Showing posts from March, 2016

In which we return to Horsey News on the Farm: Fiddle's Frisbee Trick

I taught my horse to fetch a Frisbee because we were both bored.

I started with basic target practice where she had to touch an object with her nose to get the cookie.

When she was reliable about touching the object, I changed the rules:  she had to take it in her mouth.

Fiddle is extremely non-oral.  She was a biter when I got her, so we extinguished the biting by strongly discouraging all oral behaviors around people.

In fact, the very first trick I taught her was "LOOK AWAY," where she turns her head away from the person with the treat in order to earn the cookie.  Details about that trick are HERE.

With that background, teaching her to bite the Duckie was a challenge.  Teaching her to bite the Frisbee, which kind of feels like biting somebody's shirt sleeve, was an even bigger challenge.

But she learned it.  After all, we have plenty of time during rehab to practice, and I have plenty of cookies in my pockets.

The next step was convincing her to walk to the Frisbe…

In which we interrupt this mostly-horse blog for a storyteller

By my count, it's been 23 years since I took a storytelling class from Dr Margaret Read Macdonald at the University of Washington.

In that long-ago class, she taught us to tell three stories, and at the end of the session, she said, "Now you are all storytellers.  Go out, and tell stories!"

Bless me, I believed her.

And I did.

And I still do.

Today, she visited my library to teach a whole new group of storytellers.  It was just as exhilarating as that day back in (gulp) 1993.  They sang.  They danced.  They laughed.  And they told stories.  Don't you wish you'd been here?


Perhaps you want to hear MRM tell stories.  A YouTube search for Margaret Read Macdonald will bring up plenty of videos of Margie in performance, and also plenty of recordings of other people telling the stories she teaches.

Perhaps you'd like to take a storytelling class from the woman we call "the storyteller's fairy godmother." Here is a link to her schedule--please no…

In which the faithful SS Illegible has a new propeller

The Dodge Ram truck that Jim and I have been driving for 14 years now has more than 300,000 miles on it.

That number is just a little too high for comfort, especially given the remote places we drive it.

As far as I'm concerned, shopping of all kinds is a PITA.  I don't even go to the grocery store if I can swerve out of it.  
So when it was time to shop for a truck, I called for help.

After a Fortifying Breakfast, we headed out to look at trucks.


Given my (limited) budget and the parameters allowed by my credit union, we had a pretty narrow scope of trucks to consider.  
That didn't stop salesguys (always guys!  gahhhh!) from trying to sell us a $30,000 dually, or a half-ton truck, or a truck with 350,000 miles on it.  
Fortunately, Sandy and I aren't stupid, and we aren't the kind of ladies who let guys tell us what we "really want."  
(Do any horse women actually let guys tell us what we really want about anything?  Is that a thing?)

We saw a lot of …

In which there is cuteness and happiness and a horse for a friend

Remember Jacqui and her adorable granddaughter?

A recap for newcomers: Jacqui is the lovely lady who was in medical distress and needed to find a new home for a Certain Standardbred Mare of Our Acquaintance.  The short version of the the story ends like this: in late December 2006, Fiddle was gifted to me.  
The medical professionals pretty much figured that Jacqui's days were numbered, and that the number was a small one--measured in weeks or months, rather than years.  Thus far, she has proved them wrong, and she's still here almost ten years later.
A few months ago, Jacqui let me know that she was looking for a horse, and asked if I know where she could find one that would be a good match for her and for her granddaughter?

Yes.  Yes, I do.

Kaleaf was gifted to Dory a few years ago when his owner was in medical distress.  She could have sold him--and probably gotten a good price for him, too.

He has plenty of skills: he rides and drives, he's good with kids, he's a l…

In which there is a preview of something that makes me very happy


In which rehab is slow, and there's new video of the fetching trick

We're up to walking 20 minutes, twice per day.

There was a humongous wind storm in our region yesterday, and Fiddle was a knucklehead about the noise, flinging herself around the paddock and generally being stupid.  I need to buy a few more tubes of Quietex:  that stuff works faster than the pellets when things go pear-shaped while she is supposed to stay quiet.

Duana and her husband Jason visited and we showed off the new trick so Jason could get some video.
Fiddle's trick has advanced a bit:  I can now throw the disc a few feet away, and Fee will leave my side and go to the frisbee to pick it up.

In the next stage, I will ask her to bring it back to me, first by moving her head to me (instead of just standing there with it in her mouth), and later by moving her feet.

It's not exciting.  But then, "exciting" and "rehab" should NOT go together.  It is pretty cool to see her figuring out the next step when I change the rules slightly at each stage.


In which April Showers are coming, and this time I'm REALLY READY!

Swamplanders talk--and think--a lot about rain gear.

I've written about staying warm and dry several times.   At the Bare Bones ride in 2011, I underestimated the weather and I was very sad. At the April Daze ride in 2015, I had a lot of rain gear with me, and I used it all.
Finding a decent rain coat isn't easy, and it's been a long search to find something great.  
There's a lot of stuff out there that isn't great.  Cheap rain gear loses waterproofing fast.  Expensive rain gear built in cut-rate Chinese factories isn't much better.  I am sad to report most of the raingear sold by REI is built in China.  
I've been "making do" for several years with my Muddy Creek coats.  (The company is based in Michigan, USA  and Australia, but everything is built in China).  

I liked the short coat well enough to buy the Muddy Creek long coat, but neither is particularly well-made.  The reflective trim on the short coat has come unravelled, the snaps have broke…

In which there is a horse update, and the garden is almost awake

Fiddle's rehab is progressing steadily.   She is up to 20-minute walks twice daily now--after next week, I'll be able to add a few minutes of in-saddle work too.

I don't have any new video of the frisbee trick.  She is now pretty good about picking up the frisbee and holding onto it until I take it away from her.  The next refinements I want to add are walking to the frisbee when I toss it (gently) a few feet from where we are standing, and handing the frisbee to me instead of just standing with it in her mouth.
As before, this trick is not important, so there's no time crunch.  It's just something to keep us both from going bonkers.  Otherwise, our only alternative is 

Walking is not very interesting.  Spooking is more interesting, but it is not permitted, which leaves only walking.  Which is not very interesting.   Sigh.
Here's something else that helps.  Or rather, somebody:

He's called Kaleaf...err, Kahleif?  Caliph?  Gahhhh.   
He's everythi…