Sunday, August 29, 2010

Our day with Jay, the Cowboy who wears tennis shoes....

On Saturday, August 28th, Boom and I headed to Lawrence, KS to meet with Jay Miller.  He a trainer for the Lincoln, NE EMM and also a member of the Midwest Mustang and Burro Saddle Club.  He works a regular full time job like most of us, and working with horses is one of his many hobbies that he has on the side.  Jay has a natural talent for this.....he is so comfortable walking in that ring and communicating with the horse.  It was awesome to watch and listen....
He also has an awesome wife!  We talked about his many hobbies and how all his friends like to talk...not once did Jay mention that he liked to talk.  Ha ha!  It makes it much easier to do the things you love when you have support from your significant other.  :-)

This is Levi (that is what our Mustang Club calls him) whose real name is WhoDat (they had a contest at one of Jay's sponsors, and that is the name that was pulled out of the hat).  Levi was very thin the day we all picked up our horses from Elm Creek, NE, and that day Jay mentioned that something was not right with his eyes.  Come to find out, he is almost blind.  If you are within a foot or two of his face, depending where the sun is, he reacts to movement, but other than that, it is all sound.  At night he is much less confident and more careful where he puts his feet.
On pick up day he had lots of areas on him that were missing hair, and he had some hoof marks on his hide where the skin was gone, including on the front of his face.  This poor guy was pushed around and could not escape what was coming his way because he could not see....and he was getting pushed away from the feed.

Levi has had some good groceries of his own, and thanks to Jay who has a much bigger challenge than any of us do, Levi will have a chance for a future.  Jay was given the option of taking him back and getting another horse, but the fate of Levi would not have been good.  Jay decided to stick to the words he shared with someone else, that it was not about winning, it was about helping to find a mustang a good home, so he kept Levi and has been working with him.  Levi has a special place in our Mustang Clubs hearts..... 

Even tho things are different for Levi, Jay treats him just like the others.  He gets tied up and just hangs out....isn't he just cute as he can be?  I honestly believe that Jay was selected for Levi for a reason...we don't have to know what the reason is right now.  But when the moment comes, we will all smile and say "This is why God gave you Levi....."...

Jay is riding Levi.  Levi does great on the flat ground....he is still learning to navigate and be comfortable with uneven ground. 
The softness of Levi's flexing made me realize how soft Boom is NOT!  Lots more flexing is in our present and future.  Jay picks up the lead line and Levi flexes - that is my goal for Boom.  Tripp is almost that I do have someone here at home to compare.

Jay has some other horses, some mustangs, some domestics, and these two were full of it!  Jay's mustang Barley shares a dry lot with these two, and sometimes Jay works Barley with these two running around.  It took Jay a minute to get Barley's attention because Barley just knew it was one of these two that Jay wanted....not him.  Ha ha!

I mean why would Jay want Barley when these two obviously need some reprimanding?  :-)

Then Barley realizes.....darn, he picked me!
Even with all the energy all around him, Barley comes to Jay....Barley knows his job.
Notice how much Barley and Levi look alike?  It is a sign...  Hee hee!  

Jay is haltering Barley and the other two are celebrating that it was not their turn.  They are saying "HE PICKED YOU....HA HA HA!!!!"

While lunging Barley, Boomer decides to follow suit.....

Notice how Barley is focused on Jay even tho the two whipper snappers behind him are still trying to get him in trouble.  :-)

Jay has had Barley since 2001 I think he said.  He and Barley are buds...

When I first arrived, Patti from our Mustang group met me, and she watched with me and we both asked questions.  Then we heard a car pull up and Dona and Mary Lou hopped out!  What a surprise.  While Jay was talking to us about what he was doing and why, I noticed the reflections in his sunglasses.....

This one shows all 4 of us at the fence....

Boom was not so sure about Jay at first.  When Boom was tied to the trailer and Jay walked up, Boom backed up and that head went in the air as if to say "I don't think so!  I don't do strangers!"  He has not met a lot of people and when someone new shows up, he is not comfortable.  Once that person takes the lead rope and they walk and talk, he is fine.

Jay had me work Boom in the pen a while to see what I was doing, and Boom responded, etc.  I was very proud because Jay thought Boom and I had a good connection, he said my timing was very good, and he had a few tips and hints for me to help me be better.  That is one of the reasons I was learn to be better, and to work on my confidence and the confidence of Boom.  Let's just say I would pay money to spend a day at a clinic with this guy!

When Jay went into the pen Boom was running off some nervous energy....nothing frantic, just not sure.  By the way, Jay has a 60 ft round pen that is awesome.  They are one of his sponsors and the ones who had the contest to name his EMM horse.  The panels are made in Arkansas and I love how the panels fit together and how it is truly round.  I also like how the tops of the panels fit flush so the top of the pen is flat all the way around instead of having the dips like I do with the panels I have. 

Anyways, Jay and Boom are getting a feel for each other.  Isn't Boom handsome?  :-)

Boom responds to Jay very well and comes right in.....
One of my problems is all the crazy noises and actions that were not a problem before our fall, are a big problem now.  It is like I opened a 'portal' and all this 'stuff' is coming out.  Popping noises and hitting the ground with the whip or stick/string are a couple of those things that are scary now.

I was so impressed because there was no running the crap out of Boom to make a point.  In fact, for all the running Boom did (most of it being his choice), he did not break a sweat.  Jay just made the right thing easier and the wrong thing many times have we heard that?
If Boom got scared and wanted to take off, Jay let him, then asked for a little more when Boom thought he was ready to stop.  

A little bit of flexing and Boom taking a power nap in between....

Jay communicating with Boom.....

I was using Brian's camera and was winging it on some shots....I forgot I had the zoom in, and this is one of the many close ups I got - I thought it was neat....

I learned about Clinton Anderson's soft lariat rope.  I felt it and to me it felt stiff like the one we have.  Then I saw Jay work with it....the softness is in how it works, not how it feels.  Mine keeps a loop and I am constantly having to untwist it, while this one will lay out straight and it is much easier to flip around. 

This was a little "what the heck is that?" kick....other than this, he mostly cantered around then stopped.  He was a little jumpy with the girth area too - also something new since the fall.  That open 'portal'....

While Jay stops to answer questions and to explain a few things, Boom comes in behind him and waits...

After a lot of ground work and finding out what Boom knows and doesn't know, it was time to start hopping on him. 
This is where my nerves kicked in - When Jay hopped on and Boom scooted sideways, I got a sick knot and I felt my heart race.  Boom did not take off bucking or bolting, he was just moving because he was afraid and Jay flexed that head in towards him.  If the jumping was a little much, Jay would work him then ask him to come back for another try. 

I found that the more Jay worked with Boom and the more Boom relaxed, so did I....

Now I have to be realistic here....I am not near as athletic and in shape as Jay is, so I am going to have to make the best of it.  Jay says that me being the way I am will make Boom better because he is going to have to get used to me moving around more to get where I want to be...not his exact words but you get the idea.  :-)
Boom is concerned here but knows that nothing bad happened before, it won't happen now.  If Boom should decide to move out of the way, he will go the opposite way of where Jay is so Jay can slide right off.  Truth time - I know it makes sense and sounds simple to me, but I worry about him going the other way and me going right over on my head.  :-)

FLEX FLEX FLEX.....flexing that head around guarantees that if Boom moves, his hind end is going  around because he is going to follow his nose - which means Jay would slide right off.

Here is where I got the most emotional (in a good way).  Look at Boom and his face...head is not sky high and eyes are not all buggy and worried.  Jay is sliding on with the head flexed at a 45 degree angle....he flexes him even more and pets on him.....
Knowing Boom was relaxed and not worried made me so happy!  I was so worried I was screwing up his brain due to my fear. 

Jay relaxes and talks to us about Boom and how he won't buck....and he started smacking the end of the lead rope back and forth while keeping him flexed.  Boom did not seem concerned at all - he was paying attention to Jay.

Jay started playing with the inside of Boom's mouth.....and Boom says "Ptooey...does not taste like chicken!"

Jay has a trailer with the skinny door opening.  Ours is a small open stock with a swing door.  Boom went right in and Jay worked on him backing out.  I really like the skinny door for this exercise.  Jay showed me a couple of pressure points on Boom to help him decide he wants to move....they work quick too, and it does not take much.

Time for a drink.......

Then it was time to be tied up for a while.....he just hung out and was happy he could rest and think about things.  Chris Cox calls it soaking....

There was so much information and I tried to absorb it all.  Sometimes I feel like an old sponge.  I don't hold as much information as I used to but I sure try!  Some stuff falls out, and it has to be put back in again in order for it to finally stick. 

We could have worked longer but we had a party to head off to.  Which was good...gave us all a break to talk about what we did, and it gave Boom a break to think about his day too.  I am going to continue with what we did, and knowing Boom has some of his confidence back I am going to try even harder to make sure he keeps it, which means I need to work on mine. 

A friend sent me a DVD of a Parelli episode about confidence (Thank you Mike, this is exactly what I need!).  A girl had a bad fall and Linda Parelli is helping her work thru it.  I started watching it today,  and as Linda is asking questions and the girl is answering, I am sitting there thinking "THAT IS ME!"  "THAT IS EXACTLY HOW I FEEL!"  Linda did not start working with the girl at her point of fear - she started before the point of fear.  There were exercises they worked on and I am sitting here thinking to myself "This is brilliant!"  I am going to finish it by myself tonite, then have Brian watch it with me later.  There is so much on there, and I think he will get a lot out of it too. 

Two of the main things I need to work on the most are the flexing, and letting him stand tied for a while.  I have never done that because I don't have a good tie place.  I will have to use the trailer for now, and Brian will be glad that I am finally going to commit to a couple of places for tie poles.  He has been after me for quite a while about this. 
Our backing needs a lot of work too.  He will back, but he is slow and lazy and I need to put more energy into my request if he doesn't back like a man!  Ha ha! 

It was a great day and I am so happy! 
Tonite I worked on our main things, then got my bucket out and did a combination of what Jay did, and what I was seeing on the Parelli DVD.  By the time I was done, I was hopping up across his back then sliding down, and his head did not even go up.  I was running at him making crazy noises (Jay was doing this) then I would leap at him to make like I was getting on.  He just stood there for the leaping part, but at times would move with the crazy actions and noises but I kept with him until he kept those feet still. 
I was also swinging my leg as high as I could back and forth from front to back as I was standing beside him.  The only time he tried to move away is when I swung my leg up and my boot heel his his I kept doing it as long as I could and moved around a lot.  It is good for him to deal with my uncoordinated moves, and it is good for me to help make me more flexible. 

I know I am forgetting things and will remember them later.....only 4 more weeks until the EMM....time sure does fly!

Until later....Karen and Tripp who helped me thru a big obstacle!  Hugs to Tripp!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sonic Boom meets the umbrella and the big white tarp....

This evening I made like Mary Poppins and pulled out the umbrella.  Thank goodness Mary Poppins did not have an umbrella that went thru what this one did.....

I thought that Boomer would have a fit when I opened it up and swung it around, but he just lifted his head to watch, and when I put it down he sniffed at it......

Then he started pawing it.....a lot!

And this is what happened to it.  During all of this he never jumped back.  He nosed it, rolled it around, pawed it and nosed it some more.  It is now demolished so I will take the cover off and make something from that.  :-)

I pulled down the water jugs and threw them around too.  He did not mind me throwing them at him, and putting them on him. 

Wearing them around the neck concerned him a little bit, but no big blow ups.

Then I tied them to the saddle horn and he had to drag them around.  All in all he did alright, but he did get startled a couple of times. 

Then he stopped real quick and looked very unhappy....

Then he dropped that head and started licking his lips and chewing....he realizes he is okay...whew he says, that was close!  It did not take long for him to move around the pen dragging the jugs and not paying any attention to them.

He is totally disgusted with me.  Can you tell?

Last year we found this big white tarp looking thing in the median of the highway, and it was there a long time so we decided to pick up the 'litter' and bring it home.  Today I layed it out in the yard thinking that it would cause a raucous since it is big and white - totally unlike anything he has seen before.  Nope, he nosed it, pawed it, then walked across it to get to more grass.  No drama at all.  We walked over it several times just in case....Wyoming and Batman joined us too.  Nobody was worried about the tarp. 

Batman sniffing at Nakita....

Batman is a piglet.  If he isn't eating with Grandma Tandee, he is with Wyoming.  Tandee and Wy both are very tolerant of this spoiled little boy.  Batman is nipping Wy to get him to move.....they go back and forth like this all the time.

Here we have a mustang butt.....and we have a mini mustang butt.  :-)  Batman still wants to be a mustang when he grows up and I tell him he is makes him feel tough.  :-) 

Not only do we have 3 glowing sets of eyes....look real close on the right and there is another set of eyes.  That is Chase, the llama. 

It was a good workout night with Boomer - no blow ups but we did have some nervous reactions.  I can deal with the reactions because those are something we can work thru.  When he blows up I am at a loss because I don't know what caused it....and it happens so fast. 

I am heading to a friends house in Kansas this weekend...he is going to help me with Boom.  Okay, it is as much for me as it is for Boomer.  :-)  Another friend is going to meet us at his place...I am excited to see them both!
It is very hard for me to ask for help....I want to do it all by myself.  I have had people tell me that it takes more guts to ask for help than it does to try to do it myself....not to mention it might be safer to get help.  If I had a lot of time to keep Boomer here, I know we can work thru it, but if I can get some help and help Boomer mentally now instead of later, why not?  I have to think of Boomer and not myself.....
I really am excited about this weekend because I will get to learn so much!  Now Boomer on the other hand might think a little bit different.  He is going to get a real work out....not the work out from the 'girl'.  Ha ha!

That is all I know for now.....

Until later...Karen and Tripp who wants to see the big white tarp.  :-)

I rode Tripp (first time up after the falls)......and Wyoming helps with Boom....

I have been trying to get this updated the past couple of nights, but just too busy.  So last night I loaded pictures, and this morning I tell the story....

First of all I want to say that Tripp is a special horse.  I don't know what it is about him, but something inside him loves everyone, and he socialized pretty quick with people after he came to live with us.  He is very patient and would not intentionally do anything to hurt us.  He is my Rock Star!  :-)

It was time to get on again....and to be honest, I was not nervous.  Not yet....  My thigh muscle is still causing problems, but the pain is less all the time so I know it is healing.  When I tried to get on him I was standing on my bridge and when I put my leg up there I thought I was pinching my thigh at the seam so I stretched more....then a huge BURNING sensation went around my leg!  Yikes!  It was not a pinch, it was my body saying "Be careful, you are hurting me!"  And the burning was my body saying "TOLD YOU SO!!!!" 
I asked Brian to get my mounting bucket so I could try it again. 
When I got in the saddle, I had a horrible sick knot (nerves) and I said "I have to get back off." so I did muey pronto!  He just looked at me like "What is up Mom?". 
I have never had nerves like this my entire life!  Oh I have been nervous before, but not to this extent and I am not liking it one bit.  I don't want to be one of those people who lets fear stop me from doing what I love.  So now I have to train me too.....I have to train me to relax and think.  :-)
I asked Brian to hold Tripp, you know, because he is so wild and won't stand still while I get on (hee hee!) and I got back on.  The thigh hurt but not near as bad once I was up there....I took a moment to breathe, then Brian moved and I rode thru the yard a while.

Tripp tripped on a rock in the yard while going to check out Misty...

Tripp has never played with hanging pool noodles.  He was peeking at me....."You want me to what????  WHERE????"

TRIPP:  "See?  I don't have to walk thru them.  I can see you just fine if I look around this side."

We rode down the little hill in the yard then stopped to relax some more. 
I am so lucky to have a horse like Tripp to help me with my confidence.  He came here untouched, and has only been here since June 2008.  I would like to say I rode him a lot the past couple years and that is why he is the way he is, but I didn't.  He is just naturally good most of the time.

Tripp has always liked going over the bridge...

Tripp wanted to eat yard grass, but we needed to work first.  I told him he would get grass when we were done.  Then he had an 'itch' on his leg and would steal a bite of grass while he was getting it.  I caught on pretty quick, so when he tried it again, I took him to the dirt spot to scratch his itch....which he did, then he nosed around the dirt - hmmmm, no grass!  Ha ha! 

After riding around the yard it was time to take him in with Boom.  He and Boom don't care for each other - they made that clear last time I put them together.  Boom was nervous with us in there, and Tripp didn't want to get too close to Boom because he remembered losing some hair last time!  Altho it did not stop Tripp from pinning those ears and making faces at him.  I realized that these two are not a good match for me to try to learn to pony a horse! 
Brian worked with Boom while I was on Tripp moving around.  Hey, I even trotted!  :-)

DOH!  Brian has the self portait bug!  He and Boomer mugging it up...

THE NEXT EVENING.......I came home to Batman and Wyoming in the pen.  All 3 were under the small canopy eating Boomer's hay.  Boomer and Wy get along very well so I decided I would use Wy as my working horse with Boom.  Batman is going to have to sit that part out...

Wyoming before I put him in the pen with Boom....

I saddled up both of them and did a few exercises.  Wyoming still turns like a boat - no flexibility at all.  But he still remembered what Go and Whoa were (kind of) and he was still very good about me picking up his feet.  After having to fight with him about a few other things after he came back home, I was not sure what to expect.

Boom had no problem with Wy in the pen.  I hung stuff off them, threw stuff at them, zinged stuff at them, ran them around and changed directions, just let them stand there.....if I could think of it I did it.

Wyoming looking purdy in the saddle...
His poor mane is about rubbed out, and he never had a forelock to speak of.  Thank goodness he still has a tail to use as a fly swisher.

Boomer zooming around the pen.  All stuff we have done before....just doing more of it.

Wyoming zooming at a lesser speed....he is still wondering why he has to do anything....
He is smart too.  He would quietly move off to an area where he thought he blended in, so I would work with Boomer and leave him alone!  He would just watch with interest.

It was windy this particular night and the weather was gorgeous!  At one point the wind picked up the tarp and draped it over his rump.  We have done this several times, but this time it freaked him out and he crow hopped to the other side of the pen and stopped. 

The only other 'episode' was when he was standing in the middle of the pen resting, and he had the tarp and rope all over him, and a couple feed sacks hanging out of the stirrups.  He was standing there looking very relaxed, I looked down to change a setting on my camera, then I heard a snort and looked up and that big boy was bucking!  As in big full fledged fully committed bucks, so I stood back thinking he would stop on the other side of the pen.  Nope!  He kept going and going....turned and came back.....and at one point I thought I better just get out of the pen and let him work it out - I did not want to get hit or run over you know - then he came towards me and I jumped up and down, waved my arms and hollered at him.  He saw me, and didn't miss a beat as he turned the other way and went around the opposite direction. 
What caused this?  I have no idea!  Horse flies were not bad but sweat bees and green heads were.  I just don't know.  What I do know is I was glad I did not start out up there because this girl can't ride a buck like that!  Woo wee!   When he stopped he did not twitch - the only thing moving were his eyes and he was not relaxed at all.  I walked over like it did not happen and started flapping and moving everything I could touch.  I lunged him some more and changed directions a lot so his attention was on me and not in his 'shut down' place and all was well again.

I think after our scary stuff at the trail, I accidentally opened a 'portal' and he and I both are confused by it.  He really is doing great with trying to be brave and handle the things that scare him, but every once in a while it just builds up.  Or does it not build up and he just reacts because he forgets where he is at?  I don't know....but I am trying to learn.

Our neighbor threw out one of those little exercise trampolines and there is nothing wrong with it except the cosmetic cushioning around the edge, so we saved it from the land fill!  I was jumping on it last night and he did not care.  Even when I jumped off he watched with interest and "hmmmm", but no reaction other than surprise when I landed on the ground (upright...hee hee).  It was another good night.  Tonite is supposed to be very cool and pretty out, so it will be another good one too.

That is all for now.....going to head outside to listen to the morning sounds and to feed.

Until later....Karen and Tripp who says he will always take care of his Mom.  :-)