Friday, October 31, 2014

Ring My Bell


Friday October 31 2014

It seemed natural to want to teach Dudley a few tricks, since he's such a smart horse.

However, he's so smart, he's made up a couple of his own tricks. One is shoving a gate open (I unlatch the gate, say "OK," and with his nose he shoves the gate as hard as he can, swinging it open as far as it will go - he loves doing this).

Another one he debuted yesterday is ringing a bell for a treat. I am not making this up - he figured this out on his own!

Dudley already knew to stop and check out Connie's place - wait outside at her porch, look in her windows - to see if she's home, so he could get a treat.

Yesterday, he figured out, on his own, that if he rang her little bell hanging off her porch, she would give him a treat! I swear, he came up with this bell-ringing on his own.

See the video:


or link:
http://youtu.be/vmS3FIQ9z-A

(and Connie posted later today: Well you have created a monster. I was sitting on the porch minding my own business talking on the phone blah blah, And here comes Dudley, and well he thought about coming up the stairs… Then proceeds to go ring the bell , not once but 3 different times and well I gave him 3 treats, and I would still be up there listening to Dudley ringing the bell and giving him treats, but fortunately his master Phinneas was hollering for him and he left on his own accord!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Top Ten Reasons You Need Soul Deep in Horses



Monday October 27 2014

Top Ten Reasons You Need Soul Deep in Horses


10. Winter is coming (just like it is in Game of Thrones!), and you need a good book to cozy up with by the fire.


9. Christmas is coming, and of course you are looking for the most unique gift for your horse-loving, or travel-loving, or adventure-loving, friends and family.


8. While Stormy, who is featured in much of the book, is The Most Beautiful Horse On The Planet, but who is not a narcissist, he appreciates honest admiration.


7. You can ride a fabulous stallion around the pyramids in Egypt without getting sand in your ears.


6. You can travel to other exotic countries, like, say, France, Ireland, Zimbabwe, a beach in New Zealand, and Egypt, on horseback for a fraction of the cost. 


5. You can ride one of the country's highest-mileage endurance horses with The World's Greatest Horseman (which would not be me!)


4. If you can't, right at this moment, smell a horse, pet a horse, or hug a horse, this book is the next best thing. If you can right now smell a horse, pet a horse, or hug a horse, this book will make you want to do it between chapters!


3. You'll cry, and laugh, till it hurts.


2.  You can actually get the book for less than $398 (!)


And the Number One reason is:
1. The Owyhee Herd loves it!


To order a soft copy or ebook from Amazon, or read the reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Deep-Horses-Equestrian-Vagabond/dp/0991346068/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1414382237&sr=8-1

To order an autographed copy:
http://www.theequestrianvagabond.com/SDIH_Buy_autographed_copy.html

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Best Part


Wednesday October 22 2014

Riding a handsome horse on a cold autumn morning with the first snow in the mountains.

I don't know what the best part of that statement is:

riding
handsome horse
cold
autumn
first snow


or a combination thereof.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The New Trickster



Tuesday October 14 2014

Steph has found her new passion of learning Natural Horsemanship in her journey with 5-year-old Smokey. Smokey went to school in Ted Nicholes' training program, and Steph and Smokey just attended a 3-day clinic with him.

Dudley has been my spring-summer-fall project. He's also Steph's horse, and I adopted him as my personal project when he got fat (i.e. obese) last winter. I stuck him in my ODE Program: the Owyhee Diet and Exercise Program. Over the Tough Love months, he lost weight, did his first 50-mile endurance ride in 6 years, and in fact completed 3 50-mile rides so far this year (aiming for the last one of the season in 2 weeks!).

So now what?

Dudley is a smart horse. A good local cowboy broke him about 10 years ago, and had him doing tricks then: While standing on Dudley's back he could crack a whip; he could lay Dudley down. So Dudley already has some trick training in his foundation, and he learns fast, especially when treats are involved. (Once years ago, I gave him a treat when he first stopped and peed out on the trail, since that is a good endurance horse trait to have; after I gave him a treat the second time he peed, he started stopping every half a mile, trying to squeeze something out so he'd get a treat. He didn't forget that for years. Years.)

I've long had it in the back of my mind that shoot, Dudley could learn tricks. Somebody just needs to teach him. He'd look mighty snazzy doing the Spanish Walk, or bowing beside someone. Then I thought, wait, why don't *I* try to learn to teach him tricks? Dudley can become a Trick Horse. He can Spanish Walk beside me! He can bow beside me!

So I joined the Horse Academy.

Horsetricks101.com, the Horse Tricks Academy, is Jain from Australia, with her horses Trigger and Bella. Her method is a well-explained step by step process of building the basic steps and foundations of tricks. She's got videos and ebooks and worksheets, and she uses her horses in her videos to demonstrate the process.

Interacting with your horse by teaching tricks is not only fun, but it improves your communication and trust with your horse. I am lucky (says Jain) that even though Dudley has a weight challenge, he is motivated by food, and he loves treats; and those kinds of horses are easiest to train (I just need to find some very low-cal, or very tiny treats!). I really am lucky that he is already a well-behaved horse who respects my space and won't hog me for treats, and will back up out of my space with a flick of my hands and stand there. (And backing up, and standing and waiting, are two of the foundation tricks!)

The Dude started 2 days ago, and I'd have to say he's already got one of the basics, Touch, down already. He made me laugh today, because he already gets it.

I have a feeling Dudley is going to be teaching me a lot more things than he's already taught me.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Rock Star from Down Under



Tuesday October 7 2014

You'd be forgiven if you mistook him for a rock star: a polished costume (brand name jeans, a clean starched shirt with his logo on it, brand name boots), a polished show, announcer, sound system, and a cult-like following of screaming fans. But if you can overlook all that (or enjoy it, if you like it), you can always learn something from watching these natural horsemanship trainers with horses, particularly problem horses which are used to demonstrate their training methods in the clinics.

Nampa Idaho was natural horsemanship trainer Clinton Anderson's 8th of 9 scheduled Walkbout Tour stops this year - a two-day tour described on his website as "the most inspirational two days any horse lover can have. Whether you ride English, Western or just love to hit the trails, learn how the man behind the Method uses his techniques every single day to develop respectful and fun horses. Watch in awe as Clinton puts one of his standout horses through their paces during a spectacular demonstration." An Australian, Clinton now has a spread in Texas where he trains horses and people, in addition to traveling the country and the world on tours like this one.

We Owyhee Crick Women fit into one corner of the arena of Clinton Anderson's followers: females. But being primarily Arabian horse endurance riders we were rather to the far left of his normal fan profile of females who mostly ride Quarter horses in arenas.

I've come a long way in learning not just riding, but horsemanship over the years, and I know I still have plenty more to learn, which is why I really enjoy watching the pros, the real horsemen who know how to get the best out of a horse without bucking him out, or beating him into temporary submission. By teaching the horse to choose the right behavior, and building on basic lessons of respect, the end result is a 4-legged partner - not just a slave - you can come to trust to share your adventures with.

It is inspirational and awesome to watch Clinton or one of his certified clinicians bring a rogue horse around to showing respect and willingness within 5 minutes of the horse's normal often-outrageous behavior, to see the transformation of the horse as the light bulbs of understanding turn on in his head.

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with expecting a thousand pound animal to respect you, give you space, accept you as his leader in your relationship; and in fact it's downright insane to let your horse wear the pants in your family. I'm always astounded by the people who bring their problem horses to the clinics for the trainer to 'fix' - a horse who is dragging them into the arena, shoving them around, running over them. As Clinton Anderson repeated over and over, if you don't have a horse who respects you, it's not a matter of *if* you're going to get hurt, but *when.*

Clinton did sound a bit worn out and a bit jaded at times (albeit with a sense of humor)… tired of the ladies in particular (a majority of his clientele) who let their horses run all over them because they love them (one lady answered Clinton when he asked "Why do you let him do this?" "Because he loves me") … the same things over and over...

Clinton probably does enjoy the attention, the fame, the work of teaching horses and people safe ways of handling and riding; but after seeing the same problems over and over and over, year after year, the same ignorant owners with dangerous, disrespectful horses over and over and over, year after year, and after hammering the same message over and over and over, year after year, I bet there are times he just wishes he could go saddle up his old pony, put on a plain ol' Tshirt, and go on a fun, relaxing 20-mile trail ride in some scenic country.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Spirit Horse Christmas in October


Friday October 3 2014

A whole new stable full of Spirit Horses just galloped out of the studio, waiting to hang on your Christmas tree, or Festivus Pole, or your dinner jacket, or the inside of your horse trailer (living quarters!).

My sister, the real artist in the family, sent me some of her collectible yarns to use for tails. Each Spirit Horse is one of a kind, handmade of clay, wire, beads, and yarns. Each pin is approximately 3" long by 3" tall. . . not counting the long fluffy tail, are $20 each and $3 shipping for up to 5 at a time. Contact me at TheEquestrianVagabond at gmail dot com.

oops, the slide show went away!
 here it is:

or link:
https://picasaweb.google.com/113618720621188031303/SpiritHorsePins2014?noredirect=1


Monday, September 29, 2014

He's Got Some Buck In Him


Monday September 29 2014

I don't know if he'll ever be an easy horse to ride. So far, I can never just sit back and enjoy the ride, like I do on Jose. I've got to ride Dudley. Always using my legs and hands and seat to communicate, keeping him at a steady pace, staying alert. It's exercise riding Dudley. He can wear me out. I feel like I've run a marathon after I've ridden him 50 miles. And he's got a little buck in him.

It's always somewhere near the start of an endurance ride. Dudley and I rode Day 2 of the Owyhee Canyonlands with Carol and August. It was Dudley's third 50-mile ride this year, and we picked up the pace a bit, keeping up with Carol and August. The start was a single track trail up a steep hill. That's always good for getting a horse's attention right away. All went well until we got off that short steep hill and flattened out onto a two track road, where Dudley could see horses miles ahead of him.


He puffed up, got very big and tense, thinking this was some big important race (it wasn't), and I knew if he got his head down, he'd buck. He's bucked a few people off before, so he's got it in him, and I felt it those first couple of miles, like sitting on a lit stick of dynamite, not sure when it's going to go off. But Carol and August were great escorts, setting a good steady pace, giving us a good working rhythm to fall into.


After a couple of miles the Dude settled down and got to work with his big rolling trot, and all was well until about 8 miles, after we descended the steep hill down to Sinker Reservoir. Once we got to the bottom, he could see horses in the canyon ahead of us, horses above us descending the hill, then, oh no, a 2-legged monster!

Both August and Dudley were suspicious and spooky of photographer Steve Bradley, even though they've seen him countless times, and they could hear him talking so they knew that it was indeed Steve; so Carol and I had our picture taken together so that we would not individually get dumped in front of the camera. Don't the boys look fabulous together in Steve's photo above?


Dudley settled down the rest of the ride and worked well. He got tired the last 7 miles, but I wanted him to get tired. He walked when he needed a breather, trotted after August when he was ready. We ended up finishing 10th - Dudley's first Top Ten finish, thanks to August's excellent pace! Although, since there were only 14 horses, you could just as well say we finished back of mid-pack. It's just a number anyway - Dudley was pretty proud of his effort. He's just a big handsome beast I love to ride (most of the time)!


Dudley's favorite parts of endurance rides are still the eating parts