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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Long Weekend

Well this weekend was really long, but totally worth it!!  First starting on Wednesday, Casino is now a Quarter Horse!  It took a really long time cause one signature on the papers was missing, but I finally got her registration. 

Thursday we were helping our neighbors wean and process their calves.  Since they raise purebreds all the calves have to be weighed and the weights sent in to the association before the first of November.  So after weaning, we separated bulls and heifers and then picked out more bulls they wont keep and all the heifers they weren't keeping and they went to another buyer.  Before they went, we put them all through the chute and they got vaccinated, branded and weighed.  My job was to put a post behind them so they didn't back up and the brand went good.  Doing a shoulder brand in a chute is hard to get at so the closer to the front they are, the quicker it is.  Well it was all going good till one of the heifers jumped at the wrong time and the post come up and hit me in the jaw.  Kinda made me think of safety, hence the post on safety with cows.  Now I have a bruise on the chin and it isn't sore much now, but it sure was!  I saw stars and my eyes watered it was awful.

So then since we were heading to Ponoka for the Saturday show, we decided we would head up Friday night and get a ride in and then stay at Charlene's Aunts house with a hot tub!  Well we left Friday at noon and stopped in Stettler and had lunch then kept going and when we got there we unloaded everything and then tacked up and some other people were riding and we go to get on and there were cows in the arena!  So we helped turn back for them and they helped Char and Dude get a little practice.  We were gonna bath our horses but we decided it was too cool in the barn and we didn't want them getting sick, so we just put them away and headed out for the night.

We got to Char's Aunt's house and she had pulled pork ready for us!  Wow was it ever good!!  I never realized how hungry I was till we got there.  But we were much later than we thought we would be so we just headed to bed after supper and skipped the hot tub.  Oh well next time I guess since she invited us back again:)

On Saturday we fed the ponies then headed to town for breakfast and we had lots of time so we went down to the tack store and never even bought anything!!  Its weird when you don't really need anything.  Well we headed back to the barn and the high school rodeo was just starting and Char was getting super nervous, but then Susan come up and we visited for a while then we met the chap lady who checked our measurements and took our orders for chaps.  They wont be ready till February cause she is not starting them till after Christmas but we wanted to get our names in anyways.  I went with black suede with light leather top with tooling and my initials on one side and brand on the other.  Full zipper, twisted fringe, and a square buckle on the back, conchos with black background on the sides.  A lot of decisions to make when ordering chaps.  I'm so excited to get them.

We thought it was almost time for Char's class and then they run out of fresh cattle so she got bumped to the end of the show so they could call the liner in with more cows.  The ranch classes and youth cutting use all used cattle so they went before her class.  I thought this was an annoyance, but it turned out good for Char cause she just relaxed and watched other good riders on good horses make mistakes. We said since it is her first show, just go out and get a score and we will see what she needs to work on.  Well her turn finally came and she was Awesome!!!  She scored a 66 which we were really proud of and the only mistake she made was she lost a cow, but it wasn't an option, the cow run into her horse and it wasn't stopping.  She even got a plus for eye appeal, so all in all an awesome first show for her and Dude!! 

So it was late when we left about 6:30 and we stopped for supper on the way home and I finally got home about 9:30, so not too bad, but I was sure exhausted!  I am so happy for her (and a little jealous I will admit)  And I also found out in open cutting I could ride in whatever I want so next time I get a chance to go (Nov 24) I may show her in the hackmore if I have enough time to practice before then.  And I have to see how Disco is too, cause if I really like her, I may just leave Razz turned out for the winter.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Safety With Cows

Well last week I did two post on safety on the ground, but I am thinking I should do one on cows.  I realize not everyone has cows, but much applies to horses as well as goats or sheep or any livestock.

We have cows.  Beef cows/range cows/cow calf pairs.  However you wanna say it they are not tame animals.  But they are not wild either.  They live out on grass all year long and we feed in the winter.  We handle them a couple times a year and they are pretty quiet considering.  We have all the heifer calves we want to keep in the corral for the winter and they get pretty quiet and easy to work with in there.  But they are still not tame and still way bigger than us.

The lucky thing about cows is their natural flight instinct.  They have a tendency to move away from a human or horse.  We do not want them tame enough that they forget this.  It is a big safety feature.  A cow that is not afraid of you is the one that will eventually end up hurting you cause she will just run you over as protection from another cow.

Things are inherently dangerous when on the ground with a corral full of cows, so it is always wise to be aware of what you are doing and what the cows around you are doing.  When we are sorting cows from calves during weaning, they are pretty worried about where their calves are and want to get back to them, so it is wise to be watchful.  Everyone has a cow that is kinda high headed (meaning she is one to watch cause shes kinda flighty)  that they need to keep and eye on as well.  Ours don't always stick out in a herd but if you get them alone they just run around blindly trying to get back to the herd.

At calving time is an especially dangerous time to be around cows and calves.  Most cows are very protective of their baby and will do pretty much anything to keep them safe.  We have quit tagging at birth cause it just got too dangerous, but sometimes the cow or calf need help and then you should watch where the cow is all the time.

Even the calves in the corral, when feeding bales and taking strings off them a calf will sometimes push you around and it can hurt but pretty easy to teach them to stay away.  And feeding cows on the prairie is safer, but still gotta watch cows cause they can be pushy and sometimes push another cow into you.

Bulls are another story all together.  Ours are used to being handled by people, but we still don't like to be on the ground with them too much.  They can get to fighting and move really fast.  And if they are sore or sick then they get pretty grouchy real easy. 

But all in all, if you are aware of where the cows are and are paying attention (and get rid of any cows that chase)  then it is much safer to be around cows.  If you are feeling it is unsafe, it usually is and maybe you should get help.  The more you work with cows, the more you tend to relax theses rules, which is usually when someone gets hurt.  And I think that is quite often what happens with horses as well.    And even though it can be dangerous and possible to be hurt, I wouldn't quit with the cows or horses.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Complaining (Sorry)

Well we got all weaned, and sold all the steers and half the heifers.  We only want to keep some replacements, but Neil's Dad decided to buy a few and he will run them up at Stettler next summer then sell them bred next fall.  I don't think its a good idea, but I don't have a choice in it I guess.  

We went to watch them sell in Brooks and we got there just as they were finished.  They went through a lot faster than Neil thought they would but we did pretty good on them even if we didn't get the stress of watching them sell. 

Afterwards we went shopping and I got a new office chair for my birthday.  It was a little more expensive than I thought, but Neil was determined we buy it in Brooks and only one store had any choice so that's where we got it at.

When we got home, the cows had gotten out of course cause the fence on one side is not very good, but it just goes into another field which wasn't a problem, but when they moved the cows, they left the gate open, so there were cows in the yard again.  Its no wonder I wanted a fence around the lawn, sure was glad of that when we got home.

Just put up a short video of what it sounds like around here.  I am hoping by tomorow most of the cows will have wandered away and it will be only a few stragglers left mooing in yard.  Sure liked how we did it when i worked at the ranch, we weaned the calves and moved them to another yard and the cows only hung around a day and a half maybe cause there was noone bawling back.  And the calves hardly ever made a noise cause no cows to bawl at them.  I think weaning is more stressful on the cows than the calves.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday, but not Sunday Stills

This week I am skipping out on Sunday Stills cause I have just been to busy to get out and get some rock pics.  I actually have some cool ones somewhere of the same rock that is the example.  But didn't have time to find them.  So instead I am just gonna give an update. 

On Tuesday I rode Kali out with Charlene, I knew I wanted to get a few more rides on her before she went to the trainer.  We had a really nice long ride (about hour and half).  Afterwards, on the way home, I hit a deer.  Bumper of truck doesn't look real bad and no serious damage which was good, but still a surprise.  I didn't even see it jump out of the weeds until less time than it took me to step off the gas till I hit it.  Which was probly better that way cause I always worry about hauling a trailer and hitting a deer.  And tow people were coming from the other direction so nothing I could do. 

  Then Wednesday I also rode out, but this time I took Razz and  Charlene and Susan and Jardi come.  So that was really nice.  Been a hard go this past few months for Jardi so it was good for us all to get out and relax for a change.

Thursday we headed into Drum and me and Char and Susan got measured up for Chaps.  I am picking black suede with a zipper all the way down the side and some kind of tooling on the waistband and maybe my initials.  I also want 3 diamonds of leather with a concho on them going down the leg.  We probly wont have them till February, but it will be worth it.  Afterwards Char took Dude over to Greg and Candice's and worked the flag.  I took some video and pictures of her.  I never brought a horse over cause the measuring lady was allergic to horses, so we didn't want to irritate  her allergies.  Char is going to her first show on the 29th so she  needs lots of practice before then.  I probly wont show till the 26th of November, so I have a little more time to get ready.

Friday I stayed home and cleaned the house and washed blankets and new sheets on the beds and all that kind of fun fall stuff.  The Saturday I got up early so we could go work cows in Airdrie.  I rode Kals first and she is still a little afraid of them when they all come at her, but she sure has some fun moves. I didn't do much with her cause I don't want to mess her up.  Then i rode Razz and it took her a while to figure out that even though all summer we been chasing cows back to the herd, now we want to get them out of the herd.  But she did way better than I expected for not doing it for 5 months or so. 

Afterwards we dropped of Kali and Doug's and then headed to K and k in Strathmore and Char bought a new girth and a cooler that actually fits Dude.  Ricki is so much bigger than Dude so all her stuff is huge on him.  (Ricki wears a 80 blanket and Dude fits 74 easily)  Then I went grocery shopping then headed home and today we are weaning out calves.  So should be noisy around here for a couple days.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Horse Handling and Safety 102

Yesterday was mostly about safety in a herd of loose horses.  It is different when you have a halter on a horse.  I prefer a nylon halter, but it don't matter if you use rope, or leather or nylon, the principles are the same.  I also prefer a cotton lead rope and a fairly long one too.  Razz's rope is about 10 feet which is a little long, but I sure prefer it more than the short 6 foot ones. 

When leading a horse, I don't care where they lead, most of my horses lead right behind me fine.  That being said I trust my horses not to bite me or run into me and they are still paying attention even if I cant see them.  I don't like them to pull on the halter its a sign of disrespect but most of mine if I have to pull its for a reason.  Most of my horses like to stop when they poop so if they stop walking I assume its to poop and let them and they walk much better afterwards.  Bailey has to be different and she walks beside me and almost ahead of me, but she walks so fast she has so take tiny steps and I still cant usually keep up with her, but again she never pulls me forward on the halter. 

I think a lot of handling problems would go away if people treated their horse like livestock instead of a pet.  Being tied up for long periods of time teaches a lot to a horse that would take us forever to get through to them.  Like Patience.  One of the hardest things for a horse to have.  I have never had a horse that was bad to tie up.  And they have been tested, and I have also never had those "cheap" pot metal hardware break either.  I have had a Belgian that broke a lead rope once.  She was eating and was surprised by a tractor and just jerked her head up and the rope broke.  She came walking to me to fix it.  It sure is interesting leading a 1800 pound horse with a 2 foot lead rope!  But she was good, we found a new one, tied her back up and she finished eating.  I start tying my horses up in a stall or somewhere they hit their butt about the time they hit the end of the lead rope.  doesn't take long and they figure its just better to stand still.  Even Jamaica and Jazz have been tied up for over an hour and have no problems with it with other stuff going on around them.  Some horses paw (like Kali) but she is learning she just gets ignored longer till she quits.  They all gotta try something just to check if it works.

I actually like it when a horse tests me when they are young (or when I first get them)  cause then they know my rules and it is a smaller issue.  If they are just nice and quiet, you never know how they are gonna react when they do try to test you.  I am not real strict with them, just a quick correction and its over.  Quite often my elbow meets their chest if they get to close and I don't even have to say anything or even look at them and they may try it once more but that's it.  And once jerk on the rope if they are too quick seems to work better than a constant pull. 

My horses mostly only get their feet picked up when the farrier is here or if there is ice in them in winter.  They are pretty good at this after they know how to pick up their feet.  Some are a little different and it can be surprising.  Like Belle, every time I pick up her front feet she stretches.  Sure weird the first time, but she isn't being bad, just unexpected. 

Same with loading, if you cant lead a horse, you will never be able to load one.  I walk in my trailer and just assume the horse will do the same.  Most do.  Razz always has to stop and look around (but she does that getting off too)  but always loads anyway.  I carry a buggy whip in my truck just in case, but have only had to use it a time or two.   Charlene's horse, Dude, had trouble the other day loading and he never had before and we finally figured out it was because he had never travelled alone and he was unsure.  We waved the whip behind him and on he jumped.  They way home he just walked in, no problem.  I also tie my horses in the trailer.  don't know if that's the best way or not, but it works for me.  I have loaded strange horses in with mine in the trailer and have had no problems either.  As long as they have enough room it works fine.  Quite often they are saddled as well and that works too. 

And I don't do a lot of groundwork per say, but I still expect it to be good when I do it.  And they are okay with it.  They all move when I want to get by in the alley way and when I am saddling them.  I don't know what else I would do with them.  I don't lunge them cause they don't need it and I wanna ride not play games.  I make them stand still for brushing and saddling.  It usually isn't hard but sometimes that patience thing comes into play especially when I am braiding manes or others are eating but I don't make a big deal out of it and they quiet down.  Or I ignore them till they quiet down.

These are just my opinions, not perfect by any means, and they may not work for everyone, but they work for me and my horses.  I am willing to hear how others do things differently.  Maybe I can improve on something.  If you want more information, a great book is called Ride Smart by Craig Cameron.  It mostly means ride smart today so you can ride tomorrow.  Same with handling.  If you or your horse are more upset or get injured you are doing something wrong.  I also agree with Kate from A Year With Horses. She is did a post on this as well.  Her advice that I think was most important is don't hurry.  I have found over time that going slowly actually saves time.  Even when I am late (which is a lot for some reason)  I act like it don't matter and to the horses it doesn't.  They don't care if they get ridden now or in an hour.  So slow down and you will end up saving time.  That took me a long time to learn, but I was determined and it really works.  You are probly sick of reading so I will quit now.  We will see about tomorow.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Horse Handling and Safety 101

Sherry over at Fern Valley Appaloosas has been doing a series of posts on handling horses and asked if a few others ould put in some info too.   She has been doing an excellent job and not sure if I have anything better, but I will put in my two cents anyways.

A few years ago I was down at Doug and Carol Schaffers place and we walked out in a psture of about 30 mares, and Doug was telling us the pedigree and earnings on all them.  I was amazed he could remember that much cause I can hardly remember my own, but thats off topic.  Anyways even though the mares came up for attention there was no fighting or anything and I was amazed, so I asked him and he says its not allowed when he's out there.  Just that  simple.  So ever since then I have made it a point to not let my ponies fight when I am around.  I dont care what they do when I am not out there, but when i am they can behave. 

And I found out it really wasnt that hard, once you expect something from a horse, they come to do it pretty easy.  I just had no idea it was possible in such a big herd.  But since I seen it was now I make it just happen.  I started small with making them back up from the fence when I throw hay over.  This was really important to me cause I feed off a round bale with a fork and didnt want anyone to get hit with the fork.  It was really easy to teach cause the reward is instant.  A couple horses that have done lots of leaning on fences for feed (like Neils horse) were a little harder to teach and I actually had to scare him a little the first time to get him to step away, but after that he just takes a step back as soon as I lift the fork. 

This video is me going out to feed the horses grain like I do every morning.  It is a little shakey cause it was around my neck while I was feeding.  
 A few things to note in the video:
--as I walk out there, they do not crowd around me and my bucket
--Even though they move around to other piles there is no kicking and chasing
--When I walk around by George, he lifts his head to look at me (respect)
--Even when Jamaica walks to me, he doesn't come completly to me cause I never invited him in and he never had a pile but still never got pushy with my bucket
--There are all ages (foal to 15) and genders of horses out here
--I walk towards her, Bailey walks away, even though it looks like she is turning her butt to me, she is just leaving.

I have no worries walking out there with a bucket or anything.  There is always a certain amount of space around me.  Even when i just go out with no reason, and they all come up for scratches, they move slowly around me and never do I feel I am in danger out there.  When i go catch a horse, I can get a hlater on the one I want and lead them away with out a problem.  And if I put a new horse or even one I just rode, they stay back till I have the halter off.  This saves me alot of trouble and the horse I am putting in there is more relaxed as well.  It gives them confidence that I will protect them out there.  Maybe I will try to get a video of catching them too.

This is long enough, so I will quit here and maybe continue on later  cause this is far from all there is in safety around horses.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Work

Well its getting that time of year again when we gotta get ready for winter.  We been doing that for a while now, but the weather is so nice its hard to believe its the 18th of October already!  We are planning on weaning our calves on Sunday for the Monday sale, so its all coming quickly.  Neil has been working on fixing the fences in the corral and the calf feeders.  Pretty well done there.  I still need to check fences in the winter pasture for my horses and wean Casino.
(pulling the step away from house)

We have done some work around the yard as well, we pulled the front step and filled underneath it cause we thought the mice were getting in there, but couldn't see any holes so I guess we gotta keep looking.  
(not much underneath it)

We also filled dirt on the North side of the house to keep creatures out and snow from melting towards house.  Last winter had so much snow it kinda made a mess of stuff and we are hoping it won't happen again this winter.
(all put back, just like new)

Since our beef should be coming home this week, I have cleaned out and defrosted the freezer.  Amazing how much junk is in there from many years ago.  I threw out a lot of old food.  Kinda sad, I am hoping to keep up a little better with the upright than the chest freezer we had before.
(dirt by house)

I also have cleaned out the laundry room and mopped everything and now its all sitting in the hallway and I don't want it to go back in there, but since we are having people here for supper Sunday I best get it all done.  I have thrown out at least one giant garbage bag from in there, and there will be more to go.  Some of this stuff is so old and has been here since before me and not looked at, so its gonna go.
(clean and defrosted freezer)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Swinging Bridge

I also stopped at the Swinging Bridge at Rosedale when I got the river pictures.  I don't really like swinging bridges and the last time I was at this one it was on my birthday and was super cold and windy. 

But I know its a big tourist attraction and I know it was silly to be afraid of it, so I thought I would just go on a nice say and walk across it and be done with it.

Well I got there and the weather was really nice and there was  a couple just leaving when I got there, so that was nice I could do whatever I wanted and if I chickened out it wouldn't be so bad. 

But when I got there it somehow wasn't as bad as I had imagined, I took some pictures, walked across and even got some pics from the middle. 

It is kinda a cool bridge.  But I still can't imagine walking across it everyday to go to work in the mine on the other side. 

It was in operation from 1931 to 1957.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Stills -- Focusing on the Foreground

This week Sunday Stills is focusing on the foreground, something about a strong visual in the foreground to draw your eye to the landscape in the picture.  Not sure I got this, but I kinda like to do this anyways I just never really knew why.  A few weeks ago I stopped to get some pictures of the river and there was a sage tree in my way, so I put it right in the middle of the picture and I think it looks pretty cool.

Then I turned and looked at this cool spot where there is one pine tree, I always look at it in the winter when the tree is the only green thing around and think I should get a picture of it, so I am gonna go back and get it later on.

I also got this river shot, and I think it was my favorite one of the day.

For more check out Sunday Stills.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Community Pasture and Catch up

Monday I took Razz and Kali out to Jardis and rode Kali on a short ride around the summerfallow field with Char and Dude, and then Susan came out and we went on a really long ride out through some far fields that I had never been before. It took about 2 hours and was a good ride.
(Neil and his horse George)

Tuesday had been a really busy day. In the morning the farrier come and trimmed all the horses. All except Casino and Jamacia (who was trimmed a month ago).....and Jazz, who had a hissy fit when Jason came near her. I kinda thought she mighta been kinda bad, but she was so good to catch, a little silly when I put her halter on but just to get over her nose, she stood really nice. We made the mistake of taking her out in the yard and she didn't want any of it. We shoulda just done her in the corral near the fence. I did get her feet picked up all quiet before I turned her free. Guess I will have to work with her a little more before she gets done again.
(A lot of walking through water)

Afterwards I took Razz and Kali and we went over to Greg and Candices and rode in thier outdoor arena. First was Razz, and I love riding her in my hackmore. We even got a slow circle at the lope! It was so cool! It still is hard to not pull her into a trot, but she is so much more sensitive. I am not sure if its just the change from the snaffle or she just likes it better. The Kali and we had a short ride cause it was getting kinda dark, but it was good. I am still having to work hard on her to keep her in a straight line, but otherwise she was awesome.
(Cows moved really well)

Both Ponies had Wednesday off cause today we headed up early to ride at the community pasture.  Razz thought I was kinda strange when I caught her before the sun was up (and so did I to tell the truth).  We went out and there was so much water out there he told us it would be a longer ride cause of that.  I was okay with that, and it turned out to be about 3 hours.
(Cows on the island.  Did I mention there was lots of water?)

We walked through a lot of water and it actually worked good cause the cows didn't want to turn around and go back south cause there was water on one side and they didn't go through it.  We got them all in and sorted by noon. 
(Coming into the corrals)

Most of the time we walked but a little trotting and loping back out cause some were on an island and Stewart and Colt went to get them, so we got the others in and went out to help them (even though they probly didn't need help).
(sorting in the alleyway)

There was only our 45 pair and Wanda's 36 pair in the field, so it seemed like not very many there.  And sorting sure goes fast when she has all blue ear tags and we have all briscuit tags.  Only two pens, sure was nice.  Usually there is at least 3 more people who come out on the same day, but they are going another day this year.
(at home and all mothered up)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Community Poker Rally

(Too many people, some had to walk the first part)

Today was a poker rally for our community. I took Kali and headed down.  There are wagons on this ride and she had never seen a wagon before so that was kinda interesting for a while.  It was better after we followed Andy's Wagon that was full of people and I don't think she knew it was a wagon until he turned and by then it was okay.
(Old Ferrymans House)

We started at a neighbors and went down towards the river to checkpoint two.  Then back through the bush to checkpoint three.  And on the way to checkpoint four, we followed the river and went by where there used to be a ferry and the old ferry shack was still there.  Kinda neat, cause I only been down there once before and I didn't know most of that was there.
(If you look closely there is a hornets nest in the tree)

(an old worn out building)
Kali found a really scary tire that was filled with water (a spring) and she was really thirsty but she was pretty sure it might attack!  But then her thirst overtook (and Kate's horse was drinking) so she eventually got in and got a much needed drink.
(following the herd by the river)

(Stewart and Marion and thier team of Belgians)

Some of the trail was a little muddy cause they had about half inch of rain on Thursday night and she didn't care for that, but I don't blame her on that.  She also never figured out that if we walk right close behind the wagon the bushes don't hit you in the face.  I prefer to keep a little space between us and the wagon just in case something goes wrong.

(John and Janice and thier team of Tennasee Walkers)

We had a couple small spooks, one when a horse stepped on a branch and it broke at the same time he farted from behind us.  Then when Whitney's dog was climbing under the oil well site and the grass was tall she couldn't see what was moving.   But the were only a couple steps and she quieted down right afterwards. 

(Andy and his Team Pat and Pearl)
All in all was beautiful weather and I was really happy with her, but she was sure happy to climb in the trailer and go home to her grain and her friends.
     (the buckle I won as a door prize, May be the only one I get so I will treasure it!)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ponies and More Ponies

Well I was looking out at my ponies and checking on them so of course got some more pics of them :)  First George walking around impatiently waiting for me to feed him.

And Bailey just patiently waiting till I quit fooling with the camera and feed George then its her turn.

And Casino cute as ever, with her white body and brown head and legs, I am thinking she won't stay this white, but sure is easy to pick her out of the herd from far away.

Ands Jamaica, so friendly and getting to be quite a looker.  I had a couple people interested in him, nothing serious yet, but sure wouldn't mind keeping him for myself.

And Jazz, she is getting quite stocky, I am afraid to ride her cause I am sure I will really like her.  She is pretty and quite a bit like Razz (right down to the left eye that had white around it!) and so she should be good.  But I know I can't keep em all, even if I want to.

But sure are turning into some nice ponies here.  Can't say I'm sad about any of the babies I have had here.   Yesterday my neighbor come and he wanted Casino if she was a boy.  Shoot!  Would match his big roan horse too.