Monday, June 20, 2016

A Weekend in Gooding

Our three-day private colt clinic in Gooding, Idaho with Virginia and Bob was awesome. The weather was even relatively cooperative with nothing worse than some rather hot temperatures and a brief session of windstorm. Ted and Beth were both there to coach Bob and Virginia and two colts. I was there to provide moral support (code for I was there to enjoy the weekend!). The rest of the crew was taking care of home base.

A one to one student to teacher ratio qualified this weekend as working vacation status for Ted and Beth.

If it wasn’t a working vacation just from that ratio the following factors definitely land it in that category. Things like;

Ted and I staying in Bob and Virginia’s lovely LQ trailer. For Beth, a large guest area all to herself.

The hot tub.

Virginia’s cooking.

The horses and students did absolutely awesome! Both horses reached the laydown by evening of the first day and both were saddled before lunch on the second day. First ride on Bliss was textbook perfect as was the first ride on SeeMe (short for Now You See Me Now You Don’t). Bob and Virginia both say they had a great time and feel that they made huge progress. For me this was absolutely a vacation weekend. I was watching colt starting lessons, taking pictures, playing with Caleb, enjoying Virginia’s delicious meals (and yummy homemade Sangria) and in general having a great time just hanging out there!
Here are some pictures of colt starting lessons. I didn’t even take all the pictures this time. Virginia and Beth both helped with that!

Bob's first ride on Bliss.

Virginia getting ready for her first ride on SeeMe.

Virginia on her first ride on SeeMe.

Another view of Bob on his first ride on Bliss.

Beth doing Jeffrey's method on the bay colt. I get a kick out of the fact that she has a mounting block to do it. Note; Terrence usually covers this exercise at home without one but he has over a ten inch height advantage on Beth!

Caleb even got some Daddy time.

Bliss during her actual very first ride, Beth on board.

Virginia getting some help with follow me.

SeeMe's first ride, again Beth on board.

Caleb enjoying all this one on one Mommy time!

Caleb, exhausted by all this. 

I certainly enjoyed the mini vacation at this end of the road retreat. Bob and Virginia bought this hundred-year-old (or so) house and have put vast amounts of work into converting it into a comfortable and functional home for them.

Some of the highlights – the period piece powder room. 
Beth and I love how cute and coordinated this very retro bathroom is!

Here is Caleb enjoying the antique bathtub. 

The wood paneled wall Bob put in himself. Quite the work of craftsmanship to make it symmetrical when paneling a wall in a very old (and thus far from straight and square) house!

Here is a cute little collection of decor, Virginia's indoor 'Owl Haven'.

According to Virginia, Bob harvested enough firewood to supply all the residents of Gooding for years as he cleaned up the grounds.  One of the features now is a lovely walk on a little trail through ‘The Enchanted Forest’ between the house and the horse area. These first two pictures are from opposite ends of the trail. This is near the house side of the trail heading into the Enchanted Forest.

This is on the horse area side heading into the Enchanted Forest from there.

                                         This is in the middle of the Enchanted Forest.

On the other side of the house there is ‘Owl Haven’, as I walked through this shady grove I could hear many types of birds calling, including great owls! I never saw one of the great owls or the screech owls but each time I walked this way I did see a barn owl. I even managed to get one picture of him. 

 Bob has plans to install seating and tables out here to make it yet another nice place to sit with friends and enjoy the beauties around us.

This picture is the entrance into 'Owl Haven' from the driveway.

The vast majority of the Owl Haven area is screened in from the sky with arching tree branches. I had a hard time capturing that in photos but here are my feeble attempts. The branches make a sort of roof over the open clearings in Owl Haven. It's really cool. (and the only reason the owl couldn't get out of sight before I could snap a shot!)

Outdoor Owl Haven decor.

This might be technically outside the bounds of Owl Haven but at the very least it is close to Owl Haven and you can see how the branches arch! Just imagine the top all closed in and that's what walking through Owl Haven is like.

There are a wide variety of trees on the property (as you can see!) and they attract lots of different birds. I have only seen one mulberry tree before coming here. Here there are several, one of them is huge! This one is dropping hundreds of berries onto the driveway where they are picked over by the incredibly well fed looking doves, quail, robins, squirrels, etc.! 

The trees are also obviously home to a large squirrel population. We wondered where they are nesting, as Bob has removed many of the dead trees which one would expect to have hollows, etc. in them. Virginia says they actually use empty magpie nests as their dens. Here the squirrels are enjoying their morning gift of peanuts from Bob and Virginia. It is quite fun to watch their antics as they collect this offering! 

It is very clear that one of the daily joys of this home is just appreciating what is here; the views, the wildlife, the plants. The home is fully surrounded by deck, on the driveway side of the house it is extra spacious with seating for many and is such a nice place to be. Here is the view.

Here is Virginia enjoying the view and relaxing at the end of a long day two!

The same view is on display from the dining table through two huge picture windows, so even when it is too hot or too cold or too windy to be comfortable on the deck you can still watch wildlife activity and enjoy the scenery. The nearby river (the trees are lining it) is the Malad, which Virginia informed us is the very shortest river in the state of Idaho.

This area is the sort of back lawn, adjacent to the back porch/hot tub/ barbeque area. Beth was fortunate to see a little buck with tiny antlers in velvet grazing here on Sunday morning. 

That's a wrap, highlights from a collection of colt starting photos, plus some views of Bob and Virginia's cool place.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Highlights

This last month, like any month in our blessed, busy life has been full.  Some highlights of our recent doings follow. 

Danny, Caleb, and I went on a road trip with Beth to bring home her new acquisitions; Mt. Ridge Latte and Clanfair Allegro. Thankfully Rick and Carol Brand kindly lent Beth their small aluminum trailer which made that haul much easier for us and our little Suburban. Danny does not normally suffer from car sickness but we took a route on the way over there which showed up some tendency on his part to get car sick, (to say the least!).  The trip was a very long drive but overall, all went well. Beth had an appointment to have Allegro gelded made in advance so that he was gelded within 48 hours of arrival here. Here he is with Tom Bergstrom, DVM immediately post surgery. Tom is letting his son, Jake, and our Adam 'give him a shot'. It took her a few days but Beth has decided on Allegro's new handle, she has called him Faloth.  Beth likes to use Gaelic/Welsh or Elvish words for names. Faloth is taken from the name Asfaloth which was the name of the horse belonging to the elf Glorfindel in Tolkien's immortal works. Asfaloth means sunlit foam and Faloth means foam. 

Clyde received a shot of osphos about a month ago. For those who don't know his history, Clyde was an unstarted, unregistered quarterhorse stud we purchased a few years ago. (Clyde was the stud used in Beth's first attempt to get a foal out of her mare, Clay.) We gelded him shortly after acquiring him and put him into training. Shortly after going under saddle he developed significant lameness, with severe toe first landing on both front feet. Radiographs taken at Idaho Equine showed he had bone loss in the navicular area so was a clinical true navicular horse. Subsequently we studied and learned tons about hoof development and rehabilitation. Clyde is actually the horse that launched Terrence into studying hoof function and rehabilitation. After a couple of years of therapy/foot development we found ourselves caught in a cycle where we were able to achieve correct movement and Clyde would be out of pain. Unfortunately, every time we reached that point Clyde would soon overdo it and put himself right back in pain.  Although to some extent it was a vicious cycle at the same time we continued to make progress through the use of boots and pads in developing the structures of his hoof. We also used body work (thank you Karen Bumgarner) to help him achieve correct movement and begin to correct the extreme muscle imbalance which his consistent incorrect (toe first landings and short left stride) movement had caused. By the end of this winter Clyde's muscles were more balanced than ever before, the back of his hooves was developed and he was capable of correct movement but only with support and/or pain relief. So we seemed to have achieved all the progress we were going to by those methods.  After exploring and researching our options at this point we decided to give osphos a try. One month post injection Clyde is doing amazing! It has been great to watch him change his daily behavior. He is still the boss out in the pasture but now he is a much less passive chief of the pasture. His history out there is very much a 'don't mess with me' one. No other horse could move Clyde's feet, but he wouldn't bother to go push anyone around just to prove a point yet 'don't mess with me' was obviously clearly understood and Clyde's accuracy with his back feet was a well known fact of life to all horses out there. Occasionally one of the higher ranking horses would check on that (i.e. Cruiser getting himself kicked and lamed for a week right before one of Steph's rides last spring!). I always wondered if Clyde would still be the boss if he wasn't so often in pain. Maybe he would be willing to move around and give up his feed to others if he wasn't sore enough to be reluctant to move? Maybe he would be one of those dominant horses who feel the need to push the others aggressively all day long if he wasn't sore? Both Cruiser and Cowboy had passed through at least a short period of 'bully', but both of those cycles were shortly after gelding. Neither of those changes in Clyde's demeanor happened, the herd dynamics are pretty much the same as they were. The only real change is that Clyde and Snip live a life more connected to the rest of the herd. Clyde will even engage in play with the other horses, his 'play' prior to this spring was pretty much limited to head tossing, now he will rear, buck, lope etc. with the rest of them. Snip, our senior pony, and the oldest and wisest of our equines established herself as Clyde's loyal worshiper in the very beginning of Clyde's life here and is always to be seen in close proximity to him. That hasn't changed over the last month. Some things that have changed; Clyde (and thus Snip) moves over the entire field with the rest of the herd. Clyde trots (and even lopes!) in the pasture and moving from pasture to pasture. Clyde moves other horses around just to move them around (thankfully he did not turn into a bully but moves them around in a somewhat passive way, pinned ears is all it takes!).  The extra movement in his daily life combined with the faithful administration of his supplement by Matt, has reduced the crest on his neck to nothing. Likewise his typical, idle quarterhorse, round barrel belly is trimmed down to attractive portions. The two best changes; the expression on Clyde's face, so often to be seen before, which tells me he is hurting, is gone. He will soon be a good riding horse, he is in full training without any boots or pads and takes almost 100% correct steps and has developed no foot/hoof soreness. He is on no pain medication at all and has continued to look fantastic five days into full on training work load. Since Clyde is in full training he doesn't stay out in the pasture all the time but lives in the training horse pens at least most of the time.  After yesterday's training and subsequent time on the patience pole Ted turned Clyde out in the 7 acre pasture. Clyde headed down into the bottom to find Snip and then returned with her back up to the top to hang out near the salt and the gate. He is still on the road to becoming a good working horse but things are definitely going well at this point. 

Ted also has continued to work on his pickup project and also has done some fabrication over the last couple of weeks. When Tom Bergstrom, DVM was out gelding the 'untouched' client horse awhile back he noticed and asked about our round pen. When he heard that we built it he asked if we could build him some horse stocks? I forgot to talk to Ted about it for awhile but when I did remember we went out to the Outback Stallion Station to see the stocks Tom wanted his modeled after. Nick at Outback Stallion Station was also wanting another set built. Here is the set Ted built for Tom, there are several little improvements over the set he 'copied'. We delivered these a couple days ago and now Ted is building the set for Outback Stallion Station. Matt and Sam are helping get the second set together.

Laura keeping on keeping on! Although this is a dauntingly big project I think it will make Laura a stronger girl overall. It is certainly pushing her horsemanship skills to a higher level.

While Laura counts down days to the Extreme Mustang Competition, Terrence continues to work on the client horses he has in for training, trim hooves and count down the days until he might reasonably expect to see the email telling him his trick saddle that he has on order is finished. When he can get time at the end of the day he is practicing with the youth trick saddle he has but he is limited as to what tricks he can do. We like this picture but Terrence says 'Man, I really should be pointing my toes!'

Ted is working on the two DWA mares in for training. This one is Tika, a six year old who had some 'don't touch me' history originating in a neck injury. While that issue is pretty straightforward to deal with and she is doing fine on that she is an interesting case. She is such a hard trying girl and she wants to do the right thing but...... Ted has never deliberately slowed down the beginning training curve so much for any horse that I can remember. Although as I recall he had Terrence and Beth sort of back up and go to confidence building mode for a period with Hugo when he was in beginning training. Many Arabians could be described as 'emotional', 'sensitive', 'reactive', 'insecure' and so on and so forth. Tika is the most extreme one I've seen. It is amazing to me that although she gets frightened about things she still doesn't go out of her mind reactive and she has so much try. Thus, trusting that he was reading her right, Ted spent nearly a month primarily building Tika's confidence without moving into the riding phase. That is radically different than our standard protocol which puts a horse under saddle in about a week of training. (We do often give them up to a week to just settle in before beginning work so that first ride is often around two weeks after arrival.) I have spent quite a bit of time watching Tika's training. Ted is enjoying her, it is great to work with a horse with so much try, but he does say she takes more feel than probably any horse he has trained. And he has to keep reminding himself that the priority is to do right by the horse and get a solid foundation on, regardless of if you follow your normal time line or not. As in my last blog post; 'behind what exactly?'.  I have often heard Ted say some variation of; 'In the big picture; What's an extra hour, day, or week in the life of this horse? Take the time to do what you need to do for the horse's training,  you will never be wrong by investing that time.' In fact he says it so much that he abbreviates it to; 'What's a day in this horse's life?' And we all know what he means! She is now ready for first ride, absolutely, definitely prepared and emotionally capable of learning under saddle.

While Laura was working on a little bit of backyard practice with Michalean, Adam decided he needed to go get a horse to ride. He fetched a halter and lead from the tack barn a couple of times and then Terrence went out to the 7 acre pasture and brought Snip into the backyard for him. This is how Laura used to spend hours and hours when she was two and three years old. Adam has decided that he likes to 'ride' Snip and insists that she is his horse. Danny enjoys Snip too but would rather be in the arena than just sitting on Snip as she moves around grazing. At three years old Danny didn't often bother with real horses though, he would just fetch a stick and string and proceed to train one of his many 'pretend horses'. The original pretend horse was named 'Bonkhead' by a two year old Danny, but was rapidly joined by a host of others, his own Cookie, Carrot, Clyde, Cowboy, Clay, Blueberry, Cupcake, Muffin, Chalk and Snip. He could tell you lots about each of them but the original Bonkhead was most fascinating in that he changed colors daily and his tail was often a truly unusual hue, frequently green or red in fact!

Another event in Adam's life, third birthday, first pair of chore gloves. He's ecstatic because now he can 'catch gophers' with Matt and Sam! Apparently you must have gloves for that job.

Kathie's horse Chloe ran straight into a fence and lamed herself up and was completely off work for most of this month. This incident was actually somewhat related to Clyde's new amount of movement, if the leader is running (even if it's just because he feels good) the lower pecking order horses might (as in did!) assume there is something pretty serious to run from... and Chloe ran right into a fence. As of today Chloe is back in work and Kathie enjoyed a little trail ride with her sisters. While her horse was lamed Kathie diverted all her horse time to helping me even more than usual with all the housework.
Matt and Sam continue to be our unsung heroes. They take care of so many things; most of the pen cleaning, a lot of the feeding, virtually all of the irrigating, mowing, and other yard work as well as lots of the daily housework. Matt has been helping me get the tack barn re-organized too. Terrence built a handful of saddle racks a few years ago but the space has definitely not kept up with the number of saddles in use around here! The woeful lack of saddle racks is finally getting addressed. We were supposed to be mounting more racks today but thinning the orchard is taking an unexpected amount of time ~ so much fruit! So saddles are stacked pretty deep another day or two, but the project is in process. 
Matt cleared, spring toothed, and then rototilled the garden. Progress was impeded by a completely non functional rototiller. Ethanol fuel, ugh. However, Dad helped Matt learn how to rebuild the carburetor to the rototiller. Fortunately Dad was spending time in the shop working on those horse stocks and so was available for technical support. Good coaching is crucial when the small engine shop gives you the wrong carburetor kit. (Query - how do they give me the wrong kit even when I went so far as to take the actual carburetor complete with stamped part number on it in there with me?!) Anyway Ted and Matt made it work and now this wagon load of vegetables and herbs (started by my Mom in her greenhouse) is established in our garden. They also replaced the deck spring and belt on our little John Deere mower. That little tractor gets hours of use every single day.

Somehow Terrence found time away from client horses and hooves to help me get the irrigation system hooked back up, we now have drip lines strung all over the garden space and little plants thriving. 

Ted had five days off in a row over this last weekend (that's how he could get a set of horse stocks finished up and another set getting close!) There are so many bonuses of mornings with Dad home, one is sourdough pancakes and waffles. 

Thanks for reading! 
~ Leni