Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yowza! Debbie clinic


My clinics with Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez have really ratcheted up a notch.  She is on me like white on rice and when I think it's finally over she calls out, "Ok, let's pick up the reins and get her connected...."  and on we go.

It's a good thing she's pushing me hard I think.

We started immediately in our canter work focused on flying changes yesterday.  We started off on a figure 8 asking for a change in the middle of the figure.  If a change didn't happen, tickle with the whip... Sera likes to kick out with both hind feet for the changes.  When she kicks out, usually a change occurs.  Her kicks can be pretty big and they are ugly but never morphs into anything more or dangerous.

Seems like with all new things... they start out pretty ugly but once the muscle memory and how things have to happen gets learned, they get prettier and prettier.  No baby learning to walk ever starts off strutting like they are on a catwalk ya know? 

She seemed to "get" the change from right to left ok - not pretty but when she took one off my aids we called it good and started in on the changes from left to right.

Not so good.  Much kicking out behind but no changes....

Plan B.

20 meter circle in counter canter, simple change to walk with an IMMEDIATE haunches in on the circle,  and if Sera didn't move her ass over in response to my leg, there was a whip correction.  Straighten to normal bend on the circle, and begin again with counter canter.

Debbie said this was to get her 1. moving off my leg quicker vs. blowing me off and 2. gets her thinking about her hind end. 

Next came the change - I kept her in counter canter, half-halted and asked for a lead change, changing the bend of her neck with the inside rein and bringing my outside leg back.  If no change, tickle with the whip... still no change?, continue in counter canter... gather her up, half-halt and ask again. 


Sera was wet ears to tail as if I'd hosed her off when we were done.  She works SO hard for me.  I love, love, LOVE my mare. 

Debbie says I need to do something with changes EVERY time I ride... not the level of pressure we put on her yesterday but something to keep her thinking about it.   Gulp. 

I cooled her out indoors til she was breathing normally... put her cooler on and tied her up in the sun to dry off.   The girl trying Rosso brought him up... he was his normal bug-eyed, histrionic self.  Poor fella.  Must be hard living in his head where the hamster on the wheel is running at 180mph all the time.

I loaded them up and got home with plenty of daylight to spare.  Was a really fun ride and a good day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rosso Story

A couple of clinics ago, I was talking with the barn owner about this woman riding in the clinic.  She is a tall woman and she is always on these teeny, tiny client horses.  We were talking about how she needs a BIG horse to really fill out her legs, stature etc.  Not in a mean way - and the woman riding has also said this.  The barn owner said this woman had a couple of larger horses of her own but they each ended up with severe lameness issues and she gave them away to good homes.

I was like ???wha???  how did she give lame horses away?  I have a perfectly sound horse at home that is ready to go for someone and I can't find him a home to save my life!

We started talking about Rosso... he moves well, athletic...however, he is very much a reactive/nervous horse and I don't appreciate that but know someone could have a lot of fun with him if they were a strong, assertive rider. 

This barn owner thought she might have a couple people interested in him... so the next clinic date I brought Sera and Rosso down.  And yes he screamed like a ninny the entire time from the stall/run we put him in.  Fun.  He hasn't been ridden since spring... and he hasn't been many places... his eyes were pretty much bugged out of his head...

When the girl interested in Rosso showed up... she got him out, tied him up... I saddled him for her... lunged him in the indoor... the barn owner got on him... and while MY heart was in my throat, he was fine.  He had an objection about something - she yelled at him, stayed on and resumed without another objection.  He rounded up beautifully, sweat between his back legs and flanks (horses sweat where they are working) and the barn owner kept exclaiming how sensitive he was to her seat and weight - how light in the hand he was - how big his movement was... I think he has better movement than Sera does and is more athletic and eye-catching.  I know everyone was surprised.  He is very pretty and uses himself well. 

You think "free" horse and you think puke horse.  Rosso isn't a puke... but I really don't appreciate his mind.  I know someone would have a lot of fun with him but it isn't me. 

Lemme put it this way. 

If he was a human, he would wear black turtlenecks, skinny jeans, eyeliner and read poetry on open mike night with a very effeminate voice and possibly a lisp.  If anyone looked sideways at him, he'd run dramatically sobbing, eyeliner streaming down his face, to the bathroom and he'd lock himself in there the rest of the night.

Not that there is anything wrong with someone like that.  God love 'em. 

I just don't happen to appreciate those qualities in a 1,000lb animal I'm sitting on.

Then the girl who was interested rode Rosso.  The whole time he is screeching to Sera and Sera is screeching right back... but dang, he was GOOD.  He didn't do anything horrible, he listened, he did his job... he was worked hard, in a new place, by two different people, with his one and only pasture mate screeching to him... and he hasn't been worked or had anyone on him since March or April of 2011.  It was the 2nd week in December of 2011.

I was hopeful. 

He stayed on a 30 day trial.

I got home with my lovely Sera Sue... unloaded her and then felt sad.  Which suprised me.  I suppose when you care for an animal for 5 years there are attachments formed, even if you don't love exactly everything about them.  And it didn't help that Sera kept calling for him and looking for him... and when the girl got him out to groom him he buried his fretful head into my chest like - omg! save me! 

I felt like the big, mean, carnivore. 

Not to mention I watched him go and he was pretty - I saw all the things that I loved about him and the reasons I brought him home in the first place.  It's hard to let it go and know you weren't good enough to get past it. 

My crazy neighbor Mrs. Kravitz asked me last week if I'd be mad if the girl showed up at a show and beat me and Sera? 

No!  I'd be really happy actually! 

Mrs. Kravitz said she'd be mad enough for both of us then if that were to happen.  chuckle.  She does love me and means well even if she is a little (or a lot) crazy.

I got an e-mail today from the barn owner.  He is still being a good boy, no shennanigans and yet the girl interested is also intimidated by his nervousness.  The barn owner reports that she'll warm Rosso up for the girl, walk, trot, canter - lots of transitions and the girl rides him but she won't ride him without the barn owner around.   That is what I thought might happen.  He needs a strong, assertive rider that he won't question.  The girl didn't seem to have that take charge personality when I watched her ride but I hoped I was wrong. 

It's ok... I want him to find a good fit.  I love the big goof and I don't want to see him (or another person) in a bad situation.  I have another clinic on the 28th and it's my guess that he'll be coming home with me to resume his status as a fully sound, capable horse that gets to be a pasture ornament/buddy to my wonderful mare.  


That's a pretty damn good job if you can get it when you are a horse!   Especially in this horse market....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Keenan Story...

Keenan... our "problem" child dog.  She's made a lot of progress and is still a work in progress with her issues. 

She goes to doggie daycare 2x a week.  It's an extravagance for sure, however, it helps with her energy levels.  High energy = more devotion to her issues and escalating issues.  Daycare keeps her socializing with dogs (even tho' in the real world she wants to kill all strange dogs).  We figure it's good for her right now while she's young and we are working through these things.

Furry Husband came home the other day, "Honey, guess what Keenan did at daycare today?"

Oh, I would have no idea...

"She figured out how to open the door and led ALL the daycare dogs outside!" 

Nice.  The outside is a fenced area so no dogs were exactly in danger...but I know the daycare groups certain dogs together and lets Group A outside during certain times and Group B at other times etc.  Not a good thing to have different groups - segmented for size, temperaments etc - milling around all at once. 

It's like the West Side Story - Sharks vs. Jets meeting all at once....

Guess the employees corrected her from then on each time she tried the door and she just kept trying.. the owner told me she must've tried at least 30 times.   Yup.  Sounds like our Keenan.  

The little angel.

After that day, when we drop Keenan off, the employees shout to each other - "Keenan's here!" and bungee cords go on the lever handled doors.

A couple weeks later Furry Husband walks in the door after picking up our deviant canine... "Honey... guess what Keenan did today in daycare..."

Hoo boy... I'm afraid to ask.

Guess Keenan figured out how to open the slick, metal knob door to the lobby/retail area of daycare.  She stood on her hind legs and worked the knob with her 2 front paws til it opened.  (Did I mention when we let her out into our yard, or we are out doing chores, we have to lock our doors or she lets herself inside - our front door gaping wide open and she is lounging happily on the couch or bed....having a wicked smaht dog is super fun.) 

She happily opened it and led all the dogs merrily into the lobby to peruse the retail shelves....

Christmas shopping would be my guess.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Inpiring and TRUE

I found this blog post from a woman by the name of Rachel Cosgrove and wanted to share it with you:

and this one

Now that I feel good from eating primally, I want to try and become stronger...

I've started some sprint workouts once a week.  I run as fast as I can for 30 seconds, rest til I can breathe and repeat... 8 times.  Not so hard.  Tho' they seem like the longest 30 seconds ever.  I take our troublesome Keenan dog with me and she is loving it.  You could also bike, swim or whatever floats your boat for 30 seconds really hard... rest... repeat.

I started some of the primal essential movement workouts 2x a week (plank, squats, pushups, pullups).  I really like the idea of body wieght movements and not needing a lot of fancy equipment, space or gym membership to get strong. 

I'm pretty sadly weak and puny but you gotta start somewhere. 

I can't do one pullup.  I just hang there... suffering, muscles quivering while I grunt.  Furry Husband watches in amusement.  I have to do chair assisted ones to really get my chin anywhere near the "up" part of a chinup.  And I do the girlie knee pushups...   I can plank and I can squat and I attribute those to riding.

Already tho, when I get out of the shower, I can see little muscles moving in my pec area, my biceps seem more firm - not so flabby and reminicent of my 1970's kindergarten teacher and I think my butt has gotten a wee bit firmer or lifted... just a wee bit anyway and heck, any little bit helps.   

My workouts - sprints and the essential movement ones - last no longer than 30 min.  Sometimes not even that long.  It's not overwhelming or 2 hrs long or hugely involved.  I just have to remember to give the dogs something good to chew on so they don't try and play with me while I'm doing this stuff on the living room floor.  And of course Furry and I walk most mornings 2 miles with the doggers.  It's such a nice way to start the day... for all of us.

We'll see where it goes. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

I dunno where the time goes...

My new job is great... I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my office, the co-workers, my boss... and I'm busy most of the time and it's really cut down on my internets...  

Not like I hated, my last job and I liked my boss... and this job just "clicks" with me for some reason.  Hopefully this feeling stays.  It's been almost a year since beginning and I'm still having fun so that is a good sign me thinks.

My last story was about cats in the closet.

Well, this is a cat story too.  Our giant 25lb male black cat, Mojo, went missing.  This was Furry Husband's cat...HIS cat.  Mojo liked to jump out at me and play but he LOVED and PURRED and CUDDLED with Furry Husband while having nothing to do with me.  He was a very, very cool cat.  We let him out in the day and brought him in at night.  A couple times he didn't want to come in at night... and played the stay away game.  He was always on the porch in the morning.

The last time he played the stay away game... we tried to get him in before bed... shortly after getting into bed... even got up in the middle of the night to call for him.  We could see him but he wouldn't come and would run away if we tried to nab him.  The next morning he was gone. 

We talked to all our neighbors and looked for him for months. 

Furry Husband wanted another cat he could call his own and he was looking around on Petfinder.... he found a female tortoiseshell kitten in a shelter in Greeley.  One day I came home and there was a new addition to our house.  He named her Katona (cat + anniversary) since he brought her home on our wedding anniversary.

We set up our big wire dog crate so she and the residing ani-mules could all meet and greet with minimal safety issues and Furry Husband would take her out to cuddle every day.  After a couple weeks we started letting her out for short periods of time.

She started pooping on our couch.  Pooping behind the t.v. stand.  Pooping in the bedroom.   And not just cat turds but runny, liquid diarrhea....nasty, gooey, stanky, stanky poo.   Disgusting.

We called the vet and ran a fecal... even tho' the shelter said she was wormed.  Our vet found her infested with round worms.  Nice since the dogs helped clean up her errant stanky magma poo and we didn't know if she had used the litter boxes some of the time so our existing cats may have stepped in, cleaned their paws and ingested round worms...

And so we started EVERYONE in the house on round worm rotation.  Fun!

We've always "found" kittens or cats in rural areas and they weren't in high confinement cages full of other animals coming and going, passing parasites back and forth.  Good to remember next time there is a shelter animal....

The next fecal showed the round worms dying and gone... however, there was still this horrible diarrhea.  Fountains of it.

Vet ran coccidia and giardia... nope.  Nothing. 

We began changing foods... nothing worked.  We were having discussions about putting her down because she obviously didn't feel good... and living her life in a cage was no life.... people told us we should let her loose outside to be a "barn cat" however we didn't like that idea given what happened with Mojo and she was so little...

And so I turned to the internet.  I Googled kitten with diarrhea or kitten not using litter box... found a website discussing IBS in cats.  How they are true carnivores and some cats have severe reactions to dry foods.  This is the link if you are interested, 

Surprisingly, some of the grocery store brand cat foods are healthier than "fancy" foods like Science Diet or Nutro etc.... I went to the grocery store and found 2 types of Fancy Feast cat food where the first 4 ingredients were meat, broth and organs, no grains listed. 

It didn't work.

The article went on to discuss feeding "raw".  Cats exist on birds, mice - other live critters....the organs and bones of their catches meet all their nutritional needs.   The article had recipes for how to make your own cat food... including buying a grinder and where to get whole, skinned, rabbit carcasses with all the much a cat typically should eat of the "raw" food etc. etc. etc.


Then I saw that damn show on Animal Planet called, "My Cat from Hell".  And these people were living with HORRIBLE cats!  One couple had this cat they adopted from the shelter and in the night the cat attacked the husband... serious, deep, bites and lacerations up and down the guy's spine... he had to go to the emergency room and needed stitches.   And these people were working with a guy to help solve their problem with their cat.

Here, we had this sweet, loving, kitten that purred all day long and there was obviously something wrong with her.  So if the people in the above show could work with and overcome the violent tendencies in their  beasties... it seemed like the least we could do, was try some other food options.

I stopped at the feed store and picked up some RadCat raw cat food.  There were no sweet potatoes or peas or brown rice in it to dilute the pure carnivore feast... it was meat and organs with some added vitamins/minerals.  Yum.

And it worked.

Katona had turds for the first time in probably 8 weeks since all this went down.  We let her system adjust and settle down and we tried another grain free kibble.  Instant diarrhea.

Alrighty then.  Raw it is.  Raw bought from the feed store is expensive tho'.  Making our own would be cheaper.  Grinding our own cheaper still but I'm not ready to go there....

Pricing out whole rabbit was sorta spendy when you factored in all of our cats.  I was considering getting them all on a raw diet since research shows feeding raw dramatically reduces kidney problems and other health problems.  Maybe if we feed this way, we'll spend less in vet bills as they age?  That was my line of thinking anyway.  I put raw out for our other cats and all but one LOVED it.  They cleaned it UP.

I found another place referenced in the article and was introduced into a whole 'nother world of animal feeding.  I guess I figured that people with reptiles got mice from the pet store... never gave "live" or "raw" feeding any more thought.

Wow - there is a whole culture out there of raw and live feeding for pets.   You can get a sack of 25 frozen white mice... and there was a testimonial on the site about how this person warms a mouse a day for her cat and throws it in the bathtub for him to demolish.  


You can get whole, frozen guinea pigs... small, medium and jumbo.   (YOU could, I don't think I could....)
Rabbit... turkey... day old chicks... whole ground mouse goes for $6.99/lb.  MMMM.   Try that in your next taco salad!

Besides whole frozen critters, they also sell parts.  I guess frozen, skinned rabbit heads are great fun for your dog!  Or maybe for a small dog, just the rabbit feet....

I ended up ordering whole, ground chicken.  The whole chicken.... minus the a giant tube-like package like you might see at Sam's Club for ground beef...only it's whole ground chicken.  We added B and E vitamins... taurine... fish oil... egg yolks.... whatever the recipe listed, mixed it up and portioned it in 6oz tupperware containers.   A 5lb tube of chix with the vitamins/minerals lasts about 3 weeks for this kitten.

It's easy to make - takes literally 15 or 20 min. for a 3 week supply

Yeah.  It's weird.  I know.  I guess I just think when you bring an animal home, YOU are responsible for that life.  And yes, we did discuss putting her down and came very close before I found this relatively easy solution.  Others may have chosen to kill her - and that is fine as long as it's done humanely.  However, I guess it wasn't something we wanted to do until we tried other options.  Giving her back to the shelter wasn't an option to me as we'd just be unloading this problem on someone else... not a responsible way of dealing with it. 

Now the kitten runs happily around the house, hasn't had any accidents... is happy and purring and friendly.  She goes into her cage to eat her raw diet.  I put the grain free kibble and some Fancy Feast out at the same time for the other cats (decided it was too spendy to feed all of our cats raw)... Katona stays in her cage for 30 min while everyone eats... I pick up all food and the kitten is released to resume living "normal" life in our house.

The only bad thing?

She's friggin' picked ME.   She isn't Furry Husband's cat.  She seeks ME out.... I didn't need another cat....


Furry is trying to win her over... but ... you know cats....

Fingers crossed!