Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thinking About Horses

Okay, so I have a problem.  I have an obsession I can't seem to get past.  I've been contemplating horses, horses and more horses.  Realistically I'm looking at a year before I would have time for a horse.  While I've enjoyed scrolling through all the horses for sale I can't settle on what type of horse I want.  I can't settle on what discipline I want to ride.  Do I want a nice All Around horse that I can ranch cut, rope, and trail ride on?  Do I want to focus on performance horses?  Do I want a Paint?  A quarter horse?  An Arab?  I just don't know.  Maybe I don't want to buy a horse next summer.  Maybe I just want to lease a horse from one of the multitude of stables in the area?  Or maybe I just want a part lease?  Maybe want to wait and spend the money on travel?

I feel rather in limbo.  I love the idea of doing it all but that's just not realistic.  If I could do anything I'd have the high end cutting horse.  However, my trainer has moved further away from me.  Do I have the ability to do this on my own?  I just don't know.

I think that sums it up nicely.

I just don't know.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Strange Encounters

Diva, Ryder and I have been encountering some of my neighbors on our walks.  Ryder is really beginning to take things in stride.  His big issue remains other dogs.  He feels compelled to bark or growl, even when I'm working on basic commands such as sit or heel.  He is now taking bikes, strollers, scooters and walkers in stride.  Children are no big deal for him.

Diva on the other hand has beautiful leash manners and if I can keep her focused on me we do well when we encounter things.  If she goes into "stalk" mode she can be difficult to refocus.  Children, bikes, scooters and sometimes walkers remain scary to her.  Mind you, I've also discovered that rocks and snowbanks can get the same reaction...  Some days I wonder if I should get her eyes tested.

Today in her defense we came across the most interesting child.  The best visual I can give is a standing up turtle on a scooter.  This little boy had on a bike helmet, the roundest, fullest backpack I've seen in a while, and was happily scooting down the road.  In fact he was zig zagging.  Towards us.  As a preemptive strike I put the dogs into heel formation.  As he approaches, Diva does her on alert and gives a little grumble.  I give her a sharp reprimand insisting she goes back into heel.  She complies.  Well, as much as dog curled up into a pretzel position, while walking can do...  The child then swerves towards us, yelling some weird gibberish phrase (and I'm well versed in cool kid phrases), and continues on.  Diva's eyes bulge out of her head.  Her tail crawls further up her sphincter and she tries to remain in heel while watching behind us.  She performed the most acrobatic functions on our walk tonight.

For whatever reason kids and wheeled apparatus' are particularly freaky for her.  This kid, did not help.  But it was a great training opportunity.  Ryder, my little superstar took this strange child in stride.  Showing an alert curiosity.  If loose there would have been a pretty good likelihood of him chasing or jumping on the creature before running back to me.

All in all, it was quite the amusing walk tonight.

Monday, May 20, 2013


I've pretty much accepted the fact that the babies and I won't be hitting any dog trials this summer.  It's looking like I'm still a good 3 weeks off being able to work them.  The irony that dad bought me sheep and they're sitting at the farm is not lost on me.  When I walk the "pinch" aka pain in my arse *back* is slowly lessening.  I'm able to walk a little farther on the gravel lease road and am sticking with the "short" loop (4+ish km) in the subdivision.  My back usually starts to scream at about the 1 mile mark.  Today I noticed I could walk around the yard without it hurting.

Basically, the dogs have been off stock for months.  4.5 months to be exact.  This means we're too far behind in our training goals to reach the point where we can enter a field trial.  This means the babies don't compete as nursery dogs.  If the timing works out the first trial I anticipate us being ready for is in November.  If I pushed Ryder really hard he could probably be ready end of July or August.  But I don't want to do that.  He basically just needs things to be stretched out and to gain some confidence on his flanks.  Diva doesn't even know her flanks so she's significantly further behind.

I've pondered sending one or both out for training.  Mostly Diva as she's the one who I think would benefit from regular work.  The control freak in me has trouble with this concept.  I suppose it won't kill the dogs to remain with me on lockdown.  We've been working on nitpicky things like waiting when a door is opened or stretching out the length of a sit command.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Let's Play!

I can say there was once a time when I genuinely thought Diva would never develop a play drive.  This picture is evidence to the contrary.  She still prefers that I initiate the play.  She struggles with bringing me a toy to ask me to play.  Tonight she brought me the toy and gave it to me.  Normally when she wants to play she either a) harasses Ryder into playing then steals the toy from him or b) sits at my feet and whines very insistently and persistently while staring intently at the toy sitting across the room.  She is fetching beautifully outside with longer and longer throws.  I've even been able to throw different toys and have her return them.  She's still somewhat tentative about playing tug, but I'm happy she'll fetch as this is the best exercise for her.  When Ryder plays hide and seek, I'm making her get up and look.  She often finds it before him but then lies and stares at the toy until he finds it.  The next trick will be to get her to retrieve the hidden toy.

Another big growth was a friend's mom stopped by to pick up something.  Neither of the dogs barked!!  Or jumped up!!  (To be fair I had hold of Diva's cord.)  Both gave appropriate and curious greetings.  Woot!  Perhaps part of my battle is making sure they're getting enough stimulation - maybe that's the secret to having them be balanced nice dogs.  

Either way - isn't she cute as a button in this picture?  What you don't know is she's lying beneath my legs whining right now.  Ryder has put himself to bed under my bed... Such different little personalities!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Catching Up

The end of March I had pulled a muscle in my back doing snow removal.  My back is still not healed.  This is making me looney.  A little bit fatter.  It's also making the dogs looney.  And a little bit fatter.  We have been confined to nice on leash walks around the subdivisions.  I'd love to go work dogs now that it's nicer out.  But running hurts like crazy.  There is no working younger unfinished dogs without some running.

As soon as the weather got nice enough I bought my bedding plants and have been gardening like crazy.  This is my therapy.  While I garden I play with the dogs.  Diva has gotten a good handle on fetch, even in the yard.  Ryder is becoming very proficient at hide and seek with his toys, even in the yard.  I've been trying to come up with things to stimulate the dogs.  I know they're bored.  Diva is being super bossy with Ryder.  Ryder is my big suck and he spends a fair amount of time snuggling with me.

While I'm digging in the dirt, Ryder and Diva hang out with me.  Sometimes Diva is tied to the tree.  Sometimes she's loose on a long line.  Ryder is pretty reliable out in the yard so I don't worry so much.  The other night Diva spotted a lady walking on the road that borders my property.  Much barking ensued.  What surprised me is Diva was wagging (Wagging??) her tail at the lady.  So strange.  Ryder as always comes back quickly and is developing a very good lie down and stay during exciting times.  Diva is only as reliable as she wants to be.  That being said she's my little shadow in the house these days.  I've also discovered she loves carrots.

Any suggestions for speeding the recovery of my back or games for the dogs would be appreciated.