Tuesday, April 15, 2014

So much for good weather

It's blowing sideways today, so I'm spending my day inside.  Yuck.  But my house is kinda clean now.

I'm hoping for a still moment later in the day to go out and pick hooves and maybe get Jasper out of the pasture for a bit.  We shall see.

I can't wait to see in his mouth when he gets his dental done.  I just realized that's less than a week away!  Yay!  I am wondering if his teeth are catching and that might be why he is having trouble with bringing his nose back toward his chest.  The lower jaw needs to slide freely forward and back for that to happen, and if there are hooks, waves or prominent ridges, it won't slide freely.  It might just be a mental thing.  Regardless, judging by how he acts like he has food stuck in his cheek after eating pellets, I think the dental is going to be good for him.

Now I'm off to buy Easter candy.  :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

All Ears

Yesterday I went riding with a very nice lady who owns racing mules.  I met some champions and met the first cloned equine, and I rode a retired race mule.  He isn't really all that speedy anymore, even though he's only 11 years old.  He's a show mule now, with a pretty spotted appaloosa butt.



 My ulterior motive was to pick her brain about mules, considering she owns so many and has had them in her life for so long.  But as you can see my mount wasn't really wanting to walk with them.  We'd catch up every now and then, but her friend was really a talker and I never got much of a word in.  Then we'd fall behind again.  It was fun though, and it was the longest ride I've been on yet this year.  My butt was feeling it today.

Today I finally had a decent ride on my own mule!  It lasted more than 5 minutes and we worked on basic communication. He is a very mobile boy, and he seems to be happier when he's moving, although he doesn't really have trouble standing still either.  I had no problem mounting up using the mounting block, and off we went!  He did well in the Myler bit. 
 




He looks kinda goofy in all my mismatched, cheap tack.  But if you ignore that, he's darn cute!
We had a little talk about his ear sensitivity after that, and I'm feeling a little torn about it.  I'd like him to get over that but it's really a deeply ingrained thing.  If you touch his ears right he loves it (gradually, sliding your hands into position), but if you accidentally bump them even the slightest bit or get anywhere near them with the reins or rope, he totally overreacts and jerks his head very abruptly with a bit of a grunt. It's usually unexpected and fairly startling.  And when I attempted to slip my rope reins over his head - boy howdy!  He didn't like that.  I was expecting a reaction so I wasn't caught off guard.  Luckily the bridle was already off his head and he didn't get his mouth jerked on.  So we worked on allowing me to touch, and I think we made some progress, but I'm not sure.  Afterward he buried his face against me and just wanted to be loved, so I don't think he's going to hold it against me, but again I'm not sure.  I think tomorrow I won't make such an issue of it.  We'll work on it again another day.  We don't have to get this all done immediately, after all.  It's more important that he feel safe with me.

Everyone got their nasty dewormer today too.  They didn't love me for it, but they didn't give me any real trouble.

I can't wait for tomorrow!  More nice weather and muleplay!  :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Precious Cargo

Tonight we quickly practiced trailer loading.  I have to hurry home from work tomorrow and load them up to take to the spring health clinic.  I wanted to know what to expect with them, and they didn't disappoint.
Both of the boys did great.  Jasper had a couple false starts getting halfway in and backing back out, but the third try was the charm.  It was uneventful, but Jasper was still nervy, not knowing what to expect I'm sure.  He probably thought he was in for another long ride to a strange place.  I let them stand for about a minute, then unloaded them and put them away.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

And Now Back to Our Regular Schedule

Jasper can be the center of my attention again.  :)

He's happier now that he's part of the herd.  He even tolerates my naughty dogs but you can tell he doesn't love them.

The last two days we've been trying on the Myler combo snaffle.
Yesterday he thought it was odd and he mouthed it quite a bit, but today he didn't seem to care much.  Except it is SO awkward to get in his mouth.  It was bad enough with Bella and a regular bridle.  The noseband and chin strap are one circle of string, and they insist on falling down and getting caught on chin and nose as you slip the bit in.  Jasper's bridle is the kind with the poll strap that snaps behind the left ear, so I'm trying to hold all the top up while slipping the bit in and it's a disaster, but he's mostly patient about it.  I tried tying a string from the noseband to the browband, but I don't think it really helped.

I've been giving him some gradually increasing pasture time.  I don't know how much he will tolerate, so I'm trying to be cautious.  I'd like to be able to leave him out for 12 hours from morning until evening (pasture grasses are lowest in sugar in the morning and gradually increase throughout the day) but that may be too long.  I'll keep a close eye on him as I try to figure it out.  He's definitely not fat, so that's a plus.

He has an appointment to have his teeth done on the Monday after Easter.  I'm super excited.  I can't wait to see what's going on inside his mouth.  He's never had dental work before.  He sometimes seems like he gets feed trapped in his cheek.

In other equine news, it's really interesting to put your horses in weird situations and see how wrong you were about them.  :)  I always thought Scout and Bella could eventually be good kids' horses because they both have pretty mellow temperaments, and Bella is such a mother, but they really didn't hold up well to the kid test this weekend.  Bella is too sensitive (but she was really good for me, especially after a year with no riding at all).  She's great on the ground, but put a kid in the saddle and her eyes get huge and she can barely breathe.  Scout is really bad about testing to see what he can get away with (over and over again if necessary), and he is definitely smarter than I gave him credit for.  He knew he had Kaia's number, and she doesn't have any background in horsemanship, so it could eventually lead to disaster.  Bob was totally traumatized about being ridden.  Kaia rode him while I rode Scout, and he was definitely only doing what he wanted to do, but afterward he really thought we were going to beat him.  Every time I'd move he'd jerk his head away.  Whoever instilled that fear in such a quiet old soul... I just can't fathom it.  Pedro I didn't even try.  He's on drylot and bored out of his mind, not to mention frustrated.  He could have used the attention but he was also being naughty with his head in our space.  With a head that big, someone could get hurt.  Jasper got some loving but was mostly left out of the kid stuff.  I don't know him well enough yet, and I don't want to subject him to something that is going to rattle him or get one of the kids hurt.

Everything went well though, and it was a great visit.  I'm looking forward to more quiet time with my mule now.  Scout is ready to hit the trails, but Jasper and I still have to figure each other out a little better.


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Playing Horsie

Della is here! Of course Kaia wants to ride, and we don't have any kids' horses anymore, so we're doing the best we can with what we have. And it's still fun, but Katia would really like to ride outside the round pen.

Sweet, responsive Bella doesn't like to be ridden by kids, even though she loves them. I had to explain that it's not a height or size thing, it's just that kids are too wiggly. She's sensitive. If she was sound there might be good reason to get her over that, but it's definitely not a main goal of mine.

Scout was really good after a little reminder about manners.  He really makes a person work hard though. He's so lazy!

Bob might have actually been more responsive at times. Jasper's saddle worked well for him, but everything was adjusted a bit big. 

 I think she's having fun. I know I am.
Jasper and I got to play a bit too, but I didn't take pictures. 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Evening gloaming, night comes softly, its breath on my face.
Darkling sky, the storm-purple clouds embrace my bright smiling moon.

Blue Heron glides, like a dragon into the west, toward the last fire-pink light. 

A long glance from the eye of my silent friend as I lay a hand on his coat.
Contentment.
A stillness framed by motion.  A moment.
Quiet, peace, energy, healing.

I'm not much of a poet, but sometimes one must try.  Quite a night here, with my buddy Jasper, standing on this earth, drunk on this air.