Friday, March 30, 2012


Wednesday, Thursday, and today I've been out to Jason's.  I know it's totally geek-ish but I really like riding there and turning back.  For me it's fun and stress relief.  For him it's free help.  Works out great for both of us.  Following his advice I tossed an ad up for Bacardi on Kijiji this morning.  I was stunned to have 2 phone calls this morning.  One of those phone calls asked to view her this afternoon.

There I was filled with nervous energy - so I baked.  I made Red Velvet cupcakes.  Then I loaded up and hauled over to Jason's.  When the couple showed up they watched me trot a few circles and said, "Yep, I think she'll do."  Seriously.  I couldn't make that up if I tried.  After they walked her around for a couple of circles they got off.  I showed her on cattle turning back, I worked her on cattle, I worked her on the flag.  And that was the end of that.  They didn't even want to ride her to cool her out.  The whole situation has left me slightly freaked.  Jason and Chrissy said I shouldn't feel bad.  But I kinda do.  It was weird to me that they didn't really ride her.  I was honest and told them the truth about the horse (in a gentle non-negative way).  I didn't want them to buy a surprise.

Either way, Bacardi has moved on to a new life and I have a cheque in my pocket.

And tomorrow I go ride a "real" cutter and turn back for Jason in the morning.  Why?  Because I want to.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Confidence in a young dog can be a tricky thing.  Today, I went to Ken's to drop off his horse.  I also hauled my dogs with me.  We only worked Ryder, mostly because I was wanting to see where he was in his training progression.  The best way to see "holes" in your dog is to take them somewhere strange and put them on new sheep.  My initial plan was to get Ken to help me work on our outruns.

The two ewes I had dropped off there last summer had lambed.  This was Ryder's first exposure to lambs.    And to momma ewes.  Overall things went as expected.  Poorly.  The poor boy wasn't entirely sure what to do with the lambs.  Our first little work went well, he walked carefully behind them, sniffing their butts.    He kept everything moving and together.  He was astonishingly gentle with them.

As we began to work on outruns, he began to leave them behind.  This part was not cool.  Ken said this is common, as many dogs weren't sure what to do with lambs.  It would have been different if black sheep was as good a mom as cream sheep.  Black sheep just left her babies and she hung with the middle and front of the flock.  Cream sheep was a fire breathing dragon of a momma.  (This is good.)  She kept her baby close and was more than prepared to take little charges at the dog.  My little Ryder man was not sure what he should be doing.

He was getting in trouble for leaving the babies behind, but when he was by the babies the momma was charging him.  Eventually, he started to figure it out, and when momma made some unearned charges at him he leaped up and bit her on the nose.  This made me very happy as he's not inclined to grip or bite.  Good to know he will if he needs to.  He was also quite thrilled with himself and got back some of his confidence.  That was where we ended.  With him feeling happy and good about himself.

Side note:  Ken's neighbor (1 mile from his house - you can actually see this other house from his place.) came home the other day and found a grizzly in his yard.  When the vehicle drove in the bear stood up on his hind feet.  It's made everyone more than a little nervous, particularly as it happened at 1 in the afternoon.  It's not far from Ken's mind about the kids getting on and off the school bus.  The proper authorities have been notified.  It certainly made me think twice about wandering around his place by myself.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pretty Cool Video About Horses

Most of you know, if you've been following my blog that while I can sometimes be snobby in my horse pursuits that I've rode a wide variety of them.  When I was younger, dressage was one of my loves.  I rode predominately "English" until I was around 19 years old.  I've rode predominately "Western" since.

One of my horsey friend put this on Facebook and I LOVED it.  I think it shows that riders and horses in both disciplines are pretty darn talented.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

It Creeps Up On The Best Of Us

Tessa has been with me for a stay-cation.  My parents went to see their newest grandchild so I was in charge of the farm.  This visit has gone much more smoothly than the last few.  The biggest thing is Diva becomes naughty dog around Tessa.  She stops coming to her name and gets to be sassy.  Tessa on her part only started one fight.  It kinda made me think of the old person snapping at the young.  It was past bedtime and I was sitting on the couch reading.  We had had a pretty good snow storm and the dogs didn't get as much exercise as normal.  Diva was restless and walking laps around my couch.  Tessa was trying to sleep.  On one of Diva's walking laps, Tessa shot out her nose and snapped.  I was able to redirect both dogs without further incident.  It was as if Tessa was telling Diva to stop already.  Kinda funny.

Tessa is tired and sore.  I think our faster paced lifestyle here is catching up with her.  She goes with me when I go to chore the farm.  Here I play fetch at least once per day and either walk or run with the dogs. Tessa has been having good mental capacity so I just put a short drag line on her and let her run in the subdivision ditches.  When the rest of us run, we take frequent walk breaks so she can catch up to us.  Yesterday she slept the entire time we were in the house.  She needed help with the stairs.  You could see her shoulder and hips/pelvis were bothering her.  I'm going to take her to the chiropractor this coming week.  I've noticed she has arthritis bumps on her feet.  They are all gnarly, much like the worn hands of an old farmer.  With the snow storm and now sunshine I expect she's feeling her aches and pains.  Just as an old woman can predict the weather.

My girl is getting old.  It's crept up on us.  You wouldn't know it.  On one of our walks a young girl was in her yard, near the ditch with her father.  Joyfully she asked to pet Tessa.  Tessa of course didn't wait, she saw this child and tail in the air, a bounce in her step, went up to greet her.  (After I released her.)  The joy my old girl greeted this child with made it clear she still has "young" dog in her.  My students have been asking about her.  They miss her and want a visit.  I think this should be arranged.  (It's always the neediest kids who pester me about her too.)  I think Tessa misses taking care of her kids.

I know Tessa's time is creeping up on us, but as long as she's happy, somewhat healthy I will enjoy these moments.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sand Paper

My eyes feel like sandpaper.  I'm tired.   I think.  But big cheer - I'm on spring break.  Spring break for me means writing three papers, getting a start on some major papers coming due in the next few weeks, finishing a project for my students to start in April.  In addition I'm going to go turn back for Jason, ride as much as I can, work my dogs - especially Ryder, deliver Hank (Ken's horse) back to Drayton Valley as well as the three woolly sheep, plus I want to make a trip to one of my dog guy's places to work Ryder (and visit!).  I think I may have enough to keep me out of trouble over the course of the next 10 days.

**Diva just climbed up on the couch and had a wild licking snuggle festival.***

I've been reading this book, "How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication." by Stanley Coren.  Once I've finished it I'll give everybody an overview of what I've learned.  What I like is that the author is a scientist.  So far it's been pretty interesting.  Sometimes I think I should be looking at further studies in the area of dog/animal behavior.  Hmmm... I wonder if they'd accept me?

More to come at a later date when I'm more coherent.  Will charge camera to enable picture taking.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Canadian Girls

This song is one of current favorites.  (Sorry my American friends.)  There's a line in the song that goes something about how daddy taught her about hockey and brother taught her to fight (not an exact quote) that gives me chills.  It's resonates within me and makes me think back to my childhood.  (And if you've never heard Dean Brody he's awesome!)

Learning Curve

I've been flying solo on my little acreage for closing in on 4 months now.  It's funny.  I have a friend who tells me how fiercely independent I am.  I am independent out of necessity rather than desire.  Truth be told I'm quite traditional.  However, that being said...

I have gone and bought myself a collection of tools.  They were on sale.  The collection is pretty much everything a person could need from screwdrivers, wrenches, and a ratchet set.  I also have a level and hammer and various other sundry items from my previous life.

The learning curve to knowing all one must know for a little farm has been somewhat steep.  I've had to figure out how to turn water on.  I've learned about cisterns.  I've stood on a ladder trying to figure out how to make my garage door opener work.  I've successfully figured out, operated, and then broke my snow blower.  I now have the pleasure to figure out why it's plugged, and according to the manual (hey I'm a reader!!) I also get to figure out how to unplug a spark plug.  (!!!) A freak'n spark plug! 

Today I poked around my furnace to figure out it does indeed take a filter.  I've also been messing with my automatic waterer.  (A little closer to my comfort zone.)  The well water is filled with iron.  This keep clogging my waterer.  It grows algae and overflows.  Nasty.  So using industrial bleach I "shocked" it.  This spring I'll have to bite the bullet and shock the well.  I'm guessing it hasn't been done anytime recently.  Tomorrow my dad (I AM that girl!) will come out and take a look.

I'm sure there will come more wtf moments as I try to figure things out.  Just as I'm equally sure there are things I'll "man up" and do.  Even when they make me cry.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bugger It!

As promised I have horse news.  Tonight, while I should have been working on my report cards, I was out at the farm, hauling Bacardi to a local arena for a lady to try cattle penning off of.  First, I would like to report that I have an unfair and firmly entrenched bias against cattle penners.  (And this is just my opinion based on my experiences - it doesn't mean it's true.)  Tonight, well, it didn't do anything to change my opinion.  Unfortunately.

The evening began with me hauling the horse to the arena.  The lady who we shall call the lady was there.  I began warming up Bacardi.  Next the lady got on.  She did okay.  My biggest peeve in life is when people think they know more and ride better than the reality.  This lady talked BIG.  Rode okay.  This really did not help the anxiety I was feeling about someone cattle penning on my horse (remember my bias).  My face froze in horror when she asked someone to run past her repeatedly at full speed.  She wanted to "test" how Bacardi'd react under pressure.  Seriously.  I'm not kidding.  She had complained to me that Bacardi was rearing on her.  This made me move closer to the fence to watch what was going on because I can honestly say this is not something that I've experienced with the horse.

Well, her horse hand mouth contact was not good.  One must release when one asks for a halt.  Just say'n.  And yes Bacardi was being very, very naughty.  I offered to get back on her.  The lady declined.

Anyhow, the entire time I was able to watch people race around with arms and legs flailing, mouths being pulled on.  It was alarming and sad for me to watch.  It really reinforced that this is not how I ride.  This is not what I consider a fair representation of horsemanship or even stockmanship.  It left me with a sour taste and an itchy feeling.  I just wanted to leave.  As quickly as I could.  I barely cooled my horse out before tossing her (blanketed) in the trailer and headed home.

Do you want to know what makes this even worse??

Sunday I went and worked cattle at Jason's and she was outstanding.  She was the best she's ever been.  Literally, calm, cowy and freak'n awesome.  Responsive and dare I say... fun?  Almost (not quite) good enough to make me second guess selling her.  Jeez.  Let's add insult to injury...

I'll be off fixing her during spring break.  And pondering the future.  Sigh.  Perhaps *gasp* working cow horse  (at the lower levels) may be in the future.

I did promise horse news.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I've been burning up the keyboard lately.  I've been working on my report cards, in addition to having a presentation and paper due this weekend for university.  The flip side is the dogs are slightly nutty.  I've had a couple of 1am wake up calls with Diva rollo-ing on me all spunky like.  While annoying, I can't exactly blame her.  Not enough exercise or mental stimulation = looney Border Collie.  Her big thing is the moment I sit my bottom down in my office she starts whining.  Charming.  This mean she get booted out into the garage and run so I can be productive.  I have one more labour intensive week and then the dogs will have me back.

Stay tuned.  I may have horse news in the near/distant future...

Sunday, March 4, 2012


While being slightly hesitant to say anything because I have a grand paranoia over jinxing myself....  I think Diva may be making progress.  I see more and more of a fun loving personality everyday.  She still gets worried.  She's still extremely high energy.  She still tests me.  She's still a slightly "off" dog who is most definitely lacking in social skills and in reading social situations.  However, the negative occurrences are steadily decreasing.  

She is recalling 110% better and more consistently.  Her recall in a park, or stressful situation (man walking down road while we're loose in yard) is 100%.  Her recall in the yard when she knows I want to go back into the house is at about 80% which is better than the 10% it was 2 months ago.  It's 100% in the yard if I have the toy.  0% in the yard if she has the toy... 

She regularly engages in play with me.  She's still not perfect on the rules of the game.  For example, she may fetch the toy in the house but deposit it on the couch across the room, then whine and make little head bobbing motions towards me.  When I'm playing with both Ryder and her she reverts back to the Watcher.  She hides beside the couch, under a table or desk or does her impression of a statue while outside.  When in the house (and with Ryder in the X-pen) she'll play fetch or tug pretty happily with consistent and longer returns.  

I've been letting her sleep loose in my bedroom at night.  She periodically will hop up and sleep on the bed.  I find it interesting that she wants to shove her body as close to me as she can.  I also periodically put her in her crate to sleep at night.  I need to buy a super size one or another X-pen for night.  

She had started being a bit of a rotter in the morning.  When it was time for me to load my truck and move the dogs from the house to the garage for the day, she had taken to hiding.  She'd hide under my bed or we'd play ring around the rosie with the couch.  (Toys and food my friends, toys and food...) This got me to wondering if Ryder and Diva were having issues while I was away at work.  Or did Diva just want to stay in the comfort of the house?  (That's tongue in cheek - they have a "dog" couch in the garage to hang out on.)   Today, while I went shopping for groceries I put Diva in the house X-pen and Ryder in the garage.  I'm not sure how it worked but she was pretty content when I came home.  Ryder seemed a bit more ruffled than normal.  I'll have to feel it out.  

The big excitement today was on the return portion of my run, one of the neighbors had their dogs in the yard (3).  They began doing normal dog like things such as barking and running to the property line fence.  I stopped, took Diva's snout and made her focus on me.  She had locked onto the dogs with laser beam eyes.  Ryder, was a good boy.  He just got bouncier.  Resuming my running pace I made small talk with the barking dogs, and used Diva's name very intensely.  She got excited with her tail up and a tense body but she didn't bark, growl or lunge towards the barking dogs.  This made me pretty darn happy!  Ryder just leaped beside me.  I say leaped because he was leaping into the air, eyes on my face, periodically bouncing off me with his front feet.  I think the "Dee, dee, dee" made him a wee bit excited.  Once we passed the yard I told them how impressed I was with them.  "Yessssss!!!!!!"  "Gooooooodddddd Dogs!"  

Can it be true?  Can my dog babies be growing up and beginning to act like trained well adjusted dogs??  Or am in store for a major dog disappointment?  Time will tell.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dog Food Makes Me Cranky

Diva has been an itching fool.  She routinely has wild bouts of scratching (or chewing)  at her arm pits, belly, neck, flank and butt.  She does not have nasty "friends".  She was frustrating the tar out of me.  Wondering if it might be food related allergies I began monkeying with her dog food.  Trying a few different variations with limited success I've thrown up my hands.  I'll give her a good bath this weekend and hope that helps her.  Her coat is shiny and she certainly has oodles of energy.  I'm not sure what else to do at this point.

While going through my testing period of different foods I discovered something that kind of annoyed me.    I discovered my original dog food contained salt.  This seemed weird to me.  Why would dog food have salt in it?  (And fairly high up the ingredient list.)  So I began doing some investigation.  Did all dog food have salt in it?  The answer is no.  This irked me.  Salt is clearly linked to negative health effects in humans but is necessary for animals like horses.  What does this all mean?  Do dogs need salt?  Or does it increase potential negative health side effects?  So today, I went through bag after bag, brand after brand of dog food ingredient lists.  Trying to make sense of it all.  Like anyone with dogs I have some very definite opinions about dog food.  I had noticed that the dog's breath has been worse than normal - hitting atrocious standards.  This for me is a concern.  Nasty breath (to me) equates to something nasty inside.  Both dogs also were "gassy".  I don't enjoy living with a gassy dog - do you?

Long story short - I've switched to a different brand with one protein source (fish), no salt and we shall see what happens.  She seems to be less itchy on the fish brands so here's hoping this, plus the bath will do the trick.

Either way the whole dog food issue is annoying.