Tuesday, January 31, 2012


So there I am.  Busily making my supper.  Okay.  Fine!  Perhaps I was distracted multi-tasking.  I didn't mean to do it!  Does that count??  I had a chicken kiev in the oven.  You know those healthy chicken breasts stuffed with butter.  At about the time I jumped up to check it smoke started billowing out of my oven.  Yanking it out, I watched the melted butter smoke.  Tugging open the kitchen window I grabbed my cutting board and began flapping it towards the window.

It was then that it happened.

An ear piercing shriek began to wail out of my fire alarm.  Still flapping my cutting board I hustled down the hallway, tripping over dogs as I hurried towards my objective.  With a few futile arm flaps it became clear that more was needed.  I then tried to shut it off by shoving the cutting board towards the button.  With no relief from the deafening blasts, I zipped back for a chair.  Climbing up I hit the magic button and blessed silence reigned supreme.

I opened windows and then sat down and ate my meal.  It took a few minutes to figure out something else was wrong.  There wasn't a dog in sight.  Odd.  Food.  Kitchen.  No dogs underfoot.  Curious I began looking for them.  I found Tessa curled up on a couch.  Giving her a pat I saw Diva.  She was in a strange location.  Normally, she likes to sit or lay in specific areas.  This wasn't one of them.  Walking over I reached down to give her a pat.  And felt the biggest whole body tremor.  Encouraging her up on the couch, I pulled her body in close to mine.  Quiver and shake followed.  Now really wondering about Ryder I called.  I have no idea where he was hiding but he launched himself like a bullet up onto the couch.  By this point I had Diva on one side, Tessa on the other.  Ryder basically sat himself on Diva and shoved his head into licking range of my arms.  Ryder wasn't shaking but he sure was bug eyed.

Poor dogs.  Traumatized by my cooking skills.  When I left Diva she was still shaking.

Question of the hour:  best strategy to calm an upset dog without feeding the insecurity?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Horse Personality Test

Just for funnsies I decided to "test" Bacardi and Guinness.  There are two horse personality type tests I enjoy doing.  One is Parelli's Horse-Analities wheel and the other is from Hockley's Is Your Horse a Rock Star? book.  Here are the results...

According to Parelli, Bacardi is a Right Brain Extrovert. The interesting thing for me is I had instinctively done the exercises with her that are calming.  Parelli writes,
"This horse constantly needs reassurance.  he gets confused easily and then gets afraid, so he needs you to keep things simple, which will help him relax; especially since that is not something that comes easily for him around humans."
 According to Dessa Hockley, Bacardi is "The Boss".  Hockley writes,
" Do: Find them a job.  Show them respect.  Show them leadership.  Work in the box.  Build a solid foundation.  Don't: Skip training steps.  Pamper and fuss over them.  Be emotional.  Fight with them.  Play with them."  
I can see these traits in her.  Her biggest downfall is that her early training wasn't at an excellent standard.  She has gaping holes in what she knows and is able to do.  Steps were quite clearly skipped.  I've gone back to basics and have been retraining a lot of concepts and she's made major improvements.

Guinness is a bit young to get a firm idea about his personality.  For example I don't know yet if he's social or independent.  Right now he appears social but is still a baby and prone to baby things.

Parelli - my best guess is that he's a Left Brain Extrovert.

"This horse is a playful character that needs interesting things to do.  He is obsessed with learning and needs variety and new things to keep it fun." 
Hockley - my best guess is that he's a Rock Star.  (Dominant, Energetic, Curious, Friendly)  *The only personality factor I could see being different is if he'd be Submissive instead of Dominant which would make him a "The Goddess".  Here's what Hockley has to say about Rock Stars,
"Rock Stars are confident and charismatic.  They are expressive and strong minded.  They love to show you what they know but are hard to get to focus on the small details of the task.  They are found in many competitive arenas, usually at the top of their field."
For me, the fun part is seeing if this is indeed who Guinness is going to be.  The other thing I wonder is if it's nature vs nurture.  Is Guinness who he is because of his upbringing?  And is Bacardi who she is because of hers?  Interesting thoughts.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Making It All Worth While

Today was one of those days that makes everything worth while.  It makes the hardships, the sacrifices, the tears and the sweat all seem insignificant.  I have been struggling with the lifestyle choices I've made.  Some days I think it would be so easy to live in a condo and board a horse at a stable.  Today I remembered why I don't.  

I woke up with a residual headache.  It made for a slow morning.  By the time I had ate breakfast and allowed the Advil to kick in it was closing in on 11:00.  I loaded up Diva and Ryder and headed out to the park.  We had a wonderful hour long hike.  The dogs ran and ran and ran.  Diva is really funny when she plays in the snow so I laughed and giggled at their antics.  We had a great walk until we met another hiker with a dog.  Apparently I need to start taking the little one's into town and remind them of their manners.  Such the disappointment.  (Mostly Diva.)  I think I'll do some one-one walking and work on leash manners and greeting dogs on leash.  We've just been hanging by ourselves so they need a refresher.  

Ryder and his temperamental tummy.  He had the trots on the walk leading me to decide not to work him once we got to the farm.

Next I drove to the farm.  There dad and I caught Hank (Ken's horse) who is a jittery bugger and really hard to catch.  Hank and Guinness both had some leading practice.  Guinness is getting cheeky - trying to nip at me.  I think a phone call into the vet is in order.  It's been so mild here I'm going to see if she'll geld him sooner than the planned spring.  He's growing like a weed and moved up to the yearling size halter.  

After our little leading session, dad and I dewormed Guinness.  The sheep were next.  We used the chute which worked pretty slick.  They all got their dosage of wormer.  

Once we finished I headed into the house where I sat with Tessa and snuggled her.  We sat on the recliner and she slept on my lap.  It funny to me how snuggling with Ryder or Diva isn't the same.  Tessa sleeping on my lap brings such a feeling of peace and rightness to my world.  I decided not to bring her home with me today, simply because it would be for such a short period of time and I didn't want to upset her or confuse her.  It was heart wrenching leaving her behind - sitting at the door.  Not something I wish to do again.  

When I returned to my house I kicked the dogs out and deciding it was such an outstanding day - I went for a ride.  This would be both my and Bacardi's first ride since around September.  Tying her up I began brushing her.  She had ants in her pants which made me opt for a saddle.  I ended up riding for close to 40 minutes.  Just around my little acreage.  This was a training run for the dogs.  I wanted to see how they'd be with me on a horse.  Diva followed along quite happily.  I'm sure she thought she was keeping the horse balanced to me, but didn't do any naughty behavior like dive bombing or nipping at the horse.  Ryder was freaked.  I climbed on the horse and he got spooked.  He kept a safe distance from us.  Preferring to lie down and watch - from behind the fence.  I'd call him and toss treats down for him.  Either way it looks like the dogs and I are good to go for a ride in the park.  They recalled to the horse and knew to attend to me.  It was bloody icy in my fields and I couldn't really do anything fun, but I'm stoked to go ride with the dogs.  I think it'll be great exercise for them.  

What a great day!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Migraine Detector??

I'm one of those people who gets Aura Migraines.  They generally start with "flashy lights", similar to the effect one gets after staring into the sun.  Next it can be blurred vision and a very severe headache.  Today when I got home Diva was being very needy.  She was whining (not necessarily unusual for her, and began sniffing the air.  (I thought she was scared of the oven and fan which I had just turned on).  She followed this with running away to my bedroom and whining even more insistently.  I went to my room - mostly to shut her up.  There she leaned up against my legs and I ran my hands soothingly down her sides. When I went to check my meal (on the stove) I realized I was not able to see properly.  Immediately downing my meds I began stretching - which sometimes helps my shoulders and neck relax and alleviates some symptoms.  By this point in time Diva had moving into the living room and began a whining grunt sound.  When I went to see her she was quite intent on getting me to play with her.  As my vision deteriorated and I realized just how severe it was getting.  Being meal time I had dished up the dog's food.  Diva would not eat.  Instead staying by me.  This was weird.  Diva is highly food motivated.  It made me wonder: was Diva being needy because that's part of who she is, or did Diva recognize the fact that I was getting a migraine before I did?  It's an interesting concept.  While not my first migraine with Diva alive, it was my first with her living in the house with me.  I have to wonder if it's possible for her to predict migraines, and if that's what she in fact did, can she be trained to produce a specific signal or cue?

Friday, January 27, 2012


I've started my graduate classes.  So far I'm loving them.  The classes encourage reflection.  What is leadership?  Can a leader be popular?  What qualities do you value in a leader?  What qualities do you have that you think would make you a good leader?

Tonight we discussed who we are as human beings.   It was a deep and intense conversation.  Lately I've been thinking a lot about who I am as a person.  Over the last five years I've been on a journey that has allowed me to become centered and in touch.  I like to think I know myself well.  I know my good qualities and recognize and work on the less desirable ones.  I know this from a professional, as well as personal perspective.  I work hard at seeing multiple points of view, even when I don't agree with them.

I've been thinking about direction.  How at times the direction my life takes in part defines who I am.  There are times over the last few weeks I've felt as though my identity is shifting.  Is how I perceive myself the same as the perception of the world?  Last week my principal (in effect my boss) told me I'm a force to be reckoned with.  This has bothered me.  I'm not entirely sure I want to be a force.  It certainly doesn't mesh with how I view myself in a professional or personal capacity.  Is this a positive or a negative?  It's made me think.

I've been thinking about the horses.  It's still surreal to me that Whiskey is no longer mine.  And Bacardi is.  I had had Bacardi listed and fielded a number of emails and calls.  I've even had people booked to come view her.  Unexpectedly something would happen and the person would no longer be coming.  It's become something of a pattern.  So I've decided to send the paperwork in the AQHA to transfer her into my name.  This is not the most comfortable decision for me.  I'm left feeling as though there's a gaping void in my life.  How I can I have a horse with no purpose?  I have no purpose for her.  I don't even know what to do with her.  She won't make a cutter which is where my heart lies.  I suppose I could rope off of her but that entails work, purchasing a rope saddle and time that I'm currently lacking.  Working cow horse?  Not my favorite thing to do but I could hypothetically put the training in her so that she'd make a passable working cow horse.  Put her in my close contact and start popping her over fences?  I don't know what I want to do.  I feel lost.  A boat with no rudder bobbing on a lake.  An English speaker in France.  You get the picture.  I wonder how not having an equine goal impacts who I am.  Or does it?  Does it make horses any less part of who I am?  Do I even know how to enjoy just riding?  Can I just ride?  Or will I self combust without a focal point?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Custody Fight

It's a slippery slope when one talks to their parents.  One minute you're asking about batteries, the next you've had the custody of your dog pulled from you.  My mom is in Arizona enjoying the more temperate climate.  My dad is home alone.  For the first time in I think a very long time, my dad has NO ONE at home.

Initially when I got Tessa, I lived three hours away.  My family was not happy when I traded the hay left over (from when my horse died) for this little ball of fluff.  It took a long time for them to come around.  Tess went everywhere with me.  We went to roping's and rodeos.  She stayed with me hotels.  We traveled lonely country highways, and busy city freeways.  With no one to rely on but myself - Tessa by necessity went everywhere.  Eventually, the family freeze thawed and Tessa and I came up for weekend visits.  Next, Tess, horses, and I came back for summers and long holidays.

A job opportunity came up that involved me moving back to my old home.  This was supposed to be temporary but one thing led to another and time slipped away.  Another opportunity came up that would have caused a move.  But something was wrong and I was sick.  A family meeting led to the decision to stay by my support network.  Through all this Tessa (our first house dog ever) had become entrenched in the family.  It was no longer just me who loved this little character.  As things physically improved and things romantically went south, it became time to move on.  To find my own space.  This for me meant taking my little fur family with me.   And this is where the conflict began.

With the news that I was moving my dad's first comment was that I wasn't taking Tessa (nor Bella, nor the sheep, nor the horses, nor the cats).  After all, how could my animals possibly survive on a measly 3 acres.  (You notice the wild thing young dogs weren't on his list.)  Some of his concerns were justified.  Some of his concerns were baffling.  I managed to bring the three Border Collies when I moved.  Next I slipped a horse or two over as well.  (Breaking dad in if you will.)  Flash back two weeks.

A simple phone call looking for information on batteries.  When out of the blue dad blusters about Tessa being home alone.  Tessa could not possibly make the day alone.  It just wasn't good for her.  And so on.  Taking a breathe and calming myself I recognized that he was lonely.  For the first time in a very, very long time - dad was alone.  I told dad to pop over on Thursday (it was Wednesday night).  When I came over of Thursday Tessa was gone.  Dad didn't even bother to take her bed or her food.  So I called.  Oh Tessa was sooooo happy to see him she came running out of the house so he just left with her.  Yep.  True story.  Friday, I swung by and picked her up.

The following Monday I came home to NO DOG.  Tessa was gone.  So was her bed.  Realizing dad must have her I left it be.  That was the week when I'd have had to find someone to take care of her towards the end of the week.  This week, I have classes Wednesday through Saturday.  Tomorrow dad will swing by and pick her up.  I'll go to the farm and get her once class is over on the weekend.  While I don't mind her visiting the farm I have mixed emotions about her living there.  One - dad is not always the most reliable person.  He gets sidetracked.  Tessa is old and has crazy moments - you have to pay attention to her when she's outside.  It's hard on my pack dynamics having her coming and going.

Reality right now is at least two long weeks a month so I can take my graduate classes.  These weeks I'm okay with Tessa visiting her other family.  But for my dad to wrench her custody out of my hands?  I'll wait until my mom comes back and I have an ally before lining up a fight.

Yep, it's a custody battle over MY dog.

An Award???

Sherry at MTWaggin sent this award my way.  And what an honor it is!  Alas, there are rules to this award.

1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave the award (see above).
3. Pick five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to 

five more blogs.

Here are my top 5 picks:
1)  Liz at In Omnia Paratus   She's someone who's writing I enjoy.  She has a zest for life that comes through her posts.  Plus, she's a fellow dog and horse lover.  And we all know how cool dog and horse people are.  She's one of those cyber friends that I think would be someone who'd be interesting to meet in real life.  Her life is similar yet different than mine and that makes her interesting.  

2)  Chelsi at Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind (who just barely meets this criteria).  She's a great writer - funny with a definite voice.  A fellow Canadian with a shared love of horses. 

3)  Chloe at the wild horse project  What I like about Chloe is that she's a horsey person with a completely different background and perspective than mine.  It fascinates me how she has the ability to take a wild horse and turn it into a wonderful productive member of equine society.  Plus - it totally makes me think of The Man From Snowy River!       

4)  Bobbie No Socks - this blog only seems to run in the winter.  However, I love the different perspective and catching a glimpse into the eastern side of the continent.

5) And my fifth vote would go to MTWaggin - love the outstanding pictures, the kind ear and advice, and I really, really love her dogs!!!  Another one of those people that I think is a kindred spirit who's love of life shines through.

I don't follow too many blogs, and many of those have large readerships.  So pop on over and check out one of these blogs.   

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I have had the most unpleasant illness ever.  The friendly neighborhood flu decided to visit.  It started Wednesday.  I was feeling slightly queasy but shook it off and went to work.  It was extremely cold here that day and the buses weren't running but I was still expected to show up.  It was in my classroom with the 8 students who braved it to come to school that I realized I wasn't really queasy.  I was full fledged nauseous.  I made it to lunch at which point my coworkers booted me out of the school.  They took my kids and sent me home.  I spent the remainder of the day praying to the porcelain gods, laying on the couch or sleeping in my bed.  I ate nothing and could handle little fluid going down.

Thursday I remained home.  Repeating the process.  By late afternoon I thought I might be improving.  I made some of my favorite "safe" food: noodles, chicken in a mug and soda crackers.  While cramping and uncomfortable everything stayed put.  With a sigh of relief I drove into town.  It was the first night of my graduate class.  While uncomfortable and tired I was no longer leaking fluid from my orifices.  This I could deal with.  I made the decision to attempt work in the morning.

Normally, I'm up at 6:30 and gone by 7:30.  I like to get up, check my email, let the dogs out and then if I'm showering go do that (I often shower at night.).  As I get things ready in the bathroom my stomach lets out some ominous sounds.  Ryder runs away.  And from that point things went south.  Fast.  With no choice I call my principal to let her know I'm coming but shouldn't be, and begin the jaunt to work.  I made it half a day before the kindergarten teacher came to sub in my class for the afternoon.  Once home I spent inordinate amounts of time in the washroom.  Friday night also brings class for me.  Mustering every last ounce of energy I drive in.  And I spend the most uncomfortable distracted night at class.  While I realize I wanted to loose weight - this not eating for three days certainly wasn't part of the plan.

Now imagine being trapped in the house with two Border Collies who have had very little exercise of stimulation for the week due to extreme cold and then extreme sick.  Not good.  While lying on the couch I'd listlessly toss the ball for the dogs.  While in bed I had to deal with these little fur brats who brought all the toys up and dropped them beside my body.  Then they'd run their snout along me to ensure I knew.  However, given the fact that they're young dogs (dad has Tessa this week) they were surprisingly good.  Diva especially came around.  She took to curling her body up by mine and sleeping with me.  Ryder who hasn't slept with me in ages took to sitting sentinel on the bed looking out the window.  And I know.  I know I shouldn't let them on the bed.  For a wide variety of reasons.  But when your guts are trying to claw their way out of your body - you just don't care.  When you can't keep anything in your system - this seems like a small thing.  And let me tell you - when I was radiating cold - I certainly appreciated the extra body heat.

I'm supposed to be in class today but talked to the professor.  If my noodle concoction stays put this morning I'll drive in for the afternoon class.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

So You Think You Know The Cold??

I have been utterly spoiled this winter.  Warm balmy days with the sun on my face.  And now, finally, winter has reared it's ugly head.  It's cold.  Bloody cold.  Part of the problem is that I'm no longer acclimatized.  I've gotten soft like those people in Florida who sweater up when a cool breeze blows.  (No offense but us northerners do like to giggle about that.  All in good natured fun.)  Just as I'm sure anyone who lives further north than I do is giggling away at the absurdity of me thinking I know what cold is.

Our temperatures today without the wind chill hovered around the -30 C mark.  Not bad.  Factor in the wind chill and we're sitting at a tropical -40 C.  Did you know that -40 is the same in both Fahrenheit and Celsius?  It is!  *This factoid courtesy the friendly neighborhood Internet.*  I noticed while out cleaning the dog run that the dogs are resisting any outside time.  Who blames them?  This is the weather when you need to watch for colic (horses don't drink as much because of the cold water).  This is the weather when you need to free feed hay to your outside critters.  And this is the weather where you want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over you head.  *Thanks Jeanne for that little tidbit.*

We don't even have wonderful luscious fluffy snow to make it bearable.  In fact the snow blower I bought in the fall?  Still has tags on.  Hasn't been used once if you can fathom that!

Here's a lovely picture of my fab farm winter look.  Just a side note - when it's cold enough to freeze your exposed flesh in under 10 minutes - it's cold enough to toss any sense of style to the side.  (That wonderful tidbit was according to Environment Canada - we have an extreme wind chill warning in effect.)  Goodie!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Horses of the Past

I have this new fancy scanner, photocopier and printer.  I thought I'd test it out and work on uploading some of my old horse pictures.  From most recent to oldest, here are some (I don't have photos of my first horses.) of my current to old horses.

Guinness - AQHA aka Single Malt Whiskey

This is his mom the first summer I owned her.
Whiskey - AQHA aka Miss Soft Shoe

Bacardi - AQHA aka Royal Purple Coke

I couldn't find a picture of Charger.  Here we are doing grand entry for Lacombe ProRodeo.  I sold Charger when I hurt my shoulder and couldn't rope anymore.  Looking back I wish I'd kept him.  He was a nice solid all around kind of horse.
L - Me on Yeller - AQHA aka Two T Rebel Gold
2nd from L - friend on Charger - AQHA aka Kole Charger

Yeller - AQHA aka Two T Rebel Gold (and an uncle to Guinness).

Yeller - the horse I trained but should have bought.  Another one I tried to find with no luck.

Shorty - Grade colt - took him in to help him heal - he was in rough shape - traded him for Whiskey.

My school master rope horse.  He had successfully won in the area of 30 grand at rodeos throughout his career.  He piloted his one armed owner to numerous wins.  The horse that sent me into a tailspin of depression when he suffered a catastrophic and life ending injury.
Roo - Grade

Roo and Charro hanging out and grooming each other.

The horse that did it all.  He would have made a superstar endurance horse because he could go all day!
Charro - Arabian aka Charro Rafinara

Polish bred going back to Tornado - Bask.
Another horse I tried to find with no luck.

Charro and I at a local Arabian show.

The horse of my heart. Best friend and confidante.
Smokey - Arabian aka Nova Sherocco
Picture taken by D. Kirk Photos.

Smokey and I at a big 4H show.  He was a regional A champion halter stallion and absolute hoot to ride.
Ansata Ibn Halima and Crabbet lines (Egyptian).  
Picture taken by L. Carroll.
 Haida - my first 4H horse and the one that taught me how to ride.  Mostly because she bucked me off every other day.  Nasty beast.  Picture taken at my first 4H achievement day (and first horse show ever).  I would have been 9 at the time.
Haida - Anglo Arabian - and for the life of me I can't remember her papered name.

I don't have pictures for Pilot - the grade cowboy horse who was my first horse.  Or Jet or Maggie - the ponies that didn't last too long on the place.  Nasty little farts.  (My dad went for cheap not quality - to be fair it's not like there was a lot of money floating around.)

And there you have the pictorial of my horses past, and present.

Dream Horse from a Past Life

There was a time I would have turned my nose up at the thought of riding anything other than an Arabian.  The very thought of riding a clunky, ugly quarter horse left chills going down my spine.  I believed my Arabians could do anything any other type of horse did.  My horses showed (local and A), went cattle penning, made many miles on trails, took all kinds of clinics, did gymkhana and college rodeo, and I even roped off of the one horse (Charro).  These horses were my best friends when the world went wrong.  I rode a lot.  I rode close to seven days a week and was usually in the saddle for well over an hour.  

When I got more serious about the rodeo and roping world I knew I needed to specialize, so I bought an old "school master" rope horse.  While I still had my Arabian he began to spend more time sitting in the field than getting the miles he so enjoyed. With student loans and adult responsibilities looming I made the decision to sell him (and I've since tried to find him again - but no luck.)

One of my friends has an Arabian left over from her days prior to her breeding paints.  Jonnie or Bay Cyty Roller is well bred, has an awesome disposition, size, and has already accumulated halter wins at the local and regional (A) level.  I love this horse.  I've loved this horse from the day I first met him years ago.  Back when he was a little sprout I loved this horse.  He's by Cyty Heat who's making waves up here.  I had told Lynsay that if I could sell Bacardi I'd buy Jonnie.  Well, Bacardi is still here and a lot of tire kickers have come and gone.  And Jonnie is still wasting away in one of her pens.  This love for him is completely irrational.  I want to cut.  I'm 99% certain that is not his role in life.  But I *heart* him.   And I want him.  And I've pretty much decided smart or not, if the opportunity arises that I can buy him - I will.  

Here are some pictures of Jonnie.  The pictures are courtesy of Lynsay.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Knock Me Over With A Feather

With ugly weather slated in the forecast, I drove out to my parents.  There I had planned to work the dogs on stock and pester the two baby horses.  The wind was blowing and the snow started falling about 5 minutes into my training session with Ryder.  I decided to see how the dog works went before messing with the horses.

Ken had given me some advice that I decided to follow.  I don't always.  Some days I can be alarmingly obstinate.  I stopped worrying so much about being perfect and started working him and letting him work.  I stopped lying him down so frequently and began to move more.  It was as though everything clicked.  He began working really, really good.  So good I was startled into realizing there's a darn good possibility he'll be ready for trials come spring.  He was taking his flanks pretty consistently.  I began with lying him down, moving half way between him and the sheep and then asking him.  He was doing so well I thought I'd try to send him on a mini outrun from my feet.  And he consistently did it!  We're a hair off of being able to manage an arena trial.  Given the fact that I haven't exactly been training him regularly I was pretty impressed.  His drive continues to be pretty good and we have enough distance driving to do an arena distance.  The next step is to start adding some short flanks into the drive and see how we do.

I was so pumped I even worked Diva.  Let me tell you, that dog was thrilled to be on stock.  She, as per her normal, worked tight and fast.  But all the ground work I've put into her is showing on the stock.  She was softer to take her prompts.  Her working style is so reminiscent of Tessa as a young dog it's eerie. I have to wonder what Diva would be like if she'd had the same opportunities and upbringing as Tessa.  I was happy to see even as fast and slicey as Diva wanted to be she wasn't as tight as she had been before.    We're down to only slicing the Away flank but then blowing out.  (It might have something to do with me chasing her with the stock stick...)  Not ideal but better.  Perhaps it's because her style is more like Tessa's but I'm actually more comfortable working her than Ryder.

We were doing great.  She was helping me bring the sheep into the corral from the field.  I stopped at the gate to let the sheep pass.  She waited for me.  As the sheep drifted through the gate the earth moved my winter boots lost their traction on the icy surface and I went down like a graceful ballerina with a thump. Diva (just like Tessa once did) was off like a shot to correct those nasty sheep.  From my sprawled position I watched sheep skating across the ice with Diva in hot pursuit.  Deciding the sheep were stupid to bolt (away from me, and the round bale I might add) and deserved what was coming, I carefully regained my footing, latched the gate and made my way towards the three ring circus.

Diva had the sheep cornered in a shelter and was watching them from a respectable distance away.  Getting between her and the sheep I called her name.  And she came.  No seriously.  She CAME!  To me.  (She has been known to bypass the human to reach the sheep.)  Gathering up my safety cord (on the dog - not me), I had her help me drive the sheep back into the pen with the hay.  With a pat we left the corral.

How sad is it that my dog's do better when I don't work them.  What a commentary on my training that is...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Would You Do It?

I had the most interesting phone call.  It was from a stock dog trainer I know and am friendly with.  He wanted to know if I know of anyone with younger dogs for sale.  This is a man who has helped me in the past, whom I respect, and has a pretty good reputation.  He has seen my dogs.  If I were interested in selling, he'd be interested in buying.

Question of the day:

Would you sell Diva?

This is a dog I've been busting my rear end over trying to build a relationship with.  She is to put it politely high maintenance.  But, we've also been making progress.  She wants to be near me now.  She is developing an interest in play.  She is slowly, slowly listening and responding to training better.

But it would be one less responsibility.  It would also mean a loss of a playmate for Ryder.

She's high energy and athletic.  She'd be well suited to a ranch environment.  She is very keen to work.  She'd have her own opportunity to shine with a high end trainer.

The trainer would flip her once she had enough training on her to be more money and sale-able to a rancher.  I'd have no control over her future homes.  She'd likely end up in a run or chained in a yard - many, many Border's live that way on ranches.

What would you do?

Take the easy way - sell her?

Or persevere and continue working through her issues - long run, takes time but will ultimately make me a better trainer - I hope...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lofty Goals

While tardy, I have been contemplating my personal goals for this coming year.  I may not say them, but I always have them.  This is something that's been weighing heavy *no pun intended* on my mind.  I really, really want to get myself back into shape.  This is something that really bugs me and upsets my mojo.

What I know is that when I'm active I feel better.  I'm happier.  I have more energy.  And everything else in the world around me seems to fall into place.  The world just seems better.

So here it is, my one big goal.  Get back into shape.

(Oh, don't worry I realize I won't ever be in the pre-chemo shape.  My body has undergone too many changes.)

Raise your glass to the treadmill, bosu ball, weights, yoga, and dogs & horses (my personal trainers)!

Do Something That Scares You

I'm a confident driver.  You might even label me aggressive.  I grew up driving Alberta country roads, can handle snow, ice, gravel and roads with no lines on them.  I've also been driving a truck and trailer since I was 18.  My parents did not believe anyone younger had sufficient driving experience to manage a live load.  I began hauling with my mom riding shotgun to local horse shows.  With time I was hauling to gymkhana and shows alone.  Soon I was hauling hours to get to the rodeos and roping's I was competing in. I learned how to navigate a section with a loaded trailer full of cowboy's horses (and a truck full of often intoxicated cowboys) to get closer to the cattle we needed to check.

When I moved to Consort I learned how to manage hauling my horses through an isolated and sometimes hostile environment.  I remember once after doing grand entry for a ProRodeo a couple of hours away the wind came up.  (Out there when the wind came up - it came UP!)  Across the rolling prairie I could see the wall of dirt off the fields headed towards me.  Knowing I quickly would see nothing I began to slow and pull onto the shoulder of the highway.  As the wind rocked and buffeted the truck and trailer I could hear steel screeching.  When the dirt storm moved past I notice the wind had peeled the rock guard off the front of the trailer.  Once on my midnight trek home from roping (I used to travel 140km each way to practice roping.)  I split a herd of deer in two as they settled on the highway in front of me.  While not one of those natural drivers who can park and maneuver a trailer in tight spaces I am competent and comfortable with a loaded trailer.

Yesterday I made attempt number two at Fort St. John.  My brother who works up there had just flown back from his vacation would follow me in his car up north.  We pulled out of the yard at around 8:30.  We reached our destination around 5:00.  For the vast majority of the drive it was lovely.  It was sunny, and the highway was dry and clear.  The final four hours involved driving into a head wind which is always lovely for fuel economy, and there was something wrong with my trailer brakes because they kept grabbing on the rough road.  Also lovely for fuel economy.  Once we reached Dawson Creek my brother and his wife hopped in with me.  We would go the remainder of the distance together.  This last hour and half stretch is the stretch that had me scared.  It involved a serious hill/mountain over a metal bridge and then into the bush on secondary roads.

I had turned off my trailer breaks because they weren't working well.  Baby (my 3/4 ton Chev diesel) is equipped with an engine break and this is what I planned to use.  Easing off the pedal we passed the signs telling people we were entering a chains and winter tire mandatory area.  We passed the signs and pull out where the semis were required to check their breaks before continuing on.  As the road began to drop and twist out beneath us I began to tap and release my breaks to keep the rig from gaining momentum.  It took a few minutes for Baby to figure out that we were doing some serious work, but she quickly kicked in the engine break and slowed the truck to a crawl.  With the engine roaring we crept down, down, down and past the final hair pin turn.  Next we began the incline up the long, long, long metal bridge.  With the truck and trailer shimmying I tried to keep a steady hand on the wheel and a steady pressure on the pedal.  Huffing out a breath I looked over at my wide eyed brother and said "See why I was scared?"

Steadying myself we began to work our way off the beaten path.  We had 30km of back roads to reach the ranch where Whiskey was moving to.  As we cleared the city of Fort St. John, I realized the dry clear roads had come to an end.  Keeping my pace slow but steady I began navigating the chunks and sheets of ice.  Reminding myself to breath we forged on.  And then it happened, as we began an incline the truck hit ice and the hind end shifted.  My brother chanting "Easy, easy, don't break, don't break." I managed to keep the truck (and trailer) under control and on the road.  At this point if I had been alone I would have been crying.  Pulling into the middle of the road (secondary highway), I tried to keep my tires on the rough sanded looking part, and crawled up the hill.  And then it got really, really scary.

My next road was their gravel road.  This road was white and shiny with rained on snow.  It was a skating rink.  Popping my truck into 4x4, I began easing my way down it.  Chanting "scared, scared, scared" I slowly, carefully made my way the 5 km to their driveway.  We did the entire 5k doing 30 km/h.  As I eyeballed the driveway and wondered if we'd make it up it, Jay looked and me and said "giver" we'd made it this far.  By this time daylight was quickly fading into black and I was eager to beat a hasty retreat.

Settling Whiskey in, we went into the house to do the paperwork.  She couldn't remember how much we had agreed on and I was oh so tempted to up the price.  Restraining myself I stayed honest.  Tempted though.  Very, very tempted.  (Does this make me bad?)  She was very impressed with Whiskey (as most people are who meet her) and kept muttering what a nice horse she was.  Paperwork done, we began to head back to civilization.  Thrilled at the prospect of driving back over the scary roads I took some deep breaths, patted Baby, asked her to be good, and pulled out.  It felt surreal to leave Whiskey behind.  I'm not sure it's really set in that she's not coming back.  Ridiculous I know.  I know she'll be cared for and loved.  I know she'll have some really, really nice babies.

We made it through the roads from the devil and headed to the next town where my brother is currently living (working a job).  But the fun wasn't done.  I still had to park the truck and trailer in his apartment parking lot, which as many things are in Northern BC, was on an incline and icy.  Parked and safely in his apartment I shook with exhaustion.  After a short visit, I took an Advil and crashed.  An adrenalin hangover if you will.  You know how they say you should do something that scares you every day?  Well I say HOGWASH!!!!  I hate that feeling.  I don't care that everything worked out in the end.

The golden lining was the time spent with family.  Due to decisions he's made in the past my relationship with my brother is shaky and somewhat fractured.  We've only begun to carefully rebuild a relationship.  His support meant the world to me.  I tear up when I think how he made sure I didn't have to do this alone.  He knew how stressed I was about doing it.  I think the whole reason Whiskey was destined to go north and I was destined to drive it once he was back in town was for us to have the chance to spend time together.  I took the opportunity to visit with his wife and get to know her better, and I think that all of us have a deeper understanding of each other.  It was a great building block and I feel more connected with my brother.

That being said, I've reached my quota for risky and scary behavior the last couple of days...

Now off to spend time with my needy and active dogs.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Going Nowhere Fast

Last night I carefully checked the road reports, carefully packed up my supplies, my dog supplies,  walked around the trailer and added things that I thought I'd need.  This morning I was going to attempt a run at Fort St. John, British Columbia which is where Whiskey's new home is.  Click here to see the Google Map.  This was no small undertaking.  My plan?  Get up early, drive, deliver, turn around and come home. I was looking at around 16-18 hours of driving.

Here's what really happened.  I got up, showered, loaded my truck while playing with the dogs and feeding the horse.  My tummy was upset so I chugged some PeptoBismal and packed that as well as a kit full of my "safe" foods.  I then took the dogs out for their final pre-leaving potty.  And Ryder had the trots.  Fabulous.  I had planned to take Ryder and Diva, with my mom scheduled to come and take Tessa to the farm until I returned.  Leaving Ryder behind meant I'd also leave Diva (so they had play buddies).  This also meant rearranging my garage so that they couldn't eat anything they're not supposed to - such as recycling or shoes.  I took the Exercise pens out of their boxes and created a barrier, leaving them the one parking space, front and access to the doggy doors.  I filled up an extra water bowl and placed it in their area, and pulled their collars off.  I didn't want to risk them hooking their collars on anything or getting tangled while wrestling.  (This is why I love Sherry's slip collars!)  This change of plans set my departure time back by an hour.

Feeling somewhat strange I loaded and left.  It's weird for me not to travel with at least one dog.  Hitting Whitecourt (about 2 hours in) I had a great conversation with an older man who was filling up next to me.  (Part of my strategy was to top off my tank at each larger center - this is my wilderness driving strategy!)  He asked where I was headed and then informed me they were calling for freezing rain.  Pointing my truck north I kept driving.  It was drizzling off and on but our temperature was hovering around the melting mark so I figured I'd be okay.  Because my homemade CDs would not work (!!!) I was flicking and finding radio stations as each area lost reception.  It was in the Grand Prairie radio zone when they announced a freezing rain warning was in effect and that it was anticipated freezing rain would last the next 24 hours.  Nervous now, I kept driving.  I kept driving through the increasing rain.

I was about 15 minutes from reaching Valleyview.  (To get to Valleyview takes about 3.5 hours.)  My phone rang.  It was Kelly (where I was headed).  She said it had started snowing 20 minutes ago.  Eeek. I am an admitted wimpo.  I'll admit it scares me to drive the mountain passes in the winter with a trailer.  It makes me nervous without a trailer when there's snow on the ground.  Yes I have 4x4, but I don't have chains - and that was the type of country I was headed into.  I told her I'd think about what I was going to do.  I needed to decide if I was going to turn around or push through.  The road I was driving on was wet.  This meant once dark hit there was potential for ice.  Even more potential for ice if the storm hit.  My gut clenched with stress I called my mom.  I wanted to get her opinion.  Valleyview was my point of no return.  Any further and it would just be shorter to keep on to my destination (still 4-5 hours away).  I stopped at a truck stop, parked and fretted.  Weighing the various options.  I didn't have time to get a hotel and wait it out.  (Which could take 1-2 days.)  Plus I didn't pack a bale of hay for the horse - who I could turn loose in the stock trailer, making it into a stall.  Finally my fear of the mountain passes during a storm pushed me into a decision.  I decided to turn back.  I called Kelly to let her know.  Of course she tells me the snow seems to be letting up.  That's fine given the fact that there's still 500 km (about 310 miles) to drive.  With the rain warning in effect I would basically be driving into the storm front and not away from it.  This made me worry.  Even if I made it safely to BC I still had to make it safely home.  My gut was screaming at me that it wasn't a good decision to continue on.  I decided to listen to it.

So I turned around.  Poor Whiskey.  What a good girl.  When I got home and unloaded her she looked around, seemingly confused.  You could see her thinking - isn't this where I just left?  The trailer is a mess and I need to take it to the farm to clean out and put fresh shavings in.

Tentative plan is to make another attempt on Friday - once the weather up north clears.  My brother who lives up north will be back from his trip and I'll have some extra people around.  This makes me feel a bit more secure and safe.