Monday, August 24, 2009

Horse rustling

I was not aware of any real horse theft in our area until speaking with the owner of the facility where we keep Link and Sonny regularly (and Silver and Cody for the day or two prior to Tomahawk). She asked us to call and notify her should we find ourselves on the property at some abnormal hour, to pick up the three horses we are taking to Tomahawk. The reason being that there have been a number of thefts in the surrounding area, and if she knew her dogs were barking because of us, she could simply ignore the false alarm, but if they started up barking and it wasn't us, then she could be prepared to investigate. I am thankful she is putting in such an effort to keep our horses safe, but just the fact that there have been thefts in the area is turning me into some nervous Nelly. Are people actually turning a profit from stealing and selling horses? Are these horses not later identifiable at a show or sale? I can only figure that most go to meat, but is there really that much money in that, up here in Alberta, Canada?? Nonetheless, it is one of the reasons I try to keep quiet the exact location of our horses, even when speaking to other horse people in the area. I do not delude myself that they are so immensely valuable that someone would hunt them down with info I provided and steal them, but those horses are valuable horses to me - as members of the family, as partners, and as teammates, and I take whatever precaution I can as a boarder to keep them safe as I can. I feel nervous enough posting photos of them, but a larger part of me refuses to restrict my life so fully, to allow what I do to be controlled by some unethical horse rustler. You have to weigh out the risks though.

But, back to a much sunnier topic. Horses.

Ah, long but satisfying day (horses just have a way of making it so). Sunny was my first victim of the day, after I ran around town like a chicken with my head cut off, attempting to get the things done I needed to. Luckily for the big paint man, it had cooled off some by the time I got out to him come late afternoon. We just did some light work in the paddocks, with a lot at the trot. I used lots of leg aids, he pretended to not know what I was talking about, and we all had a fantastic trip. Well actually, he does respond to leg aids when using your outside leg for directional cues, but trying to have him bend around an inside leg was like trying to tell concrete to be supple. Just not all that effective. He is going to need a lot of rides from his owners before he starts relaxing enough to not feel the need to keep his body so straight. He has come along real well and is pretty comfortable under-saddle, but just is not quite there yet. I tried out a new bit on him though (a D-ring shaped snaffle with a roller and low, non-collapsible port) - he seemed a bit more responsive. I showed his owners though how he "works" - ie. how to get him to stop on a loose rein (relax in your seat), etc. I am hoping to work him maybe Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for sure of this week. I am hoping to be back from Drayton Wednesday, but may not be back until Thursday. His owners will take him to the hills this next weekend, and I will finish up his days (3 or 4 left afterwards) on my next way through from Drayton (I plan on returning once a week to work Missy three sessions per week).

Gypsy's owner has been taking her out and just grooming her, and has confessed to me her new easy catcheability, which is great! I still have a bit more trouble catching her than I think he does, I think mostly because to her I represent work and also tense sessions where we push her boundaries. She will still walk right up to me, just not in the larger paddock I typically find her in. Today was another great session with her though, playing 6 of the 7 Parelli games. She was a little more fearful today than usual, but progressed a lot. I was slapping her lightly all over with ropes, asking her to circle, and even asking her to squeeze between me and the fence - albeit hesitantly, she performed it all brilliantly.

Another shorter session with Missy today, since she did so well! I finally have convinced her to canter (on the ground) on the correct lead on a 28' circle (I move my feet a little with the 12' line) on the left rein...and, well, we're working on things on the right rein. She has this affinity for cross-firing on that lead that we are trying to work out, and she is not all that balanced in that particular direction. Under-saddle I actually left behind my friend Ms. Dressage Whip, whom I typically use to back up my requests or as an extension of my arm to communicate more clearly to her. She was very high energy and gave me a lot of respect and impulsion at figure-8's, serpentines, and circles that included some consistent collection and balance. Her trot-canter transitions were relatively snappy, and the canter itself was great in the one direction and okay (I could feel her cross-firing) in the other - I cannot recall which reins, however I assume they were likely the same reins as on the ground. I have to admit that I find her canter a little difficult to sit yet at times, as it is mostly very unbalanced yet (though improving with each session) and her movement is so huge. It's sort of akin to riding a T-rex, or at least something that has a stride the size of a small country. Canter Missy in the open and you can almost laugh at the ease with which you are able to sit that giganturarian stride. The arena, however, presents a whole other story, because she is yet unbalanced... it's coming though!

I meant to ride Silver and to even try out Cody, but by the time dad and I were finished with pedicures, I was wiped and it was 930pm, the night before Christmas. Christmas being my heading up to Tomahawk sometime in the early hours tomorrow morning. Or that's the plan, anyways. All I know is that we have to be in Tomahawk as early as possible so as to round up some large number of high-headed, snotty-nosed yearlings so that they can make sale Wednesday. Oh, and of course these impossible-to-round-up yearlings are on a large parcel of land. Of course. I believe we may also be moving another herd? So dad kindly came out and pulled Silver's shoes for me; he tweaked my trusty grey's feet post-shoe-removal prior to moving on to Link the (nippy) Dink. Link was actually very pleasing with his feet as they received a little touch-up prior to the trip, but I cannot say the same for his playful I'm-a-toddler teeth. Lippy, nippy, he was acting like a kid in their terrible two's. I think someone has been getting too much feed and too little work as of late. Uh huh. Well, big man's about to be hit hard with some work. Goodbye days of heavenly feed and lounging about in the sun, hellooo days of heavenly feed earned by grime, sweat, and blood. Welcome to the real world, Link ;)

So for now, it is goodbye posts for a couple of days. I am sure though that by the time all you three readers realise I am gone, well, I will be back. With incriminating photos of stealthy yearling cattle hitting the bush. 'Til then.

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