Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Lure

Because I'm mildly obsessive compulsive I've been pondering the horsey future.  Here's the deal: Jason would love to see me on a nice high end cutter/cutter prospect. I'd also really enjoy that.  Love it in fact.  The truth is most cutters, even good ones have some quirks.

After riding Ken's Popeye who is broke, broke, broke.... I'm a bit tempted to change paths.  It had been so long since I got on a horse and didn't have to be "alert" that I almost didn't know what to do with myself.  It was peaceful and enjoyable.  It created a powerful lure.  I'm being lured into a steady eddy kind of horse.  An uncomplicated ride. Something I can get on and do a variety of events on.

I have a long time before I need to make decisions.  But that lure, that was some potent stuff...

Friday, July 26, 2013

It Is Not Like Riding a Bike

You know how they say once you know how to ride a bike you never forget?  You can take time off, then hop on and off you go.


Roping, not so much...

I spent yesterday at Ken's I was up before six and on the road by seven.  I pulled into his yard at nine.  By ten we had horses saddled and were out in the pasture.  By pasture I mean 160 acres.  He wanted some help doctoring a cow and he needed to tag and vaccinate some late calves.  I was stoked.  This sounded like a ridiculous amount of fun!  After all I used to team rope...  I could totally do this...

The reality:

I was riding a horse I'd rode twice before.  It was my first time on a horse in close to a year.  I haven't picked up a rope in over 8 years.  I haven't done any pasture work in over 13 years.  And my personal favorite, Ken does not put rubber on his horn (this stops the rope from sliding when you dally).


We started off with Ken roping some calves.  He was riding a jittery gorgeous grey gelding.  It was a footstep away from being a wreck of epic proportions with the first calf.  The horse went up, Ken went to the side, his foot looking like it wanted to hang up in the stirrup, calf jumping around on the end of the rope...  He managed to get clear, get his horse working, and get the calf safely treated.  There's something so special about watching the little gaffers trotting off with their new ear tags flapping.  We settled in to work.  Ken roping and I held the herd in one spot.

We worked our way to the section where a lame cow was.  My job was to rope the cow.  Ken said she was pretty spicy so I should wear her out (lope her around) before roping her.  Yeah.  She was more than a little spicy.  Ken finally stepped in with his horse and ran her to a stop.  I looked at him and told him I thought she was ok.  She was moving fine on her foot.  I couldn't see any swelling or ickies in her hoof.  We decided she was on the mend and didn't need any intervention.  At this point Ken decided I should start roping calves.

Throw.  Miss.  Throw.  Miss.  Trying to get the horse to work for me.  Sigh.  Finding a calf lying down I threw and caught.  Dallied.  And couldn't figure out why the calf kept getting further and further away.  The dally was sliding with no rubber.  I'd like to add the calf was no longer sleeping peacefully...   Looking down and realizing my finger was in a very dangerous spot I undallied, and tried to pull the rope.  Meanwhile, the horse was not cooperating.  When the dust finally settle I had no coils in my hand, and an angry momma cow following as I dragged her calf to higher ground.  (It was in a low spot - read wet.)   It was ridiculous.

It was also a ridiculous amount of fun.  If I'm going to be doing more of this I'm going to be borrowing a friend's rope saddle, complete with rubber on the horn.  I'll also spend some time dummy roping.

I had forgot how much work roping was.  My entire body hurts.  While I was roping my hands hurt (why I was at Neurologists last week), but I didn't get really bad tremors.  I don't know if physically I can do this as a hobby, but I think I'll work at it a bit and test the waters.

I'm still smiling.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

So. Much. Fun.

Yesterday was a herding extravaganza for me.  I had a chiropractor appointment early in the morning.   I quickly rushed out to grab the dogs to get in a quick work following it.  You see, I had company coming.  I had one of my puppy connections connection coming out to work his dog on sheep for the first time.  This dog kinda has a Diva-ish reputation.  She has been a challenge for the owners.  I was prepared for a cross between a marathon and a train wreck.

She turned out to be delightful.  She was natural and soft on the sheep.  Lovely.  It was so much fun watching the owners eyes light up with joy when they saw how content their little whirling dervish was.  I love sharing the joy of herding.  Heck, I just love teaching people new things.  I am by no means a herding expert or professional.  Just someone who has gained knowledge from other people and learned from my mistakes.

I ended up spending over four hours working dogs.  I'm pretty sure the sheep didn't find it as joyful as the rest of us...

My new friends are coming out again on Sunday for another work. I am so happy their little dog has found it's niche in life.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yard Work

I've been working on my yard since my return from the US.  The previous owners either over planted or didn't keep up with the perennial beds.  They were a mess.  Last fall I cleaned out a truck load of plants.    The remaining plants that grew back are headed towards my sewage mound which I'm turning into a wildflower bed.  

This is the "cleaned" bed.  It took me about 6 hours to get all the weeds and plants out.  I'm leaving two rose bushes and the lillies.  Love lillies...

This is the sewage mound with sprayed grass and some of the perennials planted.  I plan to put down a wildflower seed mix on the rest.

This is the second bed that is still infested with weeds.  I need to move perennials, leave the lillies (they'll eventually end up in the other bed) and pull and spray the weeds.

This is my third perennial bed.  It was an overgrown mass of plants.  Because I managed to get most, it's now an overgrown mass of weeds.  I'll clean it up and begin the process of grooming it for other plants.  I haven't quite decided what I want to put there.

This is my other project.  There had been a junk shed here.  I moved a lot of junk and weeds from the area last year.  It's had two sprays this year.  Now I'll clean up the remaining weeds, removing the final bits and pieces of junk, put down some top soil and reseed it as grass.  Eventually I want to make it part of the dog run.  (I have enough panels.)

Here is my garden.  It's taken a beating with the weather we've had this year.  My poor corn is super stunted and some of my cucumber plants didn't survive.  I'll need to prune my tomato plants this week and give everything a shot of fertilizer.

This is one of my favorite plants.  I have two decks.  One north facing and one south facing.  This guy loves the shady north deck!

My favorite pansies.  Probably the only plant on my property that's doing well.  (Besides weeds...)

This little guy seems to prefer the cool rainy weather.  I think it's the pot.  I've decided next year the pot will get shade plants.

One of my front entrance barrels.  I put flax as the center piece but it HATED the rain and is quite stunted.

Love the colors here, but again with the rain they aren't as happy as they could be.  Time to deadhead...

This was one of my south deck "surprise" pots.  I had planted nicotia and wave petunias...  The nicotia must have been mislabeled because it was giant!  And the waves have done some very interesting things.  I put in a black petunia for interest but it's getting buried under the other plants.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stress Is The Devil

Here I am.  Changing my ways.  Honestly!

I have decided that stress is the devil.  I am by nature a worrier. This is not something that's particularly healthy.  In some ways it's hard because my life is filled to the brim with stress.  If I can't eliminate the stressors I certainly can improve my coping skills.  Today I had a wake up call.  I was at the Neurologists.  Yes, Neurologist.  They weighed me.  While I knew I'd "chunked" up with the back injury I was horrified to get my weight.  This to me is indicative of the stress in my life.  Both of which I must shed.

Goal One: probably the most painful for me as I'm a die-hard Starbucks and Iced Tea Addict... to significantly reduce the amount of caffeine in my diet.  As I type, I'm sipping on Iced Earl Grey Tea - caffeine free.

Goal Two: get my mom into a doctor before summer is out.  My mom is becoming increasingly forgetful and we have Dementia (Alzheimer's) in the family on my maternal side.  It's to the point where it's not just age related.  I've worried, and worried about her.  No more.  It's time for some action.  I'll get some advice on how best to approach it and have a respectful conversation with her.

Goal Three: bite the bullet and write my capstone paper (like a Thesis).  This has been stressing me and it's time for it to get finished.  Once it's finished I won't have the time pressure to complete it.

Goal Four: begin physical fitness routine.  This is for me one of my best coping strategies.  I want to run regularly (as I prefer dog friendly activities).  I'll also add in yoga, swimming or cycling.  Right now I'm leaning towards yoga because it's something I've really enjoyed in the past.

Goal Five:  Nutrition.  I've been eating a lot of junk.  This is really hard on my system.  It's time to get strict and follow a Mediterranean diet.  Not fun and not my preferred way of eating.  But if I can do it through the summer I think I'll have balanced myself out that I can relax it once work begins again.

Goal Six: Animal and Nature time.  I've rediscovered how balanced and peaceful I feel when training the dogs.  For a long time I lost my Zen when working the dogs.  But it's back.  I'm able to be in the moment.  This is key.  I've been reworking my perennial beds and transferring the sewage mound.  I want to have wildflowers on the mound.  In my back perennial bed I want to have lillies and in the front bed roses and daffodils, maybe something else.  I've also got areas I'm reseeding with grass.  It's supposed to be nice so I'll take some pictures of my projects.  These things help me release physical stress but also bring me peace.  It grounds me to dig in the dirt.    Getting riding time is also important to add in.

I figure I have six weeks to focus on resetting myself.  I'm committing the summer to to me.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

University Trip

This past week I've spent it on campus at University of Portland in the lovely city of Portland, Oregon.  As a general rule I used to travel a fair amount, and I quite enjoyed it.  I'm relatively well traveled with destinations in Europe, Cuba, Quebec, all of North West US, Maui, San Francisco, and so on.  As my animal family increased my world travel decreased...  Now, I have trouble leaving the dogs behind.  I always feel slightly guilty and homesick.

Portland was quite a clean and friendly city.  I live in a city that is fairly large.  The greater Edmonton area has around 1 million people.  The greater Portland area has around 2 million, so double in size.  There were about 20 of us, who traveled from Edmonton to satisfy the residency requirement.  This is something we all needed to do to qualify for our degree.  Three of us had agreed to rent a car together.  Unfortunately the campus was not easily accessible by public transit.  Big mistake.  HUGE.  The one woman (my age), insisted on renting early.  This meant it was in her name.  Being cheap I decided to save $100 and not put my name on the car.  Another large mistake.  Unfortunately the lady who drove talked big (world traveler) but was awful behind the wheel.  She cried when we made wrong turns...  She had no sense of direction.  Or even common sense.  It quite blew me away.  It made for an unpleasant tourist experience.  I eventually ditched her and started sight seeing and shopping with others.  (We did have classes but did things around them.)

One of the fun activities we did was the BrewCycle.  Another of the things we did that made me particularly happy was visit one of the professors who happens to live in the country.  I was so happy to be surrounded by the stunning vegetation and trees.  My favorite shopping experience was the Woodburn Outlet Mall.  It was here that I bought my running shoes for close to half off.  Thrilled.  I was thrilled!

Last night when my plane touched down, I will also admit to being very happy to be back on Canadian soil and headed home to my little dogs.  It's nice to go and see but it's better to come home.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

How The Mighty Fall

All week I've been working the dogs twice a day.  I drive out in the morning and give them a hefty work while the grass is still wet with dew and the temperatures are cooler.  Then I drive back out in the evening and give them a lighter work.  While I was babysitting the farm I noticed an ewe with pink eye.  When my parents came back dad and I sorted her out.  In addition we vaccinated and sheared some of the woolies.  Ryder helped us pen.  My dad was astounded.  He kept saying what a nice dog he was.  The only road block was when dad grabbed the paddle.  Ryder heard it and buggered off of context.  It was really hard to get him to work when dad put any pressure on the sheep.  It was quite clear the dog was scared.  No paddle equaled a wonderful working partner.  I think my strategy will be to have dad rattle the paddle and feed Ryder Treats until he sees he won't be hurt.

Yesterday both dogs gave me a smoking awesome work in the morning.  Such a good work that when I got home I began looking to see if there were any trials nearby that would be around end of July.  I pondered driving to New Dayton (about a 5.5 hour drive).  Then my evening work stank.  Ryder stank up the house.  He was so determined that he knew what he was doing he turned deaf.  I became pissed off - which is never good.  Ryder realized I was ticked at him and began to slow down and worked way  out of context.  I had to take a deep breath.  Called him to me.  We stood there for a few minutes while I stroked his head and ears.  I need to leave my thoughts off the field and focus on what is.  He's a young dog with limited training.  One day at a time. is my new moto.

Right now he's about 50-60% on his flanks, doing a controlled drive, an outrun of about 2 power pole lengths (sorry distance is NOT my thing).  My goal is to get him 110% on his flanks.  Stretching everything else out won't be hard because he's quite an honest dog with a natural outrun.  I need to work on an easy command because he moves the sheep down the field at a pretty good trot.

Diva has been a superstar.  She's outrunning as cleanly and as far as Ryder now.  She has a lot of eye so I'm working on keeping her on her feet and moving.  She's showing me she wants to work for me which is so wonderful.  I'm able to walk off the field with her off leash.  This is a huge growth.

Dogs are funny.  The moment you start thinking you know what to expect, they change things up on you.  Keeps a girl humble.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I'm aliiiiiiive!

So things have been a wee bit busy.  I had started to respond to Liz's questions for the something or other blog award only to get sidetracked and never made it back to it.

I've had an interesting few weeks.

1) Fender bender with my beloved truck.
2) Pink eye - thank you student...
3) Taking care of farm while parents are gone.
4) Getting audited by tax man.  That's some good fun...
5) Getting ready to fly to Portland and getting Visa's and paperwork organized.

While all of this has been going on I've also been busy doing some of the things I love.  We've had some pretty nasty rain here.  In fact, it was so bad some of the cities had serious flooding.  (Google Calgary or High River floods.)  There was some minor flooding in my city and I've been grateful my sump pump in my basement has been working.  (It's been running 3-4 times a day right now.)  We've finally been blessed with some sunshine which will help everyone dry out.  The rain and hail beat the tar outta my flowers.  I spent 2 hours yesterday deadheading and cleaning up plants.  I'll do another hour today.  Hopefully they'll recover and I'll get some pics to share.

I also sat and chatted with two of my favorite men.  Ken and I visited, talking dogs and horses.  He'll be loaning me one of his horses for the summer.  I'll run to Drayton Valley and pick him up once I'm back from the states.  I also chatted with Jason.  Jason is the cutting horse trainer who started Roxy and who I rode with one summer.  I'll be riding and turning back for him this summer.  Yay!  I had been thinking that cutting wouldn't be a viable horse option for me over the next few years.  I've reconsidered that opinion.  The reason is simple.  I want to live a life filled with passion.  And this is something I'm passionate about.  So much so that I'm not willing to drop it.  Where there's a will, there's a way.  Right??

I've been driving out to my parents twice a day (10 minutes each way) to do chores.  Dad had bought a bunch of sheep to keep the grass down in the "horse" pasture and for me to play with.  So twice a day I've been working the dogs.  With the sudden heat no one - including animals - is acclimatized.  For that reason I've been fairly short with the works.  I must admit I was stunned at the progress my poor neglected dogs had made!  Ryder has developed confidence.  What once would have been a standoff now results in sheep moving away from him.  With his confidence has also come a sudden deafness.  He has decided that he knows best and has ignored some of my commands.  In particular the "lie down" and recall.  We'll be working on this...

Diva has been the biggest surprise of all.  The grass in the field is very high.  It stops about my mid thigh.  This has made it challenging for the dogs to see the sheep.  After some initial struggles the dogs have figured it out.  This morning I sent Diva on one of her longer outruns.  She started out straight.  Crash the flock straight.  Calling, I wanted her to lie down so I could help her.  This is Diva.  Once she's released she's like a heat seeking missile.  There is no stopping.  (Yet.)  And then the moment of brilliance.  She suddenly veers to the left making a perfect bubble around the flock of sheep, slowing to rate and gently bringing them to my feet.  I was stunned.  So impressed with the little brat.  She's really starting to work for me.  With me.

I plan to start taking the dogs to town to rework on their socialization and manners.  We've definitely made progress but I want to feel confident with taking them in public places.  Particularly places with dogs...  Because I've done NO exercise since I've hurt my back I'm thinking starting to run in town with the dogs is a good place to start.  I'm pain free and plan to start upping my activity levels.

I'll try to get some video of the dogs working over the next few weeks.  :)