She Has Attitude, a.k.a. Atti, went to her first Appaloosa show, in Colorado, last weekend. I confess I was a little nervous, because not that long ago, I was certain she would not be ready. Even as we left, I was still not positive.
It was a nine hour drive and she handled it really well. I rode her around after we got there to help her get used to the new place. I have learned that most of her bad behavior (refusing to go, threatening to rear, no left turn) is largely due to fear, so she absolutely had to be ridden in the arena where she was going to be shown. It took a lot of slow easy work to get her moving comfortably with all steering in working order.
Saturday morning was All Breed Boxing. She did the dry work pattern without complaining and she worked her cow at the level she is at. We did lose our cow, and then I thought, “Well, hey! Appaloosa rules for Working Cow Horse say I can call for a new cow within 30 seconds! I will just try it.” So I called for a new cow, surprising the judges, and they acquiesced. This one wouldn’t move at all, but we still had fun. And we won! We were also the only contestants.
Back at the barn, Callie made a careful study of Cloud’s equipment and managed to unbridle and then halter Cloud correctly. She patted him in relief, and looked quickly over her shoulder at Jeff. He seemed busy with Punkin, and she hoped he hadn’t seen her hesitation.
She uncinched the saddle and then pulled it and the saddle pad until they slid off the horse and into her arms in an awkward, leaden lump. She set the saddle down and put the pad away. Then she heaved the heavy saddle up, tightened her jaw, and began to haul it to the tack room. She was halfway there, and a little out of breath, when Jeff said, “Hey! Wait a minute.”
Callie froze as he strode over and flipped the dragging latigo and cinch off the floor and over the saddle. “You’ve got to tie these up so they don’t drag through the dirt.” He buckled the cinch through a keeper. “Either that or you trip on them and fall on your face.” He sighed and wiped his forehead on his shoulder. “You can barely ride and act like you’ve never seen tack.” Jeff shook his head and Callie saw the impatience on his face.
She shrugged. “I took five lessons last year,” she said. “But the horses were already saddled.”
“Oh,” sniffed Jeff. He took the saddle from her, turned it around, and gave it back. Then he wrapped the latigo up and secured it. “Well, not here.” His voice sounded rough, and Callie’s lips thinned.
As she walked to the tack room, she could feel the anger running up into her face, and she composed a few hot retorts she could have flung at him, if only she had thought them up in time.
She slid the saddle on the lowest saddle rack and walked out to get Cloud.
The barn was empty. Callie felt her stomach hit the floor. He must be loose. Just as she was about to dash outside, Jeff sauntered in swinging two halters.
“Here,” he said, looking past her as he shoved a halter in her direction, “I let Cloud out for you.”
On Sunday, we did drill team at 4 Winds Equestrian Center. We are getting better! And it is fun.
Atti was supposed to participate, but we got there and she said, “omg! there are horses everywhere! i do not know any of them. i don’t think they like me!”
She really couldn’t settle down in a short time frame, so, she got tied up until after drill team and then I rode her around and let her check everything out. She is getting really good in places she is familiar with, but needs more experience handling new places! I think we will have enough time to get her comfortable at the venue of our show this weekend in Colorado!
My new colt start, Kodak, came along for the ride. She stayed in a pen and it was a big day for her!
Kodak saddled for the first time at my place. She is a little flighty, but based on her trailer loading–first time in gale force winds, worked on it two days later, and has done two more trips, getting right in like an old pro each time, I think she is pretty trainable. Plus, she loves to be petted, and drops her head and relaxes right into it so I expect her to settle down really well.
Monday, I went to the Manzanos with my friend Mary Ann, and my horse, Penny.
Penny is my easiest trail horse. No fuss, no muss, mostly.
We want to get a few rides in before the imminent forest closures due to the dry dry conditions we are once again experiencing in New Mexico.
The Manzanos are in Severe Drought, but the main springs are still running and we found a new wet spot in a little canyon that heads west just at the start of the Cerro Blanco trail.
Then we rode on up Cerro Blanco and went south on the newly cleared section of the Crest Trail. Wow. How nice to have a trail de-brushed so well, and Back Country Horsemen did not do it. The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps did! The Crest Trail is at about 9,000 feet and the views are really expansive!
Tuesday, I worked cows with Atti and LT. I thought last week was a little better, but it sure is fun. Kodak got to stand and watch. She started off a bit upset but really settled in well and was very patient
I also looked at roan palomino yearling Quarter Horse filly. I am looking for a versatility ranch horse prospect, since Indy is out of the running. This girl is cute and based on my little video clip is looking like she will STOP!
Wednesday, I looked at a Smart Lena Boon yearling. He was super friendly, but not quite what I am looking for.
I am not exactly sure what I am looking for, but I think I will know when I see it. I am looking forward to a seeing some video of two 2 yr olds from Sunset Stock Horses in Canada. I had a horse from that program (Ali–All Round Sundown) that I trained for Whispering Spirit Ranch. She placed at the world level in jr reining, jr trail (not ranch trail–regular trail) and we won a national championship in jr. western riding. She was one of the easiest horses I have ever trained and I had 2018 or 2019 on my radar to look for a prospect from there, regardless of Indy’s status.
Thursday, I gave a lesson, rode Atti, thinking about our show adventure, (going to go well!), GOT ON KODAK, got my hair done, ponied LT off Indy on a nice trail ride and then worked with LT in the round pen. Since she is back on the show docket, she is getting developmental exercises again. She looks so effortless when she moves! I rode in a halter so I would concentrate on leg cues rather than rein cues. Have some work to do there…
Back to Kodak. She has been with me for eight days and gets more settled each day. Day 2 she spooked really hard, tore across her pen and jumped out. That pretty much sums up her emotional state then. Today, I sat (lightly) on her and mounted from both sides. She is really taking to the program!
Then I drove Atti to Belen, and we are leaving for Colorado in the morning!! Who hoo!
It was a fun week and it should be a fine weekend as well! But we could sure use rain!
They rode by the front of the house. Aunt Martha was on the porch, typing on her laptop computer. She said, “Don’t forget to come back for lunch sometime before dinner!”
Jeff rolled his eyes. “Corny, Mom!” he said.
Callie forced a smile, but in her mind she heard her mother’s voice saying, “Be careful, dear. Please be careful.” Her legs gripped Cloud tightly, but she remembered not to do that from her five riding lessons. She felt a little awkward on Cloud, but also really excited!
They turned the horses and began down the graveled drive, followed by a lonesome howl. “Jake!” said Jeff. He turned Punkin on his haunches and trotted to the dog run. He shot a sideways glance over his shoulder at Callie as he leaned off the side of Punkin to fumbled with the latch. “C’mon boy. You’re going with us,” he said, more to Callie than to the dog.
Callie looked away and concentrated on the rocky hills in the distance as Jeff and Jake trotted past her. They went through an open wire gate onto a trail leading along an irrigated meadow toward the hills. Callie took a deep breath and followed, silently jouncing along behind Jeff, not yet finding the rhythm of the trot. She did remember to hold her elbows near her sides, to keep them from flapping like the wings of a bird. Jake ran back forth between them, smiling, but Callie, never having had a dog, did not recognize this expression, and thought he looked rather like a toothy wolf that hadn’t eaten in several days. His tongue was dripping.
All at once, Cloud stepped a little to the right just as Callie was jouncing left, and she had to grab the saddle horn to regain her balance. Jake was watching her carefully. Then Cloud took a funny step. And another.
The first thing Callie saw when her eyes struggled open was a picture on the wall. It was her picture. Her very favorite picture. A bright bay mare had her muzzle buried in deep green grass, and her mini-me bay foal lay sleeping nearby in a patch of bright yellow and pink flowers. Callie rubbed her eyes and blinked.
A dog barked, and the unfamiliar tang of dry air and juniper filled her nose from the open window. She remembered where she was. She untangled herself from the sheet, and went to her suitcase. Tucked between two sweatshirts was her picture. A perfect match to the one on the wall. She stood hers on the dresser and hugged her arms around herself. Her stomach responded and let out a tremendous rumble.
I had hoped that Indy would be my versatility ranch horse girl,
Indy, April 2017. Photo by Ed Armstrong.
but even after her bone chip surgery, her hock is disagreeing with that plan. There is a cartilage deficit due to the bone chip and it just doesn’t feel right to her. (I have cartilage deficits myself due to multiple soccer-related injuries, so I am empathetic!)
She will trot and walk out under saddle without any apparent discomfort, but despite a hock injection, chiropractic, and acupuncture, she still does not wish to lope freely and is uneven on stops and roll backs.
I had the vet out this week to check teeth, give shots (I cracked and paid him to give shots) and get a health certificate and Coggins Test for Atti for our upcoming show in Colorado (going to be fun!)
So, I wrote a book a long time ago. Of course, it is a horse book. I thought to update and serialize it and post one or two chapters a month. So, here is chapter one…
It took a lot longer to get Chapter one in order than I thought it would, so this may be a bad idea…
Chapter One. ARRIVING
Callie was afraid she was going to barf.
She held the motion sickness bag near her mouth, but the white smell of the bag took her back to the hospital. The flight attendant with the rattling drink cart was a hurried nurse with squeaky white shoes. The gray of her mother’s face against a wrinkled hospital pillow case floated in front of her. Sometimes the afternoon sunlight had lighted her mother’s hair, reviving its past gold, and she had almost looked well.
She squeezed her eyelids tight and drew in gulps of cool air streaming from the airplane vent overhead. She crushed the bag in her fist and pressed her head against the seat in front of her until she could feel the fabric making ridges on her forehead. She dozed off.
Callie felt a soft nudge on her shoulder. “Please put your seat in the upright position. We are getting ready to land. Wait in your seat after we have stopped and I will walk you out.”
Callie fingered the ID around her neck. She was a minor travelling alone.
The plane felt as though it were sinking beneath her. Callie held down the sudden rising of her stomach as the plane’s tires bumped the runway and its engines roared suddenly loader as the thrust-reversers slowed them down.
We had to take the screens off the BAT so Atti would not eat them on the trip. I borrowed a fly mask and we managed to tear that instead, so a new one is on order for Siri–cheaper than a new screen for the trailer!