Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sweetwater, Final Thoughts

There were 36 horses pick up for the competition in Lexington and only 23 completed the process and were adopted.  I asked what happened to the others and got a vague answer about injuries, lameness and family emergencies.  I know one horse that was in my county was diagnosed with a club foot.  Another horse at the competition had the worse club foot I've ever seen, was nearly vertical on her pasterns and hooves, splay footed and over at the knees.  The trainer had her radiographed and was told the bruising from the coffin bone was evident on the x-rays.  She tried to have corrective shoeing but the horse was too sore to have nails hammered in so she got special boots for the horse to wear when she rode her.  The horse wasn't vaccinated for a disease prevalent in her area and ended up contracting Potomac Horse Fever.  It spent 6 days in ICU at the Equine Medical center.  This trainer spent thousands on her horse. She ended up buying it back for $550.

My take away lesson here is, examine the horse before it is loaded on the trailer.  Don't be afraid to refuse to take one that is an obvious problem.  The problem will only get worse when the horse is put into work.

I was at this event for 3 full days and saw very little of what was scheduled.  I wasn't even riding my horse but felt there was little time to prepare for each activity that they wanted the horses for.  Not only were the trainers expected to compete, they also were responsible for all the PR for the horses.  We were told most people adopt a horse because they feel like the horse chooses them.  So we had to go into the arena and try to get our horses to interact with the public.  Then there were all the people that came by the stalls to ask questions.  I can only imagine the stress level of the trainers that were trying to prepare for their top 10 performances while answering all the questions from everyone walking past.

Take away lesson,  don't go as a trainer and expect to do anything but promote your horse.

There were some remarkable trainers at this event.  Most were open, friendly and supportive of everyone else.  I had several wonderful conversations with some truly special people.  One trainer has a horse therapy program for army veterans and troubled children.  He told me several times, "you're standing here and 12 others aren't, you should be proud."

Take away lesson,  try to talk to everyone.  They all have a story to tell.

I didn't mean to sound like I was poo pooing the liberty trainer.  She was excellent.  I just didn't get her explanation of using mental energy to create energy from the horse.  Every trainer that is in the business of training and not just doing it for fun seems to have a niche for themselves.  The one I referred to as Mr Magic had a special halter that was stiff so the nose area stayed opened while you slid it on.  It had hand made rawhide beads on the nose band.  His lead rope was just the right length and weight.  Everyone has something that is the best way and that is what they push.

Take away lesson,  there is more than one way to do everything.  Learn multiple ways and use what works best for you and your horse.   Be open to new ideas.  You might be surprised at the results.

That being said, I came up with my own thoughts.  All the other horses I have ever worked with seemed to just evolve into being trained without much fanfare.  I really never considered their emotional states as it was relating to their stage of training.  Sweetwater changed that for me.  As her training evolved I could clearly see changes in her emotional state.   These states were definitely fluid from day to day and depending on what was being asked of her, but this is the 11 stages I came up with.  

Terror - the first 3 days
Fear   - about the next week
Fear aggression -  this was when she started charging at me while tossing her head.  and when I didn't back                                away but made her work more we moved on to the next emotion,
Anger - I think this was when she went through the phase of squinting and twitching her eyes
Anger Aggression  -  if I didn't read the eye twitch and kept pushing for a result I would get the anger                                            aggression.  Once it was her trying to bite me but usually it was just her throwing her                                        shoulder in toward me and shaking her head or charging at me.
Irritation  -  about anything I did with her head she was irritated about.
Tolerance - She learned to tolerate the saddle, long lines, tarps, milk jugs, just about anything that rattled or                     made noise.
Acceptance -  Once on a scheduled she seemed to be ready for the next thing
Curiosity  - I could start to see this one for about the last month when I stopped pushing her so hard.  She                      was really curious at the show grounds which surprised me.  She loved checking out all the trash                    cans.
Willingness - She was starting to look for me, she would whinny when she saw me and was ready for me to                      ask her to do things.
Enjoyment - I didn't actually see this one but hope she will find it.

I think she bonded with me more than I realized.  When I went to get her from the round pen after the other trainer worked with her she did her low nicker.  She would also do that every time I came to her stall.  When she was so angry about being in the stall, if I stood there with my fingers through the wire, she would sniff me and stop pawing.  And when I was standing in the arena with her she would keep checking on me by just turning her head to touch my arm or smell me then go back to resting.  She did this about every 5 minutes.

Take away lesson,  I might have to do this again.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sweetwater, Trail Class and Sale

So here is the video of the trail class.
I really think the stranger that I asked to film did a great job.  The pattern called for leading in and across the first 2 poles, then mounting to do the rest until the end then get off and lead out.  So the 2 leading parts are where I got my 3 points. 
As I said yesterday, J showed back up on Saturday.  What a life saver. 
And beautiful V joined us Saturday afternoon, so my cheering section doubled. 
This is where I spent most of my free time, out on the hill letting Sweetwater graze.  
Then on Saturday afternoon they tell us that those of us not in the top 10 still have to come back into the arena in between the top 10 freestyle performances.   That meant I wasn't going to be able to see any of the freestyles because I would be having to hold Sweetwater. I keep hoping to see some of them on YouTube.  It is suppose to be the highlight of the competition and I missed it all.  Last came the auction.  We were all in the arena and went up one at a time while the announcer talked a little about our horse.  I don't think he could have insulted me more if he had tried.  He said, "this horse was used this morning in the colt starting demo by our wonderful Mr. Magic trainer.  She was so skittish but he had her calmed down in just 6 minutes!"  Well, I lost it.  I started yelling at him, "ya, he fixed everything in six minutes, it had nothing to do with all the work I put in in the last 4 months."  It was incredibly humiliating.
She ended up selling for the minimum of $200, to a women that really seemed to know what she was getting into.  She had stopped by our stall earlier and was not intimidated to go in.  She commented on what a difficult horse she was.  They had watched the trail class and said at the time what a difficult horse she was.  They said that the grey horse you could stand up on was nice but boring.  They wanted a challenge.  So she went in the stall, haltered her and lead her right on to the trailer and off she went.
One of the other horses didn't even get a bid and came back through at the end and went for $200.  One other brought $200 and 4  went for $300.  The high seller was $6000.  12 went over $1000, anywhere from $1300 to 6000.  Seven went back home with the trainer.
More thoughts tomorrow.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sweetwater, Handling and Conditioning

J and I got up at 4:00 AM Thursday morning to make it to Lexington by 8:00.  Sweetwater loaded and unloaded fine.  She was a little excited but really not too bad.
I got her to her stall and we were set up and ready for the weekend activities which started at 9:00 with "Show Prep"
This involved all of us in the ring while a MHF staff person talked about training.  (really, might have been a little late for that)  While everyone else was riding around I pretty much just had to stand there.  Story of my life for the weekend, standing there.  This was followed by the Handling and Conditioning class.  J was good to video it for me.
I really thought she did a good job.  I think the catching part was a lot my fault the way I approached her.  I was in too big a hurry.  She did everything else about as good as she could.  We ended up 17/23.  I really thought I would beat the one that wouldn't load on the trailer and was excused but he placed 15th.
There wasn't much to do with Sweetwater after that so I watched Mary Miller Jordan doing Liberty with Mustangs
She was interesting and definitely had a different way of thinking about her training.  She talked about focusing mental energy at the horse to create energy from them then capture the energy back and refocus it at a different spot to get them to do something else.  My ESP is apparently not very strong so I still carry a lunge whip.  I think she is very good at reading the horse's body language and her horses are reading her's more than she realizes.  It was very remarkable for her to join up all 4 and lope around with them.
Then Friday I didn't have anything to do with Sweetwater until 5:00 when I had to lead her through the trail class.  So I cleaned her stall, fed and watered her and went to watch the Maneuvers class.  When I got back her stall looked like this...
She had pulled the buckets off the wall, one she had gotten the handle off of and the other she had broken the double snap that was holding it up.  She had also gotten the bungee cords off that were keeping the buckets from moving.   She had pawed all of her had into the shavings and pawed all of that to the back of the stall.  I ended up taking her out to graze for most of the afternoon so I missed the rest of the lectures and demos.
I'll put the video up tomorrow but it is taking too long to upload to youtube.  Since J was gone, he left after the class on Thursday, I got a stranger to video me and a friend just sent me this picture on facebook. I earned 3 points out of a possible 80 for my efforts.  Plus, I got a minor rope burn which you will see why in the video tomorrow.
Then, to add insult to injury, the BLM asked if they could use my horse for a "Wild Horse Gentling Demo"  the next morning since they didn't have a wild mustang there for the "professional" trainer to use.  I reluctantly agreed but also asked if they could start referring to me as a Veterinarian instead of a Veteran.  And since I was done competing could I give my horse a tranquilizer for the night since she was still tearing the stall apart.  She had added raking her teeth across the bars to the striking and pawing that she had been doing. 
So Saturday morning I took Sweetwater out of her stall to the round pen where she enjoyed being able to run around some after being cooped up for 2 days.  Then the "trainer" come in and talks about his philosophy of leadership, telling some feel good story about his mustang while he rubs on the horse with his crutch.  Wow, he is surprise she didn't spook at that.  Then he goes to halter her and she turns her head away.  Oh, she's telling us she's not ready, more touchy feely talk then try to halter again.  She does the exact same thing but he forces the halter on and says, "see the difference, see how soft she is now".  Then he talks about all the nerve endings in the ear and nose and proceeds to rub his finger in her ears and nose then says, "that's a good place to stop with her today, see how relaxed she is now."
How about how relaxed she was 2 days ago after just getting there!
Anyway, when I got back to the stall she refused to go in.  After 30 minutes of trying which was difficult because of all the people walking past, someone finally offered to help.  She used the lunge whip on the rear while I pulled on the front and she Sweetwater finally went in.  I guess I wasn't sticking my finger in her ear or nose right. I left her in the stall until J got there at lunch time.  She then turned the bucket of water I offered her over and made a lake at the doorway which she proceeded to paw in and make an even worse mess of things.   So I had to take her out again and bathe her.  After that I just let her graze until the "Meet and Greet" at 3:00.  This is where we go into the arena and try to get the public interested in our horses and answer any questions they may have. 
This is what Sweetwater chose to do while the other trainer from my county was doing flips off of hers.  By the way, she did an amazing job, made the top 10, pulled a cart and finished 8th overall. 
Enough for today, I'll finish up later. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sweetwater, Getting Ready

After several calls to the Mustang Foundation, I finally have approval for a Thursday morning arrival.
I've been very busy trying to get Sweetwater and all of her stuff ready.  Her freeze brand had to be clipped. She was great with the clippers.  Her tail needed combing again, and again.  I've bathed her 3 times and she rolls as soon as I let her loose.  I will have to say she is excellent to bathe.  She just ground ties and doesn't move a step.  Over the last couple of weeks she has not shown any aggression.  No charging or head tossing at me.  I am also getting some stall decorations prepared.

I'm going to be using the above ones to show her training process.
And these before and afters will go on her stall sign.  I did find out there is another one named Sweetwater. But apparently the other one was a dream to work with and the guy is roping off of her so no confusion there.
J pulled the trailer out Monday and I've been practicing loading and unloading.  She is doing it very calmly - at home anyway.  I decided to just take her on the stock trailer and have her loose in the front half the same way she came here.  I have revamped my goals for this project several times and now I am down to
1- Don't get hurt
2- Don't let horse get hurt.
3- Don't hurt anyone else.
These goals will not get revamped.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fun Times At the West Virginia State Fair

Every since we moved back from WV 23 years ago, J has been talking about going back to the WV State Fair.  A few years ago he did go back with V and E but I didn't go. 
Well, this year we made it back. 
And of course we started out in the cattle barn.
I thought this sign in the bunny tent was hilarious!
And as proof this was a business trip here is J telling V and E about this chute system that is made in Thedford, NE. 
V found some decorative items that she liked and thought I might make for her. 
We were entertained by the Rhinestone Roper. 
He even did horse tricks. 
And his finally was just like an act on America's Got Talent.  Then after being spun around and having knives thrown at her, his wife shot a gun and hit a balloon tossed in the air.  Their 14 year old daughter was also in the act.  E's comment to that was, "That would be my worst nightmare.  Glad our family isn't in the entertainment business."
I enjoyed the walk through the heritage garden.  I have a lot of the flowers and shrubs that they were displaying. 
This was my favorite quilt in the craft show.  Love the colors and squares. 
We even found some shark teeth at one of the shops.
We skipped the midway but a successful trip to the state fair.  And J didn't even buy any new equipment. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Cattle Gathering 101

Today J had us scheduled to work our calves that will be heading out to the feedlot next month.  But the first order of business is to get them all up.  
These Hereford crossed steers that J purchased last month were pretty easy.   Their feed troughs are just out from the barn lot so all that I had to do was hide while J towed them in with a bag of feed.
The next group wasn't much harder, just further away.   J has been feeding them by hauling the feed sacks on the 4-wheeler so they usually come when the 4-wheeler is driven into the field.
Then they followed us on to the gate to the next field. 
There is always one or two that are very interested in Emma.  She usually distracts them and they end up going the wrong way.  But this time they just followed her too.  (she was not injured during this exchange)
They all filed through the gate into the temporary lane J had set up. 
And then there is the one you have to wait on. 
With all of J's good prep work it was easy getting them headed to the barn.  Then it was filing through the chute one at a time for 3 shots then back out to pasture, done!

Getting Ready

Her feet are freshly trimming and she is getting ready to find a new home in 1 week.  
I am a little put out with the Mustang Foundation though.  Everything has stated the dates as August 25-27th.  When they finally sent out the schedule 2 weeks ago;  events start at 8:30 am on the 25th.  I made arrangements to be off work and reserved a hotel room for Thursday and Friday.  I plan on being there early Thursday morning.  Then on Tuesday of this week I get an email saying there is a mandatory meeting on Wednesday.  What!?  Another day you want me to take off work and pay for a room to try to adopt out a horse.  This is just not going to work.  Maybe I am a lot put out with the Mustang Foundation.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Painting, Cleaning and Heavy Pruning

So here is some of the house/yard work Kit Kat was supervising this weekend. 
I finally got E to start painting on the deck.  She got one section done before heading back to Blacksburg.
I had an epiphany about how to clean the vinyl siding.  Instead of using a bucket and rag and rubbing each lap I decided to get a cheap sprayer and mop.  I sprayed on the dilute bleach then took the mop and wiped across the siding then hosed it off.  My hands never touched the water, it worked great!
Then here are the before and afters of cutting down stuff that has outgrown their spots.
Removing those 2 arborvitaes really opened up the front walk. 
I tormented about cutting down the red bud tree but in the end decided that the dogwood needed to go instead.
I think J will be able to get the mower through here better now. 
Then on the side of the house those 3 medium bushes just weren't working.  I tried topping them but still couldn't get them short enough to stay lower than the windows.  And the one J is cutting was right in front of the water spigot.  
I really don't miss any of it.  17 years of growing and now we are in the cutting down phase.  

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Just Kit Sunday #108

J, E and I were doing lots of yard and outdoor house work yesterday. 
It was a good thing that Kit Kat was around to supervise.
Otherwise, I'm not sure anything would have gotten done.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Two Things You Just Have To See

First up is a picture from our local paper, six generations together in one photo. 
 Ok, I see the oldest and youngest, and the second youngest is easy to pick out but what is with the back row?  Is it a brother and 2 sisters?  How are those generations divided?
Then I was on Craig's list.  I am wanting to sell a sofa so I was checking out prices of used ones and came across this one.  Really? You couldn't clean it off to take a picture of something you are trying to sell?  I haven't done Bad Horse For Sale Pictures in awhile so  maybe this bad couch for sale picture will do.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Good Fences #125

J and I did a little cattle work earlier this week. 
J is working of getting Brother to stay calm around the cattle.
Of course me and Otoelene were there to help out.
Another nice day for a ride. 
For more Good Fences click HERE.
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