Sunday, December 28, 2008

Trailriding at Bandera State Park, Texas

Today we trailered three horses and three eager gals to Bandera State Park for a two hour trail ride. The scenery was gorgeous, the weather cooperative and the horses were happy to be out. This park has approx. 55 miles of trails and takes us 25 minutes to drive to, so it is a nice destination for trailriding. We encountered lots of challenges on the trail, namely ROCK! Jackson was wonderful as we made our way DOWN some rather steep rock ledges that all but had me closing my eyes. He is surefooted and I just gave him his head and he did great. He was wonderfully responsive to the aids today and the last half hour of the ride (when we let them goooo) felt so fluid, what a great feeling. The scenery looked better in person but I tried to capture some to share.

I liked this---a bit can't burn the wood

but we'll sell you some for your campfire!!!

Jackson the curious.

The mighty steed and I.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gingerbread Houses and Holiday Horse Treats!

Well, Miles is shown here working on his yearly gingerbread house---it was far from done, but wanted to grab some pics while I was thinking about it! He is such a creative guy and loves to cook! Most weekends we are making cookies, breads, or trying out new recipes. He loves figuring out what ingredients he will need and then accompanying me to the store to purchase them! He is going to make someone very happy indeed someday with his cooking abilities! He is still in the learning stages but has come a long way in the year that I have been actively teaching him. He is a vegetarian--totally his choice-- (but eats fish) so we have many veg. and fish recipes that have become quite popular. He is getting at least three cookbooks for Christmas so I am sure we will be quite busy in the New Year working on his culinary prowess!

Below are my HOMEADE HOLIDAY HORSE TREATS! The recipe is from the November 2008 issue of Horse Illustrated but I will include it in case you want to try them! They were REALLY easy! I also included the peppermints after I baked them--just the old fashioned soft sticks which are really easy to break....I made a double batch because I was baking for seven horses--Jackson, Lorri's three and Linda's three. Each batch yielded 15 treats but you could easily make them a bit smaller--mine were a spoonful each--give or take a bit! I used one Granny Smith and one Red Delicous (for sweet and sour taste) and two average size carrots for a double batch...

Carrot/Apple Horse Cookies

1 cup grated carrot

1 cup grated apple

2 TBSP. corn oil

1/4 cup molasses

1 tsp. salt

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup flour

Combine the grated carrot, grated apple, corn oil and molasses in mixing bowl and blend well. Gradually fold in the salt, rolled oats and flour and continue blending. Drop the dough by spoonfuls two inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. ( I found it only took about 12 minutes in my oven so watch carefully!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Miles Learns the Ropes....

Miles leading Shorty

Miles looking proud of his accomplishments!

Me, Jacks, Miles and Shorty....

Jackson and I---I like this picture!!!

On Saturday Miles and I trekked out to my friend Linda's house to go riding. After riding double with Linda two weeks ago, Miles has been open to the idea of riding his own horse which has not always been the case. He has been a bit frightened of Jackson after hearing about my accident when I broke my shoulder last year, and has been a bit "shy" around most horses. Also, when I was at my boarding barn, it just worked out that no one had a horse around that was safe enough for a kid at that time. Fortunately for us, Linda has Shorty and he is a dream to ride, safe enough to put my 12 year old beginner on. We had Miles go with us into the field to help us catch Shorty. I am so thankful to have Linda around because she is so good at teaching! I always marvel at her at work with new nurses, (we work in a fast paced newborn nursery where we both work in admissions and as charge nurses) and she was the same with my son. Very good at breaking down the need to know from the stuff you will learn later. And she is so patient! So we caught the horses and she had Miles brush Shorty and then she tacked him up while showing him what she was doing and why. I would like him to learn to ride English, but since Western is so much easier for a morale boosting first ride, and this was not a formal learning session, we did the Western tack. He seems to be a natural in the saddle, but I'm sure this is just the mom in me talking! (Big grin!). We walked the horses over to Lorri's house which is about a mile down the road and Miles elected to get off and play with the dogs and the chickens while we did round pen work and work in her dressage arena. Lorri straightened out the issues I was having with my Pelham bit (fixing the fact that I had the darn thing on BACKWARDS---oh well, I learn, I learn, I learn!!) and then took him around the arena for 15 min. or so while I got to ride her AngloArab Ozzie. Shouldn't have done that! :) That horse is the perfect responsive horse---a testament to Lorri who has raised her up from a baby--- and goes on the aids with the perfect headset and is just a dream to ride. I was able to feel how Jackson will feel when I get him to that point. She is also an AngloArab so it was pretty neat! She got Jacks used to his new bit (he had a bit of a FIT and she won't tolerate it like I tend to...)and he then trotted out for me perfectly with a bit more bend in his neck. I just purchased a chambon to use while lungeing (thank you Eventing A GoG0) to help with the headset, neck muscles and to help with his hollow back. Anyone with advice please comment because I am not a trainer and learn from much reading, trial and error, and thank you lord that Lorri and Linda have started horses! Sooo, on the way home Miles got back on Shorty and when Linda asked him if he wanted to trot, we heard a resounding, "Yes!" He had perma-grin on the whole time. So, maybe I'll have a riding companion in my son yet. I sure hope so!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Linda becomes a horse.....

I went to ride yesterday with my friend Linda and we have both been wanting to try new bits out on our majestic steeds. I, a Pelham, which did not go all that well (because I don't have two sets of reins on it) and Linda was just putting a snaffle on her English bridle (because I stole her Pelham) and she normally uses a Western headstall and bit. Well, I turn around and there she is with the bridle ON HER HEAD! She had been sitting this way for some minutes and I had looked at her several times but for some reason it did not compute--probably because I was so intent on why my headstall had suddenly gotten so much bigger. (Ummm. Well, hello, those shank thingies are a lot longer than on a French Link Snaffle, Mindy!!!) I got it all straightened out and turned my attention to Linda and fell out laughing when I realized what I was seeing. She had the bridle on her head pretending she was the horse so she'd get the bit on right! While it did look silly and got me giggling, I have to hand it to Linda, she always gets the job done if not a bit unconventionally! We had a wonderful ride on "the loop" a four mile stretch of road that ends where it begins and is quite scenic. There are lots of dogs and deer and wildlife so it always a good place to ride--always pretty and keeps the horses entertained. It was a beautiful day too, sunny and 70 degrees, perfect for a two hour ride! We did some lungeing and groundwork (flexing) first too--must start more of this or my horse will be on his forehand with his head in the sky forever. His gaits are getting much smoother and his trot doesn't throw me up for a visit into the sky anymore, so something is working. I imagine it is just the miles in the saddle. He is a very quick and willing learner which is good, but since I have never trained a horse I am doing it carefully so I don't teach him the wrong things. I worked on leg yielding during our excursion and he did a wonderful job. Thanks to a video clip from Jane Savoie (thanks Equine Mine!) I had some very practical and EASY tips to use. We stopped for a couple of quick Christmasy pics at the end of our ride.
Me and Jacks (top) Linda and Red (bottom)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Do Believe....

I do believe I have a new kitten. I was out in my garage last night when some of the neighbor kids ran up asking if this kitten was mine. I said no and they went to ask their parents if they could keep it. Hmmm. You know who ended up with the kitten. We put up the lost signs in the neighborhood, but someone probably just dumped her. She purrs CONSTANTLY and wants to nestle right into your neck in bed. She earned the name Piper rather quickly. She is outgoing and just a very loving kitty. My two cats and my dog are all three giving me the cold shoulder. They are really not in the Christmas spirit. After all, how could I leave that poor starving kitten to fend for itself in 40 degree weather last night? Not that I needed another pet. I do find it odd that even though I had plenty of cat food on hand, I stopped at the feed store yesterday and bought a 2olb. bag of Nutrena cat/kitten food to switch my cats to. Especially odd since most foods for cats are either for cats OR kittens, I've never seen one for both. I guess it was meant to be....