Monday, February 28, 2011

Moral Dilemma

RIP, Corporal Buckles

The last surviving American veteran of the First World War I, joined his comrades yesterday.

I could only hope to be half the man he was.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bailey Baroo

I am known for, among other things, giving multiple nicknames to every member of my family, and every animal we've ever had. Each of my three daughter has no less than 5402 nicknames, and I can trace the origin of each. Just ask them, they'll tell you.

DN3's favorite horse is our mare Bailey. They have that bond that most riders only dream about.

I have always called that horse Bailey Baroo. And for years, my movie line deficient family has had no clue regarding the origin of said nickname. Tonight I finally let them in on the secret.

Free Horse

I tried to avoid coloring the previous post with my own opinions. I received some good feedback, much of it in line with my own thoughts on the subject. Thanks to all who commented.

I'm not a stranger to "free" horses, having given away a mare two years ago. But I was absolutely transparent about why she was free. Something to do with the fact that her first instinct when I would plop my butt in the saddle was to rear up and dump yours truly in the dirt.

Regarding, "he is a beautiful, very unique horse with a strong personality and so, so smart." In all fairness, that could very well be a description of Smokey. While I'm not up for a bronc whose first instinct is to bolt, neither am I interested in a lackluster horse that doesn't require that I earn the right to ride. But, as WomanWhoRunsWithHorses pointed out, it could very well mean that the average rider doesn't stand a chance.

"Needs a job". I hear that line too often, and honestly find it to be horse pucky. I need a job, so that I can care for my family and own horses. Horses need to eat, drink, sleep and crap. It's just more likely that they will be able to do the first two if a human has them engaged in an activity.

I'm not too keen on taking a horse with "terms" either, unless it was a care lease situation. If it is for the purpose of ownership, once I take the horse, transfer the registration, and start bearing the cost of upkeep, the seller doesn't, in my opinion, have any say in the matter. I'm good with permitting first right of refusal on a horse, but that's about where it ends. I'm not obligated to keep anyone informed of his progress. Except, maybe, for Mrs. BR. And all my readers. And family and friends. Well, you get the idea.

I have mixed feelings with regard to the lesson with the trainer. This can be helpful in learning what cues the particular horse has been taught, as opposed to spending time experimenting. On the other hand...

There is no certification process to become a horse trainer. Heck, I could hang a shingle out claiming to be to be such, convince some hapless victims that I know what I doing, and voila!

I've met a few "(insert big name trainer here) certified" trainers whom I wouldn't let train a stuffed animal, let alone a horse. I even find some of the Big Name Trainers to be a tad on the hokey side. But that's another post. And while I subscribe to the "Natural Horsemanship" idea, the phrase seems to be getting a bit worn out.

At 14.2 HH, he's also a bit on the short side for my tastes.

In closing, I'm going to let this marinate. The family BR will be in Vancouver, WA this weekend for the first High School Equestrian Team meet of the year, so there's no time for looking at horses for at least a week and half. If he's still on the market, I might take a trek to Olympia for a looksee, since it's only an hour south of here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thoughts, anyone?

Via Craigslist, a free* Buttermilk Buckskin. As many of you know, I have a special spot in my heart for Buckskin colored horses.

Free horses can raise flags to the horse shopper, but in today's market, an average, healthy, yet unremarkable horse is difficult to sell at best. Sellers who hold out for a certain price usually spend more money keeping the horse than they ultimately make at the time of sale.

I am looking, albeit half heartedly, for another horse. No, not to replace Smokey, who I feel has at least another good three or four years left in him. I'm looking for the horse to bring up behind him when he is ready or retirement, to further challenge my riding abilities, and to carry my luggage and groceries on pack trips.

I'm in no rush, however, and I feel that the right horse will appear at the right time.

*Most horse owners will tell you that a "free" horse really isn't. While you may not pay any money up front, these four legged hay processing plants will cost you in feed, vet bills, and hoof care, at a minimum.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Customer Service Strikes Again, Part II

I received a new email from the previously offending saddle shop yesterday. It read, in part, "We received the choc/black on our truck yesterday, so I will send the one you ordered." I also received shipping information for the pad and cinch. So, I guess, all is right in the world again. I'm remotely curious as to how it went from not available until the end of the month, to be shipped yesterday, but not curious enough to actually ask.

I'm mildly disappointed that they didn't throw me a consolatory bone, like free shipping. However, the fact remains that their price for the pad is $30 cheaper than anyone else. This also the only less than pleasant experience I've had with these folks, so I consider it to be a one off. And, as WomanWhoRunsWithHorses pointed out in the previous comments, the weather down that way has been none to hospitable.

If this is the worst the week had to offer, then I daresay all is right with the world.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Customer Service Strikes Again

On Jan. 29th, I placed an internet order for a new saddle pad and cinch with a well known saddle shop based in Texas. I subsequently received an email acknowledging the order, which also stated that tracking information would be sent to me at the time of shipment. As of Feb. 4th, no such information had been received. I sent an email informing them of this fact. No reply was received.

I contacted them again yesterday. Here is the reply I received this morning:

"We apologize for the delay in your order. Due to weather conditions, we have been unable to ship or receive. The pad that you ordered is not available until the end of this month. Wrangler does not have any in stock and is waiting on material. I can send you a different pattern, or if you prefer to wait, I can have them ship as soon as it is available."

Really??? It took twelve days in the internet age to inform me of this?? And the pad I ordered is out of stock?? Then why was I able to order it?? Oh, and by the way, the pad isn't made by Wrangler, it's made by Professional's Choice!!!!

Immediately after reading the email, every fiber in my being was screaming at me to pick up the phone, call them, and unleash the retired Master Chief on someone. But, clearly I'm getting soft. After talking myself off the ledge, I replied with "Thank you for the information. Is the pad available in Tan/Black, size 34"x36"? If so, that would be an acceptable replacement. If it isn't available, then I would like to cancel the order."

Of course, I haven't received a reply. I suspect that will take another twelve days.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Arena Etiquette

Arena Etiquette goes into play the moment more than one horse and rider are present in an arena. This is a set of written or unwritten rules which are, or at least should be, more common sense than anything. Ride in the same direction. Don't cut someone off. Don't stop abruptly, or back up without looking back first. Slower riders to the inside. The bottom line is safety for both horse and rider. The more horses in an arena, the more important this becomes.

At organized events, be it shows, western gaming, cow sorting, or what have you, there is invariably a "warm up ring". This tends to be a smaller arena, and soon becomes a teeming mass of horseflesh. Invariably, one or two riders enter the fray who are seemingly unaware that they are not alone. They cut in front of others, stop without so much as a "howdy do", and suddenly back their horse without warning. Throw in the newbie rider with no control of a psycho horse they've been "given", shake well, and you can imagine the impending disaster brewing. Oftentimes the ring announcer can be heard bleating something over the PA about safety in the practice arena, but of course, the only folks that hear and heed these announcements are those of us who are already riding safely. Apparently poor riding skills are accompanied by hearing loss.

I make it a point to clear out once the situation begins to approach critical mass, but on at least one occasion, I've made it clear to another that if they cut me off again, things probably won't end well. I have a limited amount of patience, and I'll be darned if I'm going to use it up on people who aren't worthy.

Some horses don't have patience for this either, which presents a whole new set of hazards. During a 4H clinic last year, one of the girls in our club was riding Smokey. Another horse kept riding up on Old Joe and bumping. Now, if Smokey were human, he'd be the guy holding the M1 saying "get off my lawn." He is not particularly fond of other horses, particularly when they are behaving badly. After being bumped twice, he had had his fill.

The third time the offending horse rode up on him, the scene began to unfold as if in slow motion. Subtly, Smokey turned his head to look at Mr. Bumper Car. His pace slowed, his left hip moving ever so slightly to the inside of the arena. Realizing what was about to happen, Mrs. BR began yelling at the girl riding him to watch out, but Paulhamus Arena is rather large, so it's doubtful that she was heard. The distance closed. Smokey cocked his leg, and, at precisely the right moment, kicked out.

Whether he connected or not is up for debate, as the scuffle was over as quickly as it began, with no apparent injury inflicted. However, it could have easily ended in injury to horse or rider, simply because one rider didn't have the good sense to steer her horse clear of the others.

I suspect, that among my readers who ride, I'm preaching to the choir. And of course, oblivious people exist in all facets of life, not just in the warmup arena.