Monday, June 28, 2010

The ball is rolling

I am happy to say that Rubes has finally come back home. Not in as good of condition as she could have been but not any worse off than when she left either. A few of the readers know she has been gone for a month, at the neighbors place, getting in shape as payment for my jumps. I forgot my iPhone cord or I would be able to post a few photos of her since her return. I will get them up, I promise...

The heat over the weekend has been bad. She came home on Saturday so I went out to give her a bath and a 'once over' to check her progress. Of course I was wearing a tank top and my shoulders now are still a nice shade of pink. :( I sprayed her off and kept trying to get back in the shade. Do something, get back in the shade. Do something else, get back in the shade. At least she got a bath, sprayed with conditioner, mane and tail brushed out, fly sprayed and then turned out to ROLL! She may have, but by then she was dry and nothing seems to have stuck. Hooray for small victories!

Sunday morning I set to work. Went out about 7am and picked her feet, brushed her off, wrapped her legs and went out to lunge her. She worked for a short time at a slow and leisurely pace and stopped when she thought she was done. Um, no. Sorry sweetie, that's not how it goes. You will never get into any kind of shape without putting out some effort. So I got after her a little, using my voice, body language and the end of the lunge line and made the impression that yeah, she needed to Move It! So she did.

Since she has not been in tip top shape for working for some time, I didn't expect her to work for long, but long enough... She started to sweat at least. She broke into a canter three times, for a few strides each time, then back down into a trot. The first two times, she jumped and dove into the transition. Not what I wanted, but at least she was moving! I'll take it, and just hope that never carries over when she's under saddle... By 8:30 she was finished, rinsed, fly sprayed and put away, everyone was fed and I went inside. It was already in the upper 90's. Blech! High of 107 expected for the day. Bigger Blech! The heat is not my friend.

The course of action has been set. We got up early this morning and headed out to start working everyone. I admit, I loafed a bit and we had a slower start then we wanted, but we did get the two babies worked, rinsed and fly sprayed before I had to head in and get ready for work. (I didn't have any pockets on my sweats or I would have pictures of them too.) Hubby got Johnie out and lunged her too. Tonight Rubes and the Kat man are on the list for their workouts. And I am going to spray the ant hill right under the water faucet where we rinse the horses. Nasty little critters bit me and hubby. Bad move on their part. They need to go somewhere else!

Even for having a slow start though, with efficiency, we did get quite a bit accomplished in an hour and a half. As a groom, you learn to make every step, every move, every trip from here to there count. Shortcuts may save you a few minutes here and there, but from experience, you end up having to go back and do it over again later. Did you really save anything taking the shortcut?

You also learn to prioritize. Those who need the most work, go first. Those who are just starting out under saddle, may be the only horse getting worked that day, so plan for it. They get your full attention. Clipping and full out baths- one horse in the rotation per day gets them or they are all done on the weekend. Planning, having a routine or schedule can really provide results. You would be surprised how much you can get done. And if anything comes up in the middle of the schedule- see to it, then get back on track. It's nothing more than a hiccup. It happens.

Monday, June 21, 2010

It all started with a frog...

The first thing I ever put on a fly mask was a frog on a tan mask with green trim. It was for hubby's mare Chica. She is a palomino mare who likes to get down and dirty on a cow.

Then came a whole bunch more... Guitars, checkered flags, Gothic crosses, dinosaurs, flowers, the sun, moon & stars, lizards, firetrucks, tanks and military designs. I made one for a mini named Lil Bit, for the group at the Back In The Saddle Project or BITS.

Then there was a Tigger mask for Dena, and another dinosaur for Micah, a couple for Fern Valley which are under way and will soon be on their way... Just looking for one more patch that fits the horses personality.

But the latest batch to leave will be headed to California. A Fairy, whose dress and wings are shiny and glittery. She also has a row of sequins on her skirt.

A skull with a pink bow, for a mare who thinks she is just the princess of everything in her world. And who is to tell her she's not?

A rocket for Sonic and crossed pistols for none other than Pistol, of course!

To me it is not only fun making these, but the thing I like the best about them, is hearing the reactions when people get them. Hopefully the person expecting this package either has a Google blogger account or will be signing up for one. She is also interested in a few other things I will be making. Of course I will post pics and ask her for some with the horses wearing everything...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just like the horses

Sometimes you get what you were hoping for. Everything turns out just as promised.

There may be a few small 'glitches' in the order, but for the most part, what you see is what you get. You look at the horse and size them up. You keep an open mind and try to stay objective and not be partial or barn blind. You consider their breeding and pedigree, sire & dams conformation and temperaments, performance records, all of the pertinent info... and hope for the best.

Then there's the unexpected things. Sometimes good, sometimes not quite so good. You learn to roll with it and take things as they come.

Sometimes they come nothing at all like what you expected. You may have hoped for one thing and gotten something far better instead. Is anyone going to complain about that?

When our farrier was out yesterday morning, he remarked about how nice Mondo is. He has grown since the photo shoot for the forum and is coming along quite nicely. No complaints from here! The farrier liked how quiet he is too. As we all age, we come to appreciate quiet horses. I know I do. My body just can't take the beating like it used to.

These flowers are supposed to be purple & white. Remember?

But they are beautiful just the same- even in pink & white.

And for those who doubted, questioned the methods and may have thought it couldn't be done...

Yep, those are potato's. May not be big, but they are there. These are not quite the size of a golf ball each, but it's a start.

There were 3 in the first 'harvest', 3 more in the house on the counter and these are still working on their size. The first ones were each pretty good sizes, not like you would see int he store, but still substantial enough. There's 4 plants in that post and another 4 in a different pot with a sweet potato in the center... We'll just have to wait and see how they turn out.

The tomatoes are doing well too, only lost 2 when we replanted them. Seven out of nine are going to make it form the looks of things. Hooray! The lemon tree is about 2 feet tall now too. The blackberry and blueberry bushes are doing well and the carrots seem to have faded out. The lettuce never made an appearance and I still have to get my pumpkin seeds in the ground so that when they bloom this year, HOPEFULLY! the bees are still around to pollenate them and we get at least ONE pumpkin out of the deal. Last years 5 plants and numerous blooms were a total bust. In that case, it was all for naught. Sometimes that how it goes with the horses too. You can't win them all.

**Edited to ad, I hope everyone out there has a Happy Fathers Day! To all the Dads! Those still with us and those who have passed, I toast you all.**

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Patience may be a virtue, but...

sometimes you have to stop and smell the flowers. These are my gladiolas. I planted them about 3-4 months ago. The packages said blooms in about 60 days. Sure they do. But it's the same with horses. Some of them come into themselves at an early age, while others seem to wait it out and take forever.

But they get there. They all get there eventually, you just have to give them some time, nurture them along and wait it out. There were 18 bulbs in the three packets. Six each in yellow, a salmon/peach color & purple & white. I am happy to say they all came up. Eventually... the last two took their sweet time, but they did finally appear.

And like the horses, its not always a complete joy ride. We have had some serious winds, which has blown them over to the point of them all leaning. As I watered them, the dirt would soften and I would try to put them back into position, returning them to upright. Then last weekend I bought a few of the tomato plant cages and worked them into the rings, trying to straighten them up and give them some support. I can't be there 24/7 for them, just like the horses.

But they are coming along. With time and care, they should all be blooming at some point. Time will tell for each of them, just like the horses, they will get there when they get there. No need to rush, good things come to those who wait, you know.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maintain your integrity

Lately it seems like a lot of people are experiencing difficutly dealing with people and having a short fuse. Customers and clients are expecting the sun, moon and stars, but want it all at a lowball price. This seems to hold true across the board in a number of different industries, not just where horses are concerned. Ask them and they will tell you just how much they know about each and every, sometimes any subject.

As a consumer, I expect to pay a fair price for things, but in return- I expect fair customer service as well. I expect things to hold up or last for a reasonable amount of time and figure the price of some things in relation to the quality of materials and manufacturing that went into them. Is that asking too much?

On the end of the manufacturer, I expect them to look for quality materials and hardware, well skilled craftsmen to assemble things and I don't mind paying a little more for a well made- anything... be it a washing machine, truck or a toaster!

If it should break or stop working under reasonable use and conditions, within a short period of time after its acquisition, I also expect to be treated fairly when the item is either returned for replacement or repairs. I don't "go off" on the customer service rep, because in all actuality- they didn't design or make the product that broke of failed, they just answer the phone.

I have worked in several customer service positions and having been on both sides of the fence so to speak, you get a lot further if you don't scream at anyone. State your case and be realistic. If things are not worked out to your satisfaction, ask for a supervisor and get the names of the people you speak to. Ask for the phone number or a direct line where they can be reached if any further issues are to follow.

Having worked in manufacturing positions, don't try to pull a fast one and ask for replacements or repairs on somethign you intentionally or even accidently broke because you didn't use it correctly, had it adjusted wrong or set it where it got in the way or didn't belong.

There have been times in the horse industry, my husband or I have told people to get lost, go pound sand or forget it. You can tell they are 'full of it' and expect you to drop everything, cater only to them and give them a special deal, meaning reduced rates on everything. Customers like that are bad for business. They end up costing you money in dealing with them and possibly running off potential clients in the long run. When you kick them to the curb it can be quite liberating!

So how do others deal with people like this? I have found a few ways of doing it, but it's always good to share thoughts on ways of handling difficult customers/clients. Sometimes the best way to deal with them is to be quiet. Others require honesty, tact and common sense. Occasionally there is humor to be found in dealing with them. What has worked for you?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Yay or Neigh, Neighbor?

So the whole topic of incorporation has been a HOT ONE in our neighborhood lately. Some of our neighbors are strongly opposed, while others are all for it. One neighbor proposed an online petition to move the boundary back, so our neighborhood isn't divided right down the middle. Yeah, that's what the 'planning committee' decided on.

But there is a lot of things out there that haven't been discussed. There are reasons it may be a good thing and other reasons it's definately NOT! The papers are all reporting that the local cities and towns are in favor. Maybe they are? But there are things the neighbors, newspapers and a lot of people are not addressing.

Everyone is up in arms thinking our property taxes will automaticly jump. We have been told that property tax increases would have to be voted on. I doubt there would be much favor for an increase, but who knows. Reality is- we already pay taxes. Income tax, sales tax, property tax, you name it- "there's a tax for that". Double taxation is illegal, but apparently Multiple Taxation is just fine...

One thing I did learn at the meeting, there is a secondary tax included in our property taxes, that is supposed to go towards public libraries. The closest public libraries are in neighboring towns & cities. The closest one to us happens to be in another county. I think there is a low fee involved to use that library, which means it is not free. Also our county has no intentions of building a library in our area. So where is that money going and what is it being used for? If not being spent on worthy causes- I want ours back!

If we become a 'county island' we pay our city sales taxes on all purchases, but we won't be entitled to vote at city meetings or be granted city services. Like a fire department, city police protection or street maintenance. The county doesn't keep the roads in the greatest shape as it is, think that will change on a county island? I honestly doubt it. Speaking of roads, ADOT has yet to decide and won't until 2016, WHERE they are putting the freeway in.

As far as the zoning and regulations regarding livestock- as it stands, we have to travel down to Florence, a reasonable distance, to argue for or against zoning changes. If we are to incorporate, it would be localized and the horse owners may be able to have a greater voice in it all. If we are a county island- it's still up to the county to do as they see fit. How is it working out for you so far?

Funny thing is, it seems to be working out that I am the one taking charge of organizing things in our neighborhood. Then again, I am known for being pretty outspoken. One neighbor came forth and posted about the online petition. Instead of knocking her for it, I asked her if she would like to help organize these meetings. I am still on the fence with this one. I want more information before I make my decision. I want what is best for our community and our neighborhood.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Going on an impulse

Sometimes you get things handed to you and you feel the need to respond. Time is of the essence in some cases. You end up having to drop everything and just go. That's what happened yesterday. I received an email in the afternoon, stating there was a meeting at one of the sorta local high schools at 6:30 pm. It seems someone got it in their heads to incorporate our area into a new 'City or Town'.

I was on the fence about going and hubby was too, but we went and I'm glad we did. This meeting was much more organized than the brawl that was the 'meeting' about the DOT plans for a freeway going right smack through our neighborhood... But once again horse owners and livestock were NOT considered where any of their plans were concerned.

There were two of our other neighbors at the meeting and they too had questions about how all of this would affect our subdivision. Seeing as how there were a few cards in the pile with questions about livestock and zoning changes, the organizers and panel addressed the issue. (Maybe they knew from the looks of our little group, they had damned well better!) As usual they glossed over the issue in their answer. We were told that we would not be affected by any new zoning regulations or changes. We are to be 'grandfathered in' as it is, but should we decide to sell, the new owners would be required to comply with the new regulations.

Fine, but what affect does that have on our property value? As it is, we can have as much livestock as we can reasonably fit. If we want to run a huge herd on a small parcel, as long as everyone is fed and cared for, the neighbors don't complain- life is good and do as you please.

We fought with the county not too long ago about proposed zoning changes. They wanted to limit livestock to 2 large animals per acre. Large animals being horses, donkeys, mules, cattle, sheep or goats. (I'm sure I missed something in there, but they wouldn't...)

Then that same year there was the whole fiasco and fighting over DOT plans to build a freeway through our neighborhood. Everyone had to scramble to put their 2 cents in by the short deadline, but DOT won't be deciding until 2016... That meeting was an experience and 'heated' doesn't even come close to describing it accurately enough.

DOT hadn't even planned to show up for it. Nice of them, huh? The represenatives they sent? You'll love this- they live on the other side of town! They are in no way affected by any of this. Isn't that sweet of them?

Recently the county has stirred the pot again. This time over arena lighting. Who would complain about arena lights? Most of our neighbors would ask to use the arena if they couldn't afford to put up lights on their own. We also know where to go to practice roping or barrel racing at night when the weather cools down. Since the sun doesn't set in the summer until around 8:30-9pm, the lights aren't on all that long anyways. In the wintertime it's not much of an issue either- people think its too cold to ride at night.

So now city incorporation is on the table. I hope it doesn't get too ugly from here, but they are using boundaries that divide neighborhoods in half. I have already contacted another blogger (Katphoti) who has recently moved into another neighborhood to be divided by county on one side of the street- city on the other.

Once again, horse people are getting shafted. Problem is we are armed with plenty of manure, manure forks and people to use as targets.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A level of importance

In the last post, I was going to bring up a few different things to discuss. Instead I decided that those who have, are or are going to serve their country deserved their own time and space and the appreciation in honor of their decision to offer their time and in some cases their lives. In writing this post, I was going to bring the other topics up for discussion. Problem is, I can't remember them now. Which shows how really unimportant some things can be or how we place priority on certain things and lose sight of the other stuff.

So am I turning into a crazy broad as I age and my mind is starting to fail? Is that it? Or have I learned to place a higher level of importance and priority on some things and just let the rest go?

With horses there are also levels of importance and priority, whether it is in relation to grooming, training or both. We have our goals, we know what we want, but we can derail our own efforts at times by micro-managing, nit picking and sweating the small stuff. So your horse took a bad step, what about the three other hooves? Were they all wrong too? Which is more important the one bad step or the other three good ones?

Its easy to fall into a routine with your horse, but routines can lead to ruts if you don't pay attention. Pay attention and watch out for the ruts! Routines can be good, keeping you on track and everything in order, but when you let your mind slip into autopilot as you go through your 'routine' things can go wrong. You might miss the small signals from the horse that something isn't right. You can overlook the slightest warning signs that there's about to be an epic meltdown.

When you begin working the horse, you notice the small things and decide if they are to be addressed or ignored. That's when the questions start. Do I make an issue out of this or just stop and ask again? If I keep getting the same incorrect response, is it my fault or is it the horse? Are my cues clear and consistant? Does the horse understand what I want? Are they that far along in their training? Do they know this or are they just misbehaving? Is the misbehaving a single episode or is it happening more often? Is there pain involved that is the cause of it all? Have I checked?

We all have our routines we go through and mental checklists we go over as we prepare to ride and once we are in the saddle. We go through things step by step to stay on track. At least we hope it works out that way. So how do you decide which things are important and where they land on your checklist? When do you decide to overlook things or take notice? What do you consider the 'ruts' and how do you stay out of them?