Monday, December 31, 2012

My Happy Place

With the weather warmer, I made the two hour trek to Ken's to work dogs and play with ponies.  It did my soul good.  I walked off his property with a smile on my face and peace in my heart.  Both dogs worked surprisingly well given the fact that they've had at least two months off.  Diva *be still my beating heart* actually is beginning to listen.  She's becoming so much easier to work with and is starting to work with me not against me all the time.  So wonderful.  Ken says she's starting to bond with me.  And Ryder is just so freak'n talented his lack of confidence makes it hard to take.  (Ken thought he was a beautiful worker - so it's not just me!)  Because there's so much snow here and my parents don't have large enough clear space to work dogs, I'll travel to Ken's throughout the winter to get the dogs worked.  

Sorry the pictures aren't the best.  I need a much fancier camera to get good shots as they move so fast and it was a dull overcast day.

Diva walking onto the sheep.

 Diva working on driving the sheep.

Ryder working on his flanks.  One of his weak areas.  

Love this shot of Ryder!


Ken working Ryder (this is how I managed to get pictures...)

I had to laugh when I saw this next picture.  While I was working Diva, huffing and puffing, I pulled up.  Ken talked to me a little bit and told me to get going.  Looking at him I suggested he work her for a few minutes.  Giving me a steely look he told me to get my arse in gear.  Keep in mind I had on long underwear and the heavy duty Sorel winter boots ~ and I do mean heavy!  Also keep in mind that I was tromping through snow.  Giving him a prune face look I said "What is this Andrea Fat Camp??"  He laughed and said "Apparently."  So when you look at the next picture you see Ken in action.  It's an excellent highlight about how when you're training stock dogs (particularly young ones) you don't stand around.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best Buds


Bella's best buddy Ryder.

Don't worry, it's just a friendly wrestle.

We take turns being boss.

And have lot's of fun making the snow fly!

New Year

Normally I don't worry too much about New Years.  My new year always starts in September with a fresh crop of little faces.  This year will be different.  With Sarge making the break at a break I've had some thinking to do.  So this year I will have some new "resolutions".

  1. Exercise: While sad, the only way that I know how to heal my bruised self-concept is to exercise.  It's one way I've had in the past in dealing with issues and it will be my crutch for the future.  I'm planning on entering the 10k Melissa's Road Race.  The registration for the race is usually in February and it will give me something to focus on.  I'd love to train for a marathon but just don't have time until I'm done University.  I'd also like to either join a recreational sport league or take some classes.  Time becomes a factor because I get resentful when I'm away from my dogs too much.  I also took my measurements and I'll weigh myself at the farm when I go that way today.  This way I'll have some data to compare.
  2. 365 Day Challenge:  Last year my friend told me about this challenge where you take one picture every day for a year.  This year I think I'd like to try it.   I'll start a separate blog for it.  Again, it gives me something to focus on and think about.  
  3. Dogs: My doggy goal this year is to get both Diva and Ryder "finished" on stock.  As in, we can go to competitions finished.  Not much will happen in the winter because we have too much snow in the fields and I'll be dependent on driving them places to work them on stock.  I also plan to continue on with doing some basic training - obedience or trick - each night.  I think it'll be good for all of us.  
  4. Horses:  Guinness needs to get started.  Based on how sassy he is in the field I'm predicting that he won't be the easiest guy to get going under saddle.  Let's hope I'm wrong.  I don't know what I'll do with Bugsy yet.  If I don't "click" with her in the summer I'll re-home her.  I've already put some thought into who I'd give her to.
  5. Family and Friends:  I'll admit I'm something of a hermit.  I don't really feel the need to socialize all that much and I'm quite awkward in social settings.  That being said I'm going to make an effort this year to stay connected with friends and to spend more time with family.  Not just my parents "family" but my brothers and their children as well.  This year I maybe saw my  brothers 3-4 times.  Their children basically don't know me.  I need to make more of an effort to connect with them and to spend time with them.  I need to make an effort to call friends and to do things with them.  
  6. University:  I will finish my research by June and write my capstone paper in July and August.  I am desperate to be done with this!  This working full time and going to school part time is very stressful.
  7. Religion:  I feel the need to reconnect.  I plan to start going to church again.  I was raised in a very religious home, but have lost touch with my faith while remaining very spiritual.
I will work on these things this year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snow Dog

There are times Diva reminds me so strongly of Tessa.  One of those times is how she loves to play in the snow.  Diva and Tessa both enjoy tossing the snow and "snoodling" into it.  It never fails to bring a smile to my face.  Love, love this first pic of Diva with the snow on her face.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dog Training

I've started a daily regime of dog training.  Just for short bursts to help keep the babies minds occupied. Diva is working on "sit".  She knows it but tends to break from it.  Tonight she was pretty good.  Very alert and willing.  I'm beginning to wonder if Calvin (stockdog trainer from Wales) was right.  He felt she was immature and should be left to grow up.  We'll keep working on sit until it's concrete and can be consistently counted on in a variety of settings.  For variety I'm going to teach her to "sit pretty".  I'm also going to continue working with her on her fetch skills.  She's coming along but I think if I focus and reward she may get the hang of it.

Ryder I began with trying to get him to "high five" but I'm afraid we've done so much hand targeting that he wants to nose me.  I had to tap his feet to get him to pick them up and even then he preferred to drop into a "lie down".  So I switched to "sit pretty".  This went much better and he seems to be getting the hang of it.  With him I'm going to toss in "get back" because he kind of understands it.  I just need to get it consistent.  I'm also going to do some target work with a plastic lid.  I think at some point I'd like to start taking him to agility lessons, but the reality of that is it likely won't happen until fall.  I have far too much on my plate now to add more.

He's gotten quite good at "hide and seek".  Granted my house is small, but it's good practice for his "stay".

I've decided I'll get the babies trained this year - even if it kills me!

Focus, my friends.  Focus.


Bugsy is a very alert girl.  Always on the look out.  

Look at those "buggy" eyes.  

Compare this to when I first got her and her body condition is sooooo much better.

Bugsy was stick measured at 15 hh.  Take a look at Guinness...

Cute as a button!

Nom. Nom.

This is what greets me twice a day.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dog Love

I've hated how I've been stressing out the babies.  They don't like it when I'm stressed or upset.  Earlier both dogs crawled on my lap and licked up the tears that were falling.  Diva, while capable of being a super brat, has become my little shadow.  She sleeps by my room.  (I'm trying to stick with the keep the dogs out of the bedroom rule.)  She gives me cuddles.  When I was unable to sleep on my bed and moved to the couch she crawled up into the nook behind my legs and slept with me.  She's funny because she likes having a pillow (for real) or headrest.  Here she makes due with my legs propping up her head.  Such a little monster she fights sleep until her heavy eyes just can't stay open any longer.

I love my dogs.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Catch Up

As of Friday I went on Christmas break.  Over the past week I kept telling myself I just needed to make it to Friday.  After saying goodbye to Tessa I was tired.  Really, really tired.  Unfortunately the week following was a week of Christmas concert preparations and shopping.  (A special kind of hell on earth is Christmas shopping.)  One of the hardest things was telling the students about Tessa.  Rotten luck in them asking if I'd bring her (she did therapy work there last year) in.  Of course they ask the day after.  I need to start working with Ryder.  I see him making a wonderful therapy dog with more confidence and exposure.  The babies have been neglected.  It's been quite chilly here.  Big wind chills keep us trapped inside.

I've been feeding up the horses.  There really isn't much you can do other than give them free choice food.  They have shelter, bedding and water.  I did have them blanketed but pulled them off because unless the blanket is thick enough they do more harm than good.  (Pack down hair so the horses can't fluff up.)  Plus both need a size up for the blanket to truly fit properly.

Tomorrow I'll binge clean.  Makes me feel sooooo good to have a clean house.  This break I'll be working on my literature review for university.  I have a "date" with Ken. Pending weather.  We'll play with horses and work dogs.  I'm also dying to get some work done with Bugsy.  I'd love to see how she responds under saddle.  She's definitely quirky.  When you tie her up she gets a bit jittery.  Doesn't want to stand to be brushed.  I discovered she doesn't like the round rubber brush.  Sensitive?  She does better with the dandy brushes, even the rubber mitt.  I've noticed when she's loose she always wants to face up to me.  She's not comfortable with me by her side.  As soon as it warms up I'm going to try to untangle the crazy wind knots in her mane.  If I can't get them out I'm going to roach her mane.  She's looking better now that she's lost weight.  I'd love for the weather to cooperate so I can see "who" she is.  Sarge thinks she's going to turn out okay.  She's already shown improvement and I've spent a limited amount of time with her.  Today (while I froze my arse off) I scratched her neck.  She let out this shuddering sigh.  But - she's starting to trust me more.  :)

Hopefully the weather lets me get some quality horse time.  I've decided to choose a trick to teach the babies.  Realistically I should be working with Dee on obedience.  She knows her stuff - she just chooses what and when she wants to do.  I think if I can get her working more this will help.

This is plan A.  If the weather clears I'll get some pictures of the fur family.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Shopping And Assorted Sundry

I am a mildly freakish girl in the manner that I despise shopping.  I particularly despise shopping in commercial people filled malls.  Bleh!  That being said, I have a sick and twisted horse obsession and LOVE horse shopping.  This I could do every day.  Sarge and I went to the horse auction on Saturday. (I played partial hooky from school.)  There was a never ending amount of tack so I never stayed for the horses but there were some cute weanlings and yearlings going through.  Realistically - I know I don't have time.  I need to focus on getting Guinness launched into the world of purpose and work.  He's a monster.  He's currently in a size 72 blanket and has his bum hanging out.  He's also super spunky.  When I tossed him his hay yesterday he had to have a buck and fart.

Back to my shopping obsession...

So, on my wish list is a draft horse, mule, donkey.  All of which I have absolutely no purpose for...  but wouldn't that be fun??

Over Christmas break I'm going to take some stock lessons with the two dogs.  I'd also like to have an agility lesson to give us some stuff to work on in the evenings.  I'd also take some dog trick and game ideas to help pass the winter nights.

Other than that I'm just trying to keep my head above water.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Sometimes it's hard to say goodbye to old friends, yet that is what I did today.  Over the past three days I'd carved out time to sit with Tessa.  On Sunday, when I went out she was basically immobile.  She got up and walked once, going outside to go do her business.  When I called at lunch on Monday my dad was choked up not thinking she'd make it through the day.  After a long frustrating and stressful day at work, I pulled myself together and went to the farm to sit with her.  Upset about the five million other things I was neglecting, Sarge helped pull the guilt away, allowing me to find peace.

Mom had made her a pillow pallet and she was covered with a fleece blanket.  By this point in time she was unable to stand at all and hadn't ate or drank all day.  I sat with her.  Placing her bed in the vee of my legs and stroked and massaged her.  I had tentatively thought I'd bring her home with me, but when it came time to go to bed, mom and dad quickly carried her to their bedroom.  I realized then that this was as hard for them as it was for me.  So I left her with them.

I took today off work.  I did my chores, gave Diva and Ryder a quick play and went back out to the farm.  Gathering up Tessa I placed her on the couch, with her head on my lap.  We stayed like that for the bulk of the day.  I began to feel peace.  In the morning my vet had called me.  She was a bit upset and worried.  After I explained how quickly Tessa had lost function she felt better.  I knew that when she'd see Tessa she'd know, just as I knew.

It may seem strange but I feel relieved.  I think back to a young and carefree time where Tessa and I would go for great rambling rides through the field.  The wind in my hair, and her tail in the air.  This is how I remember her.  She was a good friend and beloved companion.

Rest in peace, Tessa.  You are loved.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


It's time for Tessa to say goodbye.  Over the past couple of weeks she has gone downhill at a rapid rate.    Dad has been carrying her downstairs and outside.  She struggles with getting up.  Mom thinks she may have had a stroke because she doesn't seem to have very good function in her right hind.  Last week dad took her into the vet.  She was given a hefty pain killer and something that looks like an antibiotic.  I had university this weekend so I'll go see her tomorrow.  I also have university next Thursday-Saturday.  And I feel stressed about trying to carve the time out to do the right thing.  (This prof. is not one of those forgiving ones...)  Morally, I can't imagine sending her in to the vet without me.  It breaks my heart when I think of going on without her.

She's been such a special dog to me.  She brought light into my life at a time when the world was grey.  She's made me laugh.  She's made me cry.  She's cost me sick and twisted amounts of money.  She opened up a world of firsts.  And she held my hand while I sat through sometimes excruciating treatments.  She's made children who are trapped in "special" bodies smiles bright.  She has loved me (and my family) unconditionally.  She has loved anyone who has crossed her path unconditionally.  This dog knows how to give.

But she's sad now.  Spending all her time sleeping.  Hurting.

It's time.

Time for me to let her go.  Mom and I talked about cremating her so that when the spring comes and green grass with it, we can give Tessa a final resting place as special and beautiful as she is.

My heart hurts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Last night I banished the babies.  I've been waking up in the morning pinned down by them.  Yesterday morning I tried to kick and roll but the two of them had the covers so tight I couldn't move.  I've been waking up tired and stiff.  So, after a conversation with Sarge, I put up a baby gate and banished them from my bedroom.  I moved their beds out of the room, and set up things so they had a variety of comfy spots to snooze in the hall, kitchen and dining room.  The living room I leave blocked off as I don't want them on my leather furniture unsupervised.

Locking them out, I climbed into my bed.  Where I tossed and turned, riddled with guilt.  The look on their faces when they couldn't come snuggle in their usual places.  Tossing and turning I listened to Ryder pace the hallway.  Both dogs eventually settled in and went to bed.  But I, I couldn't sleep.  It was as though my furry security blanket had been taken away.  I've gotten rather used to the comfort of having Ryder with me.  (Diva often sleeps in her crate - her choice.)  And normally Ryder sleeps in his spot on the bed and doesn't bug me while I sleep.  Eventually I got up and took a Robaxin, hoping it would have dual function: make me sleepy and make my arms less ouchy.

To be honest I think the dogs are reacting to how stressed I've been feeling.  They've suddenly felt the need to be close to me.  Pushing their little bodies against mine while I sleep.

I do think that it's probably better practice to keep them out of my room.  But I sure miss their snuggles in the morning!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bates Australia Close Contact English Saddle - For Sale

Yes, to those enquiring minds.  I still plan to sell the saddle.  Mostly because using it would involve new horses.  Neither horse I currently own is particularly suited to going English.  I could use it for pleasure - however I really do love my cutting saddle and also enjoy riding in it.  It's comparable to an "English" feel.  So here's the saddle - in all it's glory.

It currently has a medium, medium narrow, and (2 ??) narrow gullets.  As best as I can measure it seems to have a standard/medium tree.  The tack store sticker said 17.5" seat but the sticker on the saddle says 17 - take that as you may.

I'm asking $1400 CND.  (This saddle retailed around $2000.)