Monday, December 20, 2010

Turn Me Loose!

This afternoon, Oska, got turned out with Classy officially. I finished adding some additional hot-tape to the remainder of the fence. Then went and caught her. She haltered up very easily and led around the round pen. I asked my son to open the gate and when I brought her through, she wanted to turn around and go back! I was a bit nervous but just stood still and pulled her back to me each time she danced away. Then we'd walk a few steps, she'd dance and turn other directions, so we'd stop again until she settled. After a few minutes of this, she settled and walked next to me very sweetly. We got to Classy's field and he started running around flagging his Arabian tail in the air. This did not help matters. Oska danced and worried, so we stopped and waited until she settled again.

Oska and Classy have been together before. I had brought him into the round pen to visit her and they both got along well. So, this was their second time together and they both ran and ran. Even Oska flagged her tail in the air.

My husband suggested that we put a little grain in Classy's pan to get him to stop running and that worked like a charm. It was just a handful, but it got their minds off running and getting hot.

It's been a couple hours, but I just checked on them and they are eating their supper. Settled and happy to be friends. I will get pictures tomorrow of them together.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Questions for Grandpa

I really miss my Grandpa. It's been 10 years since he's passed away and I just can't help missing him. I'd like to eventually start Oska for driving, I think she'd be awesome at driving. I have so many questions. I have all his harnesses, although I'm not sure if they are sound for putting on an animal anymore. I've thought about now I can always use them for inspiration and patterns to create my own harness. It's not that I have never driven a horse or pony and it's not that I've never trained one to do it. I have! I still have questions and want help, and I really wish he was here.

One question is... are blinders really necessary? I understand the method of blinders, but really... it's usually in my best interest that my horse can see.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Second Lesson in Leading

Wednesday, I went out to do a second lesson on leading with Oska. It didn't go as planned but it worked out thankfully. She was being a little shy about getting the halter on, but then settled and waited patiently. I used a rope halter this time, something different. The web halter was too big and the rope was the next extra halter I have found in my pile of junk. I've got a pink one somewhere, so she'll be sporting that as soon as I can find it. Finally a horse that will appreciate pink!

Anyway, I used the lunge line again, so that I can still hold the end if she decided to escape or flee. That didn't exactly work out because the point of the lunge line is to keep her from stepping on the rope, if she got away from me. Well, she walked away and then turned and then turned again. Oh crap, now it's wrapped all the way around her. But, Oska being that smart little cookie, she just stepped right out of it without much panic.

Here is a video of the experience.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Next step.... Leading

With decent weather and a day off from work, how could I not go out and play with my new filly, Oska. First we worked with getting brushed, she wanted to eat the brush but enjoyed the attention from it as well. Next we did more rubbing all over her head and neck with the halter, putting it on her nose and pulling it off. Then I fastened the buckle and went away to my shed to get my next tool. She isn't even bothered by the halter at all. I figured if she was left alone with it, she might rub on her leg or something, but she didn't at all. I returned with a long lunge line. I had been asking friends for advise and wondering what they did with their mustangs, and this is what I came up with from the different stories. I decided since Oska's current home is the Round Pen, I could use a lunge line to teach her to lead because if she was to get scared and run off, I could still hold an end of the rope and let her escape without any resistance. Plus I didn't want to have a lead rope jerked from my hands and then have her step on it, adding to the panic. I am a big fan of drag ropes though, but I just don't feel like she's ready for that lesson yet. Plus it's so icey out here that I don't want to initiate any crazy running, tripping sprees. Ok, so on with the lesson. I let her feel the tension on the lunge line, you could see the gears turning in her head. I then asked her to turn her head with pressure from the line. She turned, so I released. We tried the other side, she did it as well. Then I tried a downward pull (which can be very hard for most trained horses to succumb to). She gave just a little, so I released the pressure. I tried another, she gave a little and so that lesson was done. The lesson went on, I got out ahead of her and gave a little tug. I just wanted to see what she'd do with this pressure. She just planted her feet. So, I walked over to her side and gave another little pull. Pulling to the side will get them off balance and they have to move their feet. Please understand, I'm pulling very gently, this isn't a rodeo. When pulling to the side, she moved. So I released the pressure and let her rest. I then walked to her other side, did the same. She took a few steps. This went on for about a minute or two and soon I found her just walking right next to me. We walked a few laps around the Round Pen, stopped, did some petting. Then went back to walking around the round pen.

It was just that easy. I cannot believe it. I cannot wait to work with her more, but I know with young horses you do small, happy lessons and you'll get a better result.

I failed to mention. Oska and Classy got to meet finally. I first let them meet through the panels. There was a little nip from Oska, but Classy is the gentlest creature, so he did nothing. I decided that they'd be o.k. to be in the pen together loose and introduce themselves. There was lots of sniffing. Oska nipping Classy's nose and Classy licking her nose and her neck. She got really rude and put her nose up under Classy's tail. He clamped it down but he's an Arabian so it naturally pops back up. So, she took that as another invitation. He then picked up a hind leg to warn her. She moved but then went back at it, he picked his leg up again and shook it. Still didn't faze her. It went on like this until she found something else interesting to inspect. And if your wondering, Classy never kicked or made contact with the nosey little girl.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Halter Training

I've finally settled on a name for my filly. Her name is Oskadis, which in the Icelandic language means Wish Fairy. I will call her Oska for short. The name fits her, I think. If you have ever tried to search the Icelandic language for a feminine, pretty name, you will learn that it will take you weeks. In my opinion, it's not a romantic language.

Oska has her ups and downs. At first she was a real sweetheart and very interested in attention. Then after a while she started to walk away if you came into the pen and avoid you. Now that her Icelandic yearling friend has gone home to her family, Oska is back to being more friendly again.

When she walks away from me, I then drive her away, then retreat when she gives me signs (licking, chewing, dropping head, stopping and turning to face me). She gets love when this is done. I also do not leave the pen when she's walked away from me. I make sure that I walk away from her, when I'm done.

I'm really not 100% sure I'm doing this stuff right, but I'm trying and trying to do what is logical.

I've been working with the lead rope, rubbing it on her, flipping it over her neck, wrapping it around her nose. Then finally I put a halter on her. Here is a video of that:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Barn Photos

All my life, I have been infatuated with barns. And not the new fancy barns. Sure, those are ok, but big old red barns, rounded roof barns, falling apart barns, sinking in the mud barns... you name it, I'm so curious and in love with them. Someday, I hope to own a big old barn. Something with history and tales to tell.

This big betty is the one I've been dreaming of lately. It has a For Sale sign in front of it. You bet your bottom dollar, I'm not telling you where it is! I love this thing. My father says it will cost a fortune to restore, and I say it would cost a fortune to build something remotely close to it. I think it's worth it's weight in gold.

Here is another. I took this picture from afar on purpose. I thought it looked like a beautiful Christmas Card. This barn is located on the back part of the property. I spotted this scene while riding with my hubby on the snowmobile. Forced him to take me home and get the camera. I hope you enjoy it too.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Icey Dreams become reality!

Blizzard warnings on Tuesday were not a good start to making a journey to Ellensburg. High winds coming from the North and subzero temperatures didn't stop us. I'm so thankful my husband is a professional truck driver, as we got onto the freeway we both were asking, what the heck are we thinking? Are we stupid? Here we are driving a 4x4 pick-up with an empty horse trailer following us behind, fish tailing behind us with the winds pushing hard on us from the side. Twice we had some very scary sliding on the freeway. Twice my heart leaped up into my throat, my legs and arms ached. My stomach was so upset from fret and worry. I was scared of this crazy compact snow and ice freeway and scared of what I'd find when we got out to the Icelandic farm to find a horse. Didn't want to waste a trip to Ellensburg but also didn't want to take a horse, just to take one. I wanted to fall in love.

We stopped for fuel in Moses Lake, which was a needed break from my nerves. Then we did a little spur to Quincy to visit with good friends and deliver a gift I made from my leather work for her.

Back on the road and things start to get a little better. After Vantage the road really improves. My nerves start to settle and we find the farm, only a short distance from the freeway. When the owner arrived, we were pretty set on getting a colt or gelding. We looked at the fillies for a short minute and then asked to see the colts. The owner talked about the fillies and the colts and the fillies won. We went back up to the filly's paddock and loaded them up.

While these two are not halter broke, they loaded into the trailer with just a little encouragement. No whips, load yelling, banging. Just a few gentle slaps on the pantleg and encouraging words. They both hopped in like they've done it before. We hauled them loose, and they stood backwards, like all horses like to do when given the choice. We stopped for fuel along the way and they were both quietly standing in the trailer, cuddled.

Both are here. I got the pinto filly for my friend, Laura, and the dun for me. The pinto is only one year old and the dun is two. If you don't know about Icelandics, they are not ready to ride until age 4 or 5. So, I won't be riding her anytime soon. I may train her to drive. When the weather warms up, I will pull out my Grandfather's driving equipment and see if there is anything that will fit her.

I'm so excited about this filly. She's going to be fun! Who ever thought I'd own an Icelandic Horse?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Icey Dreams

Of course we have a blizzard warning in effect. Of course, on the day that I actually do not have to work and am planning a road trip to find my future Icelandic Horse, there is a blizzard warning.

Here is the plan. Tomorrow, I'm headed off to Ellensburg, WA to check out the remaining Icelandic Horses available. I'm pretty excited about this. These are some really unique little horses. I've found them to be very docile and easy to work with. So, hopefully with some luck, we'll make it to Ellensburg tomorrow and pick out my future little gelding.

I will be saying my prayers and hopefully they will be answered.