Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dog Daze

Yesterday I pulled up my big girl panties and worked all 3 of my dogs on sheep.  And I surprised myself.  I discovered that Diva - who has been on sheep holiday - has improved.  Who knew not working her would make her better?  Calvin, that's who.  She'll go back on holiday and I'll pop her back on sheep in December to see where we're at.  Ryder was awesome.  He's starting to figure out his commands.  For the direction commands he's about 50%, walk up and lie down he's at 100%, and he's walking up further and further away from me in a drive situation.  Tessa got a tune up.  We worked on rounding out our flanks and being more crisp to take the commands.

Today, I picked up Lynne and Zoey and drove to Gibbons to walk with Stacy and Luke.  It was really cool to see the four pups together.  After our trek along the river valley, we played on the agility equipment.  Well, I didn't but Lynne and Stacy did.  Luke had to show off his skills.   Here's some video of him working.  It's not edited - just straight off the camera but you'll get the gist.

To help with winter boredom, I found and bought some weave poles that I'm going to set up in my basement.  I think it'll be good to play with when we can't do much outside due to arctic and snow conditions.  Next, I plan to find a couple jumps to add to the collection.  This will be something I can do with the three dogs when we're housebound.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Last night I lay in bed and pondered how I got to where I'm at.  I was thinking about Ryder.  He'd been sick and was showing signs of improvement.  Because he'd been sick I had brought all the dogs into my room, to make it easier to monitor him and take him out if needed.  (And boy, have we had a few sleepless nights!)  I'm not sure if it was something he ate or a bug, but a trip into the vet and some meds have made a world of difference.

I was laying there thinking about what a nice fellow he is.  And I was wondering why I'm not chomping at the bit to work him.  He really is astoundingly easy to train.  I was wondering why with FarmFair around the corner I'm not eagerly anticipating watching the dogs go.  There was a point in time when I would have lived and died by these events.  So what's changed?  With Ryder, I know that I don't have the confidence to train him.  I don't trust myself to make the right decisions.  I don't trust myself to do the caliber of job he deserves.  I get locked into paranoia over what the correct next step is in his training progression.

I lay there wondering what has caused this.  I certainly wasn't always like this.  I used to overflow with confidence and an unshakeable belief in my abilities.  Take the horses for example.  I used to happily hop on anything.  Now, even though I know I have the ability to handle what they may toss my way I'm scared.  Roxy- case in point.  She didn't do anything I wasn't able to ride.  Not once was I in danger of falling off.  But I was terrified to get on her.  It really doesn't make sense.  I know I haven't been as confident after my accident.  But that was over 10 years ago!  I've rode lot's since then.

So the question of the day is - if you know your confidence has fled, how do you go about getting it back?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I've been going out to the barn to longe Whiskey.  Call me paranoid but I want to make sure she's getting enough movement.  To be honest, I'd been contemplating giving her away to a good home.  And I can't!  I just love her so much.  She cracks me up.  This mare loves to work.  When we stand in the alley leading into the arena, she gets more alert.  I'll snap the longe line on, lead her in, and watch her move into a long trot.  She'll snort and blow, with a head toss for variety.  A cluck brings on a ground eating canter.  I'll have to get some video of her doing this.  It's so clear in her expression and behavior how much she loves having a job.  I feel bad she's not sound enough to get one.

All I know for sure is she's incredibly enjoyable to be around.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weaning Time

It's that time of year.  Where in the natural cycle of things the babies leave the nest.  Figuratively speaking.  Yesterday afternoon, I brought the horses in, tossed down some hay, caught Whiskey and loaded her up to take her away for a week or so.  I thought things would be easier if they couldn't hear each other.  My hope was that this would be the safest way to do things.  After consulting with Rhonda and GB - very experienced breeders - the decision was made to take Whiskey to their stable.  This would leave Guinness in a familiar environment with his buddy Bacardi.  

As I drove off, Whiskey started to call and Bacardi answered but no one started to run around.  At the stable Whiskey was a bit bug eyed but settled into her stall fairly easily.  When I checked on Guinness and Bacardi they were both contentedly eating their hay.  


"Where's Whiskey?"

"I guess I'm OK..."

"Where's my baby?"

"I guess I'll survive..."
I went and longed Whiskey today, just to make sure she was getting enough movement.  Her poor udder is full to the top.  Youch!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What To Do??

Sam (my vet) came out today.  Whiskey has been moving a lot better so I wanted to get her assessed to see if she would be able to make a riding come back.  Sam watched her move.  Then we did the flex test.  It was ugly.  While "off" normally, when the flex test was done she was clearly lame.  Because I wanted to know and asked Sam thought she'd have a less than 50% chance in making a riding horse for me.  I could hop on her and take her for jaunts around the field but she'd never be able to do anything beyond that.

So now what?  I have this lovely mare who is broodmare sound.  But I don't really need a broodmare.  I don't really need (or want) a bunch of foals.  Does she become a field ornament?  It seems a shame as Guinness is quite a nice little foal.  (Even Sam commented on him!)  What's the right thing to do?  For me, and her?

I guess there's some thinking in my future...

Friday, October 21, 2011

There's Always Plan B

With the purchase of my new acreage, which was OVER my limit, it's making me have to shuffle a few plans and dreams.  This okay.  I know things will still happen in due time.  Because this place was 15 000 over my preferred price, I'm having to use some of my horse fund to purchase things and get my new home up and running.  This means no new cutting horse this winter.  I've had Bacardi listed in a variety of places and the only nibbles I've had have been inappropriate.  (Just because a horse has training does NOT make them a children's horse.)  Last night I called a man I used to know back in the roping days.  In January, Bacardi will head to Camrose for two months of professional rope horse training.  I respect the man who I've talked to.  This family has won multiple team roping championships.  Many of these on horses they've trained.  We share a similar philosophy when it comes to how we train and ride.  This is important. 

They'll work with Bacardi in the box, and evaluate whether she'll make a head horse (my first preference as this is what I used to do) or heel horse.  And then they'll put miles on her.  She'll get roped off and started right.  And this will leave me with a horse to putter around on.  A horse I can go rope off, turn back on or just ride.  With this added money and time put into her I probably won't put her up for sale again.  That being said, I have not let go of my cutting horse dream.  I will continue to whittle money away and I'll continue to have a relationship with Jason and Chrissy.  I just recognize things will be moving a little slower for me. 

Here's to Plan B!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Done Deal

Today I closed the deal.  Today I took a gigantic step.  Today, I closed conditions on my own little property.  It's 3 acres which is smaller than my dream farm, but it's a step in the right direction.  It has a little barn, is fenced with a waterer.  It has a lovely little yard for me to putter about, and a heated garage that I'm going to put a dog door into.  I'm then going to fence the back yard and the dogs can then go into the garage (a sectioned off space) or out in the yard while I'm away at work.  It breaks my heart to leave Bella behind but I'm convinced she wouldn't be happy - nor my neighbors with all her barking.  We'll see, I'm supposed to be in an animal friendly area.  Maybe come spring Bella and a couple of sheep will also move in with me.  This winter it'll be the Borders and me.  Come spring the horses will make the move.  The sheep are up in the air.  I'll have to feel things out.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Congo Connection

Here's a very good informative video about Congo, Coltan, and the reality of that world.  This was made in 2009.  This is still an issue today.

Thinking Through a Different View Finder

This post is not appropriate for children to read.

The last two days have been spent at a conference in Edmonton.  I will openly admit to being very, very cranky over the thought of loosing my weekend to spend it sitting in the city.  I had an immediate attitude adjustment when Dr. Samantha Nutt walked up to the podium.  She's 41.  She's also the lady who started War Child.  This woman has spent the bulk of her adult years in places where Canadian civilians are not supposed to go.  I sat there with tears welling up in my eyes as she told story after story of things so horrific I can't even imagine them.

Imagine being the mother with no education, can't even print her name, standing in line for medical services with a dead infant in her arms, waiting for someone to help her.  Imagine being the 12 year old girl repeated raped by boys from her village.  When she tries to run away the soles of her feet are cut off.  Imagine a place where you can purchase an automatic gun for $20 but people are dying of starvation.  Imagine a place where this little mineral called Coltan fuels wars.  Did you know that you and I use Coltan every day?  We do.  We are the buyers of the mineral that causes turmoil.  Not the people who live in the regions where it's mined.  We are the purchasers who fuel the demand.  I plan to contact the companies whose products I buy and ask them where the Coltan that they use comes from.  As the consumer we have the power to create change and demand fair trade, demand accountability.

Education IS power.

Look at what Craig Kielburger has accomplished.  He began his journey when he was 12.  Did you know that here, in Canada, arguably one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world, over 60% of our aboriginal children who grow up on reserves will NOT finish high school?

I have been forced to view my world through a different lens.  I can't say it's not my problem.  I can't say that it's across the world so why should I care.  It's becoming abundantly clear that we truly live in a global world.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I have much to write about but have been silent.  Quite simply I have a few irons in the fire and not enough time to go around.  Next week I should have big blog coming. 

Here's a mini-update. 

Diva - is becoming more and more personable.  I really believe having her in the house and learning how to do the dominance roll thingy has been transformational for her.  She's starting to seek me out for attention and is intensely interested in play.  Something that has been slow to come for her.  Yesterday, while I was working on my university course she came up to me and put her feet in my lap.  She then leaned her body into mine while I ran my hand down her side.  When I move from room to room she is starting to follow and want to be near me.  The thing that excites me the most is when we play with the flying squirrel she's starting to tug.  She'll even chase after it (but not retrieve it).   When tugging she's starting to make little grunting and growling sounds.  I'm considering this to be growth in her development in a happy healthy dog.  When we go out in public or have company there is no snapping, barking or bad behavior.  I'm quite pleased with her right now.

Ryder - has been getting the short end of the stick.  No working sheep the poor fellow... but he's been getting some nice walks and play time.  He continues to demonstrate an outstanding personality.  He's learning quite quickly about things.  Overall I'm very happy with him.  Mom and I plan to make arrangements to start bringing him to school for short bursts and begin the process of getting him ready to do some therapy work.  (All supervised and slow transition.)  I think he'll be tremendous dog in that manner.

Tessa - has been getting stiffer with the cold weather looming.  I'm planning on taking her for some chiropractic to see if it helps her movement.  She's been pretty happy and in touch with reality.  We had two days of confusion, which for us is pretty minor.  She continues to love to play but is a super grump around the young dogs.  I like to say she's the fun police.  I bought her a new dog bed that she's been spending a lot of time in.  So much that when I'm working I move it into the office for her to use.  She's had a couple of accidents but for the most part we're maintaining the improved quality of life from the summer.

Whiskey - is looking fairly sound.  I'm contemplating hopping on her and seeing what she'll do.  It'll be weaning time soon.  The other night Oscar went for a ride on her.  She only put her ears back when he started kneeding her...

Guinness - is leading consistently and demonstrates he has his mom's stellar personality.  I love this little horse.  He's been a treasure to work with. 

Bacardi - is in limbo.   She's getting fat - which is nice as she came to me quite lean.  I've contacted one of my friends and she may go into a riding program for the winter as a lesson horse.  We'll see.  More needs to be decided there.  All I know is there is no time to ride.  It's been a couple of months since I've rode and I miss it.  If she doesn't go to the barn, I'll be doing some bareback jaunts this winter.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Today is Thanksgiving.  I'm very thankful for so many things.  It's become something of a tradition to take the dogs for a walk on Thanksgiving so mom and I headed to the park before the hoards of people descend on our house.  Tessa is still a bit off so we kept the walk on the shorter side.

Murphy's Law

What is it with animals that they can't get sick during normal vet working hours?  Why do they have to wait until the clinic closes for the holiday weekend?  I hate calling the vet after hours but that is what I did yesterday.

Saturday night Tessa begged and pleaded to be let out more than once.  Sunday my mom and I took the three Borders for a walk in the local grazing reserve.  It was there that I realized my little Tessa was not feeling so good.  The poor girl squatted, and squatted.  Watching what was coming out of her I knew she needed some intervention.  I wasn't willing to let it ride out for another two days so I called Sam.  She's such a great person.  She went to the clinic and put some meds in the mailbox for me to pick them up.  We started Tessa on PeptoBismal and some kind of antibiotic.  (Huge honking horse sized pills!)

Throughout the day I kept my eye on Tessa.  She mostly slept.  And yes when she went outside I ruthlessly watched her "stool".  She's seems to be a bit better but still isn't her normal self yet.  If she's still having problems she'll go into the vet on Tuesday for a check up.

Lucky girl gets a bath today before company arrives to remove the "trailers" off her hind end...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bless You Bella!

Last night Bella was an unsung hero.  Last night, while we slept happily in our beds, Bella scared off some would be thieves!  They grabbed my dad's registration and insurance, and the compartments of my truck were open, but nothing was taken.  At around 4 in the morning, Bella had a barking race around the house.  In my sleep I grumped about her disturbing me.

Let's just say it'll be a long time coming before she gets in trouble for barking around the house now!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


This past weekend was fabulous.  I've had so much to chew over mentally that I'm just catching up now.  One of the "Aha" moments for me was removed from the sheep field.  It was sitting in my dearest friend's kitchen, watching out her window as Diva and Ryder raced around her yard.  She lives in the city.  I live in the country.  Where do you think my dogs had the most freedom?

Her yard was like Disneyland for them.  I don't think they stopped playing the entire time they were out there.  In fact, I think they played sooooo hard that Diva neglected to do her potty in the yard.  (BAD Diva!!!)  *I may, just may, owe her husband something nice for cleaning up after my dog....*  It made me think that maybe my dream of my own little farm needed to be reevaluated.

I've been house shopping.  Land is expensive here.  In order to find anything in my price range I'm a minimum commute of 45 minutes.  The biggest problem I've been facing is everything in my price range is junk.  Falling down, strange additions, junk!  Watching my dogs in the city made me think that perhaps I need to do some compromising.  I've decided that I will begin to look at acreages in subdivisions (generally 3 acres or smaller).  What this means is giving up on having sheep at home and the space to train dogs on site.  It also means finding Bella a new home.  Dumping Bella goes against every fibre of my being.  But can you imagine my new neighbor's joy to discover this giant white dog that roams her "territory" barking to warn off predators?  *said dryly*  I'd be very popular!

The compromise is finding Bella a new home, traveling to work sheep, but being able to keep the horses with me and having a fenced yard for my Borders.  We shall see how it all turns out...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Just Right

Have you ever had one of those moments when you wanted to freeze time?  When you thought surely life counldn't be better than this?  This weekend, I drove back down to Airdrie and I spent hours taking lessons with Calvin Jones.  While challenging, thought provoking, and sometimes frustrating I grew as a trainer.  It was as though the lightbulb went on over my head.  I loved him and wanted to absorb as much of his wisdom as I could.

The fundamentals for developing a good trial dog became clear.  I'm struggling changing my practice to meet his, but I'm determined to keep trying.  Ryder grew a stunning amount.  He walked into the weekend not knowing any flanks, and walked out with some fundamentals.  It was fun learning about Ryder's Welsh pedigree.  Many of the dogs Calvin knew and some of them he'd even worked!

I'll continue learning via email and YouTube and there just may be a trip to Wales in my future...