summer_jackel: (angry wolf)
This morning, while riding peacefully past a vineyard, Dancer, Coba and I were rushed, or possibly attacked, by three off leash German Shepherd dogs. Their handler responded terribly. We are all fine, and although Dancer did throw me, I was able to control the fall and landed well enough. My hip will be sore for a few days, but I am otherwise unharmed.

I am supremely angry about this and will now proceed to vent.

A horse, a sheltie and myself vs a pack of German Shepherds )
summer_jackel: (Coba ^_^)
I am recently back from BayCon, where I had lots of fun sharing a dealer's table with [ profile] corpsefairy. The con has become drastically smaller since its apparent heyday some years ago---it was one of the highlights of my year for a long time, and this was my first time back in several years. Things have changed, but I still had a wonderful time. My table earnings were modest, but enough to justify spending the time and going to the con.

Still, it's so good to be home. I'm not a creature comfortable for long in heavily urbanized areas, even though the occasional visit and social fling can be a real treat. I spent the morning grooming and walking my dogs and cats (who place themselves between dog and brush when they are in the mood), and the afternoon visiting the horses. We'd all missed each other, and needed to reconnect. It was a good day.


relaxing in the sun )
summer_jackel: (Default)
My Solstice was beautiful. Things are well with me right now, the world is gorgeous and green, and even politics are doing nice things; my love to New York!

In celebration, a bunch of random animal pics as I make an attempt on a three hour ride.

Horses, Pack, Tiger, Spiders! )
summer_jackel: (Default)
Well, the deed is done...little Equinox has been gelded. It was a brief and rather graphically low-tech operation, but the vet was skillful and 2 days later, the poor little guy is a bit swollen, but healing on schedule. Gentle readers of the male persuasion in particular, you may wish never to witness this procedure.

Incidentally, I guess my colt training doesn't completely suck this time 'round, at least by comparison to some. I thought I was in 'remedial fix-your-screw-up' land when I taught him to wear a halter, lead and tie only as a wild and crazy 6 month old (and I still do, but hey, I more or less fixed it). When I made the appointment, the receptionist asked me if "the colt was broke." After I blinked confusedly at the telephone and responded with something like, 'uh, he's not broke to ride since he's only a yearling, but he does tie, lead and stand still,' she decided that she only needed to send the one vet. He called half an hour later with the same question.

Eqx's behavior as I led him to the place where the vet wanted to operate was not what I'd call exemplary control of one's colt, but I thought he was pretty decent. Still, the vet told me he'd been really good and that "most yearlings are assholes." Go me, I may at least have semi-competently trained my horse.

Weirdly, the vet also told me to longue him (horse moves in circles around trainer on end of long lead) at day 4+ because moving helps the swelling go down. I don't plan to train Eqx to longue until he's 2 and I'm sure his knees are fused; I guess the QH/TB people who start colts so young must begin groundwork before 2? That just seems so risky. Anyway, vet said that leading him around the pasture is an acceptable alternative, so I'm doing that.


Jun. 1st, 2010 01:27 pm
summer_jackel: (Default)
Other than a touch of craziness with my mom, I had a fantastic weekend. Friday was a lovely gathering with dear friends in the East Bay that included cupcakes, epic piles of Indian food and some really good news. [ profile] kynekh_amagire came over for the weekend, and we went to the beach with the dogs, hiked around a bit and generally had fun. Also, piles of fresh and delicious fish from Bodega Bay and a Midori cake that Kyn made and decorated with a cuttlefish. Seriously.


Cuttlefish Midori cake was really yummy. Also, I am 34 and not dead! Yay?

Misc. pictures; dogs, horses )


Mar. 14th, 2010 08:20 pm
summer_jackel: (Default)
I haven't posted any hosepics for awhile, and am woefully overdue. In winter, everything is all over mud, I'm often at the stable when there's not enough light for pics and I don't like to get the camera dangerously close to horses anyway, so my lovely ponies are under-photographed. But all three of them have birthdays coming up in the next 2 weeks...Bey will be 22, Dancer will turn 5 and Equinox (aka Demonp0ny son of D00mp0ny) will be a big sassy yearling. Having survived his deeply quirky first year and weaning without me turning him into a pretty throw rug. I need pictures.

...A really pretty throw rug.


Horses on a perfect spring day )
summer_jackel: (Default)
Winter has come to Camp Meeker. The fungus is in bloom, the banana slugs roam freely, and if the curtains aren't kept open in the bathroom, water condenses on the window beside and they mold.


I just ordered another bottle of fountain pen ink, Abraxas light grey. I'm going to try lettering 'Bone Shard' with it and see what happens; black ink just looks wrong with all the washy watercolors of the piece, watercolored lettering is just sloppy-looking (I regret page nine), and the penciled lettering, which is how I've done it so far, doesn't look quite finished to me. I am hoping that grey ink will be a nice solution; I just hope I don't need to buy three different bottles of it before I find one that I like. Ask me about my sepia collection.

My usual source has stopped carrying all the interesting colors of Noodler's, the brand I tend to favor, and this shop is local, ergo I am trying a brand I've never used. The conversation I had with the store about this and my necessary questions, "How lightfast is it? Does it flow evenly? How watertight is it? Is it a warmer grey or more of a colder grey?" made my brother crack up and made me feel kind of like a wine snob. Yeah, so I'm a pen geek. Worse fates. Anyone out there used Abraxas? I should go check the fountain pen forum to see if there are any reviews...


My dogs got beaten up and coerced into inter-kingdom sex by a plant this afternoon. The horseback ride by the river beneath a lowering sky, complete with picturesque blue colliethings at heel, was really an epic high point, but I need to work on training the boys to stay out of the underbrush. It took over two hours to painstakingly---literally, those things are really sharp---remove all of the burrs from their impressively flowing coats. Pulling as little coat as possible and doing as little damage to my skin in the process, of course. I have no idea what these plants were hunting for...their burrs would probably stick to an elephant...but their use of my collies as gamete dispersal failed, because I chucked at least a quart of them in the fire. The dogs look nice again, and Coba in particular is in full coat and is all kinds of gorgeous.

Chaos has more surface area, though.
summer_jackel: (Default)
One of these days, I should write about my dancing project (Initially, this was learning to dance ballroom, which mutated to include learning swing and also apparently now Viennese waltz; I opened Pandora's box with this one). Suffice to say that there was a swing dance last night. There was an excellent live band (Stompy Jones; swing bands have the cutest names), this was actually in Sonoma County, I was there in pleasant company and I actually managed to not make a fool of myself or look like a complete and utter rookie on the dance floor. Um, hopefully. I am by no means good...there were a few really good dancers there and I am not one of them...but I think I have achieved adequate beginner status. Wait, I can dance now? Really? How did that happen?

I spent this afternoon with the horses, which is really one of the finest ways I could hope to spend a clear and glorious November day. Bey got her Autumn trim, and I realized again how fulfilling it is to know how to trim my own horses. I've had this mare for 21 years, and post-farriery it seemed like I'd never actually looked at her in all of these subtle and really important little ways. She toes in a bit on her fore, more strongly at the left, and like many horses her hooves are not perfectly matched. They are good, strong feet, the soles thick and healthy from a lifetime barefoot, nicely hydrated from the moist ground.

This skill also means I don't have to watch any more farriers become increasingly murderous-looking as they realize how much they hate trimming my horse. It just means I have to do it. At least Bey is more obedient for me than she is for anyone else, right?

After Bey was loved on, trimmed, sworn at creatively and ruefully loved on some more with a promise to work on those back hooves a little more in the next few days, I worked with Equinox. He let me catch him with relative ease, and was leading obediently and almost perfectly around the arena with only the halter (you teach a baby to lead with another rope looped around his butt) less than 45 minutes later. This, you will recall, is the baby who only had a halter on him for the first time last Sunday. Better yet, when I was mucking his stall after the training session, he came up and hung out next to me, sniffing and requesting skritches. I am relieved and also touched...the little guy is starting to show an adorable personality. It's a bit sobering to consider that, assuming all goes well, he is going to be my companion for the next 21 years and then some...I have good reason to want the baby started well. I love this small horse quite vividly.

I didn't get to Dancer until the evening. I trimmed him as the sky faded on this short near-solstice day (with no cursing; Dancer almost acts like he likes his feet done) and then rode out into the vineyard at dusk. He's a youngster, and I had never taken him out so late, but he was mellow; you have to love Appaloosas. It was wonderful to listen to the birds calling right at dark, to enjoy the light quality of the sky as the first stars came out, and not have to worry too much about my horse killing me. Dancer got extra grain.

As I was looking all around for interesting wildlife (see it before horse does!) a suspiciously owl-shaped bunch of leaves in an almost bare maple tree turned its head clear around to regard me gravely. I have never been so close to a wild owl other than brief flyovers, but this one seemed unconcerned about some lady on a horse looking all starstruck. Possibly a great horned; this was a large bird and had big ear tufts. I was near enough that I could see the last of the sun touching the top crescent of her enormous eyes and flashing copper.

I feel suspended in a sea of blessings. If October is releasing and letting go, perhaps then in November there is room for things that are tender, very new, and possibly wonderful, and for rediscovering what has not been lost.
summer_jackel: (Default)
Today I accomplished two vital fall tasks. Now I'm on a bike, which you can tell because I am rambling on my LJ.

A bunch of ramble under the cut, because I'm riding trainer, and some pics. )
summer_jackel: (Default)
[ profile] corpsefairy and [ profile] starchy are fostering a couple of Incredibly Cute Kittens, and on my recent visit with them, I got to play with these kittens at length. My brain hasn't solidified yet, it melted so entirely.


I also had the opportunity to visit the Tilden Park carousel, an old favorite of mine and probably the machine I have ridden most in my lifetime. It's a turn of the century Hershell-Spillman.

Cute Cats, lovely carousel and a couple of horses for good measure. )
summer_jackel: (Bey Horselaugh)
Poor little sheepdog parfait. I think he had one of the most traumatic experiences of his life this afternoon.

It started with me having no self control and getting some BBQ ribs for lunch before going to the stable. Once there, I lugged my tack out to where Dancer and my mom's horse Bella are kept, and gave Coba one of the bones. This is, of course, a Very Special Experience when you are a puppy, and he accepted with grave delight.

Then I realized that I'd left something important in the truck and told Coba to leave the bone and come with me. Because shelties tend to be very obedient (see yesterday's first entry on dog smarts) he obeyed, giving one long, soulful last look to the bone, and we left.

We came back just in time to see a lovely, smallish raven flying off with the bone. If Coba had been human, his jaw would have been on the floor. He looked from me to the bird (who was sitting on the fence, playing with the bone) expectantly, but alas, I failed him, and he learned the hard lesson that Ravens Win.

Hours later, ride done, I picked up my stuff, called Coba and started for the truck. About half way there, he turned around and headed back to the stable area in a flagrant show of disobedience. When I went back to collect him, he was laying where he'd left his bone, sulking.

The happy ending to this sorrowful tale of woe is that I still had a bag of bones, which I distributed to all four dogs when I got home. Coba was very happy, but I don't think that quite made up for it.


I had a bad camera day; I had the aperture (I think) set wrong so all of my pics were way too dark. I didn't notice this until late in the day. Beneath the cut are my attempts to fix some of them anyway.

pretty pictures, mostly of Equinox )
summer_jackel: (coy face beautiful/serious/sad)
Well, looks like I made it to 33 years. This month has actually been pretty awful, unfortunately, so I decided to pull out the big guns of self-care and take myself to Harbin Hot Springs. Hippy-skippy it may be, but it remains a beautiful place for meditation, bodywork but mostly for soaking in wonderful hot spring water for hours on end, without nasty unpleasant clothing to get in the way of the watery goodness. I assure you that by the end of 6 hours I was one soaked-boneless, blissy jackal. Local people, ya gotta try this thing. Sooooooooo good. mmmmmmmmmm water.

I think it's worth mentioning that this place has a labyrinth, which is one of my favorite meditation tools. I walked it, which I usually do when one is available...and ended up spontaneously foxtrotting, albiet slowly, on the way out. Given that my brain was completely empty otherwise at the time, I find this a little bit hilarious. After that, there was more water.

Yesterday, Coba had his very own watery experience, when I took him to accompany Dancer and I on a ride. Coba is at that stage of puppyhood when they are absolutely made of OMG ENERGY and nothing else. I can walk this dog for a couple of hours, and at the end, he's enthusiastically saying in his wee puppy pup way, "That was a great walk! Can we go for another? RIGHT NOW? I think it's a grand idea!" Seriously, the energy does not end; there's a reason many dogs between one and three wind up in shelters.

With this in mind, it seems only sensible to try him out on a trail ride. Of course I've always loved the fantasy of riding my faithful steed through the woods, faithful dog at heel; in practice, I've usually boarded where one has to cross roads or other obstacles which would be unsafe for the dog, or where there are other dogs, which rules out Jez and Pryde. I do not want to deal with a horse and a dogfight at the same time, thanks. Coba is obedient and not a fighter, and went absolutely gleeful with joy when he realized what was up, running polite circles around Dancer for at least half the ride. (Dancer, for his part, was polite back, but perhaps not completely thrilled to be sharing our time with another animal. I swear he rolled his eye at me at one point, and I could almost hear, "You have to be kidding. This is your dog?")

When it came to cross the river, though, Coba was not thrilled. Shelties don't swim very well...the ratio of fluff to body is just too high...but I'd prefer him to be used to the idea before we go backpacking this summer, and, well, it's a dog skill he needs to know. Watching his little brain work as he tried to figure out where he needed to cross to stay out of the current, and where the shallowest routes were, was pretty was a tricky puzzle for a small dog, and required quite a bit of physical effort no matter where he crossed. Of course, he'll eventually learn to follow where I cross, since I pick the shallowest, easiest route (I hope). Coba succeeded admirably...four times, no less. And he was so proud of himself.

It's worth mentioning that a sheltie puppy cannot keep pace with a cantering horse, although he certainly tried. When I stopped and turned around, Coba was in full, bounding flight, all four paws off the ground at every other pace. I will attempt to get pictures if I can. I was in stitches.

But after all this, you want to know the burning question: did I succeed in tiring the puppy?

Of course not. He was bright-eyed and ready for more as soon as we got home.

Personally, I wanted to soak in hot water.
summer_jackel: (Default)
Equinox update. Baby pony remains completely adorable, and as he grows, which he is doing at a truly prodigeous rate, I am starting to get to know who he is. It's especially fascinating to watch him grow, since I also raised both of his parents from foals. I would say that he is somewhat more emotional and skittish at this age than Dancer was, but nowhere near Bey, who didn't like to be touched at all as a foal. X-pony (heh) loves his pettings, but he is still very particular about when and how, and does not so much like me to approach him as the other way around. This is, of course, perfectly natural, and I am doing my best to guide him gently into trust. I think that he will have a fair measure of Bey's Arab fire, but (especially as a mature gelding) will be a bit more level-headed and less opinionated than his dam. We'll see.

It feels like I'm also bonding with him a little more every day. I love this little horse (hard not to!), and as we approach one another as alien beings, predator and prey, I find within myself a shyness almost mirroring his. Bending myself to this monumental, dangerous, careful, intimate task: bringing up a young horse so that he is happy and comfortable in domestication and is relatively less likely to hurt me in our many years of working together, an animal who, if all goes well, will be my riding buddy for the next 30 years or so. Sometimes, each little velvet sniff on my fingers feels monumental.


whinny whinny )
summer_jackel: (Default)
...I've been kicked in the ass by a horse I was trimming for the very first time. ;)

The nag in question was Bella, an older Arab with a painful history of neglect and abuse who my mom took in a few years ago, above my strident objections. Despite my attempts to remain hard-hearted towards her (we didn't need a starving rescue then, we don't need a faded-ly beautiful but still beat-up extra horse now, and since she's boarding at the same farm as Dancer, and mom moved north, guess who's feeding her...) she and I have recently begun to bond. She needed a trim, I need experience, so I went to work.

I know that the beast can be kind of a spectacular kicker, especially on her blind side...poor thing's right eye is pretty much gone thanks, I learned only last week, to a sickening incidence of human cruelty. She was very well behaved for her forefeet. When I realized that she was intending to kick For Reals while I was on her right hind, I scurried as best I could, but she still managed to get me in the meaty part of my rump. The bitch kicks hard!

I sat down until I was no longer seeing stars and threatening to black out (from a blow on the butt! See, hard kick, I'm not exaggerating!), centered, gave her the hairy eyeball and took her foot again. I won't say she was perfectly behaved, but there was no more kicking, and she now has four lovely evenly filed little hoofies. They have some odd ridges that make me suspect founder somewhere in her past, or perhaps it's just years of malnutrition, though thankfully she's sound. I did what I could, and hey, all my horses and my mom's horses (plus a farrier school horse and a few cadaver legs): trimmed nicely. I am about to take on a half dozen moose retired Warmbloods at the ranch where I board Bey and Equinox; wish me luck.

But hey, I survived my first kick. For some absurd reason, I feel so much more farrierlike now.

Unrelated to horses or my aching hindquarter, have a blurry but too cute not to post birdy luuuuuuuv picture. Kaya says "oh yeah. You have about a year to stop preening my face."


Osbick Bird now has a big new-to-us cage, which isn't perfect but came to me at very much the right (almost free) price. He's much happier in it. Oz will now step onto my forearm from the dowel. He's calming down a lot; we have progressed to him being allowed to perch on my bare skin, and thus far it remains unbitten. (he did nibble my elbow out of curiosity at one point, which was pretty darn cute). I think that watching me handle the other two (he's out of quarantine now) has helped mellow him. The old "share your toast with the other birds and pretend to guard it jealously, then reluctantly offer some to target bird when he shows interest" trick worked; he took a bite the other morning. Awwwwwwwwww birdies.
summer_jackel: (Default)
Equinox continues to be cute. I can prove it with photos. Also, note how he's growing!


Rambling about various animal training projects + mind-numbingly cute foal pics )
summer_jackel: (Default)
A bit of equestrian geekery, but it's just too cool not to share.

Helmet-cam worn by the jockey of a really beautiful racehorse, Zenyatta.

This demonstrates why TBs in the non-racetrack world can be, um, challenging, but are rarely boring in any way. They are competitive horses who love to go really really fast, and being in front makes them happy. ;) When Zenyatta is catching and just about to pass the other horse, watch for her glancing over at it and then picking up speed. Subtle, but awesome.
summer_jackel: (Default)
Tidepools, graveyard ducks and one adorable spotted baby pony beneath the cut.

Eve and I spent some time in this really gorgeous graveyard in Oakland. Unfortunately, my camera batteries ran out too soon, but next time I'll take the DSLR and get better ones. I love the scene with this little mallard and the mausoleum pond.


misc. mixed photos )
summer_jackel: (Default)
So, I did the whole zombie-Jesus-day celebration thing with my mom and brother yesterday; we went to a brunch buffet at a winery in Hopland, a cute little town which lies about an hour north of here. It was one of our more painless family holidays; go us! Afterward, Timothy and I visited Real Goods, which is this fantastic solar/alternative energy center and permaculture showcase. It is an endlessly fascinating place with wonderful ponds and gardens, and even has a solar-powered carousel. The figures are great, very well done wooden carvings. I love it.

And of course there is a baby horse who continues to be incredibly cute.


photos! )
summer_jackel: (Default)
Took the DSLR with me to see horses yesterday, with mixed results. I got some great shots, but not quite certain how, I'm afraid. The DSLR tends to take what look like overexposed pics, and I can't quite figure out why. I think that a class at the JC is in order.

Anyhow, pics. Lots of daddy, this time. :)


Revenge of the son of more horse photos. I'll quit for a few days after this. )
summer_jackel: (Default)
Baby Equinox continues to be brain-meltingly adorable. See, I have pics to prove it.

Bey is still not delighted to have people near him just yet, but after a little while, he got curious and walked up to me on his own. Dear gods, what a sweet, docile little horse. I got a little bitty colt sniff and the opportunity to pet a very, very soft little nose. Yeah, I melted. Meanwhile, Bey and I exchanged a little nonverbal communication in which I explained that I had no intention of catching either of them, but that attempting to trample me would be highly unwise. She and I have an understanding about these things.

Bey was foaled when I was 12 years old, the same year my brother was born. Damn, that was a long time ago. (Bey, BTW, was not a particularly friendly baby. Cute as hell, though). My attitudinous little mare and I have grown up together in...well, attitude and stubbornness, I guess, but hey, we're good for each other. Still, the breathless elation and excitement of meeting one's new foal is pretty much the same emotion now as then. You kind of forget to breathe for awhile, but in a really nice way.

Of course there's a part of me that's groaning just thinking about all the huge amounts of work OMG that goes into rearing a young horse, and man, aren't I just now enjoying the rewards of Dancer the wonderful saddle horse, four years later? But it's so worth it. Raising a baby is pretty awesome. You know any training mistakes are yours and exactly how they were made, you really really get to know the animal, and then on a whole other plane, you get to be part of this:


No doubt. He's cute. )


summer_jackel: (Default)

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