Big mean Appy

So some people make me scratch my head and say ‘What the hell.’

Ok, so almost all people make me do that, but let’s not go there. Horse people in general have a bit more common sense than other people. Because they don’t stay horse people very long if they don’t. But sometimes, there is that one you wonder how they ever get through a day. Case in point is the next story I am about to share with you.

I get a call from a woman who has a friend with a horse who has some issues and needs a retrain. I don’t know this woman. She saw me the day before at the trail challenge and asked for my card. I almost remember her. Have no idea who she is, but she is talking to me like we are related, old friends or some such. Her friend has a few spot Appy who is aggressive and has no manners and keeps going through fences and then is hard to catch. ‘Because you know how bad Appies are!’ The owner is planning on taking him to auction if something can’t be done with him.

Now, I love Appies. Always have. People keep telling me that Appies are hard headed, mean, untrainable, un catchable,  not personable, standoffish, pissy, don’t like people, all this bull crap. I have no idea why poor Appies have this designation. Most people are way bigger asshats on a good day than my Appies. Mine are all large puppies who want nothing more than a belly scratch and a cookie and love to go for rides or to pull stumps as long as I pay attention to them. Hell, mine will come in the house looking for me if I forget to shut the door. Hard to catch? Hell no! I can’t get them to go away! Trying to work on the fence and they want their butt scratched and licking the back of my head until my hair looks like I got it caught in a cotton candy machine. I am flapping my arms, yelling at them, throwing horse poo. They steal my hammer and dump my bag of nails and begin masticating my hat. One shit in/on my can of Pepsi. Sigh.

Anyhow, I call the woman with the problem horse. Make arrangements to go see him. She is telling me how he is not friendly at all. Runs her over at the gate. Beat the shit out of her barrel horse. Knocked her down when she was taking feed out to the pasture. (Hint, don’t carry feed out. Throw it over the fence. Hungry horses, dogs or teenagers can be over enthusiastic.)

So I go see this poor horse. Yes, I am on the horses side before I even see him. Rarely are issues with a horse the horses fault. 85% of the time it is the owner. If you are driving a car and hit a tree, you were most likely texting, drunk or speeding right? How many times have you heard of the throttle getting stuck and steering locking up? The tree trying to commit suicide by car?  Yeah, see there?

Something wrong with your horse? One of 5 things. 1) Pain issue. Your fault. Get a vet, chiropractor, whatever. Figure it out, fix pain, problem usually goes away or the horse gets retired. 2) Lack of training, yours or the horse. Your fault. Train horse, take lessons, get a horse more suited to your level of riding,  get a trainer, stop confusing the poor horse. 3) Too much, too little or poor feed. Not enough exercise, kept in too small an area or lack of social interaction with other horses. Your fault again. Fix it! If you don’t know, ask someone. Ask a trainer,  your vet, someone who can see your horse, your feed, the place your horse is kept, not idiots on Internet chat sites or Facebook! Get a clue people. Beware of idiots offering advice. If their horses look like crap and try to bite your face off, or they don’t have horses, or they pay someone else to care for their horse, they have had horses less time than you or less than 5 years, they are probably not an expert! I have had horses for most of my 51 years and I still research stuff and ask questions. So if they have all the answers, they are an idiot, and you are a moron for listening to them. Rant over. 4) Bad maintenance. You need to keep their feet done properly. That means the best farrier, not the cheapest. Angles all correct. Feet cleaned regularly. No fungus. Clean coats and skin. Fly control, tick control. Fly masks when needed. Shade and shelter from wind and rain. Regular interaction from you to meet their emotional needs as well. Tack that fits properly, is in clean good condition. Free of stiff spots, creaky places, rough spots, pokey jabby spots. Anything that can make them hurt or uncomfortable. If you don’t get to shower, feel dirty and itchy, your feet hurt, your pants are too tight and your bra (or tighty whiteys for you guys) is full of hay or bugs, you have been ignored by your best friend until they want you to do something for them, no coffee, you are going to be a bitch. They feel the same way! Your fault, your fault, whack upside the head! 5) The horse is a phycho, abused, or an asshole. Could be your fault, but not relevant. Also less than 15% of problem horses I see are in this category.

I get to her house, her horses are in the back yard. The first one I see is a fairly nice looking horse, but has halter rub marks on its face. Big pet peeve of mine. Don’t leave halters on your horse. No reason I can accept. She brings me to see the horse. He is a body score of about 1.8. Very thin. I can tell by looking he has been this way for a while. Why is it that when ever I see a horse like this the person tells me they rescued the horse and they used to be so much thinner and they have gained so much weight, but they have no pictures. Also she told me on the phone she had him a little over a year. Hmmmm? So she tells me if I want to get him out I can, but she won’t as she is pregnant and he has no ground manners and runs her over.

I go in with him. He comes right up to me and I scratch him all over. He is digging it. I am a Master horse scratcher, just so you know. I put a halter and lead on him. Check his feet. His teeth, his back and legs. He hasn’t been brushed in a coons age. His feet smell like cabbage, clothes left in the washer for several days wet and 2 week old broccoli. His breath is almost as bad. Smells like asparagus farts. His sheath is swollen and hot. I am not going to describe that smell, this is a family channel and just the memory makes me a bit queasy. He has a bean the size of a Buick. His teeth need floated and he has some fungus on his back. He tries to push to the gate, but I ask him to stand then lead him through just fine. His head dives  for the grass as soon as his feet hit the green. I am impressed by this ‘big mean appy’ letting me poke and prod him all over. But she starts in on how I can see how he went for the grass without my permission, how he tried to push through the gate, how he stepped on her foot and pulled the hay away from her when she was trying to feed ‘her’ horse. And how he beat the crap out of ‘her’ horse when she was trying to give that horse grain.

I pick up my jaw off my chest and ask her if she gave this horse grain? Nope. He doesn’t get ridden so he doesn’t need as much feed. He doesn’t need grain. Also she has been told if she doesnt feed him he wont be so aggressive. Uh huh. Problem found. (BTW starved dead horses are rarely aggressive, but still not a good plan!) This horse is freakin hungry. He is beating up ‘her’ horse to get food. Running her over to get to the hay or running through the gate to get grass. Here is the problem. I try to explain it to her. Next thing I know. She gives me the mean Appy for a heck of a deal.

He is fat in my pasture now. Feet clean and sweet smelling. Coat shines and clean except when he rolls in the mud. (What the hell gene do white horses have that makes mud rolling imperative?) Fly wipe, grain, attention, a retrain, sheath cleaned, bean removed, teeth floated, horsey friends and Leo (new name too) is one of the sweetest horses on the property. I am going to bawl my head off when he gets a new home. This is easily a $1500 horse now, if not more for a sweet 8 year old 15.2hh ++ gelding. But because of ‘user error’ he almost went to auction. And my friends wonder why I am anti social and prefer my horses to people?

Horse sales rule #7

If any of your potential buyers makes reference to just having seen any horse movie, ie; Black Beauty, Seabiscuit, National Velvet, or any other, tell them you have sold all your horses or have the plague. This is the buyer who knows nothing about horses other than the 3 times they rode on their Grandpa’s farm when four years old, and just remembered horses when they saw the latest movie. Beware, the have the potential to make you pull out your hair while they compare every one of your horses to the movie horse or Grandpa’s plow horse. None of your horses can measure up to their imagined ideal.

Horse trader!

I have been known to sell a horse from time to time. But I don’t make money on the deal. Just doesn’t happen. But I was accused today of “flipping horses to make a buck.” “She gets free horses and then turns around and sells them.” That’s not exactly how it works.

Generally I will get a phone call that so and so has a horse that has not been ridden in 4 years, if ever. Or there is this horse they picked up that is under weight, can’t be caught, bites, kicks, is maybe pregnant, is probably still a stallion, has never had its feet done or a halter on it, is so spoiled it runs people over to get fed, whatever. Somehow these people get MY phone number and they have been “told” that I will take this miserable excuse of a horse. No one ever admits a name of who gave them my name and number. I think there is a secret listing somewhere for horse sucker.

If you know anything about horses, you know you never make any money on a “free” horse. The most expensive horse I have ever owned was a free horse. A free horse is usually in desperate need of farrier care, and it is never a single trim, and oh look how nice their feet are, visit. This is an every 4 week, For several months, major over haul on a horse that objects, strenuously. He has never had his feet done before, and doesn’t care if he can walk. Hey, just throw that hay closer, or better yet get me a round bale and a bag of grain.

They also have never had their teeth floated. It then takes the whole bottle of happy horse injectable and 4 large men and power tools to get this horse having teeth that would not look like something a shark would be proud to own.

Next we get to deal with weight issues. Most free horses are very underweight. Usually with rain rot or even, shudder, lice. So I get to pour food down them, after their teeth are floated, by the bag and bale-ful. Dewormer is next on the list, along with supplements that cost as much as some people (like me) make in a week. Every once in a while, someone will have a 9 year old unbroken, overweight, spoiled, pushy, (but he is registered!) gelding that is ready to founder. Those are the funny ones. They cannot understand why they can’t sell their fat obnoxious, dangerous untrained gelding. “But he is registered!” (But don’t get to close, he will bite you ‘but he is only looking for treats’).

So I get to pour feed, training, time, and of course love, into this horse for the next 2 to 9 months, then I may find him or her the perfect home. I sell these ‘free’ horses for $300 to as much as $1000 depending on the horse. How much is full care board and training? I don’t make any money on these horses. No one could. Most horses I end up with are ones who would likely go to the meat man. A few, I admit to having bought off the meat truck because I thought there was hope of them becoming more than dog food with a little time and effort.

I had a friend get in touch with me last night. She has an Appy gelding that hasn’t been rode in 3-5 years. He is a little underweight. Maybe needs his teeth done and a retrain. Wants to know if I will take him, see if you can get him rideable. Sure I say. I like Appies. Yup, sucker, that’s me.

I guess I am a horse trader, horse flipper, whatever. (Call me what you want, just don’t call me with your 3 legged one eyed, underweight horse, cuz knowing me I would try an fix him). If that is what I am, they wear old boots, drive an older truck, and generally have broken nails and nicks on their hands from fixing fence on the cheap. Cause there is no money in it!

Riding a friends horse

So I am called up one day and asked if I can come ride a friend’s new horse. She tells me she bought this gelding at the Hermiston sale. He is a registered Quarter horse, and she saw him ridden through the ring. He had been quiet and had impressed her with his composure at the sale, which is loud and has the smell of fear and illness. She brought him home and let him settle in a few days and when she went to saddle him up to ride he was acting “weird” so she wanted me to come check him out.
These kind of calls are the kind I get that make me want to say things like, sorry, I have to go to Tunisia for work and wont be available for the next 2 months. But no, my curiosity is up. I seem to always forget what happened to that damn cat.
I get to Lacey’s house and see a rather pretty Buckskin stallion in her smaller arena. After moving to this place after her Father died, she decided to board horses. She had 24 acres of nice pastures. All separated into 1.5 acre areas, with a half dozen 1/4 acre runs.
I go up and check the buckskin over. He seems very well mannered, and accepts a treat I toss into the arena for him. I give him another scratch and go knock on the door. Lacey and I exchange pleasantries and then I ask her about the gelding she bought. She tells me about watching him be ridden through the sale, how he ignored all the noise and other horses. He was really quiet and hardly even moved around, except when urged to do so. He mostly stood very quietly while they un-tacked him and then jumped back on him bareback. She decided he was the kind of horse she needed as she had been out of horses for several years and was basically starting over. She still had her old mare, but she was arthritic and was just a pet for the kids to occasionally be led around on.
When she had went out the day before to try to ride him, he had been much more animated, had not been very willing to stand still to be saddled, and hopped around so much when she was trying to mount she had become intimidated and had called me. While unsaddling him he had even pulled off the saddle pad himself and had flapped it around before tossing it aside.
I told her to show me the horse. She leads me out to the Buckskin Stallion. I turn and explain that she either brought the wrong horse home, or she did not understand the sale information on the horse, as this is a stallion. She told me he cant be a stallion because he was in with her mare and didn’t try to “do anything” except talk to her, like any new horse. And she was sure the guy selling him had said he was a gelding.
The buckskin as if to prove a point, starts strutting around ‘proudly’ proving his ability to be as manly as any other stallion, while parts of him are at attention. Where as Lacey’s eyes become the size of dinner plates and she makes no, no, no, noises shaking her head rapidly in denial.
“But he was so nice and quiet when he was in the sale yard. He was even quiet and nice when I went and pulled him from the pasture.”
She says he had been turned out with the mares in the main pasture for 2 days when he first came home; the boarders’ mares. Seems like she was going to have to explain the birds and the bees to those who had mares out in the common pasture. I am trying not to chuckle.

I sigh hiding my grin, and tell her the horse was probably drugged at the sale, and when she pulled him out of the pasture, he was probably tired from 2 days with a herd of mares. I will do an evaluation and we will see what he does know, and what kind of training he has, and what he may need.
Buffalo Joe, his registered name, is easily caught. Especially by me the one who had thrown him nummies, and had known the right place to scratch.
He has had some handling, and knows I mean business. He is really smart and keeps his attention on me the whole time. I am a bit impressed, but I also know there must have been a reason they drugged Joe.
I get out her saddle, and immediately set it aside and go grab one out of my truck. For one thing, he needed a saddle with full quarter horse bars as he was much wider than her old mare. For another thing, My ass was not going to fit into a 14″ barrel saddle with room to wiggle or bail fast if I needed to if he decided to be an ass.
He stands still and I get him saddled easily enough. He does not stand as still as a finished well behaved horse, but he is supposedly 4 and may not have had all the ground work he should have. I walk him a bit, do some ground driving and he knows a bit. He even lunges both ways and is giving to me and getting into the work. He has had some training and is enjoying this. Maybe he was only drugged so he would not get too wound up at the sale? Warning bells should have went off in my head, but instead I was relaxing.
I decide I am going to get up on him. By now several boarders have shown up, as well as a curious neighbor. They are all pulling up lawn chairs and chatting, watching “the expert” evaluate this horse. So I have an audience of about 9 people and Lacey.
I grab a cinder block, as I have an artificial left knee, and Joe is about 16hh. I grab the reins and a hunk of mane and swing a leg over Joe. I had almost got into the saddle when it came up to meet me. Hard. I managed to keep the reins and a big handful of mane I had ripped out. The tearing of the mane was an extra power source that made access to his auxiliary batteries, like those toys or flashlight you buy that has the plastic thing between the batteries and the main switch. Or as my daughter said, a rip cord, only I had no parachute.
He didn’t buck. There is no word for what this horse did to my ass. He jumped sideways, he did things cartoon horses do . I remember a cartoon movie when I was a kid about a cowboy raised by coyotes or wolves who meets a girl and she decides to ride his horse on their wedding day and the horse bucks her to the moon, It occurs to me I may be visiting her very soon.
He slips and goes down, I feel my foot hit the ground and the stirrup and the horse’s weight twist my ankle, I feel something pop. Now I am mad and determined that I am going to win this battle. I am not a fancy rider most of the time. I have to concentrate to be a pretty rider, but I have been on a horse since before I could walk and not much can buck me off once I set my mind to staying put. Also there is the audience. I try not to let that influence me, but it does.
Joe sunfishes, and I stay on, he rears then bucks, I stay on. He is covered in sweat and so am I. He races around the small arena and stops abruptly and throws down his head and bucks hard forward, planting his front legs with his head between them. I manage to stay on even though I am slammed in the back of the head by his ass and my neck feels dislocated. I kick him in the sides viciously, only then realizing I only have one boot still on. He is startled and takes a step forward. I hear “good boy” come out of my mouth, wondering about how I said that to this horse I wanted to strangle, then eat with BBQ sauce, after I get out of the hospital anyway.
His ears pricked up though. I said it again. “Good boy……Walk out.” The same command I gave him when ground driving him. He takes a few tentative steps. He looks at me, and I look at him. I pat him on the shoulder. I squeeze my leg a bit and say, “walk out boy.” We walk around the arena about 20 steps. I pat him on the shoulder making much over him, telling him what a good boy he is. I decide to get off and stop on a good note.
I step off and when my right foot hits the ground I scream and collapse to the ground, having forgotten about my broken ankle. I scare him and he starts jumping around stomping all over me. I woke up in the hospital and not the moon, which I guess is better than I saw this turning out. I still had some mane hairs wrapped up in my fingers of my left hand. I had 2 broken ribs, a broken ankle, a concussion and whiplash.
2 months later, I went out and got on Buffalo Joe again. No one else had any intention of getting on him, so when I was better I felt it was my job. He didn’t even try to buck with me again. A month after I finished his training Lacey sold Joe as a Stallion to a very nice woman from Montana who wanted a stallion to show and breed. Lacey was too afraid to try to ride him after seeing the events of my first ride on him.
There were 7 very cute foals at Lacey’s place next spring. Even her old Arthritic mare had a cute little Buckskin Colt. I did not offer to break him out when he was old enough.

My day went to the Dog

I have not been feeling up to writing for a while, was sick for a time. Now I am feeling better and the words are starting to flow again.
I was feeling pretty good this morning, fed the horses, took my friend to work at a new job, dropped the boy off at school….Things were going great. Came home and cleaned the house. Cleaned the bathrooms, dusted, vacuumed. the works. Even washed the dog bed covers. Yes, I only have one dog, and yes, she has 2 beds. Sigh. I get all done and decide the house smells like dog. Um…. No, the dog smells like dog. Time to wash the dog. I decide I am going to be all prepared. I put on a bathing suit, mix the shampoo with water and put it and the rub a dub dub dog scrubber ( I kid you not, that is what it is called,) in the shower in preparation. I get out the old towels and get them all ready. We are set.

I then decide that brushing her to get rid of all the extra loose hair will make clean up easier. Sounds like a good idea, right? Worked 40 minutes and got off a good bit of hair. Now we are really ready!

My dog is a German Shepard and though well trained is spoiled rotten, and weighs a good 90 pounds or so. She doesn’t weigh as much as me, but she has 2 more legs for leverage and is pretty sure the bath is a really, really bad idea. I should have listened to her.

I finally get her into the shower stall and am getting myself in with her. I am getting worn out already. The opposite shower door is open a tiny crack, she gets her nose in there and flings it into me and bolts. I get a really nice bruise on my hip. Argh!

Again, I get the dog into the shower after using a zip tie to make sure the opposite door cannot be opened.

I Scrub and scrub poor Grey and am sure I was in a delusional state when I thought I was brushing off all the loose hair. Either that or the dog gets wet as a protective action it sheds all the wet hair. Handfuls and handfuls of wet dog hair. I am scooping it out of the drain and flinging it onto a pile on the seat in the shower. It will eventually fill up half a plastic grocery bag. Do German Shepard’s have that much hair? I took a whole grocery bag of hair off her earlier, but it was all dry and fluffy. Where did this all come from? She certainly doesn’t look to have lost any hair at all!

I am rinsing all the shampoo off and she decides to start shaking. More hair. All over the walls and shower doors. And me. I look like I have not shaved my legs since the Paleolithic. After getting her rinsed off and trying to get as much water out of her coat as possible, which has become 20 times thicker somehow, even after losing 30 pounds of hair, I let her out of the shower and try to towel her off. She is still shaking massive amounts of water and hair. Now it is covering the bathroom counters, doors, walls and cupboard doors.

I towel her off, using all 7 towels, all now soaking and covered with hair. I do not want to use my good towels on her so this is as good as it is gonna get. She seems drier. Not dry but dry enough when she shakes, there is only the sound of flapping jowls and ears and not the sound of a power washer spraying the walls.

I let her out of the bathroom so I can try to clean up the once pristine bathroom. I wipe off the counter and cupboards first so no water spots, then scrape all the hair form the shower. Then I take a shower again to remove the smell of dog and the hair. Then I clean the shower again. That makes 3 times today! I am exhausted. I finally get the bathroom clean and am thinking a nap sounds like a fine idea. It is only 10 am but I got up at 4am and I am telling myself I deserve a nap. I have worked hard and am wiped out.

Then I see the rest of the house I just cleaned and vacuumed this morning. I nearly fainted. Grey must have decided she was not nearly dry enough. She has rolled on every carpet, leaving a nice coating of hair, (More hair? Really?) all over the carpets. She also seemed to have walked back and forth along the couches covering the front of them as well. Those dog bed covers I had washed and used fabric softener on? Yep, you are right. She managed to cover those too.

Then I look out the kitchen window, and the 5 month old fillies have snuck out of the fence again and are helping themselves to a mid morning snack. I get them corralled and heave my tired butt back into the house.

I decided to sit down, have another cup of coffee instead of a nap. Then I write this down to share with you all, and soon, but not too soon, I will get up and clean the house again.

But the dog looks and smells great! Until I let her outside again anyways.

Moral to this story?

Hire a housekeeper, take the dog to the groomer and go get a mani-pedi or a stiff drink!

My Day Went to the Dog……

 I was feeling pretty good this morning, fed the horses, took my friend to work at a new job, dropped the boy off at school….Things were going great. Came home and cleaned the house. Cleaned the bathrooms, dusted, vacuumed. the works. Even washed the dog bed covers. Yes, I only have one dog, and yes, she has 2 beds. Sigh. I get all done and decide the house smells like dog. Um…. No, the dog smells like dog. Time to wash the dog. I decide I am going to be all prepared. I put on a bathing suit, mix the shampoo with water and put it and the rub a dub dub dog scrubber ( I kid you not, that is what it is called,) in the shower in preparation. I get out the old towels and get them all ready. We are set.

I then decide that brushing her to get rid of all the extra loose hair will make clean up easier. Sounds like a good idea, right? Worked 40 minutes and got off a good bit of hair. Now we are really ready!

My dog is a German Shepard and though well trained is spoiled rotten, and weighs a good 90 pounds or so. She doesn’t weigh as much as me, but she has 2 more legs for leverage and is pretty sure the bath is a really, really bad idea. I should have listened to her.

I finally get her into the shower stall and am getting myself in with her. I am getting worn out already. The opposite shower door is open a tiny crack, she gets her nose in there and flings it into me and bolts. I get a really nice bruise on my hip. Argh!

Again, I get the dog into the shower after using a zip tie to make sure the opposite door cannot be opened.

I Scrub and scrub poor Grey and am sure I was in a delusional state when I thought I was brushing off all the loose hair. Either that or the dog gets wet as a protective action it sheds all the wet hair. Handfuls and handfuls of wet dog hair. I am scooping it out of the drain and flinging it onto a pile on the seat in the shower. It will eventually fill up half a plastic grocery bag. Do German Shepard’s have that much hair? I took a whole grocery bag of hair off her earlier, but it was all dry and fluffy. Where did this all come from? She certainly doesn’t look to have lost any hair at all!

I am rinsing all the shampoo off and she decides to start shaking. More hair. All over the walls and shower doors. And me. I look like I have not shaved my legs since the Paleolithic. After getting her rinsed off and trying to get as much water out of her coat as possible, which has become 20 times thicker somehow, even after losing 30 pounds of hair, I let her out of the shower and try to towel her off. She is still shaking massive amounts of water and hair. Now it is covering the bathroom counters, doors, walls and cupboard doors.

I towel her off, using all 7 towels, all now soaking and covered with hair. I do not want to use my good towels on her so this is as good as it is gonna get. She seems drier. Not dry but dry enough when she shakes, there is only the sound of flapping jowls and ears and not the sound of a power washer spraying the walls.

I let her out of the bathroom so I can try to clean up the once pristine bathroom. I wipe off the counter and cupboards first so no water spots, then scrape all the hair form the shower. Then I take a shower again to remove the smell of dog and the hair. Then I clean the shower again. That makes 3 times today! I am exhausted. I finally get the bathroom clean and am thinking a nap sounds like a fine idea. It is only 10 am but I got up at 4am and I am telling myself I deserve a nap. I have worked hard and am wiped out.

Then I see the rest of the house I just cleaned and vacuumed this morning. I nearly fainted. Grey must have decided she was not nearly dry enough. She has rolled on every carpet, leaving a nice coating of hair, (More hair? Really?) all over the carpets. She also seemed to have walked back and forth along the couches covering the front of them as well. Those dog bed covers I had washed and used fabric softener on? Yep, you are right. She managed to cover those too.

Then I look out the kitchen window, and the 5 month old fillies have snuck out of the fence again and are helping themselves to a mid morning snack. I get them corralled and heave my tired butt back into the house.

I decided to sit down, have another cup of coffee instead of a nap. Then I write this down to share with you all, and soon, but not too soon, I will get up and clean the house again.

But the dog looks and smells great! Until I let her outside again anyways.

Moral to this story?

Hire a housekeeper, take the dog to the groomer and go grab some leather and a good horse and go for a ride!