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.