Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Then Life Happens

I get these swings of "good" at work. Things go well, projects get completed, everything goes as scheduled. I got two major projects "complete" in the past two weeks. Stuff I'd put hours and months of struggle into finally was marked as finished and a big red checkmark on my "todo" list. I could hardly contain being happy, and darn outright proud of myself. I usually get things done quickly, but these were long-term, and required the output & motivation of others.

Then I heard our secretary's husband died after a fall. Don't know if it was from the roof, or from a ladder, but it wasn't pretty. He was in grave condition in ICU following the accident, and passed away yesterday. He was a Christian, and so, in some ways, his death should be seen as a celebration. He gets to go home! How incredible, to be at His feet, in-person, at the highest point of worship with the largest crowd, all of one mind...

Life is good.... Then it happens... Thoughts and Prayers are with Ms T at this time...

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Key to Unlocking Fear

Occupation. I realized just now that, all that ride with Romeo yesterday, I didn't get nervous, my heart didn't pound, I didn't feel like a flock of butterflies were flittering in my tummy...

Because I had a "job" to do. Romeo needed a ride, at the lope, and I needed to show him where to go & how fast to do it. I asked him to lope out, and squeezed until I got the gait I wanted. I didn't give him time to buggy-trot & refuse me. He went fast, I flopped in the saddle. I remember thinking a few times, "Okay, sit up, get your heels down, weight in your rump", then those posture-ideas were replaced with, "Whoa big guy.. where are you going now? I want to turn NOW you little thing... Let's go over here. Another circle, good! Here's where I want to go now." I was so busy thinking about "where to go next", and "keeping him in the gait" and "turning him where he needed turning", that I didn't get scared. The one time I let go of the saddle horn, I realized nothing in my balance changed, either. I didn't feel pitched forward, I didn't feel like I was losing balance, I didn't feel like leaning off the side of the saddle.

If that's the trick, then I'm set for battle. Once Chewie is fit to canter under saddle again, I should be set for the ride of my life. For the longest time, I thought I would progress to cantering an old horse I could trust (Amigo), cantering Chewie, *then* forcing Romeo to canter. My own horses are switched. Chewie is a brilliant horse, no doubt in my mind. I get that front right hoof in order, I have a feeling all of his balance & control issues will resolve themselves. Meanwhile, Romeo is going to serve as my test-dummy.

Here's a question - How do you know when a horse needs Chiropractic work? Especially if you don't know they've ever had it before? With Chewie, it would be obvious - he'd flinch at a good rubdown. I wonder if Romeo would find that beneficial.. I will work on canter first, both leads, and see if he's even on both. I'm also going to start paying more attention to his reaction to the brushes.

Whatta Whatta Weekend - Romeo's Loping

Well, it's more like a wild English canter without collection.. He's got more than enough forward energy.. =)
Here's my chaotic Sunday - the past two have been like this. So much for "resting"...

8:00am - My church, choir sang
9:40am - Conversation with random lady at Starbucks' parking lot (details to follow)
10:45am - Co-worker's church, good stuff! Much more like the one I spent my high school & college days in, and less like where I'm at. I wish it wasn't 45 minutes away from home... I'd be there all the time.
12:00pm - Lunch with Co-worker & family
2:00pm - Scrambled to Les' to change into jeans & boots, then headed to the arena
2:30 - 3:15pm - Rode Romeo (details to follow)
Drove home
4:00pm - Leashed Kenzie, and off to
4:30pm - 5:30pm - Obedience class
Got home, fed the masses, fed myself, asleep on the couch by 9:00pm, exhausted.

Now, for the details. Sometimes, I wonder why I get that occupied some weekends, while others, I am sitting at home, on the couch, eating snacks I shouldn't be, watching the same TV shows I always watch.

After the first church service, I had time to kill, and decided I'd hop over to Starbucks, fetch me a frozen skinny sugar-free latte, and ease on to the second service (45 minutes away). A lady was getting out of a little car, staring intently at my truck. I thought, "Yes, this is a big truck, driven by a little person, for the purpose of hauling horses. I know I'm poisoning the environment, but I can't afford a cheaper car too right now."

The lady said to me, "That's a dressage sticker on the back of your truck. Do you ride?"
I responded, "Yep, but that horse's on light work right now."
She said, "You're probably going to think I'm completely nuts, and a little weird, but I'm going to ask anyways... A friend and I are going trail riding this afternoon. Would you like to come with us? If you can ride like that, you're probably a pretty good rider."
Holy tar.. whatta brave lady she is!
I responded, "Wow. I'd love to, but the horse I'd bring along is in Port Lavaca in boot camp, and I've got plans to go ride him this afternoon. Thank you."
She said, "Can I give you my phone number? Would you like to come along another time? I haven't met a single other person yet that rides dressage. Well, that's not true. Do you know __?"
I said, "Yep. I met her while she was taking lessons from ___."
She said, "Yeah, I took a lesson with ___. But it ended badly, with my daughter getting a broken collar bone. Bad, bad experience for both of us. Why did you quit taking lessons from her?"
"Too intense. Way too serious for the leisure level I want to ride at. I love dressage, but I've got some fears to overcome, and she just couldn't understand why I wouldn't just get over it & ride."
"Well, here's my number. Here's some pictures of my horse, the ladies I ride with & their horses, and of the trails where we go. It's not far from here, about 20 minutes." (Really, about 15 from my house."

Wow. What a conversation. It lasted about 10 minutes, I found out she rides a 19YO OTTB mare, Molly. They trail ride, and casually ride some dressage. She refuses to ride without a helmet, and works for a local college in the arts department. I may have a trail buddy! How cool is that?! I also didn't know the state park up the street from me had riding trails. Nifty cool! Romeo will LOVE it!

The ride on Romeo. Whatta Pony Whatta Pony! Holy tarfeathers. Les has him in a TT bit, with an interesting curb chain (a small chain that came out of a hardware store... not the chains in the tack stores.. an interesting contraption, but it doesn't apply pressure unless you really pull on it). Les rode first.. I noticed right up front that Romeo canters out without much fuss. The silly "buggy trot" is almost gone. Les transitions him from walk right into canter. He doesn't have his leads just right, but I am guessing that's because no effort is put into leads right now, but more into that he's at least cantering. He rode him all on neck reining, and put his hand on Romeo's neck for a "whoa". His trot was soft, and figure-eights were pretty relaxed.

We switched saddles. I climbed on, did a little walk, a little trot, and then asked Les, "You got 9-1-1 on speed dial? Here goes nothing." Les says, "He's not going to hurt you, or I would've not let you lope him yet. Just go do it." I walked him past the roping boxes, leaned forward, squeezed with both legs, and gave him a little "kiss kiss" sound. He went from walk, about three strides of trot, and cantered away. I worked him through canter sets four times. The first three, I held onto the saddle horn with a death-grip (evidenced by the small blister on my left hand... HAH!). I went the whole rail around, as well as circles at the far end, and a few in the middle. He didn't get fast, but did try to break gait, as well as tried to ignore the neck rein. I was actually calm, didn't get nervous, and didn't have a problem adding outside leg to make him turn. The fourth canter out, I did let go of the horn, and held on to a wad of blue jeans instead (I'm sure it looked silly, but I was balanced rather than holding on.) He broke gait once, and I legged him back into it. It's fast... is all I can say. It's controlled, but fast. He tosses his head if I keep too much rein pressure, and as soon as I let slack in the reins, he slowed down a bit, and relaxed his neck.

To finish up the ride, I wanted to push the steers around the outside of the arena a bit. Les said to me, "Okay, but you must lope down to them." And I did, Holy FAST! Romeo's got cow-cow-cow in him. He cantered pretty quickly down to them. He still had brakes when we got close, but he cantered a few strides too close to them. I wrangled them all together, and trotted while moving them around. We did that for a few minutes, then I cantered him back to the "out gate".

He's got a few more weeks, so Les tells me. It's still amazing what he's picked up in two weeks of riding (with a week of Hurricane-break in the middle). He went from not cantering at all, and complete disregard for neck reining, to all cantering, and a healthy respect for the neck rein. I'm anxious to get some cows in the arena, and have the courage to lope out towards one to cut it away from the herd. He's very cow-y. Something I didn't expect when I bought him. Nifty Neat!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chewie 09/26/08

Stiff and a bit sore. I over-did it the night we trotted, I suppose.. darn it ol' boy, I'm sorry. W/t/c free lunge for about 15 minutes, then I walked him a few minutes bareback. He loosened up after the first 15, but he was a bit fussy bareback, trying to avoid working.

So I tried it again this morning. I gave him a run on Romeo's bit, stainless steel loose ring snaffle with a copper link in the middle (JP Korsteel, I think). He seemed to like it quite a bit. So great.. We'll keep using it.

10 minutes free lunge w/t/c
15 minutes lunge on side reins w/t/c
15 minute under saddle walk One little spurt sitting trot, purposely holding him back a little bit so he wouldn't hurt himself

Fitted him last night for his new Schneider's turnout - It's going to fit like a dream! I'm super happy I invested in it. It's not resting where the Rambo did - so there won't be nasty painful rub-marks on his shoulders this winter. He seemed pretty cooperative with the new belly-band, too. What a neat turnout. No takers yet on the Rambo, so keep considering it, and/or asking anybody you know that has a true need.

I need to get going for the day. I have to find a pair of reasonable dress pants. Rumor is I might be part of the Hurricane Crew invited to dinner with our infamous CEO Wednesday. Little twit likes to think of himself as equal to the President of the USA, I guess... I got a schedule that the dinner is happening, in Freeport, and a note from my boss saying, "We might be asked to attend." Um... can we be a little better in our planning? He ain't so famous he needs to plan this last-minute. The dress for the event was requested to be "very casual, khaki pants & dress shirt." Great.. None of my khakis fit anymore. I've lost about 4" on this diabetic diet I'm on. So they're either waay to wide to keep up, or too short, and up over my ankles when I sit down. dang it. I hate clothes shopping.. hate it hate it hate it.

Cheers everyone... I leave you with two "thoughts of wisdom"..

If we evolved from apes, how's come there's still apes?
When the batteries from your remote control start fading, why do you press harder on the remote buttons?

The Big News Release

An official request finally went out at work, and, while I won't list my employer directly, a brief internet search of the four locations I will mention should make it pretty obvious. gotta pretend to be confidential & all that jazz....

The Seadrift site has initiated a gift card donation program for our colleagues in Freeport, Houston, and Texas City. For those impacted by the storm, we're being asked to purchase gift cards from major retailers (Target, Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart). Those gift cards will be donated to designated reps in Seadrift and Houston, and distributed as appropriate by HR.

I suggested a program that will allow Seadrift employees to donate to our fellow colleagues, and not some random "United Way" dump box. I care about the whole community, please don't misunderstand. But all those "Average Jane & Joes" that live on the coast, if they're poor, "down on their luck", whatever the case, they're bowed up in a shelter somewhere's, with food, clothes, all the donated stuff they could need at this moment. Furthermore, FEMA is going to bend over sideways to help them, after the disaster that was Hurr Katrina. That's great. I don't want my money going to their pockets. I want it to be directly handed to one of my co-workers whose house was destroyed, and they're stuck in a company-sponsored camper-trailer, waiting on insurance, and praying they find a reputable contractor company to repair the damage done by the storm. So a program has been developed, and the donations will be collected Oct 3 and Oct 10.

If by any chance anybody out there in the big world reads this, and wants to help in this effort, contact me by gmail, listed in my profile. I'll find a way. Donation commitments have already come to me from our sister sites in LA (St. Charles, and Plaquemine). The LA sites know what it is to be stranded & without federal assistance - and they're contributing, despite the fact some of them have Hurr Gustav clean-up yet to be done.

So think about it, pray about it, and pitch in if you can.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I can trot, Momma! I can!

Running out of patience, I decided to saddle Chewie up in his best-fitting dressage saddle (with the gullet adjusted just for his cute little self). I put him back in the round pen, with the same sound free lunge, w/t/c. He was obeying voice & hand signals, and remembered the difference between "reverse right where you are and keep going" vs "come into the center, get a love-pat, and get back to work in the other direction."

Somebody's "Dora the Explorer" Happy-Birthday balloon floated into the pasture. Chewie saw it, and was absolutely horrified. So, I walked out to the pasture, picked it up by the string, and brought it into the round pen. I led him towards it, letting him think he was chasing the balloon. It took about ten minutes, but he did finally let me touch him with it, and I rubbed it all over him. It made that neat plastic-swishy noise. ooh.. spooky balloon.

After deciding I was more curious than I could stand, I crawled on him. We only worked for, oh, about 8 minutes. I did a few laps of walk, and two sets of two laps of trot, each direction. WOW! I thought he was floaty before. That new stride I described with his new feet before, that was "up", rather than "dragging"?! It's so different, I can feel it riding. It felt like he was ready to spring into a canter at any moment, but still steady at the trot. I did a little on-bit contact, and a little off-bit, on a loose rein. He accepted the contact cheerfully, not once throwing his head, but instead stretching down, still bent at the poll. One time on loose rein I peeked down, and saw the reins swinging from side to side. Absolutely amazing. What a neat feeling, on a big horse, that finally has a big trot to match.

I crawled off, he licked & chewed, shook all over, and I swear the look on his face was, "Thanks Mom.. that was fun!"

He's coming back.. slowly.. but he's coming back.

Offering Up to a Good Home

I've offered this up on the discussion board I frequent, and, so far, no takers. For those that read the blog, and we've communicated in some way, shape, form, or fashion, if you have a use for this blanket, or can justify to me somebody you know that has a use for it, mail me (in my profile). If I've never heard of you before, don't bother me, please. =) Cheers.

It's fixin' to get "cold" (that's in quotes 'cuz it's all relative to your climate. My definition of the word in South Texas, and bonkers' definition in Canada.. well, they're different).

Chewie's offering up his two-season used Rambo mid-weight to a good home. He put a little tear in one side, repairable with some fishing line & patience (it's maybe two inches total, at a right angle). It's a dark blue color, and has had one coat of waterproofing re-sprayed on it last year. It's at the cleaner's now, and they tell me it'll be back next Tuesday, all clean & ready for a new home. Chewie's offering it out, because last season it was a bad fit on his chest, and rubbed a few patches of hair off on his shoulders. It's about an 81", and fits him generously (16.2H TB).

Shipping fees gets it to you. I don't have a use for it, and don't see a reason for it to sit at my house. I'm not patient enough to take pictures or put it on eBay, and I've gotten two good years out of it.

Lemmeee know if ur interested.

Friday Fill Ins


1. Cooler days, with temperatures below 90F are some of the things I'm most looking forward to in October.

2. Sometimes I wonder what makes stupid people, well, stupid.

3. As a kid, I never thought I'd be able to own a horse, not to mention, two horses and that's why there is a saying, "never say never"!

4. When I'm down, I cry on Chewie's shoulder late in the evening.

5. Working, to make money, to feed the animals is where you'll find me most often.

6. A rainy day is good for sudoku puzzle books, and Law & Order Re-Runs.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to Chewie for a few laps of trot, tomorrow my plans include yard work, house work, and shopping for groceries & new dress pants and Sunday, I want to try that church I've been invited to, take Romeo on a loping ride, and kick some arse in Kenzie's obedience class!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Adult Rider Confessions

I'm gonna set up a Question & Answer for ya'll readers... I'll even answer them myself to get the conversation going...

  1. How many horses own you? Two, Chewie & Romeo
  2. What is their current purpose? Chewie, healing lawn ornament; Romeo, trail buddy in training
  3. What currently is your favorite thing to do with them? Chewie, walk bareback; Romeo, trot over crossrails
  4. What is the best thing your horses do? Chewie - Air Brakes; Romeo - Whoa with reins & hand on his neck
  5. Is there anything you really want for their ultimate purpose beyodn what they are currently doing? Chewie, Low-Level dressage, and ultimately, 2'3"-3' hunter eq over fences; Romeo, low-level open show english eq, and western pleasure eq
  6. What prevents you from doing what you want to with them? Hooves, and riding ability
  7. If there's something that's not being done, is it you, or the horse? Me
  8. What's wrong with the party in #6? Big, Giant Chicken
  9. Can you change anything to get either party better? More horse training; More rider confidence

There now... that was soothing. I just admitted to every one of you I'm scared to death of canter. Terrified. I've got "splat" too many times in that gait, and I'm 110% determined to get over it. I'm hoping Romeo will come back to me with such an easy neck-reining lope that I can get him out in an open field, squeeze him off, and he'll calmly lope about, hop over a downed tree log, and easily lope me on home. Chewie's got that easy canter.. He just needs healthy hooves, and a rider with a bit more confidence.

Romeo Training 09/21/08 WeekLong Update

I might be loping him in the arena this weekend, by the sounds of it.
Things Romeo is doing well
  • No more spurs. All the energy gait changes are with leg cues only
  • Loping from a walk, rather than the buggy-trot
  • Loping out in a straight line

Things Romeo isn't doing well

  • He's insisting on being "in front" when riding with another horse
  • He still insists on going pretty fast to start out
  • He tosses his head when he can't lean on the running martingale

All not so bad. Les says it's stuff that needs work, but all things that can be accomplished in the next few weeks. I'm considering delivering a jump standard pair & three rails over the weekend.. Let them chew on that for a while. I never intended them to work on jumping, but even if Romeo gets a general review cantering to a fence with a confident rider, it's better than what I could show him. I'm tickled red, white, and purple he isn't in spurs anymore... that's just awesome. I'm also happy to report he's gone from the slow twist loose ring snaffle to a Tom Thumb. The TT has a curb chain, one finger fits under the chain when it's loose. I mentioned bringing over my copper ring kimberwicke over, since that's what I can use in the hunter circuit (since a TT isn't show-legal outside of the western pleasure world). I'd love the boy to canter gently... maybe he'll get there sooner rather than later.

Sounds overall like he's doing pretty nifty-good. I figured he wasn't getting rides since I hadn't heard anything. From the phone conversation we just had, I heard about a Sunday ride, and a Monday ride. All sounds good to me.. Any hours with a confident rider is better than a ride with my scared hiney on his back.

Non-Horse.. Good, and Bad...

No horse updates, gang... Chewie's been standing, becuase I've been up to my eyeballs in the rest of life. Romeo's still at Cowboy Les's, and I think he's been too busy with his massage-job to ride him. I hope to visit this weekend & catch a ride myself. Also hoping to catch up with Chewie, stick a saddle on his back, and ask for a few trot transitions. He seems incredibly sound & balanced, I don't see a reason to leave him stand & walk so much.

My employer has a process we call "Balance of Consequences", or BOC. We teach that, in BOC, for every 1 Negative Reinforcement (or punishment), there should be at least 4 Positive Reinforcements... So here I go, trying to live the Vision.

GOOD Tuesday night I attended a church meeting about introducing us to mission activities hosted by our church. How fun! The hosts introduced the program, and finding out "needs & fears" for the community much like brainstorming for a Six Sigma project. Stickie notes everywheres... We're at least making progress.

BAD Wednesday night, after a very long day at work adminstering training, I tried to interject myself into the church Praise team. It was good I went in with no expectations, because they didn't really make me feel incredibly comfortable or welcome. What a nasty feeling... uncomfortable in a church group. blech. 'nuf said. I won't bore ya'll with it.. but it is incredibly discomforting to know a church group doesn't treat everyone equally.

GOOD While sitting on the floor listening to the Praise Team, they sang a powerful chorus that, while I was singing along, I "heard" the lyrics, and realized God was teaching me something..
It's all about You, Jesus
And all this is for You
For Your glory and Your name
It's not about me
As if You should do things my way
You alone are God
And I surrender, to Your ways

GOOD We're finally getting a program off the ground to assist Hurricane Ike victims in our sister plants in the Freeport area. I hate all the waiting, I've been a pestering little nag, and now the formal communications are waiting on Legal to approve. I'm learning patience in here somewhere. If the officials ever get spit out there, I'll probably blast it from the rooftops. Our leaders decided that, since I was one that pushed for the original ideas, and came up with the first suggestions, I'm in charge. Working with HR, we've contacted key personnel to assist, and we're already getting the word out. I can't wait to get started!!!!

GOOD Hurricane Ike pay is gooooood! When I was first evacuating, I was afraid the extra-duty pay would only be a few hundred bucks before taxes (thus about $50 after tax). I was frustrated, and scared I'd volunteered to put myself at risk for pennies. Then, after the storm, I figured, "We won't get a dime. I put in almost 3 hours that Sunday for nothing." Well, the official word is in... God is Good, all the time. I'm going to get a significant extra paycheck for my time on the extra-duty crew. I feel a bit guilty, as some of the sister sites aren't getting paid as generously, but I am blessed. This extra comes at a much-needed time. I told my Dad last night, this check looks a lot like truck insurance and a credit card payment or two. I am blessed...

GOOD John McCain heard me.. well, maybe me and thousands of others. I told a campaign fundraiser months ago, "It's time for John to do the job he's paid for. He's paid through my taxes to be a Senator. The gas prices are through the roof... My grocery bill is killing me... If he wants more funds from my bank account, you tell him to go back to the Senate floor, and at least act like he can lead with new bills & true bipartisan leadership." News yesterday is he suspended his campaign, and he's meeting with the President. Good job, Senator.. Let me go get the month's bills paid, and I'll cut ya another check.

That's FIVE GOODS to ONE BAD. I did it plus one. Everybody have a good day. I'll let in on the Ike relief secret as soon as the PR-Legal-Politically Correct communications are issued.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chewie 09/22/08

It was late in the evening, and I knew there wouldn't be much daylight. Mosquitoes and other flying pests have been yucky lately, so I wasn't very motivated to turn the lights on. I decided to catch Chewie, clean him up, and free lunge a bit.

We worked on 2-laps each gait & direction. Plenty of transitions and direction changes. I was also working on visual cues to get him to stop and come to the center of the round pen. I think he was getting it - he'd see my arm reach out when I'd exhale, and walk into the center, licking & chewing.. "scratch me, momma.. right there... thanks momma".

I grabbed my helmet, his bit, and crawled on. Rather than 15 minutes of plain regular walk, I worked on spiral in & out, plenty of direction changes, and oodles of neck reining. We'd make circles in to the center, reverse out, or complete the circle. I split the round pen into quarters, and did quarter turns. All walking, no halt-breaks. Solid walk for 15 minutes. No rein contact, all neck reining & leg cues. Spiral in & out without bit contact was funny. He was leaning on leg cues for every step. Very very neat. When I got off, he was yawning, licking & chewing, and shook all over. *giggle* Good to see he enjoyed it as much as I did.

Had a call from Cowboy Les last night... "Can Romeo wear a martingale like I am using on him when he competes jumping?" I responded, "No. That's a running martingale. No extra aids during flat classes, and standing martingale only over fences. There's no reason to even need that at the lower levels he competes at." For crying out loud... if he can't train the horse without contraptions, why did I leave him there?! His other two horses he trained, Sugar, and Blue, on the flat, when they're not on cows, work in a Tom Thumb with a small leather strap as a chin strap. If he can train them on a lousy Tom Thumb, why in the heck does Romeo need a running martingale and a twisted wire snaffle? There's no reason to add contraptions. Geez...

The rest of life, is, well, life.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Whatta Weekend ... Horse Updates x3

Friday - both boys worked. Romeo in his cowboy-borrowed bit. He did great. First time he tried a zippy trot, I applied a little bitta bit pressure, and slam! on the brakes. That'll get his attention. Good stuff! We walked around the neighborhood a bit, then went to the neighbor's yard. He was un-boarding his windows, and sat to take a break. He sat down on his little square deck in the yard, and Romeo & I walked over to it. Romeo seemed scare of the deck, so I asked him to walk up to it, so he could see it wasn't going to hurt him. He walked right up to it, and even tried to take a step up on it. Good boy!

Chewie Friday - w/t/c in side reins, 6, then 5. He was pretty good. Not very round & not giving all the time at the poll, but not taking off & fighting it, either. 25 minutes of that, then I worked him at a collected & long loose walk, alternating collection & direction for 10 minutes. Sound, and happy.

Saturday - Chewie, repeat. He was pretty darn good. Accepting of the collected walk, with a nice forward walk. Hooves look great, and I think the pulse on the left front is gone. If it's not gone, it sure is hard to feel. I'm going to look for it again tonight. Right pulse is still there, but the hoof seems to be handling the shoe job well - He isn't dragging it, and still has nice front movement at trot. About 12 minutes of bareback walk - I lost track of time, we were having fun. I also asked for turns on the forehand, and turns on the haunches, first time since July. He wasn't 100%, but gave a pretty good effort.

Romeo, Saturday. In the morning, we had a longer work session, about 45 minutes total, with much more trot. The trot work was great. Nice & easy, slow, bending on neck rein & leg. Towards the end, I collected him up, and put him in a come & go workout of trot shortening & lengthening. He got pretty firey from that, and it made me consider maybe that lengthened trot doesn't feel good for him. Not sure.

Romeo Saturday night. We loaded up grain, supplements, and the trailer, and headed out. Went to the rodeo arena to hang out with the ropers. (This was not the original plan - the initial plans were to take Romeo to Cowboy Les' house, unload his things, then go for a short trail ride before leaving him there. But, cowboys change their plans frequently, and anytime someone says, "Let's go rope", there's no stopping it.) Romeo helped pen the steers, and moved them from the end of the pen to the roping chute twice. The second time was a true adventure. There were some riders outside the alleyway, helping us move the steers along. There was also a younger high-school aged kid holding an electric shock prod. Turns out, that prod has more influence than Romeo does. Two steers flew past us as the kid stood on the fence between the arena and the alleyway. The steers spooked, split with about 6 behind the kid (on the wrong side of the chute). It was a mess. I know the kid is learning, but when everyone hollers, "Get down off the fence! You're confusing them! Get down!", why not listen? augh.. people are stupid. :)

Both boys had Sunday off. Romeo is at Cowboy Les' house, and Chewie got a break. I was busy all day, between church at 8am, a kick-off singles group meeting at noon, NFL football at 3, obedience trainingat 430pm. It amazes me that I didn't sleep very well last night. I should have, as busy as I was.

Today is another day. Chewie will get his regular work tonight, with probably 20 minutes on side reins, 20 minutes bareback walk. I *might* ask for a brief circle each way wp jog.. I'm just not sure.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chewie 09/16/08

Tick check in the ears - all clear. I groomed him a bit, and we went to the round pen.

w/t/c 20 minutes, each direction sound. I put on my helmet, put his french link bit in, and gently hopped on bareback from an upside-down flower pot. Walked for five minutes, and I got off. He was still sound back to the barn.

I'd like to give that a "go" again tonight, if there's enough daylight. Might even toss a jacket on, and turn the round pen lights on. Mr Don farrier said I could do that for a few days consecutive, adding time slowly. I plan to keep this up through the weekend, then give him a call to see where to go from here.

Big plan tonight is Romeo again, front, side yard, and maybe a little figure-eights in his pasture. Over the weekend, he'll go back to Cowboy Les' house for some more work. I figure it'll be a few more weeks there at least.

Les thinks the bad ride over the last weekend (at my evac house) was due to stress & a new place. I'm starting to wonder if it's saddle fit. I know my western saddle isn't a great fit on either horse.. and I know I ought to be looking for a used replacement. It's too bad used saddles aren't falling out of the sky & landing cheap in my neighborhood. :)

Storm recovery continues for some of my co-workers at another site in the corporation. It's frustrating to be this geographically close, and not have any way to help. I've asked, and even made some suggestions. I don't have much desire to randomnly donate cash & water. I'd rather be helping somebody in particular that I know or have worked with. I'm hoping we'll have some plans made soon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Orange, Texas, after Ike

Fence Fish. LOL

Those are Good Peoples!

How many engineers does it take to change a truck tire? About three... What I learned yesterday, after a co-worker told me he saw a bolt in my back passenger tire, and offered to change it out to the spare. Another car pulled up, two other engineers aboard. They came over, and while one supervised, another helped. So, technically, it takes two engineers to get it done, and one to supervise. HAH!

Took the stupid near-flat tire back to where I bought it, a Firestone in town. Boy, was I shocked. The guy at the desk looked it up, and said, "It'll be at least an hour before we can get to it, and it's going to be $19.73 including tax." I said, "Well then, the heck with you. See if I buy another tire here. That's almost brand-new, and that charge is ridiculous."

Walked out, and went to the Discount Tire down the street, the same place where I've bought two trailer tires. I explained my flat tire to a fellow behind the desk, we looked at it, and he said, "It'll be a while, but we'll get it fixed, and get it back on the truck."

I waited, and waited. The fellow that was assigned the job came into the waiting room, and said, "Not a big deal. It's fixable. It'll only be a few more minutes." A bit later, he came in, paper in his hand. "Alright ma'am. It's all done for you. Have a great evening. Drive carefully."

No charge. Absolutely zero charge. What good peoples! Discount Tire gets my vote, and my future tire purchases. If that's how they try to lure in customers, with no charge repairs, then it works. It's such a good way to treat customers, I'm blogging about it, so anybody with a shop in driving distance might consider them.

Horses are good. Ears were critter-free last night, and all are healing nicely. I'll clean them out tonight, and add more Tri-Tec. Beautiful cool morning today, with a few more on the forecast future.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wouldn't it Be Nice if...

With the mess in Houston, I can't help but glue myself to the internet, radio, and the like. I'm listening, watching, and just getting overall sad.

I had a thought .. Wouldn't it be neat if some of those rescued Katrina victims that got help from Houston (through shelters, food, water, clothes, etc) came here, goods in tow, and helped the Ike victims?

I know, it's a silly thought.. Get help, give help. Silly, stupid thought, but worth mentioning out loud.

ALSO... If you are looking for a way to donate to an organization that will be helping Ike victims, with direct aid..
go to http://www.feedthechildren.org

Whirlwind Return

Saturday afternoon, Mac tapped on the bedroom door. It was the vet on the phone. All the kids could be picked up, when I was ready. So we planned to arrive there at 4:30pm, after my work phone meeting. Then, my boss calls. He says I was expected at work at 8:00am Sunday morning. I figured, "Why leave half of the family here and waste gas driving back up".

I frantically packed everything, told boss I wasn't going to make the 4pm meeting if he wanted me at work Sunday morning. Mac, Paula, and I scrambled to the vet, picked up all five little ones, came back home, and got the horses ready.

In the midst of organizing horses, with leg wraps, and boots, hay, grain, and the like, I found four ticks in ears. Two on Chewie, two on Romeo. Freak! I hurried to remove them (with fingers, YUCK!), soothed their little brains, and thanked them for letting me get in ears easily. Romeo hates having his ears messed with. I was more than grateful he allowed me in this instance. One of his ticks looked like it'd been there a while. Shame on me for not looking closer.

The trip home, was, long. It didn't take any longer than it normally used to when I drove for lessons, but it just felt long & stressful. I got home at dusk (having conquered a 5 minute raining downpour near the cut off backroad to the house), and scrambled to get everybody unpacked, fed, and settled.

Sunday was spent with a few hours at work, grocery shopping, haircut, housework, laundry, and MacKenzie at obedience class. All those things I should've had the whole weekend to do. Frantic and chaotic. I took a wet rag to the horses' ears, found one more newly attached tick in Chewie's ear, removed it, and medicated all ears. I found Romeo to be quite forgiving, still letting me clean his ears out, pretty deep at that. Thank goodness for small favors.. I'm pretty glad I took the time when I first got him to mess with his ears nearly every evening. All that fussing & fighting was well worth it, especially now, as I will be tick-checking every evening, and preparing for the worst at all times. It'll cool off outside soon enough, and the tick monsters will subside.

Kenzie was fair to average in class. Poor kid was tired, and so was her Momma. Only two other dogs showed up in class, and neither were much better than her.

Unfortunately, life caught up with me last night. I was up sick off & on from around 11pm until about 3:30am this morning. Big old normal nausea. I just don't handle that much stress, chaos, or diet change well at all. All the running and stress chased me down, and my body just couldn't handle it.

Well, it's back to work, and some reality. The week will fly by fast, I'm sure of it. There's much to do, and so few hours of working daylight to get them done.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

After the Storm... Deciding What to do.

The winds are still moderate, and there's the occasional burst of rain. It's nothing severe, though.

Here's the thing - It's 98% certain I'll need to be at work tomorrow. That's fine, BUT! I can't haul the horses in this madness. It's too windy for the trailer, by far. I don't like the idea of leaving them here, but I probably don't have a choice. They will need to stay, probably until Friday when I'm off again & can come back up here.

ARGH! I need to make up my freaking mind, and figure out what to do. I don't want to wait until 4pm for the work meeting, but maybe that is the best option. Wait until the 4:00 work call, see what the winds are like here, then pile up & go. Problem is, how long will the vet's be open, if they're even open?! I don't want to leave *everyone* here.

I should add, a friend drove to the house, walked the fenceline, and all is well. Kit-Ten was even wandering around the backyard howling for dinner. All is great at home, no wind, no rain, and in fact, better conditions than here. Problem is getting to there from here.

Darn it.. Storms like this don't come with an instruction manual. Darn it! A part of me sighs with relief.. it could've been much, much, MUCH worse. The storm turning north showed me just how bad the damage could've been. How much flooding I could be driving into, how little of a house I might have left. Instead, I'm anxiously trying to figure out what to do next. Stay or go, stay or go, stay or go. *sigh*

The Day Of the Storm

It's windy here, and starting to rain. They're big drops... and the trees are all bending around at the tops.

I slept, well, enough. Woke up every few hours, checked for power, then checked the PC for radar updates. Looks like home didn't get a drop of rain. Doesn't that figure... Not sure about the wind, because it looked close to the outside of the rain bands there for a while.

Work update at 4pm yesterday is to still plan on Sunday. Something was said about bringing my own meals, which could be complicated if I can't get to an open store. Another update at 4pm today, so we'll see. There's also a concern there won't be enough fuel (nitrogen, electricity, ethylene) to start up our site... another reason I don't understand why we have to hurry back.

Played with mini horses Annie & Robin yesterday. Then we went on a frantic adventure to search out & lead in all of the mini's to the barn. I gave up my stall space & left Chewie and Romeo in the paddock (with shelter) for the storm. Some of the minis were cooperative and easy to catch, some not. At the end of the gathering, I snagged Pagan & Robin Red pony, and hand walked them, holding onto halters, back to the barn. Cooperative little stinkers, although they walk slow. All stayed calm, surprising for how much the wind was whipping about.

As for the storm, as I figured, rescues abound on the news, for all the idjits who didn't leave, assuming nobody in the city official teams knew what they were talking about. Of course! All those stupid fire & rescue people have no clue what they're doing... we should all just stay at home, and "ride it out". IDJITS

Boys were good this morning.. Gave them hay, and decided we're skipping their morning grain. It's too windy, and just nasty out.. no reason to stress their tummies with grain, and then have some emergency vet call to deal with.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Horses Remind Me...

Of the little things. They're peacefully in a paddock together now, and it looks like Chewie got his ear cut on the inside. I'll try to get closer tonight. Other than that, they've been great. They hand walk to and from stalls for their meals without incident. Many other big horses & mini horses are around, and there hasn't been a scuffle, a snort, or a fussy fight between anybody. They're eating all of every meal, and gobbling every giblit of hay I toss at them.

Rode Romeo in the arena, about 45 minutes. He's progressing, but the little turkey flies into figure eight turns right now. Darn it! :) He'll get better.

Lunged Chewie for about 20 minutes. He was going bezerk while I was riding Romeo, pretty upset about the whole thing, so I didn't lunge longer. Sound both ways, w/t/c. He loved his hose-down afterwards, yawning, licking, chewing. Cookies for all.

The clouds are rolling in, and they say the storm will hit tonight. The latest track & predictions say it will rain, and bring 40-60mph winds to my house. I sure hope the trailer house can handle that, and no tree branches swing into the windows.

All here at my home-away-from-home is good. Tranquil, peaceful. Betty the maid washed my clothes from yesterday, and brought clean towels. :) I enjoyed fresh eggs this morning for breakfast. I did get a good night's rest, and that was refreshing. Woke up hot a few times... need to ditch a blanket before I turn in tonight.

I still owe ya'll my thoughts on evacuations.. For now, I'll say this -- "If they say go, GO! You idjits! They don't say evacuate for the fun of watching you get stuck in traffic!" Too many on the Houston / Galveston coast aren't going "because it costs money". Dial 3-1-1, they'll get you FREE transportation to a FREE shelter with FREE meals! You idjits! Nobody wants to see you sitting on your roof, house flooded, saying, "I didn't know it would be this bad!" IDJITS! Just GO! =) That about covers it.

Hope to call to check on furry little ones today. I suspect they're doing great, but probably miss me. The cats & little dog Charlie here snuggle up once in a while, I think to remind me I'm still cared for.

FSSunny - Don't worry about it.. Don't feel guilty about your weather compared to mine. I went through that with Katrina. Here's how I settled it in my mind - I donated blood, and donated cash to the Red Cross after the storm. That little money I donated probably went to some clothes & hygeine supplies in a shelter. Rather than feel guilty, I did something... Maybe that will help you. Otherwise, go groom a horse, and think of me...

It's just stuff... Yeah, it's my stuff, but that's all it is. Sitting & worrying about it getting damaged won't bring it back after the storm. There's nothing there I can't replace. I guess I've lived too many places to be worried about the structure. A part of me hopes it goes - I'd love a newer place, even if just a trailer house again. =)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm safe & settled

Cats, dogs, horses, and I gave up the homefront and arrived at my safe-house around 10am. Settled the horses, took dogs & cats to the nearby vet, and came back "home".

The house is amazing, bed & bath to myself, it's peaceful, tranquil. I heard my favorite message when I got unpacked from the truck - "Make yourself at home. We won't serve you, so ask, or just get it." I like families like this - I felt welcomed & settled immediatley.

The boys are doing good. Everybody loaded up soo well. After everyone was packed, I went back through the house again, cried a little, and thought, "It's only stuff. Everything that matters to me is out in that truck, waiting for me. The rest of this is just stuff, and nothing more. Stuff replaces, pets don't."

Now it's hurry & wait. I'm going to sit on the radar, and post occasional thoughts & musings. Rumor is at work I'm expected back for "Early Returnees" duty on Sunday. Damage at work is now expected to be minimal, if at all. House may not be so lucky, and the Freeport site is in the bulls eye now.

At some point, I'll rant & rave about folks that refuse to take evacuations seriously... But for now, I'm just going to enjoy being away from the coastline.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How Can I Fear?

I'm going to be singing this one to myself all day .... Thought I might as well share it for anybody else that might need it ...

When shadows fall, and the night covers all
There are things that my eyes cannot see
How can I fear? For the Savior is near
He walks along with me

How can I fear? Jesus is near
He ever watches over me
Worries all cease; He gives me peace
How can I fear, with Jesus?

When I'm alone, and I face the unknown
And I fear what the future may be
I can depend, on the strength of my Friend
My Lord abides with me

How can I fear? Jesus is near
He ever watches over me
Worries all cease; He gives me peace
How can I fear, with Jesus?

And... Matt 6:33
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself; Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Ike, 9/10, AM Update

All of my evac plans are in place. Things that could blow away are organized as best they can be. Paperwork for insurance, me, critters, all gathered & assembled. All pet meds are bagged & ready.

This is when I ask myself, "Why didn't I look harder for a job off the coast, closer to my family?! I don't like being this far away from them, or this close to bad weather."

I won't be homesick, I won't lean on anybody. I'm determined to take care of myself. God sent His own little blessing my way this morning - A friend on an Equine discussion board I frequent offered up her house, complete with a shed & pens for the horses, and the top floor of her home for me, dogs, cats. May God bless her for the generosity. Thank goodness in this case it's not needed.

If I don't respond, and anybody wants to find me, go to my profile, look at the start of my google mail, and replace gmail.com with yahoo.com . It's an address I can get to from my cell phone until I can get back to a computer. Should be one at my destination, and I will have personal PC, and work PC with me.

If you're the praying kind, start now...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ike... Ike...2pm NHC Update

I'm a bit north of there... Follow the TX coastline along with me... See where, from LA down along the coast. There's a little "blurp" in the coastline, yup.. go farther down.
See that second "blurp" on the coastline? I'm just north of that.
Snot! At least horse plans are made. I wanna go back up North, to Yankee-Land, where I came from...

I'll Be Under the Couch if Ya'll Need Me

Or , better titled.. "Making Plans, just in case."

Stupid Storm Ike. Make up yer freakin' mind! First, it's headed north, to LA, and I felt horribly sick that my Baton Rouge & New Orleans friends were going to get slammed again. Guilt... Then, it stayed on the south end of Cuba, and the weather dudes said, "It's headed to Port O'Connor, or Galveston, we can't tell."

So I called Sam's Mom, P, explained I'm on the storm crew at work, and I needed a place for the boys, even if temporary. She talked to her BF, and they agreed, Chewie, Romeo, and I, have a place, if we need it. Plans made... I'll figure out what to do with the little four-leggeds closer to the weather... find a vet or something.

Went to bed, with the same "whole coast of TX" in the uncertain cone. Woke up this morning, weather fellows saying, "Anywhere from North Mexico to Galveston." For cryin' out loud.. Make up your mind!

Work weather forecast says South of here... I can only hope.

No pony-action yesterday. I wasn't feeling up to par, and didn't see any reason to make Chewie suffer due to my discomfort.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Chewie, Weekend of 9/5

9/4 - Round pen, near dusk, about 30 minutes of free walk, trot, canter. Plenty of transitions, not much goofing off, and completely sound.

9/5 - Chewie had other plans. I tried catching him in the late morning, and after a half hour chasing him around the pasture, I gave up.
Tried again, in the evening, and while he took off once, he did let me catch him. Another half hour of w/t/c free lunge.

9/6 - Round pen, morning. He didn't run off, and was completely compliant. I introduced him to some uncoordinated ground driving. I didn't put the surcingle on, and as a result, the outside line kept creeping up his withers. He did a lotta walk driving, and a bit of trot. Plenty of work w/t/c free round pen, again.... Sound. 40 minutes.

9/7 - Day off.

Will start back up tonight. I'm going to use his bridle and surcingle. No side reins. Perhaps later in the week I'll reintroduce those.

*laugh* While doing yard work yesterday, I accidentally left the little gate open from Chewie's pasture. I also, fortunately, left the other little gate open to Romeo's pasture.. I was happily mowing the grass, and saw Chewie, standing in between the stalls, munching on lawn grass. No halter, nothing.. =) I laughed as I turned the mower off, and quietly walked over to Chewie. He walked away from me, wandered through Romeo's little pasture gate, and sniffed all over. I closed both gates, praised him for not running down the street like a nut, and left him in Romeo's lot. I will put him back in his spot tonight, and I'm sure he'll appreciate all the shady tree cover.

Romeo Training 09/07/08 Ride 4

Les invited me to the town youth rodeo arena, and said Romeo was saddled & ready for me.

I changed clothes swiftly after MacKenzie's training class, and headed there. I arrived to a handful of trailers, and a handful of riders. There were four seasoned team ropers there, one of which was Les. There was one guy there I'd not seen before, a younger fellow, obviously not well seasoned, because he sure didn't catch much. There was also a younger guy there - a rider I've seen before, and don't like very much. As I put it to one of the older seasoned cowboys, "I don't show much attention to guys that beat their horses. He treats his horses like tar, they're skinny, the spurs aren't necessary, and he can't ride worth a flip." The old hand laughed, and said to me, "Well, now I know I better not beat my horses!" =) Smart man! Finally, the last rider was a young boy... on an adorable Appaloosa gelding. Every time the Appy stepped off at a walk, the boy's spurs would poke into him. But the Appy didn't flinch. Out of the header box, the Appy loped out calmly, stayed right with the steer, and carried that boy safely. Les laughed, "That old horse won't be able to catch the fast steers." I said, "Maybe... but that little horse won't let anything happen to that kid, and that matters more than fast steers."

During the evening, I stayed aboard Romeo, walking, trotting... figure eights, circles. All near the top of the roping boxes, watching the action. Romeo didn't overreact, and calmly took care of me, working on his reining in other distractions. The seasoned ropers all know me from previous interactions, and we talked in between their runs. The guy that I don't appreciate how he treats his horses tried to strike up a conversation.. "He's a nice sized horse, with a nice head... Where'd you find him?" I politely answered, and rode off. Twice, Les and I pushed the steers back to the top of the arena, Romeo leading the way. The first time, I calmly pushed them. The second time, I was a bit more aggressive, having found my balance in the oversized saddle. Romeo kept his mind on the steers without getting ugly. He pushed them well.. I was happy. Even with some ruckus going on around him, he stayed calm.

A lady that Les knows arrived at the arena, and sat up in the bleachers. Les said, "You wanna make her day? Ask her if she wants to ride your horse." So I did. She sprung out of her seat, and quickly came into the arena. It was a bit hilarious to watch her try to get on. Romeo's just barely 15H on a tall-day, but she could barely get into the stirrup (that was about 3 holes too long for her legs), and swinging the other leg over was even more amusing. Romeo didn't flinch, or even look back at her. I almost heard him snicker under his breath. He was absolutely, 100%, an angel. She walked him up & down the arena, and he turned when he needed to, stopped when he should, and even made a few decisions for her. At one point, one of the roping runs came right up against her. The header wasn't watching where he was going, and almost ran into her. With the heeler close behind, a horse behind, and in front of her, I carefully watched Romeo and his uneducated passenger. Romeo stopped, stood calm, and watched the commotion. The header moved on, heeler headed up the center, and when the horse in front of Romeo walked on, so did he. It was as if the whole thing didn't happen right beside him. He stayed incredibly quiet. Good Good Pony!

My ride, combined with the other lady's ride, Romeo was under saddle for nearly three hours, mostly at the walk.

Romeo Training 09/06/08 Ride 3

In Romeo's morning session, Les saddled him, tied him to stand, and later went out to work. They repeated from the day before, but stayed in a smaller pasture at his house. Worked on reining, and loping. He said Romeo's lope out to the left is better balanced than his lope right, but both were more controlled. Total work, about 45 minutes.

In the early evening, I arrived, and hopped on Romeo a while. He was already standing, saddled, tied, and calm. Les rode him a bit before I had arrived, to "see what mood he was in." As I watched, I noticed Romeo was turning pretty easy. Les loped him off to the left, and it's definitely progress. Romeo was irregular in the speed, and still a bit snappier than I'd prefer, with his head up in the clouds, but he did lope off, and some of it, I may be able to ride withotu complete fear. With spurs tied to my boots, I climbed on. I rode in Les's cutting saddle, and Romeo was sporting a twisted wire snaffle large ringed bit. I slid around a while in the much larger saddle, and tried to figure out where his buttons all were, since they're in the process of changing. He trotted a few figure eights, and we worked on reining only. I got some sassy attitude, but he was well-behaved.

I put my saddle on Amigo, and off we went. Les on Romeo, me on Amigo. We entered that same old cotton field, and Les hollered me into a lope. I wasn't in the mood, unsure what I would do, what Amigo might try, or what Les & Romeo were going to do behind us. As I loped forward, I focused *very* hard on some trees waaaaaaaaaay off in the distance. "Focus, and don't think about anything else", I told myself. "Now would be a real stupid time to fall on your face, so don't blow it. Romeo needs me to be calm & bright right now, and the old horse underneath me isn't going to react if I don't react." Les & Romeo galloped on by us, alternating his silly buggy trot with the goofy gallop. Les kept spurring him on, hollering at him, "Just lope, nitwit!" They came down to a walk, and Amigo carried me up to them.

A little chatting, a little relaxing, and I smooched Amigo right up into another lope. I didn't ask Les, I didn't look around, I just set focus on those same trees, and off I went. Amigo increased speed a bit, but stayed overall relaxed. Les & Romeo whizzed by us again, and that time I couldn't help but laugh. Romeo apparently likes to be in front, because once he was past us, he calmed right down, and both horses were loping about the same stride. We reached the end of the straight row, and walked a while.

Les said to me, "Romeo needs to quit getting all stirred up every time you take off. So, lope out to that third marker, and stop. Turn around, and face us." When I asked if they'd be loping out again, he said, "No. I'm going to start working on getting him to quit worrying about the other horse, and just worry about me." It worked. Romeo made a nice walk & trot, at least after I stopped & watched on.

Total work, about an hour and a half. I got some confidence, and Romeo got more lessons.

Romeo Training 09/05/08 Ride 2

Les and Romeo reviewed the reining. A spur poke or two, and the little man remembered his job - turn with the rein, before the spur connects.

Then they went for a lope across a cotton field that had finished for the year. Romeo took off, at a gallop, alternating between the gallop & his "buggy trot". Les kept him going until Romeo decided a lope was easier than a gallop, and settled in for a bit of loping. They romped one direction, and made a circle back on home. Les alternated spurts of trot & lope, along with figure eights and circles at the trot to reinforce the neck rein.

Total work, about an hour.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Chewie Round Pen 09/02/08

After I dropped Romeo off at Les's house, and arrived back home, Chewie was pretty happy to see me. So, I took my hoofpick, Durasole, and halter, and headed with him to the round pen. I really only intended to clean his feets, apply the gorilla-killer solution, and ask for a little trot, expecting the limp to persist.

When I set Chewie loose in the round pen, he took off, like the happy race horse he is. He ran and ran and ran... I left the round pen briefly enough to get his attention. After about 5 minutes of this silly running nonsense, bucking, farting, twisting mid-air, rearing, he finally calmed down.

I asked for walk-left, he was sound.
I asked for walk-right, he was sound.
I asked for trot-left, I got about 6 strides, then canter left (slow)
I asked again, and got trot-left, he was sound.
I asked for walk-right again, he was still sound.
I asked for trot-right, again, a few strides, then canter right (fast)
Asked again, for trot-right, he was sound!
Asked for brief canter-right, he was sound. Slow, easy, head to the inside!

Things I noticed...
Chewie was sound, trot, canter, left & right.
Knee action! Rather than dragging his toes, kicking up dust in the front, and not giving a floaty trot, he was lifting his legs, bending his knees with every step, and hitting the ground whole-hoof at once. Beautiful movement!
I didn't have to push him at trot to get a nice stride. I clucked, and he was tracking.
No shoe clicking in the full tracking trot. No rear hoof hitting front hoof.
No tripping! He was picking up all four hooves.

Total work, about 20 minutes, some because of Chewie's flip-out. I turned him loose, and he followed me up to the trailer for a pat & cookie.

Talked to Mr Don. He was happy with the good news, and suggested the following path forward:
Lunge & Round pen for two more weeks
Light to moderate work only
In two weeks, ride bareback, at the walk, 5 minutes for one day
Next day, 5 minutes, if sound, add 2-3 minutes
Next day, add a few more
Repeat Repeat
Only at the walk, bareback, for at least one week, perhaps two
Then, call again, give him an update on soundness, and he'll suggest when he can carry bareback at trot, or saddled.

Romeo Training 09/03/08 Ride 1

I'll mark these as listed above to capture what Les tells me for each of Romeo's training rides. I'll also label appropriately for later use.

Les saddled Romeo, and tied him to the horse stocks, and ran some errands including loading up his tractor to haul for tire repair. About an hour after being tied, he bitted him with a Tom Thumb (leather strap under the chin, instead of a chain), tightened the girth, and took him to the round pen.

Les asked for neck reining in a figure eight pattern at walk & trot. He asked first by laying the rein, then a gentle tug on the direct rein, followed by increasing spur pokes. After a time, Romeo picked up on the lesson. The first few pokes weren't gentle, but Romeo was completely ignoring the aids. By the end of the ride, Romeo was performing figure eight neck reins at the walk & trot, with only neck rein & calf pressure.

Romeo was refusing to back up beyond three steps, before planting his feet & tossing his head up in the air. Les persisted, and held contact until Romeo would give & back up. Les told me he's going to repeat this until Romeo learns to back up on easy contact, and continue to back up until the pressure is removed.

Les asked Romeo to canter, and he had two speeds - super fast trot, and gallop. Any time Les asked him to "ease up", Romeo would fall directly into the fast trot. Romeo is also leaning at the gallop, inside or outside. Les said he would "pick him back up" with his legs to get him straight. To keep him in the gallop, Les also had to keep pressure on him with leg to not let him drop gait. Much more work needs done in this area.

After about an hour's work, Les unsaddled Romeo, hosed the sweat down (very sweaty horse), tied him again to let him dry, then fed about 45 minutes after.

The overall lesson is Romeo is very smart, quick to learn, bends around easy. But, he does get fired up, irritated, swishes his tail, and more angry the longer the ride goes. He did pick up on the figure eight pattern neck rein lesson, but still has learning to do at the lope. We want a lope, not a gallop. If I want a gallop, I'll ask for it, from the lope, but not until the lope is controlled.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's an Award!

Folks that look forward to my little ditty updates.

Nifty good!

Thanks to fssunnysd for sharing in the magic. The ones I like already have this little gadget for the most part, but I will try to find somebody I read up on and share it.
I do have a detailed update, but will keep it general for this minute.. update more when I can..
Chewie . Round pen. Last night. sound walk & trot both directions! :) Very brief work, but good.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Borrowed Horses in An Open Field

Les and I took Amigo & Sugar out for a walk that lasted a little over an hour. We trampled through crop pastures, all disced & done for the season. Amigo looked real hard at some cotton laying on a turnrow. We didn't canter off into the sunset, but settled for walk & lotsa trot. A good time had by all.

Romeo is going to stay at Les's for a while, starting tonight. His feet are going to be trimmed up Thursday, and then Les is planning on riding him a bit. His aim is to teach Romeo to neck rein & canter without so much fuss & fight. It'll be good for him, and great for me. I'm anxious to watch them work together, and more anxious to see Romeo get annoyed & upset while somebody with extreme confidence is on him. Les has done initial training (breaking) on quite a few colts, and I've ridden the final product - Sugar & Blue. Both are easy-rides, and pretty tolerant of my screw ups. I recognize that Romeo won't be as easy to ride as Sugar & Blue initially - Both of them have had years of Les' training, as well as a few months at other roping-horse trainers. It'll be good, anyways.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Status Quo

No new changes with Chewie. Nothing will improve overnight, and I'm aware of that. Took Romeo on a few walks around the neighborhood without incident. He met up with the neighbors dogs again, and behaved nicely. As one dog sniffed his back leg, he didn't even pin his ears... much improved.

Happy Labor Day! It's hard to be happy... I have friends in LA that are getting pounded by Gustav. Stupid storm! Shoo!! Go Away! Other than the dumb weather, it's been a good three day weekend.

Got some weed killer down around the house, but I ran out before making it out to fence line. Hope to get more today, and finish it out this weekend.

Happy day to all of you outside of the Gulf Coast. Hoping the weather has fared well for the majority of you.