Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Bit of Progress - Pun Intended (September 4th)

Look who is falling asleep at the hitching post?
I regret not writing these posts immediately after the day they happened, because I know I'm forgetting little victories. At least I have the pictures to remind me of some of them - like how calm she is standing tied now!

I bought a cute fly bonnet for her and I love it! It's a little big on her, but it doesn't hurt anything. Of course we had to practice wearing a bridle. Fly bonnets don't look right without a bridle. Avalon was really good for not wearing a bit in months. We spent a long time, maybe half an hour, practicing bridling and unbridling. I'm taking it really slow so she doesn't form any bad habits like head tossing. I would hold the bridle up and ask her to lower her head, then I would take four or five steps away.  Ask her to keep her head down and open her mouth, then I back up. Ask her to take the bit, release it, then I take a few steps back. Rinse and repeat. When I took the bridle off the last time, I had to sit and wait for her to drop the bit. She didn't want to let go of it. 

Avalon in her western getup. The saddle still doesn't fit wonderfully, but I'm switching up saddle pads to avoid as much discomfort as possible. In a year or two I'll start looking for a more permanent solution. 

I love seeing her exhibit curiosity.
We are still taking our walks down the driveway and road.
Garbage cans aren't so scary anymore.
I know the fly bonnet should be under her bridle, but since we are working on bridling, it was easiest to throw it on afterward.

I love this mare so much!

Friday, September 27, 2019


I'm so behind on blog posts! We have been doing so many amazing things. I have six or seven drafts sitting, waiting for me to complete and publish them. I might combined a few of them into one longer update post. 

Avalon is amazing. I couldn't be happier with her if she was a finished six figure horse. I can say with 100% certainty that she is no longer herd bound! Woot woot! We take walks together every time I visit, and our relationship has grown in leaps and bounds. 

I'm still moving slowly with her. I don't want to slip back into a perfectionist mindset. Sometimes I catch myself raising my expectations or putting pressure on us to be in a certain place by a certain time. When I do, it's just a matter of slowing down and focusing on the mental connection. 

I'm starting to consider riding again, but this time approaching it with a focus on the process. Usually, I psych myself out by comparing myself to professionals or worrying about the outcomes. This time, I'm going to focus on the effort it takes. I know what steps to take. My goal for the next twelve barn visits is to lay over her back more often than not and practice our long lining more often than not. There is a post coming about our long lining experiences soon!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wives, Hide Your Horses. . .

Ladies and Gents, it's colic season. Technically, it's always colic season, especially if you have a horse with an exceptionally sensitive gut. But every year, in western Wisconsin, we get chilly, fall weather complete with windblown thunderstorms only to have them replaced with 90 degree humid days. Two years ago today the vet said it was affecting a lot of horses in the area.

I wrote a much darker, sadder version of this post. Now that two years have gone by I can do that - recall the traumatic, gut-wrenching parts of that night. But when I started editing it didn't feel right. So instead of remembering the most difficult fourteen hours of my life, I want to remember the amazing two and a half years we spent together.

May 2015: Just a few days after I bought him.


I laughed at this moment until I cried. Yes Gambler, jump the barrel lengthwise and overjump it by two feet. It's not like the pole is only three inches off of the ground or anything...

First ride ever (with me).


Second first ride with me

Shortly before he died

Losing Gambler is the worst thing I have experienced in my life so far. It completely changed me as a person - for the better. And if he had never gone, I would never have the amazing relationship I have now with Avalon. But the pitiless reality that horses die, suddenly, is something every horse owner needs to be prepared for. 

  • Are you willing to pay for expensive surgery for colic, a broken bone, or another life-threatening illness? If so, make sure you have that money on hand.
  • Do you want mementos of your horse? If so, make them now. Horsehair jewelry, hoof or chestnut clippings, and of course photos. 
  • When your horse dies, cut off a lot of his tail. Don't go for the mane like I did. You can do much more with a tail portion twice the diameter of a pencil - more is better.
Did I miss any helpful advice? Let me know in the comments and hug your horse today. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Little Things

On my quest to visit the barn more often than not, I've had a few near misses. This specific day, I thought I had missed my chance. My to-do list had taken up all of my free time. In fact, I was driving back home when I decided to double-check my schedule. I'm glad I did because I had my days confused! Turned out I worked at five and not four! It seems small, but I love little wins like that.

Avalon and the other horses were snoozing under a tree. I decided to join them. I don't want Ava to think that she has to work every time she sees me. We stood in the shade and I scratched all her favorite spots. 

Notice the bottle of fly spray in the bottom of the photo.

I love her relaxed, floppy lip.

Avalon decided to check out the fly spray. I'm so encouraged when her curious, thoughtful side shows. 

She picked it up and dropped it.

Licking and chewing. I'm realizing that this might not interest anyone other than me - but I get so excited about licking and chewing! I love seeing a relaxed horse. Yay for releasing tension!

And she returned to chewing the fly spray. However, I noticed a smear on the bottle that looked like blood. On further investigation, I found a bloody spot in Ava's mouth. I'm not sure if she cut herself while chewing on the bottle, or if her baby teeth are still coming in. 

(Don't worry, the tooth is completely back to normal and no lasting damage was done)