Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quality of Life

After reading Temple's book I've spent quite a few hours pondering my animal's quality of life.  The sheep I'm not worried.  In exchange for a little bit of chasing they get a pretty good life.  They have good food, water, shelter and companionship.  The horses are also doing quite well.  They don't live in boxes, isolated from their peers.  They also have plenty of forage, space to roam, shelters and companionship.  When Roxy goes back to Jason's place I may consider getting a companion for Whiskey.  She has the sheep but it's not the same.  

Bella also has a pretty good life.  Many people believe that Guardians should live in isolation with their stock.  I'm not one of those people.  If you think about it, historically, the Maremma lived with a flock, and it's shepherd.  They had human guidance and support, as well as some companionship.  Bella, while expected to do her job, gets some love and attention.  Or as some people may say - is spoiled.

Tessa, with her aging body, still gets ample play.  The one animal I own that I worry the most about is Reba.  With her living in the house, I want her to be able to meet her play and seeking drives.  According to Temple's book, seeking is "the basic impulse to search, investigate, and make sense of the environment."  Other "Blue Ribbon Emotions" are rage, fear, panic, lust, care and play.  A mild form of rage is frustration, and care refers to maternal love and caretaking.  In order to prevent the negative emotions you need to provide for the positive ones.  

The biggest problem is Reba doesn't really play with me.  She LOVES to work the sheep, she enjoys playing chase with Bella, and will play fetch with a select few balls - outside.  She also likes going for walks (off leash) and runs (on leash) with me, but with the daylight issue, those are limited right now.  I've thought about attempting to teach her tricks, but when I do things she often looks at me like I'm crazy.  She's food motivated but not strongly enough to do anything for it.  Tessa, in contrast, will bark (on command), give me ten, sit pretty, and play hide and seek with me and her toys.  She also loves to play tug and will wrestle.  

When I've tried to get Reba to interact by being silly with her she gets excited, whines, but won't really engage.  If I go forward and rub her sides, and then retreat she doesn't follow.  When I take a toy and move it around, she usually won't do anything.  Last night, with a box full of dog toys, I looked over to see my dog chewing on a piece of wood.  Is this because of her upbringing?  Or just part of her temperament?  Most days, Reba seems happiest sitting with her head on my lap - she's always on the floor - I've yet to see her attempt the furniture to come up to me.  But does this meet her needs?  If you asked any of the old school dog guys they'd say she's dominating me by putting her head in my lap wanting pets.  Something I've thought about a lot is how Temple questioned whether or not dogs need to dominated, or if they just need good "parents" who provided clear, consistent guidelines?

Something to think about anyhow.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Crazy Saturday

Today was wonderfully mild and sunny. And I spent it in town. Sigh. I had the puppy vet appointment at 9. This was pretty positive. The pups have had their final booster, rabies, and Kennel Cough shots. I never put my dogs in boarding places, but because we do go places and I want to take the pups to the dog park I like to make sure they're covered.

The best news was Ryder's nut is starting to drop. The vet thinks he should be normal, just needs a bit more time for it to come all the way down. Which means I won't be neutering him come spring. Tonight, I'll do a few checks to make sure no one has any reactions to vaccinations (rabies especially), and then we're good to go!

After I ran the pups home, I turned around and went back to town. My truck had puked up some tranny fluid last weekend during the cold snap and I wanted to get it checked out. It turns out it needed a new vent and valve. So I basically spent my day sitting at the dealership. I pulled out of the dealership at 2:30. The positive was that I took the time to finish reading Temple Grandin's book.

The book was fabulous and I'm so happy I read it. It gave me a different perspective on things and really made me think about the animals on my place. More to come on that later.

Came home, only to find Ryder and Luke had had a colossal war. As best as I can tell, Luke got his tooth stuck in Ryder's collar - creating a major issue. I'll be pulling collars off from now on unless I'm working with them. Ironically enough, I had just tightened them for the vet visit. Normally they're loose enough to pull off if they get stuck on something. (Luke had a chunk outta his mouth and they were both bloody, otherwise seem okay.)

Each pup got a leash walking session, and a recall to name session. And the dark arrived, cutting short any of my fun activities.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


At 7:10 this morning, I put Reba's jacket on and kicked her outside for her morning constitutional.  At 7:15 I stood in the kitchen and looked out the window, into the yard.  At 7:16 I darn near wet my pants.  Why?  Because TWO BLOODY PUPPIES ran up to Reba and greeted her good morning.  Uh - you know, the puppies that should have been safely locked into their run...

Aghast, I skipped breakfast, shimmied into my Carharts, grabbed a flashlight (Oh days of light, I miss you!) and went to find out what the *insert bad word here* was going on.  Freaking out, I kept using self talk - telling myself Bella (Guardian) wouldn't have let anything bad happen to the darlings.  But visions of coyote fodder ran rampant through my head.  

Yes, last night, as I put the puppies up I only SHUT the gate.  I missed doing the latch.  And when the pups banged into it, it swung open, releasing them into the wild.  Who knows how long they were loose.  They are all safely accounted for.  But it scared the bejeebers outta me. 

Let's just say I'm going to be a wee bit more anal with my evening routing now...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do You Love Animals?

As a special education teacher, I'm familiar with Temple Grandin for her ability to advocate and educate about autism.  As someone raised in an agricultural world, I respect her for her accomplishments.  She's well educated and innovative. 

The other day, in Chapters, I stumbled across her new book, "Animals Make Us Human", so I grabbed it up.  I haven't had much time to read recently, but tonight I sat down to read.  I'm on page 17 of her book and absolutely hooked.  I want to read the entire book tonight.  (I won't - work beckons in the morning.)  If you're an animal lover, perhaps this book might be a worthwhile read for you...  

I found this YouTube link with Temple talking about the book.


There's a lot to dislike and feel crusty about during this time of year.  The lack of daylight, the frigid temperatures, the snow, ridiculous drivers who each year seem to forget about winter driving, and inside recesses... (You think your animals get stir crazy??)  

But rather than dwell on the negative I prefer to move to a more happy state of mind.  One that slides into a state of cold induced delusions...

Here are some things I love, things that make me happy, and feel good:

Fresh, fluffy snow on a warm winters night.  
The feeling of skiing down a mountain's edge.
Sitting in my Carharts, with dogs running amok around me.
Walking into a warm barn full of the smells of shavings and horse.
4x4 - enough said...
Baking, when the window is frosted, and the kitchen smells so good.
The delicious, luscious feel of supple leather.
Silk - enough said...
Chocolate, that melts in your mouth, and causes you to drool.
Hot Apple Cider
Hot Chocolate with marshmallows.
Snowball fights, forts and angels.  
The joy on a child's face when it snows.
Hearing children's laughter during a good frolic in the snow.
Sledding down a hill, with a full moon, and a warm winter night.
Real fires in the fireplace.
Seeing Reba in her winter clothes.  
My pink Uggs.
Funky mittens and toques.
Sleigh rides.
Snow days (days it snows so much the buses don't run).
Being huge or fluffy, and blaming it on the multiple layers...
Putting my cold feet on someone else's legs...
Or, surprising someone with cold hands under their shirt, on their back...
How fluffy and puffed up the animals look with their winter coats.
How long it takes the dogs to find their balls...
The sound of snow crunching underneath my boots.
Northern lights.
Hanging in the chalet of a ski town...
Hoar frost on fences and trees.
Static toque (hat) head - how can you not laugh?
My bed, warm blankets, and a cold nose...
Cuddles with the furry creatures.
How funny it is to watch everyone walk in their winter gear...
The exercise regime of feeding the critters each day.
My work roughened "man" hands.
Going to the spa to treat my "man" hands.
Bag Balm - for feet and hands.
Good books and the excuse to stay in and read them.

See?  It's all a state of mind.  Winter is here, and will be here for the next 4 or so months.... gulp....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


It blows me away how much, and how quickly my little puppies are changing!  When they were born, and I was completing my research and reading on development, as best as I could figure out by the time they were eight weeks, their personalities would be fairly set.  But this doesn't seem to be the case.  Or maybe I'm just crazy...   *a distinct possibility*

When they were younger, Luke seemed to not care about what the human was doing, now he's the pup that's glued to your side (as much as a pup ever is).  He happily follows me around the yard, plays tug with the rubber ring and fetch with the baby ball.  He's adorable!  I just want to snuggle him and love him forever!  I'm not normally a male dog desire'r, but Luke tempts me, tempts me bad.  I'd love for him to find a family who will love him as much as I do and give him a work/pet home.

Ryder, who was my shy, hyper little fellow has turned into an active pup who will also stick around you.  He's not interested in playing with you but loves to play stalk and chase with the other dogs.  He's the pup that's brimming with enthusiasm and joy when you sit down for pet's time.  Gotta watch that tongue though...  At the last vet check he still had one "nut" up.  I'll keep an eye on it, and if it doesn't drop, he'll get neutered in the spring - once it's dry and warm out.  (Vet says if you leave it they have a higher chance of getting testicular cancer - and I don't want him to have the risk.)

Diva, who used to run to greet me when I came out is turning into a bit of a stinker.  She's number one on the list for some one on one work.  The little fart will come into the run for her treat.  Once she has her treat she beats a hasty retreat out of the run.  Then you have to catch the rotter.  But, she also loves her pet's and will happily settle onto your lap for some one on one snuggle time.  (Yes, I'm cuddling my working dogs - deal with it.)  Diva's the watcher when the others are playing.  I'm going to try and get her to engage in some one on one play with me.  I think Diva and Grace are going to be early developer when it come to desire to work stock.  They're going to be ridiculously keen.  I'll need to keep a close eye on them.  And keep them away from stock for as long as I can.

Grace, my crooked tail beauty, is the one the I think may turn into the best worker of all.  She's pretty serious - and always has been - and very interested in her games of stalk and chase, but also keen to play fetch with the ball.  Mind you, the whole "fetch" isn't quite mastered, let's say it's a game of chase and drop.  And is she ever FAST!  That little pup can RUN!  To think she was the runt...  Of all the pups, Grace seems to have held her personality the most consistently.  She loves lap time, and will happily curl up for a nap.  

All the babies know their names.  And come pretty good.  We've been going for walks around the fields and they've been listening much better than Tessa ever did when she was that age.  (I didn't have Reba at this age.)

They get their final set of vaccinations on Saturday.  The next big push is to start one on one training.  Hopefully the weather breaks, making it easier for me to get out and work with them.  The plan is to work on developing a consistent recall (name), and get a lie down started.  I believe the work I do now is the foundation for later, and I really don't want to screw it up.  The babies' manners aren't too bad - now I just need to build on it.

And once I have a recall and lie down - look out dog park - here we come for some socialization fun!

Stinking Cold Outside!

It's stinking cold outside right now!  We're around the -33 C mark ( - 27 ish F).  When I bought my truck last March, I bought it because I liked how the GM product handled and liked the anecdotal I'd heard from people who did a lot of driving and hauling.  

I must admit, with winter in full swing I've fallen in love again.  I LOVE my truck.  I don't love not having the heated seats (I was trying to be cheap.), but I really, truly do love everything else about it.  It's great!  With the dump of snow and country roads, I've discovered it handles MUCH better than the Dodge.  I don't shimmy on the ice.  And the snow piles don't seem to grab a hold quite as strongly.  I live between two relatively large hills.  I had to stop for a school bus on the hill!  And my truck nicely shifted, and pulled me straight up the hill.  No nasty tail swinging.  

The other thing that took me right over the edge...


Even when it's not plugged in.  (I have a diesel - when it's this cold it really should be plugged in.)  My car (the evil Jetta TDI) was a temperamental witch and wouldn't start even when it wasn't that cold.  I was soooo impressed.  (I've since found the cord and am plugging it in - gotta show it some love.)

I need to adjust the idle (has a high idle feature for winter), and put on it's bra (helps keep heat in the engine), but other than that - I'm SOLD.  

If I may say, I love my truck.  I am fully, completely infatuated with it.  I've decided I'm naming it "Baby".  Because it's such a doll of a vehicle.  

I am now a Chevy girl!  I will tacky up my truck with the symbol.  I will proudly proclaim to anyone who asks - "Chevy ROCKS!"

I *heart* my truck...

Monday, November 22, 2010


Mine!  All mine!!  On Sunday I popped over to a local tack shop that's going out of business.  I had tried the saddle in the spring and then Whiskey hurt her stifle.  And with no horse to ride, no new saddle was purchased.  Then I heard about the going out of business sale.  And stopped in.  And my love affair was renewed!  And with a ticket price at half price, I jumped on it.

I am the proud new owner of a Bates Australia Caprilli Close Contact.  And I love it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


While winter has waited, it's now knocking on the door.  A brisk wind and snow flurries are entering the neighborhood.  This coupled with the darker, shorter days, and my favorite time of year (report cards) means a rather dreary feeling.  

Today I rushed home after work to try and catch some daylight.  The plan was to get the animals hunkered down and ready for the nasty weather headed our way.  The horses and sheep got extra hay.  Bella gets extra dog food and the pups got a fresh bed of straw, as well as a dish of food in their run for the night.  I don't normally feed them at night - they're on a three times a day schedule - but with with colder weather I wanted them to have access to the extra calories they'd need to stay warm with.  I also used square straw bales to build a "porch" onto their house.  This should give them some extra protection from the wind and weather and slow down any drafts that may enter their house.  

Meanwhile, Reba has moved into the house semi-permanently.  She has a little coat she wears while outside but just doesn't have enough hair to survive right now.  Poor little monster is bald.  I'm giving her Cod Liver Oil on her food to give her an extra boost.  Here's hoping she gets her hair back soon!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Such The Disappointment

While I was at FarmFair, I went through the trade show.  I had been wanting to get a pair of Muck Boots.  The best description I can think of is warm rubber boots made out a neoprene material.  I discovered this version called Bogs.  When I tried them on they only had the full length version and being, uhm, let's just say larger calf challenged, that length didn't work.  What I really wanted was a Roper height.  You could say I was excited when I found out the store carried them - they just didn't have any at FarmFair.  So I went and bought a pair!  Because I had tried on a size nine at the trade show, and they fit, I didn't try on the size nine at the store.  Instead I trotted down to the till and brought them home.  

Ants in my pants, I couldn't wait to get them on and go for a good walk with the dogs.  You can imagine the look on my face when I pulled them on and they didn't fit!  Staring at them in consternation I clenched my fists, gritted my teeth and put them back in the box, to be returned to the store.  I'm really hoping the next size isn't too big because I'm quite infatuated with these boots.  They're warm, waterproof, breathable and PRETTY!  This is a girl who grew up wearing her brother's hand-me-down black rubber boots.  Anytime I can find girly farm wear I'm in!

Aren't they lovely?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Roxy Home for Holidays

Roxy has been home for a month and a bit taking a training break.  She's got really, really dry skin.  I even did a quick louse search but could come up with no evidence.  If anyone knows of something to help, I'd appreciate the information.  I'll keep an eye on it and ask the vet if she wants to see it.  Sam (the vet) has just come back from a holiday and is playing catch up - so we'll wait until it's not so hectic over there.

It's funny how little she's changed.  She looks pretty much the same as when she was a yearling.  Very pony-esque!  Cute, though.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tribute to Canadian Soldiers

Tonight I went with my mother to see John McDermott sing at a local arts stage.  His performance and band was fabulous.  He made a point to sing songs about soldiers and remembrance.  This one in particular gave me chills.  And I think it expresses the thoughts that are just too jumbled in my head right now for me to write eloquently and coherently.  I've pulled what appears to be homemade video of John singing the song off YouTube posted by 1203park.  My search didn't turn up any videos professionally produced.

For Those Who Did... And Do

Today is an important holiday.  It's the day where Canadians stop and take time to remember those who have fought, and fallen.  It's day where we show we care, about people both present and past who have served our country.  It's a day where we demonstrate our respect.

Today is Remembrance Day.  

Let us remember those who fought in all the wars.  Let us remember those who are still fighting.  

Thank you to those who did, those who do, and those who will do.  Thank you for standing up for our country and putting it all on the line.  

I remember.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Old School

This week I had popped over to the trade show at FarmFair where one of my friends from the 4-H days had a booth.  (She makes the most delicious chaps and leather goods.) We were talking about Scratches and she said it's the easiest thing to care for.  All you do is slap on some Vaseline and off you go.  She swears by it.  

This got me to thinking about other old school or homemade remedies for horse issues.  I've used the classic Epsom Salt and Bran poultice for abscesses which works amazing.  (That one came my way from my amazing vet.)  All you do is mix up 1 part Epsom Salt to 2 parts bran, add hot water, and place in a diaper.  Vet wrap the diaper around the hoof (taking care not to go up too high and cut off circulation).  I add duct tape to reinforce it and change the poultice daily.  It's now become my go to treatment plan.

I know many people swear by feeding bran mash on the coldest days helps prevent colic.  The thought being the horses are getting more moisture in their guts than they otherwise would.  

And of course there's the tried and true vet treatments.  Many of the best things you can get from the clinic are things they've made up themselves.  One vet has what we call Magic Lotion.  Because it really seems to be magic when used on cuts.

But it got me to wondering - what other things do people do that are tried and true?  What do you do?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Devil

The devil reared its head today!  Yesterday, Tessa was a darling.  She worked like a charm.  And I stood back and let her.  Today, she's was a rotten apple.  Heh - it would helped if I hadn't bunged up the pattern.  Heh - perhaps next time I'll read the pattern before the run...  Oh well, live and learn.  But she also needed to listen.  As in, do what I asked.  Sigh.  

This was her final trial.  Now she's back to being a pet.  My beloved (and sometimes not so beloved) companion.  

Tessa's been down the road with me.  Together we roped and rodeo'd our way around Alberta.  She made more miles as a pup riding shot gun in my truck with a horse hitched behind, than many people do.  She's moved with me.  Survived boyfriend's with me.  Sat on my lap, and held my hand while I was immobilized with chemotherapy.  Absorbed tears in her curly fur as I fought through life's pitfalls.  And made me laugh and smile with her antics and verve for life.  We've run many miles together - both on foot and horseback.  She's made me scream with frustration as she willfully made her way in my world.  And she's made me cry with fear as I held her hand while she survived broken legs, teeth and now old age.  

My girl is getting old.  And she's not doing it well.  As I write this, she's laying in the corner, snoring with her tongue stuck out.  And when she gets up I'll check to see if she's leaked on the floor.  

As much as she frustrates me at times, and as much as I know there are better dogs out there, I love the little monster.  She's been my companion for 10 years now.  She's challenged me and definitely made me better for it.  I've learned a lot from her.  She's earned her place in my home and my heart.  And now, it's my job to care for her through what life may through at us.  Keep her safe and healthy for as long as I can.  

Here's to Tessa - my little devil dog.

To The Point

I had published a post called Affected.  In my mind, the purpose of the post was to share what I was feeling and to make information available.  Did I fall down with my ability to communicate what I wanted?  I think so.  The bottom line is I am now the owner of a dog affected with CEA.  Did this hurt?  Of course.  And I wanted others to have the information that I now had so that they could learn.  From my mistakes and discoveries.  It was not intended to put people down, place blame or pass the buck.  And I apologize if that's how it was perceived.

I pulled the post because I don't like the battle ground it's become.  That's not why I blog.  For the most part I write because I enjoy it.  I want to tell stories, share thoughts and part of my life.  I don't write a blog to be famous, controversial or to promote myself.  That's not what I'm interested in.  

I think, I want, for the collective whole of the Border Collie world to accept that CEA is out there and that not all people test.  And we (as a collective) need to push for better regulations.  I say this because it is important.  Why should someone new to the sport have to talk to the "right" people to learn about it?  I want it to be easy for people to get information.  I will help and share with anyone who asks it of me - to the best of my limitations.  And I always forward people to breeders or handlers that are more skilled than I when I can't help them.  I love the dogs.  I really truly do.  And I want others to be able to easily access and learn about them.  

That was my point.  I wanted anyone who had a dog with any of that breeding to be able to go, "Oh, my dog has those bloodlines too!  Maybe I should get them tested."  That's why I put the pedigree information out there.  Not to be negative.  To share what I've learned.  I put the OptiGen information out there for the same reason.  And I don't believe just because a dog has bad genetic results that that dog is "bad" or should be destroyed.  I don't believe the dog's in Reba's pedigree are bad.  They've proven themselves in their discipline.  I do believe we need to do a better job.  My informal poll today found about half (give or take a few) test.  Half do not.  

To be brutally honest.  I'm a sponge.  I absorb information like crazy.  And when I spoke of going to look at Reba at a trial no one told me that I should ask for testing.  As someone new to the trial and herding world, wouldn't that have been the kind thing to do?  I take responsibility for the choices I've made and I want others to learn from the mistakes I've made.  But the rest of the herding world needs to step up to the plate and advocate for change so that ALL dogs are tested.  So that just like ISDS, it becomes a registry matter.  That's the point I was trying to make.  

The bottom line is I learned a painful lesson.  I didn't want it to be wasted.  I wanted others to learn from my experience so that with luck and care, it doesn't happen again.  Would you want this to happen again?  So why not educate and advocate for change?

And for the record - when I'm quoting hard and fast facts - expect to see a reference.  I'm way too academic not to.  Everything else is an opinion or something I've picked up over time.  Be it right, or wrong.  

Got it?

Monday, November 8, 2010


I am a strong believer in education.  I believe that as we learn - through mistakes, through science, through books, through people, we ourselves become better.  More.  It appears based on my last post that some may believe I'm whining.  Am I upset?  Of course.  I have an emotional attachment not only to the dog, but the people around the dog.  

Today, I go to FarmFair to compete at a large trial.  Today, I go to sit with people I call friends.  People who just happen to own some of these wonderful, talented dogs on Reba's pedigree.  Today, I will sit down and tell them about Reba.  Will this be fun?  Easy? Not particularly.  Today, I will gently, politely and nicely suggest that perhaps testing some of their dogs would be a good idea.

These are people I care about.  They have value to me.  They are NOT bad people.  They have GREAT dogs.  But I need for us (a big, huge collective) to get better at making breeding choices.  Testing dogs DNA is somewhat new out here.  It's something I wasn't even aware was possible up until about a year ago.  For this reason, we must get on the program.  As a collective.  

Don't get me wrong.  Reba is still a spectacularly talented and well bred dog.  And so are her parents, and grandparents.  Perhaps that's why I was so surprised to find out she is Affected.  

If I hadn't been down with the flu, I would have been on the phone.  As it is, I will see at least three owners of dogs on her up close pedigree today.  And I will burst their bubble of naivety, just as mine disintegrated.  And no, I will derive no pleasure out of doing this.  Reality is, that keeping my mouth shut and head down would be the easy road.  But I've never been one for doing things the easy way.  This way, while hard, in my opinion is the right way.  Let everyone learn from this is all I ask.  It's become clear that no dog is "safe". And the word needs to get out.

Friday, November 5, 2010

You Know When...

For the past couple of days I've had an "off" tummy.  Not having time to be sick I just bore down and continued about my merry way.  This morning I woke up (6:15 am), stood up, and lay right back down.  It appeared nausea had joined the party.  This was not good.  With studied carefulness, I grabbed Ginger Ale and made my way to work.

I know, normal people do not go into work when they're sick.  But I work with little ankle biters and in truth it's more work to not work than work.  (Got it?)  So I heaved my arse into the truck and gagged my way to work.  Once there, I popped into the boss's office to head's up them.  Meaning if they see me bolting down the hallway please make their way to my classroom and ensure my charges are still living and intact.  

By the time recess rolled around I carefully walked myself back to the office and informed them I was not going to make the day.  (Last day before a holiday too!)  Sitting in my classroom, listening to chaos slowly invading my world, I waited and watched the clock for my replacement to arrive.   With 30 minutes left, I gingerly pulled the garbage can between my legs.  Ever so carefully without moving any muscles - terrified to speak to the bee bopping hive of activity my lack of attention was creating - I sat.  I sat so still because I knew if I moved even an eyelash the wrong way bad thing were going to happen very, very quickly.  Taking deep breathes, and using iron control and self talk, I willed the gorge threatening to jump out of my throat to go back to it's home in my tummy.

I knew if the bad thing happened I'd start crying.  And I was pretty sure once the bad thing started to happen it wasn't going to stop any time soon.  And I still needed to drive myself 30 minutes home.  I also knew my little darling would not deal well with their rock (me) falling apart.  I had already laid a contingency plan telling the kids that if I quickly left or bad things happened my daily helper need to bust a move for help.  It would have been great if I could have opened my mouth, without bad things happening, to put that plan in place.

As it were, for the first time ever in my career I had to leave work early.  As it were, I made it home by the skin of my teeth before very nasty things happened.  

Hopefully this passes (heh) fast, and I'll still make Mayerthorpe Saturday.  It's looking like a faint hope at this point in time.

Selling in a Buyer's Market

Having recently been a seller and someone who keeps a fairly close eye on the horse market, I feel I have a pretty good idea of reality.   With Izzy nicely rehomed, I had been thinking about my horse situation.  

I have a beautiful, athletic, smart 11 year old mare with something major wrong with her stifle and the very real possibility that she may never be sound again.  Once she foals in May, I will be doing some hard thinking about keeping her.  I neither need nor want a broodmare.  She'd be amazing in a therapy program as long as there was no riding her involved.  Her ground manners are impeccable.  I have Roxy, who while home for a training break generally lives at Jason's barn.  She's turning into a legitimate contender and for that reason I'm content to leave her be.

But I also at times crave the feel of riding a horse.  That was my biggest motivation to resume taking lessons.  I also have nothing at home I can just hop on and ride.  So when word reached my ears about a family I know, who was looking to sell one of their steady geldings before winter, I perked up.  Could be interesting.

And was it ever!  It never fails to amaze me in this horse market when people who are trying to sell just don't seem to care.  After the third or fourth time I was asked to reschedule viewing the horse (with very little notice I might add), I was kind of irked.  It did not appear they were too interested in selling.  So I decided I didn't need or want the horse nearly bad enough.

However, in telling my friend Jen, she thought we should go check it out.  She might be interested.  Gritting my teeth, I made arrangements and we went out and tried the horse.  I use the term tried lightly.  It was hands down the strangest viewing I'd ever attended - and I've bought and sold a fair amount of horses in my time.  We wandered out into the pasture where the horse was eating his cubes.  The husband of the owner (because true to form the owner backed out last minute) stood beside the horse.  We stood there for a bit - just standing around the horse - when I asked Jen if she'd like to see the horse under saddle.  At which point she looks at the husband and asks "Can we saddle him up?"  With overstated nonchalance, the man ambles off to get a halter, catches the horse, saddles and bridles him.  

Jen is a brand new mom via C-section so I hopped on the horse.  I did think it a bit odd he never even offered to ride the horse first but chose to ignore it.  Next I put the horse through some rudiment gaits - in total we're talking about a 5-10 minute ride with quickly fading daylight and horse unfriendly terrain.  As I'm dismounting I asked when the horse had last been rode.  Flabbergasted at the answer (a year), I gave a wide eyed look at Jen.  The horse had been good.  But simple reality says not all good horses have good days - especially with a year off.  And you'd toss someone who's never rode the creature on their back?  Gutsy move.

The other thing that left me slightly startled was the condition of the horse.  He was a bit light weight wise, had extremely bad scratches, could clearly use a deworming, and needed his feet done.  Um, are you trying to NOT sell this horse?

Jen, however thought she'd offer something on the horse.  When she called today the owner was incredibly rude to her.  Leaving both Jen and I with a sour taste in our mouths.  I was not impressed and now have no interest in buying the animal simply on principle.  The truly funny part, is I had decided if Jen decided the horse didn't fit with the program I was going to offer on it.  Reality says there's a lot of nice, plain jane horses out there.  And reality says there's horse owner who'd be happy with my disposable income and caring home.  But this one, this one just didn't seem to care - and that's their loss.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I must admit to having a secret or two (or three or four). *cough* And this one has been burning up inside of me.  The urge to spill all has almost, almost taken me over the edge - but I resisted.  Until now.

Last Friday, I once again began taking lessons.  And wonders of all wonders, the lesson horse did not aggravate me.  In fact I enjoyed it.  Well, I enjoyed it until my poor calves began to spasm in agony.  At that point I wasn't thinking this was a great idea.  Did I mention my instructor forgot I hadn't been on a horse in a very long time?  Every Friday, I head to a local jumping stable Gorsline, with my friend Jen as the instructor.  I like the challenge of the jumping world because it's unfamiliar for me.  I also like the sweat factor in developing a greater degree of fitness.  I figure it's a way I can enjoy riding and still stretch my brain and body.  

Tonight, I went with Jen to take a gelding on a test drive.  I had been on the fence over purchasing this horse for a while now.  Simple fact - I don't NEED another horse.  However, want, want can get me into trouble every now and then.  

I had had a perfect brain wave - perhaps Jen would be interested.  And after viewing the horse she is.  So now, I sit back and wait and watch to see what happens.

Ahhhhhh - relief.  The secret's out.  

Or is it?