Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vet Check

Whiskey had her 15 day vet check on Saturday.  When you breed a mare it's a good idea to have your vet ultrasound at 15 days (from last breeding) to check to make sure everything is alright.  Unfortunately everything was not all right.  Whiskey had twins - which are not good for horses to carry.  Sam tried to "pinch" one off but couldn't get them to separate.

This morning Sam was back to check to see how the fetus was doing, to double check there was only one in there.  This morning it was gone.  Fully and completely.  What Sam thinks happened is when we vet checked on Saturday Whiskey's body had already recognized that something wasn't right and had begun the process of absorbing or tossing it out.  

What this means is that my once pregnant mare is no longer pregnant.  I will once again be hauling her to the stallion's to try again for a healthy and viable pregnancy.  The good news is we know that Whiskey will catch when bred.  The bad news is that she seems to like to make twins.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Auction Reality

The day dawned overcast and windy.  Bundling up in a long sleeve blouse and my winter jacket I went out to give Buddy a final brush then load him up.  Auction day had arrived.  We (mom came with me) arrived at the market at 10:15, by 11:15 he was finally at the front of the processing line.  After we got him settled in his pen mom and I took a walk through the pens.  

It was a horrifying experience for me.  The understanding of how my standard of care and other people's standard of care differed truly struck home.  The pen of horses who had been run off the stock trailer that included a new born foal (complete with umbilical stump) cramped into a corral, all seemingly wild.  The yearlings whose ribcages and backbones stuck out like a musical instrument, who still had their winter coats hanging in patches off their sides.  The stallion with the hocks the size of basketballs.  The gelding with the foot long scar on his haunches.  The sad faced 4-H girl who had to choose two of her horses to bring because they had no more pasture.

My heart cracked in two as I meandered through row after row of horses.  Stunned I watched as trailer after trailer pulled in to be unloaded.  In all, mom and I figured there were about 400 head of horses at the auction many with outstanding pedigrees, some with incredible amounts of training.  

Buddy outclassed many of the horses there so I was feeling somewhat optimistic.  I had put a reserve on him as a safety measure when I saw all the horses, but didn't really think I'd need it.  Sitting by the ring I watched to first saddle horses sell.  For $300.00!!!!  Yikes!  I rationalized it as they were not quarter horses and as such didn't sell as well as they should have.  Until the lovely well broke, sound, sane and papered rope horse went for $1000.  At that point I started to pay attention pretty closely.  Registered horses with good lines were selling for the $500 -1000 mark.  

When the first lead horses entered and exited the ring I knew there was going to be a strong likelihood that Jeanne would get her wish.  Buddy would be coming home with me.    Horses were going for meat for 3-400 dollars.  Discovering there were still over 100 head of horses before Buddy's turn in the ring I decided to turn out and bring him home.  The entire experience was horrific.  With the drought in the region people were dumping horses left, right and center.  More horses ended up headed towards the slaughter house than found new homes.  

Plan B: figure out what is causing Buddy to act like a wing nut, solve the problem and get some serious time put into him.  Incidentally, he behaved awesome today and generated quite a bit of interest.  I also met a cowboy who rides at a feedlot who, once I figure out what Buddy's issue is, I think will take him to put some serious miles on him.  And with the high possibility of Buddy and I still not getting along he'll likely be headed towards a performance sale in the fall.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tattoo Fun

It's been a treat and a half trying to figure out what Gunner's tattoo reads.  First off he's a bit skittish and it takes some coordination and muscle strength to get his wildly gyrating body to lie still enough to see his groin area.  Secondly, the letters and numbers are in a strange formation and distorted.

I would really like to find out this dog's history, his lines and where he came from including who's the listed owner on his certificate.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Horse Lust

I have a serious case of horse lust.  I'm trying to be strong and regularly tell myself to be practical.  But it's really hard!  I desperately want to have some of Yeller's relatives.  Yes, Whiskey will have a baby that's related to Yeller but it's not the same.  I would love to have his half sister, even though she hasn't been handled much, and is not really suitable for an acerage operation.  I would also love to have one of the yearlings.  Yes, even though I already have a yearling.  And it would be time and money consuming to have two same aged babies to get started.  Yes, I know I should be learning from the Buddy debacle and look at aged trained horses.  

But I don't want too!  I've decided based on my years of horses that Buddy is not a reliable indicator of the young horse experience.  I'll keep telling myself to walk away.  We'll see how well my resolve lasts through the summer.

In the pictures:  (yes - sorry once again - they're not the best) the light gray filly is the one I like.  The dark grey filly in the group shot is a granddaughter of Fitz and the sorrel is Fitz (who's due to foal).

Scenes From Farm Life

Bella was in love with the lambs.  This little one would climb out the fence and hang with her.  She would lick it's face and smile her doggy smile.

Bunter was very weak when he was born.  We ended up using a dropper and milking his mom so we could feed him.  He didn't have enough strength to suck.  This is a stronger Bunter enjoying his milk replacement treat.  (Mom didn't have enough milk.)

This little guy always looked like he was smiling.  Cute little farts, aren't they?

Buddy and Roxy enjoying some freedom in the field.


It's funny how absence can make the heart grow fonder.  I had not realized how attached I had grown to Whiskey until her trip to the stallion's.  Whiskey and I had a bit of a rocky start.  I fully believed she was a wonderful horse but she was not an easy horse to ride for the first few years (and even now).  Partly because of how she was started she had some issues we needed to work through and they were just that - work.  

She was the horse that would buck you off if you didn't pay attention to what she was telling you.  She went through a stage where she had some tantrums and displayed her unhappiness very clearly.  But that horse for the most part is gone.  The Whiskey that remains wants to please you.  If she understands what you're asking she'll consistently do it for you.  This is the horse that would work through pain or injury if you asked it of her (and I don't).  

For the first few years I owned her I hemmed and hawwed about selling her.  I never did end up listing her.  I think my procrastination was my heart trying to tell my mind that she was a keeper.  Part of the problem is she started out as my rope horse prospect and then when I couldn't rope I didn't know what to do with her.

When I pulled into the stallion's yard and I saw her standing there with her head over the fence watching, my heart about leaped out of my chest.  It was one of those a-ha! moments.  I love this horse.  I really, fully and completely adore her.  She has her faults but I felt so much pleasure just standing beside her scratching her head.  As she nosed my neck and head, I breathed in her horsey smell and felt stress release from my body.  Everything was suddenly better.

I couldn't imagine not having her in my life.  I'm hoping and praying that we'll be able to find the problem in her leg and get her sound again so I can enjoy her spunk and athleticism.  And if we can't, she'll remain under my care having the odd baby.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Crates Are A'Rockin'

For the past two weekends we've been on the road travelling to arena sheep trials, the latest being Lloydminister. When I was loading the truck I lost Gunner. This being one of his first forays into freedom I was worried he'd run off. I called and called. Walked out to see if he was pestering the cattle or horses. Wandered around the house looking for him. Only to find him sitting on the passenger seat of the truck, smiling a big doggy grin, clearly waiting to go for a ride. I hadn't noticed that he'd climbed in while I was putting the crates in the back of the cab.

Both Gunner and Reba enjoy going down the road with Tessa being a reluctant traveller, which is especially funny as she's travelled her entire life. When we pulled up to the agriculture grounds in Lloydminister I unloaded Tessa, and we went to work (gotta love being first up). Meanwhile back in the truck you could see the crates just a vibrating. Both Gunner and Reba were dying for a turn. Unfortunately for them, they were just along for the ride. I like to take them so they get experience being off the farm, get to see the sights and sounds so to speak.

Gunner was wonderfully brave and handled having all the strange people around him. As he starts to settle in he's becoming more trusting that he's not going to get into trouble and with that more bold in his behavior. His tail remained tucked between his legs but he wasn't cowering behind my legs. Reba is too bold and needs to learn to lie quietly at my feet and not snarling at any passing dog. Tessa worked a little too keen the first round but settled in to place 4th in the Novice category and 2nd in the ProNovice category.

It was a good day, complete with some much needed rain. The Lloydminister crew puts on a great trial and I'm going to be going back for more of their events.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Help Me Understand!

So a number of weeks ago I had received a response to one of my ads for Buddy (the horse from hell). At that time (when I thought the bucking would stop) I had him priced out at $2500. The lady wanted pictures from all four sides (why she wanted 2 side profiles I'm not sure as each side looks the same), which I happily emailed her. Next she wanted an in depth explanation of what he could do, how he moves, how he looks at cows, any marks or scars, etc. A bit more sceptical, I once again complied.

Next she wants to know how low I'm willing to sell him. So I told her $2000 as this is basically how much money I have in him not including standard feed, vet and farrier expenses. And then this lady fell off the edge of the earth.

As time passed and I realized his bucking issues were not improving I emailed her back asking if she was still interested, told her he needed to go ASAP, that he had started bucking and if he didn't sell I was going to run him through the auction. Her response was to ask what I was willing to take for him now. I said $1000.

The latest email asked for another set of pictures and she wanted to know if he moved straight or if he paddles. Paddles??? Seriously??? The lady tells me she is looking for a ranch horse. Ranch horse! Does it matter how he moves if he can do the job? The horse is conformationally correct and shouldn't break down if he's taken care of.

The other thing that baffles me is she is super cheap, (Come on if $2000 was out of her price range - what does she seriously think she's going to get?) at $1000 for a registered, very well bred horse she's getting a steal. The price reflects his bucking issue. Which she incidentally hasn't asked anything about. (I sure would be!) I find the whole situation weird and had initially put her off as a tire kicker. The things she asks make her look like she's looking for the next AQHA Halter superstar, not a ranch horse. I really don't understand where she's coming from.

Another thing is she stated she's in BC - why on earth is she looking for a horse where I'm located? (I'm a good 4 -5 hours from the BC border.) Surely there are cheap ranchy horses closer - she'll end up spending a ton in gas.

I really don't understand this person and am getting annoyed with the bizarre questions - if you're that interested get in the vehicle and check the animal out in person. Plus why would she care more about conformation than a horse that bucks.

If anyone out there in cyberworld can help me understand - please do so!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Busy Times

I've come to conclusion that perhaps I need to slow down. Over the past two days I've gone nonstop. Yesterday was Gunner's big vet day. He came home a changed dog - less his little man bits. Because he's a rescue and he has no paper (or so I thought) there is in my opinion no point in keeping him intact. While at the vet, Sam (the vet) found what she believes is a tattoo on his thigh. In order for a Border Collie to be registered with the Canadian registry they must have a tattoo and/or microchip identifying them. My new project is going to be trying to decipher the tattoo and then contacting the registry to see if I can find out where he came from and what his lines are. Just for interest sake.

Yesterday I also spent a good three hours working on the Buddy Gong Show. Today, after working a full day, I came home to track down some hay. After perusing the newspaper I made a few phone calls, decided on some hay and ordered 60 bales (square). Normally, by this time of the year we have grass up to our knees and everything would have been turned out on pasture for the last month and a half. This year we are ridiculously dry and have no grass growing. It's still up in the air if farmer's crops will get enough moisture to grow. Al in all, not very good. I also made the decision to sell my sheep sooner rather than later due to the grass shortage.

I went onto the Alberta Agriculture website, found a wanted ad, called and it turns out they would like my sheep. On Sunday, my six ewes complete with lambs will be going to their new home. This will allow me to bring 3 dog broke wethers home to work the dogs and get back into a training regime. I also have an arena trial I'll be traveling to on Sunday and while on the ASDA website I discovered another arena trial two hours from home. (This is close for me!) All of this has made me very excited.

Tomorrow I'll be headed to a local farm auction to check out a stock trailer with my father. (He actually asked?!) I don't exactly have the time for this but I figure if I take my work bag (I have about 20 hours of work I need to get done - ASAP.), it shouldn't be too big of a time waste. I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth if he wants my opinion.

Looking at my upcoming week, Monday I'll be hauling hay (last round bale will be finished by Wednesday), Tuesday I have an evening meeting, and then it frees up, hopefully allowing me some down time. Let the good times roll.

Wild and Wooly

For those of you who may be wondering how the Buddy situation is going. Not well. Last night he was a superstar. Well, he was a superstar until I began the get on - get off routine. I was on my 3rd get on. I was on and sitting on the horse, when he decided to take a step, putting his head down as if going to scratch his nose on his knee. Except he suddenly leaped into the air and began to honk like a rodeo horse. Normally when a horse is going to stat bucking you have some warning. For example their back may tense up or they'll swish their tale. Not with this guy, up until the point when we were airborne his body language remained the same. Relaxed but alert.

Needless to say I was slightly ticked off. So there I am pulling with all my might to try and get him turned and his head up. I actually know better. I should have cracked him with the reins and tried to get him to run. A horse can't buck well when running or when turning in a circle. Usually. Back to the story. I was pulling with all my might until we neared the fence, at which point he raised his head just enough to set me off balance and changed direction. Realizing I was going to bite it I began to try and find a safe spot to land. With the fence ominously close and the horse not slackening I hit the ground hard. Literally skidding into the fence. Sitting and watching the jerk buck away, only to turn and buck towards me. Flapping my hands and clapping I managed to get him to swerve. I sat and collected my breath and thoughts.

One thought was extremely clear. I really hate this horse. It's not even the fact that he bucked me off (this is not the first nor I'm sure the last time this I've hit the dirt), I think it's his erratic behavior. His poor attitude. There is something about this animal that just grates on my nerves. To put it politely when I managed to heave myself up from the ground I was furious. Catching him I thought - you want to buck you bugger, let's buck - and I tightened the back cinch as tight as it would go. Slapping him on the butt I stepped back. Did he buck? Nope, not even a little. So I take the neck slinky and hook it on to the horn, sling shooting it into him. Did he buck? No! I grab the whip and I tie it to the saddle, and then chase him around forcing him to drag it. Did he buck, shy or spook? You guessed it - not even a glimmer.

I'm pretty sure steam was pouring out of my ears by this point. Frustrated and livid I made him work until he was covered in a lather. And no inkling of any more bucking sprees. Quitting, and grinding my teeth I gave up. I realize my suppressed rage at the horse is not conducive to developing a positive working relationship but I've hit the point where I don't care anymore. I don't like him. I don't want to invest anymore time or money into him. I think he may have something wrong with him and I want him gone. I want him gone and I don't want my name associated with him. I have an excellent reputation in my little corner of the horse world and don't want him to sully it. I have this fear of getting him going, selling him and then having him do something bizarre and hurting someone. I'm not okay with that.

Buddy is slated to go to the local horse auction. This will be the first horse I've ever sold at an auction. While I'm not proud I just can't in good faith sell him as a started horse. At least at an auction anyone buying should have some caution or suspicion around the horse. In the meantime, a cowboy friend will take him and try to get him settled enough to ride through the ring, although to be honest, at this point I don't even care if he goes for meat. Horrible I know but the reality of it is he's not only been a jerk but unsafe too. And he's become a liability I'm not willing to tolerate anymore.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cowboy Up

Buddy has not been a nice horse to be around lately. As a matter of fact, I had begun to believe he was out to get me. But tonight - or was it last night - we had a breakthrough. You see, Buddy and I had been doing well with our Natural Horsemanship stuff. Until he lost his brain. Literally. I had my superstar Horsemanship mentor come out and even she had trouble. The things he would easily do before ceased to exist. Instead he was wild eyed and full of fight/flight. In fact, he would drop his shoulder and try to plow me over. Most horses would move away from pressure, this one drove into it. To put it mildly I was feeling aggravated.

I was frustrated with his lack of progress and his continued bucking sprees. The horse was acting as though he'd never seen a saddle. (He's had 90 professional days - plus the time I've put into him.) Last night I lost it. I made him work. I saddled him up, and while he was doing his bronco impersonation I'd run him into the fence, jerk on his head (halter), and with each leap, jump and buck I spanked him. When he finally stopped I made his life very uncomfortable unless he was standing and letting me run the stick/whip over his body and the saddle. He did many half circles turning back at the fence until he tolerated my presence. Once he stood and let me "sack" him out on both sides I quit.He was litearlly dripping sweat. And I was covered from head to toe in dust.

Tonight as I headed out to work with him I girded my loins for another epic battle of the wills. Normally I would avoid getting into a power struggle with a horse, but I felt he needed a lesson in who was the ultimate top of the pecking order. I even added the extra ammunition of another body - my dad. So making no changes in my routines, I went about my business. When it came time to saddle, dad, equiped with gloves and a long rope took a hold of his head. I saddled exactly the same as normal (minus the human hitching post), after which dad proceeded to lead him around the pen. Did he buck? Nope, not even a crow hop! So I'm left wondering - was it the "tough love" last night or the extra human tonight the created the change in behavior?

With dad's help I pretended he'd never been rode and did the get on - off routine, followed by dad leading me around on him. He's been so erratic that we were erring on the side of cautiion.

Stay tuned to see if the new and improved Buddy remains tommorrow or if he returns to his devilish ways.

Oh! And if my spelling is particularly bad it's because my spell check is still AWOL. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Grrrr Blogger!

Mysteriously my little buttons I click to do things like Spell Check, Add Pictures, Links etc. have disappeared. Poof! Gone! I've messed around with a number of different buttons trying desperately to get them to come back - but no luck. I can't even find the button to click to flip from normal blogging to HTML. Needless to say I'm mildly aggravated. Okay - I'm really aggravated. Today I took all kinds of fun pictures and can't get them on my blog because I can't find the button to click to load them. My blog was going to be called Farm Life Snapshot - but - poof - not going to happen. Grrrrr!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Could Have

I've decided I'm becoming something of a bad blogger.  All last week I've had all kinds of blog ideas percolating in my head just waiting for me to type them for your reading pleasure.  Except now that things have slightly slowed down I can't remember my stories.  And stories are what I like to write about.  I do enough research and serious writing at work that I am absolutely not interested in doing more at home.

I was going to tell a story about Bella and the sheep.  You see, she's in love with the lambs which is so hopeful for me because she has been such a teen aged brat these last few months.  It appears she will make an excellent guardian dog after all.  One night she even chased something out of the yard - after making it yelp.  

I was going to write about all my lovely little lambs.  How they love to bounce around and curl up in the black rubber feed tubs.  How one baby was mysteriously dead in the morning when I went out to do chores.  How we've been working with Bunter because his mom doesn't have enough milk.  

I even thought about writing about my grass woes.  It's freakishly dry here this year and the grass isn't growing like it should.  Or about the walk I took with the dogs in the park only to discover the ponds and low spot were completely dry.  How I was freaking out about overheating my dogs.  (I didn't drink any of my water on the 5 km (3 mile) walk, instead I gave it all to Tessa and Reba.)

I could even write about the natural horsemanship stuff I bought.  How its overpriced for it's captive market.  

Or about the AQHA and the 6 months it took to get Buddy's papers sorted out.  They just arrived.  (Incidentally his proper name is Gentleman Gene.)  And about my confusion over the DNA/HYPP testing.  I paid to have his DNA done with the HYPP because he's a descendant of Impressive.  But they never sent me a kit and his papers are marked HYPP N/N.  Can't say I understand but have no wish to spend more time doing paperwork so I'm letting it go.

I could write about working the dogs after my road trip to Ken's on Monday night.  I could even tell you I'm now entered up in the Calgary Stampede World Stock Dog Championships.  And yes, it's creating a little stress in my life because this is where the big guns compete and I'm only a small fry.

I had all these ideas and the stories that went with them but too much time has passed or perhaps I'm just too tired to think straight, but I've lost my stories.  So you're stuck with the teaser until I can think of something better.