Sunday, December 2, 2012

Guess Who Came to Visit?

Mikey and Monte from A Horseshoeing Housewife / Postcards from Arizona blog!  She hasn't blogged since her wedding, so I know you all would be excited to see her.  We've been trying to get together for a while, but don't live that close to each other, so I really appreciated her traveling the distance to come ride with me and Bombay.

Monte is an awesome horse.  Mikey told me that Monte is really solid, so if I needed to run Bombay into his rump or fly up over the top of them, I was welcome to do so.  I had no intention of doing such things, but Bombay took full advantage of the offer.  As Mikey said, Monte didn't mind one bit.

Look at that sweet face.

We started out in the arena and I could feel that Bombay was a bit more "up" than the previous week when he had his little bucking bronco fit out on the trails with Cut-N-Jump and her solid mare Solis.  Then we rode around the property, being careful not to cross the invisible line that makes the angry neighbor come out of his house and yell at us.  I talked with another neighbor this weekend, and he said the guy has a reputation for not wanting any strangers even near his property.  It didn't surprise me to learn that he lives in the house surrounded by a forest of cacti.

Bombay got even more "up", so Mikey had me get him circling bushes and doing figure 8's.  The idea is to teach him that there are more directions than just out and back to the barn, as well as getting his mind on what I want him to do and not just what he wants to do.  He wanted to run back to the barn, and I turned him into a bush.  He didn't like it and tried to buck me off again, so I did the one-rein stop.

I probably would have quit there, but Mikey was very calm and just kept encouraging me to keep with it.  Keep circling the bushes, then push him up to a trot to circle bushes.  Tire him out.  Bore him to death.  I was worried that if I was having this much trouble with him on my property, would we ever make it out to the desert?  Mikey came a long distance for a trail ride by our beautiful mountains, and I wanted her to get that.

So, we headed up the driveway and Bombay balked.  I had to get on him with the riding crop.  He tried spinning and backing down toward the barn.  I did not want to let him win this argument.  I pushed and kept pushing.  We made it to the gate and he balked some more, backing up and spinning.  I just kept on him, pointing him at the gate until he lowered his head and walked through.

He wanted to fast walk the ride to get back to the barn sooner.  I wanted to take a different trail than the one he knew, hoping the unfamiliar location would help him stay focused on what's in front of him rather than behind him.  We reached the first main road.  Mikey wanted to cross, but I feared that I would end up smeared on the pavement as soon as a car passed and spooked him, or worse yet, I wouldn't be able to stop him from crossing when a car came.  So, we took a long ride around my little block of desert.  I promised her that some day we will be able to ride further and get up into the mountains, but Bombay nor I were ready for that step right now.  I was just trying to keep him at a walk and trying not to piss him off and trigger him to buck and bolt.

We came to a pole with signs on it lying on the side of the trail and he wanted to run away.  Monte took the lead, and Bombay kept Monte between him and the pole and made it past.  Bombay kept trying to push Monte from behind by poking his tail with his nose, and Monte just flicked an ear back and turned his head to see what was going on back there.  I tried holding Bombay back, because I didn't want to encourage that rude behavior.  The next horse he rides with my not be as tolerant, but each time I tried to slow him down, he'd get upset, throw his head around, and hump his back up.

We approached a bunched up sheet in the middle of the trail and amazingly, Bombay handled passing that pretty well.  I guess all that tarp work I did with him paid off.

Mikey encouraged me to keep him thoroughly confused by moving off the trail, circling bushes, riding down into culverts, constantly changing direction, and whatnot.  It worked well for a while, but as we neared home with no intention of going home just yet, Bombay got very forward and threw in a few more bucks that hurt my neck.  All the pulling he was doing on the reins was tiring me out and hurting my neck further, and I could feel that he was about to explode beneath me.  He kept trying to leave Monte and run for the barn, so I dismounted.  Mikey did too, and we just led our horses around.

Bombay was pulling on the lead rope and hurting my neck further, so I kept whacking him in the chest with the rope and riding crop to tell him to hang back.  It would work for a few seconds and then the pulling began again.  In the meantime, Monte was just following Mikey through the desert.  She had thrown his lead rope over his neck and he walked perfectly behind and to the side of her, not budging from that spot.

I picked her brain about how she got Monte to that point.  I'd be in heaven if my horses would just follow me without that hassle of me always having to yank a rope to make them behave.  After we had been walking a while, Mikey suggested that I ride Monte so that I could experience her "couch".  She said she would lead Bombay and work on his leading manners.  She taught me the trick of how to find sloped ground and mount from the higher point.  I seriously doubted I could get up on Monte, because he was taller than Bombay.  It took a few tries and I had to pull hard on that saddle to haul my rear up there, but Monte tolerated it and I made it.  I know if I had put that much pressure on the saddle when mounting Lostine, she'd launch me to the moon.

Monte was on cruise control.  He preferred to follow Mikey than go where I steered him.  He was a good boy and did what I asked, but I saw that he really, really wanted to stay by her side.  He adores her.  I rode without stirrups on him -- something I wouldn't try on Bombay at this point in time.  It's always easier to trust someone else's horse than it is to trust your own, I think.  Mikey had Bombay walking on a loose lead behind and off to the side of her in no time just by putting her hand and arm out to stop him from barging forward.  I think it is easier for some horses to trust other humans rather than their own too, or at least they are more willing to respect them since they are an unknown factor.  That kind of told me that my horses think I'm a pushover, but I also think that all of her years of experience makes Mikey work magic.

It's been really beneficial for me to watch how other people handle horses.  When we got back to the house, Mikey hosed down Monte without having to tie him.  He just stood for his bath politely.  My horses still run back and forth when I hose them down.

Me and Bombay.  He was still "up" even after that long ride / walk.  I guess it's true that you can't tire out an Arabian horse.  That's why they do so well in endurance.

Once the horses were put away, we went to a restaurant that I thought would have room for Monte in the big ass trailer.  I'd been there once before and we were one party of two parties of customers, so I didn't think it would be busy, but on this day the whole town was there with their horses.  It was a happening place.  Horses were lined up flank-to-flank along a hitching post down the entire length of the restaurant and cowboys and cowgirls were dancing to country music.

Mikey was very encouraging, telling me she thought I did well with Bombay.  She wanted me to bring him down to the cattle ranch and help move and brand cattle, but just the thought of having to trailer my crazy horse a long distance and then introduce him to cows when I couldn't even get him to leave the barn without trying to buck me off didn't excite me.  I was, however, willing to help in other ways, and she suggested I could do a weekend-long photo shoot of the activities around a cattle ranch.  I really liked that idea because I'm interested in taking western motif photos to sell on stock sites.  My farrier pictures went over well in the past.  A lot of people think of ranching as "the easy life", so it's important to journal the nitty gritty reality.

I talked to my husband about changing our plans for that weekend.  Hopefully, I can go to learn the ropes, and then by next spring Bombay might be ready for herding cows.  I think he'd enjoy it.  He and I just need to work through a few issues first.


Cut-N-Jump said...

I was wondering if Mikey made it and how things went? It sounds like you two had fun. The trip south might do you and Bombay some good. Give him something to think about and you an awesome photo op.

Reddunappy said...

Great perseverance! Nuzz!

You will get there!
Remember you are just starting over in a new place!!!

Good going. Great to read about Mikey again!!!

Reddunappy said...

Oh and I forgot to say!! I am jealous that you are getting to meet all these blogger friends! :o)

Mikey said...

You are too kind :) I think you're doing just fine with Bombay. You're going to have a great time living in AZ with horses, there is so much to do and you'll get there. Look at all you've done already!
I'm very excited for you to come see the ranch. You're going to love it! Just picture yourself riding Bombay down there :)

fernvalley01 said...

Wonderful!! Between CNJ and Mikey, you have had two really good outings with Bombay.I mean that too , you got out and got him through a lot of thing on each outing. I would LOVE to ride with Mikey I bet she is awesome!!! And don't tell her this cause I Am an Appy girl, but I adore that Monty horse! Never met him and I am in love! Glad you have the opportunity to work with both of them , and hope you have many more. Mikey's body language likely told Mr high wide and handsome Bombay that she wa not gonna tolerate much , and you are probably right , years of experience is a huge part of it ! Yay for you all

Katharine Swan said...

I'm glad to hear that you've had a couple of riding buddies to help you and your horses work through your confidence issues. Cut-N-Jump and Mikey both sound like awesome riding buddies, and I know you've been wanting someone to ride with for a long time.

I think it's very likely that Bombay senses that you don't trust him, and is made more anxious by your nervousness. I know Panama and I do much better together when I am able to work through my fears. It's not easy when I've been so scared in the past by his bolting, but I've learned that focusing on keeping my breathing slow and even, and making sure I am giving Panama plenty of cues of what I want and expect him to do -- rather than freezing up and giving him room to make his own decisions -- makes all the difference. One day I'll be able to do it without thinking about it. ;o)

Breathe said...

It was great to catch up on your adventures! Glad to see Mickey out and about!

Did you glean anything about your leading you need to change? It is always helpful to have someone lead your horse and work with them.

I hope you take her up on her offer!

Vaquerogirl said...

Wow! What a fun filled and jam packed day you had! It's no fun to have a horse that won't mind~ I am so glad you got a chance to ride with Mikey! She's a true horsewoman and the kind of rider we could all aspire to be! Keep working with your horse, and I hope you will someday be able to ride and herd with Mikey and her gang of rough riders!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Hi Mikey and Monte! Sounds like a pretty good! I'm glad you were able to finally ride together. I would love to ride with Mikey someday, too!
And I would love to work cows with my Apache mare! How awesome would that be?! Maybe you two will invite me next Spring?


aurora said...

How fun to ride with another blogger! I am not familiar with Mikey/her blog (going to check it out) but she was obviously helpful in many ways. Glad you had a nice visit, and altho there were some sticky spots, it was an overall good experience. Shooting photos at a cattle ranch sounds like a blast, lucky you! Can't wait to see some pics.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Breathe - I still need to try out what she showed me, but the main difference I noticed was that I was taught to not let a horse walk behind me, because if it spooks, it could bowl me over. So, I have always kept horses to my side, the head a little bit ahead of my shoulder. However, if you keep the horse behind you, your body closes that door to go forward faster. Horses can spook in any direction. Mine often go sideways, so keeping them off to my side really wasn't that effective. It's probably also what fernvalley said about the body language you emit.

Cindy D. said...

Sounds like you guys really did make some good progress. That is fantastic.

My trainer says that my biggest problem is remembering to breathe. Its funny too, because when Trax is trying to run away with me (which he does often) I will do the one rein stop and he just spins and spins. The minute I let my breath out, he will stop.
It is even the same with lunging him. He wants to trot the whole time, but him chosing the speed is letting him be in charge, so we work a lot on transitions and the only way I can get him to slow down is to take a deep breath and verbally let it out. When he hars me let down I can actually see him let down too. It really is the most amazing thing!

I really think it is cool that you are getting to meet and ride with fellow bloggers. What fun!

Cindy D. said...

Oh I forgot to say that I second what Mikey said. You are doing a great job, you are constantly seeking out new idea's and keep trying different things, and that is what brings about success! :)

ellie k said...

Maybe you should let Mikey or Cut in jump ride your horse and then they will know just what you are talking about. Sounds like you are doing a good job and things are improving for you.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

ellie - That would be a good test to see if the problem is the horse or the rider, but just in case the problem isn't 100% me, I would not want to risk having anyone else get hurt.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I'm up for it and trust me Nuzz, I wanted (badly) to get on him and get him thru the gate for you, but while he may go thru just fine for me, it is still something You need to sort out with him.

Not like Mikey and I haven't ridden our share of not so steady horses, but having the quiet horses there for Bombay to see and gain the confidence from is a big difference. Maybe next time Mikey's coming thru we can all get together. This time I was out whooping it up with the pony as you know.

Paint Girl said...

Isn't Mikey awesome!?! I met her a couple years ago at the Scottsdale Arabian show and I wish I could have talked to her more but I was so dang busy!! I would love to ride with her someday!
That is fantastic that she came to ride with you and helped you out!! I think you will have fun at the ranch and it will be good for Bombay. Bombay sounds so much like my Brandy. It took years, but we finally worked out a lot of her insecurity issues, it takes a lot of wet saddle blankets!!

Debby said...

Cool beans!

achieve1dream said...

Cool! The photo shoot at the ranch sounds like sooooo much fun!!!

Sorry Bombay caused so many problems for you. I'm glad Mikey had some suggestions that might help. I'm also glad you have the place (and I hope the time) to work with him more consistently like you wanted. You will get there! You're doing a great job! I'm also glad you have some nice friends around to help you out. They sound so awesome!

Laura said...

Yeah! Mikey and Monte! How great that Mikey was able to come by and go out for a ride with you. Sounds like Bombay did a bit better this time. I'm glad you have CNJ and Mikey to help out a bit.

I hope you can make some more progress over the winter with him.

I'm looking forward to see your pics from the cattle ranch!