Friday, September 11, 2009

Fixing fences and Cody's second day out

My first day back in town (home) ended up a complete loss, as Missy was still “off” enough that I did not want to work her, and high winds were in full effect to prevent any work with anyone outdoors (ie. Sunny or Gypsy). When I say high winds, I mean hurricane-like (no exaggeration). It was enough of a challenge just to stay upright, never mind stay upright on a horse! My second day back, Missy and I did some groundwork (at which she did well) and Sunny and I did some under-saddle work in our “arena”. He was pretty good, with even some bend and relaxation at first, before the reactivity and tension took over. Overall though he still did well, and in a rope halter! His owners reported back to me that they rode him quite a bit over the weekend and that he did extremely well with them. I was hoping to work with Gypsy, but the minute I walked into her pasture, she began running aimless circles (whilst I stood relaxed, casually watching her) after making an initial cautious approach towards me. If we're going to make any headway in our last few sessions, she is definitely going to have to be kept by herself in a smaller pen!

Seems like I have been spending more time trucking about and fixing fences than riding up north on the ranch!! Our first day back up north at the ranch, we were dismayed to find that a recent storm had knocked out a gate. Our horses being the opportunistic beasts they are, took off to join the cows…on two quarter sections. And so our adventure began (after a long drive, I might add) – searching for our horses, in the dark, on the ATV. Luckily for us, the horses were close-ish by. Unluckily for us, the next day another major storm hit. We returned from Thunder In the Valley (drag racing!!) to discover our horses had been locked out of their shelter the past few hours (and access to the house/water/trees) by a renegade gate in league with the powerful winds sweeping about. So my second adventure began to bring the horses in and try to convince them the barn was the best place to be (rather than following me to the house). Poor Cody was convinced I had something better up my sleeve and so would follow me about in the rain, continuously putting his bum into the hard downpour to the point of walking sideways behind me at times ;) The rest of our stay up north was spent fixing some fences on the property so that we could turn the horses out into new pasture.

Link seems to be putting on weight with the mash feeds he gets each morning I am up north in combination with the plentiful grass he’s been shoveling in! My next project involves another small pasture around the house with a ton of grass – if I work on it a few days it should be ready to turn the horses out into soon. Should I need one more pasture for the rest of the month, I’ve got one eyed up, though it will take a ton of work. Both Link and Silver have been maxing and relaxing but will be back to regular work next time I am up (this time for about a week). Cody and I, however, had a fantastic ride Wednesday evening!!

Originally, I took Cody out to check the fence line of the next pasture I want to put the horses into. I logged away what little work we’d have to do there and we next headed out to another corner of the property. I wanted to check out the fence lines of one more little piece I could put the horses into should the need arise. That trip took us around the one pasture (including through brush and past who-knows-what that was crashing through the bush close by – not cows) and let us out at one end of the property, where we stumbled upon 17 cows (2 of which hit the bush almost immediately) and one bull. I was curious as to where the rest of the cows and bulls were and I also wished to further familiarize myself with the property, so we followed the perimeters of the entire property. What Cody and I found was awe-inspiring (photos to come soon!). We followed one calf to discover “the lost herd” a.k.a. the wildies (lol). He (the calf, that is) shot off into the bush and down a bank to the creek that snakes over the property. I was unsure of the trail (it wasn’t all that visible from above, so I couldn’t plan our route) and so dismounted and led Cody down. Brilliant idea numero uno: lead green horse you do not yet fully know behind you on a narrow, steep trail. Luckily for me and my heels, said green horse was great and kept a nice cushion of space between him and I (I have eyes on the back of my head…see, I’m all set for motherdom one day, hehehe). Once at the bottom, we were greeted by a beautiful creek, landscaped by beavers, meandering down a deep and narrow gulley. Oh, and the 5 wild cows and their calves we’d discovered crashing through the bush, splitting up to hit the slopes of either side of the gulley. Cody cautiously picked his way down a smaller slope into the creek, leapt the creek, and crawled up the other side and up the steep gulley bank to the top (on the opposite side). From there, we hunted down bull numero deux and Cody and I hit for home, where little man dived into his reward: a handful of sweet feed (whilst bull numero trois made a brief appearance in the nearby distance). I was quite proud of our little painted pony! He was quite tense and skittish when we first started out, but by the end of our two-hour ride of the 350+ acres, he was relaxed and solid. We walked, trotted, and even did quite a bit of canter when he offered; all three gaits were much more confident. He is picking up my body language as well – ie. to transition down/halt when I relax my body, and to move into the next gait when I pick up my energy. Once home, we also did a little work on lateral (sidestep), back-up, transitions (walk/trot/halt), and turns on the hind/fore…basics. My goal is to continue riding him but to also just spend as much undemanding time together as possible, earning his trust.

Back at home now for a couple of days, I am back to finish up my days on Sunny and Gypsy and also to work Missy (at least w/t under-saddle as well as groundwork)…then back up for a week (almost) to play with our three boys on the ranch! Have to admit, lovin’ the simple life up north!

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