'Cool Running Creek'

'Cool Running Creek'

Friday, August 31, 2007

The ""Medicine Man" seeking outside help?

There has been a lot of excitement in the past day but you'll have to wait as I bring us up to date.
The past week has been nothing but work for Doc and me as we worked morning and evening most days getting ready for the show. I know I said from the start that I had no intentions in buying back Doc but this is really going to be hard. I've never grown attached to a horse in such a short amount of time but this is really working on me. Though he hates to see me coming with a bridle in hand he now looks for the rub or a few soft words. Our entire this past week has been in the pasture or round pen working on those finer skills. He gives a new meaning to the word softness on the left and improving daily on the right. When I say soft I mean little finger wiggles for direction and very light lift for collection. His backing is a squeeze and small heel bumps for more speed. His gate changes from standing to trot is by shifting in the saddle and either a kiss or squeeze and you got it, Want more, another squeeze and you get that slow lope that almost backs up. Ok, maybe in someone Else's eyes they do't see it that way but from nothing to this with my limited skills, I'm tickled to death. As far as I can tell we've worked on everything they're expecting at Ft Worth plus a few. Doc is having a little trouble with straight backing, he wants to drift to the left after the 4th or 5th step. Anyone have any ideas? Most times a bit of barrel pressure on the left will fix it, maybe just time is the answer. I have noted some stiffness on the right, maybe me or his drive shaft is a little out of line. I don't know, maybe I need a chiropractor! Otherwise I'm, as well as others tickled to death. On Tuesday Helena's daughter, Casady rode Doc out the drive and around the farm bareback and only a halter, Folks this is a 10 year old cowgirl. Go girl! Ropin pen on Wednesday for more cows. Not roping off him but he is pulling logs, fwds and backwards with no problem. OK, now for the scare.
On Thursday afternoon I went out and found Doc lying down and somewhat kinda out of it. I've never been able to just walk up a rub on him with him down without a little coxing but this time was different. I got him up and he was just not himself. I was doing a little housekeeping around the barn so I'd just keep an eye on him. Well, within 30 min's his fever shot thru the roof, 105, respiratory system was just way out of wack and heart rate over 80 BPM, and legs locked up. Whats going on is by me so its time for Dr. Kirkman, a local large animal vet. I also called Helena as she works with lots of sick/rehab horses through recovery. Helena arrives first, muscle relaxer to help him and no change. He's got gastric noises so I'm kinda ruling out the C word. After an exam from the vet the thoughts turned towards toxic poising. But what can it be. He's been in a dry lot the past few days due the the drought and no grass, only feed and hay. We did change feed brands on Tuesday . Chapin did find a few Cockleburs in the feed but I didn't make the connection until later with a conversation from the vet. He spoke of 8 cows dying last week after eating hay with cockleburs in it. Well, on to the computer and what did I find but they are very toxic to horses, cows, and pigs. This feed was really loaded with 'em. In one scoop I found over 15 pods. This was shared with the vet this morning so a toxic search is underway. His improvement this morning was a noticeable change but still very tender on his feet. His appetite was back but that high temp really is giving him founder signs. This afternoon his fever had dropped to 101 and heart rate just above normal. Appetite good and a little better on his feet. He did follow the feed scoop to his stall but with instability in his feet. I will give a report through the weekend to keep those interested posted. If you might have any information that might be beneficial please email.

Monday, August 20, 2007

On The Road Again

Its better than a week since the last update so lets give it a loop! The weather here has been super hot...More days over 100 than under with nighttime only dippin' down to the middle 70's. That has really put a damper on ridin' horses.
Last Saturday we got in another mustang yearling to work with for my niece so that did occupy a couple of days in gentlin' down so we could get our hands on him. This took the most part of Sunday to halter him without a lot of stress on me and him considering the heat. By Wednesday we had made great strides and sent him back home for her to continue to the project. When he left you could walk up and halter with little effort, lead from both sides off the shoulder, pick up his feet, and brush him down. He really was shy with new folks but that will change with time.
Medicine Man had a few days off during this but we did get in a couple of late night(after dark) rides in before the big trip to Mt Rogers, VA. We left out on Friday morning, Chapin and Emily both on their QTR horses, Jeff M. on his mule, Cody on a App/Draft cross and me on the Mustang. A lot of talk going up on who had the mountain horse but time was sure to tell. All traveled well (3 hrs) and we took the first ride early afternoon. We arrived at Rocky Hollow Horse Camp in Troutdale, VA after lunch. The weather was low 80's, starting elevation was 3500 ft. We started out on our first ride around 2 with a goal of a 4-5 hr ride. Medicine Man wasn't really interested in setting the pace up the mountain but held his on in the steep climb up to 4500 ft. We've got to remember all horses on this trip were without shoes and boy, was it rocky. I will say he and the molly were the only 2 that really didn't sweat much in the climb. Our only excitement was a golf cart the camp owner, Wade used to get around in. It had the wind/rain covers on and they really drew Doc's attention. After a couple of minutes of investigation this was old hat. The ride was uneventful other than Cody loosing his GPS and the group having to split up to find it. (They did find it). This trip up and back, 7.5 miles. We high lined the horses that night after a good feeding and made plans for day 2.
Day 2 started for Emily and I around 11:30. (Emily had obligations at school, Her college is only 40 minutess away). The others left out about 10:00 with plans to meet at 2 at the top by the scales. Both quarter horses had on Easy boots for this trip. Emily and I made it on time and met a lot of good folks. One group of 5 was up from the Piedmont Saddle Club out of Greensboro, NC. Nice people with lots of trail ridin' experience. This is kinda a meeting place as its a large grass area of several hundred acres on top of the mountain where in the old days farmers would drive there cattle up in the spring for the good grass. Scales were brought up and the buyers would purchase the cattle right off the mountain. There are also a band of wild ponies here and we did get a chance to see a mare/foal before we left out. This was a short trip up in distance, 3 miles but took 2 hours because of the terrain and hard climb. Medicine Man was showing some tenderness by now so we just relaxed and enjoyed the view. 2 hours later the others arrived with plans to ride on to Grayson Highlands, another 2 hrs and we passed and started back down around 5. Another different route down and this brought us through a large area of Blue Berries. Time to stock up for dressing on our morning pancakes. Pick for an hour and on we went arriving back to camp around 8 with some really tired horses and sore feet on 1 mustang. His feet showed very little wear, no chips just tenderness on the small rocks. I guess the time in captivity gave his feet time to soften up. Our riding here in central NC is mostly grass/dirt with little rocks except for creeks and washouts. The boots on Emily's horse really made the difference. I do have a pair for my Reba but forgot to bring them. Good feed, hay and rest til morning. The others didn't get in until after 10 and road down the entire mountain in the dark. Boy, I'm glad we made the decision to start back early. The stories they told of the trip down in the dark just makes your skin tingle. The only horse in good repair was Chapin's Scooter. (He had on boots).
After checking out the horses on Sunday morning we decided to pass on riding due to sore feet.
Load up, back down the mountain and home by 5:00.
This will most likely be Doc's last long ride til Ft Worth. Now, on to phase 3 of training. Refine those ques in early morning training before work. I'm really getting concerned after reading some of the blogs from other professional trainers. They've even requested cattle for part of their demo's. Well, if nothing else we will have the most trail savvy horse there anyway. Keep your fingers crossed in this last 30 days of training to round out this fine horse to become a strong competitor!
Headin' up the mountain

Chapin, Emily and I on top of the mountain

What a view!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Have you seen my horse?

The week after the Mustang Adoption has been a rest period for Medicine Man. When everyone else is kicking up another gear in their training we've kinda taken the week off. We worked on lots of lessons learned but all in short durations. We've practiced the lead without the lead alot as we move around the pasture, pen and yard. Doc's even adapting to others in the hook up and is really impressing alot of folks. We had our feet worked again and other than those hoofs being so #&$$#(*) tough every thing was a breeze. Doc uses this as an opportunity to be near us. Any time we're around he wants to have close contact always searching for a scratch or rub. With it being so hot he stands for a hose no matter what noise it makes. Before when the air rushed out or the water spattered he would jump around, now, no problem. We worked under saddle 3 days this past week with gait transition, flexing (both lateral and at the pole), and backing.
I always want a good pole flex before working on backing and I think we have it. His lightness in the bit requires only a lift of the reins with little bit pressure for a bend, let up and repeat and you'll get more bend, slight steady pressure and leg squeeze and we're backing up. Man, what a pleasure to train. We also are working on fore end cross over with toe pressure on the shoulder. Doc picked this up so fast he made me feel I was a good trainer. That's a hoot of a thought. It's just his quick learning ability. I guess to be a "Medicine Man" you have to have a good head on your shoulders......
We did have a bit of excitement on Thursday evening. Chapin and I set out on a longer trail ride with a few planned obstacles to accomplish. Both Doc and a nice gelding named Wizz belonging to Vickie G. needed some different terrain. Things went well along the first half with steep hills, gulley's, and water. I don't know how but we did find some water 3+ feet deep to work in and boy, did they enjoy that part. Later riding along the highway Doc and I heard a truck approach, his ears tracked it and just as it was abreast to us a trailer he was pulling hit a pothole and a new sound erupted. I always collect the outside rein on passing vehicles in case and this was a good case. His reaction was a little hop, I pulled up the right rein, one circle and we're back on track. Thought he startled, he regained his composure quickly and another lesson learned. Later on a bicycle approached and got a lot of attention but no reaction. (We work with bikes in the pastures).
A large portion of the ride was in close order woods with no trails. This really is no fun to ride in but does require a lot a left/right/forward/backup to get through some spots. Lots of vines, limbs, downed trees to walk over. Doc was a dream for this getting tangled up in vines a couple of times and patiently waiting while I worked us out of the fix. This can really create softness if the rider will remain calm and give slight leg and rein cues.
After 3 hrs of riding we stopped off at my dad's house and let the horses graze in the front yard as we sat on the porch and socialized. Doc was content with staying in the front but Wizz was determined to seek out the better grass in the back. On the second trip back Chapin went back to get him and no Wizz. There's a 10 acre hay field just behind the house with Johnson grass over 5' tall. We searched for Wizz til after 1:00AM with no luck. Chapin came back home and picked up a young filly Wizz has been staying with during his time here in hopes of her bringing him back or at least sounding off. My only thought was he had gotten tangled in the woods since he still had a saddle on. We stayed until all lights ran out and returned the following morning at daylight. No Wizz. Ok, now I'm worried. A few calls were made to include the owner and plans were being made for a mass search. He was somewhat limited to how far he could travel due to all the fences in the area. Doc and I had searched all nearby fields the night before with no results but a second look couldn't hurt. After checking out all known fields I started paying attention to Doc and his ears. He just wouldn't take his attention away from a certain area I thought was just woods. We moved along a field road and he brought me into a small hay field, 2-3 acres I never knew existed. I looked around the field and saw nothing and attempted to leave but his attention was still focused on the field. OK, off we went across and low and behold upon reaching the crown we looked down and there stands Wizz. Just eating, not a worry in the world. We were no more than 500 yards from my dads. What a joyous time. I only had a piece of hay string I carry balled up on my saddle to lead with so thought we'd give it a try. Doc had never led another so I was reluctant to give it a try but my cell phone wouldn't work and I was determined not to leave Wizz alone. (Chapin had removed his reins during grazing). So, attach the hay twine, give all the slack I could, (every bit of 5 ft) and off we went. Doc was bothered at first with the closeness of his travel mate but eventually moved right off like he'd been doing it for years. Back on high ground, and time to make phone calls to abort the search before it got under way. I can attest Chapin was one happy young man as he saw us ridding up. Vickie was on the way with Wizz's pasture mate so she came on and she and Chapin trail rode back home. A good training lesson for all, including me! I forgot to mention the night search aboard Doc, I have a light mounted on a hat used for night hunting and every time I turned it on it would cast a beam over his head to the ground. As I moved my head around the moving light really kept him on his toes. He never did adjust totally to the light. Back to the house and a big rest for us both.
Saturday and Sunday was extremely hot so training was limited to close order drill in short periods. A short ride today, more flexing and backing with direction change. I do need to work on direct and straight travel. We kinda roamed across the fields unless I really kept giving direction. Something to work on in the cool....