Friday, May 28, 2010

Salute to our soldiers!

With the Memorial Day holiday upon us, I would like to take a quick moment to say Thank You! to all of the men and women in the various branches of the armed forces, serving around the world. I would also like to extend that Thank You! to their families. Having had a friend from high school join the Navy, I got a first hand experience of someone you know well and are close to, being away for months at a time. Then trying to squeeze everything in during a short week or two week visit. It is tough! For those with family who won't be returning home, family buried in Arlington or any of the other military cemeteries across the country, my heart goes out to you.

In keeping it with the Memorial Day sentiments I will post a photo of one of the masks I made for the new tack shop choosing to be a distributor.

The military theme masks seem to be big sellers. The photo doesn't show it too well, but the fleece trim is a dark hunter green. I have also used camouflage fleece trim on these and the chevrons with camo fleece as well as the hunter green. People love them and I am trying to find other military type designs for the embellishments.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and don't forget to take a moment or two to thank, honor and remember those who have died for us and our country.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Swiss Cheese

I like Swiss cheese, the flavor, the texture, the aroma when it's melted on things... Mmmmmm. But where do the holes come from in the cheese? Wouldn't it be more worthwhile for the manufacturers to make it solid? Would it cost us more if it was?

My weekend was similar to a block of Swiss cheese. Errands to run, appointments to keep, things to pick up, places to go, things to do, stuff to make... There were things I wanted to do, things I needed to do, places I had to go, a few things to work into the mixture and a few more piled on top of it all. Two days and I made quite the sandwich out of it.

I have a person interested in the Meadowbrook cart. She was coming from California to see it, but her plans were shot full of holes too and things got shifted to next weekend. Which worked out for me too, by freeing up a little time. Time that was shifted over to working on a couple of fly masks so I could run in to a new store in town and see if they would be interested in carrying them... (Note to Fern Valley, one of them I had planned on sending you. I haven't forgot.)

So we run to one appointment, back across town to the tack store, the co-owner wasn't in, but the one that was, Loved them! I left the masks and my number so she could take them home and show them over the weekend. I like their store and will be posting a link soon. Funny thing is, I can't remember exactly how I found it.

By then it was around noonish, we were hungry and headed into a Chinese buffet close by. It was rather new so we gave it a try. When we sat down with our food, Hubby says the place could be classified as "Fast, Cheap & Kreepy!" Sad thing is, he's right. It was.

Then it was off to get a few supplies for masks on order, a couple of them are shipping to California. Home to get the truck so we could go get hay... As we pull in to get the hay, my cell phone rings. The co-owner of the tack store dropped in, loves the masks, want to order more and will be putting them in the store as well as online. They will just keep the two I dropped off and add them to the total. So home again to drop off the truck and hay, get in the van and head out to pick up a couple more things- like stuff for dinner, before heading home again to feed and tend to more things... Yeah, because the day is almost over already! What happened?

While we did get a few things accomplished, there were a few more I wanted to do but couldn't quite seem to work them in. Like going to watch a workout for Aruba, the WB mare... She should be shaping up nicely and I haven't been to watch one workout yet or even to see her. I may have them put the first few rides on her if things keep going this way. The thought has crossed my mind and has been discussed.

Sunday wasn't much different. Running errands, getting a few things done, then home again to work on masks, play with the girls and somewhere in the middle, eat something... I had wanted to make another batch of pasta. The girls love it mixed with tomatoes, basil, garlic & oregano. I do too and I could have brought it for lunch.

There's another hole in the list of things I was able to do. Kind of like the cheese. The things you don't get to, are the holes. But somewhere in the cheese, you have to have holes. Otherwise how would you breathe?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Small victories

Well it finally happened. Kat has been put to a cart. Sort of. I still have the Meadowbrook for sale and I have gotten a few requests for pictures, measurements and information about it. So tonight I brought the little guy up and into the back yard so we could get photos of him standing in the shafts or at least near them, to show the length of the shafts and how they fit him.

Or rather don't...

Anyone see the problem here? Look closely.

Notice where the tie backs are supposed to attach to the cart? They should be up near his flank, not behind his butt.

So we got a few more pic's...

He expressed his boredom with the project...

We called it good and he was rewarded.

A few minutes of grazing while the cart was put back up on all of the stands.

Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom, nom, nom, nom...

The small victory in all of this is that he was between the shafts, no muss, no fuss, just stood there like his well behaved self and posed. He may not have been wearing a harness, but still. He was there between the shafts!

I will be calling a guy tomorrow that is pretty much known in the valley as 'the cart & driving Guru'. If he doesn't have pony sized shafts- he will know where to get them. Or the shafts can stay on it and it will get horse sized wheels. He may also be able to sell the cart for me on consignment. I may just take both carts to his place. It would be nice clearing out even more space... At least there are a couple of workable options.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Express yourself

So the horse show was yesterday... We didn't go. Did the sky fall or did the world end? Hahahaha, not hardly. Am I upset about missing it? Not really.

I worked my little guy on Saturday. I harnessed him up and we were thinking to put him to the cart after lunging him and a bit of ground driving. He had other plans. On the way out to the work area, he leaped up into the air and let loose with an amazing capriole. He felt that good. I stopped and gave him the look of "What the??? Where did THAT come from?" He looked a bit sheepish as if saying he couldn't help himself. It's spring you know.

So he has the harness on minus the bridle. Everything is fastened and buckled up out of the way so he can work and get his own bugs out. I have him on the lunge line in a halter, let him out and KABOOM! He. goes. off. I didn't get any pictures except the ones in my mind.

He was bouncing around, playing and having a great time. He leaped and bucked, he galloped and whinnied to everyone about his antics. As he ran, he would at times, put his head down and go into full bronc mode. His front feet no longer reaching out one at a time- nope. They came down together, he leaped, bucked and dived landing in those awful four point landings that could jar loose every joint you own. I made noises to encourage him keep moving forward. Clucking, kissing, Move it, Get up there... (Thankfully he is not quite big enough to ride!)

After several laps he slowed down to a trot. I figured he had gotten the most of it out of his system. He settled in and started to work nicely. He didn't look tired at all, just cruised around effortlessly and slowed into a nice steady pace.

Hubby Johnie Rotten came over to watch him work. I stopped Kat, asked him to reverse and KABOOM! Off the little guy went again. This time he was showing off. He ran, he bucked, he leaped in the air, he snorted and blew, dived at the ground and ran some more. He made quite a few laps on the end of the line and a few more after JR left before realizing, his audience was gone. When he figured that out- Kat settled into a trot for about four strides and stopped. He faced me and looked perplexed. "Where did he go? Wasn't he impressed?"

While he was racing around, JR and I sorta discussed the fact that, the idea of putting him to a cart was not a good one right now and it wasn't happening today. Neither of us were feeling any good would or could come from that.

Training horses can be a tactical exercise. Pick your battles and choose wisely. This means you will all live to see another day. We are shooting for next weekend. I just hope the little guy is NOT out to impress hubby again. He's a real clown that way.

*The photo is actually available as a hooded sweatshirt through EquiXotics.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What do you call it?

In the last post, I talked about the winds of change. Things come and go in our lives. Things happen or don't, we adjust and move on or we wallow in our own self induced pity and wish for greater things.

But what do we call it? Did you shift your focus or change your course? Did your goals change or did you rethink a few of your ideas and make better decisions? Are you letting go of some things or did you delegate some of your chores? Everyone has their own ideas and depending on the situation a different name for what is happening.

I for one can admit I like to do things myself. I always find it easier to grab things, jump in and get after it. I know it is being done, how it is being done and that it is done when I'm done with it. It may be right, it may be mostly right, but it is done. Problem is- who learns from that? I might, but if I am trying to teach someone something, they may not pick up on much.

Not many of us learn by 'not doing' something. A lot of us learn more in a hands on situation than by watching once and being set loose. Even still, once you are set loose- you are now doing things hands on and may or may not, still make mistakes.

Priorities are another big issue. Problem is, these change too. Which horse is a priority? Which one takes more work? Do I start with the easy ones or the horse that will be more time consuming? The easy horse will make more progress in a shorter amount of time and I can go do stuff with them, while the slower learner is going to take longer to bring along, but once they figure things out- it's set for life.

Sometimes we get overloaded and find ourselves asking, "Where do I even start?" Some of us just give up, say forget it and turn to something else. Or a bigger priority comes along and we toss things to the back burner and let it go for now. "It can wait." Which is what has happened with Kat for so long.

I still enjoy riding but I also enjoy driving. So with the big mare out to get in shape, I can refocus on him again and get him going. The one cart needs a few small adjustments and he will be put to, before we know it. When she comes home, he should be far enough along that he will just need miles. It's nice reaching that point with a horse. That's when you get to settle into the saddle (or seat) and just ride (drive) just to ride. I'm looking forward to that. That's when it is fun again and not so much considered work.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The winds of change

Lately the weather around our place has been nothing helpful about being productive outside. Unless of course you count the neighborhood recycling going on... It has been windy. Not a gentle breezy kind of wind, but just windy. They are forecasting 55 mph winds and heavy gusts. Working out in it can be just downright miserable for us and the horses. The neighborhood recycling, you ask? Oh, that's where the trash blows from yard to yard. Mixed with the weed seedlings of course. So that next year when the rains come- you have unplanned hedges- everywhere!

So the wind just continues to blow. The dust flies, feeding = hay in your clothes and it is just a steady thing to deal with. At least it is sorta consistent. The horses are either bouncing around or they just turn their backs to the wind and relent. Working them is interesting since you never know when something is going to come blowing on by and startle them. (Remember the neighborhood recycling program?) The older horses are over it, but the youngsters need to learn to deal, pay attention to the rider and listen for the cues. And so it goes...

With the winds of change have come a few realizations lately. Like a sailboat reliant on the wind, we may change our direction or focus. While the wind may blow a lot of dust around, clouding our vision, at the same time it can be a good thing as it clears our minds.

After losing Tess, I no longer have a jumper to ride. Not one to call my own anyways. So I put my jump standards up for grabs on Craigslist. I found a pattern for standards online and I still have a small stash of jump cups, so if and when the time comes- I can always make more. I received two responses on them. The second one from a young person with students who are getting ready to jump, but she lacks ground poles, lacks jumps and lacks money to buy it all. So she offered up her services to help out in any way she can in an effort to work off the amount I am asking for the jumps. Weed whacking, stall cleaning, lessons, training- whatever she can do. I emailed her back with my number and told her to call me. I'm sure we can figure something out. I had already thought of something too.

Since bringing home the WB mare Patience, (aka Aruba), it has literally been hit or miss on getting her going and in shape to start under saddle. At first, it rained- A LOT! We put horses out, only to have to bring them all back in, to wait, and wait, and wait some more until things dried up, the ground wasn't so slick and we could put a few more out. Which seemed to trigger another storm and more rain. Bring them in, let things dry, put another bunch out and bring on the rain. ARGH!

So now that the weather has finally cleared, everything has dried up and the footing is safe to work in again, the weeds have taken over. To the point of killing our lawnmower and taking out the metal blades on the head on the gas weed eater and trying their best to kill the electric weed eater too! Burning the weeds is not working for some reason either. They are dry but won't ignite. Can you believe that?

So while JR has his hands full continuing to try getting the weeds brought under control, I have opted to take the girl up on her offer of helping out in any way she can, to pay for the jump standards, poles and ground rails. Aruba is leaving to go to her place tomorrow. She lives 2 miles away and will be taking her for a month or two to get her back into shape. She will be lunging her to build up the muscles and get her ready to go to work.

The wind has cleared my mind and helped me focus more clearly. She will be off our feed bill for a while, she will be close enough I can go check on her often and she will be fit and ready to go into long lines when she comes home. She is going for conditioning work only, so no worries about anything major to fix, no worries about harsh bits, bad hands or big spurs... When she comes home the work will begin. For now I have shifted my course and changed direction. Time to let the wind take control of things for a while. It's really nice being able to let go.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The price of care

Ok so everyone knows I have gone through the tack room and opened the door for selling a lot of what is there. I have sorted through it all, sorted through my mind on what is staying and what can go. I have made my list, checked it twice, gone back to bein' naughty and gave up on playing nice. Sorta...

I checked through catalogs and websites for each item, found the price of a new one, looked objectively at what I am offering, considered it's condition and set a fair price for each one. Some of the stuff has never been used, some has been used only once- to try on for fit and some has seen it's fair share of use. But I have always cleaned and taken care of everything. I think in some cases this is what seems to set people off.

I also have this bad habit of looking at things and deciding what I would expect to pay for it if I were the buyer. If it is good quality, in good shape, has been taken care of and is slightly below the cost of buying new- no problem. If it is faded, worn out, dried out, torn up, frayed, smashed, bent out of shape, beaten to a pulp and long since given up the ghost of life- don't expect a sale from me.

I may not have always spent a great deal of money on something to acquire it, but in taking great care of it, it has lasted me for years. Like the Fox-something-or-other brand leather hunt bridle I purchased back in the late 80's for my first horse Tai, from a tack store (Horsin' Around) that closed long ago, for the whopping sum of $25. I still have it, it is still useable and I am hanging on to it!

It was the one I could afford at the time, but even then I knew one thing. Taking care of it would make it last. At least until I could save up more money and buy something newer, nicer, better, fancier, stronger... whatever. And even for it being at the bottom of the price range of everything on the wall in the store- it was still well made, still decent quality leather and worth a bit more then low price being asked. If I were to ever offer it up now, I could only reasonably ask $10-$15 tops. Even still someone would think that is too much or maybe not enough.

When buying tack, there is quality to be found in every price range. There is always going to be the stuff that is cheap because it is cheap. Cheap price for cheap materials and cheap workmanship that went into making it. There is also going to be decent quality items that with good care, will hold up for some time.

Good care may even be no more than wiping it down after use, keeping it inside- the house, tack room or tack compartment on the horse trailer. Putting it away for next time, rinsing off the splint boots, hanging up the polo's allowing them to dry instead of rolling them up. Hosing off both sides of the western saddle pads once a week if in heavy use or once a month for the recreational riders crowd. Storing the saddle pad upside down to air out in between rides. Soaking all of the brushes in a bucket of soapy water- once a week or once a month, depending on use. Rinsing the bit off after each ride. Washing the english pads and polos as needed...

Suprisingly enough, taking these few small steps, giving everything a glance before use and again before putting it away, ensures your safety, your horses comfort and will generally secure the value of things, should you decide to or ever need to sell something. Some things actually increase in value as inflation has upped the asking price for new and your item is still in excellent condition. It happens...