Spring is in the air

Went out to check on the horses kind of early today (since we’re all going to die tonight). I couldn’t find Champ and Silky so I hiked all around the two fields. Of course they were eating hay at one of the round rolls when I finally decided they’d died and headed back toward the truck.

Anyway. The mares decided it was Crazy Time as I walked back toward the gate. One of the young QH mares went tear-assing past me, tail flagged like an Arab. Then Dixie and two more mares snorted and dashed around the house. The geldings alternated chasing the mares and chasing each other. I went and stood on a little hill with some trees and watched them play for a while.

Champ decided that no other horse should come near me. (What if I had treats in my pockets and I accidentally fed them to another horse?! Unacceptable.) Poppy thought maybe I had something tasty for him so he came up, but Champ came stalking up behind him, ears flat, swinging his head back and forth. Poppy tried to ignore Champ, so Champ went to bite Poppy’s butt. Poppy turned around and Champ reared straight up and pawed at him. Poppy is even lazier than Champ so Poppy backed away and walked off. In a circle, behind me, to come up on the other side. Champ went and headed him off again.

Meanwhile, Goblin (the very pale palomino QH gelding) came dashing up with the mares. Dixie was hanging out near me and the round roll. Goblin seriously miscalculated his stopping power and slid 5 feet on his haunches in the mud, crashing into Dixie. This was a huge faux pas, because she immediately squealed and started kicking him. He scrambled away as fast as he could.

Then two of the young QH mares came up, Penny and April. They’re buddies, always hanging out together. Apparently they’re more than just buddies, because the sorrel rubbed her head on the bay’s butt, all lovey, then halfway mounted her. A couple minutes later she did it again! Awww, lesbian horses!

I finally got the new spare tire winch for my truck. Later this week I’ll put it on and finally get my spare tire out of my truck bed. Still waiting to hear back from that shipper; if she doesn’t call me tomorrow I’m calling someone else Monday. Rrrrgh.

The mating call of the Terror Bird

Yeah, I did it again. Earlier this week I mentioned to someone how Champ is completely bombproof, so today he proved me wrong.

I’ve been (of course) super busy with all the little stuff to arrange to move. Today was the first day I actually got to spend time with my horses. At least it was a lovely day, about 60 and overcast when I went out.

I saddled my reluctant gelding and we moseyed away down the trail. All was going pretty well until the mating cry of the terror bird, when he spun 180 degrees and tried to bolt. I spun him back around and he JIGGED down the trail. He actually jigged! He never jigs; it’s entirely too much work, but damn if he didn’t do it today.

In case you were wondering, Terror Birds sound a lot like ducks or something. I don’t know much about birdcalls, but no NORMAL bird could’ve freaked out my dearest Champ like that.

Anyway, we rode everywhere I wanted to go and made it back safe. Then I worked with Dixie a bit – picking up feet and letting me groom her without dancing around like I am stabbing her. She did very well!

Found a new barn, very near where we’re going to get an apartment, reasonable rates. Found (thanks Paige!) a shipper, waiting to hear back when they can fit me in. Got a crapload of boxes and all of our nonessential stuff is already boxed. (Not that most of it ever got UNBOXED, but whatever.) U-haul is reserved, for what that’s worth.

Tomorrow or Monday I’ll get health certs and rabies shots for the horses. The vet recommended Benadryl instead of Valium for the cats, and god knows I always have benadryl on hand. I need to meet up with Stephen and dispose of the rest of the stuff in our shared ministorage. He said he’ll build me a box for the tv, too – we don’t have the original box for the TV, and it’s a big ole widescreen LCD HD TV. Hard to pack it without scratching it or breaking the whateveritis that makes the pixels light up. And tomorrow my new spare tire winch thing should come in, so I can install that and get the damn spare tire out of the bed of my truck. FINALLY.

I think I am going to cancel my lesson on Sunday. I haven’t done jack with Dixie and I don’t know if I even have time to ride her tomorrow or Saturday. My mind isn’t really on dressage right now.

On the road again

We’re going to be a band of goddamn gypsies for sure. He’s starting work up there on the 16th, so we’ll probably head up on the 11th or 12th. We just found out, officially 100% for sure, today – so we went straight out and traded the BWM for a truck. A proper truck, an ’09 F150 XLT with the (supposedly) awesome new tow package.

Now I can’t sleep, wondering how to make this all work.

Anyway, having two trucks means we can definitely rent a 6×12 U-haul. Is that cool or pitiful, that all our belongings will fit in a 6×12 and the insides of two trucks? I’m inclined to think it’s cool… but kinda sad.

I still don’t know if I’m going to haul her myself or pay a shipper. He’s checking in with work to see if horse hauling is a “moving expense,” but I still don’t know if I want to let somebody else haul my precious horse. But dear god I don’t know if I want to do it myself either.

Can’t sleep. Can’t stop worrying.

Also my dressage instructor yelled at me for not riding Dixie at all last week. 😮 He’s right, though, she needs consistent work to build muscles, etc. I’m going to haul her out to the main barn and ride her four days this week. That’s my goal.

And pack. To move. Oh god. Can’t sleep.

Welcome to 2008

I just watched Die Hard 4 for the first time. Man, I love Bruce Willis, but I just don’t watch TV/movies very often. Anyway, I think he reads my blog. At the end, he does something kinda dumb yet clever, and his daughter asks him why he did that?! He said “It seemed like a good idea at the time!”

Hell yeah.

Worms, videos, clicks

I was a week behind my normal schedule, but I got everybody dewormed with pyrantel pamoate. I used the traditional method of luring the horses to me with their usual handful of grain, sticking a halter on each horse, and hanging off the noseband while I convinced each appalled horse that YES, I really WAS going to violate the victim’s personal integrity in such a horrid fashion. Then everybody got grain and completely forgave me.

It sounds like I’m making light of alternative horse handling methods, but I’m not, really. I’m lucky that none of my horses actually act violent about dewormer or are terrified of it. It’s more like I’m extremely amused by my horses’ individual drama queen reactions to the hated wormer.

Champ, who is normally the calmest horse in the universe and puts up with any weird thing I want to do to him, flips his nose up and down as fast possible til I get mad and cuss him. Once I get the dewormer tube in his mouth, he starts actively trying to spit the paste out as fast as I deposit it on his tongue. As soon as the grain appears, he completely forgives me.

Silky is appalled that I am invading her old-lady dignity in such a horrid fashion. She stands perfectly still, but clamps her lips shut as tightly as possible. It’s like trying to feed a three year old kid her least favorite food – except I have a syringe, instead of a spoon, so I win. Again, once the halter comes off and the cookies appear, she’s back to being a quiet and respectful pocket pony.

Dixie seethes with barely controlled rage. Her ears alternate between pinned-back and focused on me, like she flipflops between “I will kill you for this!” and “Oh wait it’s the boss human!” She actually never left all afternoon – she was caught, dewormed, and fed some grain. Then she hung around hopefully until I broke out the clicker, and after I was done clickering her she hung around a little longer to watch me and Poppy.

Since Dixie had gotten over her snit so quickly, I decided to clicker clean her feet again today. IceRyder had asked for video of it, and I tried to oblige. However, my skills at wiring a camera to a round pen panel are somewhat lacking and it’s really not all that great. I uploaded it anyway, as proof of how good Dixie was about the whole thing, and how amazingly effective clicker training is.

Dixie clicker training feet from Funder on Vimeo.

The people talking are me and K, Poppy’s new owner. The periodic “earthquakes” happen when the dogs, Cersei and Lucky, run under that round pen panel to get in or out of the pen. And apparently my camera only takes 3 minute videos, so yall missed the last hoof cleaning.

I know, I need to wear a belt.

Clicker stuff: I think it’s fascinating how Dixie has her ears pinned almost constantly. She really doesn’t like for any creature to touch her anywhere under any circumstances, except for humans offering her treats directly under her nose. Well, and she does seem to like me – whenever I offer her the halter, she sticks her nose in it, and she leads great, and whenever I look at her she’s got pretty ears. Apparently not when I’m picking her feet! But look at those ears pop forward whenever she hears a click.

For a cue, I’m tap-tap-tapping with a finger on the lower part of the leg I want. It’s clear and not painful. When I started her near side, I started adding the “up” verbal cue. I really prefer a verbal cue for foot lifting – it’s kind of sweet yet annoying when the horse keeps picking its hoof up for you when you only want to brush off its muddy legs or trim its feathers. I’ll keep doing both the tap and the verbal cue for a while, then try to fade the tap.

I’m planning on adding trimming next. I’ll bring my makeshift hoof stand out and see if I can’t get a second of duration when I put a front foot on the stand. I think trimming should progress almost as fast as cleaning has… I hope!

Clicker people, any critiques or suggestions?

And here’s a video from earlier this week, when I was trail riding on Champ. This is the fishing lake, and it’s my second favorite of the seven lakes. I think it’s just gorgeous out there.

Trail ride, fishing lake from Funder on Vimeo.