Sunday, October 31, 2010

Smokey as a Cow

DN3 will be using our mare Bailey in the High School Equestrian Team in the Working Cow Horse events. Bailey is descended from Poco Bueno, and bears a striking physical resemblance to him.

And she is all about working the cows. Knows her job, and takes it seriously. As we don't have any cows, we use another horse in the role. Today was Smokey's turn in the barrel.

What you can't see in this video is that when we turn, Bailey bares her teeth and pins her ears. She is also business, and if given the chance, would take a bite out of the cow (or horse). It's a bit unnerving when you are the receiving end.

(Edit: You'll have to double click on the video and view it in You Tube. For some reason it's chopped off here. Sigh.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

In the "Thanksgiving Comes First" Category.

The two lane highway leading into the two and half horse time where the BR abode occupies it's spot of land is lined with, among things, Christmas tree farms. Early each December, the family BR makes a pilgramage to one of said farms for the annual cutting of Treezilla.

I snapped this photo on the way home today (click to enlarge):

At least three of these farms have their signs up already. Really? It's not even All Hallow's Eve yet, for the love of Pete.

At least they don't open until the day after Thanksgiving...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blast from the Past

Cause I got nothing. Well, actually I have quite a bit of material brewing in my gray matter. What I currently seem to lack is time.

This picture from my previous line of work recently surfaced. Circa 1994 at the USS Bowfin (SS-287) Memorial, in Pearl Harbor, upon the occasion of my second re-enlistment. I was but a young Machinist's Mate Chief (Submarines) at the time, with orders to the USS Houston (SSN-713).

I do not get misty or nostalgic thinking of my Navy days. I do not regret one single day of my service, but you won't find me bellied up to the bar at the local VFW, saying "This is a no shitter..." (Pardon my French, but that's Navy jargon for "I'm about to weave a tall tale, which is based only in small part upon true events")

Besides, I didn't have any horses.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

When is a Horse Too Old?

I certainly won't pretend to have the answer to that question. Like people, each horse is an individual, subject to their own rate of aging, effects of past injuries, illness, and infirmities. Some breeds, like Arabians, are known for their longevity. I've heard, from reputable sources, that one of the keys to their longevity is continued use and exercise.

Smokey turned 21, this year. I find myself more acutely attuned to his health and well being. Towards the end of summer, I found myself wondering if, perhaps, he was getting too old for what I ask of him.

The other night, as I was bringing him in from the pasture, I couldn't help but notice that his eyes are bright, and he has a spring in his step. And, in the arena, the old boy was hotter than a two dollar pistol. He wanted to go fast. Being an equine speed junky, I of course, let him.

Nope, he's not too old.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Few Housekeeping Items

My apologies on the light (read: non-existent) blogging. Last week was a really long month.

Back before the whole "Blogs of Note" affair, my dashboard indicated that I had 9 followers. As of this writing, the number is 186. I'm not entirely certain what to make of that.

Glass half full, or half empty. We'll start out on the positive, just because. I have nearly doubled the number of blogs I am following. If a blog stands the test of time, I will add it to my blog list on the right side of this page. Initially, I was going to post endorsements of those who make my list, but in order to spare them the spam barrage currently inundating my comments, I will just quietly add them to the list. BTW, there are two new ones already. For my new readers, if your blog doesn't make the list, please don't be offended. It may just not be my cup of tea.

The downside has been the increase in spam. Word verification, apparently, is not foolproof. At this point, I'm keeping up by simply deleting it. I have no desire to implement comment moderation, as it isn't fair to my faithful readers, and it would likely become one more thing I do not have time for.

I'll take the good with the bad, because the infusion of new readers has provided some fresh motivation for blogging. I think many of go through the "should I close this thing down" phase from time to time. Guess I'll be sticking around.

In the meantime, what do you do with a geriatric Alaskan Malamute who has lost much of her coat? DN3 has a good solution:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...

"Can't you see I'm eating here?"

It was 37F this morning when I left for work. It was 72F when I got home this afternoon. I'm not real fond of 35 degree temperature swings, and the accompanying 'blanket on', 'blanket off' routine.

What I Saw Yesterday

I flew down to the Bay Area yesterday on work related travel. One the stops on our itinerary was in Santa Rosa. As we were driving through town, we passed a coffee shop with the rather memorable name "Bad Ass Coffee".

Standing in front of this store, in a parking stall no less, was a fully saddled Paint Horse. I kid you not.

Unfortunately, I was unable to convince the city slickers in the van that we needed to stop for a photo op, and I'm just not that quick on the iPhone camera.

Shortly after takeoff on the return trip.

The plane was an Airbus A320. Prior to this trip, I hadn't flown on an Airbus product. After yesterday, I'm not in a rush to do so again. The plane made more screeching, bumping, and other weird noised than I've ever heard out of an aircraft before. Several others made the same observation.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Collection and the Art of Toilet Bowling

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." That quote is attributed to Sir Winston Churchill. I couldn't agree more.

With that said, I must confess a dislike for riding in the arena. I don't think Smokey is too fond of it either. Or maybe I'm just trying to project human emotions on a four legged beast. Regardless of how hard I try to liven things up by working on this, that, or the other thing, riding in circles in a cloud of dust is, for me, a bit on the unexciting side. Except for the occasions when I'm riding alone, and I let old Smokey Joe out into an extended lope, some hand galloping, and the occasional flat out run thrown in for good measure. That gets the adrenalin flowing.

With that said, I accept that arena work is a necessary evil. It is the place to learn and hone riding skills.

Lately, I've been working on collection, which is the horse equivalent of good posture. The short explanation is that the horse keeps his head down, and arches his back. It's a little more complicated than that, but I hope you get the picture.

I know how to collect a horse. Smokey knows how to be collected. But, somewhere between my hand and the bit, there is a disconnect between this particular horse and myself. I push him up with spurs, tug gently on the bit, and his head will drop. After a few seconds his head will come back up. Rinse, repeat. It seems to be a test of who will tire first. Maybe some day we'll get there.

In the last few months he has developed this habit of tilting his head in toward the center of the arena while riding on the rail. And, soon enough, his body follows the head, and we start spiraling inward, circling the drain. I point out the error in his way, we get back on the rail, and start the whole thing over. It doesn't matter which direction we're going, we just start circling inward. Since my first thought is always "what am I doing wrong", I've made sure my legs are off and the reins are loose. No matter, it still happens. If anyone has any thoughts on this behavior, I'm certainly open to suggestions.

On some level, I think he's trying to tell me that it would be much better to go stand in the center of the arena, instead of working on this silly collection business.

I wonder if horses respond differently to riders they are familiar with. When DN3 rides him, it's all business. She is an amazing rider, and doesn't put up with any monkey business. I'm more like Good Time Charlie, preferring to go fast, run gaming patterns, and ride for hours or days in the mountains. In a large arena, I can point him downwind, make a little a kissing sound, and Bam! It's like getting shot out of cannon as he heads full steam for the other side. But he won't do that with other people on him. Riding point on the trail, I can drape my reins over the horn, and eat lunch or read a map while he keeps up the same pace. But with other, less experienced riders, he is known to stop, and refuse to move again, no matter how much kicking is involved.

If anyone ever unlocks the key to finding out how horses truly think, they will make a mint.

"What's all this collection nonsense about, anyways?"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hard Keeper

Smokey, while a registered American Quarter Horse, is actually an Appendix American Quarter Horse, because his sire is a Thoroughbred. The Quarter Horse Breed was established in 1947, and, to a large extent, the first QH's were Thoroughbreds, so this isn't such a stretch. Quarter Horses today tend to be very stout, strong horses. Smokey is tall and lean, more like his sire must have been.

Keeping weight on him has always been a bit of challenge. To aid in this, he gets a daily ration of grain. For the past few years, he's been on a product known as Enhance Daily, manufactured by Arkat. With a 24% fact content, it has been amazing. Combined with a helping of rice bran, it has aided in keeping 'ol Mojo healthy.

Sadly, Arkat has discontinued this product. Combined with a hard working summer, he has suddenly experienced some weight loss, and his ribs were beginning to show. To combat this he is on extra rations of alfalfa, close to half a bale per day (he's not complaining). We located a product called Moorglo, which at 18% fat, is darn close to what he was receiving before. It may be wishful thinking, but I believe there has been a perceptible improvement. Combined with nightly blanketing (horses expend energy to stay warm when it is cold), I'm hoping we can get ahead of this problem before the weather turns cold.

One of the hazards of older horses, I guess. Amongst the many things my horse has taught me, I know quite a great deal about the equine digestive system.

I'll keep you posted on his progress.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Good Lord and a Gun

It's been a long day, and I'm too drained to spend time writing. Got off work late, stopped at the feed store, mixed grain, admired my horse, and put his blanket on for the first time this season. It's supposed to drop to the low 40's tonight, and we're battling some weight loss (more on that tomorrow), so a little extra warmth is needed.

He's looking a bit rangy. He enjoys a good roll in the mud.

Since I'm lacking in anything meaningful, I will leave you with something that, for me at least, speaks volumes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'll be darned...(Part II)

I've suddenly received more comments than I can keep up with. So...

To all my longstanding, faithful readers, a Big Thanks for your continued support. You are the reason that I keep this blog going. Even if I am never blessed with the opportunity to meet you, I consider you friends nonetheless.

To all the new folks who have visited in the last few days, I send out a hearty Welcome and Thank You! I can see that I have quite a few blogs to peruse, and suspect I will be adding more than a few new ones to my Blogroll. Please be patient with me as I catch up.

Trust me, the last post was entirely tongue-in-cheek. I tend to see the humor in most situations, and like to poke fun at many things, myself included.

As Lou and Jill have noted, we have definitely gone International. Previously, Alison in England was my only visitor from afar. And yes, Andy is right when he observes that I do not post enough. With the summer riding season winding down, I'll will get to posting. I have quite a few topics swirling around in my brain, time to set them to record.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I'll be darned...

As it turns out, the Blogger Team at Google maintains a blog called Blogs of Note. I know this, because my humble tome made the list for October 1st. Since I find it somewhat doubtful that my blog is, by any stretch of the imagination, noteworthy, I'm reasonably certain that there has been some mistake. In all likelihood, some Google employee is on probation as a result of this oversight.

The upside, for me, is that my readership has doubled! That's right, I now have two readers! Who'd a thunk?

This does, of course, create some performance anxiety, as I clearly have some high standards to live up to. I will do my best to live up to expectations.