Sunday, October 19, 2008

Herd Dynamics or "Does not play well with others?"......LOL!

As is the usual around here, the change of seasons calls for a change in horse management. With the nights getting longer and colder, more feed is set out and soon all the horses will be coming in at night.

The first real change is putting Casper into the paddock with the Geldings. Show season is over, so he can have the time to be a real horse and have horsey relations. I don't know of many stallions that get to do this these days, but I like giving him time to be a horse!

Moving from solitary paddock to big shared paddock is easy. He moves 20 feet, no big deal. But having two buddies to pal/bicker with is a real big deal. Now mind you, Casper is 14.3 hh and about 1000 lbs. The two geldings are 15.2 and 15.3, weighing around 1200 each. They are bigger, but not badder! The first greeting he got was Baybe giving him a nibble and licking (that horse loves to slobber/lick) on his shoulder and his neck, you know, the mutual I groom you, you groom me bit. While Jack on the other hand was not happy about the little white prince coming in to HIS paddock! He turn and planted both hind hooves squarely into Casper's side, knocking him sideways and launching Casper into his "payback" vendetta!

Yep, this is where the little guy ends up beating the crap out of the bigger bully! Since Casper gets regular workouts and has been ridden all summer and spring, he is in very good condition, while Jack works up a sweat moving from one hay feeder to the other. Since Jack is the husband horse, he only has to work when the hubby has a moment to actually pay for some attention!

It was quite a ruckus and it always is every fall.........Casper comes in all calm and cool, ready to make friends and Jack gets all hoity-toity about it! So it was off to the races, Jack running for his life with Casper firmly attached to his neck with teeth! To say I was thrilled, was an understatement! Only a month before, Jack had tried to take my arm off in his zeal to get away from a 20 lb puppy.........yep, I was enjoying the moment of paybacks! Listening to Jack squeal "uncle" to the little stallion was quite rewarding for me. I have no guilt, he is quite haughty and needs taken down a notch or two. He started it, so he could just "deal with it"!!

Yes, Casper ran him for 20 minutes, all the while taking a chunk of hair from just about every part of Jacks ass! Jack was sweating and heaving pretty darn good and Casper was still going to show Jack he would take no crap from him. It is the way of herds.......SOMEONE has to be in charge and it was not going to be the huge, snotty gelding.

After some body slams and hair removal, Casper knew he had made his point. He wasn't out to kill Jack, that was obvious, but he wanted respect and he got it.

Hubby came home that evening, came in the house and had one thing to say......"it must be fall, Jack is missing hair" and back out to tend cattle he went. It is well known here that Jack is thick headed, he can be quite sweet and well behaved, but it is not his nature in the herd to play nice.

Without a head mare, a herd of boys have to fend for themselves or are solitary dinners for a pack of wolves. So, it is best to "go along with the program"!!

Now you ask, why put the horses through this every fall? In the interest of their survival and with snow drifts over 10 feet last year, it is better to heat one water trough, plow snow in one big paddock and them to have companionship. They are horses and they need to have Herd Dynamics in their life, or else they are just pets and lose their instincts. We like horses that can think for themselves. They also tend to be very in-tune to us and we feel having herd time allows them this trait. They also get their quiet alone time every night in their own peaceful stall and they don't have to share their dinner. So it balances out for them and us!

The mares? Well, let's just say they don't go through this, they have to live with Alpha Josey all year. They are just easy going and really laid back. They all know Josey is in charge, so they don't press the issue.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ahhhhhh...........Trail Riding with Friends

This summer has been full of ups and downs........but through all of the triumphs and pitfalls, there was one saving grace, Trail Riding. Why is Trail Riding so therapeutic? Who knows, maybe it is the scenery, maybe it is the camaraderie, maybe it is the challenge or it could just be the serenity. Whatever it is that makes Trail Riding so anticipated each and every week, I am grateful to it. Trail Riding has taken my mind off of worrisome thoughts, given my horses a break from training, allows us to catch up with each other, provides us with moments of freedom to really ride and keeps the horses learning.

I'm not talking about slow, one after another - nose to tail - humdrum, this is much more adventurous than that. We try to go to new a new place each week, sometimes we find a place that is just plain perfect and we go back. Each new ride brings us to curious Deer trails with a "let's go this way!", or a beautiful meadow of flowers that you just want to lay down in, or a steep hill climb that might get you to the top quicker.

As summer comes to a close, we are dreading the long wait for Spring - as mountains are slow to give up their snow covered paths. We will ride the mountains until our ponies can plow through the snow no more and then we will wait..........and wait...........and ride in circles close to home and wait some more. Spring will get here, it always does and it is always wonderful and magical to take on that first mountain that is still hiding snow drifts for us to play in.

Trail Riding is also full of Therapy............good honest mental therapy. Sometimes we talk non-stop, sometimes we are quiet and just ride. Sometimes, we solve the worlds problems, truly! And sometimes we realize we really are just another cog in the wheel. However our moods are when we leave the trailer, we are always elated and tired when we return, satisfied with life as it is.

next blog.............Learning the Harness Thing

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bringing up Baybe

I already confided that Baybe was a slight disappointment when he was born, but only because of his lack of coloring. In every other way he has turned out exactly as planned!

The first time I took Baybe out to be shown was at a Sport Horse farm where they were holding inspections. I entered him in the yearling colt class. After parking the trailer, I went to sign in and dear hubby decided he was going to unload the boy. Well, that was a disaster! He back him out of the trailer and Baybe took one look around him, got excited about all the horses around him and decided to take off running! Now my hubby is not a small or weak person, one moment of hesitation was all that yearling needed and he bolted for the prettiest run you ever saw! As he ran away from the parking area, past the outdoor arena and around the back side of it, you could see his TB side come through! He was beautiful! He poured on the speed on the back side of the arena and rounded the corner, heading towards the parking area with every one's horses tied to their trailers in various states of tack! With his lead rope flopping, he very smartly pranced through the rigs until he found one with two pretty mares tied to it. We arrived to grab his lead and redirected his energy back to our own trailer, while the mares squealed and he whinnied in response! Yep, that was Baybe's first public appearance. Scared the beegeesis out of everyone, gave them all a good eyeful of stunning movement and ground covering speed!

Surprisingly, he won his class that day! He was quite pumped up about being out in public!!

And his show appearances have all been quite jazzy! He is a show off! When he competes, he just seems to know when to turn on "cute"! When he jumps, he is very rounded and his expression is that of "give me more"!

He was a late bloomer.......physically and mentally, he was a gangly dork at 3 years old. He just needed time, time to get his head together, time for his body to fill out and to find his feet. He did all that and more.

As I stood with him for the shoer yesterday, I decided a raincoat is probably the best thing to wear while handling Baybe. He has always been fascinated with licking and sucking on clothing. It is a very strange fascination, but he never fails to latch onto your shirt sleeve or pant leg. When you are done, you feel as though you have walked through the sprinkler, your clothing is damp everywhere. He is truly a character!

Being that Baybe has so much personality, he can be imposing to anyone new here on the farm. His regular rider these days is 14 years old and very adept at dealing with Baybe's strange ways! He will not want to go into an arena alone for his Dressage or Jump class, it is just the gate people and the imposing gates, once he is through the gate he is all business and very eager. When outside of the arena, he just stands around all lazy like, but once inside and cued to perform, his switch turns on and you can't help but stare at him......he is that cute!

Training him to ride was interesting. Our first real saddled ride was in mid autumn, the ground was wet again and he had a hard time getting the "balance" thing of having a rider and keeping his feet under him at the same time. But he was willing and we persevered! It was quite startling for both him and I when he lost his footing on slick ground and went down on his side, taking me with him! I thought for sure he would bolt and trample me, but no, he laid there with me and turned his head around looking at me like "how in the H&#^ did that happen?!!". I pulled my leg out, he rolled to a sitting position, I got up and checked him over and then coaxed him up. No injury, just a stunned look and a big heavy sigh. I trotted him by hand around the arena and saw he was just fine, so I remounted and we went back to work. What a good boy!! What a relief!

He spent the winter early in his fourth year training for the Inland Empire Quarter Horse Show. I was confident he would be fine, but the person I had riding him was not so fine. I did not know this person had no real show ring experience. The atmosphere of a show ring with 20 horses fresh from winter can be overwhelming. So, Baybe got two rides and we left for the day. But I decided to go ahead and finish showing him myself that year. I put him in a B show, he took a fourth in EP and a fifth in WP! These were good sized classes too, so I was overjoyed with Baybe!

He has taken to new things with such a good attitude that I am just more than happy to saddle him up for myself or anyone else! I feel confident that Baybe is truly ready now for his future owner. He has miles and miles of trail riding, dressage exposure, H/J exposure and rail class experience.

Parting with him is the problem...........having raised him from birth and bringing him this far with the express purpose of putting a kid safe horse on the, it just is irking me how many people will call and have no clue as to what to type of riding experience they really have! So we will just keep up with the training and showing, until that one special person comes along for Baybe!

Photo shown of two nice Appaloosas, on the left is Smart Little Sign, owned and ridden by Talea Morgan and on the right is Unwapped Baybe being ridden by Kaitlyn Stoop. Photo taken on 49 Degrees North northeast slope August 2008