Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A tribute to Mindy Lou, who turns 25 today.

My horse Mindy and I have the same birthday, April 28. She turns 25 today, I've had her since she was a yearling. I thought it would be neat to put up some photos of our lives together. For my 13th birthday, after years of lessons at the local stable, my parents agreed to buy a horse. They are total non-horsey people. They didn't know you're not supposed to buy a yearling for a kid who's never owned a horse before.

Thank goodness for that. Enter "Jet's Paradox", a gorgeous bay QH mare born April 28, 1984.

Me- 13, Mindy as a yearling at the ranch we bought her from.

She was kept in a friend's pasture. She was trained there, by me, as well. She learned to lunge on a hillside and got 'dressed up' on Christmases.

I couldn't ride her, so I trained her to pull downed trees. Yes, that is a lunge line/bareback pad harness...

She was very, very, very accident prone those first couple of years. This is her 2-year-old birthday in 1986. She had surgery a few days before, removing a piece of cartilage near her coronary band. She went through a fence. Again.

While she was recovering from surgery we kept her at another friend's place that had stalls and an outdoor arena. Terri was kind enough to take me under her wing and taught me how to start long-lining Mindy.

Our first ride. This is at my parent's lake cabin where we kept her that summer. Chopped down some trees and made a makeshift corral back in the woods. My mom got the camera ready, and I got on and rode her down the driveway. August 1986.

My riding 'arena' was a small flat area in the back of a house that they were going to plant a small lawn but never did.

The next summer. Mindy and me, and one of my best friends from high school Melissa and her mare Sabrina.

Swimming in Lake Coeur d'Alene

One of the few times we ever showed western. Heh heh heh. Mindy's first show season. Won overall hi-point individual performance for the year in 4-H, 1988.

Mindy won every single 4-H english pleasure class she went in to that year. We also started showing "B" system that year... and in the years following placed in the top 3 in almost every class. She was a great eq. horse as well!

Fast forward to Washington State University, 1991. Mindy lived at Hilltop Stables on campus. I guess it's not there anymore. We both spent 4 years there and graduated in 1994.

Love this one. Note my breeches and english bridle. Heh.

We actually did very well at play days!

During the summers at WSU I ran the horse program at YMCA's Camp Reed. Mindy was the lead trail horse extrordinaire. Here we are on one of the big loops. We're 3rd from the left.

My friend Mike visits Camp Reed.

WSU's cross country course. One semester I got CREDIT for taking cross country jumping lessons!

Just point her, and she went.


After graduating from college, I accepted a teaching job overseas. Mindy was leased to Pam and her daughter Jackie, who was 8ish-years-old at the time. They wanted a show horse for her. Look at how short her little legs are!

Jackie growing up...

...and starting to clean up at the NEZ year end awards.

Mindy and Jackie have a very special bond...

...and became almost unbeatable in the show ring.

2000 High Point Horse and Rider

A 2 year lease turned into a lifetime lease. In 2003 Jackie and Mindy received the prestigious Judge's Choice 'Horse of the Year' award in Washington State, competing against all the horses here and on the west coast. It was extra special because Jackie was a junior rider and only showed english, no western classes.

I love this picture.

Mindy is retired now, living at Pam's in horsey luxury. She is loved and has the best care you could ask for. I can't believe she's 25... SHE is the longest relationship I've ever had.


Jasper Runs

Jasper runs. I've seen him do it 3 times now, he just takes off running. He does lap after lap after lap after lap of the pasture. None of the other horses run with him, they don't even seem to notice him. He's not running from anything, he seems to just be doing it for the love of stretching out.

There's that TONGUE

Definitely a Thoroughbred.
...and then he drinks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Boots!

Happy Birthday to me!

My parents gave me new dress boots for my birthday! They're the new Ariat Westchesters. Spanish cut tops and toe caps... and ZIPPERS!!! The only other pair of tall boots I've owned are 21 years old, too short, pull-ons, and a size too small. The only way I can get them on is to wear nylons and thin breeches. I. love. zippers. There were many nights as a kid when I got home from lessons where I would sit on the garage floor and brace one foot on a post while my dad or mom pulled the boot off of the other foot.

These are super tall. I'm either going to need a heel wedge for a while, or to get a shorter boot.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Girl's Day

Usually for my birthday I just go out to dinner with my family. We have 3 birthdays within 2 weeks, so we celebrate everyone in one meal. This year I decided I wanted to do something more, so I invited my girl horse-riding friends to the ranch to ride the ranch horses. Girls I used to board with, my best friend from high school, and one of the supervisors at the ranch.

Anke on Alexandre (Standardbred/Friesian), Serena on Rooster (Appendix QH), me on Snotty Pony (Ay-rab)(in real life he's not that cute), Kara on Bailey (Dutch Warmblood), and Janaira on Hershey (Dutch Warmblood).

It was fun to see how different the horses are with riders who can actually ride. They quickly realized they weren't going to be bounced on, pulled on, or given cues that didn't make any sense. Each one of them settled into a nice working frame and just looked so... happy within the first 5 minutes in the ring. I need to do this more often.

I also didn't have to help tie, saddle, bridle, tighten girths, help mount, or adjust stirrups. Heaven.

We headed out towards the only patch of blue sky...

walked through he forest and cantered through the fields.

No one got bucked off, no one screamed and dropped their reins, no one allowed their horse to head back to the barn at a gallop. No one's horse stopped to eat grass in the middle of cantering through the field. No one let their horse ram into the horse in front of them. No one let their horse lay down and roll. Everyone's horse went through the marsh, everyone's horse crossed the water-filled ditch. Everyone actually steered.

We nice conversations. We didn't argue about who's horse was faster, who was stronger, or who could beat who up. We didn't cuss at each other. We didn't talk about the things we did that adults weren't supposed to know about, even if we didn't really do them. We didn't talk about cars or engine parts. Or guns. Or the military. Although Serena could hold her own on the last two.

Serena practiced herding cows by chasing a dog. In a dressage saddle.

We got back to the barn right before the rain hit.


Thursday, April 23, 2009


The little guy got his teef done today. I don't know why they're called teef in horse language, maybe it's just me and my horse acquaintances. He had 2 wolf teeth extracted/chipped off? which took a really, really long time. They didn't want to budge. Then the points filed down.

Awwwww, cute lil drugged pony

And the very best thing about drugged ponies???

Forced snuggles, of course! They can't resist!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Tongue

Let Jasper run around the arena today. He really ran. He'd turn around at one end and bolt halfway across- he was pushing so hard with his hind end he left huge divots in the sand and roostertails behind him. Ears flat back, neck stretched out... his butt must have dropped 2 feet. He'd charge to the other side, come to a leaping stop, turn, and repeat. It's the most Thoroughbred he's ever looked. He wasn't upset, or out of control, or crazy, he was just running.

When he was done he came trotting across the arena, stopped, and turned to me.

And his tongue? His tongue was in and out and in and out and flapping around in the wind. His tongue and mouth never quit moving. I'm beginning to think it's not a bit issue, it's a tongue issue.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Krystle jumps!

As we're marketing Krystle as a Dressage/jumping/english pleasure prospect, I thought it might be good to see if she will actually jump. Last week freejumping was a wreck, so I figured I'd try popping her over few obstacles while riding. We don't have poles or standards at the ranch (other than old 6' fence posts, which we were using before) but we DO have 3 barrels. We laid them side by side, led her up to them, and got her to hop over from a standstill a couple of times. I got on and she was a superstar. Trotted in very steady but not straight the first 2 times, and by the 3rd time trotted in steady and straight.

What a good girl!

It's tough trying to sell a 14.3 hand horse. Especially one that's part Arab.

I took advantage of having my volunteer Maria out today with a video camera in hand, so here's Jasper in his 3rd week at the ranch. I'm still only lightly riding him as he's in the process of putting on weight. He constantly tries to spit the bit out and his tongue is over it the whole time. I'm hoping this resolves itself soon. I'd rather not have to clamp his mouth shut with his tongue in place all the time, especially on trail rides.

After this we went on another trail ride! (Actually the same one. Our fearless leader Hershey Horse led the way this time). The 4 y.o. palomino QH came too and they were both great. Well actually Jasper nailed her when she got too close behind him and got in big trouble. Other than that, though, great.

So I rode Krystle, rode Jasper, and then the boys got home from school and it was time for Tuesday's riding lesson. We were on a time crunch today so I had them all ride bareback with halters and lead ropes instead of with saddles and bridles. (Did mention we have some pretty stellar horses??) The 3 boys led their horses into the arena and their eyes got real big when they saw the barrels set up next to each. "Did you JUMP"???

I very quickly went over and dismantled the jump. Boys believe they are invincible.

I did leave a pole for them to go over.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Baby's First Trail Ride!

I have got to quit calling him the baby and start calling Jasper.

I went to the ranch for Sat. work crew today, we got one of our boys back (woo hoo!) and my boss was looking for some extra supervision over the weekend. Hel-lo overtime! Spent most of the morning shoveling wet manure out the neglected shelters, and once the boys and I were exhausted we decided to go for a ride. It was a beautiful, sunny day. I had another staff member coming with us. Jasper is just so mellow... I figured if he couldn't handle a trail ride I could come back and Anke could continue the ride with the 3 boys.

In retrospect I should have paid attention to a few things- like this if the first time any the horses have gone on a trail ride since last fall. It was the first time one of the boys had ever been on a trail ride. I started to realize all this as we headed out and Junior, the epitome of the definition of "old snotty pony" started acting up. I told his rider to shorten his reins up by a foot (a few times, of course) which helped. I put Jasper BEHIND the snotty pony so he wouldn't come trotting up behind us. I realized at some point I was really tense. Then I started to worry Jasper would pick up on it and... do what? I have no idea.

Jasper was golden. He was nervous and wouldn't stand still when we stopped, but he walked almost the whole way and responded to light pressure on the bit when he trotted. He didn't jig, he didn't spook. He didn't freak out when the trail went by the pasture and the horses not invited to ride were whinnying and running up and down the fence line. He went up and down gradual slopes and up a short, steep hill.

The trail makes a loop and you head back to the ranch via hay field. Anke wanted to make a loop around another part of the hay field, but it's really steep and so I opted to return to the ranch while everyone else went with her. I took Jasper back to the arena (he whinnied the whole way- but, again, walked) and we practiced turning some more. He is sooo behind the leg.

I guess Junior finally got the best of his rider and bucked him off. He wasn't hurt and got right back on (he's been bucked off the **** pony before) and now has a story to tell for the next week. Ooooooh that snotty pony. I would sell him but I can't. No one would buy him. And for some reason the boys love him. I think he is a mirror for them. They can relate to his obstinance, stubbornness and refusal to follow the rules. The thing is, when I get on him, he never tries to pull anything. So I can't even train him out of it. Out of anything. Usually he works out of it when summer hits. Mostly.

Aaaaaaah, Spring.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Clipper Hairs Everywheres

I'm putting 2 of the ranch horses up for sale as they are not good kid's horses. I also had to cut our budget by thousands and it doesn't make sense to have horses around that are not being used. One is a gorgeous dapple grey registered QH mare that just needs time and life experiences. The other is a little Arab/TB/QH cross that also needs life experiences and consistent riding.

I mention this because I needed to get some pictures of the little grade mare and so chopped 8 inches of her mane off and clipped her beard off and a bridle path. I have tiny bits of hair all the way down my sleeves, through my sweatshirt and t-shirt, and in my underwear. How does the hair do this? And I still have 9 horses to go. I need a rubber suit.

Isn't she cute? Anyone want a 14.3 hand A-rab cross?

I rode Jasper lightly today. It was windy and rainy and he was good. He's hard to turn- completely throws his shoulder out so he's been learning about outside rein (that it doesn't mean stop). Major accomplishment today- he did a turn on the forehand both directions! A 180 to the left, and a180 to the RIGHT. (His hard direction). What a gooooooood boooooooooooy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Alexandre saves the day!

I thought, with the hay field finally firming up so it's rideable, I would pony Jasper through the fields and on some trails. I put the western saddle on Alexandre and put a rope halter on Jasper, decided to start out in the arena figuring he would catch on no problem. Wrong. I had to leverage the rope around the horn to even get Jasper to take a step. I went in circles with him in the middle so he would figure out where his head was supposed to be. The minute we straightened out he has his neck stretched out as far as he could trying to get behind Alexandre, pulling like a mother. He was definitely NOT giving to pressure. We stopped and I decided to see what he would do if I backed Alexandre up. He freaked out. Pulled HARD- and the rope (which is 12 feet long) had somehow gotten itself wrapped around the horn and the more he pulled the more it tightened on itself. The saddle started slipping sideways and I was seriously considering bailing. Alexandre is not a ranch horse of any kind. He has ponied horses before but they were all well behaved. He's never worked cows or felt a rope pull the saddle over. He can be hyper sensitive at times... and he stood there. And took it. Not calmly, his head was way up and he was tense all over, but he did it. The last 8 years together formed a bond of trust that not even a crazy Thoroughbred on the end of a rope attached to his saddle could destroy. I think he really understood what was going on and used every ounce of courage he could muster to stay in place.
Jasper gave up quickly. All of the sudden (I don't know if it was a lightbulb moment or he was just pretending he didn't know what to do) he was perfect. He followed when Alexandre backed up. He kept his head at my knee. We did figure 8's and trotted a few laps around the arena.
After that I threw Jasper back in the pasture and decided to go check out the ditch before the boys got home from school. Alexandre hadn't been out in the field since last summer and was ready to go. We trotted the down slope to the ditch, Al pretended to sniff the rushing water and grabbed some blades of grass, and took some giant steps over it. He didn't even hop. He is such a good boy. We cantered up the slope away from the ditch, circled back, stepped over it again, and the school busses started rolling in. Al was ready to go so (and I NEVER do this with the boys or let them do it) I let him gallop back towards the barn. It's a gradual slope up and he was stretched out going as fast as he could. Since he's 16.2 and 1300+ pounds it's not real fast, but it was thrilling anyway... woo hoo!!! He's the kind of horse you can gallop towards the barn, turn around, and go right back out with. So THAT was fun...!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I think poor Jasper is losing even more weight. He gets chased around, gets to eat last, and can't wear a blanket. I'm bringing him in 3x a day for Equine Senior, Rice Bran, oil, and Biotin. He also spends the afternoon with all-he-can-eat-hay which he gets bored with after a while. He got his feet done last week and they actually look pretty good for a TB, although quite small. He's a bit ouchy on the LF at the moment so all riding has been put on hold.
The vet comes out next week for teeths and sheathes, so she's gonna check out his clicking stifles. She didn't sound too concerned on the phone.
His personality is soooooo awesome. He is smart and friendly, and has the cutest face EVER!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Stifles and pasterns...

Today after his second day of cantering. It was windy and rainy today and he was more forward. He didn't break a sweat. Cantering to him is just no big deal. Such the opposite of my other horse. The mud is finally starting to dry up.

I think his name is Jasper. I think it's going to stick. Jasper is one of my favorite kinds of stones, it comes in all colors. There's a really beautiful one called Poppy Jasper... and his show name could be Chalcedony or Calcedony (Kal-sed-nee) which is the type of stone Jasper is. Or Calcedon, the town that Calcedony was named after. Or Poppy Jasper, because it's sweet.

I really paid attention to the clicking noises today, and it's his stifles. Which of course has me worried. I don't know why a stifle would click but the joint would still be fluid with no signs of lameness. I'm calling the vet tomorrow. My friend Elizabeth who is a nutritionist gave her horse a fabulous supplement when one of his hocks was fusing- it was amazing. So she's going to find out what that was and order it for me. I think I'm going to give him blue-green algae as well.

I'm also worried about his pasterns. They're really long. The more I read about long pasterns on the internet the more worried I get. The main thing people say is that horses with long pasterns shouldn't jump. Which is exactly what I want him to do. I guess it's typical for Thoroughbreds to have them, and Saddlebreds. My Quarter Horse Mindy had long sloping pasterns and never had lameness problems because of them, and she jumped some Training level jumps. Never consistently though, just once in a while.

Ugh. Stress.

The metaphysical side of Poppy Jasper:

"A stone of energy and courage, Poppy Jasper, also know as brecciated jasper, is aligned to the root chakra. It is useful in matters of health and survival, and in raising vitality and energy, allowing the wielder to grow in healthy and organic ways. A protective stone, it enhances physical endurance and helps the wearer to ground and brings balance between the emotional and the physical. It was used in the Middle Ages by warriors to promote courage during battle and helps one to maintain a happy outlook and can-do attitude. Some say that it is also useful in attuning with animals."