Friday, November 8, 2013

I've been waiting on Hola...

There is a poem in the movie 8 Seconds (looooove that movie by the way) that I often quote when waiting on my man, my Mom or whomever the tardy party may be at the time. I've done this for years. The poem goes...

"I've been waiting on *insert name*
Ever since I could recall,
I started in April and it's coming on Fall..."

Well... funny how life works...

I had hoped to very lightly start Hola in the Spring of her 2 year old year.  Sometime about... April. But she just wasn't big enough for anyone, especially someone with such a bodaciously curvy bod such as me *cough* and she was not mature enough mentally either. I figured I could wait until... you guessed it, Fall.

Well it's Fall. And I am a bit smaller than I was April. And she is a wee bit bigger than she was in April. But she is still small (14HH and 800 pounds) and I am still too big (most definetly NOT inserting my height and weight here*) so it looks like I am going to be aiming for Spring. I am going to be hoping for a Christmas miracle... that I might drop 20 pounds and she might gain 200. That is possible right? Right? Right? *crickets* Right.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Poor Hola is teething. For a few days she was just acting grumpy and not eating with her usual gusto. I checked her mouth but couldn't see or smell anything but could hear a definite click when she chewed. The next night she barely ate at all so I looked again and sure enough....

Poor girl! I was giving her some extra beet pulp and grain soaked when she first started showing signs of mouth pain but took to soaking her hay too once I realized that tooth was gone. She also has some lumps on the bottom of her jaw.

Speaking of the bottom jaw.... is there anything in the world so hard as the bottom of a horses jaw when it hits the top of your head!?!? That happened last night with Marm when I stood up after picking her feet
. Ouch!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Different Kind of Rigging

I just had to share some pics and thoughts about the rigging on my friends saddle. L has had this Saddlesmith reiner for a few years now but I don't get to ride in it very often because the stirrups will not go nearly short enough for me. Damn you long legged women! I would kill to be the leggy type. This was the first saddle L bought for herself.. We saddle shopped together for a few months trying to find one that fit both her and the horse. Every time I had her sit in a saddle I would say, "How does it feel?" and she would say, "It feels like a saddle." I kept telling her that when she sits in one that fits just right, she would know what I was talking about. When she sat this Saddlesmith for the first time I didn't even get to pose the question, she looked at me, smiled and said, "Oh! Oh yah!" Luckily the stars aligned as they do so rarely when saddle shopping and the saddle fit both her horse and her budget. The only "hiccup" so to speak was that it had a unique style of rigging. When we first went to cinch it up I have to admit I didn't really have a clue how to rig it up. Right or wrong, since that day we have been doing it as seen in the photos and I have to say that I LOVE this rigging. It lies FLAT. No bulge at all under your leg and the buckle feels much more secure that with a straight rigging. I also think that the rigging helps keep the saddle centered on her back and helps disperse the pressure over a broader area. I guess other people don't love it like I do though because the saddle makers don't make this type of rigging. Martin makes an adjustable rigging that is also nice and can really help with saddle fit. What kind of rigging do you prefer?

(please ignore that the pad isn't lined up right, I just threw it on to take pics)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What I Have to Prove...

This evening I was talking to a friend about horses, training, and how we are perceived by others. Specifically, we discussed to what degree we care about how we are perceived by other horsemen. I would like to think I don't care. But I do. It would never expect someone to think of me as a really good horseman... but if one were to think of me as incompetent, now that would bother me very much indeed! What I discovered in admitting that truism is that my ultimate goal as a horseman is to be competent. To be able to get the job done. What is my self assigned job as a horseman? Catching the cow? Running a clean barrel pattern? Jumping the oxer? None of the above. My job is to have a horse that guides willfully. A horse that is soft and light, happy and relaxed; one who drives from behind and gives their face; a horse that lopes and jogs and stops hard and fast when asked; a horse whose body I can bend and flex and send in any which direction I please. My self assigned job as a horseman is to create a finely tuned partner. So why does it bother me so much to think that someone would perceive me as incompetent? Because I am. Because I can not and have not yet been able to create or maintain a horse that is all of the above.

So the next obvious train of thought would be, how do I become the horseman I want to be? Experience, time, lessons, clinics, DVDs. These things don't fall out of the sky. I have to invest in and further my education. The problem with that... I'll have to write about next time!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Frustrations in Hiring Equine Related "Professionals"

I am done with trying to find competent so-called Equine professionals.

                                                   What a bunch of bull!

 In 2011 I went through a half dozen farriers who didn't work out due to either scheduling issues (ie- not showing up), affordability ($50 a trim), lack of  knowledge on "barefoot" trimming (or just lack knowledge on trimming in general), and/or over aggressive trimming (hack half of my horses foot off). Finally, I couldn't stomach trying out yet another farrier so I picked up a rasp and learned how to do a basic maintenance trim. I am not better than any of those farriers but I am reliable, consistent and I try hard to do a good job. And I'm cheap too!

Earlier this year I accompanied a friend on a visit to the vet with her mare who had chronic diarrhea. I had done some reading and narrowed down a few possibilities one of which was insulin resistance. The vet quickly decided that the likely cause was ulcers and recommended (an expensive) treatment and blood work. I asked him if it was possible that insulin resistance or hind gut acidosis could be a cause. He said he wasn't overly familiar with insulin resistance symptoms. Huh? Really? Because IR is kind of a hot topic in the horse community right now! Or did you miss the memo? Four-hundred dollars later my friend figured out that the mare had normal blood work and that ulcer treatment had no effect on her diarrhea issue. Forty dollars worth of psyllium husk, as recommended by good ol' google, had a much better result.

                                                   (Penny, Hereford heifer calf at the barn)

Finally, last week I hired a chiropractor recommended by a good friend.. I was excited to have Marm assessed and adjusted.  So five minutes before our first appointment she texts to say she will be twenty-five minutes late. No problem. Forty-five minutes later she shows up. Not a huge deal... her less than professional appearance, also not a big deal. But her cloth KED paper-thin shoes, not exactly safe especially while adjusting horses, especially horses she doesn't know. I liked this lady and I liked the work that she did... at the time. The day after the first adjustment I got on Marm and found that she was seriously out in her back end. She wasnt noticeably out before the adjustment but the chiro had done a lot of adjustments to her hips and stifle. Now I understand that it not uncommon for something to come up after a big adjustment which is why this lady recommends an second adjustment shortly after the first. We had an appointment for Saturday at two. Well, two o'clock rolls around and she doesn't show. I text her at 2:30 and ask if she is on her way. Ten minutes later I get a text back saying she lost track of time and is on her way. I say fine but ask where she is coming from so I have an idea of time. She says, "can you give me two hours?" Huh? Really! As in 4:30? "Ok" I say because I really want Marm done. She shows up at 4:50pm. I tell her that Marm has been really off in her back end since the morning after the last adjustment. She says she cant really feel or see anything at that time and after looking at Marm for a while declares that she feels fine. The next day I am back on Marm and she is so "off" she is unridable. I decide to give her a few days but no luck, she is still very off. I get back in touch with the chiro and let her know what is going on. She says, "How about tomorrow at 11". Great I say! *bangs head against wall* Sure enough, eleven rolls by and she is a no show. I text her at 11:40 and tell her to not bother coming. She texts back at 11:50 and says, "Sorry, how about tomorrow at 11." Thanks but no thanks.

SO... I have a new chiro coming out on Friday and have fingers and toes crossed he shows up sometime within an hour of so of the appointment...  Is it too much to hope that maybe he will do a good job too?

God I hope so.
"Hola, always the clown"

Monday, September 30, 2013

Getting Them "Right"

For the past six months I've been riding Marmalade, my Marm, Marmy, Marmy Mare. I am very lucky to have a great friend who was kind enough to lend me her horse and willing to trust me while, through trial and error, I endeavored to make her "right". Marm is a classic example of a "sound" horse that just isn't physically right. I would say a good half or more of horsemen out there would get on and just ride this mare. She is broke, sane, and is overall a good using horse that just about anyone can ride. Her "issues" if you can even call them that, are little things like an unwillingness to stop (though she will stop) and a desire to trot off (though she will walk), an uncomfortable gait and a rigid, stiffly muscled poll/neck. She is an absolute sweetheart but she always has this Eor like expression. She has always had an even stride but too me it looked shorter than it aught to be considering her conformation. All little things. But all those little things added up. I have become obsessed with making Marm right. So far I have worked on correcting her front foot shape and angles, getting her in to a better fitting saddle, having some chiropractic adjustments, putting her on a joint supplement and leaving her face/headset alone under saddle so she can learn to relax. She is better than she was. But I wish I could do so much more. I wish I could throw a lot more money at this mare but it hard to justify spending a bunch of money on a horse that is technically sound....technically usable as is. I cant help but wonder just how talented this awesome, big hearted mare could be if she were at her top physical condition. I hope time will tell.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Value of a Broke Horse...

I have a good girlfriend with two very rambunctious teenage boys. I often ask her how she can stand watching them do the dangerous things that they do without having a heart attack. Her response, "I don't look". So far the hardest part of raising my own filly has been letting her learn to look after herself. Sometimes that means "I don't look". I believe in setting a horse up for success by taking baby steps through new situations... But, it just isn't possible to baby step through every learning curve. Some of them you have to run through with breath held and fingers crossed. It is tempting to avoid those situations but I cant keep Hola bubble wrapped forever. She has to learn stay away from the boss horse or she will spend her life standing alone in a paddock. She has to learn that having a meltdown along the fence line isn't going to get herself turned-in any sooner or she will be the horse that runs through a fence when you take her buddy away. She has to learn to learn that hauling isn't always slow back roads on sunny days, being passed by a semi on a highway in the rain sucks, (for her and for me)  but we will survive, hopefully. She has to learn that pulling back wont get her anywhere or she will be that horse that wont tie. It is really hard to not look. To not help. To not avoid the scary situation. And I don't expect her to come away unscathed. She has fallen down while running the fence line. She has got herself snubbed up while tied and panicked and pulled back. The knot held, thank god, and she only pulled for a second, thank god, and then she remembered to come off of pressure, thank god, and she stepped forward, thank god.

Raising'em up yourself isn't for patsies. What I've learned more than anything else is...

The tremendous value of a horse that is already dead broke, solid minded and been-there-done-that. There is a whole shit load of "thank god" moments that lead to that creation of that horse. A whole lot of hard work and a little luck too.  

Hola Practicing her Big Fast and Small Slow Circles

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Good Dog...

This is Harley...
He is a good dog.
His family, my friends, are truly wonderful people.
Great friends, beautiful horses and good dogs-
 I am blessed.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Hola- Getting Older but Not Growing Up(ward)

I used to refer to my horses (all above 14.2HH) as "ponies". I'd say, "I'm going to feed the ponies"... "Going to ride my pony"... "I love my pony". I think I jinxed myself. I now have a two-year-old pony. Pony... as in a horse under the height of 14.2HH. Hola is tiny. Teeny tiny. 13.3HH and very fine boned 700 pounds. The vet said she would make a great anatomy horse as you can see and feel every bone and tendon. I was really holding out hope that she would be one of those late bloomers you hear about. I told myself I wasn't going to worry. But I was worried. So I did some more looking in to her pedigree...

 Abby, Hola's mom is 14.2HH but a brick shithouse of big bone and muscle. JJ, her sire, is 14.2HH and finer boned but still a solid enough 900 pounds. I understand her being small but this small?

Abby is an own daughter of Rooster (Gallo Del Cielo) who is the #5 All Time producer (in $$ earned) of Reining Horses. Him, and his full brothers Grays Starlight and Paddy's Irish Whiskey (both top 20 all time producers of cutting and reined cow horses) are all built like Abby- short but by no means small. On the bottom side of Abby's pedigree is an AQHA world champion cutting horse named Rosie O Llama by Freckles Playboy (15.1HH)  (x Doc O'Lena)... now Doc O'Lena was a small horses so maybe that could be it? Below that is another cutting champion named Shorty Lena... Shorty? Ahh-Huh! You think it would be easy to find out how tall a horse named Shorty Lena is but no such luck... But, he is also Doc O'Lena bred so... could be but looking at the photos none of these horses looked particularly small.

Finally, I looked at Hola's topside. Her sire, JJ I have seen in person so I know he is not at all small. But what about his sire Topsail Whiz...


Topsail Whiz is the #1 all time producer of reining horses. I watched a video that shows him walking out of the barn with his owner. I also was able to see a handful of his top earning sons in the show pen. I took special notice of just how those saddle pads were fitting and how far the riders feet were hanging below the belly. These horses are little... really little... Turns out Topsail Whiz was only 14.1HH. Teeny Tiny... But they rein. They rein so freakin good that Topsail Whiz's get have earned over 8 million dollars and a large percentage of horses winning in the NRHA today are carrying his blood.

So I am no longer worried about Hola's size. She just happens to look a hell of a lot like her grandsire Topsail Whiz in size, color, conformation and- hopefully- athletic ability. I guess my PONY is about as big as she needs to be.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My New Hat

I was at the feed store the other day idly poking around, petting saddles, you know, the usual. I happened on a pile of cowboy hats. Just for shits'n'giggles I picked one up and put it on. I love that line from The Horse Whisperer when the little cowboy, when asked why he wears a cowboy hat all the time, answers "Because it fits my head." I found a Charlie 1 Horse hat. It fits my head. But for some reason it fits everything else about me too. I knew from the start it was just my hat. Funny how that happens sometimes.

Funny how that doesn't happen sometimes... like with these glasses for instance.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Our First Mile Together

(Hola's first solo trailer ride.)

While I have truly loved almost every minute of raising my own (horse) there are those times where I really do wish I could just skip past those scary "firsts". Hola has been hauled a half dozen times. Always with the comfort of her bestie M and always in a big 3 horse angle haul. My goal this week was to get Hola in my new little 2 horse straight haul and take her around the block all by herself.  A "first" I have been dreading for a month now.

I am all about prep work but I also have a hard time taking my time when I get fixated on my goal or schedule. I was really impatient to haul my own horse in my own trailer for the very first time (in my life) but I promised myself that I would take a week to get her head where I wanted it. She had been turned out with her buddies for two weeks straight while I was in Hawaii and so I took her for a walk every night down the road by herself and left her tied to the wall for a bit afterwards. I also had her walk in and out of the trailer a dozen times to help her get used to walking in and (most importantly) out on the ramp. She really wanted to turn around. I was dreading the moment I had to tie her in that trailer. I dreaded it enough that I put off for a full two days before I got mad at myself one evening, hitched up the trailer and headed to the barn with a determined objective of get'n'r done! I got her from the field and let her give the trailer a good sniff. She loaded easy and stood eating hay quietly. I held my breath a clipped her in. I held it through that first moment she figured out she was tied. I braced myself for the panic. It didn't come. She took a step back, felt that she was tied and took a step forward. When I closed the upper doors she still didn't panic. I had just about exhaled when I went to lift that bottom ramp. It squeeked. It squeeled. It grumbled. Hola just about climbed in to the manger. Her bum scootched right up and her flank quivered by she didn't pull back. Good girl. I closed up the trailer and headed down the driveway. I was a mile away before I realized I still hadn't exhaled. I took her for a five minute ride around the block. By the time we pulled in the driveway I had gotten over the anxiety over loading her. I was, however, well in to getting worried about unloading. When the time came I opened the doors and Hola, bless her heart, stood like a champ. I left her to stand in the trailer for a few minutes. I gave her grain which she ate with enthusiasm. It is hard work being a big girl. I had finally relaxed as I knew that she was well versed at backing out of the trailer. Without thinking much about it, I unhooked her lead from the manger door and walked around to the back of trailer. I had spent the past half hour so focused and so carefully planning every single step and right at the very last minute I just stopped thinking. I walked around the back of the trailer and found Hola with her head cranked around towards her flank and one step away from wedging herself against the wall in an attempt to turn around. I jumped forward, pushed her face back towards the front and grabbed her lead. She tried twice more to turn around and twice I was able to stop her. Finally I got in front of her and asked her to back out. She looked at me like, "Oh! Right! We back out of this trailer." And walked out just as cool as cucumber. Disaster averted.

I took Hola out again last night. She was as good as gold. This week I am going to haul out to a few local parks for some quiet walks and then we are going to start dropping in to some events. Hola doesn't know it but a whole new chapter in our life together began that night we drove our first mile

Monday, May 13, 2013

Horse Tack Bidding Site

Up until just a few short months ago one of the few equine vices I escaped was a tack addiction. I love tack. Love tack stores. Love the boots, the supplies, the feed, the leather, the gooming products. But I don't buy. Because I am cheap. And I cant justify buying what I don't actually need.

I've boarded at some big barns in my time. I've always had, by a large margin, the smallest amount of tack.

I know it sounds like a lot to a non-horse person but really, to have owned horses for almost two decades this doesn't amount to much:

-one saddle
-one saddle pad
-one bridle
-two bits
-two halters (one rope and one regular)
-one lead line
-a single carry tub of brushes
-two girths
-a tubberware bin with fly spray, leather cleaner, a lunge line and a few basic medical supplies.
-a single rain sheet
-a cooler
-a winter blanket

I had owned plenty of different tack along the way but I would sell/swap or give away anything I no longer needed or that fit my current horse. What happened a few months ago? A couple things. First was that a lot of my old tack didn't fit Hola. She is teeny tiny.  I am also riding Marm so wanted tack that fit her. She is not teeny tiny.

But the big problem started when this lady I know created a "equine bidding" page on facebook. The seller posts a single picture of their tack item and a SB (starting bid price). The "auction" lasts 48 hours from the time the item is posted. Every bid must be greater than $1 than the last bid. A buyer bids by simply commenting on the photo. The winning bidder has 48 hours to arrange pick up from the buyer. All sellers must be in my local area. 

I love this site. Here is why. I am cheap. I like a good deal. But I also have seen first hand that a lot of horsemen end up with a lot of tack they no longer need whether it be from change of horse or change of discipline and I love that we get to put items to use. Almost all the items posted are in good working condition. Everything from buckets, to halters, to hay bags to wheel barrows have come up and sell for very reasonable prices. I bought a hay bag for $5. I bought a halter for $8. I bid (but didn't win) $85 on a brand new looking Pro Choice saddle pad (that would have been over $200 new) . New items are posted every day and I can see it becoming a easily justified addiction. I know a lot of horse people are E-bay junkies and I understand why but the local and community aspect to this site is what really pulled me in. I know a lot of these people and am getting to know others. I love the site. I also love all my new tack:)

Friday, May 10, 2013

She Came Stock That Way...

Over the past two years I have been able to live out a life-long dream. I wanted to train my very own horse from the very start. Here is the number one thing I've learned so far...

Hola hit the ground happy, light, good minded, trusting and full of try. Whenever anyone comments on how nice she is I always say, "She hit the ground that way, all I have to do is not fuck it up." Sorry, but that is what I say (so long as young children or my mother is not within ear shot... sorry Mom). And that's the honest to god truth.

My biggest challenge is not teaching her new things. That part is usually pretty easy once I get out of my own way and find the right way to ask. The hard part is teaching her how to be a good citizen (how to load in a trailer, tie to a wall, accept a saddle, and put up with all those crazy things we ask a horse to do) without messing up that innate softness, willingness, trust, curiosity, and try in the process. I've made mistakes. Some I hope I can undo. Some are there for good. But I've tried my heart out and so has Hola. I am damn proud of what a nice little filly she continues to be (not has become). I also love when she is naughty and sassy and full of herself...  because that was in there from the start too.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hola Buckin' it Up

Hola turned two on the 17th of April. She is a wee thing at fine boned 14HH. But she can turn and twist and snake that body every which way from Sunday! I watch her cat like moves and think, "Man! I cant wait to ride that!" but then I see her jump five feet sideways faster than I can blink an eye and I think, "Yah, I don't know about riding that!"     

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Video Says One Word

A picture says a thousand words. Well, this video says just one.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Trailer

DB and I headed out later than planned. Just an hour in to our two hour trip we were heading West in to a quickly setting sun. Chasing daylight did nothing to soothe my frayed nerves or a belly sick with anticipation. We were headed to small town on the coast of Washington state. The trailer we were going to view as a 1987 Circle J straight haul, silver with a black stripe. At the price they were asking I could afford to strip the trailer down to bare bones and still come out ahead. The problem was, at the price they were asking I knew I had to buy outright tonight or it wouldn't it wouldn't be there in the morning. I had my ducks in a row, I had bought insurance and a new hitch, went to the bank for US cash and put together a package of our e-mail exchanges as well as a print out of the craigslist ad so that I could prove the trailers purchase price at the border. I had spent so much time trying to make sure that I would get the chance to see the trailer, that I could buy the trailer and that I could import the trailer that it wasnt until I was in the truck and halfway there that I realized I hadn't actually stopped to consider if I wanted the trailer. I also realized that I hadn't seen a picture of the left side or backend and I hadn't really asked much about the damn thing either. DB was going to kill me if we had driven all this way to see a piece of garbage. What had I gotten myself in to?

The sky had turned a soft lilac by the time we pulled up to a small home set back in the woods. On the left of the drive was a pretty black and white Paint gelding, to the right, a sliver and black Circle J. Forgetting my manners, I jumped out and quickly circled the trailer. I looked back at DB. He cocked an eyebrow and asked, "Well?" I thought about playing it cool but there was no holding back the smile I felt blooming outward from deep in my heart. A huge smile and a quick nod and he knew I was sold.

The lady who answered the door was small and sharp bones with warm blue eyes. Her husband had a white beard and slow and easy way about him that was instantly endearing. We talked about the trailer, its history and I did a more thorough walk around. We filled out the paperwork by the light of the moon. I paid them cash. A small sum for the quality of the trailer. Afterward, we stood about talking. What we learned was that this kind man had lost his job last year. They were selling the trailer to help out with bills. Standing there in the cool evening air, listening to them speak positively of life changes, of putting in vegetable beds and downsizing to a smaller property, I learned something I hope I never forget. To indulge my thrifty Scottish nature by taking advantage of a depressed marketplace... well, that's one thing in theory... but to meet those nice folks and put a face to that economical reality, well that's something else entirely. Behind those "good deals" are people who are giving up what they worked hard to earn. That "deal" can come at a cost that should never be ignored or disrespected.  I had expressed to them how buying this trailer was a dream come true. She said that it had been for her too and wished me the best of luck with it. I could tell by her eyes she meant it. I could feel it in the warmth of her hug.

 I hauled the trailer home that night comforted not by the fact that I had gotten a good deal but instead by the sincerity of their good will. I got my trailer. I will cherish it. But I think the life lesson that came with it was far more valuable

Sunday, April 14, 2013

On Buying a Horse Trailer

A very little Hola meeting a very large TB gelding, Dave.
Ever so often my obsessive tendencies pay off. I have spent the better part of the last two weeks searching horse ad sites, craigslist, kijjij-bee-jee-tee-jee (or however in the hell you say that) and local tack stores in hopes of finding a really good deal. While genetically only half Scottish, when it comes to being thrifty (read cheap) I am 100% pure blooded Scott. Horse trailers in my area are few and far between and priced about 20-30% higher than trailers found on the US side of the border. I knew that I was going to have to travel to find a good deal. Unfortunately, when you spend time and gas money traveling to see a trailer you have to put a certain amount of trust in the sellers description. The problem with that is that I have no such trust. My number one priority was to get a trailer that was safe to tow. To me this meant that the floor was completely sound and well installed. The coupling/jack/hitch what-chya-ma-call-it was in good working order, the structure of the trailer was 100% sound and the tires, bearings and brakes were recently serviced or new. When I was sixteen my friend was hauling my horse when one bad board snapped and my horses feet went through the floor of the trailer at 40km an hour. Needless to say it made an impression on my young mind. I set out to buy a safe, practical trailer in excellent condition. My max budget was $5000 but I really wanted to spend closer to $3500. I focused on trailers in WA state and I did the necessary research on the importing process wherein I discovered that I needed to buy a trailer that was 15-years or older in order to be exempt from a provincial inspection and two week import process that would have been more headache than it was worth in savings.

What I also quickly discovered in the shopping process was that the value of a horse trailer is subjective and can drive an obsessively practical and tight fisted Scott crazy. For example. I could buy a brand spanking new two-horse-angle haul for $4650. But I would have to go through that import process and when everything was said and done I would be close to $6000. However, almost all angle haul trailers in decent condition, regardless of age were priced at $3500 and up. So I could buy a new trailer for $4700 or a 12-year-old trailer for $3500. This just didn't make sense to me. The angle haul trailers over 15 years old (and therefor exempt from the import process) were also priced at about $3500. On the other hand, two horse straight haul trailers gave me considerably more bang for my buck. I could get something newer and in much better condition for $3500 than their angle haul counterparts. While I prefer angle hauls I knew that a straight haul was actually more practical as they weigh less and are therefor cheaper to haul, I have no need or desire for a big tack room, I only have smaller horses who are great to load and I only plan on hauling shorter distances. I also am likely to be hauling only one horse at a time and so I focused in on a straight haul with a swinging center divider that would allow me to haul one horse on an angle.

Now began my search for the ideal straight haul. After looking at dozens of straight hauls I found there were certain features that I really wanted, such as:

-a fully enclosed unit (because it rains here a lot and I want to keep the interior dry and in the winter it helps avoid freezing drafts on wet horses (whether wet from rain or sweat))

-removable and swinging center divider (so it can be converted to a 1 horse angle or small open stock)

- a solid divider between the hay mangers (as I don't want do deal with bitchy horses fighting over hay or unfamiliar horses snarking at each other...and yes, snarking is a word!)

-a larger/longer window at the front of the unit (to allow for more light)

-a window on the side of the hay manger (to allow horses to see out and provide more ventilation)

-no ramp or only a small ramp

-full padding on side, front and divider

-bulldog style coupler

I had other wish list items like a to-the-floor center divider, under-the-manger saddle racks and interior lights but only the above were requirements.

Narrowing my search down made it harder to find available trailers but allowed me to spend more time researching those trailers that did make the cut. Therein I found my second problem. Because I was looking at 1997 and older trailers it was likely that considerable refurbishing had taken place over the years. This meant that someone, however qualified or not, had redone the floor, the wiring, the brakes and heaven knows what else. I would have liked to have had the trailer inspected before purchasing but the schematics of actually arranging that is more problematic than one would think, such as, being 2-6 hours away and in a different country, the who, when, where, insurance, multiple trips to see the trailer, and making sure that the "good deal" trailer doesn't sell before you can arrange all of the above. This is where my horse trailer search was turned on its ear... so to speak. I called a few local trailer servicing outfits and figured out what it would cost to replace the floor, brakes and wiring on a trailer. I also added the cost of new tires and other small repairs. Ultimately, I found it far less stressful to buy a trailer with the intent to replace everything then to try to find one that I could count on being "perfect". A  luck would have it a trailer came on the market on Wednesday morning that fit the bill perfectly. It was a silver 1987 Circle J two horse straight haul. The ad said it was in excellent condition and it was just two hours from home in WA state. I made an offer around noon and had a deal subject to inspection by three. That evening we left home a little later then planned and headed South... to buy my very first horse trailer.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Trailer Shopping

This afternoon I purchased a brand spankin' new beautiful Asus laptop *seated happy dance jig* which means I will finally be able to get back to blogging. Without further au due...

Presently I am typing on blogger. What you cant see is that every six seconds I am picking up my iphone to check my mail as I currently have an offer in on a horse trailer. Like, a real big bad ass blue metal horse trailer. Not like the only other horse trailer I have ever owned which was a hot pink single horse straight load which my Barbie doll and I precariously hauled all over my living room carpet.  Since typing that paragraph I have checked my mail 87 times.

 A note to sellers: Please check your freakin' mail, preferably every 3-5 minutes. And then please respond promptly.... as in no more than 6-8 minutes after received my e-mail. Thank you.

Here is what I have discovered about buying horse trailers. It is not that much different than buying a horse. Horse people are nothing if not consistent in their ability to spew forth bullshit without a batting an eye. So far I have found two trailers that I was completely sold on right up until I talked to the sellers. One man couldn't stop tripping himself up in his own lies. "I haul the trailer everywhere! My wife uses it all the time! We have gone on a bunch of trips with it and it is great! Up here, down there!" I ask him how recently the brakes have been redone. His response, "Oh, they were done a few years ago but we really don't use the trailer much so they should be good still." *nods blankly*

I have decided that I would rather buy something that I know needs repair and have the work done so I know it is done right rather than f-ing around trying to figure out what patchwork haywire job some guy's brother-in-law's uncle's best friends' cousin did "just last year".

I just checked my mail for the 987th time. Still no word. I'm in for a fitful sleep tonight!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Walkin' Hola for a DHC

Over the past week Hola and I have been busy walking the trails. I am very fortunate to board close to a river dyke where trails and paths for walkers, bikers, runners and riders are easily accessible. In years previous, the footing was made up of hard backed gravel topped with sharp loose rock, (not ideal for unshod horses) but due to flooding last summer the parks have replaced the footing with a finer pea gravel that is ideal for developing a good barefoot horse. One of my New Years resolutions was to start walking Hola on a daily basis... this killed two birds with one stone. I need the exercise. And Hola needs time on hard ground to support the development of healthy bones, a good food and a well developed digital heel cushion. As an added benefit we also get the opportunity to work on leading past scary obstacles, sending her over fallen logs and exposing her to traffic, pedestrians and horse-eating-boulders. So, I guess it would be more accurate to say we killed nine birds with one stone. Of all the birds we are busy'a'killin' my primary goal is actually to help Hola develop a decent foot including that ever-important digital heel cushion, a part of a horses anatomy I didn't even know existed just a year ago.

I found a site with excellent photos and information on digital heel cushions (DHC). Check out HorseHoofHelp. There is a super cool picture of the digital cushion in an elephant foot! An important fact is that the digital heel cushion is developed while the horses is growing and the only way to grow a good cushion is to provide the foot with stimulation on hard surfaces (given that the foot is trimmed correctly). After reading about DHC I realized that Hola has had VERY little exposure to hard ground and even less exercise on good footing. Here in the Pacific Northwest we are a land of mud and muck from about September through till June. I know that an hour walk a day isn't going to amount to much but I feel it is better than nothing. As an added benefit it will provide me with extra motivation to get off my butt and out the door! Which is especially important as my Hola is just a tiny wee thing! I sure hope that her butt starts to grow at about the same rate that my butt starts to shrink! Or I might not be riding her this year at all!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Bitting Up

Long time no post!

I am going to give this 'blog re-start' another shot as I have recently begun working with Hola again and really would love to keep a training journal. Unfortunately this will probably just be a simple (read boring) training log. I have too much going on in my personal life to make add much more than the basic facts so I hope you will forgive me. I will keep this public in the unlikely event someone finds my training notes helpful (if nothing else it could be a "What NOT to Do!";)

Yesterday evening I bitted up Hola for the second time. Last week I slipped the bit in her mouth and let her eat a beat pulp mash I had made especially sloppy. Hola loves food. Like L.O.V.E.S. food. I use this to my advantage at every chance I get. I can make almost any experience a positive one if I somehow find a way to incorporate a bucket of grain or a bag of hay. With that being said I have to be really careful to make sure that Hola is still aware of what I am introducing to her and not zoned out into the la-la land of lush hay and sweet grain. I can make those first few times a little less stressful and more positive by allowing her to eat but she will not have accepted or really thought through that new situation until she faces it sans food. So the first time I put that bit in her mouth I immediately set that mash next to her and for the next ten minutes she thought of little else but the delicious concoction of beet pulp and grain. This evening I put a bit in her mouth and left her to mull on it. Hola's eyes are so expressive. I couldnt help but laugh as she did everything she could to eject that mouthful of metal. I could almost hear her saying, "So let me get this straight, I have this thing in my mouth but I cant eat it or spit it out! What kind of bullshit is this!" She went from curious, to annoyed, to really pissed off. After pissed off came panic. Her eyes became bug eyed and she seemed to be screaming... "Ahh... Mom! Mom! Help! This thing! It is stuck in my mouth! I'm choking!" Up until that point I had been standing next to her watching to be sure she didnt get her tongue over the bit (okay, in truth I was busy laughing at her antics) but once she started to panic I decided to just pick up a brush and start grooming her like nothing was the matter. I kept a close watch and as soon as I noticed her stop chewing for a solid 20 seconds or so I quickly slipped the bit out of her mouth and then continued grooming (like nothing happened.) This strategy pretty much sums up my entire training philosophy- just act like it is No Big Deal.

The hardest part of having a young horse is having to get over the "first time" hurdles. The day comes when they have to tie hard for the first time (FTFT), stand in the trailer divider FTFT, go down the street FTFT, go out alone FTFT, be left at home (when the herd mates are taken out) FTFT, and all these circumstances wherein you know that no matter how well you set them up to deal with that FTFT moment, they are going to freak out and there is a chance that they could seriously injury themselves during that learning process. You just do the best you can to make the situation as safe as possible and then hope for the best. Oh, and somehow find a way to be acutely aware of all the thousand way things can go seriously wrong but still act like it is No Big Deal.