Monday, April 27, 2009


Gunner, Reba and I loaded up the car and headed out to Drayton Valley to spend some time with Ken this weekend.  Tessa still being on injury recovery had to remain at home.  Because I can only fit one crate in my car I tied Gunner to the metal thing that holds the car seat to the floor.  This was a pretty effective strategy for keeping him at his floor space.  Likely safer too.  Gunner spent the entire two hour drive with his head on the seat gazing at me adoringly.  

He has decided to bond with me.  At Ken's I had Ken work him mostly because Gunner seems to have some trust issues with men.  The general consensus about the dog is he has been spoiled and then mishandled.  We think he was likely allowed to run wild, at which time he'd go chase the stock and get yelled at by whatever human who had him.  The results of this is he has a strong distrust of people, especially when around stock, he doesn't understand how to yield to body pressure, and is very sensitive to any human intervention when working.

Challenges to say the least.  But the bottom line is he'll work.  I need to spend some time building a relationship, doing some basic obedience skills and showing him what I expect when with the sheep.  Patience is going to be a virtue with this one.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Busy Week

I've had a somewhat busy week.  On Monday I managed to survive my first ride on Buddy.  We did a lot of bending and flexing getting him to relax before I got on him.  I added the stylish black helmet as my blankie and off we went for his first outside ride ever.  Now, I'll admit we just walked around doing circles and some bending exercising but we both had positive experiences which is what I was aiming for.  That was Monday and Buddy hasn't been saddled since thanks to the evil weather gods who are taking my lovely spring sun away replacing it with a biting cold wind and *gasp* snow flakes.

My lovely little rescue dog is doing well.  I'm thinking he's going to end up named Gunner.   Also on Monday I took my new addition out to the sheep after Reba had her work.  And he'll work.  Will he ever work.  He knows nothing but he's keen - all he's lacking is training and confidence - and both come with time.  Tomorrow he gets his first vet visit.  Should be exciting.

Speaking of vets, Tessa went in on Thursday and had her stitches removed.  She is now in cone head to allow her paw to continue to heal without her pestering it.  While I sit and keep Tessa from licking her paw, I've been watching the Pitzer Ranch Sale Preview.  One of my friends is looking at purchasing a stallion and bringing it back here.  Let's face it, the American horse market appears to be in the dumps, so for us this something of a good deal.  I'll let you know if he purchases anything Saturday morning.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Consort Bound

When Grant called and said he'd be home today, I dropped my plans and went to Consort.  This time of the year Grant is usually busy out riding for other people so he can be challenging to get a hold of.  I needed to go see Buddy.  Talking on the phone with Grant he told me the horse had changed.  He felt I'd like him and if I didn't he wanted him.

So this morning I hit the road.  Once at Grant's with Buddy saddled up I watched as Grant put him through his paces.  Now remember Buddy is just a baby - technically he's not even three yet - and he can consistently on a loose rein walk, trot, and lope (on the correct lead) in a circle.  He'll back up, turn on the haunches in both directions and stop with no bit contact.  All in all pretty good for a baby.  Is he perfect?  No, he's a baby!

A little apprehensive I climbed on.  Remember I haven't been on a horse in something like a year (with Whiskey out of commission) and physically I shouldn't even be riding. But it felt so nice.  Buddy has a smooth gait and is fairly naturally balanced.  While I wonder if he'll morph back into the obnoxious horse of the past, Grant seems to think its just maturity that we're seeing.  

Needless to say I've decided to give Buddy a chance.  I'm giving him a month to see if we will click as a horse rider team.  And if we don't click, he'll go back to Grant and we'll work a trade with something that will be a better fit for me.  So right now Buddy is in the isolation pen here at home.  

A visit to Grant's is not complete without a good visit.  It was during this time he told me about a dog someone had given him.  He was calling the dog Bullet because it was going to get one.  Curious I asked why.  It was then I discovered it took him a week to catch it, and once he caught it he couldn't get it to look at stock.   Going and looking at the dog where it was tied up I found a dog that cowers when you approach it.  I began to wonder if someone had been to harsh with the dog and spoiled it, turning it off stock.  So of course I offered to take it home and see if I could get it to work sheep.  I know if I can get it working on sheep I can get it working on cattle.  

One of the guys at the barn said the previous owners called it Tex - but he doesn't seem to recognize the name.  He understands lie down and kinda gets that'll do (all I tried tonight) but didn't even look when I called his name.  He wants to be friendly but is just scared.  I am now on a good Collie name hunt.  Suggestions?

When I walked him out into the field he started to look at the sheep and he definitely watched the cat - all good signs.  One thing I noticed is he's not as jumpy with me as he is with my dad.  The other thing I noticed is he's missing a chunk of ear, and has a broken canine tooth.

It's hard to say what his story is but he seems eager and socialized with other dogs.  Cute little fellow if in a bit rough shape.  (He's skinny, matted and needs some TLC.)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sweat and Tears

As per usual Tessa, Reba and myself headed out to the field to work the sheep.  We had already gone for our run, the dogs had had a bit of a break to cool down and we were all raring to go.  Tessa always goes first.  Mostly to wear both her and the sheep out.  It was pretty windy and she wasn't listening particularly well, when the unthinkable happened.

Due to the melt and the mud situation in the corrals, both the sheep and the two horses are housed in the same field.  They seem to cohabit fairly well and I just make sure I stay on top of my deworming regime for all my animals.  Whiskey and Roxy generally make themselves scarce when I'm working the dogs.  They dislike how the sheep try to run under their legs.  Whiskey had already situated herself in the far corner of the field and when Roxy realized this she headed out to be with her.  

In the meantime, I'm yelling at Tessa who was playing the "I'm smarter than a human." game.  Because I have Reba, I usually work Tessa from a distance.  As I was asking Tessa to go to the Away To Me (counter clock wise) and she decides to go Come Bye (clockwise), Roxy decides to cut through the flock of sheep.  I watch helplessly as Roxy's head goes down and she comes to a half halt with a hop before galloping across the field.  I know Tessa is over there somewhere but I can't see her.  My stomach sinking I know the dog and horse would have been at the same area.  As Tessa comes back into my sight line I notice her movement is off.  I call for her to "That'll Do" (return to me), and as she heads back up the field I realize she is packing one of her legs.

I lie her down and head down to investigate.  My heart starts to pump when I see it's the leg she had surgery on placing two plates and four screws into - in October.  Seeing blood, I scoop her up into my arms and begin to run in my rubbers back towards the house.  I don't want her on the ground because it's so messy and I'm worried about contaminating the open wound.  I'm also extremely worried about her hardware which is directly under the wound.

With Reba's cord still wrapped around my hand, one glove and my cane lying in the field I begin to holler for help.  Giving up, I continue hoofing it towards the house dropping Reba's cord, hitting the gate, one arm holding the dog I shove it open and stagger through.  By this time my bad shoulder, arm and hand have gone numb, the nerve damage kicking in.  Wheezing, legs shaking, arms locked around her body I run the final 50 meters.  Calling for help, then realizing no one can hear me, I slam into the house.  Laying her down at the back door, kicking off my boots, I run for the phone.  

With my vet Sam on the line I pant, "Roxy stepped on Tessa's broken paw.  There's an open wound and it looks swollen."  With instructions to follow, I prepared to head to the clinic where Sam will meet me.  My mom drives, I sit in the back seat with Tessa on my lap, while my dad heads out to take care of Reba and Bella who were running wild. 

Once at the clinic, we take x-rays of the paw.  Deep sigh of relief!  Nothing seems to be broken or disturbed.  Now the fun of cleaning up the wound begins.  Sam decides to knock Tessa out to eliminate some of the stress and pain.  She also decides to put in some stitches.  I have an adrenalin hang over and need to grab a snack to stabilise my blood sugar.  (I'm hypoglycemic - on the diabetic continuum.)

What could have been an incredibly ugly situation is only mildly nasty.  Tessa will need to go back and have the stitches checked, she's also on super high powered antibiotics and will need to be kept quiet for a while.  But it's not terminal and it didn't destroy my $5000 surgery.  My vet is a superstar who I will love eternally.  Many vets would have sent me to the city to the emergency clinic.  Not Sam, she knew immediately what having a horse step on this particular dog, on this particular paw meant and she put the time in and dealt with it.  

Now I think I'll head to bed and cry my relief.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Buddy's Future

I am running out of time to decide what to do with Buddy. Buddy is my three year old quarter horse gelding who is currently in Consort training with Grant. At the end of the month Buddy either needs to come home to continue his life with me, or be put up for sale. Part of my problem, and the reason he went to Grant in the first place is I'm not supposed to be riding right now.

You see, I'm waiting to hear from a specialist and according to my GP I'll need surgery on my sinuses. How does this impact me riding? Well, my sinuses are putting pressure on my Eustachian Tube causing fluid to build up in my inner ear. The ear is where your balance center is located. Hence riding not such a good idea. Another reason for not riding is my physio wants to eliminate any potential jerks or irregular movements with my in rehab shoulder.

Another issue surrounding Buddy involves Whiskey. Whiskey is still lame. I'm waiting for it to dry up a bit more before taking her to the vet for x-rays and potential injections. (Yes, the vet has seen her already.) There is an outside chance she may never be sound again. This means I would be without a riding horse. If I kept Buddy I'd have something to ride right now.

With an eye on the roping arena I know when Buddy matures he'll have the size, athletic ability, cow sense, and speed to make an excellent head horse. But to give him a chance to grow and mature he wouldn't be roped off of for another two years.

Another consideration is I have the feeling Buddy and I will have some personality conflicts. Based on his personality profile and conversations with Grant I wonder how much pleasure I'll receive in working with him (and vise versa). It's not particularly fair to either of us when another human might make him a better partner. But on the other hand, there is the potential for the two of us to develop a great working relationship.

A huge part of me hates to give up on a horse so early in its life, but I've also hit the age where I don't feel the need to prove my ability anymore. I believe Buddy is a stunning horse with an abundance of potential - or I would have never bought him in the first place. Ack! What do do?! Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It Was a Close One

Merrily on my way out to the field I had Tessa by my side and Reba's cord wrapped around my hand.  Wearing the classic farm look of baseball cap and black rubber boots, I schlepped my way through the melting snow, puddles and mud.  Not ordinary mud, the greasy kind where the frost is just coming out of the ground leaving a slick top layer.  

As I began my decent down the little hill, I slipped a bit,  causing me to carefully lift my foot for my next step.  Which is when Reba realized the sheep were nearby and surged forward, yanking on the cord.  The cord wrapped around my hand.  Skiing forward on the heel of one rubber down the muddy slope I went.  Desperately trying to get my free leg down I croaked out a lie down.  Reba slowed just enough for me to get my feet back under my body.  While I'm sure it made a funny picture I had visions of being covered in mud/manure and landing on my bad shoulder.

Today, I had lady luck on my side.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wild Eyed

There is something about a snow fall that makes all the animals feel spunky.  Everything develops the urge to have a little play time.  Now, the two pups, (Can I still call them that at a year?), never need much encouragement to play.  Here, Bella and Reba are both snooting at some imaginary find in the snow, in between running madly in circles.

A game of chase is always a fun choice.  Little Reba can often be found hanging off of Bella's jowl hair.

Bella runs her evasive maneuvers while Reba hustles to cut her off at the top of the circle.

A good time had by all!


Seriously?!  A fabulous storm system moved through leaving behind a serious dumping of the wet stuff.

Yesterday's Seriously?! Enjoying the stunning sunny day, Tessa and I headed out to the field to put in some training time. Reba, who was tied with one of those cable tie outs (her run is wet so I don't like to leave her in it) in the yard was not happy at being left behind. Out in the field I could hear her voicing her displeasure with a series of yipps and barks. When she finally fell silent, I thought good, she's settling down. Umm, yeah, not so much. Reba complete with 30 ft cable trailing behind came hell bent for leather over the hill and into the field.

My little Border Collie managed to break the snap on the cable that is approved for Husky sized dogs. Getting her stopped, I take her back up to the yard and put her into her kennel/dog run. Once again Tessa and I get to work. Only to turn around to see Reba once again barreling down the field. Reba, who has never before done this, scaled her 7 ft chain link fence. Once again I get her stopped, hook my cane through her collar, and head back to the yard. This time, I put her training cord on and take her back to the field.

Tessa and Reba just had to take turns working the sheep. I guess this is the way I'm going to have to work it or put Reba into a travel kennel. And to think both dogs went for a run with me an hour prior.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring and Bella

It never fails to amaze me what a couple of weeks of warm weather can do.  This picture was taken today in my field.  If you scroll to the bottom of this post you can find a picture taken in the same field at virtually the same spot - not even two weeks ago.

Bella is still on her tire treatment, with increasing breaks off of it.  I'm standing firm and keeping her on it, simply because I'd be traumatized if she got run over when it's completely preventable.  Here's a picture of her greeting one of the sheep.

I must admit I love it when she gives her doggy grin.  She has such large teeth but is so good natured, the contrast always makes me smile.  She looks so happy.

Here's the picture of the field during the first week of April.  Astounding isn't it?

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Woot!  Woot!  Today, I danced out of my physiotherapy clinic.  You see after being heckled by my best friend, "Did you tell your physio that your goal is to rope again?!?"  I gathered up my courage and told them of my crazy love affair with the rope.  After much shoulder manipulation I received the cautious - if you gradually increase and have a slow return to training I see no reason why you couldn't rope.

Em, em, chucka, em, em!  Visualize if you will me dancing, ermh, gyrating madly around.  I was positively terrified I'd hear a negative response that I didn't dare dream.  Well kids, I'm dreaming now, literally chomping at the bit, wild with yearning.  Because I can rope again!  Well, one day, in the distant future...  woot, woot!

Life is good!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gotta Go

Warning: This post may contain material that pushes the bounds of good taste.

Enjoying the spring like weather I've been running virtually every day with the dogs.  During my holiday, I would run with them at my convenience, but now, back at work I'm running immediately upon my return home.  Tessa, an old running campaigner has all kinds of training and runs off leash in the ditch.  Reba, the young sprout, who still feels compelled to try to chase the odd vehicle runs on leash beside me.

Tessa generally runs in front of me, pushing the limits until I ask her to wait for us.  Yesterday we had just started, having covered about a 1/4 mile when Tessa looks behind her, and begins her poop stance.  Now, with a normal dog, stopping to take a crap while on a walk or run wouldn't be a big deal.  But this is Tessa we're talking about.  Tessa, with her abdominal issues needs to crab walk.  And crab walk some more.  I'm watching her crab walk as we close the gap.  Still crab walking Reba and I begin to pass her.  Tessa, mid-turd jumps up and begins to run.  She wasn't finished!  Jaw hanging open I watch in astonishment as she squeezes a poop out while running!  

I must admit this is a doggy first for me.  I have had dog's stop mid way, but never finish while on the run.  I'm not talking kinda squatting.  She was in a full up right running position.  Only Tessa.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Life Unexpected

While driving down the highway on my way home from checking out one of the stallions on my list, I was feeling bad for myself.  You see, this stallion, while a very nice stallion is not the stallion for my Whiskey's first baby.  I quite liked him and would buy one of his babies in a heartbeat but know in my heart of hearts that breeding him to her would not produce the cross I'm looking for.  

I had pulled into a gas station to rehydrate and post a poster of Ken's Clinic, which made me feel doubly bad because the station didn't have a poster board.  Really, what country service doesn't have a message board?  This one apparently.  Back on the road a good 1.5 hours from home I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye.  Whaaaat?  I thought that sign just said tack shop.  Cutting across the lanes of traffic and flipping a u-turn at one of those connect the highway things I went back to investigate.

What I discovered was a silver lining to my day.  One of those wonderful hole-in-the-wall tack and feed stores.  Once in the store I posted Ken's Clinic poster and browsed through only to find a selection of western bridles all for under $50.  Understand these bridles are not of a superior quality but who really cares if all you're using them for is training?  So I bought two of them.  And yes I'm pretty pleased with myself.

Feeling perky I stopped at one of the large western wear stores in the city (which I rarely go to) and bought two pairs of jeans (one Wrangler and one Cinch) to wear around the farm and riding.  I've been wearing my town jeans (Gap and Lucky) and the farm is starting to beat them up, so I felt it was time to purchase some farm worthy jeans.  This is not to say I don't own multiple pairs of Wranglers - I just don't fit into them anymore.  (The chemo killed my metabolism.)  Any excuse to shop...

I guess when life gives you lemons you just gotta make some lemonade.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tied Down

When faced with the challenge of teaching your adolescent livestock guardian dog what it needs to be doing there are a limited number of strategies you can use.  Most people have more than one guardian dog and depend on the older dog to teach the younger dog its manners so to speak.  Some people choose to keep their young guardians in kennels located in the stock pens.  Other use the time honored tradition of the tire.  The dog is tied to a tire in the pen with the stock to literally slow it down.  It serves as a reminder to the dog as to where it is supposed to be and limits the amount of trouble it can get into.
Because of Bella's teen aged bad behavior she is the unhappy recipient of the tire treatment.  Under no circumstances will she go into a kennel and I don't have an older dog so my options were restricted.  Poor Bella has hurt feelings.  She is an unhappy puppy right now.  Before you start thinking I'm abusive and cruel, you need to understand that Bella's job in life is to prevent my sheep from being ate by predators.  Well Bella has recently taken to doing things like hanging out by the road and chasing trucks.  She has also decided the flower beds, you know the ones surrounding the house (as in not the corrals), make a great bed.  From where she barks madly even when no coyotes are howling.  This makes for an interrupted sleep for me as I repeatedly get out of bed, go to the door and shout at her to "get back to your sheep!"
Let us all hope for my sanity and Bella's safety the tire trick proves effective.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Herding Fun

Grrr!  Some days Blogger really annoys me!  So here's the deal:  the first time I loaded my pictures, Blogger put them on my blog in reverse order.  So I loaded them again, only this time in the opposite order, and what does Blogger do?  They load them in the order I loaded them!  Grrr!  It really messed up the story I had planned in my head.  So the story is out of order and not really complete.  Sigh.

Reba's turn:  Tessa "I've got your back, Reebs!"  Reba: "I'm gonna get me some sheep."

Reba: "Go sheep go!  I said move it!"

Bella: "Hey guys, what's going on?"
Tessa: "Belle you better move because I'm coming."

Bella: "Whoa!  Slow down you guys, what's the rush?!"

Bella: "That really wasn't called for.  There's no need to run me down!"

Just some spring herding fun today.  Imagine if they really could talk what they'd be saying...

Dinner Time

Tessa has the funniest meal routine I've ever encountered.  Generally, she won't eat unless I'm either present or in a nearby room.  She begins with bringing one or two of her favorite toys to her food.  Next she'll lay down with both toys conveniently located by her front paws.  Whining, squeaking, and making "erhnh, erhnh" sounds she alternates between the toys.  

After she feels sufficient time has passed she carries one of her toys to her dishes, where she continues to make her moaning sounds.  Eventually she'll take a bite of her food, mouth and moan with her toy, before taking another bite.  Next she'll have a drink of water and gradually finish her dinner.  The whole process can take upwards of fifteen minutes.  

Some days I wonder if she feels the need to tell me how wonderful her dinner is.  If dogs could talk...