Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Raining horses and cows!!!

We've definitely gone beyond raining cats and dogs!  It's virtually a torrential downpour today, and it began last night and hasn't let up, even for a nano second.  The ditches are flooding, there's standing water in the fields and in our yard, and before long, the creeks and smaller rivers will be flooding their banks.  Have I mentioned lately just how much I despise rain?  No?  Well, ok...I hate rain!!!  I don't mind the occasional rain shower, or even a good gully-washer from time to time...but this is beyond ridiculous!

Texas?  Believe me when I tell you that if I could, I would...send a lot of our rain down to ya'll  I believe in sharing the wealth.

So, the horses are inside today.  My hubby cleaned their stalls before going to work this morning and turned them out with their morning rations while he worked.  They chose to huddle together with their butts to the onslaught of water and didn't even show any interest in their hay.  That's almost unbelievable, even to me!  But there they were, sappy little faces, heads hung low, butts to the weather and I couldn't take it.  I put more hay in their stalls and called them back to the barn.  Without any second thoughts, one by one, they wholeheartedly marched inside and went straight to their own stalls...and quietly began to eat.  It's a balmy 58 degrees today.  The weatherman says to expect rain and winds throughout the day, and for most of this week.  Oh boy.  There's some hope for a drier weekend, but that's a long way off.  We'll see.  I can only hope.

My boss is on vacation this week and it's been unbearably slow at the clinic.  I've done everything that I can think to do, and now I'm going to start working on some projects for handmade Christmas gifts for family and friends.  Like so many others, we've opted to check out of the holiday craziness.  There will be no "black Friday" shopping for this gal...no siree!!  Instead, I plan on staying home the day after Thanksgiving and work around the house.  I'll probably spend some time with the horses, keep a fire burning in the hearth and continue with Christmas gift making.  I might even indulge in an afternoon nap.  That sounds quite lovely to me.  You couldn't pay me to go out in a shopping mall, or heaven forbid, a Walmart!!!  I shudder at the thought!!  That's simply not the way I want to begin my Christmas season.  No way.  No how.

This Thanksgiving we're having a simple affair in our home.  Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade bread rolls and of course, there'll be pie.  You simply cannot have a holiday without the pies!  I'm baking an apple pie, a pumpkin pie and might possibly try my hand at a coconut cream.  Mmmmm, that was my mom's favorite.  I like it too, but if I were to pick a favorite kind of pie???  Well, I guess it would have to be either apple or marionberry.  Any old kind of berry will do, really, but marion or boysenberry is simply to die for!  I just love pie!!  They're my most favorite dessert item ever!!  My hubby's a cake man, but I'll take a pie any day.

I hope that however you choose to spend the Thanksgiving holiday, it will be done so in the spirit of thankfulness.  For that, my friends, is what this holiday is all about.  Being thankful and keeping in mind how we all are extremely blessed.  Be mindful of that, and give thanks to our Heavenly Father whose made all our blessings possible.  For as the Bible says..."all good things come from God".  I believe that wholeheartedly.  Blessings everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Lorie @ Cingspots

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A day in the life of a porkchop...

...or, if you prefer "pasture potato".  Either way, you'll see what I mean.  :)

I decided to take a few pics of the horses last weekend, you know, show them off in their winter woolies and all their unique stages of muddiness and such.  These guys, they've got the life...lounge around all day, eat whenever they want, a little nap here and there...life is seriously rough.  Wouldn't you agree?

 This was going to be my attempt at a herd shot.  When I first saw them, they were all lined up side by side dozing.  I decided to run in the house and get my camera.  When I came back, Ladde was pretty sure treats might be involved, so he decided to mosey on up and check it out.  And of course, he brought Harley in tow.  Missed my shot!

 Here comes the Laddmonster now.  In all his glory.  Man, I love that horse!!

 Harley's like; what did we walk up here for Ladde?  Ever since we removed our wire cross-fencing, Harley hasn't had any mishaps that I'm aware of.  He's gotten really good at keeping somebody (usually Kadie) very close.  When the herd gets playful, he's careful to make sure he's in the middle of a wide open space before he bucks and gallops around in pretty little controlled circles.  He's so cute when he plays!

Dude.  Lllama Dude.  We figured out the other day that Merlin must be getting close to 19 ish years old now.  He certainly smells that old!!  How long do llamas live anyways?  Just kidding!  We love the old fossil even if he does stink to high heaven...he's very entertaining to have around! 

The resident "princess", Kadie showing off some rather un-princess-like behavior here...  Notice how long her hair coat is, I've frequently wondered if she might possibly be developing Cushings disease because her hair coat is very long and she didn't completely shed out last summer.  Other than that though, she has no other symptoms.  My sweet girl is 27 years old now...oh how the years have flown by.  If I could turn back the hands of time, I'd certainly do it with this horse.  Yep, start back where I got her and do it all over again!

Kadie is usually Harley's first choice as his seeing-eye horse.  He has incredibly good taste!!  I'd pick her too!  Sensible, trustworthy, intelligent and kind...all good traits to have in a leader.  Good choice Harley!

I had a good laugh when I saw this picture of Eagle!  He's definitely packed on a few pounds since coming to our house.  The boy loves his groceries, and has officially picked up where Siri left off as the "clean-up" crew.   Siri used to hold that position, she'd never leave the hay until every single morsel was gone.  I see a lot of hill climbing in our future.  :)

Although Shad still has a healthy dose of respect for Eagle, they're getting along much better these days.  If ever there's a problem, it only exists in Shad's mind. 

My handsome mustang is doing very well in his lessons.  We've been trying to adhere to 3-4 times per week, usually an every other day routine.  He's very, very smart and catches onto most things quickly.  My friend that's been helping me with Eagle got on him twice last week.  The first time she just sat on his back, but the last time she walked him around the round pen.  He was quiet and willing.  Now I'm sure he's never been ridden, he's just like a colt who has no understanding of why you're on his back.  Primarily, we're focusing on groundwork exercises for now, but occasionally and gradually we'll start including more of riding as well.  I want to keep his education on the slow and steady course, making sure he has a good, solid foundation and thorough understanding of each lesson before throwing too much at him.  I'd rather be accused of going too slow, rather than going too fast.  My mantra of late is, "there's always tomorrow".  I'm very proud of his progress so far.  The other thing I've noticed lately about Eagle is that he's becoming more and more affectionate.  He's quite the "talker" too...always nickering in a quiet way.  I like that.  I just like this horse; what can I say?  Apparently, I know a good horse when I see one.  :)

Until next time...keep a leg on each side of the horse and your mind in the middle. 


Lorie @ Cingspots

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A break from projects

We've been going at the work projects so much lately that we decided to take a break last weekend and do nothing for a change.  Well, I guess we were sort of busy, but we weren't working.  We had a nice, quiet morning at home Saturday.  We slept in and enjoyed coffee in front of the woodstove looking outside at the rain falling.  Maybe it's because our summer seemed so short-lived this year and it didn't really stop raining until July, but I'm really resentful of the rain already.  But, it is what it is.  I can be thankful that we don't have frozen water troughs to deal with, or freezing pipes, or so many other weather-related issues that others' have to experience.  That's what I need to keep repeating to myself.  Anyway, after turning the horses out, giving them their morning hay ration, cleaning the stalls and putting the evening meal in their stalls, we were finished with the only chores that we had to do that day.  I made some homemade spaghetti sauce and put it on the stove to simmer and baked an applesauce/spice cake for a friend's memorial service that we were attending later on that afternoon.   It was a simple affair with family members and a few friends.  We planted a tree along with the friend's ashes and created a small memorial in his honor.  It was a nice way to say good-bye. 

Afterwards we spent some time in the barn with the horses, then went inside and watched a little tv before heading off to bed fairly early.  Wild people we are!  But, it was a nice day and it felt good to relax and take life easy for a change.

Sunday, we got up fairly early and got the chores finished before heading out to Eugene to watch the Extreme Trail Challenge.  This was a first for us, and I was quite surprised at how easy the courses actually were.  There was nothing that most of us trailriders don't usually encounter while riding in the mountains.  The big difference seemed to be, for the horses anyway, was that these obstacles were indoors and because of that, some of the horses were a little hesitant about something, that if outside, they would do without a second thought.  The activity really seems to be catching on with people, and is something that can be enjoyed by all types of riders without a lot of expensive training, special tack or gear.  However, it would be quite fun to have one of those obstacle courses at home; sure would be more interesting for the horses than a lot of ring riding.  In fact, there are several clinicians specializing in this type of training now.  There were a couple of them there, and one of the guys, Mark Bolender, does a lot of building these trail courses on private property for clients.  Now there's another use for somebody who owns a lot of heavy equipment! 

Some of our friends were there with their whole family riding some of their horses.  I don't know how well they did overall because we left before it was over, but from what I saw, they did very well.  Their horses were all amazingly quiet and confidently mastered most of the obstacles on the courses.  I was very proud of how well they did.  Some of the kids had to double up and share horses because Greg, the father, had brought his big boy, Ben; and when Ben goes along, their 6-horse trailer becomes a 4-horse trailer.  Ben is a grey Percheron who stands 18.2 hands high.  Ben is as sweet as a horse can possibly be...just don't give him a butterscotch candy and then expect not to be molested for more.  :)    In his former life, Ben was a Disneyland carriage horse, but he's a family horse now and is used primarily for trailriding. 

Greg and Ben

An indoor creek crossing at the bottom of the waterfall.

This pretty little Arabian mare handled the balance beam with ease.

Big Ben making it look so easy...
  When we got home, the navy bean soup I had cooking in the crockpot had the house smelling wonderfully.  I baked some cornbread and we had supper before heading outside to bring the horses in for the night.  In some ways, I wished we'd stayed home where I could have worked with Eagle and ridden Ladde because unlike Saturday, it didn't rain at all.  Oh well, you can't do everything.  There's just too many things to try and accomplish in a weekend.  With the time change, horse lessons will become more of a challenge because it's dark before I get off work now.  I hate that.  I'm just not looking forward to winter at all this year. 

Ladde helping with the pear picking.

Annie relaxing

Eagle sporting his "winter woolies"

Stall potatoes   :)

Blessings everyone from Cingspots

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lost like a fart in the wind

Well that's how it feels anyway.  I'm pretty sure that's not the case, but still.  I'm referring to our most recent working session...me and Eags.  You remember, the wonderful horse I was bragging all over town about just the other day.  Yeah.  Well, the very next session sucked.  Big time.  He pretty much looked me in the eye and said, "I quit" and furthermore, you're not big enough to make me.  Oh really?

Never one to back down from a challenge.  Even though I probably should have.  I pushed, and then I pushed a little harder.  In the end, of what began as a pretty good lesson, I "made" Eagle do the lunging that he was, quite obviously sick and tired of, on that particular night anyway.  And then I tried to get back some of that trust that I'd tromped on, and I tried in vain for just a little of that softness that we've experienced, you know, that soft "feel" that we strive for in our relationship with our horses.  Yep.  Blew it, big time!  And that night, I couldn't sleep and it continued to bother me most of the day following.  So....dug out my old Bill Dorrance book, True Horsemanship Through Feel.  My go to horse bible.  I got the affirmation that I so needed.  I was wrong.  Eagle was right.  Crap, I hate it when my horses prove they're smarter than I am.  I don't blame him one bit for quitting.  Early on, I was using a variety of different things we were working on, and then somewhere along, I started just lunging him and lunging him until he was bored out of his skull, and obviously was telling me that he saw no reason to continue hammering away at something that he understood already.  I think I got caught up a little by everybody asking me if, "I'd ridden my new horse yet?"  I felt the peer pressure of hurrying up and getting on his back already.  From the beginning, that is not what I wanted to do.  I wanted to take the teaching of Eagle nice and slow.  I wanted to build a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.  I wanted him to look at me as someone worthy of being his equal and then eventually, maybe even the "leader" in the dance.  I'd lost the "natural" in my horsemanship and bought into the "cram it down their throat, I'm the boss of you" mentality.  That's NOT who I am and that's NOT the way I choose to work with my horses - any of them. 

So, I gave him last night off.  I did spend some quiet time with him.  Brushing, petting, scratching and we had a very nice conversation, Eags and I.  I asked him for another chance.  I'd work real hard at treating him with respect and I agreed that he was perfectly correct in having an opinion about what and how we do things.  We are after all, a team.  Beginning again this evening after work, we're going to work on new things.  I'm going to try and get his hindquarters moving over nicely and hopefully that will help loosen him up.  Maybe do a little lateral flexion work, nice and soft backing and then maybe we'll head down the driveway and go for a little walk.  We might even visit that old apple tree down at the end of the driveway.  Whatever we end up doing, it's going to be nice and soft, I'll offer him a nice, quiet "feel" and see if he doesn't respond in kind.  I have faith in this horse.  He's very, very smart and he has a wonderful, sensible mind.  Let's hope that I can only rise to the occasion. 

Because if I can read horse body language at all...I'm pretty darned sure he gave me "the hoof" the other night.  You dig?  And another thing I'm pretty darned sure about, was that I totally deserved it. 

I forgot to keep track, but I'd say we're maybe at: 4 steps forward - 1 step back.  Something like that.  Not bad.  So, we'll just forget all about the other night and we'll keep striving towards "perfect" progress.  You all probably realize by now that I have enormous respect for Ray Hunt.  I also have enormous respect for Tom and Bill Dorrance and Joe Wolter and a few other amazing horsemen. 
So, here's another one of those pretty infamous quotes from my favorite guy, Ray..."Practice does not make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect".  Words of wisdom my friends, words of wisdom.

Moving along @ Cingspots

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Frosty Fall Mornings....brrrrrr and projects

For the last week, we've had a good, heavy frost every single morning except for one.  We had our first real frost a couple of weeks ago, but then it warmed up again for a couple of days and it rained a bit.  I'm having to remember to go out and start my car at least 15 minutes prior to needing to leave for work to give my windshield time to de-thaw.  Yep, genuine ice on the car.  My car door was even frozen shut yesterday morning and it was a real chore to get inside to start the car.  Even though it's been frosty and cold, we've been experiencing beautiful, blue skies for much of the past week.  Heavy fog and freezing fog gives way to beautiful sunshine for the remainder of the day.  I just can't complain about that.  The horses are all looking exceptionally wooly and fat too.  I guess I can't deny that fall's arrived with a vengeance. 

The past three weekends hubby and I have been travelling up into the Trask Mountain area of the Cascade Mountain range and cutting firewood.  So far, we've got about 3 cords and we'd like to get at least 1 more before we relax and consider ourselves finished with this project.  The woodshed is filling up nicely and smells wonderful.  I just love standing in there inhaling the lovely scent and admiring our handiwork, because seeing it all stacked up neat as a pin represents a whole lot of hard work.  It gives me a genuine sense of satisfaction at a job well done.  Spending time up in the mountains in the fresh air has been, for the most part anyway, a real pleasure.  It gives one time to think and relax without having to deal with all the stresses and "should be's" when we're at home.  I sure appreciate coming home, taking a warm shower and sitting in front of the woodstove afterwards.  My body just doesn't quite react the same to hard, physical work like it used to.  I tire a lot more easily and always have to remember to protect my back when lifting and twisting repetitively.  And as always, I'm so thankful for my wonderful hardworking husband for all that he does.  There are just so many things that he is physically able to do, that I am not.  However, I have never been one of those wives who can sit at home while my husband is outside in the elements working so hard.  I am there to help in any way that I possibly can.  When we're finished, we both go inside and relax.  Together.

I've been working with Eagle a lot more lately too, and I can report that he is doing amazingly well.  He sure is one smart horse.  In the past several weeks, which is when I started "regularly" working with him about 4 times per week, he has progressed very, very quickly.  He now lunges both directions at walk, trot, canter and whoa, he's learning his voice commands as well, reverses (always turning inside) nicely when asked, and stands perfectly still and turning his head only, to face me until given a new directive.  He leads "light as a feather", backs and is learning to give to pressure.  He is willingly picking up his feet when asked, but occasionally gets a case of rigamortis in that left hind.  Nobody's perfect.  :)  But, he's making progress.  I've been saddling him and routinely sacking him out, and he's perfect in that department most of the time.  I've even put the bridle on with a snaffle bit and he carries it like he's been doing it his whole life.  I haven't gotten on him yet, but did put some weight in both stirrups and lean over his back the other night.  He's a little apprehensive when I'm on the mounting block, but he's getting used to that as well.  I'm just beginning to teach him to breakover in his hindquarters in a tight circle with just using body language.  We still have plenty of groundwork to work on, but I'm pretty sure that we'll be riding him before too much longer.  Slow and steady is my theory.  Ray Hunt always said, "the slower you go, the faster you'll get there".  I wholeheartedly believe that.  Eagle is a gem, and I love seeing him progress, and his trust growing daily.  I'm thinking of setting up a little obstacle course if the weather stays dry, which will help the lessons stay interesting to him.  I just wish that daylight savings time wasn't almost upon us because it's going to be practically dark when I get home from work.  Or, better yet, if I only had a lighted indoor arena the winter darkness wouldn't matter one bit...but, I digress.  If only.

The following pics of Eagle were taken before I got him last summer on some of the packing trips he went on.  Sometimes he actually packed things like oxygen and acetylene tanks for cutting those steel culverts they removed from the forest, and other times he just got to go along "naked" for the experience of going.  Regardless of what he was wearing or packing, or where he was at; he always has the same expression and demeanor like he's been doing it all his life.  What a good horse.  :)

So, we've been busy as usual.  I'm looking forward to winding these winter preparation projects down and actually being able to slow down a little...just in time for the holidays...oh joy.  I'd love to rent a cozy little cabin somewhere in the woods, seclude ourselves up with a rip-roaring fire and hole-up until the craziness passes.  *sigh*   Doesn't that sound wonderful?  A cabin in the wilderness, big old fireplace, comfy bed with one of those big, fluffy down comforters, little paned windows to watch the snow softly falling outside, walks outside in the fresh air, and when you get cold, come back inside for a mug of hot chocolate and a good book...or maybe a nap.  Yeah.  That's what I want for Christmas...

Blessings everyone,
Lorie @ Cingspots