Monday, March 30, 2009

Busy Night!

What a day! I was sitting in the house today working on the computer and I got a phone call from hubby who was out in the barn that he needed help. So I hopped up and went to see what was going on. Well it appears my "good" ponies decided they wanted into the arena with MissFire and tore the fence down. This means that the mares were out together and they do not get along. They think they need to get into serious kicking wars. I was able to catch Surprise and move her to the front field for the day.
When I was done with work I headed out to work with MissFire. I have addressed the desensitizing work on a very minimal level and wanted to work more aggressively on it. I couldn't find a tarp but I found this nylon sheet that made noise. Once she decided it wasn't going to eat her she settled down and let me play with her all over her including throwing it at her.

For cool down I decided to take a walk. I wasn't sure where we were headed but we started in the front field. She jumped right into the pond and started nibbling the grass along the edge and playing in the water. She loves water!!

Can I soak you?!?

We ended up out on the street. I let her graze a little and tried to find scary things. Nothing bothered her, not even the cars this time. What a good girl. Once in the barn I wanted to brush her down really good so I went to work. I wasn't sure how far I would get but she was so relaxed I decided to attempt the tail. Yay for MissFire and me because she didn't even want to kick me! And for those of you that are going to make comments about my tail (or lack of) save it! The bottom is mostly ripped out and the top is growing in. When it is finished growing it will be a very nice tail so ha!
Missfire is getting to be such a nice girl. She is so smart and loves to do anything new! Oh and I almost forgot, last night after drill when I went to unload her she backed out of the trailer first try! I don't know that I have ever had a young horse back out of the trailer first try. So smart!

Look at my pretty tail!!

And a braid!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Snow.... Yuck!

Don't get me wrong, I like snow. I just don't like the amounts we get in Western Washington. We get just enough to be a pain but never enough to make it fun. I was surprised to find so much snow this morning. Its almost enough to play in but its soaking wet and melting fast. And of course its all melting into my barn aisle. Its really irritating having a nice barn then having the aisle under water. The stalls are dry but the run off from the arena goes right into the barn. Another summer project!

Well enough about this, MissFire is almost there. Yesterday it only took about 45 secs to catch and halter and today was less than 30 seconds. She is realizing its not all bad to be caught or more importantly that I won't hurt her nose. She let me groom her without a halter this morning including her legs. Yesterday morning before practice I hosed her legs down since they have been so muddy. To my surprise this was not eventful. She just stood tied in the corner of the barn and stood quietly. The most she did was pick up her foot to get away from the water which didn't work.

I am very pleased with her progress the past two weeks. I can't wait to be riding her but she isn't quite ready for that yet. It will come with time!

Here are a few pictures from the last couple days!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Second Trail Ride!

What to do with MissFire. She is still fighting being caught. I went out in kind of a hurry trying to get loaded and on the road. I know horses don't have time lines....Anyhow I played catch and release for a bit, approached her on both sides, and then finally attempted to halter. She didn't go for it. So I got serious, I'm done with catching games. I worked her in a couple circles before asking her to stop and face me. When she did she stood stock still allowing me to catch her. I put the halter around her neck and started petting her jaw and chin with the halter. After about five minutes she just stood there allowing me to pet her nose with the halter. I don't get it. I have been working all week to achieve this and get serious no more Mrs. Nice lady and here we are. I did this a while then haltered and took her to the barn.

After she was brushed I loaded her into the trailer. For the first time I closed the divider on the trailer. Mufasa had a couple good cuts on his legs yesterday and I am guessing she kicked him plus its time to learn. Surprisingly she accepted this and stepped over so I could close it. I then loaded Surprise and headed for the hills.

After both girls have been saddled I thought to myself, "What are you doing?" I brought a 4 year old feisty Mustang and a 7 year old feisty Thoroughbred/Quarter cross that do not get along. I let them out together once and wasn't sure if one of them was going to make it. They sat there butt to butt kicking each other. Neither one of them got hurt they were to close! Anyhow as I mounted my mare I wondered when the last time I had been on her that she was good. Its been a while. She was great! They both went up and down the hills and to the waterfall we went. MissFire sure loves the hills. She is so happy to be there and doesn't give me any grief. She has even learned that when you go around a tree the wrong way you really quickly back up and go along the other side. So smart she is!

When I was preparing to load her she moved away from my friend Nora. I told Nora to go pet her. Well forgetting Nora's personality she didn't quit until she was scratching her all over including between her butt cheeks! I haven't hardly touched her hind end and she gets how far. MissFire loved the rub down. She got nervous a couple times and moved away but she was always on a long lead attached to me and could leave anytime.

What To Do?

Wednesday I only had a little time after lessons so I went out and caught her for the first time without a halter on her. She was great to catch but then evaded the halter by turning her head away. Within a few minutes she was caught and brought into the barn. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. It was late and my husband was waiting impatiently to head into the house. So I handed the lead over to him and told him to have fun! This was MissFire's first male experience since I have had her. Hubby tries really hard to be quiet and soft but MissFire didn't think it was soft enough. She did finally allow him to touch her all over a hang out with her. After he was done I put tucked her in for the night.

I had drill practice last night Of course MissFire tagged along for it. She is getting good at tagging along. She is great for loading, great for hauling, great at tying next to other horses, just pretty great. She is getting better at "new" people touching her and playing with her. my biggest problem is that darn nose. She does not for any reason want me to touch it. The flag can touch it a whip can touch it, but if its my hand or the halter she throws a fit. I have spent the entire week working on it. I know that when she is ready she will allow it but it is so frustrating not being able to touch her nose or get a halter on her. I can walk up to her and love her, hug her, whatever, until I go to put the darn halter on her nose. Once caught her I brought her into the barn and found her new favorite brush. Its one of those round curry combs from Oster. The one with the many little and soft bristles. She loved it! Next was saddling, not her favorite but improving everyday. Still no blow ups since the very first time. Threw her into the trailer and off we went.

I had some of the girls from the drill team take her to pet her all over. She is so full of drama. I even had to switch halters so I could have pictures taken with the Cowgirl Spirit halter. She did it with little problems. Practice was cut short no drilling tonight. It did give me time to do ground work with MissFire. She was full of herself. Not out of control but just feisty!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Catch Me If You Can!

MissFire and I make great progress everyday. She is so smart she learns everything first time. Well on the flip side of this she learns how to evade me very fast too! From day one she has been hesitant to let me catch her. She stands and lets me approach her and I can pet and scratch her all day long. When I go to "catch" her she won't let me. She turns her head and "practices"
bending. She bends her nose around to her girth area. Monday afternoon I played catch and release for over an hour. I had a halter and lead and was rubbing her all over with them. She got to where she was very consistent on letting me catch her with little problem. She did walk down my long driveway to get the mail with me. She is so curious she didn't want to leave the row of mailboxes. The old phone books in bags were so cool! I put her straight int he trailer for a quick trip to town to run some errands. She loads and hauls great. She is a little impatient when the trailer isn't moving. But thats typical baby stuff.

Tuesday I went out to catch her and it didn't take too long to catch her. I saddled her and loaded her in the trailer to head to the Unit to ride. Tonight when I got there the arena was empty. Just Mufasa, MissFire, and me for the first twenty minutes. Then the others started trickling in. MissFire is not sure of the other horses and they make her very nervous. She didn't kick at anyone tonight so thats a plus. When my friend Jessica arrived she handed me her horse and took MissFire from me. MissFire hasn't had much handling besides Juliane and me so she wasn't too sure. Jessica rubbed her all over on both sides and just played with her for a bit. I finished riding and loaded her back up to go home.

When I arrived at home I unloaded the horses and took them to the barn. I spent quite a bit of work of just touching and rubbing her all over. Then practiced haltering. I made the decision to take her halter off last night. I haven't tried to catch her yet today but I think it will be fine. Tonight she gets to go with me to some riding lessons for some 4-H girls. Afterwards I might hit another arena to play with her.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This Weekend..

I took off to Albany to watch the Northwest Extreme Mustang Makeover. I loved watching all of the horses and there was so much to learn. The horses were very nice and well trained. I left Friday Morning and we got home Saturday evening. This left MissFire untouched from Thursday until Saturday. She was so full of herself. She wanted to buck and run on the end of my lead. The hardest part was there was a horse in the round pen being worked so we had to wait our turn. She has no patience when she has this much energy.

When we finally got in there I put her to work. She is getting very consistant with her inside turns and good for stopping and standing and letting me walk up and rub her. When I would go to catch her she would take off. We spent two hours or so working on this. Juliane finally stepped in to try and eventually she was able to scratch her face and catch her. It was dark at this time so we called it a night. We had planned on starting her under saddle that night but she had other plans. No problem it can wait for another day.

Sunday morning I wanted to go for a ride. I got up and fed the ponies and took MissFire to the round pen. I grabbed my saddle and pad. She had no problem with either one. I grabbed the cinch and held it against her stomach and asked her to walk. She was fine so I cinched her up. It was snug but not tight. I walked her a couple steps and went to tighten it some more and I got an explosion. Her belly was over my the tops of my panels. She carried on for quiet some time. Eventually the saddle slipped and was hanging to one side. I got her stopped and caught pretty quickly and uncinched the saddle. When if fell she jumped away and looked at it. I imediately grabbed the pad and put it back on along with the saddle. I made it be no big deal and resaddled her right away. She never had another problem. When it was tight I sent her out and she was great. I put her back in her stall to finish breakfast.

When we made it to the trail head I unloaded and got the ponies ready. MissFire was pretty excited but really worried. This is the first time she had ever been near other horses while they were being ridden except me and Skippy. She took everything in stride and didn't have issues with anything. Skippy on the other hand was a total dork and decided to be herd bound and prance and dance the entire ride. He never acts like this. Well MissFire acted like nothing was going on and just followed behind. I unsaddled and brushed at the trailer.

I managed to unload and take a quick break at home (to set up night feeding) before loading up to go to drill practice. MissFire didn't know what to expect. All those crazy horses running around with people on their backs. She did kick a couple times when they would coming running up behind her and barely miss running her over. I completely expected it. That is her way of defending herself. She doesn't bite or strike, she runs and kicks. Its just her and she gets better everyday it will just take him. She got to spend the next two hours tied to my trailer. I have only tied her solid inside the trailer. Never next to it. She did great!!

She was so happy to be home in her stall last night. We even worked on haltering. Another day or so and she will have her halter off in her stall. Yay for MissFire!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Adventure....

I decided to be brave yesterday and turn MissFire out in the arena with her friend Mufasa. They have spent a lot of time together in the barn and I thought they got along well. After MissFire established she was boss (yes that little thing kicked the snot out of him) they got along great!

So I loaded up yesterday and headed to the Tacoma Unit with the intentions of riding. To my surprise the High School Equestrian Teams had already moved in and taken over. With so many people and horses I decided not to take MissFire into the covered arenas. I did saddle up Skippy and pony her in the out door arena. It was so wet and thick we only walked around.

When we got bored with this we ventured out into the trees and went over logs and down a short trail. We then circled around and went past all the campers and people. The only thing she found sort of scary was the huge rock that was 1/2 her size. She wanted to hide behind Skippy when we passed it. I asked her to come forward and she faced it. When she finally passed the scary rock I thought she was going to kick it. She is funny like that. From the front she is all curious but from behind she wants to kick it.

Then we picked up my flag and went back to the out door arena and worked on flagging work. She was solid. She let me scratch and poke everywhere. Back legs, head, belly, flanks...everywhere. Then I worked on flagging her with the flag. She didn't care at all on the left side. She is still shy on her right side. When she would turn away from Skippy we would just follow. Shortly she stood and let me continue my work on the right side. She even let on of my friends pet her.

She loaded perfect into the trailer and stood quiet while I loaded the other horses. It was a short and sweet night but lots of new sites and noises. All the kids yelling and screaming. It was a perfect night for her!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Road Trip!!

Yesterday afternoon I decided to take MissFire to Juliane's for a play date with the Mustangs. I also brought a couple different horses with me so she had to make her first trailer ride tied up. She did really well with it. No pulling back no nothing.

Once we arrived I unloaded and started brushing the horses. MissFire was still a muddy mess and covered in shavings. I did manage to brush most of her. She just gets better every day. After Skippy was saddled we walked the horses over to the neighbors round pen. This meant walking down the road past cars, mailboxes, motorcycles, etc. This was very scary! but she took it all in. She only spooked once and jumped forward but didn't get loose. As soon as she felt the halter pull she stopped and came back. Once at the round pen we stood outside and waited for Juliane to finish working with Sangria. We worked on leading and desensitizing work. She was alright with the flag on both sides of her including her rear.I was very impressed.

When we were able to get in the round pen I turned her loose, worried what I might have. For one this is the lowest fence I have had her in and two we didn't have the best day the day before. To my surprise she was great! No attitude just a working pony. We worked on basic round penning and she let me walk up to her a few times. She was great so I let her have an easy workout. The rest of the trip was a mental workout for her.

Back at the trailer we untacked Skippy and loaded her in the trailer and tied her in. She had to wait a couple hours before going home since there was a team meeting for Cowgirl Spirit. When I arrived back to the trailer she was standing quietly and my trailer was still in one piece.

She was very happy to be home last night. She went right into her stall and started drinking. This is the most water she has drank since she has been here. She only wants to drink out of mud puddles. I'm not sure why but I am very happy she drank last night! I think she really likes being a "real" horse and having a job to do. I think tonight I will be hauling her up to a covered arena tonight. I dont really want to play in my soupy round pen plus it would be good for her.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And The Attitude Returns!!

When I went to the barn last night it wasn't raining so I put MissFire in the round pen and turned some of the other horses out in the arena. She was happy to be out, but really wanted to play with the others. I don't think she is ready for that. She must be feeling more comfortable because I caught her rolling in the really wet soupy sand. She looks like a mess now!

Well after chores were done and the others were in their stalls eating I put MissFire to work. So far she has been pretty easy to work with but last night she took a turn. I was asking her to move out in the round pen and all I was getting was hind feet flying in my direction. I had a lariat in my hand that I would swing in her direction. When that wasn't working I would toss it towards her hind end. I finally had to get a lunge whip to get my distance from her. She was kicking to kill and running backwards to do it. All I could think of was John Lyons saying you will know who's in charge in the round pen, you or the horse. Well I wasn't! Once I got the lunge whip and could be aggressive farther away I finally got some forward movement and felt like I was taking the reins again. We worked quite a while before I asked her to whoa and let me walk up to her. Surprisingly after the intensity of the workout she let me walk right up to her and pet her.

We then took a walk around the arena to cool down (both of us), we checked out all the scary cones and barrels. She never turns and runs when something is scary. She snorts and leans back then stretches way out.
Overall it was a good night. It was something I saw coming, I just didn't know when. Oh and yes I know she is a muddy mess. If you think she is muddy you should have seen what I looked like! I think I was worse off. I was going to go back out after she dried last night to brush her but I never made it. When I went to say Good Morning she greeted me with both hind feet! Gotta love them!! Up until this morning she has been really good at only giving me her face. She hadn't even put her hind end towards me. Oh well....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saturday morning I headed out to the barn to feed the ponies. After everyone was fed I stepped into the stall with MissFire. Not knowing what to expect from her. At first I just hung out in there. She was pretty nervous with me in there. At one point she tried to run through the bars on my stall and bent the re-bar with her forehead. I picked up her lead rope and started with basic sending exercises. Left to right, right to left. She picked this up really fast. Next was introducing the flag. After a bit she let me get the flag within 3 feet of her on both sides of her. We stopped for a bit and went to get something to eat.

When we arrived back to work with the ponies I went into Sangria's stall and braided her mane while Juliane worked with MissFire. She was working on touching and rubbing her with the flag. She came quit a ways in just a short time.

Later that evening I took MissFire out to the round pen with my trusty gelding Skippy. My goals were to just ride around her. Well out the window that went. I ended up picking up the lead rope and ponied her around the arena. At first it was basic turning circles since she wouldn't go forward. By the end she was coming right along and giving to the pressure. I then got off and tried it from the ground. She was great! She was following me and being lead. By the end of the night I was able to touch her neck just a little bit!

Sunday brought a really late start. I just couldn't get motivated. I made it out to the barn and took her lead rope off. She was pretty easy to catch. I took her out to the round pen and did some basic ground work. It was pouring down rain/snowing/hailing. It was miserable. I loaded her in the trailer in between down pours. That was about it for the day.

Monday brought a lot of firsts...She was able to spend the day in the barn aisle which made her happy. She was able to mingle with her new friends. At lunch I loaded her up in the trailer with her friend Mufasa and took her on a coffee run. I cheated a little and lead Mufasa and her together so she was most likely following him. This was her first trip out of the barn or round pen. When I got back I parked up by the house, unloaded, and walk the two of them across the yard and to the barn. She was great.

After work I went out to work her and did more basics in the round pen. We also walked around the arena (those cones are so scary). She is so cute when she spooks. She is so curious it kills her. So she is trying to run backwards away from the cone but her nose is stretched out trying to touch it. I will have to get pictures and show you guys. She then walked all the way across the yard and loaded into the trailer. Yes walked up smelled it and hopped in. I took off the lead and off to the feed store we went. She was quiet the entire trip. A bit nervous but quiet. She was very happy to get home. Then she was tied in her stall while I cleaned the other stalls. When it was time for her stall I tied her in the aisle. Not to bad for her first time. She is impatient and loves to throw fits. Before I tucked her into bed last night I attempted to brush her. Remember she has only let me touch he withers and a bit of her neck. She let me brush both sides of her neck, withers, back, and sides. Very impressed!

All in all I love working with this girl. She is very spunky and full of attitude but she is so smart and willing to work. If she can't find the right answer she keeps trying until she does.
Well the trip was long and uneventful. We left Buckley at 9:30 Thursday night and drove straight through the night. We were both too excited to sleep and couldn't wait to get to The Litchfield Corrals.
Upon arriving at the corrals we headed to the office to fill out the last minute paperwork before checking out the horses. I was looking for a brown four year old mare with no white and a tag number of 9556. There was only a couple that matched this description but I couldn't find her. Juliane came over and took a picture of the tag to find her.

My initial thoughts on her was that she was super insecure and very defensive. She was running around the corral with penned ears and kicking at the other horses. The entire corral was nervous and running around. She seemed to be pretty low in the pecking order. Trying to be big and tough so she wouldn't be picked on. She appeared to be small not the large drafty horse the office said she might be. She seemed to have a smaller head and decent conformation. Unfortunately she didn't have that long flowing mane and forelock (no tail for that matter).

We stuck around to watch the horses for a bit before giving our paperwork to the guys to load them. Juliane's was loaded first (and perfect). When it was time for mine she was everything but quiet. Very reactive and didn't like what was going on. It took her a bit to calm down enough to even get a hold of the tag to take it off. When they tried to put the halter on she resisted by shoving her nose against the chute. After they got the halter on and finally opened the chute gate to load her into the trailer she shot like a rocket into the trailer. She was stomping and kicking, throwing a fit. Now that both horses were loaded we hit the road quickly trying to quiet the horses. All I could think was I had my hands full and this was sure to be a huge challenge. Juliane joked all the way home we should call mine Spitfire. It sure would fit her personality perfect!

We finally pulled into Buckley at 4 am Saturday. We drove straight through except a short nap just inside of Washington. We pulled into the arena and backed into the barn. Both horses ran out and into one stall with little encouragement. Juliane was the lucky one that got to try to separate them. Hers didn't care but mine was going to kick her head off. She is so full of spunk and attitude. We finally got them separated and tucked into the stalls in about an hour. I crawled into bed around 5 am and boy did it feel good! When I was almost asleep my husband suggested
MissFire for a name. It really fit so I agreed.