Friday, May 29, 2009

Lab Rats!!!

Boomer (and I) participated in a research study on equine genetics.  Cornell Vet School sent us a packet of info and I measured him in 38 different ways.  I also pulled out some tail hairs, which was sad.  He jumped a little and John said he made a little noise, like a whine.  Aw!  We also took some profile shots.  Part of the reason I was so ken on doing this was because I really needed the motivation to find out exactly how tall he is.  He was sold as being 15.3 hands.  Hey, Shanster- my flying mounts are about to be a whole lot less impressive!  He measured in at 15 hands.  You might be able to give him another half inch, but he is most definitely closer to 15hh than 15.1hh.  And I thought he made me feel big!  Turns out, he is just a little guy!  He is only 2 inches too tall to be a pony!  I think the news sort of took the wind out of his sails.  For me too, it was so much more impressive for me to vault up onto a 15.3hh horse!!!  For those who don't speak horse, a hand is 4 inches and hh stands for hands high and is the standard denotation used for all breeds.  A pony must be shorter than 14.2hh.  An Arabian could very well be pony sized, but due to registration requirements, a small Arabian will often be 'given' an inch tobring it up to 14.2hh and to ensure it is registered.  Boomer measured 60.5 inches which is exactly 15.125hh, though hands are only measured in inches, so there is no 'in between' size for a horse between 15hh and 15.1hh.  

Here are the conformation shots.  Obviously it has been a few years since he has been set up for halter.  :)

I think he was a body condition score of 4 coming in to the spring.  He gets much more food now that I have changed him to a less nutrient dense food (aka- rocket fuel).   I am able to feed him more without losing his sanity.  So he was getting 3 pounds per day, now he gets 5 pounds of his new food.  I think I would score him at a 4.5, thought I am aiming for a 5 by the end of summer.  His top line needs to fill out a bit more.  When I got him, he was a 7.  He dropped weight very quickly as we started working and I think he had trouble maintaining weight on the Ultium as he couldn't handle more than 1.5 pounds of it mixed with 1.5 pounds of Horseman's Edge.  Good news is that he is picking up very quickly on his new food and he is behaving better than ever before.  I give Omolene 500 two thumbs up!  Only downside is that it will be about twice as expensive.  Per bag, it is cheaper, but he is eating more.  I am OK with that.  If it is better, I will pay for it.  

Same goes for Charley who has been on a new food as well.  He is getting Smart Pak Live Smart food.  He likes it, his coat is better, and he farts less.  We used to give him Iams with 3 fish oil pills a day to keep him from getting dandruff.  Now, on a smaller quantity of food and NO fish oil, his coat and body look better than ever!  All this in less than a month!  The only complaint is that the kibble size is tiny and it gets stuck in his jowls and dropped throughout the house.  Wellness is a larger kibble that we will try next time.   Though these foods cost almost twice as much per bag, Charley is getting full off of less.  He used to eat about 4.5-5 cups per day and now he eats 3.5 cups per day.  

Things I have gotten done so far...

Things are starting to happen quickly around here! 
 I got name plates ordered and put on my bridle and halter.  I also got the matching, waterproof hood (on summer sale) and took that, the blanket, and cooler to be embroidered.  I pick those things up next Thursday.  We are moving the horse to a full care boarding facility with about 20 boarders and 40 horses.  So, labeling your stuff is of upmost important in situations like those.  Not to say that people are bad.  Not at all.   It is just that things get borrowed and if it isn't labeled, it can be hard to get back.  Especially in open tack rooms, new riders have a hard time knowing what is school tack and what is someone's personal stuff.  

I also got the plug put in the truck bed.  That will make travel so much easier, and for only $35, who could say no!  It is located on the left side wall just in front of the tail gate.  

I am working on getting things together that we will want to take with us to the apartment.  I am trying to include things we will need as well as things the movers wont take.  Lets play a little game, I will list things I have stacked in the living room to take this weekend and you guess which are 'we need em' items and which are 'won't move em' items!
Card table and chairs, bed, linens, guns, ammo, plates, flatware, cast iron skillet, horse clippers, bulk supplement buckets, venus fly trap, orchid, box of documents/files, check books, address books, and other stuff I haven't piled up yet.  

Oh, we might brave Copan lake tonight or tomorrow and see if the flooding has receded enough for a trail ride! 

I also really need to finish up my Genetics homework.  I am so close to turning it in, I can almost feel it!  My genetics class is self- paced and online.  I have one year to complete it and when I finish, I will get a transcript from OSU and will be able to use it towards my Vet School pre reqs.  There are 12 assignments and 4 exams.  I am about to finish assignment 2.  On Tuesday, my online Chemistry class will start.  It is not self-paced, so it will take priority over genetics as needed.  Though necessary, it will be difficult for school to take priority over the move.  God am I glad we cancelled the wedding party.  Talk about back burner!  

Our house should be listed very soon.  We got a suggested price and it looks good.  We won't get back what we paid for it, most likely.  But, with Schlumberger's incentive program, if we sell quickly we will get a 10% bonus, so no matter!  We really just want to pay off the mortgage, thought having a little for a down payment would be awesome!  I'll get a picture of the sign in the yard as soon as it happens.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oh, Horses...

Boomer's eye had been weeping for about a week when I started rinsing it and talking to the vet.  I rinsed it every day and wiped under it so that I could tell when it had been weeping.  After I started rinsing it, it started weeping less, not entirely, but much less.  Yesterday was my 'last day'.  I had decided that if it still wasn't better, I would call the vet.  In the morning, it was a little weepy, in the afternoon it wasn't bad.  So, I called this morning and made an appointment only to find that it was completely dry this afternoon.  24 hours without weeping.  So, I called to cancel.  Of course, I know that it will just start weeping again tomorrow.  Oh, horses.  

Off to get that plug put in the truck bed.  

Monday and Tuesday will be spent in Lawrence getting the apartment set up, getting a storage unit, and a PO Box.  

Two weeks from today, we will be living in a new state!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Busy enough to warrant two posts in a day!

A few updates:

John and I are going back to Lawrence on Monday and Tuesday to get the apartment rented, get a storage unit, and get a PO box.  I want to take the truck and take a bed, table, chairs, some kitchen stuff, etc.  The movers will only take stuff to one location and I think it would be a hassle to have them move everything to the storage unit, then personally have to find and move a select few items to the apartment.  This is what we got a truck for, right?  Who knew you have to get a PO box in person?  I paid for it online, but they wont give me the physical address until I show them 2 forms of ID.  So, having that would help me in having our mail forwarded, magazines changed, and bills forwarded.  

I got my summer Chemistry class paid for and my book came in the mail today.  I am working away at my genetics course and am ready for Chem to start on June 2nd.  

I rode the horse bareback again today in the round pen.  He is actually surprisingly fine with my flying mount from the ground.  I need a video of that, for sure.  He responds just as well in a halter/leadrope as he does with a bit.  I really would like to try him in a hackamore, but know little about them.  We worked on neck reining, backing, and spins.  All were just as good as in a bit.  Very cool.  I also free longed him in the round pen and worked on backing on voice command.  He just doesn't really like to back up.  It is getting better, but very slowly.  

Once John gets back from his run we are going to go back out there and I am going to try to flush out the horses tear duct.  He has had a weepy eye for a about two weeks.  For the last week I have been rinsing it daily with mild success.  Flushing it is what the vet recommended, so we will give it a try.  

Riding in the rain

The last few days have been pretty busy, but I have gotten out to ride almost every day this past week!  Saturday morning started early as John drove three hours to Norman to sell his RV.  The guy he met out there helped him get it running and after 5 hours of working, he bought the dang thing!  I think John is really relieved to get rid of it.  It has been sitting, not running, on his grandpa's land for over a year now.  Leaving it there after we leave the state just seemed rude.  So, we are glad it is gone!  I rode the horse while John was gone and we worked on cantering more and going over low cavaletti. My dad came in to town Saturday afternoon and once John got home we had meatloaf and a birthday party for Charley's 2nd birthday!     

Sunday was busy with driving the horse trailer to our house, loading up two couches, two tables, and a dining room set for my brother.  We got it all loaded and drove 3 hours to Edmond.  It actually wasn't a bad drive at all.  Having my dad following made it easier because he could 'block' so that I could change lanes easier.  One of my goals today is to get a plug put in the bed of the truck so that the power cord doesn't hand off the bumper any more.  We had to stop more than once to re hang the cord.  The vet wrap bungee cord I rigged had worked for shorter trips, but it wasn't cutting it on this longer drive.  One time was had to stop and I got off on a toll exit.  we only had 50 cents which was enough for a 2 axel vehicle.  So, we set off the alarm.  I'm not worried about it though, because Oklahoma doesn't require trailers to have tags!  So hopefully they just got a picture of the back of the trailer.  We unloaded the trailer at my grandparents, had dinner, and drove back just in time to unhitch as the sun was setting.  

John had Monday off and came out to watch me ride for the first time in a few weeks.  I showed him all of the things we had been working on and he was impressed at how much we had improved since last time!  The biggest improvement was the cantering, for sure.  Last time he saw us cantering, we were in the big pasture and could hardly tun to save our lives.  Now we can make circles of many different sizes!   I showed him how Boomer is stiffer on his right side and some of the exercises we do everyday to help loosen him up.  Stopping and backing has also improved.  I also showed him how we have been starting on spins.  I'm not sure Boomer quite understands that the pivot on that back leg is what I want, but he sure does try and he is better every time we try!  We also showed off our neck reining skills, which are pretty good!  It rained at the beginning of our ride, but it was a very light rain and the sun was still out, so it didn't bother any of us.  In Oklahoma, we say "the devil is beating his wife" when the sun is out and it is raining.  John got a couple of video clips of out warm up at the trot, then the camera died.  I hope to get a good video of us soon!  

On the moving front, John and I have decided to postpone our wedding party.  It was scheduled for July 4th at our house.  If we had known about this move, we would have never sent out invitations.  Luckily, I hadn't really planned anything yet, so I didn't have anything to do to cancel except send out apologies to everyone.  For some reason, I just have never pictured myself in a wedding dress, and due to my lack of religious views, I don't picture myself in a church.  I don't like planning big events, and I don't exactly relish the thought of having to entertain and be social with so many people.  Most of my family is divorced and remarried, so that is always awkward.  John wanted a big wedding so that his friends could be his groomsmen, so we were compromising by not having a wedding, and having a big reception that everyone was invited to.  Once we found out we were moving, John's sister offered that we could use their house instead.  Only problem, she will be 8 months pregnant and we just can't put that kind of stress on her.   So, we are postponing.  I think John suddenly appreciated the simplicity of my master plan when he realized how easy it was to reschedule something that didn't require any planning to begin with!  Plus, we were going to wait to get married until after we bought a home because I will qualify for the $8,000 first time homebuyer tax credit.  So, new plan- we will buy a home, then get married, then invite a few people up to Lawrence for a party at our new house.  

Right now, we are waiting to hear from the apartment people about the sub lease we will be renting for June and July.  We also need to rent a storage unit, as the apartment is only about 560sf.  The movers will come on Thursday at 9:30 to see what we have and give us a move date.  The last time we moved, they told us they needed a months notice.  I fully expect John to have a word with the relocation company if they tell us that!!!  

I am actually kind of excited about our tiny apartment!  It has a gym and a pool!  I know I will spend most of the time studying Chemistry and Genetics, but I better get some pool time in and have a nice tan before it is all over!  

Countdown- 15 days...    

I'm off to do some Genetics homework, take the truck to get a plug, and ride the horse!

Friday, May 22, 2009

More new stuff!

I rode Boomer again today (three days in a row! Hooray sunshine!) and he was great!  He seems to be less spooky since the feed change.  He did spook a few times today, but almost instantly came back to me.  He seems much more focused.  Our 'new thing' today was introducing spins and rollbacks.  I know, I know... I don't even own a western saddle.  I just want him to know as many things as possible.  I figure the more things he learns, the easier it will become to teach him new things.  So, we warmed up at the walk and trot and then I started him by walking in a smallish circle with contact on the outside rein (the rein that will eventually plant his inside hind for the pivot) and I kept my outside leg on him to keep him moving.  As soon as I felt a little slide or pivot from the back, I let him walk out of the circle.  Surprisingly, he was much better on his stiff right side!  For the rollbacks, I just walked him along the fence line, cued for the halt, then reined him towards the rail and took off in the other direction.  He enjoyed this so we moved it up to the trot.  We also worked on cantering a lot.  He is getting much better at turning, so I felt better about cantering in the smaller fenced area above the paddocks.  The ground was all dry also, which helped.  He did very well after a few starts.  At first he was a little fussy and tried to buck, but after a few tries, he went very well and we went 4 laps in each direction.  I let him stand and relax after each session.  We worked on it a few times and he just got better as we worked.  I ended by cantering into a figure 8, trotting through the middle, then picking up the other lead.  Anybody know what that is building up to?  Flying lead changes!!!  I have no expectation for lead changes in the next few months, but we may as well begin setting up the foundation!  After our ride I hosed him off, which he is an angel about now!  I just hold the rope over my shoulder and he holds still the whole time, even if I switch sides!  The only thing he doesn't like is when I spray under his tail, but show me a horse who enjoys that...  It is a huge improvement from last summer when I was lucky if I could get him to go within 20 feet of the faucet and even then, bathing was a 2 person job.  

Another thing we have been working on is hobbling.  I had tried it a long time ago and it just freaked me out a little.  Boomer was still so reactive that I was afraid he would take the round pen down!  So, I hobbled him yesterday in the round pen and he was pretty much fine.  Today, I hobbled him in an empty paddock that is very grassy.  He was fine as he grazed along, but when he stepped forward, he pulled to the end of the hobble, slammed his hoof down, then picked his other foot up right away- responding to the pull from his first foot.  This creates  a vicious cycle until he hops up with both legs and slams them down next to each other.  He also figured out how to canter with them on.  He was mildly freaked out, but as long as he was close to grass, he was fine.  I left him in them for about 30 minutes today.  I like that he moves around, I want him to learn to move and respect his boundaries with hobbles on.  I also like that he stayed still and just shifted his back legs around to get new grass.  I like that he was calm and knew to stay still and that he could still graze.  So, overall, I think hobbling is going well.  

I have cleaned out my tack shed and am working on figuring out what to keep at home and what to take with me to the new barn's shared tack room.  I hate not having a locker.  I want my saddle locked up, but I really hate having to pack it around in my car.  I guess I'll just get over it.  I'm thinking I'll take my saddle stand, saddle, first aid kit, groom box, bridle, halter, and feeding items.  Anything else can stay in the trailer or at home.  I ordered a hood on sale from Schneider's for the zero degree winters.  I also ordered a name plate for his halter and bridle.  I am going to have his blanket, hood, and cooler all embroidered with his name before we leave.  I know it is unlikely, but I would really like to prevent any of my stuff from being 'borrowed'.  

Countdown: 19 days (really, less than three weeks already?)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Calm before the storm?

Everything is starting to come together for the move.  We are going to put a deposit down on an apartment tomorrow, we have our storage unit picked out and will make a deposit a week before we move.  The movers are supposed to call me to set up a survey appointment.  We will then be able to set an actual date for the move.  John is supposed to meet  someone who might buy his RV in Norman on Saturday, so we will be moving some of our excess furniture to Edmond for my brother when he moves from California to Texas in August.  My dad is in town this weekend as well, so we will get to see him Sat-Mon.  Saturday is Charley's 2nd birthday!  

As for horse stuff, I have been pretty bummed about the whole endurance season.  I had hoped to do a ride a month starting in May.  Now it is looking more like a ride in Sept, 2-3 in October, and one in November.  All of those will be about 4-6 hours away at the least.  So, I have changed our riding goals a little.  Instead of doing so many hard conditioning rides, I am just focusing on getting on and riding.  I am trying to introduce him to new things each day as well.  Yesterday, we just walked around and worked on leg yields, circles, stopping and backing.  Our 'new thing' was me waving my arms around while we were walking.  Today, I finished trimming his feet (which he stood very well for!) and then I worked him in the round pen a little.  I hopped on him with just the halter and lead rope in the round pen and we worked on neck reining, stopping off my seat, and backing.  I got off of him and our 'new thing' today was me mounting him from the ground bareback!  At first he tried to move away, but on the second try he stood still as I pulled myself up and over!  I was actually surprised I could hop up like that!  I could barely do it when I was little on 14.2 hh Windy, and with 16.2 hh Fire I could only get up by climbing up his front leg!  

Sabumi's right eye has been weeping for about a week now and hasn't gotten any better.  It isn't swollen, he isn't holding it shut, and it doesn't seem itchy.  So, I flushed it out with eye rinse today and will keep doing that tomorrow and will take him to the vet clinic if he needs his nasal duct flushed.  Fire had that done once and it was very cool to watch!  

We move in about 20 days!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


What a weekend that was!  

We went to Lawrence, KS Friday-Tuesday to find a place for the horse and a place for us.  We had a really great time exploring the town and really fell in love with Lawrence.  What a great town!  Downtown is on Massachusetts St and has everything from sushi to a great bakery to a 'hole in the wall' bar called Joe Shmoe's that I got very drunk at on Sunday night *grin*!  The campus is beautiful and is way better than OU's campus.  I think it is because there are so many hills and the buildings are not built in a linear fashion all right next to each other.  So, you can look around and see trees, it is almost like the buildings blend in to the nature.  And the trees!  I'm not sure I have seen so many trees in a city before! 

We did find a few places to board the horse and we chose what we think is the best one.  It has a barn, paddocks, and pasture board.  It also has a small indoor arena and an outdoor sand dressage arena.  It has a pretty good sized trail system, including a 'ski hill' which is supposed to be really steep.  The place is also only about 15 minutes from Clinton lake, which has good trails.  It seems to be a busy place and they have a group lesson on Saturday afternoon.  The also have a wash rack with hot water!  I think that it looks pretty much perfect and I am so excited to have designated places to ride, especially an indoor!  It has been so frustrating for the weather to dictate my riding/training schedule!  Added bonus, the barn manager has had Arabians before!

We looked at two apartments for short term rent and only the first one was any good.  We got more information from the relocation company and we will probably put a deposit down on an apartment by the end of the week.  

We also plan on having the house on the market by the end of the week.  The company offers a buy out plan after 8 weeks, so we won't have to sit on the house for a ridiculous amount of time while we are already living in Lawrence.  

So far, it is looking like we will be moving the week of the 8th.  We plan to put most of our stuff in storage and just have the essentials in the apartment.  

We did drive around town and look at about 14 houses for sale.  We are starting to know the area and it was pretty easy to see what parts of town we wanted to live in.  Pretty much the best places are east of campus and in NW Lawrence.  

So, wish me luck in the next few weeks!  Our weather is supposed to be sunny and 80* for the next week, so lots of riding time!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I'm not sure if the food switch is giving him more focus or if the lunge session yesterday took all his spunk away, but today was awesome!  

The past few days I have been working on backing him extensively.  I want his rump to muscle up.  I feel like his physique is coming along nicely but, he could stand to gain 50 pounds and his top line/rump are a little goosey.  

Yesterday I lunged him for a good half hour and worked a lot on cantering.  There was also a good sized puddle that he jumped almost every time around.  So, he got a good workout and broke a sweat.  I hosed him off and cooled him out and he was in a very good mood.  

I am gradually switching him from the Ultium/Horseman's Edge to the Omolene 500.  He was getting 8 cups=3 lbs of the Ultium mix.  The Omolene is lighter and it takes twice as many cups to equal the weight so, it would take 16 cups to equal 3lbs.  We have been making the switch for 7 days now and we are down to 5 cups Ultium/6 cups Omolene.  I think that once the Ultium has been eliminated, I would like to continue to up the Omolene until he is getting 4 pounds.  I think that will help him gain weight.  I tried upping his grain before, but the Ultium just made him too hot.  

So, today I noticed that he was much more focused and didn't try any funny business.  He still had good energy and I had to keep reminding him to walk as he was mostly interested in trotting.  I was very happy to see that he had lots of energy without being nutty.  We rode for 30 minutes and worked on rating the trot, cantering, and leg yields.  We have been working on trot speed and he is really starting to get the idea.  When I say 'easy', sit down, and squeeze the reins, he slows down to a sitting trot and I release the reins.  When I bump with me legs and start posting, he speeds up.  Very impressed with him.  The leg yields are coming along nicely and have been a great tool for us.  The safest part of the hay pasture is along the tire tracks where I drive the manure out to the compost pile.  The hay hasn't grown in along that section.  So, I have about an 8 foot wide and 300 foot long stretch that is very flat and has no holes.  I worked on leg yielding him back and forth along that and he did wonderfully.  His circles are great to the left and his left bend is very soft and correct, but to the right, he speeds up, holds his neck stiff and makes tiny circles instead of a correct bend.  I discovered today that the best way to get him into the correct bend was to leg yield left, keep on my left yield cues, and initiate a turn to the right.  He can do up to a half circle in a correct bend.  I was very happy with that discovery.  I know a half circle doesn't sound like much, but for a stiff, one sided horse- it is huge.  It also means that we are only half a circle away from a correct bend!  Canter work today went very well.  Unfortunately, we don't have a proper place to canter with safe footing.  So, we were mostly working on straight lines with the occasional turn, and circle, but no consistent cantering without breaks.  He knows his leads and relaxes into the canter very quickly.  He still rushes in to it with his head up and sometimes pins his ears, but once he gets it, he relaxes.  The canter just needs more consistent work to smooth out all of the kinks, but I am very happy with him right now.  

Overall, another great day.  I think his training is right where it needs to be and I can't wait to get out on more trail rides!  

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Great article from

This is a very good article on feeding fat to performance horses.  Pretty much, fat stores allow the horse to work longer before the lactic acid kicks in, thus reducing and delaying fatigue.  Fat for hard working horses can be fed in amounts up to 10-15% of the daily diet by weight.  Many high quality feeds (like Ultium [12% fat] or Omolene 500 [8%fat] ) have high fat content already and don't need supplementation.  When we are looking at having an intense ride season, I will probably begin adding 1/2-1 cup of vegetable oil (100% fat) to his diet because it takes about 4-6 weeks for the body to learn how to use the fat efficiently.  In light of our impending move, our endurance season is probably going to be smaller than had been planned and Boomer will be getting plenty of fat from his Omolene 500.   

Monday, May 11, 2009

Well, what do you know...

John and I went out to work with Boomer and we had our plan all set out.   We put a horse cookie in the front of the trailer, set up two corral panels about 15 feet back, and I tried to get the horse to come in.   No dice.  So, I got out, wrapped the lead around his neck, stood to the side so that he was blocked on one side with the trailer door, behind with the panels, and one the left side by me.  I pointed into the trailer, tapped his hip with the crop and he stepped in and ate his cookie.  

I led him out, and once again, he stepped in when I tapped him.  He didn't eat his cookie that time.  Third time, I pointed and he loaded, no tapping!  I gave him a cookie.  We unloaded, closed the divider and I asked him to load into the back stall.  He was leery, but he did it with a tap on the hip.  He was nervous when we shut the door, but I wanted him to know that the back stall was just as big as the front stall.  I unloaded him and pointed and he got back in without me tapping him.  No cookies the 4th or 5th time.  

Here is what was different:
no grain bribe
closed the space behind him
I was outside of the trailer
no pressure whatsoever on the lead rope

After that we hand walked and grazed him, washed his tail, and trimmed his front feet.  All in all, it was a great day!

Also, I steam cleaned our carpets, cleaned windows, did laundry, got the study totally presentable, the bedrooms are almost ready.  Our house is almost ready to sell!  We have a meeting tomorrow with a realtor tomorrow at 4:15.  

I have also been making it a point to stay up past 11 (2 hours after John turns in) and it has really helped my sleep issues.  Last night I stayed up steam cleaning and eating Nutty Bars.  I think John thought I was crazy!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Attempted trail ride

We went without rain almost all week and the ground has really started to dry out.  There is still standing water, but it is localized to the 'flood spots'.  Even though moving is throwing a huge kink in my endurance plans, I still want to get out and trail ride as often as possible.  So, we loaded up and drove to Lake Copan.  Boomer was very good on the ride and we set up the Cart A Corral for him to check out.  I tacked him up and off we went.  The first section of trail is along the road and has lots of thorny brush and was muddy.  After about 10-15 minutes of walking, you come to an overflow ditch that you must cross and then the real trail starts, single track, winding, hills, creeks to cross, gullies, etc.  

Well, the lake was flooded.  So flooded that the trail was under water.  We couldn't even get to the overflow ditch.  We got about 10 minutes out and had to turn back.  On the way back, I led and had John follow.  

Boomer was much more alert and was looking for monsters.  He does better when he follows, but he is a good leader also.  There was a lot of mud and standing water for him to cross, which he didn't think twice about!  That is the silver lining to living on a flood plain that I had been looking for! 

At one point he stopped and put his head up, ears together.  Strangely he did the same thing at the same big rocks last time we were here.  This time, we noticed the REAL reason for his attention, a coyote den!  I bet they mark around the den and rocks and he could smell it.  

I think John and I were both pretty bummed, he was planning on doing some trail running and thought we could easily do 10-15 miles.  We had fun and it was a good training session anyway!

The real bummer for me came when we went to load the horse into the trailer.  So far, we have been bribing him with food.  I knew all along that this isn't training or even a substitute for training.  But it worked.  The thing about Boomer is that you can not push him.  He is bigger and stronger and he knows it.  If I push him, he will pull back away from me, or just stand still with his head up, ignoring everything around him.  He doesn't get aggressive, so that is good.  Once you have pushed and he crosses the threshold into 'reactionary', he isn't coming back.  In my training with him, I have learned that he needs to think something is his idea before he will do it willingly.  You need to push him up to, but not beyond his limit.  We tried the grain option for about 15 minutes.  He had his feed pan with grain in the trailer, I was standing inside, he was standing there staring at me.  I had pressure on his lead rope, which increased if he went back, decreased if he went forward.  He thought about it pretty good and stretched for his food, but just wasn't interested in getting back in.  So, we got two panels of the portable corral and put them behind him, he thought about it, realized his space was rapidly decreasing, and got in calmly in under a minute.  

What went wrong, is obvious.  But, I want/need to focus on what went right.  No one got impatient or upset.  Boomer never panicked.  He was never pushed.  The whole process took a long time, but went smoothly.  So, I know Boomer learns in steps.  When the steps are consistent, he begins responding earlier and earlier.  I would like him to step into the trailer as I lead him to it.  That is the ideal cue.  To get to that, I know that food has worked.  So, lets go back to feeding him in the trailer.  But, this time, I am not going to bribe him with the food, it will just happen to be at the front of his stall when he loads.  Also, I want to have the corral panels out and set up a little back from the trailer.  If he doesn't get in with me leading him forward, and a few crop taps on the rump, lets move the panels closer.  Keep giving him a chance to get in on his own, keep moving those panels closer.  When he has run out of space, pick up the panels and force him in.  Hopefully, everyone will stay calm with this process.  I think that if he doesn't get the chance to reach critical mass, he will learn quickly that he always has to load into the trailer, or his personal space gets taken away.  I think this will work better than just following food.  Though, I do think it will be good to have food waiting when he does get in.  Eventually, we will wean him off of that and someday he will just get a cookie or a forehead rub.  Until that day, grain is ok.  Also, when we are doing this trailer loading practice, we need to repeat a few times in a row, not just once in and out and done.  If you think about it, he has been trailered 3 times, first two were forced in and he was in total panic mode for the whole ordeal, injuring himself both times.  The next two were great, and this last one wasn't bad, but wasn't perfect.  That gives some perspective.  John told me once that 40 days makes a habit.  I wonder if the same is true for horses.  Perhaps we should work on loading him 5 times a day for the next week.  Then keep practicing a few times a week after that.  

Soon, I will post links to the boarding facility we are looking at in Lawrence as well as houses we like!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Headed to Lawrence!!!

John and I had an email conversation that went something like this this morning:

J: You said you want to move to Kansas, right?
H: Yeah, why?
J: Well we have a problem?
H: Did you get fired?
J:  We need to find a new place to have our wedding reception!

Essentially, John is getting transferred to Lawrence in as little as 3 weeks!  ACK!  I couldn't be more excited to be leaving shitty ass Bartlesville and heading to another college town where there will be culture, and sushi, and thai food, and a pet store, and a book store, and football games, and bars that are not in double wide trailers.  

But, 3 weeks?  We have to sell our house, find a new house, figure out what to do with my school, find a place to board the horse, refigure our wedding reception, etc.  

On the up side, I will qualify for the first time homebuyer tax credit even though John is already a homeowner because we aren't married yet.  So, next tax season, I could get a check for $8000!!!  Can you say, pay off the truck and student loans???  (No, I am NOT tempted to buy another horse)

On the freakout side, what if the house doesn't sell?  What if we can't come up with a down payment?  

Pretty much, there is a lot that has to happen in a certain order with outside influences that we have no control over.  

I have felt like a deer in headlights for the whole day, but the excitement is starting to take over... 

Just yesterday I was thinking of how busy the next few months were going to be...  Hold on to your hats folks, things are really going to get crazy around here!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More rain

All I want is a day of sunshine.  Please, let that be tomorrow!!!

Today was the day I had to give Boomer his Flu/Rhino booster.  Of course it is pouring down rain.  I have given lots of IV injections, mostly of Banamine.  For some reason, IM injections freak me out and I have probably given less than 5 in my life.  I have had a number of people offer to let me inject their horses, but I have always chickened out.  I am just squeamish about how hard I will have to push to get the needle in.  So, I was a little nervous today.  I had John hold Boomer and I curried and groomed on his neck a little.  He was a little cranky from the rain and probably because he isn't as used to John.  I made my triangle (draw a line along the neck from the Altus/base of skull to the line of shoulder, draw another line along the top of the neck along the ligament, draw a line along the line of shoulder) thumped him a few times with my knuckles, tented his skin, pricked him, aspirated the needle, and plunged.  It was all over quickly and he only jumped a little at the stick.  I gave him a cookie and had John give him a cookie and we were done.  It wasn't as bad for either of us as I anticipated!

On another note, I have had a few minor changes going on in  my life.  I have always had sleep issues and after months of tossing and turning for hours before sleeping, John and I decided that I should stay up after he goes to bed and study until I am tired.  For the last two nights it seems to be working, except that I sleep in later and I am tired all day.  I slept until 10am this morning and then took a nap from 12:30-2pm.  I only stayed up about 1-2 hours later than usual, so that issue is still working its self out.  

Another new thing is taking baths.  I have always been a germaphobe when it comes to bath tubs.  It gives me the heebie jeebies to think of all of the feet that have been where I am soaking.  Plus, dirty bath water... How is that not just gross to everyone?  John has solved my bath issue by being an excellent cleaner and introducing the idea of sitting down while the shower is going without plugging the tub!  So, now I take 45 minute steaming hot sitting showers.  

So, I sleep 14 hours a day and spend almost an hour in the shower.  No wonder I feel like I can't get anything done, I only have 9 available hours in my day!

Our local WamaLart is pretty spotty about carrying goat cheese, a weekly staple for me.  So, last week I bought two 6oz packages for the following two weeks in anticipation of the invariable outage the next week.  Though, I didn't plan for my habit doubling in consumption this week.  The stuff is like crack to me!  I can't stop.  I am in no way complaining.  I love goat cheese.  I love all cheese really, but goat cheese tops the list.  Monterrey Jack with Jalepenos (Fire Jack) is close second.  MMM... Goat cheese on rosemary and olive oil Triscuits.  I recently saw goat cheese flavored with ash.  The Homieland carries a few flavored goat cheeses, but they are twice as expensive as WamaLart so we usually don't buy.  But, this ash has me curious.  What kind of ash is it?  Volcanic? Cigarette? Cremation? Bonfire?  Generally, I like my goat cheese bold and unflavored.  This ash has me stuck though.  I want to try it, but I am afraid I need to know where the ash came from first.  

How the Mac has changed my life

Yup, I'm a Mac convert!  I was trying to decide between a Mac and Dell, and though Dell is more affordable- I really didn't want Vista.  John thinks that Mac builds a better machine, and I like the way they work.  So, we got a Mac Mini processor, keyboard, and mouse, and a Dell 20" HD LED widescreen monitor.  I couldn't be happier about the setup!  The dell screen was less than $200 while the cheapest Mac option was $899.  By mixing components, we made the purchase really very affordable!  
I love the new computer.  Mac is so easy to use and it is very involved.  Every aspect of the Mac programs want to be personalized to what I like and want.  There are so many helpful options, but nothing is cluttered.  Everything is well organized and easy to find.  iPhoto makes editing photos really easy!

After 10 straight days of rain, bringing the April rainfall total to over 6 inches, We had a day of little to no rain followed by a day that tried to have sunshine with no rain.  That was yesterday, so I rode the horse.  Let me start by giving you  few hints, then I'll let you fill in the blanks about how the ride went.  Almost two weeks without exercise, 10 days of mud=no running, the cows got weaned the night before, the farmers were driving around with dogs and cows following their trucks.  It was all I had in me to keep him at a walk.  He was jigging and prancing, which he has never done before, though his jig is very easy to sit and helped keep me very deep in the saddle, which I needed!  Occasionally, he would decided that where I pointed him was not where he wanted to go and he would just stop, head up, on his toes.  When I kept insisting that he go forward he started this weird head toss/pull that really got my goat.  So, pretty much the 30 minute ride was us circling the pasture at a walk on a tight rein with occasional power struggles that I always won, if just barely.  I have to say, he wasn't bad.  He didn't bolt, rear, or buck.  He always did what I asked, eventually.  He had a lot working against him.  I mean, have you ever heard a herd of cows who just had their babies taken away?  I wasn't upset with the ride, and really, that first ride had to come sometime.

After I got off, I lunged him for 20 minutes at the trot.  He was an angel, of course and didn't break a sweat.  So, weather pending, I want to start lunging him every day and I want to ride at least twice this week.  I would also like to go camping this weekend.  There is an endurance ride in Missouri on the 23 that I would like to enter.  The conditions are that I want to ride the horse a minimum of 3 times a week and camp over night at least once before then.  If those things don't happen, we will just have to wait until the end of June.  

Friday, May 1, 2009

Phantom limb

My computer died.

John's computer just isn't the same!

His calculator isn't where it should be and I can't remember my passwords!

I'm having a little phantom computer pain.

That computer got me through my undergrad work, plus this past year of gradwork/prevet stuff.

Is it weird to be this sad and lost over a computer?

On the upside, I'm thinking Mac!