Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cows, Mounts and Sunburns

Yesterday my trainer, my friend and fellow apprentice and I went to a big penning competition.

Show days long and exhausting - they usually start at 1am (it's a three-hour drive to my trainer's ranch, and we have to get there early enough to feed all of the horses, cows and various other livestock, groom the horses, load them into the trailer and change) then, once you're at the show, you spend the rest of the day grooming and exercising horses. It sounds simple, but it's hard work, and it doesn't help that you're in direct sunlight all day long and temperatures reached 110° - eek!

I don't burn easily, however I my arms and back are currently an angry red color. Though the tan does make my arms look more toned..

Still, if I was going to get a sunburn this Summer, I would much rather do it at a penning than at the beach! And it was all worth it: my trainer ended up winning both the Open and Pro-Am division, all thanks to our excellent warm-up skills! (well, maybe not all thanks, but even he had to admit that his horses were at the top of their game and perfect because we did a great job of warming them up - long live the lopers of the world)

I would have taken pictures, but I was just too busy to grab the camera. However, it was great to watch the other competitors run and get tips, learn what made the bad runs bad and what made the good runs good, and get more experience reading cows. I got the chance to speak to some of the Novice riders and learn how they deal with the pressure and nerves, I got good advice from the more seasoned riders, and listened to the comments of the spectators. I think a few things about the sport clicked in my mind during this penning, and I walked away with some good ideas to keep in mind.

I also had a chance to ride a Paint mare named Cherokee (not to be confused with Granpa's Paint gelding, also named Cherokee, whom I think I've mentioned before), a former student of my trainer's and a horse that's well known as one of the best penning horses around. She's the dam of Bandit, the mare my trainer's son competes on (and he's killing the competition! He may even go to the World show this year!). She's won a ton of money at the sport, and her get all seem to excell at penning and working cows. My trainer has always spoken very highly of her, and everytime I've heared her name mentioned it is with admiration and fondness. It was great to be able to ride this mare who, at least to me, is sort of a local legend.

When we got home, I turned Kachina out and watched her while we talked about colts - about starting them, how soon you can tell what they may end up like in the future, how you can get an idea of how their training will go - and I asked him how long did he think it would take to start Kachina, judging by what he knew of Kachina right now. He told me that, as long as she doesn't completely switch personalities on us, and going slow and starting her correctly, she should be walking, trotting and loping perfectly under saddle in under two weeks. This is exciting news! Of course, there's no way to tell yet how she will take to training until we actually start it, so I don't want to jinx it.

I also asked if she reminded him of any of the horses he's trained. He watched her for some time while he thought, and Kachina watched him right back, her little black-trimmed ears tuned to him expectantly, almost as if she were also waiting for the answer. Finally, he answered "You know, I have to say that she reminds me a lot of Cherokee at that age."

Kachina has some big horseshoes to fill.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What's Important

Yesterday my mom, P and I went out to my grandfather's stable to clean out his stuff, organize it and store it safely in our trailer before the vultures out there start grave robbing. It was solemn and heart wrenching work, but I managed not to sniffle - though I might have teared up when I thought no one was looking.

The situation is a mess, but I'll spare you all the ugly details. To summarize: my grandfather left no will, only stated what he wanted to leave to whom verbally (because he was a cowboy, after all, and didn't believe much in legal documentation over his word), so everyone's scrambling to make claims on what is theirs. Even people who aren't related are claiming that he wanted them to have his trailer, or his equipment, or that he agreed to sell his National PTPA Championship saddle (which is a Billy Cook, by the way) to them for $700. It's so frustrating and infuriating, seeing all of these people come out of the woodwork making claims when we haven't even gotten his service squared away yet.

As of now, I'm the only one with keys to his tack room and trailer, but people have broken into tack rooms before, so we decided to squirrel his stuff away in our trailer before it comes up missing. His working saddle, his tack, his supplies, his tools..all of it.

People are squabbling over his saddle, of course, and his expensive show tack, and the rest they disregard as useless junk. In that "Useless Junk" category, however, are some of the items that are most important to me - more important than the show saddles or the trailer - so my mom and I made some claims of our own, and kept those unwanted treasures:

Like his chinks. You'd rarely see Granpa on a horse without them, whether he was working or competing. They aren't fancy - just old, broken in, brown leather - but they suited him. They were like a second skin, as important to him when riding as his saddle and reins and, surprisingly, they fit me.

For my birthday one year, he bought me a beautiful pair of chinks (which, surprisingly, suited me very well, proving that Granpa had great taste). It was the first time I felt like he'd accepted me into the horse world, and here was my badge to prove it. I never wore them because I thought they were too nice, and they meant so much to me, that I didn't want to wreck them. Thinking back, I regret not using them. It feels a little selfish; he probably had hoped to see me use them, but he never said it. I'm determined to break those beautiful chinks in as well as his were.

I also took one of his bridles with matching reins and martingale. They aren't fancy show tack; they were what he's worked every horse I've ever known in, including Maverick. It's the set I used learning how to ride (God, how many times did I hear "Shorten your inside rein!" "Take up your slack!" "What are you doing? Drop your outside rein!"). I remember loving the feel of those reins, and wanting a pair just like them, but I could never find a set that was just right.

I gave Mom his working spurs. Their straps are just plain, simple leather, and there's no decoration on them at all. But he trained many, many horses in them, and took good care of them.

I took his rope. I told him one day that I wanted to learn how to rope, so he tried to show me by roping my legs as I ran away. I never did get the hang of it, but I'm determined to eventually.

Mom took another old bridle that belonged to Jackpot, a white Arabian and probably Granpa's best horse and greatest partner.

I took the Navajo blanket that he had across the seat of his truck. It will go in Calamity as soon as I wash it.

I took his old lunge whip. The one I learned how to lunge horses with (I hated lunging and was never very good at it).

I took his favorite bit, a thin twisted snaffle.

And I took his old, working saddle pad. I don't have much use for it now, but I have fond memories of it; it's what I used on Whisper when I used to ride her.

While no one else can see the value, to me these were the most important treasures in that tackroom.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Honest Scrap

Paint Girl over at Adventures of the Painted Creek Farm gave me this awesome award:

Thank you so much! I love your blog (and Pony Girl's too!), so I'm honored to get an award from you.

The terms that come along with the award are as follows:

1) You have to tell your followers ten things about yourself that they may not already know.
2) You have to tag ten people with the award.
3) You have to let the people who you tagged know that they've been tagged, and..
4) You have to link back to the person who gave the award to you.

Alright! Here we go:

1) I hate dresses. Not just the I-don't-like-dresses-because-I'm-a-tom-boy hate, but dresses fill me with disgust. Probably because, as a child, my family used every holiday as an excuse to dress me up in these flouncy, frilly monstrosities, put ribbons in my hair and parade me around, taking pictures. There are hardly any pictures of me as a kid not wearing one of these nightmares. Even on Ground Hog's Day! Ground Hog's Day for goodness' sake! So I have this deep-rooted dislike for all things lace, pastel-colored and dress-like. Also bows.

3) When I was a kid, we had two ponies, one named Peanut and one named Sally. We kept them both at the stable where we were boarding our horses, and I'd often hang out with them and ride them around. Peanut was my favorite, but I loved how sweet Sally was. My family was planning to breed them, but Sally suddenly got very sick and she would not get better. Finally, they took her to U.C. Davis and it was discovered that Sally had gonorrhea (yeah, you read that right). They put her down and told me that they sold her to a Russian circus. While I eventually figured out that they had put her down, I didn't find out why until I turned fourteen. Mom says the police caught the culprit a week after Sally was put down -- I hope he got all he deserved in prison!

4) I was born at 10:22 pm on 10/22. Also, my first, middle and last name all have seven letters.

5) Everyone thinks that I was named after my grandfather, Jewell, but I was actually named after my great grandfather (my grandmother's father), Julio.

6) I have to sleep with socks on, even on very hot days, or I will wake up with the sniffles.

7) ..I also have to sleep with a stuffed animal (or a real one). I have a bed full of them, and I'm used to them, so if I don't have one I don't sleep well. This means I have to pack a "snugly" every time I travel.

8) I have a phobia of going under water. I actually like being in the water, but once the water goes past my nose I panic. This is because my half-sister purposely put me in a dangerous situation and then allowed me to almost drown (yes, she has issues and, no, we don't talk anymore). Since then, I can't go under the water, even in my own bathtub, without freaking out.

9) I really like Australian accents. Really. I don't know if it stems from my childhood love of Crocodile Dundee and The Man From Snowy River, but I've always thought that Australian accents were really, really cool.

10) I'm not squeamish about rats, snakes or spiders; the things that get me are maggots. I can't stand maggots. Just the sight of them makes me ill. Also, I hate drool. You'd think working with dogs would get me over it, but I can deal with any other bodily fluid that you could imagine coming out of a dog, except drool. It makes me gag just to think about it. And it's not just dogs, but all drool. Especially baby drool, yuck!

Ok, so those are my ten things! So, now I tag:

A Year With Horses
BrownEyed Cowgirls
Live Earth Sky
California Cowgirl
Bush Babe
The Barb Wire
Highland Hooves
The Mare's Tales
On The Way to Critter Farm...

All great blogs, and definitely worth checking out!


Last night, in my post about my grandfather, I mentioned my little mishap with a stallion. So here's the full story:

Hootie is a pretty little three-year-old, sorrel-and-white Paint stallion, and an up-and-coming penning horse. He's a sweet little thing who loves attention, and about as docile as you can expect any young stud to be.

My trainer had me saddle Hootie up and get on. Then he asked me to do some walking exercises with him outside of the arena, and I did, and he was fantastic, even when it came to walking past a few nickering mares. Like I said, he's a good-natured little guy, and he's been started well.

So, then we move into the arena. The sprinkler's going, and that causes him a bit of concern (or maybe I was concerned that he was concerned and that, in turn, made him concerned!), so we kept to one side and worked in circles. When we got the full arena, we worked at a walk, and then a trot.

Then my trainer asked for a lope. No big deal. We loped fine around the arena several times, la-de-da, when suddenly he starts to buck. Now, I don't know if it was as bad as it felt, but up there in the saddle he was bucking. At least, I've been on horses that have bucked before, and this was nothing like that. And not bucking in one spot either, like I'm used to, but bucking down the entire length of the arena.

Now, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I don't have much experience with bucking horses. Like I said, I've ridden out a few bucks, but not that many and not that hard. And I will admit, I froze. I froze wearing spurs. Not good. I knew I should have dropped my feet and snatched up his head, and I heard my trainer shouting instructions, but I just couldn't make my body do what my head was telling it.

However, I was ok with the bucking -- at least, that wasn't what worried me; I was pretty confident that I could ride it out. It was the fact that we were quickly approaching the arena wall, and Hootie wasn't slowing down. We crashed into the wall and Hootie reared up, and I suddenly remembered that I was in Oxbow stirrups. Oxbows are designed to be ridden with your entire foot in, not just the ball, and keep your foot from slipping out. I don't like these stirrups. Maybe it's because, all my life, I've heard "Don't put your foot in! Ride on the ball!". I just haven't gotten the hang of using them.

Anyway, my first reaction is to get my foot out of the stirrups. Then I see the horse tipping over, and I blank. Now, my biggest fear has always been a horse falling over on me. I've heard all sorts of horror stories, I've known people who have broken their leg, back or pelvis that way. So, I'm thinking, crap, I'll get out of this with a broken leg at best.

I hit the ground first, and I'm trying to make my body move, but it won't. Then the horse lands on me. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt -- it actually felt really soft, considering it's a huge freakin' animal. I was positive that I'd be injured, so it was completely shocking to me that I wasn't. I wanted to get up right away and get the horse, but my trainer wouldn't let me. He actually had to push me (gently, of course) back down and make me sit still, even though I kept trying to convince him that I was perfectly fine.

Of course, afterward, I understand why: when your adrenaline's pumping, you can't feel pain, so you may be hurt and not know it. Fortunately, I really was fine.

You'll all be proud to know that I got back on Hootie, and continued loping, and he was fine. I'd be lying if I told you that I wasn't nervous, which was a strange feeling; I can't remember ever feeling nervous about riding. But Hootie was fine, and after a few times around the arena, I was too. And I assured Hootie that there were no hard feelings (in fact, I like him more now).

I was sore by the time I got home, though (we left early, because I got the news about my grandfather right after riding), and really sore yesterday. Today I'm stiff, but not in quite as much pain.

But I've been officially inducted into the Cowgirls of America Association, and I'm not quite so afraid of having a horse fall over on me (although I certainly do not want to tempt fate and let it happen again).

Speaking of initiations, I'm told Kachina finally got a barn name: "Julie" -- after me, of course. I'm disappointed and proud at the same time.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Hardest Father's Day Ever

If you've been following this blog for the past couple of weeks, you know that my grandfather has been very I'll, to the point of being hospitalized. I lost him yesterday; he passed while I was away at my trainer's.

My grandfather has always been more like a father to me than my actual father. He encouraged my love of horses, cattle and the cowboy way. He was as good a horseman as any top-name trainer or clinician I could name; his knowledge came from experience, time-tested methods and living a life that some of us only experience in books and movies. Today he would have been the first person that I called.

We had to go into his tack rooms and trailer to see what was in there before we have to clear them out. It was eerie seeing all his tack, some of which he's used since I was a kid, and know that he won't be using it again. I think the most heartbreaking was seeing his trademark chinks, the pair he always worked and competed in, hanging in the tackroom of his trailer.

Granpa was the reason I fell in love with team penning. It was my dream that we'd compete together one day, but I would have been happy just to have him there to watch me.

My trainer, who was frequently my grandfather's partner and one of his best friends, told me that the last memory he had of him was at the last penning that they both competed in. It was my first penning during my apprenticeship and I was riding one of my trainer's young horses. Granpa took me in the arena with him, along with the other competitors; he wanted me to ride alongside of him. I'm trying to hold onto the feeling of that memory, instead of the pain of his passing.

I had a stallion fall over on me yesterday, a few hours before I heard the news (there will probably be a whole other post about that tomorrow). I'm extremely sore, heartbroken and exhausted; right now I'm hurting in all the ways a person can hurt. But I'm slowly getting better, and stronger, although in both cases I wish that experience and growth didn't come at such a high cost.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cowboy Mounted Shooting

Ok, so about a month ago, at my trainer's, the other apprentice and I were talking about what kind of equine sports we'd like to try after penning that doesn't involve cattle (because I love cattle, and most of the things I want to try next involve cattle, i.e. roping and reining cow horse). Well, I said I'd like to try Versatility Ranch Horse, but what I'd really love to do is Cowboy Mounted Shooting.

Well, at the Horse Expo on Sunday the California Range Riders had a booth and demo (it was a CRR booth, not CMSA -- ignore my Twitter, it doesn't know what it's talking about!). I absolutely fell in love! The gentleman at the booth was extremely friendly, patient and helpful, and I found out that there are classes and such in Navato, about forty-five minutes away from me! He also gave me a free copy of Western Shooting Horse Magazine, which I've been obsessively pouring over since I got my hands on it.

Unfortunately, as much as I really want to try it, the sport looks expensive. Guns alone can cost hundreds of dollars -- then there's ammunition, travel expenses, costumes...eek! As you guys know, the two things I'm shortest on are free time and funds.

The other problem is the horse. I love Maverick to death, and I think he'd be good at it as far as the guns and balloons and the noise -- he doesn't spook at anything! -- but his handle leaves much to be desired, and he's just so lazy! So that leaves Kachina, who will probably be fantastic at it, since she's more inclined to be curious about scary things than afraid. However, the little girl just turned two in May, so I've a long way to go before I can ride her that hard. Besides, she's a cow horse first! Gotta train for one thing at a time!

Still, I'd really like to try it someday. I'm doing all the research I can (yeah, I'm a bit O.C.D.) -- signing up for mailing lists, following blogs, talking to people. I might subscribe to the magazine, too. Also, there's an Old West Gun Shop not far from me. Hmm..I wonder how much a gun safety course will cost..

Poor Kachina, my future cow/roping/shooting/what ever's next horse! She has no idea what she's in for!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Free Gift!

In today's bad economy, who doesn't love a free gift? And because you guys are awesome, and I've been posting about Maverick so much lately, I thought I'd toss out a little love on the blog.

Now, you guys know that P is a great photographer, and a great horse-poop-scooper, but he is also a great singer-song writer. Yep, my friends are extremely talented in many areas (that's why I keep them around).

One day, P was wanted to write a song, but he had no inspiration. Jokingly, I told him that he should write a song about Maverick. I was kidding, but he produced lyrics the very same day and, by the next day, he handed me a CD with a rough recording. Now, it's his best song (no, I'm not biased at all), and definitely one of his most popular.

You can find the CD that the song is on for sale, and more music, on P's MySpace. But, lucky you, you guys get the song Maverick and Juliene for free (yes, you've finally learned my name and, yes, I guest star in the song!).


Monday, June 15, 2009


Busy weekend. Went to my trainer on Saturday to work, ride and see Kachina, then hit up the Western States Horse Expo Sunday.

First off, Kachina looks great. She's just as sweet and good-natured as she was three weeks ago, when she was here, and no one at the ranch had any bad things to say about her. I made it a point to not handle her too much, because I wanted to see how she behaved with others, and she didn't disappoint. Even walking next to a flirting stallion, she remained focused on the handler and calm. I was very proud of her.

My trainer explained a little more of her anatomy to me, what he liked about her, and his predictions for what she'll look like when she's older. He says that she'll be close to fifteen hands, if not fifteen solid, and that she looks like she'll be a strong horse. His opinion is that she'll have good hindquarters, but her real strength will be in her shoulders, which will allow her back end to do some nice things that it ordinarily couldn't. He says her back legs look solid, and can get under her quickly, that her chest is nice and wide, and that she has a good amount of space between the ears (which he likes, personally). He also explained that her neck is already very strong, which is another clue that she'll have a good, strong front end for quick pivots.

I think the highest compliment, however, is one I got from a fellow apprentice: "she looks like she belongs here."

Going into the barn and seeing her, I had the same feeling. My little feedlot pony with her hacked off tail, who was only a couple of days from slaughter, was stabled right next to a daughter of Freckle Face Smoke and an own son of Genuine Doc and she looked like she belonged.

Any person walking through that barn could never tell that she wasn't a Freckle Face Smoke baby, or a Powder River Playboy baby. And it wasn't just her look, or her build, but also her attitude; she behaved like the daughter of a champion. Watching her there, holding her own next to those well bred horses, I couldn't help but swell with pride.

I'm hoping to start her official training next week. I can't wait to see her bloom into a genuine performance horse.

But Kachina wasn't the only one fitting in: at the Western States Horse Expo, I had a chance to rub elbows with people I've only ever seen in magazines and, to my surprise, I was able to hold my own in a conversation with men like C.J. Murphy and Russel Dilday. I could talk cowhorse, knew my lingo, and could ask questions.

Kachina's not the only one getting her feet wet in a new pond.

The rest of the Expo was great, too. I got to talk to all of the trainers. I really liked Richard Winters; he was extremely friendly and knowledgeable, and I felt like he'd talk to me for hours if I needed it. I liked Tommy Garland a lot, too; he gave me some really good tips on helping Maverick with his neck reining that I can't wait to try (the boy's a little dull at it). Stacy Westfall is a personal hero of mine, so it was great to have a conversation with her about training, and especially about riding bareback. And, of course, I grew up with John Lyons, so it was great to see him in person.

While I was at the Expo, I had the pleasure of sitting in a McDaniel saddle. I'd never heard of them, but I gotta say, it's the best saddle I've ever sat in, and I've had the opportunity to ride in big name saddles, like Billy Cook and Martin (up until now, Martin was my favorite). I visited his booth three times! Unfortunately, I don't have the spare $5,500 (spare? I don't even have $5,500!), but if you do I'd definitely recommend checking them out. The man I met was Ron McDaniel, who was extremely nice. The saddles are made by him, his son and his father, which is something that I really liked.

I'll probably dream about that saddle for the next few years, but I did walk away from the booth with a pair of awesome reins!

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Other Boy

While it's obvious that I love horses, that adoration is rivaled only by my love of dogs - I am a dog trainer, after all - and I'm surrounded by dogs almost 24/7 (in fact, the only time I'm not is usually when I'm with horses).

Currently I own five dogs of my own: Sasha - a German Shepherd/Husky mix I've owned since I was twelve, Taco - a rather large Chihuahua, Anubis - an overweight Pit Bull/Bull Mastiff mix, Zorra and Capone - both long-haired Chichuahuas.

Then there's Cash - an almost 80 lbs. Beauceron Shepherd/Rottweiler mix that I co-own with my friend, and boss, Kelli. Cash lives at my work, acting as a sort of canine peer councilor as well as security. He's an awesome dog, with a personality similar to Maverick's, which could be why I love him so much.

Cash spent three of his four years living in a garage in Richmond, California, with the name "Pequito." The name alone was probably torturous enough but, worse, he had almost no training and had spent his life locked away from dirt, deer scat, muddy water - you know, nature. So P and I make it a point to take Cash out into nature when we can.

Usually we go to the dog park (despite how much I, as a trainer, hate the dog park, it's still a relatively safe and enclosed area where dogs can run and swim, which has its value), but yesterday I though it'd be fun to take Cash to my new favorite spot, the Serpentine Prairie, and let him run while I checked out the trails.

Cash had a total blast! You'd think he'd never seen an open field before (which is possible, I suppose); he tore up and down the hills, through the tall grass and trees, rolled in something I can only guess was bobcat or fox scat, then rolled in dried horse poop, then rolled in a fresh gopher hole. It was great to take him out there, follow him off the trail to go exploring, and just watch him be a dog until he was about ready to collapse.

I really do believe that there are some things you can only notice or experience when you're with a dog (or riding a horse, for that matter). They draw your attention to places you never would have looked had you been alone, and keep you from doing distracting human things, like talking on the cell phone or listening to your iPod.

I saw so many plants and flowers that I might not have noticed had Cash not gone over to sniff them. There were crazy tree formations and very cool, hidden deer trails, and the aforementioned wild animal poop. This is probably my favorite flower discovery so far (does anyone know what it is?):

We also saw a California Alligator Lizard. Unfortunately, we did not get a picture because, just as we were pulling out the camera, Cash promptly came over and flopped down on top of it.

I guess there are things dogs don't notice either.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Serpentine Prairie

I've been having a rough time lately so, to combat this, I've been trying to hang out with my friends a lot more - both two-legged and four. With Kachina being with my trainer in La Grange, I have a lot more time spend with Maverick, and we've just recently discovered what is quickly becoming my favorite spot (so far) in the hills: the Serpentine Prairie.

It's this great, winding trail uphill, with the backdrop of beautiful green forest. In some places, you can look at it and not see any sign of buildings, streets or man made structures, which is rare here in the city. Also, riding bareback up those hills (some of which are pretty steep) is great practice for your balance!

It was very relaxing, spending the day with Maverick again, exploring and letting him graze while P took pictures (mostly pictures of flowers):

Did I ever mention that P's obsessed with taking pictures of flowers? Especially yellow flowers. Not that I blame him, this yellow flower was really beautiful, although I have no idea what it is. Maverick seemed to enjoy it, however!

Further up the hill, we reached this plateau of golden fields. It was beautiful, blowing in the wind, overlooking the hills. Of course, Maverick didn't appreciate any of the scenery; he just wanted to snack.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Good Ol' Days

Another weekend gone by without seeing Kachina. It's driving me a little crazy! But Granpa was released from this hospital, and Mom needed my help taking care of him, and of course I wanted to be there with him and make sure he was ok and settled.

I missed the penning finals. Sigh. But, I got to hang out with Granpa and watch old tapes of his pennings. There was one where he won the penning at the Grand Nationals in 2001 on his little white Arab, Jackpot (no, not all cow horses are stock horse type!). It was really amazing to see my grandfather, sick even then, making one of the best runs of his life. And my trainer, who has Kachina now, was one of his partners!

It was funny, too: I remember Granpa pulling me up onto Jackpot as a kid, after one of his runs, and thinking that he was this huge horse. In reality, while tall for an Arab, he was pretty tiny. I also remember the excitement of the show, and how proud I was to be sitting up there with him, on that horse, after a big win.

That was back when horses were still a big part of the community in Oakland and Richmond. It wasn't unusual to see saddle shops and tack stores, or advertisements for rodeos and gymkhanas. There were once a lot ranches scattered the area, and ponies at birthday parties, and organizations that brought horses to the schools and educated inner city kids about African American and Native American cowboys (I know, my Grandmother and Grandfather ran one of the organizations). And it wasn't that long ago -- as little as ten years. It's really sad how horses, and western culture, has been practically wiped out here.

Which makes watching those tapes even more special. It was Granpa's exciting runs that first sparked my love of Team Penning and working with cows. I can't wait for the day when I'm in the middle of that excitement again, this time on my own horse.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Maverick and I

One good thing about Kachina going off to the trainer is that it frees me up to spend more time with Maverick. I haven't ridden him for some time, and I was really starting to miss the mule.

The late afternoon was beautiful up by his stable, so I took him for a little stroll out on the trail and let him graze for a while. It was great just hanging out with him, letting him be a horse, while I tagged along for the ride.

Sometimes it's nice to just hang out and not ask too much of your horse. I miss doing it with Kachina. Can't wait to see her this weekend!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I called my trainer yesterday (it was really, really hard to wait until the evening!) to make sure Kachina didn't bust up any stalls or break down any fences or any of the other horrible things I imagined. He said that she acclimated to the stall very well, and continues to be on her best behavior (that's my girl!). I asked him his opinion of her, and this is what he told me:

- She looks good and strong, with a nice chest, nice hindquarters and very strong, straight legs, which he really liked.

- She looks like she'll end up being high in the front so, when we do start her, he wants to teach her to collect and flex at the poll right away so that she doesn't carry her head too high.

- Her front end looks powerful, which will allow her to push off of it and pivot after a cow easily.

- She has a nice, strong neck.

- She's very smart and has a good attitude.

- She's very curious and easy going, and doesn't show much fear to new things.

- She travels well and acclimates quickly and easily to new environments, which will be a very good thing when we start going to shows.

Yay! Her first report card was a good one! I'm hoping to be able to start her real training soon, but for now I'm just happy that she's safe and doing well at the trainer's.

He also said, with a chuckle, "I'll tell your 'baby' that you called. You won't hear me say that word too often, but I want you to know that I respect my clients."

He's learning.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chapter Two

Plans changed this weekend, due to Granpa's hospitalization. I didn't want to be two-plus hours away from home, so my trainer came down to pick Kachina up instead. It was incredibly hard to load Kachina into the trailer and watch them drive away, even though I completely trust her with my trainer, and I knew I would see her Saturday.

This must be how our clients feel when they leave their dogs with us at daycare for the first time! I kept repeating the mantra that I tell all of the puppy parents: It's easier on them if you just wave goodbye and leave. Don't make it a big deal. Although I did whisper assurances that I had not sold her, and that I would see her soon, in her ear as I slipped the halter on.

Despite my sudden neurosis, Kachina trailered perfectly. My trainer called to say she had made it alright, and that he was really surprised and impressed at how well she traveled, how polite and easy she was to handle. This made me feel better. He promised to take her out today and watch how she moves; I'm trying hard to wait for him and not to call and check on her.

It feels like a new chapter is starting for Kachina and our journey together. She isn't a baby anymore, and we've both taken our first big step into the "big league." Hopefully we can keep moving forward together at a good pace.

And for those of you who left well wishes for my grandfather, I sincerely thank you. They must've paid off because, miraculously, they're sending him home tomorrow! I have to admit that I was scared and, for a while there, it didn't look good. I have no doubt that all of your kind thoughts helped his recovery in some way. So, again, thanks.