Thursday, February 26, 2009


I went to watch my friend Kelli's riding lesson at the stable where Maverick will soon be staying, right up the street from Kachina. It gave me the chance to look around the stable and see where everything was, and get a sense for the environment. It's really nice so far, although I'm still a little put off by the fact that I have to wear a helmet (I'll be the first to admit that it's a good idea, but I've never worn one; I wasn't raised that way). But it'll probably be good for me to get used to the idea of them.

I'm going to aim to move Maverick next weekend, but may have to put it off until the weekend after. I'll have to talk to my grandfather and see if he can move him for me and, if not, we'll have the stable manager for the new place do it. It's all very exciting.

I need to get a helmet soon. Bleh. I've only seen one that I like, and that's a whopping $125. Plus Maverick might need a set of EasyBoots, since the trails in the hills are a little more rocky than he's used to. And he needs his teeth floated. He's lucky he's worth it.

After her lesson, Kelli came to visit Kachina. Kachina politely left her food to be a good little hostess and let us pet and fawn over her. Only when we were done did she return to her dinner. She's such a sweet little horse.

She's lost a lot of her hay belly, and she's gotten a little taller. I'm going to have to post some Before and After shots up here soon, after I get her all cleaned up. She likes to sleep in the mud, so her whole bottom half is now black!

I sent another copy of her paperwork off to The Son yesterday. The woman at the post office said that it should reach him by Saturday or Monday. This time I'm having him send it back to my job, instead of my house; with so many people living together, it's easy for mail to get misplaced. Hopefully it makes the full journey this time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More Rain

I broke down and called The Son the other day to find out what happened to Kachina's paperwork, and he told me that he received the papers a few days after I'd called him, and sent them off the next day. That was almost three weeks ago. Ironic that the one letter I'm waiting on is the one letter that gets lost (why can't they lose my phone bill instead?). I'll be sending off new copies today. Hopefully these make it through.

The sun came out yesterday, but I couldn't go see Kachina and now it's raining again. Blah. I can't wait for the days to get warmer and longer.

On an unrelated note, I found this quiz-thingy on the web somewhere:

What breed of horse are you? Find out!

Of course I am.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sorta Like An Oscar

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Kachina's first award! Given to us by the awesome Horseypants (if you aren't already reading her blog, you should!). Right on time for the Academy Awards too.

When I first started this blog, it was to log my experiences with Kachina. I never thought anyone would find it interesting enough to read, much less comment on. I've been pleasantly surprised and, as a bonus, I've discovered some amazing blogs with unbelievable stories, and people who love their horses as much as I love mine.

That being said, I'd like to pass this award on to a few others who have left me encouraging comments, and whose stories inspire me to continue posting about my little pony:

Alpaca Love, who was my first follower and left me my first comment (I was floored and delighted to know that someone I didn't force was reading my blog!).

Bandit's Blog, a story I can definitely relate to, an adorable horse, a sweet person and some amazing photographs.

Saving Argus, a truly amazing and inspiring blog about a beautiful horse that was rescued from the worst conditions imaginable. I spent the better part of a weekend avidly catching up on Argus' story, and it continues to amaze and inspire me.

Argo's Journey, a great blog about a gorgeous rescued mustang! Another one I couldn't stop reading.

Gentling A Mustang, something I've always wanted to do. What an awesome pair, and a very informative and interesting blog!

Pony Girl Rides Again, I love this blog! Very funny and cute. Plus great photos!

Whoa Horse Art, a great blog updated by talented equine artists!

ANAPOELAND, because she'll think it's super cheesy that I gave her an award. Too bad! You get to be number eight!

Thanks again, everyone who's reading! I promise more updates are coming.

Oh, and for those who are interested, Maverick passed the assessment Saturday! I'm so excited that Kelli will be using him to continue her riding lessons. I know it's kinda cheesy, but I'm really proud that my guy is helping a friend learn and grow and experience something new that she loves (and it gives me someone other than grungy old cowboys to ride and talk horses with). And the really good news is that we'll be moving him to a nicer stable, right down the street from Kachina! I'll get to see them both more often now.

That also means Maverick will be making more guests appearances in Kachina's blog. Keep an eye out for him!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Yesterday was pretty clear. P and I spent the first part of the visit cleaning up manure (it's amazing how much only two horses can produce!), then I decided it was time to bring out the cap gun my friend Kelli gave me and work on some tougher desensitizing.

I started off with the toy gun empty, just getting them used to the loud clicking when I pulled the trigger. It did make Kachina nervous -- and Fancy too -- which, of course, resulted in more poop. But after a while they got used to it, so I loaded the caps in.

Unfortunately, toys are toys, and the caps wouldn't fire. So much for my master plan! We did manage to make a few go off, which frightened Kachina, but it wasn't consistent enough to really desensitize her too. Oh well! I was happy to see that, even though she was nervous about the sound, she was also very curious and stretched her nose out a few times to sniff the toy gun. A good sign!

Toward the end of the visit I caught a glimpse of Kachina "squirting" (those who've dealt with mares know exactly what I mean, I'm sure!). I guess it's a sure sign that Winter's coming to a close. I've heard so many horror stories about mares in heat, but I've never really had to deal with it (Gypsy has such quiet heat cycles that you can barely tell when she's in season), and it's something I was a little nervous about when buying Kachina. I don't know how long she's been in heat, but I haven't noticed any real change in her personality, except she's been maybe a tiny bit more fussy. I hope she keeps a level temperament. Does it even affect them much when they're that young? Does it change as they get older?

Today Kelli will be bringing her riding instructor up to meet Maverick to see if he'll be a good horse for her to continue her lessons on. I'll be interested to see someone else evaluate my horse. Of course, I'm biased.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hay Day

There was a break in the rain yesterday, so I swapped my Wednesday for Saturday and took the day off to fetch some hay from the race track. Which meant we spent most of the morning bucking oat hay, something I'm not very good at it.

It was warm enough to take the blankets off, which meant lots of rolling, and then lots of brushing. Kachina's winter coat is falling off in blankets; it just keeps coming no matter how much I brush!

For the past few weeks Odin, Donna and Tony's old German Shepherd, has taken to picking on Kachina and nipping at her legs. Yesterday, she saw her opportunity and ran him over, rolling him under her. She was careful not to step on him, but it still freaked me out and I checked him over obsessively. Odin was fine, of course, although embarrassed. I guess Kachina finally got tired of his bullying.

After Kachina I went to visit Maverick and the others. It was much too muddy out there to do much more than take Mav for a spin bareback, and let the horses graze a little while their stalls were cleaned. I'll be happy when everything dries up again.

Kachina's getting so much taller, and she's lost her hay belly. It's almost time for her to graduate to her adult halter!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

OT: Warning, Extremely Graphic Images

Kachina's fine, no worries. This is a bit off topic, but still important. And I promise this blog won't get political, I'm not going to force my views on anyone, and I won't be doing this sort of thing often, but this issue hits very close to home:

This was forwarded to me on a horse mailing list this morning, and then I saw it again on Fugly Horse of the Day. The images on the following page are extremely graphic. I'm warning you. I've seen a lot of disturbing things, and I have a considerably strong stomach, but even I could only stand looking at three of the five-hundred images.

From the original post, which can be found here:

* * * * * * *

"After a three year battle, the USDA was finally required to release pictures of horses who were injured or killed during double-decker rides to the slaughterhouse.

WARNING: Extremely graphic. Don't look if you can't handle it.

From the site: 'Thirty-six months after making a Freedom of Information Request of the U.S.D.A. regarding violations of the “Commercial Transportation of Equines to Slaughter Act” at the horse slaughter plant in Fort Worth, I received the documents. Nothing could have prepared me for their content. The 906-page FOIA includes almost 500 separate photographs of severe and alarming cruelty at the plant during part of 2005. I am an exceptionally seasoned investigator but was unprepared for the very extreme level of inhumane treatment of these animals on U.S. soil.
Click here to find out how to vote for HR 503 to ban the transport of American horses out of the country for slaughter.

Click here to read about HR 305, the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2009 that would ban double-decker transport in ALL states. More information. This bill provides for penalties of $100 to $500 per horse for THAT will do something toward keeping our horses off of double-deckers.

You can always identify and write your representatives at this link. Please ask them to support both HR 503 and HR 305!'"

* * * * * * *

What does this have to do with Kachina? If the rescue had waited one more day, or hadn't chosen her as one of the handful of horses -- out of over a hundred horses -- they could save, she would have been on one of these transports bound for Canada. I'm talking a day's difference. The thought literally makes me nauseous.

That was almost Kachina.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Old Bones

There's people following this blog! People I don't know/didn't force! Hello! Welcome! And thank you for all of your comments -- I'm using this as a way to respond to all of them at once. I've been catching up on your blogs as well; there are some amazing stories out there.

I haven't been updating as frequently, because there hasn't been much to update about. The rain and the cold still haven't let up -- it's worse than ever, in fact -- so the work I've been doing with Kachina has been minimal, more of the same. And I still haven't received word from The Son regarding her paperwork, so I'm still chomping at the bit (yeah, that pun was intended) to get her registered. However, I'm eager to start working with her once the weather clears up, so hopefully I'll have something more substantial to post.

Friday, when P and I were cleaning the paddock, I found a bunch of old deer bones half buried under the thistles and leaves. Donna's been using that spot to dump manure in for over six months, and as a driveway for at least a year before that, and she says she's never seen a deer carcass there. So these bones are, at least, over a year and a half old. Some of them are missing (the skull most notably), but the leg, toes, lower jaw, pelvis, ribs and vertebrae are all there. I dug around to see if I could find the skull but I had no luck. Most likely it was claimed a long time ago, by people or by another animal.

I took a few of the bones and, out of respect, buried the rest again (although Donna's dog Odin did snag himself a rib). I'll get pictures up soon -- my camera decided to be difficult this weekend.

Kachina had a small cut on her mouth last night. Nothing serious, but it was a little swollen and painful, and it obviously bothered her when I tried to clean it. I'm afraid that, by trying to put medicine on it, I may have undid a lot of the progress I'd made with being able to touch her face and ears. I bought some gentler antibiotic, so I'll probably spend today's visit getting her to trust me enough to treat it.

This is the biggest thing I have to remember (and frequently forget) about Kachina: not to take things for granted. I'm so used to Maverick, who trusts me so completely that I can do whatever I want with him and he doesn't put up a fuss. Kachina's new, and although she likes and trusts people, she and I still have a very young and delicate bond.

I forget that she's only known me for a handful of weeks, and I even though her temperament is amazing, and she's incredibly polite and willing, she's still a new, young horse who was born on a PMU farm, has been passed around a lot in her short life (and only to people who own rescues and breeding ranches, and who had very little time to devote to just her), and who hasn't had much handling. I doubt she's ever had the opportunity to really establish a deep bond with a person, so this is all just as new to her as it is to me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Scary Things and "Snow"

It's been too cold and too wet to do much work with Kachina lately. There's mud everywhere, and puddles, and rain and wind; I haven't had the energy, nor the heart to tear her away from Fancy's warmth and her food.

Tuesday I did work on some desensitizing. I introduced Kachina's Bag O' Scary Things -- a shopping bag full of scary objects to get her used to. This week's bag was full of umbrellas, a lariat and a leather belt to make popping noises!

The umbrellas were, I figured, the scariest item, and the one it'd be most important to get her used to, so we started with that. She didn't care much for me opening and closing it around her, but she got used to it a lot faster than I had expected. Pretty soon I could open it all around and underneath her, rub her down with it (open and closed), hold it over her head and face, shake it around and over her, and let it sit on her back.

It was a very productive day; I learned that she's more comfortable with foreign objects than she is with sound. She did not like the sound of the leather popping, and it took her longer to get comfortable with it, and even then she wasn't completely relaxed. She also didn't mind the lariat, and she was ok with having it tightened behind her front legs like a cinch, but less ok with having it further back, where the back cinch would be. She didn't kick or buck, but she did try to run away from it, which is useful to know before I put a saddle on her.

I went out again yesterday, but it was even wetter and colder than the days before. So cold, in fact, that it had haled and tiny balls of ice did not melt. They clustered together in pockets and, for a second, I thought it had snowed. Since Kachina and Fancy were already snuggled together, eating and keeping warm, P and I spent most of the visit taking pictures:

The creek, which had only been a trickle of water the day before..

...Patches of hale on the side of the driveway...

...More hale (and Odin's tail)...

...Mushrooms popping up through the fallen leaves...

...The redwoods...

...And a handful of "snow."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cold Spell

A sudden frost rolled in last night. It's freezing cold here. Well, ok, compared to other places I guess it's not that cold, but for the Bay Area, this is cold. Ice on my windshield might as well be a blizzard.

I didn't visit Kachina yesterday. I needed to go out (in the opposite direction) and put blankets on Maverick, Rico and Gypsy, while Donna blanketed Kachina and Fancy.

Donna once told me that, if Fancy were still with the people she'd been living with in Montana, she'd be suffering days of -20°, with nights being even colder, with no blanket, no shelter, no lean-to or windbreak, underweight -- practically skin-and-bones -- and arthritic and too sore to move around much. I can't imagine. I'm glad Donna has her now, where she's fed, cared for and warm in the Winter.

To a degree, yes, my horses are "California horses," and anything below 45° causes me concern. But just because a horse can stand some low temperatures and only be uncomfortable, why let them? Why not make them comfortable? Humans can withstand some pretty low temperatures without freezing to death too, but wouldn't you rather have a coat if one was available?

Anyway, I'll probably go out to see Kachina today. It'll be a good day to introduce her to umbrellas and rain coats.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Quiet Days

The past few days with Kachina have been quiet and uneventful. The rain's made it cold and gloomy, and most of the time it's enough to go out, clean up after the horses, groom Kachina and watch her eat.

As Kachina sheds her winter coat, I'm discovering new, subtle markings that weren't there before. Cobwebbing is starting to appear where her forelock sprouts, and she's got shoulder and leg bars now. I haven't noticed much of a difference in her color, but she's still shedding and I anticipate her darkening a bit by summertime. It's really exciting to watch them appear. I love primitive horse markings; they're one of the reasons why I love dun, buckskin and grullo horses.

I still haven't received the signed paperwork from The Son, so there's no progress on her registration. I except them sometime this week, but that's only if he signed and sent them off promptly, which may not be the case.

If it isn't raining today, I'll drag a few thick branches and tires up from the side of the road for her to step over. My plan is to have her fully desensitized to almost everything I can think of by Spring.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Kachina got a surprise visit yesterday from Xochitl (pronounced "soh-chee"), a Xoloizcuintle puppy I was sitting for my friend Ana. And no, she doesn't have a skin condition -- she's supposed to be bald!

They may not look like it, but Xochitl and Kachina are kind of like cousins. They were both bought impulsively (or should I say it was fate?) in the same week, for the same amount of money. Both fell into their respective owners' laps and, in both cases, it was love at first sight.

Kachina was very interested in the squirming little bundle of joy but, despite their kinship, Xochitl wasn't too fond of the horses. She was, however, very fond of their poop.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Fancy has an appointment with a chiropractor in Livermore today, so Donna trailered her there yesterday to spend the night, and took Kachina along so that neither horse would be lonely.

I'm not worried. I trust Donna and Tony, I know that they know what they're doing, and I know that Kachina will behave herself.

Donna called to tell me that they had arrived safely, that Kachina was great in the trailer, but that she and Fancy were basically velcro; they wouldn't leave each other's side. Last I heard they were running aroundd together, with Fancy guarding over Kachina.

They're coming back today, so I'll go up and find out how everything went. Hopefully Fancy's appointment goes well; she's been in serious pain for the past few days.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Extreme Makeover!

Ok, maybe not that extreme. But Kachina did get a haircut. Donna did most of the snipping, because I can't be trusted with scissors. Kachina, of course, was patient and perfect for the whole ordeal.

First we worked on her badly chopped tail and made it look a little more natural and a little less like a "power bob."

Then we cleaned up her uneven mane. Some bits were really long, some really short, one patch is missing altogether. Now it looks a little neater and cared for (couldn't do anything about that missing bit, though)!

The result?

A cleaner, neater looking (but weirded out) Kachina!

Monday, February 2, 2009

On The Trail

What a long weekend!

Due to computer problems I couldn't post on Friday, but there wasn't much to say. It was still rainy and dreary, so I did more desensitizing with Kachina; I had her walk over poles, tried to get her to step in a tire (still working on that) and, my personal favorite, flung a piece of mylar around her head, rubbing it over her body, hanging it from her face and having her walk across it.

I was surprised by how calm she acted around the mylar. In fact, I think she kind of liked it. She didn't mind me flipping it over her, or around her, or the feel or sound of it rubbing against her or under her, me covering her head with it or wrapping it around her. And when it came to having her walk across it and stand on it, she pawed and sniffed at it like it was water -- very cute!

I also sent her applications to The Son on Friday, so hopefully he'll get them this week, sign them and send them back promptly so that I can get them by this week/next week. Yeah, I'm impatient.

Saturday I hung out with Maverick, Rico and Gypsy, but yesterday I went on a two-plus hour walk with P and Kachina. It was such a gorgeous day (how could anyone spend it inside watching some stupid football game on TV?). Kachina was much more comfortable on the trail this time, although leaving Fancy was still a little stressful for the both of them.

We took a different trail than last time, which ended up being the better of the two. At one point Kachina met two extremely interesting people from Brazil who dotted on her, and crooned about how much they loved her name. The guy actually started chanting and dancing for Kachina, which she found very interesting; I'm sure she was dying to join in.

There were a lot of beautiful desert-like patches on this trail, and we stopped in almost every one of them for a rest...

...and a little work on disengaging the hindquarters before continuing on.

These desert patches were probably my favorite part of the trail. I have an inexplicable love for the desert, even though I've never been to one -- although the Oakland hills are far from a desert area, still it was easy to pretend.

I liked the area so much that I decided we should take the shots for Kachina's registration papers right then and there. P posed Kachina while I dictated and took pictures, and we ended up with some I really liked (I'll post them when I get her registered!).

After that, we found some really cool tucked away places and deer trails, where we marveled at the tracks of a doe and her fawn.

Unfortunately, by then it was time to start heading back. We were all tired, but very happy with the walk.

I was pleased to see that Kachina could go for two hours on some pretty tough trails without getting too tired, despite being a little out of shape. The public arena where I'll be working with her is about an hour's walk through the park, so next time we might try to find it.