Sunday, March 31, 2013


Romeo and I went for a half hour walk down the road.  Highlights - cows, donkeys braying, and leaning half way off his side to get to the mail at the back of the box.  We landed a package from England, a magazine, and a handful of junk ads.  Without saddle bags to hold it all, I was holding things, stuffing things in crannies under the saddle pommel, and pretty much laughing all the way back to the house.  Good thing he knows his way, as the reins were laying on his neck from the mailbox almost the rest of the way home. 

Harley's sheath is back to 95% normal.  One side was slightly swollen still yesterday, and the rest was a bit wrinkly from the swelling receding.  I was happy to have him back. Since he was already dressed in his new saddle for yesterday's pictures, I took him to the arena that way.  Nice pleasant longe (with easy canter both ways), so I hopped on (from the mounting block - I'm not flexible enough to strain his back from the ground). 

Good work both directions.  I'm still wobbly in the saddle, and it pleases me that as I wobble about, Harley breaks gait and slows down.  Each and every time.  Good kid, protecting us both.  Canter work was quite nice.  I was able to get the transition a few times just on seat & legs - something I could not easily do in the other saddles I tried.  I think we can now call this one a success.  The Ideal Grandee is perfect for his body size and mine.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The saddle

Comes with its own case.  Fancy! 

Harley, modelling it just sitting atop his back.  

 Straps!  Holy straps!  The three standard girth straps, and the extra up front - it's called a point strap.  Harley uses that one, and the one clear to the back.  See those generous knee and thigh blocks.  They put an end to the question "Where do my legs go?"

The finished product, all girthed up.  Check out that OhCrapStrap! custom from MrsMom.

3/29/13 Stirlingshire Saddle Fitters

If you live in South Texas, ride English, you need these ladies!  Alene and Louise are amazing, master saddlers, and they can make improvements in your horse's mood and ride that you probably aren't expecting.  They travel here twice a year from Scotland, March, and November.  Google their name, check them out!

Harley and I arrived at the new farm right on schedule, a bit under 2 hours from when we left home.  Low traffic, easy to find, good parking.  Louise waved a hello, and we quickly got started. 

I pointed out the "no sweat spots" on my dressage saddle, which she quickly planned a fix for.  "Just a bit more flocking, but not too much.  It's already nice & high on him, we don't need to make it higher."  Good enough. 

Then she set the new saddle on his back.  Ideal Saddle Company's Grandee A/P saddle.  Dreamy.. Just dreamy.  Generous knee and thigh blocks, slick sides, and a nice soft seat.  Mine came with a point-strap (extra girth strap attached from the front of the saddle tree), like the strap added to my dressage saddle.  This helps keep the saddle from slipping forward. 

We got right down to business.  Harley was dressed, and taken to the grassy jump arena.  He longed out decently.  I had some trouble getting him into canter, and a bit more trouble getting him to stay in it.  Didn't bring my longe whip.. My bad.. Lazy.  Louise gave it an extra check, and I hopped aboard. 

Things I immediately felt - wider seat, secure seat, and flat, but not as flat as the Collegiate jump saddle I just sold.  It was "huggy", but still "open" feeling.  The longer I sat in it, the more Harley relaxed.  As we worked up to a trot, he relaxed even more.  I felt a good, swinging, moving trot.   I glanced at our bit contact - none.  I shortened my reins at once, and actually felt him lift up his back a bit, and nearly collect under me.. OOooh... didn't get that on any jump saddles I've tried.. Nice... 

I walked him over to Louise for another check before trying the canter.  She immediately asked, "Feel like you're tipping forward some?"  Well, yeah.. but I assumed that was normal for jump saddles.  "Uh, no. Not this much.  Let me take some of the flocking out of the back of it, relax it some.  That should fix it.  Let's go do that right now."  huh.. hadn't thought of that. How spectacular.  

Harley and I watched.  Louise took the entire top off the bottom of the saddle, exposing the bottom/back flocking holes.  She pulled some out, and it was greyish black.  "That's Jacob's sheep wool.  Not your standard flocking."  It was incredibly soft.  Later that night, I looked it up.  They're fancy sheep at that.  How neat!  As she pulled the wool out, she explained, "the back of it may get a wrinkle in the leather, but that's completely okay."  With the saddle stitched back together, it was back to the field we went.

I hopped right back on, and noticed the difference.  No more tipping forward, but straight up/down.  I was sitting up tall.  That's a new feeling in a jump saddle for sure.  I asked him to trot, all was well.  I asked him to canter, and he hesitated.  Hmm... Finally got some canter-right, and he was quite relaxed.  MUCH improved over other saddles. 

I asked for canter-left.  Train wreck.  Harley gave all the racing trots he could, and barely cantered at all.  I turned him back right, asked for canter again.  He gave a slight buck from behind, and he was back to the ground before I realized what he did.  I later found out Louise muttered to R, "Oh boy.  Here it comes."  R told her, "Nah, that's usually all he does."   Louise called out to me, "He might still be uncomfortable because his sheath is still swollen some." I agreed, and told her, "I'm going to try some more.  But *I* am very comfortable up here, and he's more relaxed in this saddle than he's been in any other I've tried.  He can't end here, however.  He needs to learn that even in a bit of pain, he needs to continue without being a brat.  We must end on a good note."  Louise wandered off to go find the dressage saddle for it's extra flocking. 

With R watching an ongoing lesson, and nobody actually paying attention to us (I thought), I asked him to trot a bit more.  Then I asked him to canter-left.  He complied.  I got about 8-10 strides of canter-left.  He was relaxed, but obviously not the happiest horse in the field.  We eased down to trot.  I said to R, "There we go.  He's fine.  The saddle isn't the problem.  It's those d@mn fire ants still.  Let me ask him right once more, and he'll be done."   His canter right was good also, so we walked it out and came back to the fitter's truck. 

I told Louise about his canter work.  "Yeah, I saw him give you some good canter.  He isn't uncomfortable from the saddle, because even with his little buck, it didn't move at all.  Just the swelling underneath is making him unhappy."  So, there actually was somebody paying attention.. *smirk*  Of course there was..

A delightful time.  I'm now the proud owner of two almost-custom saddles.  They've been fitted to Harley and me.  I'm a firm believer that, if the saddle doesn't fit both horse & rider, it's a recipe for disaster.  Think "too tight pants" and "boots that squeeze your toes".  Now, go run a marathon.  Not happening, is it?  If the saddle doesn't fit, how can you expect your partner on the ride to give his/her best?  I've been told that many other customers yesterday got to learn a good bit about saddle fitting from the ladies, and plenty of good clients were created.  Completely terrific. 

Will work to get some pictures of Harley wearing his new saddle.  I found his sheath even less swollen this morning, thanks to the second shot of Dex.  A happy horse now that the fire ant inflammation is receding.  Harley gave no spook, and minimal fuss.  A brand new location, and he didn't even look or snort at the surroundings.  Was it the Dex shot from Thursday?  Who knows... I'd like to think some of it was my reaction - still, calm, nonchalant.  I did my best to act like we'd been there before and it was "no big deal".  Even after his little buck, he went back to work and behaved well.  Can't say I'd be so good with my girl-parts swollen, carrying someone on my back, running... meh.. yuck.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Preparing Harley this afternoon for his trip tomorrow, we were standing at the wash rack, he was getting a bath, I was getting sprayed.  :)  I found his sheath swollen, and still some chest swelling - almost saggy.  Weird, and kind of yucky.

Talked to Dr. Sam again.  This time, it's dexamethasone shots.  One tonight, one tomorrow afternoon.  He believes it's still fire ant inflammation, and gravity causing all of it to "fall low".  This should explain why the things are swollen that are.

Harley's attitude is fantastic.  He's eating, drinking, pooping, peeing, snuggling, and grazing.  He seems unbothered by the whole thing now that he's not itchy all over. 

Time for me to go google this new medicine, and see what I can learn today.

Otherwise, we are packed and ready to go.  I plan to get a few pictures of the fitting, and maybe I'll have luck getting someone to snap a few shots while we're testing out our new saddle. 

Fat Babies..Puffy Legs, and let's not forget the ants

Woke up yesterday morning to Harley with two puffy front legs.  You What?!  Good grief, Harley.  I hoped he'd stood too still overnight, and would be back to normal when I got home later.

No such luck.   I found him around 1:45pm puffy, warm, swollen.  I cold hosed, I hand walked, I longed him lightly a bit.   Very minimal improvement.  In utter frustration, I waited for trimmer Eddie to arrive. 

He saw what I saw - swelling, minor heat, no extreme pulse in the hoof, no serious response to pain.  Hmm.. Okay.  He trimmed Mo while I dressed Harley to work.  We were both hoping to see *something* fixable.  I mean, really, isn't 95% of the horse lameness in the hoof? 

Nothing.  Harley was short-strided up front, which he's been off & on.  No serious obvious lameness, however.  After a longe and a quick ride, Eddie and I decided the same that Jen suggested earlier in the afternoon.  Jump day, was a bit too much.  Harley hadn't used his body in that manner in a while, and he over-did it (perhaps on that one big over-reaching jump he took).  Maybe I didn't have enough leg protection on that day in only his splint boots.  Maybe I need to do practice jumping in polos until he's up to shape doing it.  Maybe he's still growing a bit, and it was a lot of effort on his ever-growing bones, muscles, and joints.  Eh, who knows.  Regardless, he got a trim, a terrific hoof condition report and check up, and a gram of bute with his supper around 4:30pm.  After the workout, there was a noticeable improvement in swelling and heat in the legs - progress. 

Later that evening, around 7:30pm, I headed back out to the pasture to see how he was doing.  I found Harley standing still, droopy, lethargic, and looking miserable.  *Covered* in little bumps.  Face, eyes puffy, neck, chest, upper front legs, belly, some of his sides.  Ugh.  Fire ants.  At least I hoped it was fire ants, and not some throat-closing allergic reaction.  R and I walked some of the pasture, and found a few ant piles, only one looking slightly disturbed.  I called Dr. Sam.  No answer, no call back.  After an hour, I called again.  Dr. Sam suggested more bute (another 2g), benadryl (200mg), and "watch him".  I concocted a mix of water, candy cane, peppermint treats, electrolyte "Horse Quencher" (peppermint flavor), benadryl pills crushed up, and bute powder.  Harley ate some of it voluntarily, and more was squirted in his mouth with a syringe.  By 11:00pm, he looked to be resting more comfortably, most of the medicine gone from his bucket (that I didn't squirt in his mouth), and reduce swelling/bumps.  By 1:00am, he looked even better, and nickered when I walked up to his stall to check. 

This morning, 6:00am, I was nickered at for breakfast by a normal-looking Harley.  No heat in his neck and chest, no swelling in his face, no more puffy eyes, no bumps all over.  Most likely, he rolled in some fire ants.  His legs looked a bit better than yesterday yet.  Since he had a bit over 3g of bute yesterday evening, I've decided to wait a little while until well after daylight, maybe 9:00-10:00am, check those legs again, and maybe proceed with more bute. 

Oh, and I'll go see Dr. Sam today, too.  I realized last night I don't own any banamine that isn't expired, and Dr. Sam asked if I had dexamethasone, to which I replied, "Uh, nope".  Must be something I need in my first aid kit here at the house.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tonight was Terrific

Okay, so I'm having a teensy tiny bit of "going somewhere new anxiety".  Not because Harley has ever been a twit off property, nor because he's a panic attack away from home.  No, not the horse, but the rider.  I get nervous in new places - Will I ride good enough, Will my horse match up with the others around, Will everybody watch me and laugh because I'm still learning?  If you don't get these jitters, you're awesome.  

Saturday, we rode good & hard dressage.  I'm confident there that, at Training Level, we can hold up.  Now, we hadn't done much jump work, just those ground poles at canter, and the occasional trot over X's days.

Today, I set up the low crossrail - it's maybe 12" off the ground, if that.  Enough that Harley must lift himself up and over, but not a definite "jump".  It's probably close to as high as we ought be in the dressage saddle.  However, since we are supposed to have a jump saddle Friday to test ride, I wanted to see just how he'd do.  It'd been MONTHS since we'd cantered over more than a ground pole. 

Harley acted like it was no big deal.  Trotted over three times each way, getting almost more lazy with each "over".  I asked for canter-right, and sent him towards the fence.  Harley hesitated a bit heading towards it, but nothing a little kiss from me and steady leg didn't fix.  Hop!  Second go-over, he stumbled hard about two strides away.  I caught him somewhat, and added leg.  He went a stride back to canter, and Hop! right over the jump.  Excellent.  Heading left, he hesitated and landed in the right lead.  No biggie.  Second canter-over, I could feel him thinking "do I toss in an extra small stride here, or just.. oh what the heck..."  HOP.  A big long, tall stride up and over. 

Not one pole down.  One time he bumped a pole with his front toes, but that was it.  His ears were up and forward, and his canter was nice and big.  Not a lot of me having to push, but instead, it feels more like, "staying out of his way". 

We're nowhere ready to compete our jump work - NOwhere near.  But at least, for a rank beginner who's had very little education over fences, we've come a long way.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

3.23 3.24

3.23  Harley and I worked incredibly hard at dressage.  I've stepped off the circle, in an effort to get him moving collected in a straight line.  He's getting better each ride, and this was no exception.  I almost think he was happy to have different directions and changes.  :)

3.24  Well blow me down, already.  20+mph winds, with 40+mph gusts.  Blustery outside.  I settled for a lively longe with Mo, who always seems to enjoy his own form of "running like a wild man".  After, we walked and jogged a little bareback, nothing too exciting.  Harley so far has enjoyed some currying to get the dead hair off.  I haven't decided if I want to battle the winds more today with him. 

Getting closer and closer to Stirlingshire Saddle fitters and Monkee day. :) 

Friday, March 22, 2013

3.20, 3.21 & 3.22

3.20, Mo and I played in the arena.  Good times, good fun.. Nothing too serious.  He's lazy lately, not an abundant gas pedal.  Is okay with me.  Had a few simple changes, and he got them correct, so I didn't push it. 

3.21, Harley and I played dressage.  He was cooperative, nothing exciting.  Lots of transitions, and things are coming along nicely.  I asked for canter over half the arena, rather than just the one circle.  Nicely done. 

Today, we walked.  Harley and I up first, endurance saddle, in the muggy damp recently-rained air.  It was so humid it was almost drizzling out, and temps in the upper 70s, asking for hard work didn't seem quite fair in his winter coat.  He was great.  No shudders, no spooks.  No heavy wind to bring out spooky creeky trees, either.  He was very well behaved, and while alert, he stayed on a gentle contact on the bit, and seemed to walk out pretty well.

Then Mo and I repeated what Harley did, but with a little more distance.  Probably another 5 minutes of walking just a little farther down the road.  Bareback pad, just to make things more interesting.  A nice time, relaxing.

See, there are days I *want* to work.  I want to ride, train, learn, push for just a little bit more.  Then, there are days I know I need to work the horse's mind, and mine.  I need to push the envelope, expand my safety zone, and get out of the fence.  With Mo, this isn't really a problem.  He's good, and he knows to trust me, and walk-on.  Harley hasn't had enough miles to realize it's "safe" outside the fence, and he can take care of me while exploring.  Today, he was terrific, and super quiet.  That's progress.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Searching for the Motivation

I've had the three rides mentioned on Harley, followed by two days off, and then back to it today.  Moderate dressage.  Two good rides on Romeo, nothing too exciting.  One walk down the road, and another in the arena, moderate work load.

My energy isn't what it was, yet.  I'm confident it's there, because once I get out in the arena with Harley, I start thinking about what we can work on next.  The excuses are abundant sitting on my couch, however.

It's too hot for their winter coats.  I mean, it's been near 90F a few days already.  In those fuzzy winter yak-coats they haven't fully shed, I feel harsh for asking more than a light walk.

It's too windy.  I wish I meant "gentle spring breeze".  Instead, we've had days with sustained winds in the 20s (mph), gusts in the mid to high 40s.  Trees bend over at the middles in the gusts, and the wind doesn't seem to sustain from the same direction more than a minute before it bursts from somewhere else.  I find myself to be jumpy, not to mention the horses.

Work can be too stressful to relax enough to enjoy the ride, and I worry my tension will translate into a stressed horse and a horrid ride. 

I wasn't feeling well.  I'm getting much better now, and the ultimate cause still makes me giggle.  The nurse said I drink too much liquid during a day, and my kidneys can't keep up.  I've had to make a massive liquid intake reduction, and, after some time, I'm told I can gradually increase the amounts.  Today is day 2 of moderated intake, and I feel thirsty.  hello, my name is Jennifer, and I am addicted, to water. 

If you've got snow, that just stinks.  It freezes, blows, all of it.  Nasty.  Northeastern folks, it's just too late in the year for that nonsense.  Now, that does NOT mean that I'm happy for the 90F temperatures we've had a couple days of.  yuck.  I am entirely not ready for that hot yet, either.   Tonight, we will tickle 50F, with a nice light breeze and moderate temperatures tomorrow.   Good riding weather, if I can get motivated.

Harley and the Creaky Tree

Harley had three rides last week.  Day 1, dressage, moderate intensity.  Day 2, the creaky tree.  Day 3, more dressage, high intensity.

So, back to Day 2.  I decided the weather was truly delightful for a walk down the road.  I took a pre-walk with Mo, let him canvas the neighborhood.  We didn't see much worth even glancing at.  He and I made it five driveways away, and then turned back.  I knew Harley and I wouldn't make it so far, and figured we were good.

Saddled Harley dressage, and, as I hopped on, I had a hunch that wasn't enough saddle to hang on to quietly.   Figured I need to start trusting Harley outside of the arena.  Off we went.

He reached CRNG's driveway, and stopped dead.  Head up, and he tried to trot off forward (away from home).  I got him stopped 3 strides in, and he stood again, shaking.  I wasn't entirely sure what was bothering him, so I hopped off, and listened.

Ah, CRNG has a creaky tree in his front yard.  The wind was howling so harsh, it was bending a tree stump, and the noise was new with me on top.  Once Harley relaxed, we walked another two driveways, and came on home.  He did great.  He crunched rocks the whole way down the road, and rustled up the dry leaves on the roadside. 

Every time I have a "trail ride" on Harley, I realize my confidence in our partnership evaporates as soon as we leave the arena fence.  It is not lost on my humor side, either, that I have the confidence to ask for simple lead changes, and jump small fences, yet I'm a nervous wreck walking down the road off property.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Losing my Motivation, and Finding it, and ...

Oh drat you, Murphy, for writing that Law..

Things were going good with Harley.  Then he whacked his ankle, which has healed awesome.  It's back to normal, and so is he.  We had one ride post-injury where he hoped not to canter, and tried racey trot instead.  No-go, young student.  Nothing a whack of my legs won't fix. 

In the midst of his ankle swelling and receding, I lost all motivation to ride.  I didn't want to go outside and do more than scratch out the shedding hair, or just stand with them.  No riding, no saddling, no grooming, nothing.  I finally got warmed up to at least grooming, but not wanting to ride.  I took a few easy walks on Mo during that time.  Finally, I had to seek some advice on "is this normal", and "how to get through it".  The response with the best idea was "deny myself the right to ride for a few days, and do nothing with them in that time."  So I tried it.

I got anxious to hop back on Harley.  Really anxious.. I was looking forward to the ride, and so was he.  When we rode, it was awesome.  I started him out with a nice longe, and then hopped on.  We had a great 35 minutes together, and I was delighted.

The next day, I gave in to a headcold and some other troubles, and went to the doctor.  Strong antibiotics, he said.  Grr.  I ended up with another three straight days off, not riding.

Yesterday, I finally had the energy back to ride.  "Both horses", I told myself.  What a riot.. I made one.. Harley and I had a good time in the arena, but after the 45 minute time with him, I was whooped.  I hosed him down, scrubbed some of his shedding winter yak-coat off, and hosed him again.  He baked in the sun a while, then I turned him out.  Mo got the same hose/scrub/hose, but I couldn't see myself lifting the saddle to his back.  Shucks.

Today, rather than set my goals on two big rides in the arena, I'm hoping for two nice, short walks down the road.  I'm also counting down the days until the Stirlingshire Saddle Fitters and Monkee arrive, bringing my new jump saddle along with them.  :)  In fact, I'm delighted with more excitement than I can explain.  THAT just might be the boost I need to get me excited to ride again.  We'll be able to jump with more ease than we have now in the dressage saddle.  Might just be able to jump correctly.  Shh.. don't tell Harley - he thinks it's all the same. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Harley Update

The Good News
  Harley continues to progress in his dressage skills.  I have put a LOT of focus on his left-direction work, and it's paying off.  He's adjusted to the side rein longe warmup, and actually seems to realize it's a time to stretch and be forward.  I have been able to get some amazing transitions at all gaits, and he's letting me know the work is "good work" everytime I loosen the reins and he puts his nose to the dirt.   His canter has improved to a nice steady (and slow) cadence rather than running up into it and falling out.  I have had some sessions where I can transition about every 8 strides, something he couldn't have done well before. 
  We've plodded at the trot over some ground poles, crossrails, all with total success.   He's also beginning to understand he *can* canter over a ground pole, and I'm successfully getting him over one at a time.  Baby steps, baby steps. 
  Outside of the arena, I am his only limitation.  He's getting braver with every trip, and adjusting to "hop on and walk on a loose rein".  I find him reaching, searching for the bit, and stumbling when it's not there.  I aim to get us farther away from home without anxiety from me, and increased trust that he can in fact leave the arena.  a little ironic I'm working so hard in the fenceline, jumping, cantering, lengthening trot strides, yet I panic as soon as a bunny scuttles in the bushes walking down the road, hmm?  His best "trail walk" day had to be the 15 minute walk about a week ago, cold-turkey, bareback, in the halter, all around his pasture.  I let him pick his way through the brush, and he was outstanding.  Confused (at least it felt that way), but his confidence increased by ride's end.

The Bad News
  We went 8 weeks from one trim to the next, and it caused some harm.  My trimmer was out of town on farrier work, so we pushed Harley out until he could come back.  "Better later than sooner", he said.  Now, I realize that isn't going to work.  With the trim, Harley had hot feet, and sore rear heels again.  That led to a week off, a few cold hoses, and mostly time to chill.  I scrubbed his heels with a toothbrush and Listerine, and that seemed to increase the tough some.
  Adding insult to injury, after my vacation, I prepared to ride him again yesterday, and found both front hooves hot to touch.  Hmm.. Not good...  I inspected the rear legs and hooves, and quickly found the problem.  Right rear ankle, swollen, warm.  Hmm,,, really not good.  We wandered to the arena (dressed to ride), and I sent him out on the longe (no side reins).  His head wobbled a little, and as I asked for more, his trot became rushed and flat.   I paused a minute to see the heat had dissapated from his fronts, but the rear ankle was still swollen..  The more I longed ( about 10 minutes ) , the less I could tell if it was bothering him or not.
  Brave, I told Harley, "Alright.  Now, the only way I'm going to be able to tell how much it's bugging you?  Is to hop on.  Please don't kill me.  Just show me what's going on, and I'll hop off."  I climbed aboard (endurance saddle, halter/reins, no bit), and asked for a walk.  For the first time, I was walking him around the arena, eyes completely closed, trying to feel the rear footfalls.  Yeah, a lot of you are saying either, "You're a moron!  He could've tore off & killed you!" or, "Yeah, so what?  Eyes closed, big whoop you freaking chicken."  Okay, well, it seemed like a big experience at the time.  I felt a slight bit of difference in his gait behind.  Not a defined limp, but a difference.  I asked for a few brief moments of trot, and was surprised he didn't resist the gait at all.  I didn't feel near the difference at the trot.  In fact, everything felt steady.  I halted him, and leaned over to look at the ankle,... still swollen.  After a bit more riding, I hopped off.. Still swollen. 
  Off to the wash rack we went.  I cold hosed it, and while I got some licking/chewing/yawning, none of that swelling decreased over ten minutes.  I added 1g of bute to his supper, and breakfast.  I found the ankle a bit less swollen this morning, with a little less heat in it.  Lather rinse repeat tonight, and perhaps I'll add a bit of ice tight and some wraps to the rear legs as well. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

San Antonio & Surprise

Saturday, we were walking around the Alamo, when I spotted the carraige horses.  Ooh Ooh!  Fantastic!  I missed getting a ride the last time we visited SA, and was anxious to pick out the pair of rider/driver I wanted to see the town with. 

All lined in a row, I watched the horse's behavior.  First one?  UP, wound, alert.  Second?  UP too.  Third?  Head down, ears still, back leg cocked.  His driver stood beside the carraige.  We exchanged pleasantries.  "Good morning, how are you, welcome to San Antonio" - all those niceties.  I walked up to the horse's face again, and he said, "Go ahead.  You can pet if you want.  He doesn't mind."  I let the horse sniff my hand, and he started licking & chewing.  I said to the driver, "He speaks well of you.  The only quiet one in the bunch today, and that's saying a lot in the cooler weather."  The driver shrugged it off, explaining the horse was older, seasoned, etc.  I laughed.  "Still says a lot that he's so calm."  I told R later, "THAT is the horse I want the ride with, or at least that driver.  He's so quiet, it runs right down the reins.  The horse feels how calm he is, and I want them taking us through town."

Later that evening, we got the driver, but a different horse.  "His name is Surprise.  He's a little younger, a bit more spunky, but we'll have a great ride.  C'mon, let's go."  The driver gave us what felt like a custom tour through town, as we turned away from the carraige in front of us down a different side road.  As we wandered to the river walk to our left and below, R said to me, "Do you get the feeling we're getting a custom tour off the beaten path, or is it just me?"  I giggled, "Yeah, I think we got this from our chat this morning." 

The driver told us early on, "Surprise doesn't like buses, and diesel engines.  Otherwise, he's a great boy."  Sure enough, Surprise's head came up, and ears on as we passed two tour buses.  Once by the buses, he calmed right back down.  His "go and whoa" were all verbal from the driver, and I was amazed at his attentiveness (for a horse!).  As we stopped at a red light, a neighboring vehicle rolled down his driver window, and smooched at him.  Surprise, hoping for a cookie, backed up and stuck his nose in the window. :)  *giggle*  Go horse!  The driver quickly rolled that window right back up, too... HAH!

Surprise found one more thing on our journey he didn't trust - the Animal Control truck.  I can only assume he smelled something inside that was scared, and was afraid himself.  The driver went from calm, laughing, half turned-around talking with us, to eyes and body forward, talking calmly to Surprise. "Surprise, whoa.  Whoa... Walk on, walk on.  Surprise, whoa. walk on."  After about 20 seconds of "Ears up, sheer fear", Surprise walked swiftly past the truck.  He wanted to trot, and I could tell he was quite scared, but he pushed through.  When our ride ended, I made sure Surprise knew what an awesome horse he was.  By then, however, he was back to "quiet calm, leg cocked, resting".

A fantastic carraige ride.  Surprise and his driver make a great team!

The Pet Rescue - Epic Fail

R and I made a work trip to Houston, then decided to window shop and hang out in town a while.  We decided to start with breakfast at a Corner Bakery on the Southwest side of Houston.  As we walked towards the bakery, we heard an abundance of barking dogs.  Abundance, as in "holy crap, where's the fire/robber/mugger and the dog walker?"  We saw the sign ..

K-9 Angels Rescue

I talked R into walking in, and "cuddling the puppies".  There were dogs *everywhere*, cages all over the place, and dogs of all sizes, ages, shapes, and colors.  Mixes, pure-looking, barking, happy, quiet and shy....

Then we saw Kayla, sitting at the back of her crate, quiet.  She walked to the front of the crate, wagged her little tail, and acted a LOT like MacKenzie did when I first met her.  We took her for a walk, and while exuberant, she was pretty well behaved, and polite.  As soon as her paws found grass, she stopped pulling on the leash, and was incredibly polite.  She cuddled a bit, didn't bark, wasn't trying to drag me across the parking lot, just happy to be on the grass. 

We took the plunge.  I filled out their entirely lengthy adoption process paperwork, and as I filled it out, I had a hunch it wouldn't work out.  They asked in detail "where I lived, what animals I owned, what care I took of them, how much I worked, where I worked, where I'd be gone, where the dog might be while I was gone, what treats I might feed, what I might do if I ever left town, where the dog might be if I left town, would I give the dog up and if so to whom".. you get the idea.  I pretty much knew as I submitted the three-page application, I'd be denied.

It wasn't for the reason I figured.  I figured being from out of town, they "wouldn't be able to inspect my home for quality life".  Nope.  The women looked me right in the eye, and said, "We think crates are torture.  You can only use them for house breaking, and then allow the dog to roam the house, with a dog-door for bathroom access.  You'd be leaving her alone too many hours in a row, and she just can't handle that."  I responded, "Well, you know, some of us have to work to pay the bills."  R was shocked, and dismayed.  I pretty much saw it coming.

If you work in a rescue that believes the only "acceptable home" is a married family with no children, an abundant yard, and someone to stay at home all day long to pamper Fluffy the dog, only own 1-2 dogs, provide monthly vet care, premium home-cooked meals of only the highest quality meats & vegetables, then no wonder you're overcrowded.  This place had at least 40 dogs in a small storefront, and it sounded like many of the dogs were taken home by volunteers every night.  Otherwise, they were all trapped in little crates all day long.  Apparently, being in a crowded room full of yapping dogs in a little bittie crate is SO much better than being in a crate in a quiet country home during the day, running amok during the early AM and evening hours, and crowding my bed at night.  I wasn't searching out a family addition, so my only heartbreak over the situation is how I went from being "the perfect home with a lot of property out in the country with horses" to "torturing a dog by trapping her in a crate all day".

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I Don't Know Where to Start

Should I blog first about my vacation to San Antonio?  Surprise, the carraige horse, and his amazing driver, and spook at the Animal Control truck?

Or should I tell you about the "Pet rescue" that told me crates are torture and unacceptable? 

Should I blog about Harley's increased performance, and how every ride I ask him to work, he's been better and better?  I don't have video, so you'll just have to trust me.

Or should I write about the days I've ridden both boys, at the walk, all around the pasture, and Mo was jumpier than Harley?

I guess I could say "Not much has been going on around here,  how about with you?"  *smirk* 
Things have been busy.  Comment, and tell me where to begin, and I'll get to writing, and posting updates a bit at a time. :)