Wednesday, November 13, 2013

That's my boy.

Fancy pants ex-racehorse has been very sweet and almost cuddly lately.  After I blanketed Pistol the other night, George came up and put his head into my arms. Something he never does. He usually keeps his distance. He will let you pet him for about 5 seconds, but then he is on his way once he realizes you didn't come to catch him, and put him to work. He stood there letting me love up on him for a while. Not sure what is happening to him.

This morning I went to feed the horses their breakfast and take Pistol’s blanket off. I’ve been putting a blanket on the old man because I don’t want him burning all his energy to stay warm instead of keeping weight on.  The other two are naked, and will more than likely stay that way because they grow warm thick winter coats. George came up to me again and stood there while I scratched his head. Umm who are you and what have you done to my horse? I then asked him “are you a good horse or a bad horse?” He pinned his ears. I think he may have answered the question for me.

Monday, November 11, 2013

you win some, you lose some.

I am not really sure what is going on with my horse. And I’m not sure if I should be scared or thrilled. Yesterday, the hubby and I decided to go for a quick ride down the road. I have really wanted to ride George, but at the same time, I’ve been dreading it. We treated him for ulcers and his attitude got increasingly worse after we did that. And then he had his abscess, and then the weather sucked, and then I had a million other excuses as to why I couldn’t ride him. So I finally decided that now was as good as time as ever to try him out again.

The weather in North Dakota is a changin’. It’s getting colder but, thank the lord we don’t have any snow yet. So I suited up in my insulated riding breeches (amazing) and then my Mountain Horse Frost Rider boots (AMAZING! Go buy a pair today!!) and then some Under Armor, and some sweatshirts, and my Tipperary vest, and then a down filled North Face vest.  It was only about 34 degrees outside so it wasn’t THAT cold, but the wind in ND SUCKS since most of the corn has been harvested now.  And then I tromped outside warm as could be.

I got George and then at the last minute decided to ride in my western saddle. He hasn’t been ridden in a western saddle ever, but I figured now was as good as time as any.  I then hopped onto the struggle bus and tried to put my saddle up on his back in one graceful movement like you see the people in the movies doing. Nope. Fail. George is a big horse. But you know what? He is a patient horse. He stood there as I struggled to get the saddle on him, and then continued to struggle as I adjusted the girth. As I was tightening the girth, I expected him to take a chunk out of me. Nope, first time he just let it happen. His bridle went on without any drama, but then again, he has always been fantastic about bridling. I mean it isn’t his first rodeo.

I walked him around a bit. I don’t know why but I figured there would be some fireworks when he realized that the saddle he was wearing was like no other saddle he’d ever experienced before in his life. But no, he was fine. And then it was time to climb up. You know I’ve always wanted to just put my foot into the stirrup and then gracefully swing up. But there has never been anything gracefully about me getting in the saddle. Ever. I was still on the struggle bus, and realized that George must have grown a foot taller since I put the saddle on. I pulled myself into the saddle, and he just stood there and let it happen. He doesn’t walk off when you mount, which is great. I’d always heard horror stories about ottbs who walk off the moment they feel you in the stirrup. Not the ones I’ve ever ridden. I do like to tell people I trained them not to do that. But that is a bold faced lie.

George was a perfect gentleman the whole ride. well he DID have one moment where he was certain he couldn’t do something. We were trying to go up the ditch onto the road, and he was certain the tall grass was filled with horse eating snakes. He stood his ground, and kicked out his back right foot. Which is what he does when he is upset about doing something. I said forget it, and moved on to something else and then he was fine. With George you need to let him think he is in charge, and that he makes the decisions. If he encounters something he doesn’t want to do, move on to something else and then come back to what he didn’t want to do later. We came back to the scary ditch later, and he had no problems with it. Is this a good training mentality for all horses? No, I’m sure it isn’t. But if George gets it in his head that he ‘can’t’ he is just going to get stressed out, and then get increasingly more distressed until he reaches his breaking point and it is dangerous for all around. When he started kicking out I knew we needed to move on to something different. The rest of the ride was fantastic. He is pretty lazy, and has a nice walk to him. We actually walked home on an extremely loose rein. He wasn’t trying to rush home which was nice.

I am really impressed with George. To be honest, I was a little nervous about him this summer. The attitude he gave me, and the biting. It wasn’t cool. I wasn't sure he was going to be the horse for me. But he is really turning out to be a really great horse. (HA I say that after riding him like 5 times.) I love that he can sit for long periods of time and not be a nightmare to get on. I am lucky that all of our horses can sit around for long periods of time and then are just the same as the last time you rode them.

Speaking of horses… The new horse didn’t work out. We brought him back today. I hate that we had to bring him back, but he started bolting once you got off of him.  He was a fun little horse, but he just wasn’t going to work for us. He needs to do his job, and sitting around at our house, wasn’t going to do well for him. It’s pretty sad because he was starting to grow on me. But that’s the way it goes in the horse world right? If we had gotten him in the spring we may have been able to work out his problems. But seeing as how it’s dark 23 hours a day here, and it’s only getting colder and darker, the time we have to work with him is limited. And we wanted a finished horse, not a project horse. He was going to be a bit more of a project then we wanted. I am sad, but that’s the way it goes.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Don't get attached!!!

Okay so, I've put off posting this because well, I just kind of lost track of time. And now here it is, almost a week later and I still haven't posted.
If you are following me on Instagram you may have spotted this creature...

But I will talk about him a bit later... I like keeping you in suspense....

Last Saturday we trailered up two red horses and went out to the sand hills, which is in the Sheyenne national grasslands state park. I LOVE riding there. In fact it's where I first fell in love with my very first horse Yellow. They had finished the 4 mile loop that they were working on earlier this year and it was awesome. A really nice little ride that took a little over an hour.
The red horses were fantastic. The weather was absolutely perfect. But I kind of wish I had brought the big gray horse of mine. I think he would have benefited form being out there. NEXT time for sure! I need to remember that even thought he was a racehorse, he is actually extremely well trained. I've heard from more than one person that the barn he trained at is very highly regarded for having highly sought after horses once they retire. Yes, George is a nutcase most times, but he is well behaved under saddle. I need to start using him more!!

Onwards we go to...
Picture time!

My favorite sign

Am I holding the reins correctly? Probably not...

I always ride the slowest horse.
When Pistol saw these cows, he perked up, and then zeroed in on them. I think he might have some cow experience in his past.

THESE EARS! and tiny forelock!!

I love this picture, my hair looks awesome.

Riding here is so beautiful!
 So anyways, I bet you are wondering about that bay horse with the funny white markings. Well here is his story. We saw him at the auction a few weeks ago. He belongs to a person my husband knows. He had gone through the ring, but was no saled, because the horse market sucks, and he was worth way more than what people were offering. So we tried him out at the auction. I rode him bareback down the aisles and he seemed like a pretty nice little horse. I say little because he is. I think he is about 14.2hh. George is 16.2hh. This horse is like a pony compared to George. The little bay gelding is a working horse with Peppy San Badger breeding. He was used on cattle, and in feedlots down in Texas. He has been given a job, and he is good at it. My husband has been looking for a horse that can be worked on a ranch so that he can go to brandings and ropings and other things like that (don't ask me what the proper terms are, because I really don't know what all goes on at ranches!!) This horse seemed to fit the bill. So we made some phone calls, and then arranged to pick him up, in Grand Forks at a gas station.
The horse seller just riding around at the gas station.
The next day, North Dakota, being North Dakota, decided to have 30+ MPH winds. So our plans to go back to the sand hills were crushed. We waited all day for the wind to die down before going out to play with the new horse. Well turns out the horse is a bit more "up" than we'd thought. He didn't buck, or rear, or do anything dangerous. But he was a pain to catch. The winds were probably not helping or the fact he hadn't quite settled in yet. We also had trouble finding tack to fit him. But we were able to tack him up, and ride him around a bit. He is a very forward horse. Again it could have been the winds. But he is a very responsive horse. You ask him, and he does it. Moves off leg pressure, neck reins, and has really nice breaks. But he was a bit crow hoppy in a few places.
The reason I said to not get attached is because we weren't sure if we are going to keep him. He might be better off going to a home that will use him and give him a job. But we will try him again and see if he settles down a bit more. He's already warmed up to us a bit more. (I've been feeding him cookies and I'm totally not supposed to because that's how you spoil horses according to everyone...)
shhhh don't tell anyone!

I wasn't really impressed with his looks at the auction...but he is pretty cute.

He is little, but I don't feel like a giant on him. (p.s. I have like 3 shirts, my crash vest, and then a down filled vest on so I look larger than normal up top) The stirrups were WAY too long for me too...
So we are making the decision this weekend/week if we are going to keep him around. Hubby rode him bareback last night and said he was great. I will let you know if he stays or goes...