Monday, December 15, 2014

That's NOT what I expected!

Winter is here - yuck! I hate the rain and the mud and the cold and all of it. I know we're in a drought, but I still don't like the rain. Hmpf!

Despite the bad weather, Princess Fancy Pants has been a lovely pony. She has finally figured out that she can pee and poop in her stall, although it is a last choice hold out and she'd prefer to poop in the far corner of her paddock. The other night I added some fresh shavings to her stall and the next morning when I came in to feed breakfast, she was having a little shut-eye, despite the pouring rain. It was pretty cute!

We've been working on "let me touch your ears" which is a game she doesn't enjoy . . . UNLESS there are cookies to be had. Then the game isn't so bad. She's finally decided that she likes not only carrots, but apples and cookies, too.

Because of the weather I've been having to change my turnout rotations. PFP and Mac get along fine over the fence now - there is minimal drama on his part and I dare say that he might be getting sick of her flirtations. She will run up and down along the fenceline that separates them, while he stands there and looks bored. She is meanwhile squirting and swishing her tail so that he knows what's what. And he doesn't seem to be overly interested. So I'm happy about that.

Yesterday I brought my phone up with me and had some cookies in my pocket. Paddy came right up and PFP followed him. He got a cookie, she got a cookie. He got a cookie, she got a cookie, then he shoo-ed her away. And then she realized . . . that wasn't the cookie she was expecting!

Today with the rain and wind she was very good in letting me groom her - untied in her stall - including picking her feet! :-)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

One smart pony!

Princess Fancy Pants is smart. Really smart. Too smart. I'm going to have to up it on the smartness meter myself in order to work with her!

Here's just one example. At night the horses get hay bags in their stalls to keep them munching slowly all night long. At night when I tuck her into bed, Princess Fancy Pants's hay bag is hanging from a ring on the wall of her stall. Half of the time when I come into the barn the next morning, her hay net is on the floor. There is no destruction. The ring on the wall is perfectly intact. The haybag is perfectly intact. It is even still attached to the carabiner that I use to clip it to the ring on the wall. The carabiner is intact and closed. Nothing has come loose, is broken, or otherwise undone. I don't know how that happens!

Since it was raining last week, I hadn't worked with PFP in a little while. Yesterday's horse massage therapist had to cancel because she was sick, so it was PFP's day to go to school!

She's not great about having her feet done, so I brought her to the trailer and tied her up and gave her a nice grooming and did her feet a few times. I noticed (and Mac sometimes does this, too) that when I'd pick up a front leg, she'd cock the diagonal hind leg, so really she'd be balancing on two legs! Why....????? I try to make sure she is somewhat square and balanced before picking up a front hoof, but when I pick up one, the other would come up - I'll have to observe that more and see what I can come up with.

Oh! And I introduced the clippers yesterday! I don't clip my horses, actually. But I do have little men's facial clippers that I use for under the jowls and trimming the whiskers (but not clipping them close to the skin, just taking the ends off). I turned on the clippers and she sort of looked at them, like "what is that?" but didn't seem really scared or anything. So I moved to her whiskers and took of the ends of a couple and that was a little ticklish because she shook her head around a little bit. I repeated this many times, with just trimming a tiny bit and in a few places and I'd turn the clippers off and on each time. Then I went under her jowls and did the long hairs that grow there. Again, just a little bit and in many stops and starts. She got lots of Good Girls for that!

Since she's not good with her feet I decided to get a rope and grabbed my flag for the heck of it and we went back to the arena. Lucky me there was a big puddle there from the rain, but more on that later.

I started off in the arena with her front feet with something I learned at one of Buck's clinics. I put the rope around her pastern and, in addition to still having her in hand on the halter and lead rope, "lead" her by lifting and moving a front foot and having her follow where the foot goes. She caught on to that right away.

Next I thought I'd prepare her for future ground driving by working with the lead rope on on the halter and the other rope on her back. The other rope was just loose and not attached to anything. I started by tossing it over her back and then gathering up the other end (like a makeshift girth) and walking her with that sort of tightened. Then I moved it back a few inches and did the same, then back by her flank and did the same. At first she was a little jumpy, but she actually got over that pretty quickly and accepted it. Then I tossed the rope over her back and let the end of it dangle on the other side of her, and I'd "jump" it back toward her butt a little bit. That was better on the near side than the off side. This was all at a stand still. Then I did the same while walking and that was a little exciting at times. Until I gave her a treat for calmly walking and halting. Then it became much more motivating to be a polite pony! She catches on to things so quickly that I can't stay on one exercise for too long, so once that was good we moved on.

Next was the puddle. We just walked back and forth through the puddle. There was also a cavaletti on the ground in its lowest position because I was using it to make a corner with the rail on the long side of the fence (my arena has a weird shape and at the far end there are no corners). We took advantage of that and both walked through the puddle and over the cavaletti in the puddle. That didn't take long at all.

Next up was "mounting" practice - I just want her to be okay with the height of my upper body above her. I have a wooden coop jump in the corner of the arena (one of the bona fide corners) so I led her up to it and I stood on top of it. She didn't care one bit. So then I jumped off of it. And she didn't care about that, either. I did it a few times with her on either side of the coop and she didn't care either way. Okay, so that was boring.

I then got my mounting block and put it next to her and she thought it was interesting but not really worthy of note. So I climbed on that and led her around to try to line her up. That was a little harder because there are weeds in the corners and she'd rather eat those so she didn't pay much attention to me. Keeping my weight/balance on the mounting block, I did sort of lean/lay across her back. But that didn't get much - if any - reaction, either. Oh well.

So we went back to the trailer and I had it open for her. I just stood on the ramp and she stepped on. And I just stood there and she took another step so all four feet were on the ramp. Then I stepped just inside the trailer and she had two feet in and two feet on the ramp. And then she realized there was hay to be eaten so she went in more and more. I just stood there. I didn't give any flag waving motivation to her, I just stood there. Eventually I offered a feel with my rope and asked her to go forward a bit more and she did. It was all very relaxed and calm and uninteresting.

With that we called it a day! Good job, Princess Fancy Pants!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Catching up

Well I haven't posted in a while and there's not too much exciting stuff going on, but I do have a few updates.

Let's see - last I wrote I think that I had just gotten the hay nets and everyone had figured out how to use them. PFP was especially adept at getting hay out very quickly so I had to order her nets with smaller holes.

I switched their turnout arrangements so that PFP is now with Paddy all day long and in her own stall/paddock at night. Mac is now spending his days across the driveway. I think this works out because Mac generally isn't very nice to Paddy and they don't buddy up together so I don't think Mac minds being alone. Paddy gets to be the boss over someone (PFP) and he's a good boss who doesn't abuse his power. And because he's an all-around good guy and kind and gentle horse, he's a good horse for PFP to spend time with. I have been putting Paddy and PFP in the pasture in the afternoon while I do poo chores and I've been letting Mac have paddock-next-door access to PFP. I think her feminine charm is starting to wear off. At first he was very interested, then the more time he spent near her, the less interested he became, although she still tries to flirt with them. Now they play sniff-nose-bitey-face over the fence but there's limited romance going on, so that's a big improvement!

I think/hope I found out why PFP was having trouble trailering. The head divider in the trailer was swinging around (it should be stable but the spring that kept is stable has worn out so if there's commotion it comes undone). I've since taken the head divider out and have loaded up PFP just fine. Haven't taken her on a ride yet but if the weather holds up I'll do it this week.

We just got back from vacation and by the looks of the pastures we got a lot of rain while we were gone. We love our farm sitter, she's the best! The horses, dogs, and cats were well taken care of. Since there's no rain today and it is sunny, I put everyone out in their respective places. As I was walking along the driveway, Paddy and PFP looked so cute I had to take their picture.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What a week!

What a week for Princess Fancy Pants. Again we worked on trailer loading. Loading is no problem - she walks right on. I want her to stand quietly and comfortably before I take her on a ride again. To make it a sweet deal for her I put alfalfa in the hay bag. She enjoys alfalfa snack time and this time didn't try to back up against the butt bar after I closed it. I let her eat for 5 minutes or so, then I had her back off quietly, then walk back on, then back off, then get on, then back off, then get on, then back off. She goes on and off very quietly. Her reward - aside from the alfalfa - is going to graze afterward.

Her eyes have been runny so yesterday the vet came out. Miracle of anatomy, those tear ducts are! Vet gave her an eye exam and everything looked healthy so he flushed her tear ducts. Have you ever seen that? It is pretty cool! I had no idea there was a convenient little hole in their nose that was the bottom of the duct - it is like a perfect engineering mechanism! When he flushed the right nostril, some gunk came out of the duct by the eyelid - pretty neat! I have an ointment to put in her eye for a couple days. And just in case you think that Princess Fancy Pants likes that, well, you'd be wrong. It is not much fun trying to wrestle a pony who doesn't want to have stuff put in her eye. The good news is that she's not tall enough to get away from me!

And today I got Freedom Feeder hay nets in the mail! I do my best by feeding the horses four times a day, but thought that the nets would be good to slow them down so that they don't go too long between meals. I set them up right as soon as I got them and put them out in the pastures. I took a little video of the horses trying to figure them out. The did a good job - especially Princess Fancy Pants who somehow figured out how to break they hay up better so it comes out more easily. I think maybe she started throwing it around or something.

Anyway, I'll follow the protocol of still having loose hay out while they transition to using the hay nets only. I'll probably buy more nets, too, so I can always have some filled and some in use.

That's the news from Farm Woe-be-gone, where all the mustangs are strong, all the TBs are good-looking, and all the ponies are above average! (well, really, they are all strong, good-looking, and above average!)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Princess Fancy Pants video!

I had a great day with Princess Fancy Pants today! First I put her in the cross ties and groomed her and did her feet just a bit. I'm trying to work with them a few days a week so she'll be good for the farrier. Today was a good day. She likes the grooming attention and is very well-behaved in the cross ties.

Then we went out to the arena for a little play time. I almost never turn my horses out in the arena because they have pastures to run around in, but I thought it would be good for her to explore it on her own and check out any scary parts (the far long side diagonal from the corner closest to the house seems to be the scary place). She started by just eating the grass that grows on the other side of the kick boards. Then she went and pooped in the corner. Then she took off from a stand still and came galloping toward me and had a fun little runaround, which I got video of on my phone.

After that, I put her halter on, did a little leading exercise, and called it a day. Both Paddy and Mac called to her a couple times, but she didn't call back. She did stop and look over the fence in their direction, but was otherwise not a hollaback pony.

She's so friendly. When I go up to feed, and if I'm working in/around the barn while they are eating, she'll leave a pile of hay to come see what I'm doing. Curious little PFP!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Trailering Princess Fancy Pants

Since Princess Fancy Pants loaded so well on the trailer, I thought I'd take her for a little spin to the park-and-ride that has nice turnaround area to come back home. It is 2.5 miles away, so a 5-mile out-and-back ride. PFP was not happy! She was stomping in the trailer and calling out to her boyfriends when we left, which I thought would be the case, but she stomped most of the way down and back as well! Hmph! When I unloaded her she had stomped herself into a lathered sweat and was obviously agitated, so when I unloaded her we just stood around in the driveway to calm down a bit before turning her out. She had a nice roll in the mud to address the itchies and then hung out with Paddy as if nothing happened. This was last week.

I was worried that she wouldn't want to load again and so developed a different plan. Yesterday I got Paddy out, groomed him (which PFP was not pleased about because she couldn't see him and I could hear her petite little hooves thundering as cantered around - she has a lovely canter which I look forward to riding some day!) and loaded him up. Then I got PFP, brought her to the trailer and loaded her up. She went right on to the right-side slot - that was new for her because I've heretofore been loading her solo in the left slot and when I do that the divider is moved over to the right so she's got a nice wide space to walk into. Since Paddy was already in, the right slot was as narrow as it would be for trailering, but she walked on anyway. Good pony!

I had put some alfalfa in her hay bag and Paddy had grass hay in his side and I considered maybe going for a drive, but decided against it. I put the butt bars up and tied their lead ropes up, but left the back doors open so I could stand on the ramp and talk to them and watch what was going on. At first she was agitated (the bugs really seem to bother her so she was stomping at that) and was stomping at flies and backing her butt up to the bar. But since Paddy was pretty calm about it all, she decided it wasn't so bad and ate her hay. I thought that it would be best to just have them have a little snack in there for five minutes and skip the ride.

After five minutes I tried to unload her first and I put the butt bar down, but she decided that an alfalfa snack is a very good treat indeed and didn't want to back out! So I unloaded Paddy first and then unloaded her. I tied them both up to the trailer (first time she's been tied up with anyone else to my trailer) and groomed PFP while they both stood there. She was a bit sweaty but not dripping like before.

I think my game plan will be to mix it up a bit. One day just do loading and unloading. Another day load and stand with a snack (increasing the time period). Another day load with Paddy and have a snack. Another day load and unload again. Lather, rinse, repeat. I want her to be good about the trailer and I think that getting her calm about it, like it is just another thing, is the way to do that. So far she's really good about getting on, so that's half the battle!

Ideally I'd eventually like her and Mac to trailer together since I'll likely be ponying her off of him . . . IF, that is, they can get over their googly-eyes for each other! Why is it that Paddy has no game and Mac does? I've let them meet over the fence a couple more times. Once it was exciting for about 30 seconds then Mac went to graze. The next time much butt-presenting and squirting ensued. I guess that's a mare in season?!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The latest

Let's see, what's going on with Princess Fancy Pants?

She's self-loaded onto the trailer twice now! Those were the second and third times I've worked on trailer loading with her. Maybe next time we'll go for a short spin.

She's had baths a couple days this week since it has been so hot. She's not a huge fan of baths, but she's getting better. Fly spraying is getting better, too.

She's getting better about having her ears touched.

I've taken Mac out and left her and Paddy in separate pastures and while she called a little bit at first, she settled down. I was using Paddy as a babysitter and she does well when they're together, so I thought it time to change it up a bit and see if she can put her big girl panties on and she did a fine job.

She's got runny eyes so I think I'll drive her over to the vet's so he can check her out - her first adventure away from home!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Video of Princess Fancy Pants and Mac meeting over the fence

Today I took Mac for a trail ride and when we got home I put him in his pasture. The gate was open between Paddy's pasture and PFP's pasture so that they could be together when I left with Mac. PFP's pasture is next to Mac's pasture. I'll spare you the details, except to say that my system for moving them around is complex enough that they never share a fence line.

PFP was happy to see Mac when he came back and trotted into her pasture from Paddy's pasture. Mac had a good roll, then they met over the fence. Paddy had to get into the mix a little bit also, but it was fairly uneventful.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Trailer loading 101

Following on yesterday's lesson (to myself!) of quitting while you're ahead, I decided there's no time like the present and today I'd work on trailer loading with the goal of quitting while I was ahead.

Obviously, Princess Fancy Pants (PFP) has loaded on a trailer because I got her home. And before I got her, the seller had loaded her and taken her on little trips with her sister. But I wanted to try loading her without another horse on board and with no agenda of her actually getting ON the trailer and standing, I was just going for getting feet on the ramp and backing off the ramp quietly.

I brought my flag with me but decided to use treats as a motivation to start. I loaded up a fanny pack with carrots and cookies and put a bucket of carrots and cookies in the hay manger. I also had my clicker with me.

I started by introducing her to the clicker and linking it with a carrot when she touched the shaft of the flag. That went pretty quickly - I just wanted her to associate the click with a reward and not to associate mugging me with getting a click and/or reward.

We walked up to the trailer and she stood there looking in. As soon as she put a foot up on the ramp I clicked and gave her a carrot. It didn't take her even a minute to realize what was going on and we had both front feet on the ramp. I'd get front feet on and quietly back off, and then feet on and quietly back off again. Then I asked for all four feet (by putting pressure on the lead rope and releasing pressure and clicking/treating) to come on the ramp. Good. On/off/on/off we went. This was maybe another minute or two.

She exceeded my expectations and when I'd back her off and turn her away from the trailer, she acted like she wanted to do some more so we did. This time I wanted front feet in the trailer, back feet on the ramp. Good. On/off/on/off we went. She got a treat for coming on, and "good girl" and scratches for coming off. The goal was for it to be quiet and drama-free.

Finally we got all four feet in the trailer! Wow! She was so calm about it! I thought I'd give her the big reward of a cookie. She took it and ate it and then did the flehmen response to it (curl upper lip up, lift head, breathe deeply to get a good whiff). Backed her off quietly. Came on again with all four feet and I was so proud of her I offered her another cookie. But she didn't want it! Seems she only likes carrots, so I gave her a couple little pieces. Did it a couple more times and called it a day. It was a nice, quiet, short session and she did more than I would have expected her to. When she got on she stood quietly for treats and scratches. Even with Mac calling a couple times and my neighbor trenching next door she was attentive and as focused as a 2-year-old can be.

I'll do this a few times to get her comfortable in the trailer, then I'll work on the self-loading aspect of it.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Princess Fancy Pants video - surcingle

Here's a video of Princess Fancy Pants (PFP) working in the surcingle.

We mostly just walked around and walked over some ground poles, nothing too exciting.

Today we worked on looping the free end of the lead rope through the loop on the rope halter (so like I had reins) and walking around the arena once in each direction with some halt transitions. She was very good!

Her quarter runs out pretty fast, though, so I need to remember to quit while I'm ahead. I get all eager to try something else because she learns so fast and does so well and then she just needs a time out. Next time I'll only do one or two things instead of trying three or four. Ending on a good note is important, so even if it isn't a better note than her best thing, it is better than the worst thing, if that makes sense. And she always gets her grazing reward after!

Some good news is that I took Mac for trail rides this weekend and Colin stayed home and reported in that she did just fine while I was gone - no hissy fits because her boyfriend left. And today when I took her in the arena, the other horses didn't call for her, either!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Princess Fancy Pants - video of saddle pad work

Here's a video of Princess Fancy Pants (PFP) and I playing with a saddle pad. A couple of things to note. She doesn't like her ears being touched, so I took out of the equation me touching her ears directly. What I did do, though, was put the saddle pad on her head and neck and let it slide off her. I also put it on her back and let it slide back to her butt and then walked her around and let it fall off. I did this for a couple reasons - one, I wanted to see what her reaction would be; and two, I wanted her to get used to having "stuff" all over her body. I don't want her to think "only things on my back are okay" and instead I want her to accept whatever might come on her body (tarp, blanket, jacket, tree branch that she'll go through some day when we trail ride, etc.). She did find this a little bothersome at one point. Of course, when the saddle pad landed on the ground she wanted to go pick it up with her mouth. :-p

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Princess Fancy Pants - video of flag work

I take Princess Fancy Pants (PFP) out and away from the barn area a couple times a week. Sometimes we walk down the ditch, sometimes we walk in the arena. I think I mentioned in one of my recent posts how we did some work in the arena with the surcingle and saddle pad.

Yesterday I set up my video camera outside of the arena to tape our schooling session. Here's a video of the flag work we did. She's very sensitive to it so I don't like to put a lot of "energy" into it while I'm working with the flag, but at the same time, I want it to fly around a bit and be a bit distracting. I want her to clue into my energy of when something just "is" versus when I'm giving direction for her to do something.

Video is such a great tool for training the rider/handler. After watching it a few times, I definitely see where I did some things wrong and what I should focus on to do better and better support/teach PFP for the next time.

Anyway, here's our flag work.

Trickery - it works!

Princess Fancy Pants (PFP) and Mac met over the fence the other night. I didn't mean for it to happen and they were both happily eating grass in their own pastures, but the gate to the bachelor pad from PFP's pasture was open and Paddy wandered in there and so she followed him. Mac came to the other side of the fence and much neck-arching and "hey baby" nickering ensued. It was pretty cute and more uneventful than I thought it might be, even though they seem like they have, ahem, chemistry.

I decided that when I started riding Mac again (which I did last week) that I'd put PFP out to graze with Paddy, because what can be more distracting to a Welsh cob filly than a pasture of green grass!?

The first day I got some whinnies as Mac and I were walking to the arena, and then one or two whinnies after we got there (she can't see the arena from the pasture). The next day it was one whinny as I was leading Mac away. The last time, it was zero whinnies!

Trickery works!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

New pictures!

Do you see a theme here?

Are all two-year-olds so mouthy?

Princess Fancy Pants is coming along nicely. I enjoy working with her and understanding how she learns - I find her to be very sensitive with a willing attitude. We continue to do work with the flag and have progressed to doing figure eights, which she caught on to right away. One thing that I thought was solved but wasn't was the fly spray issue.

Apparently, putting on fly spray while standing in the barn is okay. Putting on fly spray while standing in the pasture is NOT okay. I took my grooming box out one day and had her halter on for good measure and groomed her and then went to put fly spray on and she said No effin way! So I quit the fly spray attempt because we weren't getting anywhere because she kept blocking me and backing up and not letting me get to her side. So I got the flag and we did some flag work with getting her to follow a feel - if I open my hand to my left, you follow it and track left. That's all. It didn't take her long to respond to just a lifting of the flag - you really don't have to get loud with her, she tries and gets it right away. So we did that for a little bit - just signaling with the lead rope and a gentle lift of the flag and as soon as she'd move in the right direction I'd drop the flag. Then lots of praise and scratching with the flag and shooing flies with the flag and standing quietly to think while (I dropped the flag) getting more scratches all over.

Then it was time to go back to the fly spray. I got out a brush, stood next to her with the fly spray, sprayed the brush and then brushed it on her. I started at the neck, then did the front legs, then the back, and by the time I got to the belly and butt she'd let me spray her directly. Moved on to the other side and I could spray her directly there, too. Silly pony!

I've trimmed her feet, we went for a walk all the way down the ditch, and today I played with putting a saddle pad and lunging surcingle on her (not for the purpose of actual lunging, just to put something on her back and have her walk around with it on). I started in the grooming area by putting the pad on her back and letting her stand there and I'd rub her back over the pad.

Oh, and Mac was on the other side of the fence making googly eyes at her.

I decided that it would be best if we were in an enclosed area and away from the other horses so we went to the arena. I rubbed the pad all over her, tossed it at her, put it high on her neck, on her back, on her loin, on her butt. It was kind of windy, so it was perfect to put it on her, walk her around, let the wind pick it up and have it fall off and/or have it slide down her back toward her rump. She's trot away from it a bit but then stop and look at it. Of course she walked over to it and bit it and picked it up off the ground and walked around with it. Why won't she do that with the Jolly Ball I bought for her!?

So I put the surcingle on and walked a lap, stopped and scratched her all over. I tightened it one hole (not too tight, just snug enough to be stable), walked a lap leading her from each side (with stops for scratches after each lap) and called it a day. We came back to the tie area to untack and get her big reward.

Here's her big reward.

Princess Fancy Pants is hard to get a good picture of because 1) I'm trying to do them myself and she's very curious and wants to know what I'm up to so I mostly get extreme close-ups, 2) she's always trying to get her mouth on something, and 3) that something includes grass so I fear any pictures I get of her in the pasture will be with her head down!

But she's cute. Trust me.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Kissy face . . . or not

Well this weekend I put Princess Fancy Pants together with Paddy in the pasture. (Side note: when you say Princess Fancy Pants out loud you have to say it in a fancy way.) And here's what happened.

Yawn. How boring. They are now friends but don't appear to be girlfriend-boyfriend. They enjoy each other's company and separate and come together as they wish.

I will tell you, though, that when I took PFP off the grass she had a little temper tantrum and ran up and down the fence line looking for a way to get through so she could get back to the pasture!

Friday, August 8, 2014

A jump and a nice walkabout

I thought I'd take Princess Fancy Pants out for a little outing every other day or so, and on alternate days I'll take one of the other horses out in order that they all know that coming and going is a normal thing and nothing to get in a tizzy about. Yesterday was PFP's day.

I took her to the trailer and gave her a nice grooming. I tied her up using the Blocker tie ring, just in case. I know she ties, but since she's new to me I think it best to just be careful and treat her as if she doesn't know anything. For those who don't know, this tie ring allows the lead rope to gradually feed through so that if a horse pulls back they don't scare themselves by hitting the end of the knot and feel trapped. She stood fine but was a bit fidgety as this is the first time I've tied her up and the trailer is up by the house for some maintenance work.

After I groomed her I took her to the arena and brought my flag along because I want her to get used to it and be so ho-hum about it by the time I start her that it is no big deal. And so far it hasn't been a big deal, but I haven't pushed it yet. I had a couple jumps set up with trot take-off poles and thought I'd just weave my way through them, walking between the trot pole and the jump itself. It is kind of a squeeze-type feeling and I've been doing a few things like that in preparation for trailer-loading training (I have her go past me to go into her stall and to go through the gate into the pasture). So at first I could tell she was a little wary of these things on each side of her but then we just weaved in and out and it was boring.

I decided then that we'd go through that same path but then make a turn and walk over a cavaletti. The first time she gave it a hard look but walked over. Then she walked over. Then she stopped and wanted to check it out by pawing at it. And it moved! So she JUMPED over it! It was actually pretty cute. So we did a few more walking-over-the-pole in each direction and called it quits when she did it non-chalantly.

We finished our outing by walking down the little trail that goes behind our house. It is probably 1/2 mile long or so and I use it for a cool-down after riding. This was her first little trail outing at my place and she was great! There's some water in the irrigation ditch next to the trail and she gave it a little sniff and realized that there was grass there and so that was appealing. We only went about 1/3 of the way because I didn't want to overdo it and I want her to look forward to our outings. There was only one holler from Mac when we first went back to the arena (and PFP didn't holler back) and when we got back he had already forgotten that she had left and was hanging out in the shade instead of standing by the gate.

One of these days I'll have to get Colin to take some pictures of us!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The honeymoon is over

At least for now . . . with the boys, that is! Princess Fancy Pants (that's what Colin is calling her!) and Paddy go out in adjoining pastures for breakfast, Paddy goes back up to the barn area with Mac for lunch, then Paddy goes in his stall/paddock and PFP goes up to the barn dry lot area for dinner, and Mac goes into one of the pastures. Got it?

Last night I noticed that PFP was kind of bugging Paddy when he was trying to eat and he said "um, no" and gave her a mild ear-pinning and get-away-from-me tail swish. Anything that gets between Paddy and his food won't make him happy - he's a pig! So I think the honeymoon is over for now - he's not so enamored and fascinated by the new girl in town and maybe now she's like a little sister whom you can hang out with and sometimes be annoyed by but you mostly get along okay. There's no drama, no tail flagging, no prancing around, just comfortable co-existing friendship, which is just fine by me!

Mac still hasn't met her over the fence yet, and he does spend some time looking at her, but not as intently as before. Maybe the novelty has worn off?

Annndddd . . . Princess Fancy Pants let me fly spray her today! The first day she was like, "hell no!" and so the next day I stood outside her stall with a spray bottle filled with water and sprayed it until she walked up to the stall window then I stopped. I did that a few times over the next couple days. Then after that I took the fly spray and the wiping mitten I got and I stood next to her and sprayed the mitten and wiped her down. She didn't seem bothered by the spraying near her, which was great. Today I did that same thing again and since she didn't seem bothered, I went ahead and sprayed her directly after I had already wiped her down with the spray. And whaddya know? She just stood there and didn't care!

She's such a great pony! Did I mention that already? ;-)

Monday, August 4, 2014

This pony is so good...

...and so smart! So I was saying in my last post that I introduced her to the flag and she was a bit looky toward it but we got it worked out. I took her out yesterday for a little walkabout and she was great with the flag!

It is really important to me to do whatever I can to prevent my horses from getting herd bound. To that end, I've been moving them around a lot. Pony went out by herself in the morning, got introduced to Paddy at lunch, by herself again at dinner, in the barn at night. That was the schedule the past couple days. Yesterday we went for a walkabout away from the barn and pastures, down the driveway, on the trail behind the house, into the arena, back to the driveway, back down the trail, into the pasture behind the house, out of the pasture, back down the trail to barn area. There was actually calling from the boys just a couple times, but no calling from the pony. At first she was a little nervous going down the trail, but she stayed right with me the whole way.

This morning I put her and Paddy out for breakfast (separate pastures, shared fence), then brought Paddy in for lunch with Mac. Then I put pony in a grass pasture while I took Mac down to the arena to see how she'd do when I took him away. She and Paddy called for him twice, he didn't respond, and all was quiet while we did a little ground work. I brought him back and put him in the grass pasture (separated from pony by The Bachelor Pad), did my chores, and then brought pony up to the barn. Paddy was in his stall/paddock because it was raining and he doesn't like the rain, and pony was in the dry lot surrounding the barn so she and Paddy could socialize over the fence but not be together.

Everyone is now happily munching hay in their stalls. So far the drama has been kept to a relative minimum, for which I'm grateful! But it is work to keep them away from each other enough that they don't get overly bonded, yet together enough that they get well socialized.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Afternoon update

Ok, so the meeting with Paddy and Dolly went well (see post below) at lunchtime. When I went out to feed dinner, though, they were making kissy faces at each other and Paddy was, well, showing what a manly man he was, if you catch my drift. Dolly didn't look like she was egging him on too much - no winking or squirting (sorry to be a bit graphic!), although she did put her butt near him so he could scratch it. To be fair, she likes it when I scratch her butt, too.

I interrupted the love fest to do a little ground work with her. I brought out my orange flag and she was interested but wary of it at the same time. She followed me as I dragged it on the ground behind me, but she also yielded away from it as I brought it up and directed her energy to move around (just walking, no crazy pony chasing). She's very good with her responsiveness and is easy to work with. I stood and petted her while holding the flag close to her nose so she could smell it and put it in her mouth and just have it waving in the wind a bit in front of her. Then I touched her back with it and she tensed up but didn't make any moves to get out of dodge. This was all at liberty. I then put her halter on and stood a few feet away from her and in front of her, and just circled the flag from my left side to my right side repeatedly. I didn't put any energy into it, I just was moving it. And she just stood there, which is what I wanted. She was a little tense, but again she didn't do anything. As soon as she gave me a lick/chew, I stopped. We repeated that a couple times.

Then I took the cotton lead rope of her halter and swung it over her back a few times, just letting it land on her. Next I swung it over her back and caught it around her belly like a girth and gave it a little tightening sort of feeling. Then I moved it back toward her flank and did the same thing. Then I circled the rope around each leg, just swinging and letting it catch the leg. Then I took each end of the rope and sort of shimmied it up and down each leg, ending around the fetlock and gently pulled until she gave to the pressure and lifted her leg. She was a great pony all around for all of that work and stood very quietly while Paddy watched. I gave her scratches all over, and especially at her belly button, which she loves, and went up to the barn.

Colin brought the tractor up to the barn to help me with Dolly's stall mat, because this morning when I went out to feed, one of the stall mats was outside! And not just outside like draped over the doorjamb or anything. It was OUTSIDE. Outside across the doorjamb, across her little patio, and in the dirt. And her stall didn't even look like anything had happened - there were shavings where the stall mat had been! It was like one of those things where you see someone pull a tablecloth off a table and leave all the place settings in situ!

Here's the inside of the stall.

And from outside the stall. You can see the doorway of the stall, the "patio" and where the mat ended up. I have no idea how she did that!

Paddy and D'Lite meet!

I decided today would be The Big Day. D'Lite-DeeDee-Dahlia-Dolly hasn't shown any signs of being sick, and since it is the weekend and I have more time during the day I thought I'd let her and Paddy meet over the fenceline.

I had to do some creative horse moving first. I had put Paddy and Mac out in the Bachelor Pad and opened up the tape gate to The Strip for breakfast. (Side note - everything on our property has a name. On one side of the driveway are three pastures separated by tape fencing. The two end pastures are irrigated; the middle one is dry lot but has some dead grass in it. The left pasture is The Strip. The middle dry lot pasture is The Bachelor Pad. The right pasture is The Upper Pasture. There is a tape gate on each side of The Bachelor Pad that goes to each of the neighboring pastures - I can open them all up, close them all down, or have one opened and another closed.) Dolly (as I'm calling her today) was up in The Barn Pasture (dry lot) for breakfast. Everyone was calm and happy this morning.

In order to get Dolly to The Bachelor Pad, where she could meet Paddy over the fence, without having her meet Mac over the fenceline, I had to close the tape gate between The Strip and The Bachelor Pad first, then put her in The Upper Pasture and then move Mac up to The Barn Pasture so that Paddy would be in The Strip by himself. This is her first time on the irrigated pasture.

Once I moved her there and moved Mac, Paddy started running around like a lunatic, which he will sometimes do. Even though Mac isn't nice to him, they've been spending a lot of time together lately, so Paddy was upset. You might think it was because of the hot little filly, but it wasn't. Mac didn't care one bit and found his lunch hay and was happy.

So while Paddy was running around in The Strip, Dolly was prancing around for a bit in The Upper Pasture. I wanted them to meet over the fence and I wanted Dolly off the grass since she's not accustomed to it. She was there probably less than 5 minutes, but clearly loved it because when I first opened the gate (there's a tape gate from The Bachelor pad to each pasture next to it) for her to go in The Bachelor Pad, she trotted in, realized there was no grass, and trotted back out to graze! So I went and got her, brought her to The Bachelor Pad, closed the gate to The Upper Pasture and let her and Paddy meet.

It was so uneventful it was boring. Oh well. I think that's a good thing, actually. I'll likely do this configuration for another week before I actually put them together. It makes things a lot easier if I know there won't be fighting over the fenceline and everyone can be calm and carry on.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cute little video

Here's pony tonight at dinnertime. I had just moved her into this little mini-pasture area and there were some deer behind the tree that caught her attention. She was very curious about them and would stop and look and then run around a bit and then have a nibble and run around a little more.

Colin came out with me today at lunch time and gave her a little grooming while I was working in the barn. She seems to like the attention and is curious about everything. Since I noticed her watching the other horses for their reactions to things, I thought I'd stand the horses in front of her (on the other side of the fence) and fly spray them in the mornings so she can see - can't hurt!

She seems to have her full appetite back - the first couple days she'd kind of pick at her hay and I think she lost some weight since we picked her up. Now she gobbles it right up and enjoys her twice-a-day buckets as well. The drama seems to be lessened, too - there's less calling from the boys and little pretty princess - and she seems to be settling into the routine of feeding times and moving the horses around the pastures.

I think this weekend I'll put Paddy in the pasture next to her so they can meet over the fence. He's the easiest to get along with and is the least likely to cause trouble so fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday's musings

Today Dee Dee - Dahlia - Dolly was very polite when I went to put her fly mask on. She lowered her head and offered it to me! Well, that was certainly No Big Deal. So I thought I'd see how fly spraying would go. Um, no. Fly spray is the debbil. I actually think that the smell of the fly spray is partly to blame - it IS poison, after all! I had the same issue with Mac when I first got him, the reaction of "get that stuff away from me!!!" so I wiped it on him for a while. Now he will just stand untied while I spray him all over so I'm sure pony and I will work it out eventually.

Since she ate up all her hay during the day yesterday I didn't give her a bucket a night time, just hay. And she didn't really eat her hay overnight. :-( So she got a morning bucket and by the time lunch came around she had eaten all the hay and the bucket and ate all her hay throughout the day today. I decided that it is probably the stall arrangement that kept her from eating the hay, because I had put it outside but I think she hung out inside where she could see the other horses. So tonight she'll get a bucket AND the hay inside!

Yesterday when I was doing chores, it was interesting to watch her reaction to the tractor. I drove the tractor down the driveway and she gave it a big look. But then I saw her look at the other horses and they don't care, so she decided she would follow me along the fenceline while I drove it. She seems to be very curious about things.

She likes to play with her feed tub after she eats - in a 6-hour period I've seen it move from one end of her paddock to the other. I think perhaps she'd enjoy a Jolly Ball!

When I moved the horses around for dinner she was agitated after the Fly Spray Attacking incident, so was running around in her paddock a bit (the other paddock, in the Indian Burial Gr-I mean the Bachelor Pad) and got sweaty. Colin was in her regular paddock making some fencing adjustments, and I took the opportunity to work with her and give her a wet-towel bath. She seems instantly calmed by the presence of me on the other end of the lead rope, which is very interesting. She is also very soft on the end of the lead. I got the towel wet from the spigot and at first she thought it was also the debbil. But then she realized it felt good and stood quietly for her little sponge bath. I wiped her down all over - face, neck, back, legs, butt, belly, udder. She stood perfectly politely for it. Then I picked up all four feet and that went well, too. We did a little leading with me walking on the off side, which is a little confusing because she tries to reposition to me on the near side, but we got it sorted out. We also went up and down the driveway a bit and she was right with me.

I'm really liking this filly! She does like her people, she seems to calm down and be relieved when she's got someone to guide and reassure her, and she's polite to work around. She's very curious about things and playful, too. Oh, one last cute thing. She was very curious about the Bachelor Pad and so would trot in there, have a brief look around, then canter out. Then trot back in, go a little farther, then turn around and run out. I'll at least try to get some pictures tomorrow!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fly mask ON!

What a sweet girl, and what a good job her breeder did in giving her a nice start with good manners (not that I expected otherwise). I stopped at the feed store on my way home from work to get a new fly mask for pony. Before I put it on her, I wanted to have a little leading lesson to see how good she would be. Well. I called her and she came right up to me. Great! Then I slipped the halter on and she stood quietly. Then I led her a couple steps and halted. She stopped with no pressure on the lead rope. Then I went a couple more steps and stopped again. Good. So then I backed up and released when she softened in her neck. Good again. Repeated that process just a couple more times and then introduced her to the new fly mask. Messed around with the velcro a few times to make, well, the velcro noise, and she was curious but not worried or scared. So I put it on, closed it up, took the halter off, and that was that!

I moved her across the driveway for dinner so I could clean her stall and paddock, let Mac and Paddy out of their paddocks (which I put them in so I could move her), and brought her some hay and pellets. She's a little nervous over there (we call that area the Bachelor Pad, but the horses call it the Indian Burial Ground because nobody wants to go in the run-in shed that's in there) so calls out every now and then. Mac will go over to the fenceline (which is across the driveway) and stand there as if to give her comfort, which I think is very sweet of him (even if I am anthropomorphizing). She's drinking and trotting around and eating hay, then trotting around and nibbling, then whinnying and looking at the shed, then walking toward the shed, then away, etc. I think she's trying to get up the nerve to check it out.

Oh, and she cleaned up her hay in her paddock! As of this morning she hadn't really eaten it, but by this afternoon it was all gone. Yay pony!

She's home!

Oh my goodness gracious, what a weekend we had! I had originally planned to have a shipper pick pony up and bring her to me, but after finding out that she'd be coming with two other horses from Texas, I decided to go get her myself. I looked on Google maps and it said it would be about 13 hours one way . . . doable in a weekend. But it turned out to be more like 16 hours each way. I don't know how professional truck drivers do it!

We left home Saturday morning at 6:30 and got there at 10:30 at night. The drive was mostly uneventful save for some traffic in the LA area and heat in the desert. Oh, and lightning storms once we got to Arizona! Colin and I took turns driving in 4-hour shifts. Thank goodness for him deciding to come with me because that is a looooonnnnngggggg drive to try to do by oneself in two days. We got in at 10:30 at night, but since we were amped from driving and trying to stay awake we couldn't of course automatically flip a switch and go to bed. So we maybe fell asleep around 11:30. And then we woke up at 2:30. Ugh! I wanted to be on the road by 4 a.m. because, well, we were in Phoenix where it is hot and they were supposed to have 110-ish temperatures, so I wanted to get the heck out of there before the heat settled.

Our morning went as planned and we met the seller at her place at 3:15 a.m. This was the first time I actually saw pony in person, and she is LOVELY! Nice, nice mare! Dee Dee (nickname potentially to be changed because I know a Dee Dee, and, well, you know how that goes) loaded up well. She was appropriately cautious about getting on a new trailer, in the dark, by herself, and away from her friends who were whinnying for her. She took the bribery of carrots and a little tap on the bum to reward any forward movement and got on without incident. Yay!

As we drove out and away from the neighborhood she pawed for a couple of minutes, then settled down and didn't make a peep for the rest of the ride.

Here's a picture from one of our breaks.

I was really anxious to get on the road and get out of Dodge - I mean, Phoenix. On Friday's NPR news, I heard that there was a sand storm in Phoenix. A 1/2 mile high sand storm that shut down the airport and closed roads. Great. I was worried the whole way driving down there about what we'd encounter. What we got instead was rain, thunder, and lightning! It is monsoon season, I guess! It seemed to keep the temperature a bit cooler, which was nice, but it was another reason I really wanted to get back to California! There were two road closures/detours on the highways (and the detours weren't well marked, but I figured if we followed the FedEx truck we'd be okay, and we were), and it rained our whole drive out. When we got to California and went through the desert, we had the opposite. No rain, but a dust storm! At first we thought smoke . . . but it didn't smell like smoke or have that burning sort of feeling. Fog? No, I didn't think so by the way it looked, and there was no foggy sort of chill in the air. Smog? Maybe, could be, but the visibility was so bad and it was windy that I thought it unlikely, so sand/dust is my best guess. I think it may have bothered Dee Dee's eyes a bit, because we noticed they were runny on our stop to offer her water.

The first stop she nickered at me. She gingerly took a cookie and splashed her nose in the water.

The second stop she splashed some more. I offered her an apple core but she wasn't really interested.

The third stop a stranger came up to me and was interested to see her (a fellow horse person) and Dee Dee was very friendly and said hello.

So, let's see. Thunderstorm. Yup. Dust storm. Yup. LA traffic - we got lucky there and didn't really have any. The Grapevine. Pretty good but mentally exhausting (for those of you who don't know California, The Grapevine is a big, long, steep pass that you have to cross over on I-5 to get from the Central Valley to the LA area. They have signs that tell you to turn off your AC so your car doesn't overheat. Sometimes they close it in the winter. Trucks barely crawl along in low gear. You pray your breaks don't burn down.). After The Grapevine we stopped for lunch (to eat on the go, not leave her unattended!).

After The Grapevine, when I came out from getting lunch at Subway I found Colin standing in the people door in front of her head, gingerly sponging off her face. I think he has a crush on her - it is hard not to, she's so cute. :-)

She wasn't drinking a lot yet, and had been holding her pee so I was a little worried. We bought some apple juice and put it in her bucket with the water and she took some big gulps and finally had a wee and a poop. I'm sure she felt much better.

The rest of our ride and subsequent stops were uneventful (well, all stops were uneventful - she was perfect on the trailer!!). We got home around 8:30. What a long day!

Dee Dee unloaded politely and nickered at the boys. We put her in a paddock separate from them (across the driveway) and Colin kept an eye on her while I got the barn ready. He dutifully reported in that she peed, pooped, and drank water - a good horseman who knows what to look out for! I put hay out for her, a bucket of fresh water with a little apple juice in it, and made her a hay pellet mash with some electrolytes. Put the boys in their stall/paddocks and brought her up to the barn. She went right for her mash and it looked like all would be well so I tucked her in for the night and went to the house.

Today she cheerfully greeted me for breakfast.

I put the boys across the driveway in the pasture and opened her gate to let her out of her paddock so she could explore the rest of the dry lot area.

Got home from work and look who was greeting me when I drove up.

I feel bad that she's on her own right now - I know she's keen to meet the boys, but I need to keep her quarantined to make sure she doesn't have a cold or anything. There's lots of chatting across the driveway, and lots of googly-eyes back and forth - for now that'll have to do.

Later today I'm going to work with her on fly spray and getting a fly mask on because, well, flies suck!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

My new pony!

Meet my new pony, Annwylid D'Lite. Dee Dee (nickname to be changed if another one comes after I meet her in person) is a 2012 registered 1/2 Welsh Cob filly by Pro A Resolute (Welsh Cob) out of Carriad Cosmopolitan (1/2 Cob x 1/2 Morgan - Dee Dee is actually 3/4 Cob).

Wait, back up. You may have paused for a moment when I wrote "meet her in person." That is correct. I have not met her in person yet. I have been a fan of her sire for a few years and when I was looking for a young horse to bring along, I found that her breeder (owner of the sire and dam) was selling her two fillies, and Dee Dee caught my eye right away. After looking at lots of pictures and videos and having a long chat with the breeder, I decided to be bold and take a risk and buy her without actually meeting her!

She had a PPE (pre-purchase examination by a vet) on Friday, and when the vet called to tell me the results, she started in a serious voice with "I have to tell you . . . " which right away made me think she found something wrong. But she finished the sentence with ". . . that both my vet tech and I love and want to take her for ourselves!" Hey! No fair teasing me!

I promptly wired the money over, contacted a shipper, and now I wait. Patiently? Well, wait anyway. Hopefully she'll be here next weekend.

She knows how to longe, she's had a bridle and saddle on, she's been in the trailer, had her feet done, and has been handled a lot. What a great start! Now I get to continue the fun stuff of bringing her along the way I want. I have lots of wonderful trainers at my disposal when I need help, and one of them even said that I would LOVE the breed (my first Cob, she's worked with a lot of them) as they have great temperaments and are athletic little horses.

Here are some cute pictures of her that I got from the breeder.