18 May 2015

Cleaning Corrals

We got the pairs out of the well flooded corrals this week before more rain came in. They had weathered the storm pretty good with minimal losses, only one dead, one very sick and two lame probably stepped on. All four of those were in the same pen.

I saddled Coyote and put on his big cow working bit. I mock all those people who move up to bigger bits to control their horses and here I am with my big cow working bit. Sigh. But let me explain. We usually ride in a halter, bareback. He walks, mostly, quietly and responds to the lightest touch of leg or shift of seat. He loves to work cattle, it is very exciting and requires clearer commands under higher stress then trail riding. Halters, like hackmores, don’t give  clear commands. He has told me he does not like a snaffle. So here we are in his big cow working bit. (this is about like it, ours isn’t as fancy) He responds nicely to it no matter how hopped up he is. And he gets slightly crazed.

Anyway, we waded through knee deep mud pushing the cattle out. Pretty simple, they wanted to go, I fought to keep Coyote to a walk. He has beautiful, perfect, sound legs like iron but he is getting a bit of age on him and this was horrible, sucking, leg sticking mud. The last thing I want to do is lame my beloved pony, he wanted to go. Fast. We pranced.

One bunch of cattle, the ones with all the problems, had one gate they had to go through. The mud in it was awful, worse than everywhere else even. All the cows and calves struggled through and got out it. Except our three problem children.  The sick one said no he was not getting up his mom ran over to stay with him, problem solved. The not so lame calf followed the others out the gate. Or to the gate. Once in the gate he sunk to his belly in the sticky mud and was stuck. My father-in-law started to follow him but was persuaded to let me do the honors. He’s no spring chicken and doesn’t need to be trying to walk in that mess. I am no spring chicken either, but I am slightly springier.

I tied Coyote with his reins, hooked to his halter I know how quickly he can slip a bridle off, I didn’t need him stepping on me in his crazed state, and wadded in. And promptly got stuck, lost a boot and nearly fell over a couple of times but was able to get the calf free. Making my way back to Coyote I found him looking disappointed to still be tied with his bridle plopped into the muck beneath him. I was a little grouchy by then and short on clean places to wipe it so I put the bit back in his mouth, filth and all.

We pushed them out to the corrals that were dryer and open to the pasture then came back for the last calf. He was of course stuck in the mud. Once again being young and agile, it’s all relative, I dove in. The father-in-law started to follow but was happy to wait on dryer ground to serve as anchor. I reached a hind leg and drug the calf towards me gaining a foot or so then grabbed the outstretched hand of my father-in-law and pulled as I let go of the calf grabbed a boot and yanked first one foot than the other free moving slightly closer to high ground. This was repeated over and over as we gained inch after precious inch.  Finally he was free of that mud hole. We were still in the same pen though with the gate between us and freedom.

Thank goodness for payloaders. It plowed it’s way into the gate and gave the little guy a ride out of there. We found the problem, a broken leg, and set it before hauling him out to the cows. I haven’t heard any news of him and with 8 I can’t get out to see for myself hopefully the leg heals nicely.

17 May 2015

Oh Hail

I don’t think that’s the first time I’ve used that title but to bad. What else can you say about this type of weather? Last weekend we had a foot of snow this weekend it was hail. The guys are getting antsy about getting the corn planted. With all the time spent getting the “new” drill working and the weather these last two weeks it’s getting late and still too muddy. Just talked to a neighbor who has been pulling 24 hour planting sprees in between storms.

The sound of the hail is deafening

It doesn’t stop once the storm has passed. Better to hear this roar going than coming.

15 May 2015

Monkey Princess

The great and terrible, death defying feats of the amazing climbing monkey princess:

The child terrifies me. But she’s good at it, fortunately.

14 May 2015

Laughter is the Best Medicine

8 is getting so big! He is growing up much faster than his sister did, of course we had an extra two months of her being a tiny baby. This is easier. He laughed for the first time yesterday. A delightful giggle done many times while I changed his diaper. Of course he wouldn’t do it again for his father, or me.

He slept through the night Friday night! Clear till five thirty. Somehow that leads to less sleep not more. I wake up and lay there worrying about why he hasn’t woke up yet. Then when he gets up late he is ready to be up and the Goblin Child wakes up and we are all up for the day. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was five thirty but he hasn’t done that again. It’s been four, four thirty every day this week. I’m tired. Oh well, at least he’s only up once. And surely his laugh will cure even complete exhaustion?

12 May 2015

The Great Mothers Day Blizzard of ’15

Or something like that.

We got a lot of snow. Wet, heavy, tree limb breaking, flower smashing, sick calf making snow. It wasn’t too bad around here but neither was the one in October a couple of years ago that killed so many cattle so it’s hard to judge. School is cancelled for Monday so we might get to sleep in a little. (we didn’t the phone rang shortly after six)

It started Saturday with lots of cold rain to get the animals soaked through and well chilled. The official winter storm warning started at six, we had a birthday party to go to at four. I was totally not worried but thought I would take the pick up because of all that mud. My devoted husband said of course he was coming with he would far  rather attend a children’s birthday party than stay home and enjoy a little alone time, besides he didn’t want us driving home in the snow if it got bad. We were so glad to have him come, we always enjoy his company.

The party was great, the food was delicious and The Goblin child got to use up some energy. We watched out the window as the rain turned to snow but it didn’t seem bad and it had been so warm surely it was melting as it hit the ground. Finally we drug ourselves away and started home the highway was snow packed. The tires spun as we pulled out, it was solid ice and slush. We didn’t get above thirty for the entire, usually short, drive home.

Before we left for the party I locked the shivering horses in the barn. When we got home I let them out to eat and drink. Before bed I bundled up and went out into the cold dark night to put them back in where they could be warm and dry, if without food and water. I didn’t bring a hater, they usually go in willingly, if a little hesitantly. I shooed them away from their hay bale and they left reluctantly. Coyote walked straight to the water trough and took a long deep drink then wadded through the knee deep mud around the corner and right into the barn where he stood waiting for the others. I was impressed. I spent the next half hour floundering around in deep sticky mud, hoping my knee held together as I continually got stuck and had to yank my over flowing mud boots free, chasing those dang mares around in circles as they refused to go back in.

Coyote really wanted them to join him. He stood inside the door calling them frantically. The goat stood under his feet baaing. If they were wading knee deep it was well up to her belly. I finally gave up and left them out. I left the door open for Coyote and Baa though and prayed that they didn’t destroy anything with free run of the barn. (they didn’t)

All night it snowed and right into morning giving us a good foot of snow that didn’t melt more that melted as it came down. Once 8 finally fell asleep Sunday we headed out to explore/check the damages. We waded out into snow that was taller than The Goblin Child. The horses given the option to stay inside were hunched against the wind eating but not shivering. The child and I fed our millions of chickens and then just outside one of the doors she spotted there on the ground a bird. Sitting motionless in the snow was a turtle dove. Of course we bothered it. The poor thing tried to fly crashed into the roof and fell to the ground. The cat and Daisy immediately dove for it. I chased them off and, breaking a rule that’s been drilled into me since childhood, scooped up the bird.

The poor thing barely fluttered in my hand. Brushing clumps of snow out from under its wings I tried to decide what to do with it. I decided it was probably just cold and I would risk the chickens. One group of them at least, if the bird was sick it could just as easily expose them while they all were outside anyway. I sat it inside the shed with a pile of food in front of it. when I came to check on it later it was perched on a chair and the next time it fluttered around my head at the door. I stepped out of the way and it flew off. This morning (Tuesday, it’s taken three days to write this stupid thing) I found one not so lucky laying dead in front of the house.

All in all we came through good. Cows are mostly caved so the biggest trouble there is going to be sick ones from the cold and wet and mud. The potatoes got their tops frosted it’s going to set them back but the asparagus looks alright.

9 May 2015

More Genetics!

And more exclamation points apparently. I must be in a very exciting mood.

So, I have been reading up on the genetics behind gaited horses. Fascinating stuff almost as fun as color genetics. I do spend large portions of my days sitting on the couch and I might as well spend it reading something educational. The problem is that the time I spend sitting here is constantly interrupted by the very reason I am sitting  here in the first place. I am always loosing my train of thought, started the first couple of sentences yesterday adding some more today. It’s one thing when I am saying oh look my kids are so cute another when I am trying to make sense of the genetics behind gait in horses.

Those cool sweeds, I guess along with some others and lead by a guy named Lief Anderson a name I can remember because every time I read it I think he was the guy that discovered America then I remember no that was Lief Erickson, anyway they discovered a gene mutation that is responsible for ALL gaiting in horses. So we have a starting piont. But how does it pass?

I have been theorizing that it must be recessive because of the way it can pop up in families of non-gaited horses like the way red pops up among black cattle. But, the way I am interpreting this at least, it looks like it’s dominant. If you don’t read the whole article this is what it says in part:

“The DMRT3 gene variant we have identified is permissive for alternative gaits in horses. Traditional three-gaited horses such as most dressage and show jumping horses, draft horses and Thoroughbreds are homozygous for the C-variant (CC). Horses that can perform alternative gaits have the A-variant.  Most Icelandic Horses with two copies of the A variant (AA) can perform both pace and the ambling gait tölt while horses with one copy (CA) can only perform tölt.”

I am taking all this to mean that the gait is either there or not and can’t be lurking in the background. Like grey it can’t be hidden, non grey horses can not have a grey baby. I remember when we bought Onna and Grace, another mare same age by the same stud and definitely not gaited, nothing on the place was gaited. Of course I don’t remember any of them being broke to ride either. Is it possible that both of her parents carried one of the gaiting gene and preferred to trot, no one paid enough attention to them running out in the pasture to ever notice if the occasionally moved funny? I did find one article that touched on this a little. It said:

“In tests on Icelandic horses, the researchers found that all horses that paced (2-beat
lateral gait) were homozygous for the mutation—they had two copies. However, the majority of the horses that did not pace,
but only racked, had only a single copy of the mutation. In practical terms this means that all horses that can pace can also
rack, but not all horses that can rack can pace. Furthermore, all of the progeny of a pacer will be able to rack, even if bred to
a non-gaited horse.”
I propose that both of her parents may have carried the gene because of her ability to pace, I have ridden her very few times gotten into a gait even less but of those few times she has offered a hard pace twice.
As further evidence I offer Jerry. She does not pace, when starting her I was pretty sure she was able to gait but had to work hard to get the gait as she preferred to trot. Her colt was decidedly not gaited. When I was looking for a horse I was talking to a lady who was very familiar with gaited Morgans she didn’t have any for sale but she had been out to the Arapaho Ranch and when looking at the horses running in pasture had noted one mare break into gait as she ran through the pasture. The very observant lady had mentioned it to the breeder and remembered it to tell me much latter, I wound up with Jerry.
If not for that one lady would anyone have known? The ranch manager was not breeding for gait and hadn’t noticed. She is from strongly gaited lines but not out of a known to gait mare. I remember the ranch manager telling a story about a stud, but not who the stud was it could’ve been her sire that qwould explain why we were talking about it, who had never gaited until he was having a fit being ridden one day and suddenly broke into gait.

One thing that bothers me about all the discussion on this subject is that almost every article says it has been eliminated in the wild because it produces a lack of coordination and is a hindrance to survival. Huh? Seriously? I have always been under the impression that there were many gaited mustangs? I have no personal experience in this area it was just one of those things I thought I knew. In her heyday Jerry was a pretty good cow horse. When boxing or cutting a cow I distinctly remember her gaiting along beside the calf until she buried her butt in the ground and spun around to turn with them. She was and is an extremely quick and agile horse that is not at all deterred by her gaiting.

Unfortunately I have not been able to find any information other this one study. Apparently nobody else breeds non gaited horses hoping for gait so there isn’t much information about it. After all of that I really don’t have anymore answers than I did before. I will keep looking and maybe find enough for another post that only my mom and I will find to be of any interest.


6 May 2015

All the Beautiful Men

How does one ever decide? I mean look at them:**

stallions~~element48I love this guy, his build his color, his bloodlines are good. Maybe not exactly what I’m looking for. So he’s close but maybe not the perfect man, stud whatever.


I have loved Unconventional since he was for sale as a baby. I wanted him soooo bad. The Silver dapple color is pretty cool and he looks so much like Coyote. Ok maybe a bit better built, just the neck, but they do look a lot alike. His bloodlines are somewhat similar to the first stud on the topside but still not as cow/ranch bred as I would like  and I want a cow horse first and foremost.

braids out full bodyI saw Moab  in person at a ride at Fort Robinson he was stunningly gorgeous. And so very strongly gaited. The owner rode him for the first time on those steep hills in a group of horses and survived. I would say barely but I think it was that whole Morgan thing where they look insane but don’t feel bad when you are riding them. I rode a youngster that belonged to the same people. It was a tiny scrawny two year old I think, maybe a foot wide with thirty days training by a guy who charged a hundred dollars a month. You get what you pay for I usually say, I was charging considerably more at the time. I loved the horse it was quiet smooth and level headed, tons of fun to ride even if it didn’t know anything, sold me on their breeding. Plus he is bred the same on top as Jerry and she’s such a good little horse. So why am I not more serious about him? I really don’t know.

sun-6Good bloodlines, great show record. A little thick through the throat latch. I like a nice coppery chestnut. I’ve admired him for a long time would’ve crossed him on Jerry in a heartbeat.

suedesideNice looking horse, cool color, great bloodlines. I’ve always thought Chingadero was fascinating. Lots of good western breeding plus they are close to us, relatively. Not that it matters with AI.

And why am I checking out all these good looking guys?

20150502_161530It’s all because of this good looking girl. She’s bred pretty well, nicely built, strongly gaited, smart, opinionated, fun to ride, don’t know what she’s like on a cow. If she were to have a colt next year the youngest human child would be a year. By the time the  foal would be old enough to start 8 would be four. Maybe I would be in a position to start a colt. I am definitely not right now. In a perfect world The Goblin Child could have Onna for hers, 8 could ride Coyote and I would have a youngster. Would it be easier to just buy something ready to start when the time comes? Probably.

The two times I have bred mares it has been disastrous. First was Grace and her beautiful bay based grey stud colt. Beautiful and dead by nightfall. Then, if possible even worse, was Nev. He was perfect, gorgeous and sweet and fun to ride for one whole summer. Do I really want to do this again?

Yes, of course. I’m a glutton for punishment.

So which is my choice? How does one decide when there are so many beautiful studs to choose from? Close your eyes and pick? flip a coin? From even this small selection not one of them would be a bad choice and there are so many others just as good. It’s enough to make your head explode.

I chose the last one. Still working on the details and she’s not bred yet, only time will tell if it works out. I hate to even say anything about it until the whole thing is said and done. Afraid I will curse it.

Looking at their pictures next to each other here I think they are built just alike.

**To my darling husband, you know that if I’m checking out anything of the male variety other than you it’s got to be a horse right?


5 May 2015

8 is Great!

What does one write about a baby? Especially one who is sweet and healthy and sleeps well? Someday he will get old enough to read this, not that he will want to but he could, and he will be so hurt that I never say anything about him. I talk about his sister all the time. I even talk about the new horse more than I do him, poor guy.

So I will try. The darling boy has only been getting up once at night for quite a while now and then he’ll sleep till almost seven. When he does wake up he doesn’t immediately start screaming like certain other children I could mention did. He snuffles quietly, or should I say snorts and roots about loudly? He does eat like a horse.

Boys are way more fun to dress than I thought they would be. Of course who knew that I of all people would enjoy dressing a girl either? When I dress him all cute to go somewhere it never fails he doesn’t leave the car seat. If I leave him in pajamas he’s out the whole time with everyone looking at him.

He snored all the way through his first time to church. Ate, burped and cried through his second. He doesn’t do any better at that than his sister.

At his last doctors appointment he weighed eleven pounds already. Somehow we seem to make tall children. His otherwise tiny sister is as tall as her normal sized friends. 8 was in the 90th percentile for height. He’s a good two foot long. He seems so big to us, it’s all relative after all, and is in the 75th percentile for weight. I need to look back and see how old his sister was when she reached that weight. I know she was wearing the blue bear suit, that he wears now, in April so she would have been eight months.

That is all I can think of to say about him I’m afraid. He hasn’t had any explosive spit-ups and only a couple overflowing poops. He is just a good incredibly adorable baby. And well loved. I hope someday he will be able to appreciate how well loved he is. For now I think he spends most of his time cowering in fear.


3 May 2015

The Joy of Circles

A girl and her goat
A girl and her goat

I had managed what sometimes seems the impossible, both children were down for a nap at the same time! I turned the TV on to play Sesame Street for the next couple of hours and laid a drink and a snack out on the table in case the oldest child awoke and searched until I found a shirt with a snapping pocket to hold the baby monitor in case the younger woke up. I caught Princess Onna and let her graze in the yard while I saddled. Everything was set, I was going for a ride. With one last walk through the house to make absolutely sure everybody was ok I mounted up.

Princess Onna was in fine form. She pranced in place on her tip toes and her back was humped so high it was like sitting on a beach ball. I pulled her head around and moved her hind quarters over and let her circle a couple of times then we started off again. The wind was blowing steady enough to cool the first eighty degree day of the year but not quite howling. The first leg of our trip took us between feed bunks and cattle on one side and equipment and stacked railroad ties on the other. Having decided she was done being contrary she walked down the road without flinching.

Down at the Quonset my part time mechanic husband was spending the weekend fixing the corn planter with his father. They were within range of the baby monitor. With Onna standing, not quietly but standing, I yelled up to him as he sat in a tractor cab just inside the door to tell him where I was planning to ride and that I was leaving him the monitor. I lead Onna up to the four-wheeler as we squeezed between the drill and the building. I turned the monitor on and sat it down to make sure it was placed where it had reception. Just as I remounted we heard a child squawk. I said a few choice words and waited to make sure he was really waking up and not just stirring. He was definitely awake. So much for my ride.

Rushing back to the house I was trying to balance hurrying to get to a crying baby and not running my horse back to the barn. Which is the more important priority? She has a good fast walk and it’s a short distance, I think we got there as fast as was necessary without teaching any bad habits.

Dismounting I dropped my bridle and left her to mow the lawn as I hurried to the child. He had decided  he was starving. Keeping an eye on the horse out the window while he ate I mourned my lost ride. But The Goblin Child was still asleep. I keep hearing about my friends and friends of friends who ride with their children sitting in strollers in the arena surely I could manage. Sure I don’t have an arena but I have a driveway and a shaded spot out of the wind to set a car seat.

8 sat happily watching the branches of the big pine tree sway in the wind while I sat happily in the saddle. We, the horse and I not the child and I, worked on turns on the hind quarters and stopping. Knowing the guy who started her I can guess the sort of things he would have installed, knowing that shes been a trail horse for the decade or so in between and probably not practicing roll backs, I don’t know what she can do, what hasn’t been taught and what she just doesn’t feel like doing. I am enjoying finding out.

Three? years ago before starting Nev I was burnt out on training and just wanted to ride. Starting Nev got me in training mode again. Losing him took away any opportunity to train. One does not “train” Coyote to do anything, it is beneath him, he decides what he is willing to condescend to. Now here I have, if not a colt to train, and maybe not even a horse that is any more willing to accept instruction than Coyote is, at least something new to play with. She is light, relatively, and responsive and what, powerful maybe? Coyote can bolt with a rider, at a walk. She gives that same feeling.

We have moved the garden this year and the old/usual garden plot was sitting there beautifully worked so we claimed it for our arena. I put her on a circle and we walked. I have come far enough that I no longer work on head set. That lesson took awhile to learn. She deviated and we worked harder. She got mad that I would dare to tell her what to do and trotted. I realized how long it had been since I trained horses and cowered in fear of her breaking into a canter. We worked on staying on our circle while she chose to walk or trot and I thought of everything that could go wrong if we crossed that magic line into a lope. It’s one thing on Coyote, he’s not scarey no matter what he does, and he does a lot. I didn’t want to go any faster on a new, more than slightly rotten horse. Then I got over it.

The next time she wanted to go I let her. It was great, we may have paced more than loped but what ever. I wasn’t afraid anymore. Right about then 8 started to fuss. Our ride was over but it was alright I had accomplished more than I had ever hoped for. I had loped a circle.