Trail Ride

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After taking a few days off from blogging to enjoy camping and trail riding with friends here are a few pictures.  We had a blast.  We arrived on Friday night to a campfire, homemade chilli and a few of our regulars pickin and grinnin.  It was supposed to be beautiful weather for this ride and not a chance of rain at all. Boy can weather men lie.  We rode out Saturday morning in cloudy conditions and less than an hour in it started raining.  It rained on us until about 1:00 and then we were almost dry when we rode back into camp.  Since Chico has lost over 2 pounds on his diet he was happy to be able to ride and his arthritis was not bothering him nearly as bad afterwards.  My cousins little boy went with us and we put him on “Old Faithful” Thunder since he is a beginner (only been on a horse twice). He had a blast and can’t wait for the next ride. We done what was supposed to be a 14.5 mile loop that we have done 3 years in a row prior to this one however the people who sponsor this ride decided to let their daughter lead this year and she missed a turn so our 14.5 mile ride turned into 17 miles, lol.  We still had a great time. We raised over $2000 for our club and had a total of 67 riders.  We rode back into camp around 4:15, instead of 3:30 like we should have, to have our auction and a hot supper of BBQ Brisket, baked beans, and potato salad with many many desserts provided by the ladies of the ride. We had banana pudding, brownies, buttermilk pies just to name a few of my favorites. Then we sat around the campfire visiting for a bit before turning in for the night.  I love to trail ride but it seems to sap the energy right out of me at the first of the season and takes a bit to recover.  We got home around noon on Sunday and it was a fairly lazy day after getting horses unloaded and the trailer unpacked.  I was looking forward to our ride from our farm this coming up weekend but it looks like mother nature may have other plans.  If we ride I will post pictures and updates.  Below is a video I posted of a friend at the ride being a little inebriated and trying to do tricks on her horse. Unfortunately I missed the really funny one.

 

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My Trail Riding Buddy- Chico the Chihuahua

Well I devoted this blog to my ponies and happenings around here. Thought I would share with you about one of my precious babies that enjoys riding ponies as much if not maybe more than I do.  His name is Chico and he is a 4 year old Chihuahua. We got him as a 6 month old puppy and he was 3 lbs. Not wanting to leave him alone in our horse trailer we bought a harness for him and started him riding with us in the horn bags on our saddle we rigged it up to where we could clip him in the horn bags, and he could be comfy and safe at the same time, and only rode with him on the safest of horses. As you can see from the picture below it did not bother him a bit.

2010 HOUSTON AND VACATION 131He absolutely loves to ride. He will beg to get on the horses with us now.  You can not leave him at home or in the horse trailer either one if he knows you are getting ponies out he immediately starts asking to go. If you ignore him and ride off without him he will tear up anything he can get a hold of. I have come back to the horse trailer to find curtains down and screen ripped to shreds. He tears up any paper and fabric at home that he can get a hold of, and if left at camp in trailer you can hear him whaling from before you ride into camp.  Of course over 3 years later and several pounds later he is now too big to ride in horn bags. He now has 2 sets of full size saddle bags rigged up for him to ride in.

Chico was already riding with us in hornbags when I made my first Houston Livestock and Rodeo Commission ride from Logansport to Houston.  We did not chance letting him ride in 2010. In 2011 when he was still going strong we had our trail boss start looking into the rules to see if there was a rule stating that a dog could not ride or participate. He found nothing saying it was against the rules.  Why would there be a rule for that who was crazy enough to strap a dog to a horse for 216 miles. And what dog would allow such and ride as a willing passenger.

So in 2012 we geared Chico up with rain suit, hand warmers for the cold days, his own blanket to ride on in the bags, and even prepared for the hot days with frozen water bottles.  Chico made the entire ride to Houston and even rode in the downtown Houston Parade for the Livestock show.  One of our requirements for him to ride is that he has to want to, if the day comes that we saddle up and he doesn’t ask to go  then he won’t go, every morning he would bound out the bed while I was still getting dressed jumping around and barking and begging. He even continued this behavior once we were home for a week or so he would wake up at 5 A.M. and bound out of bed barking and yipping and running circles in the room. He did not understand why we stopped riding every morning after 8 days in a row it was a routine. Several of the judges seen him and nothing was said so we got off free and clear that year. One of the announcers for the Parade spotted him in the bags and named him as the Old Spanish Trail Rider’s Mascot.

Last year once again we saddled up and rode out. He again enjoyed his ride. I won Queen for our club which is voted on every year by the all the way riders and club officers.  And Chico got some publicity of his own.  The parade is televised in Houston and one of the anchors spotted him and came up for an interview. Attached  at the very bottom of this article is the link to the clip for the local ABC13 in Houston Texas pay special attention at about 1:28 this is where Chico comes in to the clip.

This next February if the Old Spanish Trail Riders come thru your community look for Chico the trail riding Chihuahua.  And before February at any of the trail rides I post about on here look for Chico he will be there hanging out in the saddle bags on the left side of one pony or another.

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A Memorial to our Greatest Gift -Sebastian- May you Rest in Peace

103 Allow me to introduce you to Sebastian. He was a Quarter Horse and was the first baby born here at our farm.  Sebastian is no longer with us but I could not tell you the story of the horses I have without telling you of our greatest loss. In early 2009 we started preparing the farm for horses again. Once we had fencing ready I started looking for my youngest son a horse. I found a horse trader with a 9y/o Quarter Horse mare that his daughter used in playdays. She was unregistered and he wanted $800 for her. She was to be safe for my son who was 10 at the time and had never actually ridden a horse.

Actually the picture of him riding this mare for the first time still makes me laugh so I may attach it at the end.  We drove to Marshall, Tx. to  meet this guy and pick up Mattilda. She was awesome. She was exactly what the guy said she was and then some (she was bred and we did not know) we bought her in March of 2009.  Around about May we realized she sure was “FAT” so we had the vet check her and she for sure was bred.

On July 2nd 2009 our greatest gift arrived an absolutely perfect colt. Pictured above this picture was taken when Sebastian was less than 24 hours old. See here we spend the first month of a new foals life spending at least 2-4 hours a day imprinting and literally throwing everything we can think of at them that typically scares a horse or that the horse may have problems with later down the road. So at only a couple of hours old he had a halter on, then at just over 24 hours we took a clip from a lead rope and attached it for him to get used to the weight of it then at 2 days we started teaching him to let us lead him. It took all of 3 days to teach this colt to lead.  Of course his momma was a very trusting mare and we had worked extensively with her once we figured out we had a baby on the way to make sure we would not have a problem with her allowing us to get to and mess with the baby.

Sebastian at 2 weeks old would leave momma’s side and come to the gate when he heard us come out the front door of the house.  Because we had put the halter on him at birth he thought it was part of his body. I will never forget at about 3 weeks old he lost his halter in the pasture. He met us at the gate that morning and he would run out about 30ft stop and come back and try to whinny which only come out as grunts. when we went into the pasture he run in front of us circling to come back for us and took us straight to his halter where it laid in the pasture. That baby was totally distraught because he thought part of his body had fallen off. Once the halter was put back on he happily trotted back to momma. From that point on if he lost it he would pick it up and bring it to the gate and wait patiently for one of us to come out then he would run circles in front of the gate with the halter in his mouth until we came out to put it back where it belonged.

We were in no way set up for a baby when he was born. once we introduced him to grain we had to separate him from the rest of the horses and at that time we only had the one pasture in basically our yard. so we would turn him out in the front yard to eat. Once he was done he would come to us to be put back in the fence with momma.  How did we train this colt to do these things. I could not tell you because it has never been repeated. He was just special in every way. Over the course of the next couple of months we played with beach balls, grocery bags, tires, trailering, tieing he would have been so easy to break he trusted us completely. sometimes I thought he trusted us more than his momma.

At about 3 months old the vet noticed he had a hernia and wanted to repair it as soon as possible. Since everything had dropped and he could be gelded at that time too it would make it easier to do both surgeries at a young age because the hernia repair would be so much easier on him young.  So she came out and done both surgeries here on the farm when Sebastian was about 4 months old.  He recovered from the surgeries with no visible signs of infection in the first couple of weeks. He had no major swelling and the sites healed well and fairly quickly. We continued to run and play with Sebastian I actually think he either thought he was a human or a dog. He would run a play, would fetch his feed pan on command and bring it to the feed room door to be filled. If he would have grown to be a full grown horse we would have had some serious work to do to make him understand he was not a dog because he was very affectionate and loved attention.

About a month after his surgeries he started losing weight of course it was winter time too so we bumped up his feed a bit but he continued to lose. And he was losing fairly quickly. The vet was coming out at that time 2-3 times a week for other horses here at that time.  She would look at Sebastian and say “You know, I need to draw blood on him and see what’s going on. He sure has lost a lot of weight.” So after a couple of weeks I ask her are you going to draw blood and see what’s wrong or are you gonna just let him waste away and die on me?  That day she pulled blood and stool samples to send off. We got the stool sample back first and he was wormy so she had us put him on a power pack for 3 days then gave us instruction to worm every other week with certain wormers that were safe for a foal under 6 months. While we waited to get the results of the blood work back.  So we done as she asked he got 3 doses of fenbendazole wormer which is what a power pack is in huge loading doses.  The more wormer we gave him the sicker he got.

I went out on January 7th 2010 to find him laying in the hay roll so weak he could barely lift his head. We had our round pen built by this time but had no covered/enclosed area to keep him. I moved him to the round pen to keep the other horses from stepping on him. During the time of him going down and getting weaker part of the blood work had come back saying he had an infection but they were waiting on the blood cultures to tell us exactly what it was. At 4pm on January 7th 2010 I made the call to our vet to please come put Sebastian down. He was so weak when you lifted him and stood him up(which I could do on my own) he would only stand for a minute or so before he would fall over.  I could not stand to watch this baby suffer and it was apparent he was in pain and having trouble breathing at this point.   She was tied up on another farm call supposedly( I later found out that was not true and it ultimately ended our friendship and her business with my farm) and would be a little while before she could get here.

My grandfather brought the tractor and small flat trailer down we fixed up bedding on it and placed Sebastian on it in his winter blanket and waited for the vet to show up. My fiance’, myself and my best friend were there when the vet came and injected him with the meds to put him down at 7:03pm on January 7, 2010 our greatest gift took his last breath and went to sleep forever laying in my lap with me hugging him and telling him how sorry I was but how much better he would feel in just a little while.  We found out the next week that it was a bad staph infection which ultimately killed Sebastian and that it most likely occurred due to contamination during surgery.  Even though for the first couple of weeks he showed no signs of infection and everything healed well it was in his blood.

It has been almost 4 years now and he still affects everything I do with my young foals. He was buried in the back of our property. I still do not know the exact spot. I refused to go and stayed out of the back for months until everything had time to settle back to normal.  I don’t know who taught who more in that relationship whether we taught Sebastian or he taught us. I miss him every day still but I am so thankful that we had him for the short time we did. He brought such joy into all of our lives. So I borrowed the poem below from Stacy Westfall it was sent to her by one of her followers. It is very fitting for this story for sure.

As promised this is a picture of my youngest son riding Sebastian’s momma Mattilda for the first time.  Thank the Lord she had good sense and was used to kids because he did not have a clue and it shows in this picture. I could list 15 different things wrong just from the picture.

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I’ll lend you for a little while my grandest foal, He said.
for you to love while he’s alive and mourn when he is dead.
*
It may be one or twenty years, or days or months, you see,
but will you, till I take him back, take care of him for me?
*
He’ll bring his charms to gladden you, and should his stay be brief,
you’ll have treasured memories as solace for your grief.
*
I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return,
but there are lessons taught on earth I want this foal to learn.
*
I’ve looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, with trust, I’ve chosen you.
*
Now will you give him total love, not think the labor vain,
nor hate me when I come here to take him back again?
*
I know you’ll give him tenderness and love will bloom each day,
and for the happiness you’ve known, forever grateful stay
*
But should I come and call for him much sooner than you’d planned,
you’ll brave the bitter grief that comes, and someday, understand.
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STAR- My Counselor and Best Friend for Life

157 This is Star. She is now 21 years young. She is a Quarter Horse cross.  This little mare is very special to me.  My now ex-husband bought her for me for Christmas in 1994 she was 21 months old at the time. All that had been done was she had been introduced to a saddle and put on an exercise walker only circling to the left. She like Thunder was bought from a horse trader only back then I was only 17 years old and had only owned a donkey and 1 other horse that we purchased from a friend so I knew nothing of the world of horse trading. He paid $400 for my life long friend.  We immediately started playing with her under saddle as back then I weighed under 100lbs so we started “breaking” her. She was a joy. Easy to saddle break. I wish I had spent more time desensitizing now but back then I knew nothing of ground working a horse and different training methods being raised in the back woods of North Louisiana you just jump on and figure it out. And that was pretty much the training for me and the horses I owned. This little mare was ridden extensively in the woods behind our home she was ponied quite a bit in the beginning but didn’t take her long to figure it out and didn’t take me long to have enough confidence on her to ride her out alone. She was my best friend from the day we brought her home. In April of 1995 I was riding Star alone in the woods and we crossed a creek, going up the steep bank on the other side she got a back leg tangled in a briar, she jerked and snatched at first then reared, because of the steepness of the embankment she came over backwards landing on me as I didn’t have time to get off.  Once she fell she laid there until I managed to get up and tear the vine loose from her leg then we walked a bit to make sure she was ok. I hurt but it was not my first  fall off of a horse so I wasn’t too worried about me. Once I knew she was ok I got back on and we continued our ride. Little did I know I was pregnant with my oldest son at the time of this accident. I found out just a few weeks after that I was pregnant. Star had had less than 6 months of actual training/riding at this point and was just over 2 years old.  Once I found out I was pregnant that was the end of me riding a green horse. As it was too dangerous to be in another horse accident. Star sat in the pasture for 7 months while I carried my son and recovered from delivery myself. When  it was ok’d by my doctor to start back riding I came home that very day found a sitter for the baby and went and got on my horse.  In 7 months she had decided that mine and her confidence was not where it needed to be. I took her out with my husband and his gelding for a ride and going up a hill she started crow hopping not bad looking back now it was completely fixable and not that big of an issue but somewhere in the 7 months of not riding and now having a baby and all of the hormonal changes that come with that I was scared to death of her. Probably because I only rode her once after our accident in the creek before I stopped. This was probably both of our issues. At any rate, when she started crow hopping I got off and walked her all the way home because my fear was too overpowering at that point. Star again was in the pasture. Shortly after that I lost all interest in riding. Star was like the family dog I would go out and feed her and pet and love on her but no riding. In the next 5 years the only time she was gotten out was to lead some of my smaller cousins around on in the front yard for picture opportunities. When my youngest son was about 2 I decided to give it a go once more and see what happened. I had not been on a horse in over 5 years and I missed riding dearly. So I went out saddled her and jumped on. She reared straight up went about 30ft on her hind legs and came down in a full run. The fence I was behind stopped her as I could not. Once she stopped at the fence, I waited until I had somewhat regained my composure and we carried on in the pasture for about 30 minutes and so was the theme for the next week or 2. I would go out saddle her she would rear first thing and bolt. I eventually got to where I expected it and could stop her from bolting but still did not know enough to try and correct the rear.  I only rode her about 3 times a week for the next month and then I was done. Not sure why I quit again but the interest was gone. We had moved in the 5 years that I wasn’t riding so I didn’t have a good area to ride by myself and my husband had lost interest as well. Over the next 7 or 8 years I would periodically go out and saddle her and ride each time knowing the battle that would ensue before we could have a good ride. And the same as before I would ride 4 or 5 times and be done. The last time Star was saddled and ridden was in 2007. I had had a bought of courage and took her out on the road we went for about a 5 mile loop and I was about 2 miles from home when she thought a feed bag in the ditch was going to eat her for its lunch she dumped me in the middle of the road and run all the way home. Now when I got home I caught her and got right back on to prove to myself that I could handle it but after that she wasn’t saddled again. In 2008, My husband and I separated and I moved home to my grandparents farm. I fought him as hard for my horse as I did for my kids. She was a member of the family. I had shed a many a tear with my face buried in that horses mane. Even though most of her life I was scared to ride her she was still a huge comfort to me she has heard it all, tragedies that seemed huge at the time that I can’t even remember now. She became the counselor that I needed because I could tell her everything and not have to worry about her telling it and it gave me the chance to work it all out for myself. Horses truly are great counselors.  In January of 2010 I finally won my battle and brought Star home. She had only been pastured with 2 other horses her entire life that we had had her and I had 9 others at the time. It was a hard transition for her but she found her place and has been retired ever since she came home.  I found out in 2007 that I had damage to the C7 vertebrae in my neck that was over 10 years old the nerve damage there had caused total paralysis of the the muscle under the left shoulder blade which moves it and the pain was coming from the tendons and ligaments drawing up as well. when we traced it back the only traumatic event that could have caused it was the accident on the creek bank in 1995.  Now Star has been diagnosed with severe arthritis in her back hips which probably is a result of her flipping over on that creek bank as well.

Oh how I wish I would have known half of what I know now back then. Oh what a horse she could have been. While she has been an awesome companion and we are now each others source of love and safety and compassion. I often wonder how different things could have been if I had known anything of Stacy Westfall, Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson or any other great clinician that could have given me some kind of insight into what I was doing or needed to do.  She has the temperament of a saint. I often thought of breeding her when she was younger but never did. I would have loved to have a baby out of her, Now she is too old to breed for the first time there are too many complications that come with it at her age and I’m not willing to risk her life for my selfishness. So my selfishness has turned into just being happy keeping her around as long as possible.

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Thunder

Thunder is my lesson horse. He is a 9 year old TWH/SSH gelding.  I bought him 4 years ago he was my first so called gaited horse that I purchased.  I bought him from a horse trader and got really lucky on that deal.  He is supposed to be registered but I never got paperwork. Of course he was supposed to be super gaited and rode like a dream for the trader that never actually rode him. When we got him home and saddled him I tried everything known to man to get this horse to respond in some kind of way to me being in the saddle. He just stood there. This poor baby had been saddled and had kids led around on him by the older lady that owned him but had no clue what a headstall and bit were or why I was pulling on the reins and kicking him.  So for a couple of rides we ponied him with my son teaching him to rein. Then we took him on a short ride off of our farm.  We trailered him about 45 minutes from home to a popular riding trail with exposure to bridges, bicycles, woods, tight spaces etc… we took the lead rope just in case we had to pony him out of there and I also took my crop which he had become accustomed to just in case.  We ended up stuck and not being able to cross a creek on the horse trail and had to hit a bicycle trail to get across the creek.  Now the bridge across the creek was about 4 ft wide by 50 ft long and it was high over the creek with no handrails. Of course he balked at it. I got off going to lead him across. He balked again. So my fiance’ got behind him with the crop while I was leading him. He only had to touch him with the crop one time and he started to slowly follow me across the bridge. He was so scared that his poor back legs were knocking, but he followed without further questioning.  Little did I know that making him follow me across that bridge would connect us forever. He has a trust in me that I have not found in any of my other horses. They too will do what I ask but only because they know I will make them go thru what ever obstacle it is not because they know I will protect them and lead them through safely.

Now Thunder is a LAZY horse. He does not like ground work at all. But if you can get in the saddle and make him understand what you are asking of him he will gladly do it unless it entails running lol.

He was not naturally gaited and it took a solid year of training to get him right and to where he drops into a gait on his own.  I done all of his training myself with i should say no ground work because he just would not stand for it.

Thunder has gone to Houston with us each time I have ridden he is wonderful going down the side of the road. Nothing bothers him in a group and he is absolutely AWESOME in the downtown Houston Parade. His top speed is about 7 miles an hour I have never been able to get him to all out run with a rider on his back but he will break gait and go into a canter and then a full lope.

This horse is not for sale for any price he will live out the rest of his days right here on the farm and when he is too old to ride that is fine too.  If I could clone this pony I would have 100 of him.  I have often said “I wish he would have still been a stud when we got him” but the truth of it is if he had been I would not have purchased him as we did not want studs at all at that point.

Thunder!!!

Thunder!!!

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My Ponies!

Over the next couple of weeks I will be getting on here and Introducing you to all 17 of our horses.  I affectionately call them ponies but they are all full size horses. So this category will be used to introduce you to them and then will only be used to tell a story of a new pony that comes or goes. Some of our ponies are for sale but not many. They are like family and I am picky picky about selling them. Some are registered most are not. I am betting you will be able to tell my favorites lol.

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Trail Riding next weekend!

Woohoo trail riding season is finally upon us.  I can’t wait to saddle up this weekend for a lovely 15 mile circle ride on the back roads of deep East Texas with friends.  Got a new horse joining our crew. My son will be riding a gaited quarter horse. This horse is gaited at the walk and can walk about 3.5 miles an hour but can not actually gait. We will be working on that in the clinics but this will be his first ride with more that 4-6 other horses so lets hope he does not get too excited with others.  We also have a new rider joining our bunch for this ride. I spent the weekend last weekend doing riding lessons with my cousin and her 11 and 14 year old sons, her 14 y/o will be riding our lesson horse this weekend and will begin full course riding and care lessons on Monday. This will be fun as our club members are getting up in age and in order for this club to carry on we have to have new and younger members. I absolutely love bringing in the younger generation and teaching them about riding and the club.  I am lucky in that I have the perfect horse for introducing a new rider to trail riding on. Will make a post on my lovely lesson horse in My Ponies.

This ride is sponsored every year by Greg and Sherry McDaniel and is the first ride of the season each year on the 2nd weekend of November. We will spend the weekend on their farm and enjoy riding, Saturday supper, Auction, and great company around the camp fire.

I know many that may see this will wonder about our riding seasons.  You see we live in Louisiana and South East Texas for the most part. We don’t get snow here. We you endurance ride as we do in 15+ miles per ride all to leg up to take 2 horses on the 216 mile trek from Logansport,Louisiana to Houston,Texas in which we ride the entire 216 miles on horse they have to be in shape each horse for up to 20-25 miles per day per horse.  We ride during the cooler part of the year because it is easier on the horses. Now some of us still ride during summer but it is extremely short distances and times. usually from June to August is pretty much off limits for actual trail rides unless you are brave enough to do a night ride. lol I am not.  Stay tuned for pictures and updates on this weekends trail ride on Monday.

 

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