Monday, August 16, 2010

Takin Care of Business, Part 367

And if you missed the other 366 parts, you can find them HERE.

Seriously folks, I've totally checked out the last couple of months. I've been lazy. I've hid inside from the oppressive heat. I've been lazy. I've been a squanderer of time.

And squanderers, as you know (and particularly the lazy ones) must pay the price. So I'm kickin my own butt and taking names. Although I suppose that would only be one name. Or it could be several names, depending on who you ask....

I actually did get a lot done over the weekend, though. I got Moose weaned, as promised.

I took Rainbow home around mid-afternoon on Saturday. By Sunday morning, Moose was like, "Mom, who? Where's the food?"

Horses are great like that.

Then I got back in the saddle, quite literally, and rode Paula in what was probably our longest (and most productive) lesson with me aboard. She is so incredibly light and responsive. If there was someone else out here in the boonies with me with opposable thumbs at the time I would have video taped it, but everyone has wised up that if they are outside with me I might put them to work, so you'll have to take my word for it. She was just....awesome.

For example, girlfriend backs on leg cues alone. Girlfriend can pivot already. Girlfriend can flex, give, bend, top, back, rein, and serpentine and I haven't even put a bit on her yet. And she keeps her head level with her withers the entire time.

We might be slow, but we're steady.

I heard once that wins the race.

Anyway, Bambi was a complete pest the entire time I was saddling Paula, so I decided I'd work her next.

We went through our lunging exercises and then I sacked her out (this was the second time and the last time (shame on me) was at least a month ago. Well, I can stand back, toss the saddle blanket up where it will catch air, barely land on her back and slide off onto the other side, then it hits the ground opposite from where I am and she does not move.

And not in a scared way. In a "Mom, stop throwing stuff at me and just get on with it" while rolling her eyes sort of way.

I really want my horses to be broke before I ever even think of getting on them. I mean, with Bambi there isn't much of a fall, but it's really more than just about staying on. Hopefully these girls will grow up to be able to handle anything that is thrown at them--by me or anyone else!

All joking aside, I'm a firm believer that patience is the very most important element in training a horse. The second most important element is understanding: every horse is different. For example, Paula is an intellectual. She loves to be worked with to just give her something to do--she's a career gal :) If she understands, she'll nail it every time, and she never forgets, so once she has something it's very important to move on. She gets bored easily, so I have to read her every lesson to make sure once she has it, then we move onto something else.

Bambi, on the other hand, is more down to earth. She's not going to readily do something for the sake of doing it like Paula will. Bambi would be perfectly happy being a broodie (with daily pettings, of course) and not ever being ridden. You have to give Bambi incentive. Bambi is definitely one of those horses that likes breaks, praise, and that after-work-out curry!

I've only worked with Fabian a bit, but this poor guy has NO self-confidence at all! He seems to need a much higher level of trust than other horses. He gets scared easily and has a strong flight response. So, I've been working exclusively on trust exercises with him and we're getting along great. First time I tried to catch him took me an hour. The second time I walked right up to him with halter in hand. He's no dummy, he just has a ton of self-doubt. He's in with Moose, whom he can boss around, which will hopefully also help to boost his confidence.

And then Moose. Well. He's Moose. No doubts. No confidence issues. Certainly not an intellectual, but he's no dummy, either. He's an ornry, overly large colt. Who likes butt rubs.

But then again, so does every other animal on the place. My sister thinks that says something about me. She hasn't explained what that is yet.

I also got the saddle, that has vexed me so, sold. Finally!

The saddle itself didn't vex me so much as the process to sell it was. It's truly more difficult to sell something cheap than something higher priced. I can't tell you how many people contacted me, thinking they were going to get a Blue Ribbon for $75. And no matter how many times I said this is a cheap saddle and there's a reason why it's priced so low--because it's not quality at all, they still thought they were going to get something really high quality for nothing.

I may have been born in the dark, but it wasn't last night.

I might have to eat those words, though. Over the past few weeks I've kept quiet about the fact that my little barn kitties had disappeared. I wasn't sure what had happened to them, and barn kitties have a hard life, so as sad as it was that I figured them dead, it's just a sad fact of farm life. Barn kitties sometimes don't make it.

I did see momma around, and continued to feed her. I talk to her, try to tell her if I intended on harming her I sure as heck wouldn't be buying her food, but she just whines and hisses at me. Then I feed her. Swine cat.

But last night I heard meowing coming from the barn that didn't sound like momma. I was pleased to discover gray kitten huddled near her mom.

But then I found "my" kitty--the one I've always liked because of his markings, and the one that bit me pretty badly last time I "rescued" him from a fall from the barn loft. But I still liked him anyway.

And by the way, this picture looks like him, but isn't him. This looks like a calico. He's not a calico. It would be really odd if he were a calico, since calicos are almost always girls.

The poor thing was in the horse stall, soaking wet and covered in manure! I have no idea what happened, but I grabbed him up and took him inside. After a bath, and drying him off with a warm towel, I went ahead and made a little indoor home out of one of the large dog crates for him.

Before we move on, let me present a little bit of self-awareness. I know I'm an idiot. Thank you for your cooperation.

So, I've been suckered in by the thought of "my" kitty being dead, into taking him in. The plan is to socialize him, neuter him, then kick him back out to the barn. That last part might seem cruel, but if he's social and neutered, he'll be easy to properly care for and live a good long life that way. He'll have the safety of the barn so he won't get eaten by coyotes, and he'll be friendly and fixed, so he'll stick around and I'll be able to take him in for his shots, etc., each year.

I figured it was a good compromise. After Harley is gone, I can't imagine having another indoor kitty. No one could ever beat Harley in that department :)

And yes, I checked (gender). And I'm pretty sure about kitten genders on both counts.

The blog will continue to be sporadic this week as I do want to get more riding in, and I'm forcing myself to finally hold the garage sale I promised myself all summer. I'll be working on hauling stuff to Dad's house in town, pricing and getting it set up all week.

I can't stand the thought of going into the winter with more junk than money. Not that I'll have money, but if I have less junk, at least half the battle is won.

Fighting (and losing) the battle to declutter my life at all levels,

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