes and was licking and chewing.  I soon started hearing the big blubbering sighs that come from Bob when he's relaxed and happy.  I love this about him.

Our lesson went great; I was pleased with how Bob responded.  I will take lessons prior to the next three Ladies Nights to help Bob and I move forward on becoming the team I want us to be.

Finishing up I took time to lead Bob to the huge outdoor arena where Ladies Night #2 would be hosted later in the day. 

The arena was full of all kinds of jumps.  I don't think Bob had ever been around jumps before.  I spent time walking him around, allowing him to become familiar with their various shapes and sizes.  It was very quiet and peaceful, just Bob and I, out there together, taking our time.

With a few hours to spare before Ladies Night #2, I took Bob back to the trailer to untack him before putting him into the cool stall so we could both take a break.

I was up on Bob in the outdoor arena a good 15 minutes before Ladies Night started, using time as my friend vs my foe. 

Rachel had set up stations in the arena for us to work on.  Circles, side passes, leg yields, walking/trotting over poles, turns on the haunch, you name it.  Whatever station Bob and I attempted, he tried his best.  I could periodically hear those blubbering sighs coming out of him.  They put a grin on my face, making me giggle and reach down to rub his neck.

Over 2 1/2 hours later, as the sun was beginning to set over the Olympic Mountain Range on our left, glowing gold and pink against the Cascade Mountain Range and Mount Rainier on our right, we ended Ladies Night #2.

It had been a long day for Bob and I as we walked back to the trailer to untack and load up.  I took the time to give him another good grooming before loading him up. 

We arrived back home as the horizon was turning dark red.  What a great day spent with Bob, on an equally gorgeous day. 

I'm glad I took the time to enjoy it all.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ladies Night 2011. #1: The Beginning

Note:  I've retitled this Post.  It was originally Posted as "Monday Nights", but I've changed the name to be Ladies Night #1.  It depicts the first Ladies Night for Bob and I.  When Ladies Nights are over for 2011, (which is now soon) it will be interesting go through these Posts to see how they influenced Bob and I.

Ladies Night 2011 - #1:  This is our third year together.  Starting with last Monday, we'll meet for the next (now 7) weeks, doing all sorts of cool and different things with our horses.  Plans are for some cattle rides, trail rides, brush ups on our Eq, stuff like that.

When I returned from sorting last week I was so thrilled with Bob, my new horse.  I had such a great time sorting with him.  He was everything I'd hoped to have in my new horse and I couldn't wait to go sorting with him again.

But for some reason, hauling Bob up to Ladies Night last Monday evening left me with that familiar feeling of uncertainty along with a dash of dread.  I kept asking myself how could I have ridden Bob in an active setting of cows and many riders on Saturday and have this feeling of concern.

I told myself I was over reacting.  Heck, I'm hauling him five miles to a contained environment at the barn I used to board at.  We are in the indoor arena, just the ten of us, in a quiet and controlled world.  No buzzers, cows bawling, horses near us freaking out, riders making interesting noises as they sort cows. Why was I so worried?

Couldn't answer my own questions.

But my concerns were founded.

Didn't go so well.

I got there early to walk Bob around but the poor guy was a wreck.  The back of the horses stalls line the arena walls.  The aisle ways are cement.  Poor Bob could hear the horses on the other side of the walls as they pushed around their hay or as a horse was led down the aisle.  With eyes so large I thought they'd pop out of his head, Bob tried but couldn't contain his fears.

I guess Bob hadn't been exposed to this type of environment before.  (Duh.)

Gotta get through this so I've decided the best way is for Bob and I to meet it head on.  I'm hauling Bob up early in the day and taking a lesson on him tomorrow.  I've reserved a stall for the day so he can "chill" a little plus I plan to put some miles on my boots walking him around in-between that, all prior to tomorrow's Ladies Night.  Figure if I do this for the next 7 weeks that we'll come out the other side and be better for it.

In the meantime, I'm heading out sorting again this Thursday with my Cowgirl Pals.  And that...I cannot wait for.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cowgirl Pals On The Road

After my recent "walk amongst the cows", this past Saturday I got the opportunity to go to a "real" sorting event with my Cowgirl Pals.  We are "horse pooling" to the Flying M in Olympia, WA.

Bob, standing quietly while we wait for our ride.  We'll meet the rest of the gang at the Flying M.

Upon arrival we registered and got saddled up.  Rachel, my friend/trainer (frainer) in the background on Bob, Kyle on her horse Elbe.  Since I'd only been to one "real" sorting in my past, Rachel took Bob out for his first run while I observed how it all worked.  Unfortunately, I neglected to adjust the camera speed for these pictures so they're a little blurred.

Bob was intent on the cows, inside and also outside the pen when we waited for our next turn.  As we sat outside I found he was still "on" them (if that's the right term).  I could feel how tense he was.  I'd reach down and pat his neck and tell him that it was ok.  I liked that he immediately relaxed upon my touch; letting out a big horse sigh (I love those sighs).

I was tentative in asking Bob to respond on my first two rounds. We were clumsy together.  Bob knew what to do but I was getting in the way.  We weren't working as a team.  I'm grateful for the guy outside the pen who spoke up a few times to give me helpful suggestions.

Bob and I soon found our stride.  It just got better and better.

Bob and I afterwards, both happy with our experience. 

A group shot.

Heading home after a great day, arriving late that night.  It was comforting to see all the barn lights on and my husband who had stayed up, coming out to help unload Bob and all my gear.  Thank you Cowgirl Pals!  I had a great time.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ladies of the Round Table

On a warm summer's evening we gathered

Over a dozen of us
Called together by our mutual friend/trainer (Frainer)

On the front porch
In the kitchen

No matter where one went
The subject was the same


At dusk we met at the round table
For an incredible meal

Taking turns
Sharing stories

Our lives with Horses

Pasts and Present
Joys and Heartaches
Our goals

Raising our arms in high fives
Laughing until we could laugh no longer
Lowering our heads in sadness

Under candlelight
An incredible bond was created

Sisters in Arms
About to commence on an 8-week adventure

Ladies of the Round Table

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Day With My CowGirl Pals

I've wanted to ride a horse around cows since I was a kid watching cowboys on black and white TV.  My purchase of Bob has given me that opportunity.  Yesterday my CowGirl Pals invited me to join them for some low-key riding with a few cows.

This was the first time I'd hauled Bob.  He was a dream loading and unloading.  He stood quietly while I saddled him up.

My CowGirl Pals Lisa in the white and Rachel my friend and trainer (frainer) grooming while they visit with a fellow rider.

Rachel took Bob around first for a few spins to see how he'd do.

Bob took to the cows like a duck to water.

My CowGirl Pals, Georgia and Kyle, working as a team.

My turn!!

Wheeeeee!  This is fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rachel and I working as a team.

Ken and Kyle flanking me.

Bob's is looking at the cows and saying, "Don't you DARE think you can get away from us!"

Kyle and I working as a team. 

Bob and I on our own.  I was thrilled with Bob's performance and had such a great time.  Thanks CowGirl Pals for inviting me.  Bob and I look forward to joining you again soon!  :)