We had to say a hard good-bye to a very old friend/worker this morning. We lost Phoenix, our white dove, during the night. It was not totally unexpected; she had not been feeling well the last few days, but would perk up if I petted her or talked to her. You could tell she was being stoic about it, as all wild animals are. She was an 'elderly' bird, having given us lots of joy over the last 16 1/2 years.
We 'adopted' her, of sorts, in August of 1999, when some butterfly researchers in RMNP brought her into town, saying she would not have lasted the night in the forest, as she was obviously a domestic dove. We always assumed she had been released for a wedding ceremony taking place there or some such thing, and had ignored the handler when they tried to pick up the released doves. She came to us highly trained, but we opted to let her go with her preferred behavior and stay in her palace as we called her large cage.
Phoenix would entertain anyone who took the time to chat with her, cooing non-stop early morning and evenings. It was a pleasant sound that echoed through the lower level of the lodge. She even tried to mimic sounds, like the squeaky printer I used to have, or a combination of laughs when guests would get excited about something,
She gave mightily to the business, never shirking her duty as door greeter, and she will be dearly missed. Rest in peace, our beloved Phoenix. You certainly earned your keep!
B- Yup. And while you're eating... here's a halter!
R- Beel that is not how we do it. You tricked me. I'm supposed to run away for some many times.
B- Nope. You're caught. Let's get to the trailer.
R- Beel. The rolling shed do not smell like me any more. It smells like others.
B- Right again. Juanita will write a blog about that. I'll read it to you later.
called into action this weekend to transport GunDiva's and Jay’s horses to the
Rocky Mt. Horse Expo. They had entered a
couple of the Mustang Days competitions, but their horses saw fit to not want
to load into a very small trailer in the dark in the wee hours of the
morning. After 1 ½ hrs. of try, the kids
opted to leave the horses home and head for the Expo, where they had
volunteered to work the US Wild Horse & Burro booth each day.
We had planned on being there also, so we said
we would go get the horses. We hitched
up our trailer – considerably bigger than theirs – and headed to get the
horses. Of course, the horses had time
to think things over, knew our trailer, and gave in. I walked into the corral with two halters and
Skeeter walked right up to me, stuck her head in the halter, then followed me
to Copper, who also just stuck his head in.
I left both of them standing there while I checked on the repairs Bill
was making to the hitch. Neither had
moved when I got back. They very smartly
stepped into the trailer and we were on our way.
We spent the
next three days having a great time at the Expo (a different blog) and decided
that when we took the horses back, we would just pick ours up on the way home,
being as we were already off the mountain.
We left Denver shortly after noon, dropped Skeeter and Copper off at
their home and headed for our winter pasture outside Lyons.
off Hwy 66 at 3:03 p.m., drove the ½ mile to the pasture and pulled into the
field. We saw Washoe in the middle of
the 40-acre field and by the time Bill had turned the rig around and I had
closed the fence opening, he had trotted most of the way to us. Bill opened the
back of the trailer while I collected halters from the truck. When I turned around I saw Washoe peeking at
me from the open doorway; he was ready to load himself!
Now we had
not pre-planned on picking up the horses, so had not taken our halters with
us. There was one extra rope halter in
the trailer tack area, and my mecate was at GunDiva's house. She had also said we could use any halter we
found there, so Bill had picked up one.
We figured we could make do since both of my horses load on voice
command and neither gets tied in the trailer.
met us at the trailer, he got the rope halter so I could lead him back across
the field to find the other two horses.
They like to stay around behind the neighbor’s house and socialize with
the pig; we also suspect they get treats from people in the house.
When we had
crossed to nearly the last area, Jesse finally noticed us and came wandering
over – which is about the best she can do right now (read Weight blog). I put the mecate bit on her, but she felt
insulted so I took it off and just looped the lead rein around her neck. Ranger finally decided to follow along. Now, Bill had sort of hidden his halter
inside his jacket (cheater) and showed Ranger the treat bag. When Bill put his arm around his neck for a
hug, carrying the lead along too, Ranger was caught. Fastest time ever! We walked the three back to the trailer and
loaded up. We were back on Hwy 66 at
3:31 p.m. Less than ½ hour total.
When we got
back to the lodge, I went inside and retrieved Jesse’s halter. She had loaded and ridden with nothing
on. When we opened the door, she stepped
out and stood by me while I put her halter on and she gave me lots of horsey
hugs while we waited for the others to unload.
When they got in their corral, Washoe rolled, Jesse checked out the salt
block and Ranger headed for the creek. Zero excitement. Now we are getting snowed on so everything is
normal. We ALWAYS get snow when we bring
them back – even though it was 64* and sunny when we picked them up!
B- So, Ranger, that's why the trailer smelled like other horses.
R- Beel on this day it is doing the white falling thing.
B- Sorry buddy. We're much higher up here, and we got 4 inches of snow today.
B- Hey Washoe. Here, Juanita will give you some dried pancakes. Boy, your gut makes you look pregnant.
B- Jesse! You can have some. Wow. You're looking preggers, too. At least you are a mare...
B- Jeeze. Ranger is still way out there.
B- Ranger! Drag your portly, pot belly over here and I'll give you some treats!
R- I am going to where you are Beel. Be more calm.
B- Howdy Ranger. How's my horse doing? You guys are all putting on the pounds here on winter pasture. This hay field is starting to green up. We need to move you off it and take you all back home.
R- This is a good place to be Beel. It has foods. It has waters. It has no head ropes. It has no back chairs.
B- You're getting soft with your time off, old man. Next week we'll get you three back up the mountain and start riding.
R- I like being at this place Beel. It has nice neighbors.
B- Those are pigs, Ranger. You are sharing your water trough with pigs.
R- They are nice. They do not say we are being fat.
B- Pigs are expected to be fat. Horses, not so much. You need to go on a diet.
R- Where do I go to get on that?
B- No no. A diet is when you eat less food and lose some weight. R- Oh. A die eat. I do not want go climb on that. It is called starving. It is bad. B- Now, there is no way we would let you starve... R- Good. I will stay here. With the nice pigs.
B- No sir, next week you all are heading home to limited rations. R- It is okay if I am fat. You sit on me. I almost never sit on you. R- You should go home and die eat.
Sunday was a fun horse day for us. As soon as our guests checked out, we flew out the door to meet our daughter at the trainer's so we could video her rides on her husband's horse. The trainer felt Copper would benefit from having a different experienced rider on him before going home. Jay is a very new rider, and Copper, being a very green horse, could use someone with riding confidence on his back.
He is a very sensitive horse and needs to feel a lot of assurance that he is doing right. He tries really, really hard and it was fun to watch him figure out the feel of someone different. He did great.
It's been a very anxious week for GunDiva and Jay, getting ready for Colorado Mustang Days at the Rocky Mt. Horse Expo this coming weekend. They are using CMD as a training time for their horses, to get them used to strange surroundings, noises, camera flashes, and other horses, plus just the traveling to and from somewhere together in a trailer and staying in strange stalls. Both horses are quiet and laid back, but we all know how difficult it is the first time you travel with your horse companions! I am really proud of the two of them - and a little jealous - for doing this. It's something I always thought would be fun, but was never brave enough to actually sign up for.
After the riding session at the trainer's, we headed to our daughter's place to put some time on Skeeter, her horse. Between the weather and our daughter's work hours, Skeeter has not gotten the optimal amount of training time. The weather was great so we all took turns riding Skeeter. First, GunDiva did a bit of groundwork with her, then saddled up and hopped on. There was a little obstacle practice to keep her thinking.
Skeeter was behaving like the champ she can be, unlike a couple days earlier when she was showing how bratty a young mare can get when something is not just right.
Since she was handling everything so well, I finally hopped on. I've been around for a lot of the rides, but never felt 'just right' about getting on Skeeter. This was the day and it was such fun. I handle the reins quite differently from GunDiva; it took Skeeter a few minutes to decide if she was doing what I wanted, but she quietly figured things out and did great.
This was also the first time the new Wintec saddle had been used. I didn't get the stirrups adjusted right - shorter than I like - and the fenders are so stiff, it's hard to get your feet forward enough, although Bill seemed to be able to when he rode.
We only had one minor upset. I like to dismount from the off-side; it's easier on my hips for some reason. After checking with GunDiva to see if it would bother Skeeter, she said she didn't think so as she had done it a time or two. Obviously, Skeeter did not agree. When my foot hit the ground, she swung her head around at me and stomped that right front foot on the ground as if to say, "that's not right!" We all laughed because it was so obvious she thought I did not know what I was doing.
Bill then hopped on Skeeter and took a few rounds of the corral, but it was obvious Skeeter was becoming tired and wanting to end things on a good note, we decided to quit.
I will lay odds Skeeter has spent a good deal of time this week thinking over all these things. We hope it will help at CMD having her know things can be different and still be fine.
Dogs have masters. Cats have staff. Horses have.... what the hell do horses have?
Dogs have Stockholm Syndrome. They really like, and will actually protect their captors, even if their owners don't deserve their admiration. I wish I were the man my dog thinks I am.
Cats seem stay with people purely for their own entertainment. "And what will the human do if I do THIS?" It's as if the earth is some sort of university and cats are actually alien undergrad students doing basic research. "Will the human blame itself if I take a dump in this shoe?"
Horses seem to pretty much go with the flow. They are like your drunken buddy in college.
You say "Let's go try and pick up some chicks!" and he says "Okay. We'll take them some where to get something to eat."
You say "Hey! Let's go steal the coil wire from Ed's car. He lives on this street!" And he says "Sure. Then we can go eat."
You say "Let's go steal the "Dip" sign from that old back road and hang it in Paul's bedroom! That will teach him not to join us!" and he says "Okay, I've got the tools for that and then we can stop and get something to eat."
(Ummm... don't ask me for details about this stuff.)
What you want your horse to do doesn't have to make sense, it just needs to be done with confidence and it will make your horse happy. Oh, and it needs to be followed by a meal.
When you think about it, this whole "climb on my back and I'll carry you around all day" is not really in the horses' best interest. But if you can convince them that you're part of their team, and this will be a great thing to do, they'll do darn near anything they can with you.
That's it. Horses have cohorts in crime, with a dinner date.
B- Sure thing. Have another. I have your new halter here...
B- Ahhh, come back here. I just want to brush you a bit and see if the halter you got for Christmas fits.
B- Now, why can you be SO GOOD about some things and SUCH A JERK about others?
R- Apples are good. Head ropes are bad.
B- We need a rule here. If I show up with the halter, you walk up to me. Okay?
B- Come on Ranger, you understand rules. For instance, once you are caught you are a perfect gentleman. And if a gate is left open, you won't go through uninvited. Last week all three other horses stepped over the low hotwire in the pasture and ran off. You just stood there and hollered at them.
R- They had a very bad idea.
B- But they came right up to us when we called and let us put their halters on them.
R- They had another bad idea.
B- Okay, next time I'm bringing my rope to catch you with. I haven't thrown a loop in about 12 years since I tore my rotator cuff, but I'll give it a shot.