Friday, July 31, 2009

Excited, But Scared

My new horse came home today.  Brad had pulled her in from the quarter section she was running on with the broodmare band two days ago, halter broke her for me (well, more or less) and introduced her to Whiskey this morning.  I must admit while I'm excited about her, I'm also kinda scared.  The Buddy fiasco is not far from my mind. 

When I unloaded my as of yet unnamed beauty (in the rough), I couldn't help but compare her to Roxy.  Which had better conformation?  Which had a nicer eye, head, and so on.  Seriously not fair to my new one who's been running wild with no extras, while Roxy has had regular vet, farrier, worming, vaccinations, supplements, and grooming.  So yes, as it stands Roxy looks much nicer - right now.  

My poor new baby has just had an unfortunate growth spurt and is in that very awkward adolescent stage.  But I know she'll balance out.  I know with regular care she'll develop that polished look.  I also know she is easier to handle than Roxy (or Buddy for that matter) was at this stage in her training.  I know she stepped into my knee high trailer without batting an eyelash - not a tantrum in sight.  I know she unloaded quietly, and walked nicely with me into her new pen.  I know she handled the giant white dog, sheep and chickens flapping with wide eyes but no hysterics.

I know I like her and just need to trust myself.  Now, all I need to worry about is a name.  Lucky me, the AQHA has lost the paperwork on Brad's last year foals (we know they had the paper work because they sent out the DNA packages - which they won't do unless a registration is on file), and I may get to pick her registered name as well as her farm name.  Any suggestions?  

Pictures coming tomorrow!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I'm beginning to think I'm cursed.  Perhaps I'm just crazy collecting animals like there's no tomorrow.  Today, I went into the vet's to pay my latest bill (and yes, what I spend at the vet's would likely feed a poor nation), while I was there I asked Sam about some of the dog issues that having been coming up.  Issues like Bella's continued and excessive butt scootching.  Issues like Joe's nasty diarrhea.  (I have a pretty hardy stomach but cleaning up after the poor soul makes me gag.)  

Long story short, Bella now has a topical cream to be applied twice daily to her hind end which will hopefully stop what Sam thinks may be a minor infection.  And Joe has some antibiotics to help settle his stomach.  Sam gave a fancy name that I don't remember but she thinks he has some doggy illness (likely arrived with it) that we'll treat.  Ha, and here I thought I needed to change his dog food.  

I should know in 7-10 days if both treatments worked.  If they don't, we'll monkey with the dog food in case of allergies.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Moxie has been on a hunting spree.  While Bella was out of commission and in jail by the house, Moxie would deliver her buddy special "treats".  I like to think the cat was trying to cheer up the dog much the way you bring treats to someone in a hospital.  (Bella was spayed 12 days ago.)  

I've learned to watch where I step as more than once I've done the foot jerk as I realize there is a dead bird/mouse/creature on the sidewalk.  Last night I went to put Bella to bed.  Bella decided she wanted to sleep in the shed in her straw nest, as I went to shut the gate I discovered another of Moxie's treasures.  To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what it is.  It's big, kinda looks like a mouse but isn't.  Perhaps it's a mole or muskrat.  (Alberta is supposedly rat free.)  Whatever it was it gave me the heebie jeebies! *shudder*  As I was looking for and adding the links to pictures I realized the thing was clearly not a mole but could be a gopher, only the tail seemed, well, rat like.  If I was a gruesome person I would post a picture of the dead thing and ask for suggestions.  *Heh*

Each day I stumble across some new, dead creature.  I must admit I appreciate Moxie's diligence in keeping the place vermin free, I just wish she'd cease and desist in bringing her prizes to the high traffic areas.  

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Crazy Roll

All of my dogs enjoy the crazy and wild roll.  It usually begins with a snout drag through the carpet or grass, and is followed by a mad and wild gyrating, with legs flailing in the air, to be finished with a wild look on their face.  

Friday, July 24, 2009


When I was a little girl, I grew up riding this old ranch horse named Pilot.  My mom didn't believe in using saddles.  She felt that riding bareback would teach me better balance and help me develop a feel for the horse.  When I turned eleven (I think), she decided I needed to start 4-H.  My parents then decided that Pilot was not suitable for a 4-H horse, so we began horse shopping.

Answering an ad in the Bargain Finder led us to my first 4-H horse Haida and a lady named Lorretta.  Lorretta ran a riding academy that catered mostly to children.  In my white bread world Lorretta was this foreign and exotic creature who held me in awe.  You see, Lorretta had emigrated from Iran and would tell these marvelous stories of her childhood there.  I would go there for lessons on Haida.  (Haida had bucked me off promptly the first time I rode her at home.)  My summer days were filled with Lorretta's love, with a side of learning.  This lady was generous and big hearted.  I remember one day asking my mom why on earth she left Iran.  My mom's terse reply was something along the lines of "They aren't nice to different people there."  

It took me many years before I understood she left in order to live.  I had not thought of Lorretta in years but yesterday I started reading this book called Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir by Marina Nemat (ISBN:13: 978-0-14-305217-3).  The book is about a woman who spent part of her childhood being held as a political prisoner.  Her story is one of hope and resilience. It's moving and well written and made me realize just how amazing Lorretta is to have left the environment she did to create a new life for herself here in Canada.  

If you're looking for a good read this summer I strongly recommend this book.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

I've Gotta Be Crazy!

I've decided that life is too short to regret and wish you could have done things differently.  Yeller has always "called" to me and I should have bought him at the time.  I fully and completely regret not doing this.  So I'm buying a new horse.  A yearling that I really don't need.  But she calls to me.  There is something about her that I just like.  I've decided I don't want to be thinking about her in a years time wishing I had bought her.  I'm taking a chance and if she doesn't work out then I can always sell her.

The past couple of weeks I've been thinking about the reality of owning two same aged babies.  The reality of the expense involved in starting two three year olds, in showing two horses at the same time.  I think if I stagger their starts I can manage it.  Because I want these horses to go to the Canadian Supreme I will be picky in choosing who will start them and guide both them -and me- on our journey.  Babies are unpredictable and who knows how this is going to turn out.  But it'll sure keep life interesting!  

My new girl needs a name.  She's very quiet and friendly, the first to walk up to you in the field.  She won't be big - probably around the 14.3 mark.  And yes - better pics to follow once I get her home. :)  Check out her pedigree (AQHA papers pending.)

Summer Storms

Here, in the land of plenty we can have some truly spectacular summer storms.  When the temperatures heat up we have not only thunder boomers but we live with the potential for tornadoes touching down.

Last Saturday, my area was host to a wind, hail, rain, thunder storm for the record books.  I took these pictures as the storm moved into the area.  It didn't actually hit until about 5 hours after these pictures were taken.  Years ago, the nearby large city was hit with a massive tornado.  It's legacy, is people in the region get very nervous when big storm systems hit now.  We have a very good storm warning system that takes effect very quickly when systems move into the capital and surrounding area, keeping people informed.

Living in a region where tornadoes are reality means I've been exposed to a few of them.  I remember as a child watching a tornado move across the fields before my grandmother ushered us into the root cellar.  Afterwards we drove out to inspect the damage.  Minor really, only a few granaries moved to new locations.  I've learned that unless the sky turns bizarre colors and is heavy feeling to not stress too much.  Once we have confirmation of a tornado touching down, if it's near where I live, then and only then will I move into the basement washroom with my blankets, dogs and battery radio.  My house has been in the "path" a number of times.  Mostly when this happens I worry about the animals outside and cross my fingers.

Earlier, prior to taking these pictures I did see a small funnel cloud but it disappeared fairly quickly and I kept working the dogs.  This storm did produce winds in excess of 130km/hour and hail ranging from pea to golf ball size.  My house didn't get the fierce part of the storm and had no damage aside from trees down and stuff blown around.  I thought the clouds looked beautiful.  Hard to imagine how something so pretty can be so destructive.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First Baths

Reba Pre-bath
It would appear she suspects something's up...

Reba Post-Bath
Notice how she refuses to look at me...

Joe Pre-Bath
Completely unsuspecting!

Joe Post-Bath
Strangely enough still pretty happy.

I just love the spikey hair look Reba developed!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Recall! Retreat!

Tessa, Reba and I went for a run today.  As it's going to be a hot one my plan was to do a 30 minute run.  To change things up we were going to go through the horse gate into the park and do part of the run on the horse trails, part of the run down the road.  This would allow Reba to run part of it off leash.  Tessa, being a seasoned campaigner always runs off leash unless we are in highly populated or busy areas.  

I was feeling good and the dogs were feeling good.  Hitting the park gate I dropped Reba's leash and focused on not turning my ankle on the rough clay path.  We passed a hiker with no issues.  Reba and Tessa were scouting the path always staying within 10 -20 feet of me.  At each curve they would wait for me before bounding ahead.  We had travelled about 500 meters when both dogs dove off the path into the underbrush barking madly.  Not too concerned I let them bark.  Until I heard a coyote barking back.  "Tessa, Tessa, That'll Do!  THAT'LL DO!!!!"  "Reba, Rebe here!"  I yelled.  With relief I saw my two black and white critters bound back onto the path, Reba leading the way.  Tessa was still quite stirred up, barking wildly forcing me to lie her down.

Panting I stood and listened.  Listened to the coyote barking at us.  Barking freakishly close to us.  As in under 10 meters away from us.  The brush was very dense and I couldn't see it and I really, really didn't like how it was holding it's ground.  Most coyotes when faced with a human and outnumbered by dogs would retreat.  Not this one.  Grabbing up Reba's leash, calling Tessa we began to retreat.  Moving slowly at first (scared to attract an attack) then flat out sprinting, off we went back the way we came.  Tessa would run ahead then stop and bounce on her front legs watching my back.  As we passed the hiker I panted out "Coyote on trail - make lots of noise." Tessa in protective mode had to bark at the hiker (completely out of character to her - she's never met a stranger she didn't love).  

Hitting the park gate, wheezing, the dog's and I walked out onto the road.  After a short recuperative break we continued our run along the road.  It's funny how things work.  One of my deepest fears is being attacked by a wild animal while out running.  I know it's not completely rational but today's experience hit a little too close to home for me.  In large part, the coyote did not act normally leaving me to wonder if it doesn't have a den nearby with little one's in it.  The other option is that medically there is something wrong with it and that's even more scary.

Today, we ran further, faster - you could say I've done my speed work for the week!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Long Day Done

It's been a long day today.  At 7:30 in the morning I hauled Bella (Maremma) into the vet's for her spay appointment.  Being a Livestock Guardian Dog she is not used to being confined or being indoors.  Lindsay the vet tech and I had to heave, ho her inside the building.  Once in she pancaked.  Lindsay, this petite blond thing, looks at my 80 pound dog and proceeds to lift her up!  
With Bella airborne, we head to the kennel area of the clinic, only Bella panics, and with Lindsays arm under her bladder begins to spray pee everywhere, including down the vet tech's leg.  Poor Lindsay, poor Bella - I felt bad for them both.  So I made Cinnamon Buns to bring to the clinic (which I might say were much appreciated).
Once home I took Tessa out for a quick run (with me) before my Cinnamon Bun operation.  In between Cinnamon Buns and Derek the Farrier, I had a quick shower.  Next, Derek trimmed both horses feet.  Once this was complete I zipped over to pick up the trailer and loaded the truck with dogs.
Joe, Tessa, and Reba were all headed to the vet clinic to have their shots.  Whiskey was also headed to the clinic to get preg checked.  Dogs were all great.  Whisket not so much.  It appears Whiskey is confused.  She is clearly not pregnant but sort of thinks she is.  This is why she didn't come into a full heat cycle at the stallions.  So I now have a shot of Lutylase (spelling??) which is a hormone and will cause her to come into heat.
Now all I need to do is figure out when to give her the shot and get her back down to the stallion's place.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Horse Shopping??

At a bit of a crossroad, I've been scanning through the horse classified ads.  As of right now I have a lovely 10 year old mare who (fingers crossed - find out tomorrow) should be bred and as such will have a holiday from riding, and a yearling filly.  Basically, I have two horses, neither of which I can ride.  And I crave riding right now.  Not so much trail riding but focused doing something, anything riding.

After the Buddy debacle, I think I'll steer clear of anything young.  I've decided I need a stress free and fun horse.  Something I can hop on and ride.  Something that won't turn into a train wreck if it doesn't get rode 7 days a week.  Part of me wants an old rope horse I can putter around on and when I'm ready, move back into the heading box.  Part of me wants something I can show the local circuits with.  I really don't care about breeds, other than some feelings of nostalgia for the Arabians I used to show.  Ultimately, I think for the summer I may look into finding a lease horse.  Then save my dollars and purchase something later once I figure out what I want.  

It feels like it's been ages since I've had a low maintenance horse - oh wait - it has been!  (About five years since I sold my steady eddie rope horse.)

Loss of Pressure

To put it mildly, yesterday was a stressful day for me.  With the sale of Buddy I felt equal parts relief and guilt.  Guilt because my gut (which is never wrong) says there is something not quite right with the horse, and here I was fobbing him off on someone else.  After his display would I have bought him?  Absolutely not!!!  Relief because he is no longer my problem.  

I knew he stressed me out but what I didn't realize is how much he stressed out those people around me.  My sweetie expressed his thanks that the horse was gone, he spoke of how worried he had been that this horse was really and seriously going to hurt me.  (Sweetie is an experienced horse person too.)  My mom was happy and thankful the horse was gone.  She expressed her concerns about him being a danger to everyone around him.  (Mom has her own horse experience - she used to ride horses to school!)  

Even after he was gone I remained a tense ball of nerves.  Feeling as though I had done something bad or dishonest by selling him.  In reality, the horse displayed his true colors clearly to the purchasing people and yet they still chose to buy him.  To help me let go my mom loaded up her bike, I laced up my running shoes, and we (including Tessa) went to the nearby park.  Mom biked while Tessa and I ran the short (about 5 kms) loop.  With each stride I could feel the tension drain out of my body.

After we returned home, I hopped in my car and drove the five miles to the local gas station where I bought Ice Cream treats and rootbeer - to celebrate Buddy's sale.  Last night mom and I gorged ourselves on ice cream and today I'm looking forward to a rootbeer float (pop poured over ice cream - yum!).  I also plan on doing some celebratory baking (my form of therapy) today.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


This afternoon the Buddy saga came to a shocking close.  I had posted him on kijiji and received some interest.  When people asked I said he was cinchy.  Two people had asked to come out and see him today.  The first family showed up around 1pm complete with stock trailer (always a good sign).  

And how did Buddy do?  He was fully and completely awful!  As in the absolute worst I've ever seen him act.  Granted the carnival atmosphere the running and flapping kids contributed probably didn't help but still.  He started out being jittery, and moved into rearing and pulling back when I placed the saddle on his back (all new).  I didn't even get the cinch done up when he freaked causing the saddle to hit the dirt.  May I say my expensive cutting saddle hit the dirt.  Gack!

Next he moved into his bucking spree.  He continued by refusing to lunge (not like he's ever been lunged), and his finale... wait for it... he kicked the guy when he walked around behind him.  Fabulous!  What an outstanding horse!  

You can imagine my shock when the man offered $500 cash for the horse.  Causing me to enter a bit of a quandary, you see, $500 was lower than what I wanted (800) but the horse had been truly awful.  I also had someone who wanted to come out tonight to see him.  However, based on his performance today I was more than a little apprehensive as to how he'd behave.  What if the second guy walked away?  Then I was stuck with the demon horse.  

Long story short, I took the $500, handed over his papers and wished them good luck. Buddy - so much potential and so many issues.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reg'd AQHA Gelding For Sale

Gentleman Gene
AQHA # 5168750
For Sale

Smart, athletic gelding currently standing approximately 15.2 hh. Was at trainers from February - March 2009.  View his excellent pedigree.  This gelding would excel at barrel racing, roping, cattle events and has the movement to make a show horse.

Placed 3rd Halter Geldings at his first local show (out of 17).

Needs an experienced handler.

Asking $1000.00 - make me an offer!

Email: a007ridr @ 
(When typing the email don't put any spaces - spaces here prevents spam!)
Will provide phone number via private email.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Now What?

While this might be slightly twisted, I was hoping Buddy's dual personality and wild bucking sprees were the result of a physical ailment.  When I returned from Calgary, I eagerly went out to "test" him.  And the little bugger didn't show any (zip, zero, nada) signs of distress.  According to the tests - he does not have a belly ache, he does not have any "outs" or ouchy spots.

But the fart did threaten to knock my head off when I straightened his sheet.  Sigh.  You know, because I've never done that before (yes I'm being sarcastic).  There I am, in my fashionable black rubbers leaping through the slime as he agiley swings his tucked up arse into my space.  Lovely.  It's moments like those that I contemplate my sanity.

It appears, his issues are more related to the fact that he has two swirls on his forehead.  I didn't know but cowboy logic says that that means the horse is crazy.  (Straight from the cowboy's mouth.)  

I must admit I really hate being wrong.  Normally I have impeccable horse taste.  I have been told I have a good "eye", meaning I'm a pretty good judge of horseflesh.  But this one - I broke my norm - and appear to be paying for it.  I saw him trotting so nicely through his pen, discovered how cheap he was - and viola - was the proud new owner of a horse.  Call me impulsive.  

He has some faults (in my opinion) that would normally make me veer away from purchasing a horse like him.  First off - he has visible white around his eyes, and my grandpa told me horses with white in their eyes are spooky.  Secondly, he has Impressive breeding, which I normally avoid simply because the cowboys don't like it, as they believe they don't make good working horses.  Thirdly, he was running wild as a two year old.  However, he has lovely free movement and is ridiculously athletic.  Plus, he wasn't supposed to grow into the giant he's enroute to becoming.  

Ideally, Buddy would be long gone by now, but here I am stuck with him (and hating every minute!)  What to do...  What to do...


Once again I was on the road today.  Tessa, Joe and I were off to collect up Whiskey.  You see, the stallion's owner had called to say that my mare had only showed one day of heat and then her and the stallion (Hook) settled in like a pair of old geldings.  This created an undue amount of anxiety as the vet had ultrasounded, found nothing and gave me an estimate of when she'd be coming in.  Which would have been last week.

Brad had kindly offered to keep her and just kick her and Hook out into one of the quarters but I thought I'd best check in with the vet.  According to the vet there is two possibilities.  One - she's open.  Two - she's preggers but the fetus was hiding when we checked on the second day.  Yikes.  Here's hoping it's option two and we don't have to make another trek to Brownfield.

I'll find out next Thursday whether she's open or knocked up.  Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Holding Our Own

In the Herding World there are trials that have the creme de la creme of dogs and handlers show up.  Here in Alberta, one of those trials is the World Stock Dog Championship held in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede.  Tessa and I took the leap from our small fry world into the land of the big fish.  We went to the Stampede to compete.  

This trial is an arena trial which means all the herding is done inside an indoor arena.  There is some debate as to what is more difficult - the arena or field trial - I've concluded in order to do either well you and your dog have to have a certain skill level.  With Tessa being a better arena dog I thought we'd be able to compete, hold our own and not completely look like fools.  And I was right!

I know I had a blast and I think Tessa did too.  For me, the whole purpose of competing at this trial was to gain experience.  Which I did.  Tessa did too.  I loved being surrounded by people from all over.  There were dogs from as far away as Texas, Minnesota, Ontario.  I loved meeting and talking with some of the characters who were competing.  Seeing the variety of dogs.  It was especially neat to strut (Yes I did!) through the grounds with the fancy badge stating you were an exhibitor.

One of the best things that came from the whole experience was meeting a handler named Vickie Close.  You see, not only is she a handler but she's a photographer and artist as well.  Today, on our way home Tessa and I met up with Vickie (who's from Idaho) at another handler's farm and Tessa has some professional pictures taken.  (Tessa is notoriously difficult to photograph.)  I can't wait to see how they turn out!

What a great experience!  I can't wait for next year!

In the pictures: Top:  Tessa and I waiting to go.  Bottom: Tessa moving the sheep around the post and to the chute.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Belly Ache?

The most interesting conversation occurred last night as I drove to the middle of nowhere for a dog trial.  On the phone was a man named Hollywood.  Hollywood is a cowboy who I used to do College Rodeo with.  Back in the day he was a man's man and could be very cowboy with his horsemanship practices.  

I was telling him about Buddy and how I can't quite get him figured out.  His response was maybe he has a belly ache.  As my jaw flapped loosely in the wind he proceeded to tell my about this German guru who comes to Canada periodically and does homeopathic work with horses.  He explained how they discovered how his head horse has an ulcer and how once they followed this man's diet the horse became much calmer and lost some it's weird quirks.  How the mare that wouldn't catch had a twisted ovary and caught immediately after the voodoo doctor got finished with her.  All very interesting.  As I struggled to wrap my brain around the words coming out of Hollywood's mouth (it was a wee bit disconcerting), a plan began to form.

I'm going to do some things with Buddy - to see if it's not an internal problem causing his personality problems.  And with Hollywood's help am going to try and track down this master of horse voodoo to see if I can't get Buddy down to see him.  In my mind its worth a shot.  You never know maybe it's something that simple.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dazed and Confused

I've been having difficulty figuring out what exactly I should do with Buddy.  To help solve his bucking problem.  I've received all kinds of advice as to what I should do - what will cure him.  What I do know is that I don't want to do whatever it is that needs to happen.  My poor body aches and I have no wish to create more aches.  

I look at him sitting out in the field and think he looks so lovely.  He's even been acting lovely for the little I've been doing with him.  But I keep waiting for the demon to reappear.  To pop out when I least expect it.  So what do I do?

Should I send him to another trainer and dump more money into him?  What type of trainer should he go to?  Should I send him to a stock contractor to buck out in practice nights until he decides to stop bucking or the contractor purchases him?  Should I beat on him?  Throw him? I don't know what the solution is to his random and explosive bucking fits.  I only know he's of no use to anyone like this.

Any and all suggestions are welcome...

Say Hello to Joe

Let me tell you a story about a dog.  A little and lovely dog who we discovered a tattoo on when he was getting his pre-neuter hair cut.  A lot of speculation surrounded this dog.  Where did he come from?  What's his breeding?  What happened to shape his behavior?  Why is he so skittish around people?  And now I know.  I know Gunner's story.  Except his name isn't Gunner.  His name is Joe.  And I have the Canadian Border Collie Association papers to prove it.

For the first five years of his life Joe (Gunner) lived with a family.  He mostly lived in a dog run to keep the other dogs safe (from pregnancy) but he got to help the rancher's wife do chores.  He'd ride in the box of the truck or run beside the mule (like a quad) and when they got to where the cattle were penned, he (with virtually no training) would help her by doing things like moving the bulls off the troughs so she could fill them.  He was a good dog who played with the family's kids and occasionally got into trouble for killing kittens.

When this family heard of a local rancher and hired hand was out a dog and needed something to help him move cattle, they gave Joe away, with the belief that Joe would work well for this person.  Eventually they heard that the rancher didn't like Joe and Joe was no longer there.  When one night a breeding client dropped off a mare and they got to talking about Border Collies.  Can you see where this story is going?

You guessed it.  I have Joe.  When I described some of his quirks they were shocked.  The Joe they know didn't act like that!  So - it wasn't Joe's previous owners that wrecked him.  It was the one I got him from.  You remember - the one who was going to shoot him because he wouldn't even look at a cow.  The one who said some rancher dropped off for him to try.  Not even close!  He went and picked up the dog.  

So Brad and I, as best as we can figure, think that Grant did something nasty to Joe.  After all, what else would cause a keen dog to stop working stock?  And have some serious trust issues with humans?  You do the math - I sure did!

On an interesting side note - Joe is related to Tessa.  Joe's mother is Tessa's maternal grandmother, and his father is a litter mate to her maternal grandfather.  Pretty cool what a small world it is.