Saturday, December 27, 2014

Progress? Or Lack Thereof?

It's been a long, busy month.  The weather here has actually been reasonable.  When Dad returned from his vacation from Mexico he dug in heels regarding Whiskey.  He has decided that she should not be put down.  I get his point.  Her eye remains soft and relaxed.  While she is most definitely lame, she is NOT as lame as she was last winter.  Dad has put out round straw bales for her to set up housekeeping at.  He's also created a straw path to the waterer.  This seems to have helped her as she's no longer drinking when he carries a bucket of water out to her so she must be drinking from the auto waterer.  The goal this winter is to keep her off the hard ground on soft footing.  To keep her weight at a healthy level.

I tried and tried to explain to him that she will NOT get better.  That there is permanent damage.  I may end up doing x-rays in the spring just to show him.  I've decided for the time being that we'll continue on - status quo.  Until she seems to not be able to manage we'll leave things be.  In spring I'll reassess her.  Things always seem so much easier in the spring and summer.

One never knows what the future will bring.

Friday, November 14, 2014


I've always believed that love is not enough.  You can love as much as you want but you still need to be reasonable, thoughtful and respectful.  I'm someone who loves animals with a capital L.  They feed my soul and bring serenity and balance to my life.

Today, love is not enough.  I can love Whiskey to the moon and back.  I do love her to the moon and back.  The simple truth is there is not enough love in the world to fix what is wrong with her.  On this cold and blustery day, Sam - the vet came out.  She wanted to rule out an easy fix.  Something like an abscess.  We stood in the cold wind and talked.  I'm not going to lie.  I've been around horses for a long time.  I know, deeply and intrinsically, when something is wrong.  And something is wrong with my beloved mare.  The vet thinks it's likely a broken bone in her foot or a torn suspensory.  We can do x-rays.  We can "de-nerve" her.  We can put on corrective shoeing.  But to what end?  I asked if x-rays would help.  Sam shrugged helplessly.  She said they would just tell us definitively what's wrong, not fix her.  Basically there is no fix.  I trust my vet.  She is skilled, experienced and maintains up to date practice.  She is a life long learner.  I trust my vet with my horses life.  All of the options presented don't change the outcome.  They just change the timeline.

We are looking at quality of life here.  My hope had been that she could manage to be a companion for Marnie.  The reality is that's not going to happen.  We're going to hobble through the next couple of weeks.  Feeding her bute, carrying her water, and leaving her snuggled up to a round straw bale.

I need the time to line up things.  My first choice is to get a back hoe in to dig a hole so Whiskey can rest at the farm.  The back hoe will be significantly more expensive but will bring me peace of mind.  Less desirable but possibly necessary will be to "book" the rendering truck.  Once I have the after care in place, I'll make an appointment to have Sam come put her down.

I love her enough to do the right thing, even though it's the hard thing for us humans.  Some days it sucks being responsible.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


As I opened up Blogger and scrolled down through my reading list I saw Liz's Setback post.  It was perfect timing for me to read and for the thoughts swirling around my head.

My dad called tonight.

This has been the first week of winter.  No one is acclimatized.  Not me.  Not the dogs.  Not the horses.  Dad called to tell me he's been taking buckets of water out to Whiskey who is now refusing to enter the corral area.  He said she's having a hard time walking.

Dad can be funny about stuff.  The neighbour never did water his horses.  Snow is fine and all that hooey.  He also never did feed unless it was a particularly deep snow winter.  I won't comment on what I think of his horse care practices... Anyhow, said neighbour and dad are buddies.

Big sigh.

Our conversation tonight centred around why water is necessary to maintain a healthy horse.  (There is an automatic waterer the horses have access to - Whiskey is just not walking to it.)  It then shifted to my dad telling me that Whiskey needs shoes.

Huge sigh.

Go figure.  They guy who wonders if it's necessary to provide fresh water wants to put $120+ shoes on a pasture horse.  That's plain shoes and pads, without the necessary borium for winter traction.

This thought led me to Liz's post.  Which was perfectly aligned with what I was thinking.

The horse shoes.  Are they for the horse?  Or for my father?

I won't lie.  I'm really worried.  Is this just a blip?  A rough transition to our frozen world?  Or a forecast of the future?  Can Whiskey realistically handle our rough winters?

What I do know is I'll be driving out tomorrow to see how she's doing.  I'll bring another can of Venice Turpentine.  We'll start there and see if it helps her tender toes.  I've also placed the farrier "on alert".  Bottom line - is the right call to the vet or the farrier?  Because if I can't keep her sound enough to survive then I'll do what's right.  Regardless of how it'll hurt my father who loves this horse with every fibre.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Win Some, Lose Some.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we competed at FarmFair International.  There were a total of 42 dogs entered in the competition.  On Tuesday I kept both dogs with me in the waiting area.  I wanted them to get used to the noises of people, announcers and to realize that there were sheep and herding to be had.  Diva was up first at the 12th dog in the running order.

Diva, apparently, is deaf.  Who knew?

What a little rotter.  It was the longest four minutes of my life.  Little shit refused to take any of her commands.  She was there for a good time, not a long time.  So, on the Wednesday and second day of competition, I ran down the arena the moment she showed me she was going to ignore me.  I sent her on her flanks, and made her lie down.  I needed to show her that working somewhere different did not mean she could do what she wanted.

Ryder was a surprise.

I fully and completely expected him to melt down.  He is such a wimpy soul.  He freaks out all the time over sounds and strange stimuli.

But he didn't.  Who knew?

His first "go" was ok.  He was a bit sticky which isn't like him.  He got a bit stuck on the sheep at the top of the arena.  He did come around and was moving the very heavy and tough to move sheep.  However, he got in too close and made some chasing and "gripped" or bit the sheep.  The second day I don't think he bit but we still got called off for biting.  Such is the game.  It's a lot of skill, and a bit of luck.

Overall, I'm happy with the experience.  I wanted to know how the dogs would perform.  Now I know exactly what I need to work on to help them reach competition levels.  Quite frankly, Diva may not be the calibre needed.  I'll work with her over the winter and try again in the spring.

Sorry, no pictures or video.  I was a bit distracted with nerves to set anything up.

Monday, November 3, 2014

One Down, Two to Go

Today I was up at what felt like the crack of dawn.  It wasn't but I hate time change and was a bit jacked about the upcoming day.  I loaded the truck with dog crates, and other dog things.  Like toys.  I'm weird in that I never travel without toys.  It was a two hour drive to the arena that the stock dog trial was being held.  The whole time leading up to this trial I had done a lot of self talk.  I have approached the dogs first trial as a learning experience.  I will learn.  They will learn.  It's all I can ask.  After all, the dogs have not had the most optimal training experiences.  It's sporadic.  It's taken me three years to do something that should have taken 3-6 months.  My dogs are four. (!!)

The first thing I did when I pulled in was look for the washroom.  I looked.  I looked some more.  It was to my dismay that there was only an outhouse.  Annnnd....

No. Running. Water.  Ick.

I reevaluated my strategy and began operation liquid intake limitation.  You can imagine the relief I felt - literally - at stopping for diesel.

The thing with stock dog trials is it's a hurry up and wait kinda situation.  So I hurried.  And then I waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  I ended up scribing (marking down scores and timing) for the open runs - all 42 of them.

Finally our turn arrived.  Even though I was committed to this being a learning enterprise, I was still nervous.  Funny how that works.

Diva was up first.  She was the dog I was confident in.  The dog I thought would be my "chance".  Ooops....  not so much.  The little bugger wouldn't take her flanks, got stuck on the sheep.  I ended up leaving the post and helping her get moving.  Her second run showed improvements but also major areas I need to work on.  She may end up having too much "eye" to make a good trial dog.  Time will tell.

Ryder was the second of my dogs to run.  After Diva, my nerves were ramped right up.  Legs tremoring I walked him to the post.  He started a little rough but settled down and worked pretty good.  He was a bit sticky on his flanks but started smoothing out as the run went on.  I was stunned to find out he was the fast time of the first go.  His second run I went into with more confidence.  And then the sheep wouldn't move.  They faced him.  Stomped their feet.  Shook their heads.  And he bit them.  An automatic disqualification.  Ryder is not a "gripper".  He never does it at home.  In fact, I've been encouraging him to engage the sheep.  He is not very interested in it.  I guess he does bite.

All in all, an interesting day was had.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I've had an interesting week.  I have a respiratory infection that has me grounded at home.  This has caused a variety of stresses in my life.  On the other hand, I was able to get to the vet before it closed to collect up more meds for the dogs.  Sam, the vet, just happened to be in the clinic when I showed up.  

The Good

If it involves the dogs, then it is in the good column.  My two little shits, er, darlings will be going to their first competitions to herd sheep.  We're going to Mayerthorpe to compete in the Alberta Stock Dog Association Arena Finals.  We'll be competing in the Ranch category so hopefully it will ease our way into the competitive world.  My mentor Ken is the judge which will likely not work into my favour.  I'm expecting to get a stern talking to after the competition.  That happens Monday of next week.  Immediately following I am entered in the Farm Fair trial.  We'll be competing in the Open category and this is where the big guns compete.  I am fully anticipating these competitions will be a learning experience and will help drive the training that the dogs need.  Ryder is about 95% trained and Diva is about 90%.  We're so close I can feel it, but certainly not at the level needed to be successful at competitions.  

Other great dog news is that I've found a different agility instructor.  We've been diligently working on our homework and the dogs are progressing nicely.  We start classes in November and I'm looking forward to a different teaching approach.  I've learned through the years it's always best to get different perspectives.  I was really pleased to hear her talk about Diva's potential.  Normally Diva is my Black Sheep.  

Speaking of Diva... she has officially started a diet.  Her metabolism doesn't seem to be awesome and she is and always has been on the chunky side.  It doesn't matter how much exercise she gets.  I took the dogs with me when I went to pick up their meds.  I weighed them.  Diva weighs in at 50.6 pounds.  Ryder - the larger dog - at 52.4 pounds.   I'm now feeding on a "time" schedule with separate dishes.  Diva gets less food plus some pumpkin to provide filler.  In December the dogs are due for their vet checks.  My goal is to see how effective the diet was.  We'll weigh her again at that point.  If she hasn't shown much progress I'll ask Sam to investigate possible causes.  

Also in the "Good" column is THIS HORSE!!!

I love her.  She fits me like a soft leather glove.  To be honest she is knocking Whiskey from her number one perch on my favourite horse list.  Her papers have been sent off to be transferred.  Every Saturday in the month of October I hauled her into Gorseline Stable and took a lesson on her.  She is so smart and willing to learn.  We started with ground poles.  Last Saturday she was trotting over cross poles.  My coach thinks she's going to have nice jumping form.  In the spring I'd like to send her for a month jumping training there.  That way I know my inexperience doesn't hinder her ability to learn how to do this.  

I also purchased an English saddle.  It's a Santa Cruz which isn't the top of the line brand, but it fits her and it fits me.  It's a great starter saddle that I can use to ride her in.  Eventually I'll purchase something fancy like a Luc Childeric.  My "new to me" saddle is in excellent condition and was super cheap!  I am notorious for scrolling the Facebook horse and tack pages.  I found a lady who was dispersing 75 pieces of English tack and equipment.  From her I bought two English "flash" bridles, complete with reins, gloves, and a new bit to try on Marnie.  All for $120!  I'm thrilled because they are all quality pieces.  I'm still watching for English pads, a sheepskin pad to fit under the saddle, new leathers, and jumping boots.  (I'll get pictures of my new saddle and post them soon.)  

The Bad

My ankle is seriously messed up.  

I have been going to the physiotherapist once a week.  Realistically I should have taken a lot of time off work.  I am blessed to have good benefits but always feel slightly guilty taking advantage of them.  The knowledge that I worked when I didn't have to is how I'm justifying taking time off next week to compete with the dogs.  My therapist has currently cleared me to begin yoga.  (Except I'm now stupidly sick.)  He also tells me that riding is good.  Go figure.  Walking, not so much... My ankle remains wrapped to help manage the swelling.  When I'm at physio they put me into the icy compression boot.  I'm struggling with remaining positive about this.  I'm frustrated that I can't exercise.  

I'm convinced the lack of exercise and increased work stress is destroying my immune system.  I've gone to a Naturopathic Doctor who has done some blood work to look into food sensitivities.  My guts are notoriously nasty, even with prescription meds.  My regular doctor thinks I may have food allergies, even though I've had clean allergy tests.  (I've been tested six ways to Sunday...)  I'm currently limiting to eliminating milk from my diet with interesting results.  My blood work results are back and I have an appointment next week to find out what they came up with.  

The Ugly

Yesterday I talked to Sam about Whiskey.  I showed her pictures of her standing - with shoes on.  I told her what the farrier thinks.  Basically, it comes down to this.  The vet sees no purpose to do x-rays.  She has said that there is a list of things we can do but to what end?  This is a horse who is now a pasture ornament.  She really feels that Whiskey sustained some sort of suspensory injury while she was gone.  This is causing havoc.  Her suggestion was to leave her be.  As long as she's not being asked to do anything or is not suffering then we maintain her.  She will not be bred again as she can't handle the weight (and the vet would not support a breeding in her condition).  As it is, we're working diligently to pull the weight off of her.  

I'm a bit torn as to what the right thing to do is.  Option A:  leave her to be a companion.  Give her bute on her bad days.  Keep up with maintaining her via vet and farrier care.  Option B:  Euthanize her.  

As her eye is soft and she doesn't appear to be suffering I'm inclined to leave her to be a companion.  When any of her conditions change, or my ability to provide her the care she needs change, then I'll make a different decision.  

It depresses me to see her hobbling around the field.  Last Saturday she actually loped a few strides, with a snort and a buck.  This is so unusual to see in her these days.  I remember when she raced the field for fun.  

I won't lie.  I fully regret selling her baby this summer.  Selfish of me, I know.  

I know she'll be a great nurturing Auntie to any baby that I happen to have on the place.

Friday, October 17, 2014

To Do List

Tonight as I sat idly scrolling though the Horsey Internet World, my mind worked over the various things I need to do or accomplish the next month.  Next week I have the following things booked:

  • Massage Therapy for the dogs.
  • A private agility lesson.
  • Jumping lessons on Marnie at Gorseline. While trying an English saddle.
  • I have two full nights of parent teacher conferences.
  • Add in some physiotherapy for my ankle.
  • Don't forget to get some training time in on the dogs on sheep.
    • I'm entered in the FarmFair and Alberta Arena Finals all the first week of November..
  • A trip to Ken's to work on "penning" the sheep.
Now here's the list of things I need to squeeze in:
  1. Vet - I need to pick up dope for the dogs, dewormer for the dogs, vaccinations for Marnie, and I need to make an appointment to get the horses teeth done.
  2. I have a pending Naturopath Doctor appointment.  Waiting on some blood work results.
  3. I'd like to start back with my Moksha Yoga.  I've been given the go ahead by the physio to do limited activity.
  4. Buy groceries and live life.
On November 3rd, we have our first dog trial in Mayerthrope.  On November 4th and 5th we have our second dog trial in Edmonton.  

Some days I wonder about myself.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I really don't know why I try to name my horses, as my father tends to just do it himself.  Marmalade has now become Marnie.  When I told my dad my name ideas he just looked at me and said in his matter of fact way "Well, I've just been calling her Marnie."  And that was that.  Marnie it is.

Marnie has had a stretching couple of weeks.  I've learned a lot about this little horse.

A couple of weeks ago my brother and sister-in-law were up for a few days while my brother worked in a local community.  They brought their brood of 3 kids.  They kidlets are 4, 2, and 4 months.  I had gone to the farm to work the dogs.  Both of the mobile children are animal crazy and I offered to lead them around on the horse.  (They already ride the sheep.)  They were PUMPED!  With no helmet and no boots and no child saddle I decided bareback was the best route.  Dad led the mare around while I walked beside hands on waists to ensure safety and balance.  This was the first time I put a child on Marnie.  She was great!

On Saturday I hauled her to the jumping stable I ride out of.  She was saddled English and rode in my lesson.  She was great!  She handled everything in stride and with grace.  I am so pleased with this horse.

Today my other brother and his brood, a 4 year old boy were out.  The little monkey was keen to ride but scared.  My brother insisted I saddle the horse.  So saddled, with precious cargo aboard we began making circles in the field.  After the first few laps he relaxed and was thrilled to be riding a horse by himself.  The mare was fabulous.  Her ears were almost straight back as she listened to him chatter away.  Her head relaxed and her eye soft she patiently walked endless laps carrying the little guy.

I am thrilled with her kind attitude and her willingness to do this.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Playing with Names

I've been playing with names for little Miss Marm.  She's soooo not a Marm....  sooooo...

I've thought about Brandy.  Does she look like a Brandy to you?

I've thought about Reba (red hair and all).  But I had a dog named Reba...

Then I wonder about Doll, Miss, Chick.  And I just can't decide.  As of right now, Brandy is the front runner name.  I plan to "test" it out when I go ride this afternoon.

Friday, September 26, 2014


I'd been fighting a mild case of the flu.  Telling myself that it was just stress I drove out to the farm, worked the dogs before dragging out the horse.  Deciding against any "real" riding, I tossed on the hackamore.  This is what I want to ride Marm (still unnamed) in for pleasure.  I could feel tension fall out of my shoulders as I worked on having the dogs handle being rode in the field with the horse.

Ryder is terrified of the horse, and Diva is determined to work her.  It took some work to get Ryder to even come into the field.  It took more work to keep Diva from Dive Bombing Marm's heels.  Neither dog have had much exposure to horseback riding but I'd love to ride in the grazing reserve with them.  So I took my crabby tummy as an excuse to sit and train.

Fall is one of my favourite seasons.  I love the colours, the dry ground, and the gorgeous sunsets.

Marm in her hackamore outfit.  She's doing ok with it.  I think with some more riding practice she'll do fine.  My goal is to have her riding steady enough that in the winter I can toss it on, and hop on bareback for a jaunt through the snowy fields.

Looooong sunset shadows.  It's been ages since I've seen my horsey shadow.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thinking Deep

I've spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks thinking.  You see, Whiskey is pretty lame.  Gut wrenchingly so.  Her right front is turning in in a bizarre twist.  My farrier and I talked navicular.  We talked about x-rays.  I began to wonder.  When does this become a situation of throwing good money after bad?  When does this become about me and not her?  Mentally and emotionally I held it in my heart to do the right thing and put her down.  I had about made up my mind and I called the vet.

As honey and I sat talking while we ate our evening meal, I spilled out all my fears and worries.  Calmly, not even skipping a beat he told me not to be hasty.  To wait a while and not jump into a decision.  What he didn't do is point out the money I've been pouring into this horse.

The next day I sat with my parents as we ate.  I told them I was worried about Whiskey.  Mom puts a hand on my arm and tells me to give it time.  Dad's brow furrows as we discus the coming winter.  We plan what we can do to make her more comfortable.  The tentative decision becomes one to give her the winter.

I won't lie.  I'm very worried about her handling our tough winters.  I'm the person who has a box with her old faithful dog's ashes.  I can't commit to a place for her to rest.  So she goes where I go.  It would destroy my soul if I couldn't plan Whiskey's final resting place.

I won't lie.  I'd love a baby from her.  A future jumper prospect.  I get it .  It costs more to breed than to buy.  Breeding is a crap shoot.  No guarantee over what you'll end up.  The horse business has no room for sentimental feelings.  Sigh.

No firm decision yet on the breeding front.

Because I sit and I pray that I've made the right decision.  That Whiskey will be okay.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


This July I started taking Jumping lessons.  When I was younger jumping wasn't something that interested me.  I far preferred to do pattern work and dressage type stuff.  In short, I'm a jumping novice.  I've taken a handful of jumping lessons over the years.  My instructor at the stable I'm riding at gave me a very nice compliment.  She said the trainer (a very accomplished jumper) thought I was good and wanted to know where I came from.  Jen told her I'd been everywhere.

I've got to admit, when Jen told me this I rolled my eyes and snorted out a "Ya right."  You see, I'm horrifically out of shape.  I can feel my body flop when it should be solid.  Jen insisted.  She said that they could see through my out of shape flops and see the seat I possessed.  She went on to explain that I'm unique in the fact that I have a well rounded background.  It made me think.

When I was young I learned how to ride bareback.  Farmer style.  My mom didn't believe in saddles.  I didn't ride in a saddle until I was 4-H age.  4-H was my first introduction to riding "proper".  It was somewhat surprising to learn one didn't just kick and pull.  I began taking lessons.  For the most part I rode Arabians and competed in the local shows.  I rode in an English saddle and progressed on to some Arabian "A" shows.  I want to be clear.  My family did not have a lot of money and most of my horses were not the reliable school master type.  I literally learned how to ride in the school of hard knocks.  Sometimes I'm astonished that I stuck with it.

As an adult I decided that showing was horribly boring so I began to branch out.  I bought a school master rope horse and learned how to rope.  For the next ten years I immersed myself in the cowboy and rodeo world.  I moved out into ranch and oil country, well away from the commuter acreage area I grew up in.  There I hooked up with (not in the hook up sense - haha), an old cowboy who ran a small ranch complete with a stable.  He was an alcoholic and full of character.  Back in the day he showed and trained reining horses.  Here I learned how to train a rope horse and began schooling in basic reining maneuvers.  This barn became my home away from home.  I shovelled shit and had my pick of horses to ride.  I began "finishing" ranch horses he owned to pay for my board.  I was in horsey heaven.  I also had some pretty huge wrecks complete with hospital visits during this time of my life.  The final hospital visit would prove to be a blow my confidence would never recover from (3rd degree concussion).   I had learned how to start and finish a horse the cowboy way.  My roping was progressing complete with competitions.  We had even tossed around the idea of me riding a horse in the reining class at the Canadian Supreme.  (There was a glorious Palamino stallion called Yeller that was good enough to go.)

At one point the cowboy lifestyle got to me.  I had had enough and I moved home.  Back to civilization.  From this point on I rode purely for pleasure.  I would do various things like take the odd jumping lesson or spend a summer turning back for cutters.  And I still love going out to Ken's and spending the day doing ranch work off a horse.  Pure joy.

Fast forward to now.  Now I'm slightly bored but still highly pressed for time.  I have a horse to play with - Marm - thank you Jesus.  After Marm arrived I had some serious swings in what I wanted to do with my horsey self.  I could not make up my mind.  I want to cut.  No I want to jump.  No I want to show Arabians.  No I want to... you get the idea.  The problem is reality can be a bugger.  What can I realistically do?  What can Marm realistically do?

The outcome?  With the trainers compliment ringing in my ears, (I really do have an eclectic background.), I think I'm going to focus on riding Marm English.  Rationale?  Marm likes being rode with contact.  Loves it. I have access to high caliber trainers and lesson programs close to my house and dad's farm.  And jumping challenges me.  It's hard for me.  It stretches my abilities.

And FYI: Marm needs a new name.  She's not really a Marm and I have a hard time getting it out.  So even though I hate the idea of renaming a horse, a renaming shall occur.  Once I figure out what name actually works for her.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Working Dogs

Ok.  So this is like, the third time I've tried this post.  Piss on it.  Here's some pictures.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Horse and Dog Days

Last week I drove to Ken's.  I was bone deep tired but didn't want to "waste" any of my time.  My back has been screaming at me as I work at getting back into shape.  Some nights I've resorted to taking some dope so I can sleep through it.  I know it'll pass but right now it's an ugly situation.  I wanted to work the dogs with him.  I was up at 6:30 and at the farm by 7:15.  I hitched and loaded the trailer with Marm.  Who for whatever reason I keep trying to call Bacardi.  Go figure.  We drove the 2 hours to Ken's.

It was raining.  Crabby, I put on my rain clothes and spent the next 4 hours working dogs on sheep.  Diva is making wonderful progress.  Ryder, not so much.  We broke for lunch.

I will admit to being pissed off at the world.  I really, really, really wanted to ride and it was raining.  And then God smiled.  The clouds broke and the sun began to shine.  Ken and I spent the next 4 hours doing horse stuff.  I saddled up and rode Marm.  Ken watched and made idle comments on things he thought would help her.

And then the fun began.  I got off and Ken hopped on.  He started up his flag and introduced it to her. I wasn't surprised to see her bulge her shoulder out and push through the stops.  But then she got it.  He'd relax into the saddle and she'd start to roll over her hocks, flowing with the flag.  Her head carriage improved.  She rounded her body and began to "sweep" the turns, legs crossing over cleanly. She began to look at the flag.  Watching to see what it would do.  In short, she looked like a cutting horse on a flag.  I was STOKED!  This was a stunning development.  I never thought she'd be able to move cleanly like that.  Immediately I began to reevaluate my plans for this horse.  She's 15 so who knows what level she'll be able to work towards, but come spring (I want the winter to leg her up.) I think I may get Jason to dump a month into her.  This gives me a horse with some training on a cow that I might be able to go ranch cut on.  Time will reveal her secrets.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Unexpected Twist

Just when you think you know where you're going life takes the most unexpected turns.  I hadn't blogged about this because I was scared of "jinxing" it.  To be honest, I'm still quite on the fence about blogging about it.  But there is a story here.  One that is swirling around my head, mixed in with hopes and dreams and fears.   

Remember how I mentioned I wanted a horse??  

Kharma has a way of working things out.  

It all began with an email.  One I read, reread, and finally printed out and read again.  I thought.  I thought HARD!  When the email hit my inbox I was in a bit of crisis.  My ankle is majorly messed.  I'd just come off of my doctor enforced rest period with virtually no change in the ankle.  Stressed I had another doctor appointment.  I was facing a cast.  We ended up doing a cortisone shot.  I'm still wearing a wrap but the swelling is finally down.  My ankle is very very weak right now.  But I'm starting some physio exercises.

Back to the story.  So while I was stressing about my body falling apart, I had a decision to make.  That email I receive was basically a query asking if I'd be interested in a horse.  This horse was much loved by her owner.  This I understand.  But her owner, like many of us had too much on her plate and needed to lighten the load.  Because this horse was much loved she wanted just the "right" home. This I also understand.  She thought my home might be that perfect fit.  I was incredibly flattered.  But as my bestie says "Just because you get asked to the party, doesn't mean you need to dance." (Or something like that!)  So I needed to decide.  Did I want to dance?  

I called my best friend.  We talked and talked about it.  Jason, my cutting trainer and I talked about it. Jen, my hunter/jumper coach and I talked about it.  All these people cautioned me against it.  Only Ken was positive.  Now all of the above people have seen me ride.  They know what I can do on a horse, with a horse.  Their collective concern was the fact that the horse was a risk.  A risk of not being able to move forward in a more competitive way.  But let's be honest.  Right now, I'm not exactly in a competitive position.  I need something I can play on.  Something I can train on that's safe.  My honey's only point was that horses cost money and he didn't want to see something sit in the field and not have me riding it.  

What did I do?  I went out to the farm.  I stood against the fence scratching Whiskey's shoulder.  I thought and thought.  I went into the house and talked with my dad.  Any horse decision concerns my father because with the horses at the farm he's the primary caregiver.  I will not add work to my (soon to be) 72 year old father.  That night a very long conversation was had with the horse's owner.  I needed to hear the horse's story, and I needed to be solid on my decision.  The horse was close to 12 hours away.  I will not lightly haul a horse that far for no good reason.  

In the end, I listened to my gut.  I listened hard.  I became still and focused and I pushed the world away.  I think I made the right decision.  

I said yes.  And a journey began.  A horse climbed onto a trailer.  And dreams and hopes were sparked.  

This beauty arrived Saturday.  

Her name is Marmalade or Marm for short.  

Today was our first "real" ride.  It wasn't perfect.  It wasn't imperfect.  We're in the dating stage of our relationship.  Getting to know each other's quirks.  I can't decide what I want to do.  Jen came and watched me ride and thinks she'd make a jumper.  I'm too tall (5'8") for her to make a high level jumper but good enough for lessons and maybe some low level shows.  

Then again, I love the cattle work.  There's a huge grass roots working cow horse organization in this area.  She has the physical ability to do it with some fine tuning.  Tomorrow at Ken's she'll get her first taste of working the flag.  Or maybe I'll heel off her or run some barrels.  I know the possibilities are endless.  My focus for the winter is to get to know her and to spend time working on developing her full potential.  By the time spring comes I should have a better idea of which direction this journey is going to go.  

Regardless, I'm grateful for the opportunity to get to know this neat little mare better.  I'm grateful to have a horse that wants to work, that I can play on.  I'm grateful for a horse that isn't going to dump my broken body on it's ass.  


Last Wednesday I was able to convince the boys to come to my agility practice night.  This is the highlight of Ryder's week.  He's learning how to do weave poles right now.  We use the 2x2 method.  

Right now, Ryder and Diva are in the same class.  It's hard for me.  Here's Ryder waiting with my sweetie for his turn.

Tomorrow we go to Ken's for an enjoyable day of dogs and horses.  I'll see if I can convince him to catch the dogs working on the phone.  Then you can see Diva in her element.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

It's Time

I've been doing better at working the dogs.  We went out to Ken's for a reality check the other day.  Both dogs are soooooo close to being clean finished working dogs.  My goal is to enter them in the FarmFair arena trial in November.  I'm fully anticipating that the wheels will come off the bus but think it'll be good experience for them.

Both dogs are continuing with agility classes.  I'm going to buy some equipment so I can practice out at the farm.  It's hard to have them in the same class.  This set of classes is turning into an epic failure and waste of money.  It hasn't been the best for them or for me.  Undecided what I'll do with them.  I'd like to continue with the agility because Ryder obsessively loves it and Diva is enjoying herself.  It's a good winter exercise.

I'm going to buy a little video camera so I can easily tape them working.  Using my phone stinks and is hard.

Monday, July 28, 2014


To be honest with you, I had for a while, lost hope.  It had dropped out of me, much like your stomach does on a wild roller coaster ride.  Vanished into the clear blue sky.  That hope is funny though.  It's a sneaky thing.  It creeps in when you least expect it.  Flitting through corners.  Eventually filling all air space.

Today, I let myself breathe.  Let myself believe.  And hope blossomed.

You see, yesterday for the first time since Whiskey came home I watched her break into a lope.  She ducked and snaked her head, lifting her hind feet off the ground in a fun filled romp with her foal.

Today I cried when I watched her trot up the fence line.  Her eyes were bright and her stride, while short, was free.  And I breathed in.  I breathed in her horsey sweet smell and giggled at her babies' antics.  It was at that moment that my heart bloomed with hope.

What I hadn't been saying was that when I had the vet out a couple of weeks ago I was prepared to "do the right thing" and put Whiskey down come the weaning of her foal.  My heart broken I was horrified over her quality of life.  She was in obvious pain.

Today was day 3 of shoes and pads on her front feet.  It has made a clear difference.  She moves better and with more spirit.  It is working.  I was so scared to believe.  Scared my hopes would be dashed.

Now, I wonder about her.  I wonder if I can ride her again.  Just for fun.  She'll never be sound enough to compete on.  I'm hoping that the vet will clear her fun general riding.  As long as it doesn't cause her pain I'm game to rejoin my old partner in some fun jaunts.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mid-Horse Crisis

While many have midlife crisis I am having a midhorse crisis.  For the life of me, I can't decide what I want to do.  There's a paint gelding I'm going to go look at.  He'd mature into a horse I could jump, or rope off of.  He will be a big boy in the 16hh range.  There's an AQHA mare I'm going to go look at.  She's cow bred with a mom who has NCHA earnings.  She has 90 days with a cutting trainer.  She'll mature around 14.2hh.  She's a horse I could trail ride, or do reining or working cow horse type stuff on.  And then, there's my history with Arabians.  I miss my Arabians.  I am thinking I wouldn't mind having an Arab kicking around the place.  Not entirely sure if I want to show but am missing that old life.

And then there's Whiskey.  When she came home to me she was lame on 3 out of 4 legs.  I babied her through the winter.  Let her foal and gave her recovery time.  She's still lame.  So I had the vet out.  Severely bruised soles and coffin bones.  So I had the farrier out.  I have to own the only pasture brood mare with shoes and pads.  The hope is the pads will protect her feet enough to let the bruising heal.  If this doesn't work we'll do x-rays.  I do think it's helping.  She's already moving better.  I'll continue to have massage therapy done on her when the therapist is in the area.

The thought has entered my head that if I can get her sound enough on her front end, I may toss a saddle on her and see what she does.  She's been a pasture ornament for years so it may be interesting.  My ultimate goal with her is to breed her next year for one last foal.  (Pending soundness.)  This would be her replacement.  I'm thinking I'd either breed to a Thoroughbred for a sport horse prospect or to an Arabian.  My concern with breeding to the Arabian is that she is a big solid mare and I'm not sure how that would cross out.  The Arab cross would hopefully be an all around horse.  Only time will tell how this turns out.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dogs vs Horses: The Great Debate

I have been having intense cravings for horse time.  I neurotically comb through the classified on the hunt for the "perfect" horse.  There is a breeder of paint horses about 3 hours from me.  I love their horses.  They have a born broke personality.  There is also a nice started cutting bred mare 45 minutes from me...  They are the SAME price.

I keep telling myself that now is not the time to buy a horse.

Do I have time?  Will I be able to ride consistently?  Honey tells me horses cost money...  I worry about doing justice to the dogs.  Can I do both?

I'm not going to lie.  I'm about 99% sure that I'm going horse shopping when I get back from my vacation...

Friday, July 18, 2014


You would think the fact that its summer and I'm not technically working that I'd have all kinds of time on my hands.  I've come to the conclusion that I'm a "fill the gap" person.  Empty road in front of me?  Fill the gap - find the nearest car.  No more grad school?  Fill the gap - create new projects to take your time.  

This summer started off with a bang.  I registered for unlimited Moksha classes.  I love this style of yoga.  After herniating a disc in my back last year and being banished from running (or anything fun it seems) I've begun the attempt to drop the 30lbs I gained and get my flexibility and fitness back.  While I have been discouraged from running, Moksha is a great whole body exercise that will help me regain my flexibility.  

I also registered both dogs in an agility class.  Ryder in the advanced.  Diva in the beginner.  Ryder is an agility fool and loves it.  Diva has good naturally trotted through the classes and happily done the exercises.  Because Ryder loves agility more than sheep and Diva loves sheep more than agility I've been trying to find balance.  I've been driving out to the farm -not nearly as much as I should- and working the dogs on sheep.  Ryder pretty much could enter a trial now.  Diva we are working on getting commands consistent.  Diva is gaining confidence on her drive and is progressing further away from me.  

I also had a bit of a break down regarding horses.  A very, very, very large part of me did not want to sell the baby.  Oh boy, was that hard!  I've been really twitchy and edgy.  Wanting to ride.  Wanting a horse to ride.  A major internal debate over time, horses and dogs has been waging war inside of me.  A compromise: I've registered for Jumping lessons at a local stable.  It was fun going out and getting my English gear again.  Nothing like breeches and big black boots to make a girl feel special.

But then I went to the doctor.  You know what they say about best laid plans??

In JUNE I had tweaked my ankle while out chasing down a child when on supervision.  I worked through JUNE on a grossly swollen ankle.  The swelling spilling over the edge of my runner.  After 3-4 weeks I went to the Medi-center.  The doctor ordered x-rays, but didn't look at my ankle!  The diagnosis - no break just a sprain.  I started wrapping my ankle.  I finished off work.  The second week of JULY my regular doctor returned from his annual charity doctor work overseas.  I went in.  I do not have a sprain!!  Nope, not me.  I have a broken ankle capsule.  It should have been CASTED. However, as at this point I've been walking on it for seven weeks, I was told no exercise, no walking, keep it wrapped and do not do anything to aggravate it.  Do you see how this may impact my plans??
For ten days I'm to baby my ankle.  I'm to do contrast baths.  I'm to sit on the couch with it elevated.

I'm not going to lie.  A major melt down was had.  My poor darling was baffled with my uncommon behaviour.  He kept rubbing my shoulders and asking me what was wrong as I freaked out.

I'm not going to lie.  I still am walking the dogs.  Not everyday and for shorter, but seriously?  How can I not?  I still went to my final agility class of the session.  I did cancel my riding lessons for the month of July.  I have stopped going to my beloved yoga.  I am trying not to pace inside of my house like a caged tiger.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Blogging She Shall Go

This lovely filly is still not named.  I sold her yesterday.  To a teenaged girl.  (I think teenage girls make the BEST horse owners.)  I have had so many thoughts and stories swirling around in my brain that I can't think straight.  Horse and dogs, dogs and horses.  Horses, dogs, men, children and time.  

I've decided that NOW is the perfect time to get back on the Blog trail.  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Surprise Ending

Whiskey provided a surprise ending last Sunday.  With virtually no signs other than being lightly bagged up, during a snow storm and cold temperatures, out in the field, she foaled.  It's a lovely and correct little filly.  Initially I had thought I'd want to keep this foal as a Whiskey replacement.  Guinness was a lovely baby.  He was quiet, gentle and by the one day mark I had mauled him and loved him all over.  This little baby... not so much.  She tucks her tail and prepares to buck when you try to touch her.  Whiskey is also much more nervous with this baby.  Less enthused with anyone attempting to touch her baby.  It's interesting to me how different things are.

Two Hours Old.

I haven't wrote much about Whiskey because I've been worrying about her.  You see, due to the neglect she experienced she was very lame on her front.  I've had reports that her feet were six inches too long.  This has caused some tendon/ligament damage.  I'm hopeful that with the baby weight now carrying itself around that she'll start to feel better.  She's getting regular trims and I also have a lady coming out to do some massage/muscular work with her.  I'll keep you posted once I hear what she thinks.  

Now I wait.  

I'm leaning towards selling the baby, I'm not in love with it's temperament and its a ghost of my mistake in letting these breeders have Whiskey.  Another negative is I wasn't in love with it's half sister (Roxy).  I may be best served in taking the time and money to fix Whiskey up, breed her next year (I'm thinking either a rebreed to Guinness' dad or to a Painted River Ranch stud.) and get my "riding" horse that way.  I'll wait out the summer and see if more time helps.  

More pictures to come...

Sunday, April 6, 2014


It appears my darling Whiskey may be a little further along than expected.   Dad called me to come look at her today.  You see, she is bagging up.   Her hind is looking "soft".  What this means is no June baby.  It is looking like an April or early May baby.  The baby watch is on.  I'll be burning up the miles to the farm.  While dad has calved countless calves, he has no experience with horses.  Giving him a crash course in what to watch for I reassured him that he would know when it was her time.  I gave him a heads up of when a vet would be needed.  In the meantime, I will drive.  And when she's "waxing" up I just may decide to stay there.  Fingers crossed for healthy baby delivered safely.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Summer of Dog

I have decided that this will be the summer of dog.  While the sale of the acreage has fluffed up my horse fund, I think I'm going to focus on one project at a time.  The dogs are creeping towards four years old!  And neither of them are finished stock dogs.  This was not the plan...  Life sure has a way of interfering with what you think you'll do.  My goals for the spring/summer seasons are as follows:

1) Continue to take Ryder to agility classes.  When he is ready step into competition.  I'm anticipating this won't be this summer.

2) Work both dogs regularly on sheep.  I think it's great exercise and great for their brains.  Work on finishing both dogs.  Ryder is scary close.  In fact, Ryder could easily enter an arena trial or run a novice field.  Diva is a little further back. 

3) Get Diva entered into a trial or two.  This is going to be her thing.

4) Take Diva to Gisela's classes.  I think it's good for her brain, even if it's not her thing.  It's the same reason Ryder will stay on sheep. 

5) There's a clinic in Saskatchewan that I have my eye on...

I'll slide out to Ken's to get my horsey fix when I need it.  No decisions of a horsey kind will be made until after Whiskey foals. 

Welcome to the summer of dog!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Little Love

Whiskey is looking pregnant these days.  I was out at the farm, in my town boots trying to convince her to come visit with me.  But alas, she decided she should remain on the straw pile rather than stomp through the mucky goodness that is an Alberta barnyard in the spring.  She is shedding copious amounts of hair.  It cracked me up how short she looks in this picture.  (She stands a comfortable 15.3 - 16 hh.)  I'll have to measure her properly one day. 
When I stand and watch, I wonder.  I wonder if it'll be a boy or a girl.  I wonder when she'll foal.  I wonder what color the baby will be.  I wonder if I'll fall in love and keep it.  Honey and I've talked about it.  Me keeping it.  If it's a filly, and I can find someone to play with it the next year or so, I'll keep it.  If it's a colt I'll work at finding him the perfect home. 
I'm impatient.  I want the baby, hooves on the ground. Now.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Controlling Anxiety

Those of you who know me in real life, know I can be a bit anxious.  I hold it in my body in a sick ball.  And yes, it makes me sick.  One of the biggest anxieties about the move has been the dogs.  I've worried myself silly about them making the transistion.  The truth is animals are far more adaptable than we give them credit for. 

My mom has been coming in the afternoon to let them out - and fix the hole in the wall the movers left.  This breaks up their day and makes me feel better.  Right now I'm pulling out at 7:30 am and busting a move to be back by 4:00 pm.  This is not an excessively long day for the dogs to "hold it" but I worry about it.  I've got the dog run set up in one corner of the yard.  This is going to be the toilet area.  I despise dog doody covering an entire yard. Yuck!  We've been working on training to go to the bathroom in that area.  The dogs are almost 100% consistent with going in the kennel now.  Diva, of course, has to push the limit...

They've started supervised time in the yard.  I want them to learn to not bark at people or dogs in the area when they are out there.  This is challenging for Ryder who often gets barkitis.  He's coming along and listens well to prompts. 

The biggest stress was knowing we'd be walking in town.  I live in little fluffy dog mecca.  There are oodles of the creatures in the neighborhood.  One day I'm hopeful I'll have dogs that will happily walk past other dogs without lunging at the other dogs.  Yes.  I'm popular on the walking trails...  I realize my anxiety is part of the problem.  I need to believe in my dogs.  I'm doing a ton of work with treats and getting them to "look".  I also really focus on basic obeidience.  Heel, sit, etc.  I won't lie it takes some of the fun out of walking.  I know with time, patience and consistency our walks will improve.  Meanwhile, I'll learn to control my anxiety.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

And The Truck Got Stuck

Honey, who normally makes me coffee in the morning has been out of town.  He's been going to sell his product at trade shows.  What this means is I've been stopping for coffee.  Here in the Great White North there is a popular coffee place called Tim Hortons.  I'll be honest.  I kinda don't like the coffee but it's cheap.  This is motivating.  (I get what I call a cheap girl's latte - 1/2 coffee, 1/2 French Vanilla.) 

Many of you know I drive a truck that I absolutely adore.  It's a beast.  So feeling chipper (NOT!) after time change I decided to try the drive through.  For. The. First. Time.  You see, I always walk in.  But there was no drive through line up.  It was too tempting...

Unfortunately I had already committed when I realized that the truck was not going to fit in the opening...  this was not cool... So there I am.  Vehicles behind me.  Doing the forward, backward, forward, backward, trying to get lined up with the hole so I don't scrap my truck across the bright yellow guard pole.  After successfully ordering I encountered another issue.  The turn was too sharp for my wide turning truck.  Putting my foot into it, I leaped the curb, rolled up and over the snow bank before crashing down back into the driving lane. 

The was awesome.


How embarrassing to look like the girl who has borrowed her boyfriend's truck and is incapable of driving it. 

Yep.  That's right.  The truck got stuck.  In the drive through... 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Country Mouse, City House



Sorry, I know it's been awhile...

What can I say... I was tapped out.  Tired and over busy.  Creativity dried up...

I can genuinely say that my creativity isn't all back but there is hope.  Glimmers of it popping up unexpectedly.  You could say I've been at a cross roads the last month or so.  My Honey and I have had some pretty intense discussions over the future.  Let me be clear.  Once I dig in and decide on something, nothing and no-one can change my mind.  I am not an easily led individual. 


Well, expect the unexpected.  After much thought and weighing of options, I sold my acreage (sold in less than 24 hours and over list price.) and purchased a new house in the nearby town/city.  There are many reasons for the move.  All of them valid.  We did look at other acreages.  Unfortunately I live in a hot and expensive commuter area and anything decent is out of my (our) price range. 

You could say I'm at a cross roads.  What happens when an intensily country oriented person moves to the city?  I have lived in the country for the bulk of my life.  I have no idea how I'll adapt.  The area I'm moving to is full of parks and walking trails.  This is good.  My dad is very supportive and is happy to house Whiskey and the sheep.  In that way I'm blessed.  I have access to land less than 30 minutes from where I'll live.  I'll still drive the dogs out to work sheep.  I'll still drive to the grazing reserve for the dogs to run free.  I'll still love my horse(s).  I'm contemplating a cutting horse with some of my house money.  I still want to compete with the dogs.  And in an unexpected twist... I'm loving taking the agility classes with Ryder.  This is his passion.  I'll continue to take him to class and through the levels.  The joy on his face and his enthusiasm is priceless.  Diva will start the beginner class in May (personal growth for both of us). 

There is one thing for sure.  My animal adventures are going on a major change.  Look out SP.  The country bumpkins are moving in!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Alive n Kicking

I am still alive and kicking. I have been freakishly busy.  Ryder has been starting agility classes.  I'm very proud of how he's doing.  I'll try to get some pictures of him.  Diva is a fat little porker who isn't getting enough exercise.  Whiskey is looking wonderfully pregnant.  More news to come soon.