Tag Archives: Guin

Catching up on the critters

I can’t believe I haven’t made an entry since April. Shameful, I tell you.

I’m not sure where to start. If you’ve read my other post(s), you know we’re moving, and that when the idea first came up I considered selling my horses. I’ve finally accepted that I’m not going to ride them, and they are extremely expensive pasture ornaments. So I started thinking about who I’d sell them to…

  • Blue would probably go to Monica or Kyra.
  • Guin is adored at Eden Farms, and I wouldn’t have any trouble selling her there.
  • Leslie would probably know someone who would take Rowan, and if not, she shouldn’t be too hard to place.
  • And then Princess… Maybe Kalisa or Lesley would like her?

Good plans, but the more I thought about it, the more problems I found.

  • Princess is going to be a tough one to keep sound, and there aren’t many people who are going to be willing to put the money into her that will be necessary to keep her pain free if they can’t ride her. That ultimately puts her in danger of being resold and eventually slaughtered. That is not acceptable to me, so I’ll have to keep her.
  • Rowan is my baby. I truly believe she’d be an excellent dressage horse or hunter, but I’ve seen the training methods used in both those camps, and I just can’t see sending my baby off to that future. I really don’t want to sell her.
  • Guin. Ah, sweet Guin. Out of all of my horses, this is the only one I would ride if I rode — and we’re perfect for each other. It would cost a fortune to replace her. So if I sell her, I’m making the decision to give up riding forever. I’m just not ready to do that, so I can’t sell her.
  • That left Blue. As much as I love him, he’s very sensitive, and he needs a more advanced rider. I can sell him, right?

I invited Monica and Kalisa and Kyra to come out and check out the horses. I was still hoping at the time that Kalisa might like Princess. At the same time I was talking with Leslie in Olympia about coming up to give Rowan her first trim. When she heard that Monica would be checking out Blue, she wanted to come up and give her approval.

So the big day came, and everyone had a wonderful time. (More on Rowan’s trim in a minute.) Monica and Kyra, under Leslie’s tutelage, worked with and then rode Blue. Kalisa and her kids played with and rode Princess (who is a doll!). Everything was great! Except…

It has been a year since Leslie and Blue worked together. He has been with me everyday of that year, and yet it’s clear that he is not as bonded to me as he is to her. He adores her every bit as much as she adores him. He let Monica and Kyra work with and ride him, but he didn’t connect with them anymore than he does with me. He is a one person horse. I realized then that I can’t sell Blue, because he’s not mine to sell. He belongs to Leslie, and I’m just holding on to him until she has room for him.

So four horses, and I can’t sell any of them. We’re stuck with each other for the long haul.

Blue is just in a holding pattern right now. Leslie will get him someday, and I love on him a bit, but I don’t work with him. I could move him out to Eden Farms, and Monica and Kyra would be happy to ride him day in and day out, but I just don’t want to do that. He’s Leslie’s horse, and I don’t want to risk something happening to him.

Princess is also in a holding pattern. I’d love to have a light rider come out and ride her a bit a few times a week. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone I’d trust to do that. (And I don’t have tack for her either.) So she’s just eating her head off in retirement.

That leaves Rowan and Guin….

I promised to tell you about Rowan’s first hoof trim. We spent the afternoon outside with the horses, and it was a rather chaotic scene… Monica on Blue in the arena, Kalisa and Kyra grooming and tacking up Princess next to the arena, Kalisa’s two younger daughters flitting from group to group or playing on the tire swing, and finally, Leslie and I with Rowan, right in the middle of the action — about to attempt Rowan’s first hoof trim. (And did I mention Leslie’s dog running around?)

If you recall, I got Rowan as an unhandled, wild-as-a-March-hare yearling in April 2006. I clicker trained her for a month, and then got lazy. Leslie popped over in June of last year and we halter broke her (Rowan, I mean — Leslie was already halter broken) and introduced her to picking up her front feet. We didn’t touch the back feet at the time, because Leslie wasn’t sure she was reliable enough around her back end.

In the year that followed, I’d love to say I worked with her and put a fabulous start on her, but… um, no. I picked up her front feet in maybe half a dozen sessions scattered throughout the year, and I did a couple of sessions where I attempted to teach her to tie, but that was it. She’s a big lap dog, but she’s as untrained as she was a year ago.

Rowan’s feet have been caring for themselves quite nicely, so I felt no rush to get her trimmed, but I finally decided it was time. I love Leslie, and she’s both a clicker trainer and a barefoot trimmer so I asked her up from Olympia to help me.

Leslie positioned me at the end of the lead rope, about three or four feet from Rowan. She didn’t want me close because she didn’t want to risk clicking for her feet when she might be mugging me. So each time Leslie clicked, I had to rush up, feed Rowan, and then retreat to the end of the rope out of reach.

(Let me also add that it just happened that Kyra was having a problem working with her own yearling’s back feet, so in addition to all the other chaos, she was coming over to ask questions and we were yelling back and forth to Monica.)

Leslie began by picking up each front foot, wiping off the mud, and cleaning it out — and, of course, clicking for it. Then she did the back feet the same way, showing Kyra how to safely approach her own yearling and how to handle the kicking issue. Rowan, who hadn’t ever had her back feet touched, was an absolute champ — didn’t kick, lifted the foot promptly, and let her hold it. Leslie had just done the fronts, so I figure Rowan just assumed we wanted the same with the backs.

Leslie picked up all four feet with no real problems and decided it was time to trim. She started with the front right foot. Rowan struggled a little at first. She wanted that foot back! She even went down into a bow twice. (Okay, that was the CUTEST thing ever, and I wanted desperately to click her, but that would have been a bad idea.) Leslie held onto the foot, and she got it trimmed, though she had to stop twice and let Rowan have a no-treat rest period. (Rule for Rowan: Treats happen only when she’s holding her foot up calmly.)

Then Leslie did the other front foot. She stopped once, I think, during that foot. Leslie was really impressed that Rowan was letting her stretch the foot forward and put it on the hoof stand — she said moving the foot forward sometimes startles horses who’ve never done it.

Then came the back feet. She did the first back foot in a single session — didn’t even need to let Rowan rest. Rowan, who hadn’t had her back feet touched before yesterday, didn’t even struggle. It took all of five minutes. Last foot was equally as good — so good, in fact, that Leslie used a rear foot stand to make her own job easier.

Leslie said she thought Rowan must have had a trim when she was younger, before I got her. I reminded her that she wasn’t halter broken when I got her. Leslie shook her head and said this had to go on record as the easiest first trim ever. Man, I wish I had it on video. It was sincerely EASY. After the first foot she stood there like a pro.

After Leslie trimmed her, we put her in the little arena and ran her around a bit to check her movement. I *did* video tape that and pop it up in a file on YouTube, if you want to see her. It’s nothing exciting — just a two year old filly trotting around. She’s a pretty thing though: 1/4 Percheron, 3/4 Thoroughbred, seal brown, about 14.3 hands, will likely mature small at 15.1 or 15.2.

(I couldn’t get the audio to mute, so please mute it unless you want to hear my guests yelling their goodbyes.)


I had such fun with Leslie when she was here that I’ve been more motivated to work with Rowan. I’d really like to train her for classical dressage — think Spanish Riding School, not competition dressage — at least as much as I can without riding her. I’d like for her to learn to offer the various movements, and I’d like to be able to cue them from the ground without side reins, longe line, or other equipment.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading to figure out how to start her. One thing I’ve learned is that I need to be careful with her at this age. She doesn’t need to work on circles smaller than 20 meters yet. So thus far I’m concentrating on free leading. And since I’m working on free leading, I’m also going to work on stops and stays and coming when called and backing. Everything is everything (as Alex says)!

Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to work with her since I started my new job. I’ve been working 16 hour days, and when I’m not working, I’m simply exhausted. Hopefully I’m past that now, and I can develop a schedule.

Leslie worked with Guin too. She’s a lovely mare, but she has a problem in her left front. We’ve had the vet out, but we don’t know anything definitive yet. We’re seeing if MSM, flax, and a low dose of bute once a day will manage the problem. If so, we probably won’t pursue it further. If not, the next step is nerve blocks and x-rays.

Guin doesn’t love arena work — of course the circles exacerbate her lameness, so who can blame her? — but she adores the trails. I haven’t ridden her out, but Wendy did, and she did great. She’s not at all spooky.

Leslie made me ride Guin bareback! She says that riding bareback is best for insecure riders because they have nothing to brace on. Of course, all we did was walk and turn and stop, but I got progressively more comfortable. I was going to do more riding on my own, but then she went lame, and I started the new job.

Oh — most hysterical thing I’ve ever seen. Jay and I went to the barn a couple of weeks ago to see how Guin was doing. We got there just as she was released into a paddock. TO m surprise, she “spooked” and cantered away from the guy who released her like she was feeling her oats — and then she turned and jumped a four foot fence! I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. Damn — that bute must be a heck of a pain killer. Too cute she was.

Finally, dogs. (Yes, dogs. It’s not actually all horses, all the time at the Alexander menagerie, though it probably seems it here.) Aslan and Pax are doing splendidly. We were thinking our next dog would be a Newfie, but Pax’s breeder is doing a breeding with a pedigree I’m very, very interested in. The dogs being bred are Torre and Hunter. Pax’s father, Jet, is Torre’s grandfather. And Pax’s mother, Gabby is Hunter’s mother. It’s by no means a repeat of Pax’s breeding, but it’s certainly all the “right” genes.

Anyway, Torre went into heat on June 29. If all goes well, puppies would be on the ground in mid-September. If there’s one in the litter for me, it would be ready to go home around Thanksgiving. Woo hoo!!

Posted in Menagerie | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Poor Rowan

Rowan has been demoted, temporarily at least. I noticed on Saturday that she seemed very subdued — subdued enough that I was worried about her. She was eating and drinking normally though, so I decided she was all right. By this morning it was clear that she and Blue are on the outs. I watched Princess chase her away from a pile of hay twice! I had to put some hay out in the rain just so Rowan could eat. Considering how beastly Rowan is to the others when she’s sharing Blue’s status, I can’t say I feel terribly sorry for her.

Guin is doing great in her new home. Friday was deliciously sunny and hot, so I spent much of the late afternoon/evening there. Kalisa and I brought Guin up, and both Kyra and Monica rode her some in the small indoor arena. Monica said she has a lot of try, and is simply a green mare. I told her she’s easier to ride out on trails. Part of me doesn’t want to ride at all, but part of me would like to take her on a trail ride. We’ll see.

She has adjusted to being in a stall overnight. Monica did sooo well acclimating her to the stall. She brought her in just for meals initially. At first she left the door open. Then she closed the door and let her stick her head out at will. Guin never got a chance to get upset.

Jay and I stopped by last night after the horses were up in the barn. She was eating her dinner, but stopped long enough to stick her head out and visit with us. She’s aloof, and I’m hoping that being in this barn with its penchant for spoiling horses will help her learn to like people more.

Posted in Menagerie | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

What a great barn!

Oh my gosh. I LOVE Eden Farms. I absolutely can’t rave enough.

Joe and Monica picked up Guin yesterday afternoon. Adorable girl that she is, she just walked right onto the trailer. She pawed a little but quit once we got moving. When we got to the farm, she unloaded just as easily. She looked around, interested, but wasn’t hyper at all. This place has REALLY good energy. We took her down to her pasture and let her loose for a while. She trotted around and rolled like she hadn’t been out in a while. Too funny, since she’s a pasture pet!

After I toured the facility, Kyra and I brought her up and put her in their small indoor arena. (They have two — a big one and a small one.) She was a little more tense about that, since it was enclosed, but she was very responsive when Kyra longed her (sans longe line).

I went out this afternoon, and brought her up to groom her. (I managed to let a horse out of the pasture when I did it. Oy. Fortunately he didn’t go far. Still. Oy. I felt like SUCH a doofus.) Guin and I finally got up to the barn… and I got swarmed by people who wanted to help me. It was overwhelmingly wonderful. Guin’s tail was twisted into dreadlocks, and Wendy (who’s a hair stylist by trade) took over that operation. By the end of the afternoon, Guin’s tail had been shampooed, conditioned, combed out, and braided. Wow!!

I am just so impressed with the genrous, friendly nature of EVERYONE at this barn. It’s so much fun. When I left, I wished I could get rich, quit my job, move all my horses there, and spend all of my days hangning out there.

Kyra got a new horse — a gorgeous thoroughbred filly. She’s probably not a yearling yet. Her head and neck are refined and feminine, and her conformation looks lovely. She’s unhandled, which is actually fabulous, because she won’t have any baggage to overcome. It’ll be a great project for Kyra.

Posted in Menagerie | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Adventure for Guinevere

My friend Kalisa keeps her horses at a really terrific barn. Well, supposedly it’s terrific. Kalisa raves non-stop about it, and although I haven’t been there, I trust her opinion. I have chatted on the phone with the barn manager, and she’s awesome — and very interested in clicker training to boot.

Well, I found out that the board rate at this barn is extremely reasonable, and they have two openings in April. So I’ve decided to move Guin there next week. Moving her will be, I hope, a win-win for everyone. I’m not afraid to ride her, and Kalisa (and her daughter Kyra and the trainer, Monica) will be there for me to go trail riding with on a regular basis. And this will give Kyra a green horse to play with as she develops her training skills.

Man, I wish I had an extra grand a month. I’d put the whole crew there! It will be wonderful to have facilities like an indoor arena and trails again.

I’m really looking forward to this. I need to order hay tomorrow that, hopefully, will be delivered before she arrives. Monica is arranging for the barn owner to transport Guin early in the week, after Guin and the other horses get their annual vaccinations. I need to go out and dig out my tack and clean it, and scrounge up grooming supplies to take with me. I’d love to give her a bath before she goes over, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. At least I can use a shedding blade on her and try to get rid of some of that hair! I wish I had a working set of clippers, but mine died. Ugh.

Tomorrow Jay and I are tackling the fence. We’re going to hit the fence store when it opens tomorrow morning, and we’re not quitting until that fence keeps Rowan where she’s supposed to be!!! (Famous last words. Sigh. Really, she has turned into a nightmare.)

Posted in Menagerie | Tagged , | 1 Comment