Little Bits

I have hoped from the first I saw Harvey that he could someday work out for my daughter. They are both fine, delicate, fey, elfin type creatures.
Harvey’s legs scare me half to death they are the main reason I held back so long from adopting him. He came lame and the terrible pin firing on his hind legs show a history of lameness. My mom has been convinced from the beginning that he has or is going to develop DSLD. Those hind pasterns are icky.
The point of all that being that I think I’m too big to ride him. He’s sound now and doesn’t give me any real reason to think he’s going to go lame but better safe than sorry.
My daughter on the other hand will still be thin and delicate once as she grows up. She’s perfect for him.
I’ve ridden him enough, and done enough ground work, to know that he’s not going to offer anything bad. He has no clue about forward or steering. I feel safe letting her sit on him while I lead them and let the two of them get to know each other.
She got on and helped me show how to transfer Spanish walk to under saddle. Then we went for a walk. She laid down across his hind quarters, pointed lots of stuff out, and helped me do more training on him. They did great together.
I have lots of theory about how a wonderful kids horse can be made with clicker training. She is helping me put the theory into practice.
Small children have a hard time giving the cues that adults do. Once they get on a horse has to learn all over again what is being asked. If she can give the cue and I can ask for the behavior from the ground we can make this much easier for everyone involved. Hopefully.
They wont be getting turned loose anytime soon but we will be doing lots more of this in the future!

 


Harvey Is Ours

It’s official now and time to make the announcement.

Harvey is mine!!!

We’ve loved him since he first got here as a foster horse but always planned for him to find his own home some day when the right person came along.
Then a person came along. She might have been a great one for him. I was sad, but fully intended to do what we had planned all along and let him go to her if it was right. I hated to see him go and spent a fair bit of time praying for it to turn out for the best, whatever that may be.
Then I looked him deep in the eyes one day and realized that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let him go.
I got a hold of Forever Morgans and told them that I wanted Harvey! We’ve finally gotten all the paperwork done and he’s really mine.

Harvey arrived here a little short of a year ago. He was no longer terrified of people, like he had been when Forever Morgans first picked him up, but still didn’t want much to do with us. The terrible pin firing on his legs tells a story on its own of a hard life and reason to fear. The lady who delivered him was horrified that I was going to turn him out without a halter on so I could catch him again.
I turned him out without and didn’t even try to catch him for a good month.
Then we started over. He was supposed to know how to ride and drive. I didn’t want to ride or drive him following the path that lead him to such fear and distaste for people. I wanted him to like to work with me.
We’ve done lots of ground work, lots of trick training, and a little bit of riding. Harvey is a quick and enthusiastic learner. He may like to be all spooky and silly sometimes but he seldom balks at anything I ask.
That makes him a perfect demo horse for The Horse Tricks Academy (https://horsetricks101.mykajabi.com/horse-tricks-academy). He has been working hard learning new tricks and showing others how to do them too.
Because of that, and because we at the Academy feel strongly about helping horses in need, we are donating a one year membership in The Academy to Forever Morgans in his name. As soon as they decide how exactly they are going to use it I will let everyone know!


The Real Cowboy

We see so many glamorous images of the “cowboy”. A man tall on his horse out galloping across the plains, defending good and right, wiping the trail dust from his face as he greets his good woman who has been waiting for him in a clean tidy home with well behaved children.
I paused while busy trying to keep this calf alive and out of the mud, long enough to take this picture so I could share the reality. He was unlucky enough to be born just as a late May storm dropped over four inches of snow on us all. I’m not sure the vast amounts of mud show clearly enough for anyone to get the full picture.
People so seldom mention the reality of the “cowboy”. The mud and sweat and tears. The fact that many of us are actually the women waiting at home, with a filthy house because we’ve been out trying our dangdest to keep the cattle alive, with children who are half wild animal themselves.
There may be a few who are all pretty, in cowboy hats, chaps, and jangling spurs. A cap stays on better though and can be worn with a warm hat to keep our ears from freezing, and I’m usually covered in too much mud for spurs to still jangle even if I had any interest in wearing them.
I love my cow horse and use him when I can, but a fourwheeler can carry me and two children and the dog and the husband when we are all working together to get the job done. It may not be as romantic but a fourwheeler is also easier to carry calves on. After I manage to heft them up onto the back getting covered in mud, poop, and slime up to my shoulders. But at least I can get them up there.
No one talks about that smell that is unique to baby calves. A mixture of afterbirth, poop, and mud. The way it embeds its self into your fingernails, refusing to wash out no matter how much soap you use or how hard you scrub. Only to waft up to your nose then every time you try to eat. The way it permeates your house, brought in on the clothes coated in it but needed again too soon to have time to wash, so instead they come in to dry out and add a unique perfume to the house. One that can’t be found in any fancy candle.
The anguish of new lives lost despite a hard battle is glossed over. The people who supposedly love animals but can only respond to death and loss with comments about how they aren’t native, how can they be expected to live, or that they were going to be slaughtered anyway, what difference does it make? In their apparent lack of understanding of the difference between a life well lived and a meaningful death, they degrade all life.
Still we are out here fighting to maintain our way of life. Fighting to keep them all alive. Fighting to keep putting one foot in front of another and make it through another day. Always fighting.
And those times when it works, when a calf pulls through and can go back to its mama. The times when the morning frost tips the hair of the cows and horses in white. When the meadow lark sings loud and clear from a fence post as you pass. All those little moments make it well worth it. Mud and all

 


Spring

I haven’t been doing much here for the last week or so. I would like to say it’s because I’ve been so busy doing academy stuff. And I have been! But mostly it’s because it has been cold, raining, and, gasp, horror, SNOWING for the last week or longer. Sometimes it seems that the sun never really did shine and will never shine again. Snow and rain and clouds are in the forecast for the next week or longer.
The horses have been spending lots of time in the barn. I lead them to the run in shed over and over again only to have them run back out to stand shivering in the rain. I leave treat in there. I’m not hauling hay clear over there. They just don’t ant to go in. Apparently they like being locked in the other barn better.
The constant rain makes feeding difficult. Of course the cows aren’t out to pasture yet. The constant rain makes sorting and working and hauling difficult too. The rain sticks to the windows making the hay and dust stick to the windows making seeing difficult as the two ton? truck leg yields and does haunches in through the mud. Of course the windows are also fogged over because the windows have to be up to keep the same mess from filling the inside of the truck.
My last heifer that I have been waiting and waiting on finally had her calf. And she wont let it nurse. She wants him. She just doesn’t want him to nurse. I have to admit I have some sympathy for her there He’s a feisty little go getter though and isn’t deterred. Luckily because she’s kicking the crap out of him She’s up at the barn too and has been through the chute a few times. It seems to be working now to pinch her down fairly tight in the tub and distract her with feed.
My husband has been trying desperately to get the corn planted. Not sure why, it’s not worth anything anyway. We had a couple of dry days predicted and he got the planter all ready to go. And they never showed up with the fertilizer.
So we decided to go get it ourselves so he could get started before it rained the next day. We had no sooner picked it up and where driving slowly down the gravel road when there was a loud pop. We looked around and the back window of the pickup had exploded!
Our son was in his car seat right underneath it. We got him out and looked over. Not a scratch on him! Then we stood looking at the window. An hour from home and a trailer on behind. We moved the car seat to the front seat and drove home. Glass tinkling and falling the whole time.
Once home my husband got the fertilizer loaded and started out to make a lap around the field. And it rained. Poured really.
But luckily, because it was too wet to work in the field, he got to make our daughters kindergarten program. 😏
He got the field planted a couple of days later. In the rain. Now the seed will sit there for the next week or two in the rain and snow and cold.
And all of that is why I haven’t been posting anything here! Hopefully spring will come for real and do it soon! The cows are getting cold out there and I want to play with my horses!!

 


Ungraceful Getting Ons

Things seldom go as planned. What fun would life be if they did?
I was trying to get back on Rusty, again, after he had dropped the rope and I got off to get it.
He knows how to step over to almost anything so I can get on. He didn’t feel like it though. Instead he thought maybe he’d get some treats himself or try some Spanish walk.
I was like come on get over here! I told he to stop offering other things. “I just want your butt” Apparently that’s a word he knows. He immediately swung his butt to me πŸ™„ 🀣 I tried to turn the volume up so you could hear that part.
What could I do but scratch it? He had done as I asked. Still out of position I needed to back him up a little. A horse can never have too many levers and buttons installedΒ  πŸ™‚

Roping With Rusty

We’ve been playing with roping lately. I think every good ranch horse should know how after all!
Now that he has the idea from the ground we are transferring it to his back. This was his very first go at it. He gets a little excited as soon as I’m on and wants to go! Go somewhere. I don’t know where he’s off to.
We’ll keep practicing, soon he’ll be ready to go for real!

I included the get on and his bit of wondering about. It was fun and made me realize the we are going to have to work on getting him to hand me the rope when we drop it. Constantly getting off to pick it up is a nuisance!


Oops

Do things ever not go exactly as you had planned?
In clicker training we hear a lot about training plans, and cutting things into very thin slices then working on them each individually.
But.
All the planning in the world can’t make things go exactly as you envisioned it. I THOUGHT it would be a good idea to have a mat as a target for Harvey to come back to as we worked on sending him out around objects.
He liked the mat training.
He did not like being sent out away from the mat.
So he chose his preferred action to offer to me. No matter how far away I put the mat. Thinking about it now I guess that could have been used to my advantage. Dang it I just wasn’t thinking! 🀣
But anyway. He was doing a wonderful job with his mat training.
I particularly like my little temper-tantrum as he went to his mat so nicely. So many jiggly parts to… Jiggle! πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ πŸ’© 🀣
I rethought needing a mat to station on and things went much more smoothly afterwards

 

In honor of our difficulties my friend Andrea made us this…


Bottle Calves

I haven’t mentioned Blossom here much lately or given any updates on my little blind calf. I better get to these things!
Baa got to go back out with the cows. She was head butting the calves and chasing them out of their grain. She was enjoying clicker training but is also loving being out where she can choose to be in the pasture or share grain out of the bunks and go back to being a feral goat. This doesn’t mean her training is over, just put on hold for now.
Blossom is huge and healthy and showing all the spoiled rotten behaviors we expect from bottle raised animals.
The blind calf got named Hydraulic, my son gets to name thing too sometimes, not just my daughter He is up and going wonderfully! He can stand up on his own now and I think he can see at least a little.
There are two other bottle calves out there with them. A pretty little Charolais cross named Ghost and another black calf named G.G. short for Gerbil Junior. Yes, I know Junior doesn’t start with G I don’t like the name! But I can’t change it. It was declared to be her name and so it shall be. Although I can shorten it to G.G.
They are all getting big and adorable and a real pain to feed.
We ordered a feeder. It finally got here and put up yesterday. I am loving it. They said it was a slow feeder and it takes them forever to finish eating. Not a bad thing at all. It slows the big pigs, Blossom and Ghost, down enough that Hydraulic and G.G. can get in there and eat too. I can leave and get other things done while they eat and hopefully we can work on manners more if they aren’t thinking I am the wonderful supplier of food. 😏


Leaving The Cones

I’ve been asked how to progress with a young horse from targeting cones and walking from one to the other on to regular riding. So here is my opinion.
Once you are able to easily walk from cone to cone start changing things up. Sooner rather than later, you don’t want the horse to become too set on doing things a certain way. Start changing directions often. Rearrange the cones. Don’t follow them in straight lines, instead cut corners, walk across the center. Click for one step past the cone, then two. Go with fewer and fewer cones until you are down to two, one at each end of the arena so the horse is only getting clicked twice at a cone then click them regularly for things, stops, turns, away from cones. Get down to only one cone and click at it after a trip all the way around the arena.
If you are clicking regularly for all the things you do away from the cone the horse will loose his dependence on the cone to guide him. It will quickly go from a strongly supporting crutch to a barely noticeable, unneeded cue.

 


New Post

Harvey is such a fun boy. I’ve been busy working with him. He’s a perfect horse to demonstrate tricks for the academy. He doesn’t know them yet so we can show teaching them from the beginning, and he is a VERY enthusiastic learner.
It took him all of ten minutes? Probably quite a bit less actually, to go from nervous about the big scary fence post, to doing his first side pass towards me over it, to deciding it was a target we should definitely go visit as soon as I got on him!
He rode wonderfully in the rain after not doing anything of the sort for a few weeks. Being determined to visit the fence post and all πŸ’–