Friday, September 30, 2011

One mans' Jewel is another persons'.....?

Daughter had taken lessons, worked for a Trainer (using that title loosely) and ridden/competed for ten years, when we decided based on a host of reason that it was time to look into "our own horse." I was prudent about it, and decided that leasing a horse would be a smart way to enter this life change Although at the time I had no idea that it would be a LIFE CHANGE!!!
I spread the word with horse people that we knew, and was soon  given a name and a phone number to someone who might have some horses for lease. So after a phone call., we went off to look at three mares; a barrel pony, a Palomino, and a young Paint. Daughter was excited, yet guarded. She wanted the Right horse.  The Palomino was nice, but had just foaled, would be unavailable for a few more weeks, and she was grumpy. Daughter just didn't like her. So we went out into the field to look at the other two. The pony was a pony, and Daughter is tall. While we were chatting, a Bay Paint trotted over the hill, with long black mane blowing in the breeze. It was like a scene out of a romance, and Daughter was transfixed. She loved Paints, and this one was pretty. "Who is that?"
I had been told about the young, barely broke (found out later that she had only been ridden a handful of times), APHA mare named "Jewel" over the phone. Wary of an untrained horse, I had not mentioned her to Daughter, but I may as well have. Daughter wanted to ride her, and see what she thought. So off we went. Jewel bucked a few times, but settled right down, and a deal was struck. We leased her in place, and just loved her. Long story short, we bought her less than two months later. (more about that another time)

A few days after Jewel became ours, I put her in the indoor arena to run around while I was stripping her stall. The sawdust was in a fenced up corner, someone had left the gate open, and Jewel went to investigate. As I walked toward her she circled the pile, climbing higher and higher in the large mound of sawdust. She kept sinking, but she was determined to make it to the summit, and circled ever higher. As she reached the top, she stood surveying her Queendom, made eye contact with me, lifted her head high and let out a loud whinny. In that moment I knew that she was going to come off that pile in a hurry, and ran to open the gate wide. Just as I had she flew by me, sawdust flying and covering me, and ran into the middle of the arena. She was snorting and whinnying the entire way. She spun around, saw me and let out a huge snort, followed by a whinny. Then she took a victory circle and pranced like a price fighter. I was in awe, and that is when "Jewel" became "Pippi." (she was four, but had only had a barn name for two months, so changing it felt right). A "Jewel" is cold, beautiful, aloof, and unreachable. This horse was funny, silly, lovable, brash, stubborn, eccentric; in other words a Pippi Longstocking. Didn't hurt that she did have four Long stockings either, or that her new human grew up in Scandinavia, and had Pippi as her childhood hero.

This quote (my own lose translation) epitomizes both Pippi's:

" I had never done it before, so I just knew that I could!"

If you have not read, or watched the Pippi movies, please do. And share them with girls of all ages. There has never been a better female role model,( or a better horse ) in my opinion.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Halter pics from 2010. Judge away!!

Like my previous post explained I am trying to learn more about conformation. Another Blogger kindly offered to take a look if I posted some photos of Pippi that showed her conformation. The last time we showed her in Halter/in hand was in 2010, and she has grown a bit since then. (Her back is a bit shorter now.)
I am not afraid of hearing negative comments; Pippi's personality and sweet temperament was the reason for buying her. She is sound, has never been lame, or had any injuries that have sidelined her (knock on wood), and is becoming a very nice Hunter. So let it rip.

Here are my comments: - the angle of her Pastern is too steep
                                     - no space in the Throat Latch
                                     - neck a little short and thick (grew into it more over the summer, she is now 6)
                                     - neck is thick like a geldings neck

Thanks for any input. I am using my own horse as a learning tool, as I know what she looks like. ;)

(yep, that's me showing Pippi, in borrowed western wear. Weedgie in a Cowboy Hat)

Couldn't find my HORSE!!!!!

Went to the barn last night to longe Pippi, and to just spend some time with her. Looked forward to a little Pippi/mamma time. Daughter was making dinner, which was a super yummy pizza, and work on her essay, so off I went.
When I got there, I realized that Pippi and Annie was in their field since the gate was closed and they were not in the barn. I stood at gate and whistled, yelling "Pippi, Annie" with no results. Their field is about 2 acres, of weeds and hillside. After a few more minutes of calling for them, and banging the gate, I finally entered the field and started making my way around the hill. No sight of the mares, no rustling in the weeds, not snorting, NOTHING. I walked around the entire area, calling and trying to hard to listen for the. There is one really steep hill, and I stood at the top peering down and calling, nothing!!

Starting to feel a little unsettled now; go back for treat bag. Walk the field again, shaking treat bag and calling. Nothing!! Are they in another field? Are they with the geldings at the pond? Off I go. Nope, got to give treats to Tony the Pony and GreyBob, who did respond to the sound of shaking treats. But no mares.

Seriously!! Where is Pippi? Did someone take her? Did another rider take her and Annie on a trail ride, cause that would really tick me off!!!! Walk into the mare field again, and call owner asking her to call me back. In the distance I hear sirens, firetruck and ambulance. I can't see them in the valley yet, but the sound grows, and the field horses in the valley are starting to move. Oh good, if the mares somehow got down there I should be able to see them as they move with the herd.

The sirens come closer and closer, and I can now see the Firetruck as it nears the hillside. Just as it passes by, Annie comes flying out of nowhere, with Pippi right on her heels. They were down the steep side the whole time!! Pippi comes right to me, and snorts, and if I didn't know any better, I'd say they were both laughing at me. Those two really had me going!!

Property Owner calls me back, and laughs when I tell her what happened. It seems that these two pulled that stunt on her too, and that was at morning feed time. Stubborn ornery mares!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Crazy about Conformation

I have developed an interest in Conformation, and have spent some time reading about it on Blogs:
in my growing collection of Horse Books and by watching what horses place in "halter" or "in hand" classes at shows. 
Since Pippi is a Paint, her conformation follows that of the Quarter Horse (right? LOL). Here is the Standard for Conformation for the AQHA:

Hope that is legible. If not you can see a better version here:

After doing all this reading and studying, I have no idea what makes good conformation and what does not. But I will keep looking and reading and learning.

Does Pippi have good conformation? Heck if I know. LOL

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tonk - The Grizzly Chaser!

From "The Spokesman-Review" September 18,, 2011:

Grizzlies are high profile this year.-
A lingering winter and late berry crop kept bears in proximity to humans longer than normal, perhaps contributing to a stream of headlines about grizzlies killing people and people killing grizzlies.
Meanwhile, a young lady on a big horse charged out of the pack of grizzly stories near Glacier National Park. In a cloud of dust, the 25-year-old wrangler likely saved a boy’s life while demonstrating that skill, quick-thinking and guts sometimes are the best weapons against a head-on charging grizzly.
On July 30, Erin Bolster of Swan Mountain Outfitters was guiding eight clients on a horse ride on the Flathead National Forest between West Glacier and Hungry Horse, Mont.
“It’s the shortest ride we offer,” she said Wednesday, recalling the incident. “We’d already led two trips that morning. It’s always been a very routine hour-long loop, until that day.”
The group included a family of six plus a vacationing Illinois man, who’d booked the trip for his 8-year-old son’s first horse-riding experience.The young boy was riding Scout, a steady obedient mount, following directly behind Bolster, who was leading the group on Tonk, a burly 10-year-old white horse of questionable lineage.
Tonk isn’t the typical trail mount. Best anyone knows, he’s the result of cross-breeding a quarter horse with a Percheron – a draft horse. Bolster is 5-foot-10, yet she relies on her athleticism to climb into the saddle aboard Tonk.“He was one of the horses we lease from Wyoming and bring in every year,” Bolster said, noting that she’d picked him from the stable in May to be hers for the season.“He’s a very large horse – 18 hands high. That intimidates a lot of riders. But I’ve always loved big horses. He’s kind of high-strung and spooky, the largest of our wrangling horses. I like a horse with a lot of spirit, and I was really glad to be on him that day.”
Bolster has accumulated a wealth of experience on and around horses of national and even world class. She started riding at 4 years old, became a pro trainer at 15, graduated from high school at 16 in Roanoke, Va., and ran a riding academy for several years. Seeking a more laid-back lifestyle, she wrangled in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic before moving to Whitefish three years ago to guide tourists during the summer around Glacier National Park and ski through winter.“It’s the country, the mountains and the idea of seeing lot of wildlife that appealed to me, ironically enough,” she said.
Bolster quickly racked bear experience, too, although until July 30, it was always at a distance.“At the peak of the season, we were seeing bears daily,” she said. “The wranglers name them so we can let each other know where they are. Usually the bears just keep feeding in the distance or they run away when we come. Just seeing them is a treat for us and our guests.”Because they guide around Glacier Park, bear awareness is part of the preparation wranglers get when hired by Swan Mountain Outfitters.
“We go over a lot of wildlife scenarios in our training,” Bolster said. “We learn to watch our horses for signals of possible trouble so we can steer clear.”That’s the key, she said: Avoid trouble with a moose or a bear. “We can’t use pepper spray when we’re riding because that could blind the horse,” she said. “And using a gun would spook the horses and probably produce more danger than safety.”That’s how she went to work that day: a young but seasoned pro rider on a new, huge and spirited horse, unarmed in the wilderness with eight dudes.

“It was a pleasant ride until we came around a corner on the trail and my horse stopped firm and wouldn’t move,” Bolster said. “He never refuses to go, so that caught my attention quick.”But not fast enough to avoid the spike white-tailed deer that burst out of the brush and glanced off Tonk’s left front shoulder.
As Tonk spun from the impact, Bolster saw a huge grizzly bear crashing through the forest right at the group in pursuit of the deer. Horses panicked and guests grabbed saddle horns for the ride of their lives.
“No amount of training could keep a horse from running from a 700-pound charging bear,” she said.Seven of the horses sensed the danger, scrambled around and galloped back on the trail toward the barn.
But Scout bolted perpendicular to the trail into the timber packing the 8-year-old boy.
“The deer peeled off and joined the horses sprinting down the trail,” Bolster said. “So the bear just continued running right past me. I’m not sure the bear even knew the roles had changed, but now it was chasing a horse instead of a deer.” The grizzly was zeroed in on Scout and the boy – the isolated prey in the woods. Adding to the drama, the boy’s father, an experienced rider, could not convince his horse that it was a good plan to ride to his son’s rescue.
“The last thing he saw over his shoulder as his horse ran away was the grizzly chasing his boy,” Bolster said.

With the bear on Scout’s heels, Tonk’s instinct was to flee with the group of horses. But Tonk responded to Bolster’s heels in his ribs as she spun the big fella around. They wheeled out of a 360 and bolted into the trees to wedge between the predator and the prey. “The boy was bent over, feet out of the stirrups, clutching the saddle horn and the horse’s neck,” she said. “That kept him from hitting a tree limb. “But all I could think about was the boy falling off in the path of that grizzly.

“I bent down, screamed and yelled, but the bear was growling and snarling and staying very focused on Scout.

“As it tried to circle back toward Scout, I realized I had to get Tonk to square off and face the bear. We had to get the bear to acknowledge us.

“We did. We got its attention – and the bear charged.

“So I charged at the bear.”

Did she think twice about that?

“I had no hesitation, honestly,” Bolster said. “Nothing in my body was going to let that little boy get hurt by that bear. That wasn’t an option.” Tonk was on the same page.

With a ton of horse, boulder-size hooves and a fire-breathing blonde thundering at it, the bear came within about 10 feet before skittering off to the side. But it quickly angled to make yet another stab at getting to Scout and the boy – who had just fallen to the ground.

“Tonk and I had to go at the bear a third time before we finally hazed him away,” she said.

“The boy had landed in some beargrass and was OK. Scout was standing nearby.”

Bolster gathered the boy up with her on Tonk, grabbed Scout’s lead and trotted down the trail.
"The boy was in shock,” she said. “I looked back and could see the bear had continued to go away through he woods, but I had another five or 10 minutes of riding before I got back with the group.”

Not until she reunited with her riders – all OK and standing in various stages of confusion with their horses – did she start to shake.

“I looked at Tonk, and he was wet with sweat and shaking, too,” she said.
She was especially concerned for the boy’s father, who probably suffered the most terror in the ordeal.
“He was fine, and I got my biggest tip of the season,” Bolster said. “My biggest hope is that the boy isn’t discouraged from riding. This was a one-in-a-million event.”

For the next few days, the outfitter shut down the trail rides and Bolster joined other wranglers and a federal grizzly bear expert to ride horses through the area looking for the bear. “They tracked it for a long way and concluded that it kept going out of the area,” she said. “Judging from the tracks and my description of how high the bear came up on Tonk, the grizzly expert estimated it weighed 700-750 pounds.

“This was a case of us being in the wrong place as a bear was already in the act of chasing its natural prey. He was probably more persistent because he was really hungry.” Bolster and the other wranglers vowed to have bear spray on their belts to make sure they can defend their guests during breaks on the ground.

“But when you’re riding, the horse is your best protection, if you can stay on,” she said.

“Some of the horses I’ve ridden would have absolutely refused to do what Tonk did; others would have thrown me off in the process. Some horses can never overcome their flight-animal instinct to run away.” In those minutes of crisis, the big lug of mongrel mount proved his mettle in a test few trail horses will face in their careers.

Tonk’s grit moved Bolster. She wasn’t about to send him back to Wyoming with the other leased horses.

“Two weeks ago, I closed the deal and bought him,” Bolster said as she was wrapping up her 2011 wrangling season.

“After what he did that day, he had to be mine.”

After what Tonk did I can totally understand why he had to be hers. I hope the Seller gave her a great deal, as the fearsome twosome should be a constant team.

What a story!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Reckless" - The Not so famous Marine

Below is the text from an email I received today:

"Reckless …the military mare.
This former race horse was a pack horse during the Korean war, and she carried recoilless rifles, ammunition and supplies to Marines. Nothing too unusual about that, lots of animals got pressed into doing pack chores in many wars.
But this horse did something more….during the battle for a location called Outpost Vegas, this mare made 50 trips up and down the hill, on the way up she carried ammunition, and on the way down she carried wounded soldiers.
What was so amazing? Well she made every one of those trips without anyone leading her.
I can imagine a horse carrying a wounded soldier, being smacked on the rump at the top of the hill, and heading back to the "safety" of the rear. But to imagine the same horse, loaded with ammunition, and trudging back to the battle where artillery is going off, without anyone leading her is unbelievable. To know that she would make 50 of those trips is unheard of. Hell, how many horses would even make it back to the barn once, let alone return to you in the field one single time.
So here is a clip of her story and photos to prove where she was and what she did…."

Heroes come in many packages. 
 You can read more about Reckless on this website:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Don't wanna Know!!

I called an old friend last night, someone whom I had chosen to spend less time with on purpose. I called to be nice, and to make sure that a relative of hers was doing okay. "Nice" is not something I normally aspire to be, as I think it has a fake side to it. Because when is it that we ask someone to "be nice?" In my opinion it is when something should be glossed over, when we should just "be nice" to "get along." And as a brutally honest person, "being nice" is not a skill I am skilled at. As an old friend once suggested; I should have to wear a shirt at all times that reads: "Ask questions at your own peril."
The conversation started out well enough, and we both caught up with the current state of affairs. But then it happened, the reminder of why I had removed myself in the first place; THE DRAMA!!! It came rolling at me through the cellphone like a dark thundercloud.

Rolling in, eating up blue sky and sunshine, and enveloping me quicker than you can hit the "end call" button. Well, not really, because I was "being nice."
You can't imagine the amount of drama that has hit this persons life since we last spoke. This happened, and then that happened, and then, and you will not even believe this......and on and on. It ended with her trying to tell me some gossip and spread rumors about a new association in my life. But you see, it is a professional association of sorts, and I don't really need to know who they slept with, whether they have personal financial issues, if they really have the skills they state to have, whether they have gambling issues, or whatever the gossip was. Because just in time I remembered; I am NOT NICE!! I don't even aspire to be nice, it is a goal I let go of years ago, and so I ended the conversation. And it will be a cold day in "you know where" before I fall into the "nice girl" trap again. HA!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thank you for validating

The comments I received for the previous blog post were so kind and thoughtful, Thank you. I feel better armed to speak to the new facility owner before moving, and feel that you have helped me find the words and validated my thoughts; THANK YOU!!!

Something BIG has happened in Pippi's world; she matured!!! And the previously "get along, be nice, no sweat" mare has become...............THE ALPHA MARE!!! I know, it is a transformation that has astounded us and Barn Lady. Barn Lady stated yesterday that she is so happy to see Pippi come into her own, and feels that moving Pippi to her place (and now we are about to move again, at least for the winter) gave Pippi a feel for a real herd, and her place in it. And that's a good thing, Pippi needed her confidence. The good news is that Pippi is still kind and sweet, and has not lost that side, but she is most definitely the mare in the herd that bosses the others around. She drinks first, she leaves the field first, and she is not fearful anymore.

The transformation happened after a new mare showed up, an alpha mare from Mississippi who bossed poor Annie and Pippi around mercilessly and finally had to be kept separately. After she left, a big TB mare named Holly moved in, and Pippi must have decided that she was not going to take any more guff. So she took control, and Holly and Annie accepted her position without any drama. Let's hope she rules with a kind heart.

It is startling to see how she carries herself now. It's like she grew a few inches, and just has a new strut. We are going to a show this coming weekend and we are happy to not have to worry about Pippi being fearful. Why would she be? She the BIG B now!