Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Good morning!

So my barn owner calls me at 8am- when I'm sleeping in- to ask when he's coming back and to tell me about a new TN Walker she got.

Only one problem: I use my phone as an alarm clock and nobody calls me that early.

So I sleepily grab my noisemaking phone, mash buttons to shut it up (snooze), and shove it under my pillow (which is convenient for finding it when it goes off again, especially if the room's cold). I hear muffled through my pillow,
" Robyn?"
"It's Marla!"

I think I "hid" under the blankets and hung up on her a couple times before muttering some "yeah" and "uh-huhs" before rubbing my eyes and getting dressed!

Crazy barn folk!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thanks, Doopy!

So, after all that riding all weekend and horsie stuff, even I (!) needed a break. I hadn't harassed him all week, and then this weekend has been beautiful, high 60s and I just still didn't feel like riding. I figured I'd get some much needed (MUCH) needed housework done, and harass the Doop during the week. He doesn't know he now has only one week left before move back to boarding barn.

Saturday morning, just as I'm deciding to forgo the equine adventures this weekend, I get a call. From the property owner. Crap. Is he sick? Is he missing?

Nope. He busted out. The other two horses went on a trail ride and my special guy didn't want to be alone. Their barn has a run-in (like a jumbo stall) and so he was locked in there and stamping around in a tizzy while they went out.

I go there, and surprise my silly guy. He's pretty calm. I take him out to my car and begin grooming. He presents me with the following:

Who DOESN'T love burrs? So now he has a fro-lock and the mane looks okay. I added liberal show-sheen to prevent futher snags, but good luck to me. I sat on him for a bit and his friends came back. I then asked where the break in the fence was so I could go fix it.

There was no break. He was following them to the end of the pasture, and they hadn't turned the electricity back on. He touched it with his nose a couple times, and convinced it was off in the area where there's only one wire, ducked his head and snuck under it!

I gotta admit I'm looking forward to the boarding facility. We NEED to work on harder things than just "please don't flip out today, please be sane, and I don't care about your friends." I mean more technical, not harder!

He's making me an arena baby too!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Okay, let me stress one more time that this is a fun show, nothing fancy pantsy.

Also, let me reiterate the goals I had for the event:

See if Dante remembers his old friends.
Safely transport our retard horses.
Try to convince said horses to be friends so further trailer mods are a nonissue.
See if Dante rides better back there- plan financially for any further training needed. I have a feeling he's an arena baby.
Have fun.

So, Friday I get out of work later than I wanted, go to where Truck and Trailer are parked in an abandoned parking lot near school (quite amusing next to all the little foreign cars that park there), pick my way to Sarah's to pick her up before going to her barn to get the wild Ay-rab.

Interesting moment #1: I turn down a residential street picking my way to the highway from school, and see that I have to squeeze between two other trucks with enclosed trailers parked on opposite sides of the street, as someone's getting some remodeling done. I manage not to hit anyone.

Sarah and I get out to her barn. It takes about an hour to get Lahana in. The trailer is now an open stock, and while before she went in, this time (of course) she doesn't want to. So people help us, as we're both noobs. Lahana does little girly rears. Like .5-1 feet up. She also has her head in the clouds and resembles a giraffe (sorry Sarah but your horse does not rear majestically). One girl there really gets on Lahana's butt making her work, tries using a rope to "tie" her to the trailer and let her rear it out, nada. We get a friend in there, still no dice, but then putting a rope around her butt she goes in with her friend. Sw33t!!

Lahana stands perfectly for the ride to the barn, about an hour and a half. She even enjoys a gas-stop. We get her in and settled in a comfy stall, then leave to go get the doop. It's dark.

Dante generally gets in, and the challenge is only closing the doors before he decides to leave. Unfortunately this involves two situations. 1) I can lead him into the trailer. If I get out to close the doors, he follows me out. I can't get mad at him, because he's following me. Or: 2) Someone else is there to shut the door, and he is so worried about that person he now won't go in. At this point he backs out, swings around, and tries to hide on the side behind a door. Oh, Doopy!

So we're in the dark, I had magnificently turned around the trailer around a boat, and we're faced with both situations. Once he realizes Sarah wants to close the doors, uh uh. I try "getting into him" making him back and (heaven forfend) trot around. Everyone says you make them work outside the trailer and inside is rest and peace, outside it rains pain.

Riling up Dante makes him... retarded. He can't think. He's SO worried that everyone's mad at him he panics. He's like a small child frustrated with math problems so they throw their pencil on the ground and red-faced yell "I CAN'T DO IT!!!!!" I've come to realize that he very rarely wants to be a jerk. Like I've said before, someone F'ed up this horse badly, and I call her the Face Yanker (the one who leased him and is rumored to have beaten him and made him flip over on her. There's a reason her own FATHER won't let her ride at his barn, and she is banned from ours). So. After about an 1.5 hours, he's shutting down. He roots his feet to the ground, glazes over in his face, and pretends life is not happening. Now he's not only frustrated, he's put his hands over his ears and he's pretending he can't hear me. Sigh. I figure okay, we'll get Mary's trailer in the morning, I've gotten him into that. Or, since where he is we don't have a Person to get him in for us, we'll find someone to bring who knows what to do.

Interesting moment #2) While "riling" him up as suggested, he starts to get all panicky. I'm telling him to trot to my left. I'm using the word "trot" a carrot stick, the click click, and pointing with my lead rope hand to my left. Suddenly formerly easy things like "which direction to go" and "whether or not to go faster than a walk" are too much. But like I've noticed before with my idjit, if one has the good timing and as soon as he starts to panic in the right direction they say "goooooood" then he instantly relaxes and trots calmly. He really does worry about being wrong.

So we sleep in the house cuz it's frickin cold, and in the morning take Mary's trailer. The only difference between it and ours is it's slightly wider and has one big swing door instead of the two halves, so it's easier to close up. BO says we should do it on our own, but if we fail too hard, to call and we can get her or someone to help us. We go fail for a half hour. The show starts in 15 mins or so, but it's not like we care if we're late. I call. She says "why don't you just ride Awesome" I consent. We then try for another ten minutes and lo and behold, he's in!!!! Sarah was at the big door 90 degrees open from trailer with the stick, and I was leading him in. We're thrilled.

So we get there, and I give him 10 mins in the stall to eat, drink, poo, and chill. Then we saddle up. I ride him for a few minutes in the indoor, and he's really really good. Even stook perfectly still and not butt swingy for mounting. I then walk him out to the "trail" event.

Interesting moment #3) As I'm walking him out to the event, his bestest horse friend is being ridden by. The girl on him does not understand why her horse is now coming over to me and ignoring everything she's telling him. Wiley is thrilled to see him!

We get out to trail event, and I sit on him waiting for my turn. He's mildly fidgety, but otherwise fine. It's our turn. You go over a block, then trot over poles, then move a blanket from one to another barrel, then around a corner, weave through barrels, jump a small log, then around and open and close a mailbox. Simple. Dante and I have gone over said block tons of times when it was over by the barn, and I've trotted him over poles for hours, longing AND riding, and those are the poles we jump as well. A log's not too frightening, and we've gone round and round these barrels dozens of times working on flexion. Mailbox is last but he'll stop and let me lean over to use camera, get beer, etc so shouldn't be a prob.

We get out there (it's in a pasture), and the block is now TERRIFYING!!! Won't touch it. Fine, miss it. On to poles. At the poles he begins REARING at them. Little rears that I could sit easily. My reins are loose (confirmed with Sarah), he didn't have a bit, just a rope halter as he goes better in it and I was being as gentle as possible with him. I can't get him over the poles. Okay, next obstacle. He then won't go ANYWHERE.

Interesting moment #4) Not only will he not go anywhere, but he's having a conversation with me. Whenever he's acting up under saddle normally, I direct his nose to my boot and we can circle and chill until he's good, I then tell him he's good, or at least okay, and then we try again. He's a worrywort and I need to curb the worry. It's fine for him to be wrong, just as it's fine for me to correct it. He wants to be right, gets very proud. This can be anything that unsettles me, from too fast of a trot for no reason to tripping to shying at going away from friends to whatever. Anyways, I have my reins LOOSE and I'm squeezing to get him to go anywhere. Either back to the trail or back to the gate to scratch, just move. He won't. He puts his nose to my boot and looks wide eyed at me like "I'M emergency stopping YOU!" I can't move his head back to center. He's not biting my boot, just sticking his nose right to it. I tell him it's fine, hop off, and walk him back. Poor guy.

We then go to the outdoor arena, do a few events without much riding (sarah rode on the ride-run, bribe a horse just makes them follow you for grain). He's calm. We do egg and spoon and do pretty well, ride a buck (which should have been more strictly enforced, but I gave sarah my last dollar and was riding a 1 dollar check made to cash which was a bit more slippery (also no chaps)). He's good. Calm, nice.

We then get to do barrels. Everyone's thrilled another speed event. I personally would have killed for a little more obedience-based but hey, it's MN and everyone's westerny. So I decide to give the walk-trot barrels a try (speed people in another class). I figure we can trot a pattern. We get around the first barrel, and he immediately WANTS to canter. I say "no" but I'll admit it was a smooth transition, and I'm thinking he's forward, relaxed, and so on the homestretch we lope. There's a very cute picture someone took I need my hands on. We need to do more loping... I forgot how smooth he is when he's relaxed in it.

So we go to do one more round of the trail event. This time for a prize, must do all obstacles or DQ. I go. Some people go in first to do a practice run. I figure with friends around he'll be fine. We go, not too keen on the step, but not stupid either. trots over poles like they aint no thang. Time to start so we go to clear out, I figure we'll hop the log, he's doing well.

Dante does not just hop the log. He SAILS over it like it's HUGE. Then begins to either buck or gallop or something with his back feet. He's done this once over a jump before. I think he gets excited- he loves jumping. Anyways I think he was happy, but I decided not to do a timed run. We had success in going over it so we were good.

Evening comes, he loves his stall. We put him with Lahana in the round pen- see adorable photo. She was in heat, and um, excited for him. He was... castrated. Poor Doop. He likes mares.

Dante enjoyed his stall a lot. We decided to bring him home first Sunday morning. He's never been hard to "catch." Catching is just walking up to him while he looks at you, maybe moves his head if he'd rather eat. He backed up and did not want to leave stall. Sorry guy. So we go out and decide just to use Mary's trailer, we've got to get them both home and me home by 5 to go to work, so we go to load him. He falters once, but with Sarah at the door with the whip and me inside, he goes right in!! We get him home, then go to get Lahana.

Lahana is reary again and we try for about 20 mins and then do the rope on the butt thing and in she goes!

She's much stampier this time on the drive. Probably because she wasn't tired.

Funny now, but terrifying then!: We're going down the highway, and notice that her tail is sticking out of the escape door. Panicky trailiering noobs that we are, that while we suspect the hair's getting sucked out and she's fine (no stamping), we pull over to double-check. I exit then pull over on an entrance ramp. Sarah gets out to check, and then comes running back to the truck with her panic face: "TURN OFF THE TRUCK SOMETHING'S SHOCKING HER!" I do so. I then go over to see her and while Lahana seem sto like her butt pointed at the door, she's not flipping out or looking distressed aside from rather not being in a trailer. Sarah instructs me to touch the trailer telling me that it's shocking. I touch it, and get a mild zap. Hmm, bare wire maybe? I then go unplug the trailer from the truck, still shocking. Break-away battery? Truck doesn't shock me. Then Sarah goes "Could it be those power lines?" and I look up. We're pulled over under high-voltage power lines, so yes, we can feel a tingle through the STEEL trailer that I can't feel on the Aluminum truck. I sigh. Yes. "Close it up, let's just get out of here!" So I reconnect the power, we redo a signal check and we leave.

I then explain what a Faraday cage is and why Lahana wouldn't have been likely shocked even if a lighting bolt hit the trailer. Lahana continues to alternately stamp around facing forward and put her butt up to the door sticking her tail out likely causing a few people to think we're abusive and neglectful and shut her tail in the door.

We get there and indeed, no shock. Lahana is happy to be home, and I get to work on time, even showered so I don't stink.

So again goals:
See if Dante remembers his old friends. YES, he did! And they remembered him!
Safely transport our retard horses. Done!
Try to convince said horses to be friends so further trailer mods are a nonissue. Look at that pic!!
See if Dante rides better back there- plan financially for any further training needed. I have a feeling he's an arena baby. Um, yes our barrel moment was fantastic. Trail course was zany but we can work on that!
Have fun. Super done!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Growing Excitement

So. Trailer is back at my house tonight, hooked up and ready to go (I think my neighbors know I'm weird). Moving it from an hour away at Sarah's barn, the left wheel locked as soon as I tapped the brake. So we had towed not using the trailer's brakes (4wire instead of 7).

We were also thinking of removing all the separating stuff and making it just an open stock trailer. Why? Because we have horses people have made horrible at loading. We can just convince them to become friends and then ride open and it would be much better than all this fear that they'll get caught up on all the falderall in there.

Mechanic looked at it, adjusted trailer brakes, then adjusted truck's brake controller, taught me now to adjust it, and removed the pole with his fancy saw. What did this cost? 40 dollars. Yeah. I love my mechanic. Tonight I will cover the areas where pole was so that trailer is good and safe for a stampy anxious horse. When they get very bored with trailering, then maybe we'll introduce some solid dividers, instead of the bars and chains that were there and that bring to mind vet bills.

Why is it important to get trailer ready to go?

Okay don't get too flabbergasted. It's not THAT kind of show. Dante's winter barn is having a fun show. Egg and spoon race, ride a buck, western game, trail, etc. Not an official show. No points earned, and cheezy prizes maybe. It's also pot-luck. The people there are about as competitive as I am. Sarah and I are trailering in our horses (hers used to live there, too), stalling for the night, showing Saturday, then bringing Lahana back Sat. night and Dante back Sun. morning. And we're doing a frigid sleepover in the barn Friday night. We will probably have the most-groomed beasts there. Entry fee: 15 dollars.

See if Dante remembers his old friends.
Safely transport our retard horses.
Try to convince said horses to be friends so further trailer mods are a nonissue.
See if Dante rides better back there- plan financially for any further training needed. I have a feeling he's an arena baby.
Have fun.

Even if he rides like a wildebeast and I have to borrow a horse, it'll be a useful experience.

Pictures forthcoming!!