Monday, December 7, 2009

Mouthy Mondays and Holidays

Hey guys,

I disappeared, I'm back, I have lots to tell you about so this should be a good week!

The kidlette has been nailed by the swine flu. She's 18, asthmatic and had mono within the last year. So needless to say she's high risk.

It's amazing how fast these "I'm grown so let me fly" kids come zipping back to the nest when the guano hits the fan.

The worst is over, which is a good thing.

We've had astounding amounts of snow and more to come here in Colorado. I took a few photos from the hood yesterday. No horses, but incredible silence, beauty and fun with my dogs and good friend Kathy. So I thought I would share anyway.

Meet my dogs. Dinah, the Corgi/Jack Russel and Charlie, the Rat Terrier. Don't mock them because they wear clothes. These two are a crackerjack vermin removing team. They have spent their lives single mindedly wiping out large populations of mice, rats, voles, rabbits, prairie dogs and pigeons at every ranch I've worked at and our backyard. So don't piss them off.

This is the Historical Rockledge Ranch seen from a ridge in Garden of the Gods Park. Yes, I wish I lived there too.

I can feel the pressure of the building storm in this one. I love my back yard.

Here's our Mouthy Monday Post.....The horseless nut wrote about getting back into the groove of riding again after a long break from school.

The last two weeks have been...interesting.

I'm in my hometown for two weeks, working for my father's company to earn some extra cash, before beginning my work term this fall.

My main focus has been on relaxing. Meaning no fights with my uber stubborn gelding, Oliver, in fact, I've avoided him all together.

I went to my old instructor's barn (We'll call her S), where my mother boards her two horses, a twenty year old AQHA pleasure mare, Classic, and her four year old filly, Scarlett.

My plan had been to saddle up Classic and take a nice little meander around the arena, I haven't ridden in a good six months, and I knew that if I tried anymore than that, I'd be a little - scratch that - extremely, sore the next day.

So we did just that, my mother and I tacked up the shaggy brown mare and led her out into the indoor arena where S and her daughter were working two horses. I wasn't concerned about them, I knew they would simply avoid me, whooshing by at a quick lope while Classic and I jogged along the rail, totally immersed in their training.That was all well and good, Classic wasn't spooky, although I'd heard she had become so in her old age, I actually had the feeling she was babysitting me.

I was working on keeping good posture, but I could feel my thighs and calves starting to protest already. I pulled up and watched S and her daughter work, trying to see the subtle cues I knew they were giving, it reminded me of what I've been reading about on the Mugwump Chronicles lately.

We all had a good chat for a bit, S's daughter is graduating this year at my old high school, so we swapped teacher tails. Then I dismounted (not as gracefully as I'd hoped), and we returned to the barn.After unsaddling Classic and putting her away, I went to the viewing room to watch S work Scarlett.

My mother (though she'll never admit it) is a bit nervous around horses, so while she gets on great with steady old Classic, she hasn't ridden Scarlett much, leaving the bulk of her training to S.

She started out free lunging the little blaze-faced chestnut under saddle, Scarlett screeching around the arena at top speed, finally dropping to a jog and then turning to face S, who approached her, mounted, and started to work.

This was great for me because I'd been Scarlett's care giver/trainer until she turned two, but I'd never seen her ridden before. After about ten minutes, S pointed at me and gestured for me to enter the arena.

I turned to my mother."She's going to make me ride isn't she?"Sure enough, I heaved open the big sliding door."Get over here and ride this filly"My first reaction was "Noooo". Sure I used to ride babies all of the time, I broke Oliver from the ground up, and rode his younger sister Georgie after S had put thirty days on her, but that was over two years ago, I was out of shape, hadn't ridden in six months, and now S wanted me to get on a filly who ten minutes ago had been tearing around the arena like a bat out of hell.

"Get on this horse or I'm going to come over there and kick you, you raised her, don't you want to see how she goes?" I was sure nothing would happen, but if something did happen, I was also sure that I wouldn't be able to ride it out. So, feeling apprehensive, I strode over and climbed carefully up.

S fitted me with some spurs, and away we went. My first observation was how narrow she was, compared to her mother, who at this stage in her life had the width of a round bale. We started out slowly, just walking around while I got used to her and got an idea of what 'buttons' she had on her. She was very sensitive, and just a tad lazy, but soon we were jogging around, doing transitions, and lateral work. She broke at the poll with just the slightest urging, and moved off my leg easily.

My only qualm was the she was very 'wobbly' and unwilling to move off in a straight line without being 'told' where to go constantly by her rider. The result was I felt I needed to "hold" her together with my hands and legs. I didn't bother trying to lope, my legs were already jello and didn't feel like I could support her the way she needed.

I pulled up to where S, her son, and my mother had all been watching and chatting, and swung down. We continued to talk a bit, Scarlett standing quietly by my side, sighing occasionally, eventually we made our way back to the barn for the second time that night.After putting Scarlett up, in a the stall that shared a wall with her mother's, I wandered down the aisle of the old, but clean barn, peeking in at the various horses S had in for training, the broodmares, and the never ending line of two and three year olds from previous breeding seasons (she has since gelded her stallions and ceasing breeding - there's just no market for it in my area).

I stopped to scratch the ears of some of the horses I recognized, and avoided those I didn't. It was good to be back in a place where horses are the center of attention, and these horses where miles ahead quality-wise of what I was used to. As we headed into the crisp night air and back to the car, I made a mental note to remember this lovely, tired, content feeling.

I want to come back, next time I'm home, I thought.

I knew that it probably wouldn't happen for another long while, with only weekends to come home, and about ten different families to visit, a trip to the barn is almost impossible to schedule. I barely get to see my own horse, let alone ride him, if I skipped a visit to him to come to S's barn...well that would be nothing short of cheating.

But still, that was great, just great. It's safe to say, I've got The Bug again.I did end up riding Oliver this week too, but that's another adventure for another post.


  1. Eeep! Thanks for posting my story Mugwump!

    Since getting The Bug again I've been trying to re-enter the horse world, but it's hard living 300km away, and only visiting on a monthly basis. But I'm not going to give up, and there's always the thought of the distant day when I graduate and get to move back to Horse Country to sustain me.

  2. Nice! I'm glad you have THE bug again!

    Mugs - cute dogs! And well suited for their jobs (cough - no pun intended)...

  3. Ah, that pesky bug! The horse one, not the swine... :) Enjoyed the story.

    Mugs, your pictures are beautiful. That historic ranch is awesome. How did that manifest from my dreams to real life?

    Sorry about your kidlett & hope she is on the mend. Your storms are moving our way... Stay warm.

  4. Very fun story! I managed to bring my 3 year old to school with me and now I am riding him about once a week after having a trainer put two months of trails on him. It must be tough to be so far away from your horse.

    Mugs, your dogs are so cute! Are those the dogs that know how to sit and stay off leash while you are out hiking. That is impressive, in general it seems that training is inversely proportionate to size. Way to get those smaller dogs trained. I am planning to get something around that size for my next one. I wouldn't mind having a Corgi. Are they inherently good rodent hunters or is that the influence of the terrier?

  5. Oops, part Jack Russel... I missed that somehow.

  6. Whywudyabreedit- Those are my off leash dogs. Small dogs are just dogs.
    These are my first small dogs, I've always had big ones.
    They train like anything else.
    I think it's more of a matter of giving them jobs. They both know their job and what's expected of them.
    I don't think Corgi's hunt. It's the terror, er...terrier.

  7. They look like very nice dogs. I did not mean to suggest that small dogs are any different, just that owners of small dogs often tend not to bother. Maybe because an unruly small dog is more manageable than an unruly big dog.

    Such is certainly the case with my sisters family. They just got their first large dog, and he is the first to receive any substantial amount of training. The training is due to necessity.

    For me the training is a big part of the enjoyment in any human-animal relationship.

  8. I'm not a particularly good dog trainer. I learned early on if I kept my dogs with me we all figured out how to get along. Dogs work harder than any other animal to figure out what we want.
    So we just work it out as we go.
    A competent dog trainer would roll his/her eyes at my dogs.
    But they do know how to behave out in the world. They don't run to strange people or dogs. They come to me when I call, Dinah immediately, Charlie soon after. They heel when I need them to, but loosely at my heels, not in a formal way. Both walk on a leash without pulling. They don't yap.
    But that's about all they do.
    Charlie is a handy cattle dog. Dinah watches from the side lines.If you ask them, "Where's the mousie?" they will tear apart whatever you are pointing at until they find the mouse, rat, pigeon, whatever.
    The rest of the time they loll around shedding on the furniture and being great friends.
    I read once that dogs are the only animal to read humans by their eyes and mouths. Every other animal responds to body language.
    So I crouch down to greet my little dogs. They're short, I make it easier for them to read me. It works, they're not jumpers.I wonder if it helps them be calm.

  9. Great story, Jayke.
    I'm thinking that getting dragged away from horses by other serious life obligations, and then finding a way back like you are doing, (and having to fight for everything we and our suprisingly weak bodies remember) is a set of steps necessary for real lifetime horseism.

  10. Swine flu? Ick. Hope she's feeling better soon.

    I totally relate your story, thehorselessnut - that 'and this is why I do it' feeling. I hope you work it out in a satisfactory way - it's not easy juggling.

    SO not surprised that you have sensible small dogs mugs, because whatever you think of your own dog training skills, a, you have common sense, b, you don't suppress their natural instincts and c, sounds like they get plenty of exercise!

    It does surprise me a little that the corgi cross is not into cattle - they're herding dogs. However their hunting prowess doesn't - I've seen way too many terrier owners getting distressed because their dog keeps trying to kill things, and it's always a wtf moment - you bought a TERRIER, what'd you expect? Even the little puffball yorkies that you commonly see with bows in their topknots are demon ratters. People who don't research their dogs before purchase drive me nuts.
    Of course, I can't talk - my sister keeps threatening to buy a beagle - which reduces me to incoherent gibbering, because she is in no way set up for one!

  11. Cute Dogs... And if I lived in cold country my dogs would have to have full on parka's. Boston terrors are not cold or hot weather dogs. They prefer the couch and a good blanket. We have been in a cold snap here for about a week and it cracks me up to watch them go outside to do their business. They can pee and poop in world record speed!

  12. Thanks for the story, Jayke. I believe "The Bug" is like malaria. You won't get rid of it, it lies in your blood...

    Good to hear that Kidlette is on the mend, Mugs. Send her "get well soon" regards, and pet the Vermin Pack while you're at it.
    I've had two terriers.
    Now it's only cats, but they are even better. At mice that is, not at staying at heel...

  13. Absolutely beautiful pics of Colorado! BTW, Cindy Sue wants to team up with Dinah and Charlie for some varmint huntin'! And the coats are most acceptable too!

    Hope your kidlett is on the mend.

    Way to Jayke! Well done story. It's good to be pushed a lil' upon occasion~