O @ the Ranch: 10 Weeks In

This weekend was awesome, full of friends, family, sporting events, and finally, a whole morning to hang out with my favorite bay mare.

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While she is pretty sunbleached, everything else about her screams healthy, happy pony.  Especially since they’ve broken down the herd a bit and she now only goes out with her favorite little grey pony and her slightly smaller bay mare buddy.  Same one I rode in the family’s big trail ride.

Anyway, I have to admit that having her pay attention to me, and come over for cuddles pretty much made my week.  I mean, look how cute she was!  Excuse the grey pony photobomb–they are besties.

This mare makes me so happy!

This mare makes me so happy!

We had to get our selfie on.

We had to get our selfie on.

While the family says she’s been a great visitor, I am so, so excited to get her back.  I know that it’s going to be a lot juggling, and probably plenty of stress with an infant, and a mare coming back into work.  But I guess for the time being I’m going with the ‘jump into the deep end’ part of things.  November is going to be a wild month!

Kisses goodbye.

Kisses goodbye.

Her version of kisses goodbye.

Her version of kisses goodbye.

Horse meets bump!

Horse meets bump!

Conclusions at Almost 2 Months

More reports from the ranch that O pony continues to be an easy going, quiet riding horse for whomever needs her.  They teased me a bit saying that after two days straight of working and moving cattle my ‘super fit’ jumping horse was a hot, sweaty, sore mess for a few days.  But besides her having to adjust to a different type of workload, they continue to have zero issues with her doing anything they ask.

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She’s pretty much been a “yes mam” ride for them.

Which brings me to a few conclusions as we approach the 2 month mark of her being out there.

1. There is nothing wrong with her brain.

2. This was a good decision.

Off she goes!

3. It’s looking like the program we had her in all winter may have been what made her meltdown.  (Process of elimination/Duh moment)

3a FYI: The program included getting ridden 5-6 days a week, jumped two or so times.

4. She’s doing really well out in big spaces, with or without other horses.  We need to accommodate this new positive aspect when she comes back with more time out of doors, even if it means skipping a ‘training ride’ or two.

5. Maybe she’s not happy doing ring work as much as hunter/jumper calls for.  This is the bad news, as obviously I am a hunter/jumper rider.  Perhaps we can find a middle zone with #4 and make both of us happy when she gets back.  Cross training here we come.

6. That really lovely, quiet mare is still there.

7. I miss my horse.

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O @ The Ranch: 3 Weeks In

First, allow me to start with a picture.  Because I love it.

Hubs and horsebeast in action.

Hubs and horsebeast in action.

O has now been at the ranch for about 3 weeks.  She’s been out and about over the land on rides, seen cattle, massive equipment (it’s hay season!) and had my nephews ride their bicycles all up in her bubble.  I hit a rather awkward stage at the moment….and so basically none of my clothes fit, so I was in shorts when I was down there.  The hubs rode horsebeastie for me.

1st fun tidbit: She can now be tacked up in ‘her spot’.  Each ranch pony has a stall that they belong to.  Not only does she go to that spot and wait, but does it without prodding.  It’s kind of adorable.

2nd fun tidbit: My in-laws love her.  They say she’s lovely to be around, and just a nice ride overall.

3rd funny tidbit: She’s the very bottom of the horsey totem pole.  Only friend she has is this little shetland guy.

I love him.

I love him.

As for the ride, we scraped as much of the mud off of her as possible (someone has been rolling extensively) and then tossed a saddle on the mare.  Off we went to their arena area, which was new for her.

Off she goes!

Off she goes!

She walked.  She trotted.  She cantered.  She never put a foot wrong, even while crossing water to get to the arena.  Oh and during all of this my Farrier-in-Law was dragging the arena for us with his tractor, and my bro-in-law plus nephews were tossing haybales at O so she could jump them if the mood struck.

SHE DIDN’T LOOK AT ANYTHING.

Good mares don't care.

Good mares don’t care.

In fact the only time she even got remotely sassy was when my husband decided to play flying changes.  The first was silky smooth, the second was spicy but successful.  Both her good direction, but still.  She just loped around like it was no biggie.

Just toodling along.

Just toodling along.

Then the hubs wanted to tempt fate.  Let’s just see what she does with the bales, he says, as he trots her at the hay.  Mentally I’m thinking 2 options in play here.  She’s going to stop.  Or, she’s going to rocket launch.

Well, she went with rocket launch.  Once we laughed that off, he circled her back and popped her over it a few more times.

Learning no rocket launching is necessary for hay bales.

Learning no rocket launching is necessary for hay bales.

Loping over them at this point.

Loping over them at this point.

She stared it down once or twice, sure, but never even thought about stopping.  In fact, she gave this face (look below), and started to take him there.  He actually laughed, and asked who was really teaching who here.

Mare sees jump.

Mare sees jump.

Mare goes to jump!

Mare goes to jump!  (her ears are forward, and she was locked on)

Not exciting enough to use her knees.

Mare doesn’t bother actually jumping the jump. She got wayyy close to the bale on this one.

I was bursting with pride at all of this.  My husband has never really purposefully ridden to a jump of any kind, and my pony actually stepped up and acted like the horse who knew her job.  I feel validated in that this was what she needed, a true shake up of her daily life.  And while I miss her so much at home, I don’t know how many times we’ll have this opportunity.  I want to be sure we get everything out of it.

Hiding in the barn while her Mule overlord waits outside.

Hiding in the barn while her Mule overlord waits outside.

Just over 3 weeks down, and we are looking at roughly 8 more depending on how she’s doing.  Hopes are high!

O @ the Ranch: First Steps

Thank you all for the best wishes about O’s adventure to the country!

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a very lucky girl in the marriage department.  My husband really is the greatest guy.  Of course we argue as normal couples do, and while O sometimes often seems to be a source of those “conversations” he knows how important riding and horses are to me.  Mainly because he has a huge, giant, soft spot for his own spicy little mare.

Yup, that spicy little mare.

Yup, that spicy little mare.

He was the one to call his parents about possibly keeping O for a few months, and working with her.  He knew to not touch me, or bother with talking on the ride home after she left.  And he did the math on exact drive times it would take me if I wanted/needed to see her on any given day.

He also drove down last weekend while I was traveling for work, and took O out on her first excursion around the ranch.  His report cracked me up, and shocked me as well.

1. There is water all over the ranch, everything from teeny creeks to full blown streams.  And you have to cross them to get anywhere.  O politely refused to get her toes wet.  Hubs asked again.  And again (a bit more firmly).  And again (a bit more firmly than last time).  Finally O awkwardly crouched down and then attempted to jump across the first one which was rather large.  She landed in the middle and trudged right on out. He thought it was hysterical.

Pretty water at the ranch.

Pretty water at the ranch.

2. She does not speak gate.  Cattle ranch=a ton of gates everywhere.  She was massively offended by him leaning off of her to move them.

3. Sensory overload.  He couldn’t help but laugh as she pretty much couldn’t decide what to stare at first.  He said she walked through the ranch swinging her head back and forth and back and forth trying to take it all in.  Also, she didn’t spook a single time, but pretty much was on her tippy toes the entire ride.

4. Out in the big field, he let her have her head and some room to run if she wanted.  She got her rocking horse canter going, and carried them across the flat areas, acting quiet and polite about it all.  I was shocked, as multiple times we’ve had major issues with her trying to be naughty in big open spaces.  He did say she was drenched in about 5 gallons of sweat by this time, so maybe she just didn’t have it in her.

But here’s the big one.

5.  There were logs scattered about the trails, nothing bigger than 2’6” or so, that Hubs just allowed her to canter up to.  No exact steering, just letting her figure it out. He said a few strides out she raised her head to check it out, and proceeded to quietly hop over them; landing quietly and happily loping away.

To review: My mare, who can’t usually be trusted out in open spaces, went cross country riding with my husband, who hadn’t ridden her in two years.  She went alone with no other horses in a completely new area.  She didn’t buck or spook once.  Her biggest issue was with the gates.  She leaped over logs, a random stick in her path (like 2 inches tall–Hubs wasn’t quite ready for that one), and did it with respect and interest.  Oh and he actually called me from her back to tell me how ‘wild’ she was.  And he snapped this picture, which makes my heart all warm and fuzzy.

Getting her degree in Ranch Pony.

Getting her degree in Ranch Pony.

She’s being pushed outside her box, and she’s learning to be confident.  This is a great first step!  Hopefully more to follow.

Home on the Ranch: Winter

I absolutely love visiting my in-laws and their beautiful ranch. This year, we spent Christmas Eve and the day before there this year. Everyone helps with chores, even in the 8 degree weather we had Christmas Eve. We bulked up in about 100 layers of clothing and then headed out!

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

The driveway was a bit perilous.

The driveway was a bit perilous.

So ugly it's cute ranch dog.

So ugly it’s cute ranch dog.

First task: say good morning to the equines.

First task: say good morning to the equines.

Coy and their "little" percheron 3 year old.

Hubs and their “little” percheron 3 year old.

This is Titan, husbands mare, Shasta, is his mama! He's only 3.

This is Titan, husbands mare, Shasta, is his mama! he’s only 3.

Husband with Shirley, the brains of the team's operation.

Husband and Shirley, the brains of the team’s operation.

And Joe, Shirley's partner in crime.

And Joe, Shirley’s partner in crime.

Cuddling with Shirley.  I'm 5'10'' by the way.

Cuddling with Shirley. I’m 5’10” by the way.

Team all ready to go feed!

Team all ready to go feed!

The cattle have figured out the system.

The cattle have figured out the system.

Toting us along like it was nothing.

Toting us along like it was nothing.

One of the funniest ranch horse features: After work, you just slide their bridle off and they will walk around the yard and put themselves back in their stalls and quietly wait to be untacked/unharnessed. It’s pretty cool.

Putting themselves away in their stalls.

Putting themselves away in their stalls.

Jerry the QH

The hubs and I had a great time at his parent’s cattle ranch yesterday!  We doctored some cows that were sicky, played with his nephews and checked on the husband’s 3 year old quarter horse that is living there (named Titan).  Titan is still being a bit of a late bloomer, but is finally starting to grow into himself.  I think he’s going to be stinkin’ adorable when he’s all done growing.  I wish I had a picture, because he’s got this fabulous face marking like a perfect white line down his face.  Plus he’s pretty much a lap dog, so you’ve got to love his personality.

Anyway, the point of us going down there was to play around with Jerry, a 5 year old “painted” quarter horse gelding.  He was bred and raised by my in-laws and even though they adore him they aren’t sure that he is quite cut out for their lifestyle.  AKA he’s kind of lazy by their standards.  Once I got on him I made the following notes:

1.  He’s only about 15.1hh, but takes up leg nicely so I didn’t feel like a total giant on him.

2.  He bucks.  Not a lot or very big, and not out of anger-but if he’s excited he’s gonna throw one in there to see if you are paying attention.  It’s kind of cute; as sad as that is!

3. He’s naturally round and quite lovely at the walk and trot.

4. I could sit that canter forever-so smooth.

5. I think he has great potential for whatever job he ends up doing, he’s incredibly athletic!  I will admit that he does seem to love to jump though!

6. All around he’s a great guy, and very solid for as much as I threw at him during our ride.

His parents thought it was great that we tested him out for a new job, but the bottom line is that we don’t have the budget to bring another horse to the city to work with right now.  So for the time being, Jerry will have to continue to be a half-ass ranch horse with a fancy trot.  I know for sure who I’m calling dibs on when we are back at the ranch though.  That boy is a cutie!

English Jerry!!

Please ignore the western bridle he’s wearing (O’s didn’t fit him).  Oh and I ALWAYS ride in a helmet.  But, I’ll admit it was a million degrees out so as we were just standing there I popped it off for pictures.  I wanted if I looked outrageous on him size wise.

Update on O’s lame status: Moving much more comfortably, and is being wrapped and soaked daily.  Tomorrow she’s getting reevaluated to see what the next step is.  Fingers crossed!