Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Long overdue















I think I finally figured out a way to post pictures to the blog again. Granted these aren't the best, but they are up. Here's something some of you may not have seen and something many of us haven't seen in a while...

This was the crappy leather harness I started Kat in with my nylon purple ground lines. He broke the lines that go with this harness long before we started driving. I keep this one out with the horses as I usually use it for long line work with him and I wouldn't be so upset if it a) goes missing or b) get ruined by the weather.  At least not nearly as upset as I would be if it were my good harness which is kept inside.

You may also be able to see something else that has been changed in these photos. Something I have been waiting waaaay too long and waaaay too patiently to have. I will try to get better photos of this later but I FINALLY got my marathon shafts!!!! I still have to make one more small alteration to it, but for the most part, the cart is exactly the way I want it now. Yay!!! 

I'm not sure what happened or why the pic's all ended up along the side. I have tried a few things to fix it and no go. We either get the pic's along the side like that or none at all. I figured everyone likes to see pic's so here they are.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Where to start?

How do I get into driving or give it a try?  Several people have mentioned in the comments here and on other blogs about wanting to try diving. To that I boldly say GO FOR IT! If you've ever seen it and wanted to know more- the internet makes it easy to find s.o.m.e.o.n.e. out there who does it and would gladly help you give it a shot. I know our driving club is always looking for new members to keep things going and input on how to get more of us out there and involved.


Now I know not everyone is cut out for competition. Not everyone who rides or owns horses, competes. While there are many different events to compete in on horseback, driving is a little more limited, but not by any huge margin and drivers are not to be outdone when it comes to having FUN.


One place to start is the American Driving Society or ADS website. If you scroll over the words, it is a 'clicky link' to their page with the different Regions listed.  Find your state and click on your Region. It will produce a page with the Regional Director contact info, below that is a calendar of everything going on for the month in your Region. Below that is a list of all of the driving clubs in that region listed alphabetically by state. Each club lists their primary contact person, phone numbers, emails and of course their websites.


Nevada was the only state I seen that didn't have any information listed at this time. Utah and a couple other states only listed a name and phone number, but I'm sure the person listed or anyone at the ADS would be willing to pass along someone's information on who to contact to get involved. The Midwestern and Northwestern Regions also included Canadian driving clubs for our northern neighbors who enjoy driving too.


If you don't find anything nearby or close enough, you might also try looking on the website of the Carriage Association of America. Again this is another 'clicky link' taking you to their page listing all of their Chapters. While their websites and emails aren't set up as direct links, if you can copy and paste, you can get thru to them and find them online.


Both the ADS & CAA have a calendar of scheduled events. When and where of what's happening in the driving world. The CAA list isn't quite as extensive as the ADS list, the ADS also has an omnibus page listing all of their CDE's or Combined Driving Events, which are similar to 3 day eventing for those new to all of the driving talk.


My advice on this? Find a club, find an event and GO! Even if you just go to watch- GO! You can admire the horses from afar or go up and talk to people. The owners, drivers, trainers, event organizers, etc. that I have met, have been a friendly group so far, but you will find yourself immersed in it and there is soooo much to take in.


Talking to the different competitors and their trainers, you can set up a time to go take a driving lesson and give it a shot. This is kinda like test driving a car, you can try it before you buy it, type of deal. If you aren't confident enough to continue or decide driving is not your 'thing', you can at least say you gave it a try. You aren't 'out' the cost of lessons, training, harness, carriages/carts, gear, etc.


If you do decide to get into driving, you will have made a connection with a trainer who can help you either transition your current horse over to driving or help you find another one who already does. They may also have or know where to find all of the things you will need to get going in this new direction. It can be expensive, but then show me some aspect of anything we do with horses that isn't?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Where I'm at

I have a few posts floating around in the drafts and I had a look at them to see if there was anything ready or even close to ready to be published. One of the posts got me to thinking about how far we've come and where we are or were going with driving, when all of this started a few years ago.


When I started driving Kat, I knew we would be doing things alone for the most part and so his training was tailored for that. He would need to be solid and steady when harnessing up and putting to as well as unhitching from the cart and putting everything away. Kat and I have pretty much flown solo all along.


One thing I had set my sights on was going as far with it as we could. Would I love to be able to drive at the Live Oak in Ocala or Gladstone in New Jersey? Sure! It helps that I have friends who live 5-10 minutes away from both venues and it would be a hell of an awesome blast to see them again.


Am I disappointed if Kat and I never make it? Who wouldn't be? But right now, it's not in the cards for us. simply put, I don't have the time or the money to do either one. Entries and expenses alone would be a killer.


Now I'm not one to throw a big pity party so how about we look at what Kat and I HAVE accomplished so far.


1) He is the second pony/horse I have ever trained to drive. The first one was my daughters pony mare Pi and while it went smoothly enough and was fun in the beginning, it ended horribly with a wreck because of a number of factors. Nobody was decapitated got seriously hurt, but the cart was destroyed and Pi made it very clear she was NOT on interested in pulling one EVER again. My best friend also vowed that day she would never ride in a cart with me again. Ever. Although we occasionally joke about it and I make the offer, she won't budge. It's ok. We can still laugh about it all these years later.  


2) We started out at training level and moved up to Prelim. We had 3 very well respected votes to move up when we did. This one still blows me away.  Because of my lack of time, money and knowledge leading up to this, to think that these people had faith in us and seen what we were or are capable of doing? This still blows me away. Because when you look back-


3) I had no trainer. I have made numerous attempts to get together with Gary before different events and try to slip a lesson in and it. just. never. happened. Other than sending him an email with a few pictures and a likely lame ass description of what I was doing (or trying to do) and where we had problems, I never got to really work WITH him or have him give me directions and really nail things down. Had I been able to send the pony to him or anyone else, or really work with a trainer on a consistent basis, who knows where we might have gone or how far we could've taken it.


4) Consistency. We had very little of this as far as putting the proper amount of time into it. There were times when Kat and I would only get to drive once a week and then we hit an event as a pair of weekend warriors. This was sooooooo not fair to him and Damned if he wasn't a trooper thru all of it. Pony man never failed to fire and the last few ADT's he went way beyond what I ever could have expected.


5) Ground driving and long line work was not on my 'to do' list as far as learning things goes. Kat has taught me a LOT when it comes to ground driving and long line work. Thanks to Sherri, a driving club member who told me she often does more work without the cart than she does with it, I knew what we needed to work on.  When I think back to the early days of our ground driving and long line work- it was boring, mundane, tedious and I doubt it was anything fancy to look at. We both got thru it. We learned. I learned. I learned a lot and I soaked it all in. I still have an image in my mind of Kat rocked back and moving like a freight train, bold, powerful and BIG, working in the front pasture flooded with irrigation water.  He was a sight to behold. I now know how to get that movement from other horses and how great it looks when they do it.


6) Confidence. Kat has become a pretty level headed point and shoot horse. With the exception of the last ADT and his two hair brained incidents (one in the cones and one in hazard 3), he has become pretty confident and goes where I aim him. Water has been a big issue all along, but with the second water hazard at the ADT in Sonoita and the water hazard at the ADT in Prescott, he went in with little whipping, swearing, threats coaxing and encouragement.  He figured out the water hazard in Paulden after several attempts in the beginning and he handled the huge runoff puddles near the house rather well the last time we went thru them too. 


We may never make it to Gladstone or Ocala, but with all things considered? We have already come a long way and accomplished a lot, with what little we had to work with. I'm proud of my pony and I'm looking forward to what is next to come. He's still in shape, looking damned good from the pictures I've gotten and shared via email (Blogger won't let me upload them for some reason) and the last time I had him in the lines- He. Nailed. It.  I need to see what's on the calendar for the fall and bring him back to work in harness.


The Katman cometh...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Passing time

I have got to get Kat back to work, but since I am not planning on hitting any real events for the rest of the year, it seems kind of pointless to push him for much. Right now it is just hotter than hell. Add in a bit of humidity from the clouds that keep appearing and threatening to drench things and it is almost miserable.

I have been working him though so he is still in shape. I turn each horse out and clean their stall, then work them a bit before bringing them back in and switching horses. The order is always changed up and I can leave one out overnight so that's helping. Whenever the hormones finally clear his system and Kat no longer thinks he is the man about town, I can maybe rearrange things and make a bigger turnout/work arena for them all.

I did get in touch with a local girl though thru a sad chain of events that led us to meet. She lost her horse and it was one of the foals from my WB mare, before I got her. I offered to let her come meet my mare and see her and as horse people do, we got to talking about almost everything under the sun. Well it turns out that her family has mini's and all of the gear to drive them, but no idea where to start.

OF COURSE I offered to take her for a drive with Kat! I also offered to help her get their minis going in harness too. The thing about driving? It's like any other equine sport. Once you're hooked.... there's no going back.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Good for the goose

I had thought about not putting the last post up, but then I went ahead with it as someone out there may need an idea of how to flush a wound that is up and sort of out of reach. Gravity helps with some things, but flushing a wound is not always one of them.

In good news, Kat is healing up nicely again, the swelling has gone down to minimal, the hematoma under his belly is gone and hopefully before long this will all be a thing of the past. I had thought of buying a regular syringe, but they just didn't seem to be big enough and hold enough solution to do what I wanted to do and get it where it needed to go.

As Fern Valley said, she has an old Ivomec gun from the cattle that she uses. I used to have a few of the old paste wormer syringes for similar things. You can dissolve pills in them and squirt the goo back to the far reaches of the horses mouth. Let's face it, when the horses are healthy, we don't think about it. When things fall apart, we usually find ourselves wishing we had stuff on hand to do the job.

How many times have we gone to the horses' first aid box for band aids for our selves? Smeared on a little furazone, Cut Heal or triple wound care, wrapped it up with a gauze strip and some vet-wrap and went back to doing what needed to be done... How many of us know where everything is for treating the horses, but damned if we can find the Neosporin and ace bandages for ourselves? Ever add Vetrolin to the bathtub? I've known people who rubbed themselves down with Absorbine Jr. liniment or Bigeloil. In a pinch you look around for something that works. It might not be the original 'intended use' but when push comes to shove...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Get creative...

***This post may not be for the faint of heart, those with weak stomachs or low gag reflexes.*** Don't say I didn't warn you...

Kat seems to have some swelling in his sheath area and his scrotum. The other night it was so swollen the skin was rather tight on it and he has started to develop a small lump of fluid under his belly. He is walking funny and that's putting it mildly, but he's getting turned out at night when time allows and worked, but the other night he was three legged lame. He did not want to use his right hind leg at all. He shuffled and hopped at the trot and there was no cantering at all. I was also worried that he is unable to pee. He kept stretching out like he has to go, but that was it.

So yesterday found me at the dollar store looking for something to flush the incision with to help ensure there is no infection going on in there. He's on antibiotics, but still you never know. I needed something to flush it with, but more importantly, I needed a way to get it up inside there. For less than $3 I bought a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a package of straws- the flexible bendy kind and a package of those red and yellow bottles for ketchup and mustard for picnics. I grabbed a bucket of water and my stash of wash rags and got to work.

I rinsed and gently scrubbed the incision area, not wanting to hurt him. Instead little man was quite happy to have me scrubbing away the scabs and stood there still as could be with his nose in the air making faces that were clearly saying "Damn that feels good". The little perv! I gently scrubbed the scabs away and got my bottle of peroxide out.

It was either diluted peroxide or saline solution (salt water) to flush it out so I went with the peroxide. I figured if there is any infection going on in there, the peroxide would help take care of it. While the ketchup/mustard bottles have the small tip for squirting the rinse up in there, there's only so much that will go UP and OUT of the bottle. This is where the straws come in handy. The tip of the bottle fits in the straw. The part where the straw bends, allows the tip of the bottle to be aimed down, while the short part of the straw can be inserted up into the incision and allows things to be flushed out.

Kat stood like a champ as I squirted a little bit of the solution thru the straw to help ease the end of it up inside him. I was able to get it up in there, flushing out both sides and boy was he was a happy camper! The swelling has already diminished some, but I will be flushing it out some more to make sure it's all cleaned out and able to heal as it should. This is all followed up with a slather of nitrofurazone or fura-zone and some fly spray. Of course it's also back to work or him too. He has to keep moving to keep the swelling down, keep things opened up and draining. Poor kid. I feel bad for him, but we'll get thru this, like everything else. He's such a little trooper.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Maintenance

I haven't honestly done anything with Kat in regards to work, since the last ADT the beginning of May. No driving, no long line work, pretty much nothing. I have just been turning him out and free lunging him to keep him in shape.

The other night I put him in the lines with the older than dirt harness we started out with and the snaffle bit. He was amazing. Light, forward, slam on the brakes stops like before- He was just plain awesome. I will be taking him out for a drive in the neighborhood soon and will obviously report back on that when it happens but for now? I love my pony. :-) That's all!