Friday, December 31, 2010

Pony Rides

She had matching antlers, but they wouldn't stay on.
A few days ago a couple of my friends brought their kids over to ride Morrissey. Of course, since the children are all young, the plan was to have me lead them around. I was confident enough doing this because her former owners used Morrissey for their small children pretty  often. When they brought her to me, they had the kids crawling all over her and sliding off of her backwards. As a very cautious person, I won't let anyone interact with her that way, but it did happen safely on at least one occasion.

Just to be safe, we had an adult walking next to the kids or riding with the kids the entire time. Everything went perfectly for the majority of the day. I led Morrissey around in wide circles in the arena for at least 45 minutes. The kids all got several turns, then of course there was a spooking incident. I can't imagine what it was that scared her. We were passing the same roping dummy we'd passed each time, but this time it was scary. She did two little fat-horse hops, one in each direction. One of the kids on her back was slipping so I grabbed her off and got her out of the hoof zone. The other kid held on like a champ. His father got him off quickly. I was really upset. One of my biggest fears is my horse hurting someone, especially a child. I didn't let the spook end the day. I lunged her without incident by the scary dummy several times and made sure the kids weren't too afraid to pet and interact with her. Both of them want to come back and ride again, so thank goodness they aren't scarred for life.  I know that no horse can ever be completely bomb-proof, but I really want Morrissey to be as close as possible.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Christmas

Happy Holidays everyone! My break has been great so far. When I've had time, I've been at the barn working with Morrissey on ground manners. She is a smart girl, because she's got most of it down. Backing up has been the hardest thing for her. She still doesn't do it in a straight line, but at least she is going backwards.

At first, I was afraid that the training was hurting our relationship a little. She wasn't as eager to see me as she used to be, and she seemed quite a bit less affectionate. Regardless of her pouting, I stuck to my guns and I'm glad I did. Today when I was with her, she was her normal sweet self, as affectionate as ever. I can tell that my new leadership role is earning her respect and her trust. I was leading her by the terror-pigs and one of them snorted loudly. She normally would have jumped a mile, but I placed my hand on her and she barely even flinched. I left feeling accomplished!

In goaty news, I've decided to start making handmade goat-milk soap. My doelings still aren't born, much less in milk, but I'm going to start none the less. My first batches will be made with water. When I get the hang of that, I'm moving on to milk. My dry, itchy, winter skin can't wait!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lesson Success

Today was my first lesson with Morrissey. It was so fun. My instructor's name is Dot. I can't say enough positive things about her. She really took her time with both of us until we really understood. It was such a relief to have someone there to help me. I realized for the first time just how often I have felt lost when handling Morrissey. She is such a different horse than my last horse (thank goodness) but she tends to throw me for a loop. For example, the door on Morrissey's stall is tricky. When I lead her into the barn, I always feel like I'm fumbling. She is usually a bit spooky because of the low roof and the proximity of the piglets and I'm usually trying to get her to position herself correctly to get her in the door safely. It is difficult to explain, but it has been a slight point of frustration for us both. Dot watched me fumble through it and within seconds had the whole situation fixed. All I had to do was switch sides and have her back down the hall a few steps. Something so simple, and yet it never dawned on me.

Dot uses Natural Horsemanship and Centered Riding. I have a book on Natural Horsemanship that I've been reading and working on pretty often, but apparently I'm a visual learner, because having Dot show me really helped.We spent most of the time teaching Morrissey to respect my space and to pay attention to my cues. Dot and I both agree that Morrissey is a left-brain extrovert. I don't know much about Parelli, but I'm really interested in what the program will suggest for her in the future. For now I'm going to get her some toys for her paddock and work with her daily for half hour sessions until Dot and I have another lesson.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter Break Here I Come!

Preparing Misty for a Show
Winter break is only a day away! I'm so happy to be wrapping this semester up, that I'm celebrating with a riding lesson. My new instructor's name is Dot. She is very affordable, and she'll come to my barn for the lesson. You can't beat that! I am really looking forward to actually riding my wonderful horse. All we've done lately is ground work and lunging. I haven't decided if I'm going to document the first lesson with photos yet. I'm not sure if I want anyone there watching during the lesson. I tend to have stage fright about riding in front of people. I don't know how I stand in front of 30 students each day and talk for hours, but I don't want to ride in front of even my closest friends and family. So crazy! I could take the photos myself, but I need to pay attention to my lesson more. Either way, I'll post how it went.

My First Set of Triplets
I have officially sent in the deposits on my new dairy goats. One of the doelings will be coming from Brushy Creek Farms and the other from TLC Farms. Both are local farms with wonderful animals. I have a list of 3 or 4 does at each farm that could potentially be my goats' dam. I'm so curious about which one I'll get.  I joined the South Central Texas Goat Club, and as soon as the girls arrive I will be joining the American Dairy Goat Association. My first Goat Club meeting is in January. I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm very excited. I found some fun old pictures of my first herd of goats to share. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Problems with Piglets

Morrissey has moved. I love the new stable, but she's not so sure. Since the move, she's been pretty spooky. It all started with the piglets. Two adorable piglets live in a pen near her stall. Morrissey is not a fan of piglets, or the mare in the pasture next to her, or the barn, or the water hose, or the arena... but we're working on it. She is so afraid of the pigs that her front legs quiver when they snort. Sixty percent of the time she stands alert with her nostrils flared and then snorts as loud as she can in their general direction. I managed to capture a minor example for you. The video doesn't do it justice.The noise reminds me and my husband Chris of a scene from  Jurassic Park.

 It has been strange for my usually reasonable mare to spook at everything. Last week was a week a frustration for us both. Having her jump around while I was leading her that first day really shook my confidence. Luckily, the owners at the stable are so helpful and encouraging. Mike, one of the owners, has gone above and beyond and really helped build my confidence back. Today I lunged her on my own and then groomed her and had a great day. Hopefully there will be many more to come.
Putting my deposit down on goats has been a definite step in the farmish direction for me. Horses seem to be very suburbia- friendly, goats are not. I've been researching goat nutrition for days and it looks like I'll have to eat my words about Tractor Supply. Apparently they have the best free choice minerals in town. The suburban girl in me can't believe I'm going to be preparing my own feed mix one day, but if it is best for my goats, I'm willing to do it.