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Archive for June, 2010

Spread the Word!

As a side note, make sure that all of you readers are passing this on to all of your friends and neighbors!

This is not because I want more publicity but rather because I want the Mustangs to have more publicity.

Keep in mind that while the competition is a fun incentive, the ultimate objective of this project is to demonstrate to the public that Mustangs are wonderful animals and exceed the common stereotype given to them.

In fact, check out the blogs of the friends I’ve made so far in this competition as well!

Abby Brown: Become a fan of PROJECT MUSTANG on Facebook!

Jessi Huston: www.mustangcrazy.weebly.com

Again, this is not nearly as much about the competition as it is about the Mustangs.

Keeping up with these blogs is your way of helping support a true American Legend!

If you’re local and all of this has you WILD about Mustangs, check out the local club who takes care of the Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area: www.friendsofthemustangs.org

Also, if you want to know any more information about the Mustangs or the programs trying to help them, visit the Mustang Heritage Foundation website at www.mustangheritagefoundation.org or the Extreme Mustang Makeover site at www.extrememustangmakeover.com

Thanks again for all the support and remember…

SPREAD THE WORD!

For the Mustangs!

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Day 17 & 18

Hello all!   

I was out at the barn all day yesterday as well as today but didn’t get a chance to blog last night. Yesterday I went out bright and early and got my magnificent duo out of the pasture(Topaz) and stall(Renaissance). I first tied Topaz up while I played with Ren and practiced our isolated yielding. He is getting much better at yielding his front end and his back-end never was a sticky spot so now I’m trying to see how little, how much, and how precise can I get and still receive the correct response. He is very light with both ends so he sometimes catches me using more pressure than necessary and complains a bit. I try to listen the best I can but Hey, I’m only human. I make more mistakes than he does but this experience is just as much a learning process for myself as it is for him, if not more so.   

Anyways, after he got very responsive with both isolated ends as well as sidepassing from a very small amount of pressure, I took both Topaz and Ren out to the small arena and turned them out to run.   

Running Free...ish.

   

I must admit, at first I was a bit worried as to how well I’d be able to catch Ren when it came time to bring them back in but all the while I was out taking pictures of them and I actually had to keep shooing him away because he would come back to me constantly.   

He caught me!

   

 The two of them had lots of fun running around and bucking and playing. Renaissance was rearing up for a while but I couldn’t take the picture fast enough.   

This was right as he was landing his "levade".

   

 Pretty soon, they both got bored and weren’t doing anything more than trying to eat imaginary grass sticking out of the dirt arena. Silly horses. So I brought them in and tested how well Ren was at ground tying because if you know me, you know that approximately half of the time, my horses aren’t tied. I’m sort of lazy in that manner. He did really well with that. I had to place him back where he belonged a couple of times but he caught on really quickly. Here’s a comparison of Topaz and Renaissance.   

Long and thin vs. Short and wide

   

While Ren is quite a bit more long-legged that Topaz, she is stocky and pretty much a tank. Granted he is just a baby and will probably grow into his legs, her build is still my personal preference. 🙂   

Since they were standing there, I took the chalk and was goofing around and thought I should give Ren a star. Here is his artificial star. 😛   

They match!

   

 After this I played with Topaz and then Ren some more. He is getting much better with circling and driving. It took him a while to get the circling down because he had a strong desire to turn and face me but after a while we got a couple good circles and called it a success. A little bit of right beats a lot of wrong! He also can drive really well with a fence on his other side but when we get off the fence he gets a bit confused. We’ll play with this more though! 🙂   

When I put him up, fed him, and grained him, he decided to dump the grain all over the place and not eat it. If anyone has any tips on how to get him to like grain let me know! It’s usually not a top priority to feed my horses anything but hay but since he is going to be judged on conditioning, a supplementary diet will help me out.   

Day 17 end.   

This morning I didn’t get much time with the horses as I was cleaning stalls and later had to leave for a school event but in the afternoon I played with Topaz quite a bit and then took Ren on a ponying expedition. I took him out to the 32 road desert because it’s really close to the barn and it has all kinds of cool things to scare horses. If you are not familiar with the area, it often has giant piles of trash that people dump out there, old couches, burnt out cars/trucks, torn up tarps, etc and all sorts of hills for these things to hide behind. Not to mention the front end of it is a shooting range so there are almost always people out shooting. Oh, and did I mention the plethora of four-wheelers and dirt bikes? It is not the most attractive place to ride but after a summer of riding often out there, your horse gets pretty bomb-proof. So I took him out there, ponying him from my trusty steed. At first he was really stuffed up and was coughing a lot when we broke into a trot but after he got everything out, he was fine to trot and lope. He did have a tendency to pull on Topaz though and for the first half mile of the ride, Topaz was just dragging him along. (Another reason to love her.) Renaissance did eventually grasp the concept of “Comfort is when I follow Topaz and Stephanie at the same pace as them.” After that he was just a wonder horse for the entire ride. When there were “scary” things in the desert, he saw them as toys.   

An old burnt couch.."This is interesting."

   

I had to work harder to keep him from chewing on the stuffing than anything! Then we got to a piece of cardboard that was half folded over and flapping around. Even Topaz was hesitant with this. So while I was trying to get Topaz to step on the cardboard, Ren came from behind her, grabbed ahold of the cardboard, flapped it around in his mouth, and ripped a chunk off.   

That's cardboard in his mouth.

   

Then he walked all over it.   

"I'm pretty sure it's dead."

   

And as you can see, he looks just terrified. 😛 Here is another “scary” object that he so bravely defeated.   

Afraid? Not even close.

   

When the three of us got bored with the things, we went over to a big hill and started up it.   

This doesn't clearly show how steep it is.

   

This was a heck of a hill and was definitely work to get up but Renaissance made it up and back down twice! 🙂   

On our ride back home, we stopped in a spot where bushes and Russian Olives make sort of a “cave” dealy.   

This place is usually spooky.

   

 This is where I came to the realization that Ren is sort of like that big brother who you try to scare but he never gets frightened. Haunted houses, graveyards, ghost towns, and still is unmoved. This is just like Ren. Whatever I do to try to scare him, he is calm. This happens to be one of the reasons why he is such a pleasure to spend time with.   

After a short break, we were back on the trail home. He was just wonderful. Topaz was too, of course!   

A trail trooper.

   

This evening, he still didn’t eat much grain. Help!   

Thanks! 🙂   

Tip of the Day:   

Ponying horses is a great way to play with horses and has so many advantages.   

  • It is a great way to exercise two horses at once.
  • It’s very beneficial for young or inexperienced horses.
  • It can get them exposed to all sorts of things that they will eventually be up against alone.
  • It gets them used to having a person above them.
  • It helps the lead horse (the one you’re riding) look towards you for leadership even when another horse is around.
  • You can always get off and play ground games with your “pony” wherever you go.
  • It gives you something to think about and do on rides.

While I am such a strong supporter of ponying, it can be dangerous if precautions aren’t taken. Here are some do’s and dont’s of ponying.   

  • Make sure your “pony” is either in front or behind your lead horse! If the pony were to either side of you and got irritated and started pulling back, it could roll your saddle whereas if the horse is in front or behind and freaks out, the saddle and lead horse can hold the pony.
  • Make sure you don’t tie the pony to the saddle horn. While it is easy to just tie the pony and not have to worry about the ropes, it is dangerous as the pony could freak out and you may need to get that rope loose. Also, if the pony’s rope needs to be tightened or loosened, it is much easier to adjust when the rope is not tied.
  • ALWAYS wrap the rope around the horn with your thumb towards the sky. Wrap the rope as if you were stirring a big pot: with your pinky down. This is because if you wrap it with your thumb down, it is very easy for the thumb to get caught in between horn and rope and it doesn’t take much for you to lose a thumb. This is also true for dallying a cow and such.
  • BEFORE you pony a horse, make sure that your lead horse is comfortable with ropes touching, swinging, wrapping all over and around their butt. You don’t want to wait until you have a pony behind you for your lead horse to get freaked out from a rope under their tail.
  • Also make sure the lead horse is okay with another horse close to their butt. When the pony gets behind them, you don’t want your lead horse to be pinning thier ears and popping their butt up for the whole ride.
  • Your lead horse should also be able to yield their hindquarters while you’re on him because if your pony gets to either side of you, often the easiest way to put him back behind you is to yield your lead horses hindquarters to the pony.
  • Most importantly, Use Common Sense. If your lead horse is uncomfortable, don’t pony another horse which may be more inexperienced. Don’t push things. Seek help when it’s needed.

When you are properly prepared for a ponying ride, it can be very fun for horse and human so give it a try when you’re ready!   

Again, a million thanks to ALAMAR STABLES LLC for providing such a supportive and healthy learning environment!   

Until next time!

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Day 16

After getting back from the Lake last night, the first thing I did was go up to the barn to feed and see the horses. Renaissance came up to me after a little while and visited Cierra and me. He was hungry so I didn’t keep him long and fed him and wished him a good night. I didn’t figure this was enough to dedicate a whole blog post to so I grouped it with today. 🙂 Plus I was reeeaaallly tired last night!

Today I got up to the barn around noon still tired and groggy from a long weekend on the lake. I went and got Ren and tied him up in the barn and undid his braids. They were starting to look frumpy and his mane was much more well-behaved now. 😛 Since, as I said, I was tired, I lacked a lot of motivation to do much moving around so he stood tied for quite sometime. I later took him inside to visit and be exposed to all the commotion. There were other boarders trimming manes, Kylie playing with her sheep, and folks talking. This was really more activity than he has been exposed to since there isn’t usually a lot of people around the barn all at once. He was a little uncomfortable, but not terribly so. After he calmed down a bit, I thought I’d get him used to crazy toys going around him, towards him, and through his legs. What better than remote control cars? Kylie brought down two rather large trucks and we buzzed them around him and towards him until he got really comfortable with them. (Yes, we were teaming up on him!)

"What the heck are these crazy things?!"

Pretty soon he didn’t mind them much and was pulled off the antenna twice. Later I started taking the truck in between his legs and under his belly and he didn’t mind a bit.

The car is moving, really.

I buzzed around with these until the batteries died. It was fun for me too because I could torment my horse from the comfort of my chair! 🙂 Next while Kylie’s sheep were out, we reintroduced them and this time Ren didn’t try to kill them! Success! In fact, he was rather interested in them this time.

"They're not so bad after all."

After that, I tied him up and while the sheep were getting shaved, I braided his mane up in a running braid and french braided his tail just for fun. He was fine with me doing all of this, but all the commotion was a bit nerve-racking. He calmed down after a while though.

I then took a long, lazy sit and ate a popsicle while he was tied next to me. I gave him a taste of the popsicle and this was his reaction…

"Yum!"

It tasted good, but it was too cold to want much more. 😛

When I finished my popsicle, I was sitting there playing with his mouth and getting him to relax while I grabbed his tongue and pretty soon, he get really really relaxed!

😛

He is definitely a goof ball. I love his personality and how willing he is to try new things and how playful he is when I’m playing crazy and doing things like pulling his tongue out of his mouth. 😛

Even though today was a lazy day with not much action, he got a nice exposure to a bunch of different things and had a nice relaxing afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll try to get more done if I’m not still exhausted from the trip! 🙂

Have a nice day!

Also, a big thanks to ALAMAR STABLES for the care, support, and healthy learning environment through our journey!

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Day 13

Today I got up early and went out to play with the horses before coming home to pack and get ready to go to Lake Powell. Renaissance was a bit attached to his breakfast so it took him a while to come to me. Since I got this reaction, I just haltered him and asked him to eat the rest of his breakfast while I played with Topaz. This was confusing to him because usually the game goes Halter on-Out the gate-Play for the day. I try to never let my horses catch on to patterns like that. Variety makes life much more interesting and always keeps the horses asking “What are we going to do now?” After he ate a while he got very interested in what we were doing and left his food to come play. So I just petted him and took him back and asked him to finish his breakfast. Shucks, confused again. Once he finished his food, I took him out for a walk around the property.

I looked for things to scare him, things to send him to, things for him to put his nose on, etc and he did everything I asked him to with little hesitation and I couldn’t find anything to scare him for very long. When he did get upset, he just slowed his pace and became very alert to what ever was scary. This was definately a preferred reaction rather than the crazy stuff some horses do. I took him around the big wooshie things that channels the irrigation water to the property. (Forgive me for not knowing a better name for the thing than “wooshie thing”.) This scares alot of horses because it is a big cement box with grates on top and fast flowing water inside (like a waterfall). And worse yet, there are two of them right next to each other! However, to kill the excitement, Ren was not phased by this and didn’t give it much of a second thought.

It doesn't look like much, but the wooshing is really loud.

Next I brought him underneath Kim’s house (it’s a second story barn apartment dealy) and around all the stuff like barbeques, tables, and chairs and such. Again, he was not bothered. He wanted to go in the garage. He must have known that it used to be a barn! 🙂 But since they are trying to make it into an apartment, I didn’t let him in.

He really wanted to go into the garage.

I walked him over to the swingset and took him inbetween the swings and moved them around so they tickled him as he walked through and he still didn’t mind. So with the leadrope in my hand, I sat on the swing and began swinging. I got really high up and I was going back and forth right to him. At first he was too close so everytime I went forward and back the swing would bonk him on the nose but I just continued and let him figure it out. Sure enough he got sick of getting bonked and backed up a step out of range. But he still didn’t flinch or anything.

And for my freestyle, he will swing on a swingset! Just kidding. 🙂

Next we squeezed through a small space between an old van and some panels.

"Is this supposed to be scary?"

As we walked back to the barn, he spotted something that he didn’t like. All sorts of plastic bags tied to the roundpen and flapping around. All the “dead” stuff was fine but these bags were alive! He hesitated as I brought him closer and asked him to put his nose on one of the bags. He did it, reluctantly. Since he wasn’t 100% with these crazy flapping things, I took one and just rubbed him all over with it until he realized that it wasn’t going to eat him. It took him only minutes to desensitize to the bags to the point that I could flap them and snap them and throw them at him while he fell asleep.

A new accessory!

I had him carry the bag into the barn like this and tied him up while I cooled off. He stood and played with the bag.

Later, I untied him and played little games with him, asking him to put one foot on the bag, two feet on the bag, back on to the bag, etc.

My next task would be to see what he thought of getting into the trailer. So first I just sent him inbetween me and the stall gates and backed him from standing at the side of him. He had one panic moment where he fussed for a second but only because I used more pressure than was necessary at the moment. He had to tell me to “STOP YELLING!”. I turned down the volume and he did much better. Next I practiced sending him into a dark stall just so he understood exactly what I was asking him to do. He did fine with this so I took him to the trailer. It took no time at all to get him to hop up in the trailer. He wanted to turn around at first which was not a big deal at first because I had only asked him to get in the trailer.

I'm in here! That's all you asked for!

Before a pattern started to form to turn around in the trailer, I asked him to get in the trailer and keep your nose forward. He had to ask me a few times if I still wanted him straight forward, I confirmed, and he accepted that. Shortly after with the help of reverse psychology and changing the location of his comfort, he got to the point of Wanting to get in the trailer.

"PLEASE let me stay in the trailer!"

I viewed this as a job well done and we left it alone and went to the next game. I took him back to his stall and played with the things in there for a while. I asked him to put all four feet in the tire and…

TADA!

A bit of a tight squeeze but he took the effort to do what I asked him to.

My favorite point in a Mustang’s life is this time when you gain his trust and all of a sudden he is fearless with you. Sometimes it takes longer to gain this trust but when the leadership role is kept up and they finally trust you, it is amazing what can happen!

See you next week!

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Day 12 (of the competition)

First of all, I’m so glad to be back! I had lots of fun in Mississippi but I missed my horses like crazy!! So I got up early this morning and went to the barn to treat my severe horse deprivation.

Renaissance was a little bit nervous at first but it didn’t take him long to realize that I was the same person now that I was a week ago. Then he was friendly as can be so I haltered him and tied him up while I got Topaz out. (I missed her a ton too!!) So first thing I played with Topaz then saddled her up and ponied Ren. He was a little high strung from being in a stall for a week but we trotted and loped enough to satisfy his desire to move! He also met Kylie’s sheep up close and personal. To say the least, he did not like these critters. At all. He balked and struck out at them multiple times before we decided that if he was going to be rude about it, this meeting could wait. (I wish I had pictures of this because he looked really funny.) 🙂

After a while, I tied them both up in the barn, unsaddled Topaz, and saddled Ren. He was just as calm as can be throughout the whole process. I put the blanket up over his ears, eyes, neck, butt, and everywhere else and he just thought we were playing a game. (Which we were.)

Peek-a-boo!

I gave him the blanket and he grabbed hold of it and flung it around for a while. (He had fun with this game.)

"This is a fun game!" 🙂

Finally I just tossed the saddle on and he stood as calm as Topaz does. He was wonderful. So I cinched it up and watched him fall asleep. This reaction was unexpected but entirely appreciated! 🙂

"Well, I guess I'm a saddle horse now."

Since none of that was very exciting, I unsaddled him and took him out to get a thorough bath with shampoo and the works. Just like the last bath, he didn’t care one bit but rather had fun splashing in the puddles. (This is the reason I always end up as wet as the horse.) Once he dried I braided his mane all to one side to train it to lie flat and all to one side. Now he’s stylin’.

Tame the horse-Tame the mane

Today he also got to meet Sadie who he rather liked. He stood there and nuzzled her back for quite a while. 🙂

New friends.

Now that I had played with his physical qualities long enough, it was time to start playing with his brain. I practiced sending him places instead of leading him. For those farmiliar with Parelli, this was the “Squeeze game”. He caught on to that really quickly and pretty soon he had me not having to pick up the stick at all. He just followed the feel of the rope and went wherever I asked him to go. Since he caught on to this so well, we started playing “Put your nose on things”. This he found especially fun because he’s such a clever, curious horse.

"Oh! Put my nose on the chair!"

When we ran out of things to put our nose on, I took him outside to see what we could do out there. We did more sending between things, to things, around things, etc. Then I sent him out to circle around me. This was the first time he didn’t catch on to something right away. It took him a while to realize that all I wanted was for him to travel around me. Eventually he did catch on and took to the circle until it was time to be put away.

It was a fun day with both of my horses to catch up on things that we’ve missed out on while I was gone.

Thanks for reading!

🙂

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Day 2

Today I got out to the barn and introduced Raina to Renaissance. 🙂 Then I took him out and walked him all over the property and nothing bothered him a bit. I went and played with him in the roundpen for a while until Peggy and Debbie showed up to visit. I showed a bit of our stuff to the Supreme Camera Crew and should have some pictures and videos up soon courtesy of them 🙂

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D8uTygPYqANE&h=4a615

Yesterday, Ren viewed me as a friend. Today, he began viewing me as a leader. He is yielding from the slightest pressure. I desensitized him to all kinds of rope flipping and stick swingin and all that jazz and then sensitized him to yield his hindquarters, forequarters, back up, and sidepass. For those that know Parelli’s program, he moves from Phase 2! He’s getting very soft and its wonderful!

Next I introduced him to the rest of my herd, Topaz. Turns out Ren’s into the cougar chase! He’s flirting with her quite persistently! Lol Doesn’t he know that she has kids older than him?! 😛 Topaz gets along with him very well. Welcome to the herd Renaissance!

Welcome to the herd!

Since all was comfortable between the two of them, I took him out and ponied him around at all three gates on my wonder horse, Topaz. It helps to have absolute control of the feet of the horse I’m riding. It’s like they are my own feet. Like I said, Wonder Horse. Ren enjoyed getting the exersize that he got and I enjoyed that he got it without having to do mindless circles around the roundpen. He did so well with me way up above him. I even stood up on Topaz so I was WAY up there. Didn’t phase him a bit. 🙂

Ponying 🙂

After that, I tied him for the first time and he only got upset when he couldn’t follow me when I walked away. I was very pleased with how he did. 🙂

"Well maybe I'm just supposed to stand here.."

After that, I took him over to the wash rack and bathed him. He didn’t spook at the water at all! He played and splashed and drank out of the hose though! 🙂 Also didn’t spook at the fly spray. Now he’s clean and pest free! 🙂

Squeeky Clean!

I’m very pleased with how he did today. I’ll sure miss him this week when I’m gone in Mississippi but I can’t wait to see my sister and the new family! Hopefully Ren will put some weight on when I’m gone!

I’ll be back in a week to progress further! 🙂

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After a long weekend, I’m finally home as is my horse. I’ve named him Renaissance due to the fact that I hope to see myself go through an enlightenment and him through an artistic rebirth. 🙂 He’s making a home for himself up at Alamar.

We arrived at the Elm Creek adoption facility shortly after noon on Friday. I signed a few papers and we were off to load Ren. He was definately shocked to be pushed through a chute and have a halter thrown on his face and then thrown in the trailer. He reared a few times in the chute but calmed down quickly. Then as fast as we came, we went. It was odd to drive ten hours just for a 15 minute stop to turn right back around again! He was a bit nervous in the trailer to begin with but pretty soon he calmed down and realized that he wasn’t going to die!

Throwing a Halter OnFinally calming down a bit.

On our way to Fort Collins, we ran into some crazy weather! We hit some huge thunderheads and drove straight into a massive hail storm! The road became invisible and we had to put the truck in 4-wheel drive just to navigate it through the six inches–yes SIX INCHES– of hail that had accumulated in a matter of minutes. It was scary in the truck, I can’t imagine what it was like in the trailer!

Hail Storm!!

Once we got out of the worst of it, we made it fairly quickly to Fort Collins to watch the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition that was going on there. Ren was happy to get some water and some peace while we watched the events for the next day and a half…except he got his moment of excitement.

About half way through Saturday, I went to get him some water and was petting him a bit and he moved a little and bumped the back gate with his butt. Now that it was cracked open, he thought “Oh Boy! An open gate–I’m outta here!” So off he ran. Through the mud and the parking lot and around the arenas and all over the place until a few other people and I got him to run into a big open pen. Thank God we were at an Equine facility with random pens all over the place! And even luckier, there happened to be two round pens in this big open pen. So with the help of James and a very helpful guy named Todd, we got Ren into the roundpen. From then it was fairly easy to catch him so Todd played with him a bit in the roundpen while I rounded up Annie with the truck and trailer. Then with her tremendous backing skills, she backed the trailer through the mud right up to the roundpen and Todd led him right up into the trailer.

Trailering Part Two

I owe a million thanks to Todd for helping me out! Next time he sees Ren, he won’t have to chase him all over the place. 😛

Once that excitement was over, the rest of the day was very enjoyable….minus the soaked jeans and water in my boots. Watching the competition just got me more and more eager to get home and play with my horse. I already have crazy ideas for a freestyle routine brewing in my head. 🙂

The next morning we left for home. What a LONG drive! I spent most of my time sleeping!

When we got home, we backed the trailer really close to the stall and I led Ren out of the trailer and into his new home. Shortly after, I filled his stall with a bridge, barrel, cones, and all sorts of play things. Within a few minutes, he was boldly standing on the bridge and pushing the barrel around when I asked him to. It also helps that he is such a curious and playful horse! Also, I played with a little bit of advance and retreat and had him coming up to me and following me around like a puppy dog. I went ahead and took his halter and lead rope off of him since I could catch him…or rather, he can catch me… without it. 🙂 He allows me to pick up his feet and rub him all over. He is an absolute wonder. I was having so much fun with him, I just ignored the fact that it was pouring rain and continued to play with him. I love him to death already! I’m going to be a wreck when I have to get rid of him in three months. 😦

That's what you get for getting out of the trailer!...Love.

Tomorrow I’ll spend the day with him and see what happens! Every day is a new day

!

I love my Renaissance!

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