Sunday, March 29, 2009


Brego's got an owie. :(  Perhaps I'll take a picture and post it later. When Tim looked out the window this morning, he hollered, "Oh, Laurie, your horse is in the neighbor's pasture..."  Somehow he was on the wrong side of the fence!  Tim got out quickly to get him, looked him over, and by that time I was dressed and looking out the window.  Tim saw me and gave me the "phone" sign.  I got out there with the phone, but as he was walking towards the neighbor's gate, he asked me to call the vet.  Yikes!  I didn't know what was wrong, but Brego didn't seem to be limping badly.  I had to wait until Tim got back with him.

Brego has some cuts on his leg, a large tear in the skin near the stifle, and it was swollen.  The vet came out and cleaned it up, felt of it, and he doesn't think there's anything wrong but the wound (no muscular or bone problems).  He gave us some meds and instructions to put hot packs on it twice a day and some goopy ointment to keep the swelling down.  He should be fine.

Tim looked along the fence to see if he could find how Brego got through.  There is a spot with some reddish fur on the top wire, and fresh blood on the other side.  Brego must have somehow gotten tangled up in it and went either through or over it.  He must have struggled a bit to get out.  Ya gotta wonder what these silly horses are doing in the middle of the night!  I think mine must be accident-prone.

We've got him in a small pen to keep him from being chased around by the other horses, but he does need some exercise, so today I took him out for a couple of walks and so did Tim.  Each time he was a bit stiff at first, but loosened up as we walked.  We'll keep doing that for a few days until he's well on the way to recovery.  Hopefully he'll be fine soon!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pawnee Buttes Photos

I got some of Ed's photos of our ride to Pawnee Buttes! I've noticed that in Firefox, the photos are a bit skewed, and I can't figure out how to fix them. Try IE or Google Chrome.

The End!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pawnee Buttes

Yesterday we went out to ride at the Pawnee Buttes, about an hour & a half east of us in the middle of nowhere. Our friends Carolyn & Ed went with us, and Ed was able to ride Cody, so it was nice to be able to take all three of our horses.

It was 70ish, warm, sunny, and not very windy at all. The area is known for being very windy, and very hot (summer) or very cold (winter), so this was PERFECT. It was very dry out there in the desert. Interesting place, with these buttes that pop up out of the flat plain.

Brego did great. I was a little nervous at times, as we had to go down into and up the other side of many little canyons, or "arroyos". I wish I had taken some photos of them, but we were a little busy hanging onto our horses. (I found some photos online which you can see HERE or THERE.) Going up and down these things, Tim was careful to lead us to a safe place, then slowly take Strider a few steps and stop, so the rest of our horses wouldn't be tempted to bolt through, either down or up these arroyos. At one point we rode right through these passages with walls on both sides of us, like we were in a maze. I was just worried we would get to a spot where there was no way out. A couple of times Tim went up a dead end, and we had to back the horses up a bit. Good thing I've practiced backing up between tight spaces! Brego did great. I honestly got a little tired of coming up to another arroyo after another, and began to feel, "Oh, no, not another one!", wishing it would be over. I think Carolyn agreed, but the guys were having a great time. We survived, and had a great day.

At one time Tim and I were off the horses, leading them to stretch our legs, when there was a particularly steep spot. I was trying to traverse this little ridge with very flaky rock that crumbled easily, leading Brego along. He didn't seem to like it any more than I did. I was slipping, he began to slip, and I had to let go. Brego slid down the bank on his feet backwards, but he was not freaked out and at the bottom he just stood there until Tim got down to get him before he got tangled in his reins.

I know the challenge is good for me, and I learned a lot, particularly that Brego is a reliable, confident horse. He did wonderfully with the challenges, even tight squeezy spots and steep inclines on crumbly rock.

On the way home we planned to stop in a little town, Ault, to eat at the "Bison Breath Saloon". When we got there it was closed, which was fine: it looked kind of dumpy. We came back to Wellington and ate at Beauregard's, which was delicious.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Women's Emotional Responses

We didn't have a chance to ride today, but I worked with Brego for a few minutes from the ground. It still amazes me how quickly horses learn and want to do as the leader asks.  The past couple of days we've worked on asking him to lower his head by sliding my hand up to his poll from his withers, then pressing my hand and squeezing at the top of his poll. Today I did this again, and without much pressure at all he lowered his head everytime I asked.  After working from his right side I went to his left, and boy, as soon as I slid my hand up to his poll from his withers, he dove his head to the ground and kept it there until I asked him to raise it again.  He's so willing to learn, and gets such satisfaction when he "gets it".  

Tim asked me this morning if I could explain to him more about what happened yesterday (see 3/17) on the way home, what I was feeling, and what he might have said differently at the time to help me. When Brego took off faster, he wasn't going all that fast--he wasn't even cantering, just gaiting really fast while looking sideways, and in my opinion out of control. However, it made me tense and all I wanted to do was slow him down or stop, but he wasn't responding. That was what made me nervous. Apparently I just wasn't pulling hard enough on the rein (one rein) to get him to slow or stop. He has a habit of continuing to go forward with his head sideways if I don't get his head in tight enough, and I have difficulty tugging him in because I'm afraid he'll twist around too much or get his feet in a hole or a bush or something.

So I was dealing with fear and lack of experience.  I wish I could reproduce these kinds of things in our pasture where it's safe, so that when I'm out I react more quickly with the right actions! But, experience and practice are the ticket...  So, what could we have done better at the time? I just wanted to stop or slow down, and eventually we did. As a woman (and still a novice), I was dealing with my emotions. I needed to calm myself down probably more than calm Brego. As I thought it through, I realized it really wasn't that big of a deal, Brego wasn't going all that fast and possibly just trying to catch up to Tim & Strider, and we weren't really out of control. Perhaps if I think more reasonably (and more quickly), I won't get so nervous and will respond more appropriately to the situation.

Bottom line is, "get over it and move on".  It's just that with me (women, in general), getting over it and moving on isn't so quick & easy.  I think that thinking these things through rationally should help for faster responses in the future, as well as working with him more and more here at home. If I could get him to act nutty here in the pasture and then stop him safely, that would be great!

As we talked about it, Tim realized that men aren't so easily disturbed about these kinds of things and tend to move more into "fix it" mode, while women react more with emotions and just want to stop and go home. Understanding this may help us both next time, and may help Tim in his training experiences with women. I suppose this conversation was prompted by listening to Karen Scholl last weekend explaining how differently men and women deal with these kinds of issues. I'm sure it's helpful to some degree to think about and talk about our reactions, but I don't want to over-analyze to the point of being a broken record or boring.  I want to learn and grow, get over it and move on!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beautiful day!  We worked with Brego some more in the pasture (more of that important ground work) then went for a short ride out from the house.  On the ride we practiced gaiting a bit, and turning, particularly to the left, which Brego isn't as good at.  There are so many things to think about all the time, to keep Brego in his prime and be a good leader for him.  On the way back, Brego began to take off on me a couple of times, so I had to slow him down and "retreat" a bit on the way home.  I don't know if he was just anxious to get back to the barn (be turned out to roll, see his buddies and then get some dinner) or if he was nervous about something in the wind. Anyway, we slowed down (even though it was getting late and we were hungry) and took some detours to get Brego's mind off going home to the barn.  When we got back, he got to stand still while tied to the trailer for awhile, to get him out of the habit of always getting his rewards the mintue he gets home.

Tim also is working with me on learning and teaching Brego to move towards me when I want to mount him from the mounting block or step.  He thought of some new, good techniques that seem to be working!  I'm also changing the way I hold the rope in my hands, more the way Karen Scholl was demonstrating, which seem to help.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's supposed to be nice weather all week, so we're looking forward to working with "the kids" every day, a break from the garden projects.

Today we worked with Brego.  I began by going over some of the basics (ala Karen Scholl), and Brego was great at standing still while I rubbed him all over with the stick and waved it around & whacked the ground with it at his side, desensitizing him.  Then Tim joined me, reviewing some of the things I've done before and adding a few tasks I haven't done yet with Brego.  We worked on getting him to lower his head and keep it down, then worked on "riding from the side", by giving him rhythmic pressure on his back with the stick then holding it there while he walked forward with me at his side, behind his head, similar to how I would be if on top.  It was as much a learning curve for me as for Brego, but after a few tries we got it down pretty well.  We'll work some more on that tomorrow.

Then we saddled up and went to the round pen.  There. I practiced riding him with one rein, just the lead rope on the halter.  It took a little getting used to, There was less to hold on to and I had to learn to flip the rope over his head to the other side.  Walking was fairly easy, but then we sped it up and there was a lot to do in less time!  After that, Tim got the longer lead rope and put it on him to give me more practice cantering.  It's hard to get him into a canter and keep him there, and he seems a bit uncoordinated and choppy.  We'll have to keep working on that!

We had a good & positive day, and will be able to build on it and work with him all week.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

This weekend (March 14-15) we went to the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver.  We had a nice time being in the horse world, a switch from garden mode.  We went to a few of the clinics put on by a few horse trainers, some were better than others.  We also went to a class about windmills and are thinking about the possibility of someday using our wind resource to provide power.  We certainly have the wind for it.

I really enjoyed the clinics with Karen Scholl "Horsemanship for Women", and attended all four of them.  Her training techniques and philosophy are basically identical to what Tim has already taught me, but I enjoyed her approach and I found some of her explanations, from a woman's point of view, to be helpful.  Her techniques were broken down a little more simply than on the Parelli DVD's I've seen, and I liked her explanation of giving the horse a "mama's bite" rather than "give him a whack".  She also explained a lot about how biting the horse is like one horse to the other, and it doesn't mean the horse won't like me--he may like and respect me more!

Like Tim, it was interesting to see how quickly she could gain trust from an unknown horse.  We ended up purchasing her DVD's, and hope there will be more depth in them, building on the basics provided over the weekend.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sweet Spot

I discovered Brego's "sweet spot" where he loves to be scratched.  Tim has told me before that most horses have a sweet spot where they love to be massaged, and recently I was reading an article about this on a website.  So, the other day when I was out with Brego, I started scratching him under his jaw.  His lips puckered kind of funny and he stretched out his neck like he was saying, "Ahhhhh, more, more, more!"  It was pretty funny, and I was laughing.  I tried it again yesterday, and got the same response from him, so that must be it!