Saturday, November 8, 2014

Another Groundwork-Only Day

Poor Shar has been sick.  We were supposed to ride Wednesday, but she was feeling sick.  We were supposed to go to a play day (a "show" that's much more about fun than winning; in this case, focusing on trail obstacles) a friend put on today, but unfortunately Shar wasn't feeling up for it.  And the sucky part of being dependent on someone else for a ride (for Arya in this case--she doesn't fit in my Camry) is that when your ride can't make it, neither can you.  Lucikly, this friend plans to put on more play days in the future.

So, with my Saturday freed up at the last minute, I made arrangements to meet Arya's former owner at her house in Culver to buy a blanket from her and pick up some bits to try.

I was nearly to her house, on a rural road in Culver, when I saw a small dog on the road.  It was a toy breed of some kind, long-haired, black with brown points (color like a rottweiler, but otherwise not at all similar).  I stopped my car and got out, and the dog ran over to me, happy to see me.  No collar (or tag, of course).  Well, I guess I can take a little time out of my day to see if I can find this dog's family.  And if that fails, take it to the shelter to scan for a chip...

I pulled in to the nearest house, and four dogs woke up and bounded off the porch.  "My" dog barked and barked, and not in the "I'm so happy to see you" sort of way.  I sat in the car in the driveway for a few minutes to see if the ruckus (the resident dogs were barking too, of course) would bring the residents out, but nope.  So I figured the dog likely didn't live there, and went to another house, across the road.

There was a guy out in the driveway, working on his car.  There was also a dog, and once again, both the dog in the car and the dog outside were barking at each other in a way that made me figure they weren't acquaintances.  However, as soon as he heard "my" dog barking, he had a pretty good hunch that it belonged to the neighbors behind him--he's heard that bark a lot.

So I went down the long driveway to that house, and sure enough, they had a yard FULL of small dogs.  A pug or two, a chihuahua or two, and a pug puppy.  I hollered, but no one came out, so I had to go in through a well-blockaded (for small dogs) gate and knock on the door.  A kid came to the door, took a look at the dog, and said it was theirs.  They had a lot of dogs, and apparently had a hard time containing them, but the dogs were well fed.  Chubby even.  I cuddled the pug puppy a second, helped the kid corral all the dogs so I could drive off without crunching any of them, and headed out.

I met up with Arya's former owner, and got a blanket and some bits and bridles to try out.  Then I headed to Shar's house.  She wasn't there, so I didn't feel comfortable riding, but I tried Arya's blanket on her (and kind of sacked her out with it, since she was apprehensive at first.  I'd bought a saddle on Craigslist yesterday (the gal says she'll refund me if I return it) and tried it on Arya.  It seems to fit her fairly well, but I want Shar's opinion, plus I'll want to ride in the saddle before making a final decision.

I groomed her a while, including thoroughly picking her feet (she did great--she's catching on!) and brushing out her mane and tail.  Then I took her to the round pen and we played some clicker training games.  First, just touching the handle of my crop.  Then I poked her with the crop to teach her to turn on the forehand.  (Move her butt around while her front end stays relatively still.)  As with the clicker training to teach her to touch her nose to the crop, she picked up quickly, and was soon making multiple steps, crossing her legs over, etc.  I want to cue her for the same movement from the saddle before working on sidepassing or turning on the haunches, so once we'd had a good lesson on that, I wanted to move along to something else, but she still seemed to be in a good mood for learning (she was so mellow today, not that she's usually anything BUT mellow, just even more mellow than usual).  So, with the goal of getting her to stand nicely for the farrier, I wanted to teach her that it wouldn't be horrible to stand with her foot elevated on something, like a hoof stand.  So I worked toward getting her to put her foot on the mounting block.  First, I manually lifted her foot and pulled it forward until it banged into the hollow plastic mounting block.  Click, treat.  I was hoping she'd start spontaneously nudging it herself, but if anything, she was backing away from it.  So I just kept lifting her foot, until I was lifting it and placing it on the bottom step of the mounting block.  She got better about letting me pick it up and holding it there without fidgeting, but didn't live it on her own, and then she started being disinterested in learning any more.  So I just sat on the mounting block catching up on Facebook on my phone while she relaxed near me.  She, of course, sniffed me all over for carrots, but I'd given her all that I had in my hand.  So then she wandered off to sniff the bag of carrots on the ground, so I figured it was time for me to put them away.  I prepped her feed for the next couple weeks

Then I walked the fenceline for the hot wire fence, first starting with the geldings' pasture because it's where the wire goes first.  They pretty much ignored me, preferring their hay.  Then I figured I'd grab Arya from the round pen before checking her pasture, since I needed to grab my sunglasses from nearby anyway, plus figured she'd rather be in the pasture than in the boring round pen.

I walked the entire perimeter of the fence, with Arya as my shadow.  Repaired a couple spots, but when I went to plug the unit back in, it didn't come on.  Hope Shar and/or R were able to fix it easily!

Anyway, it was still going to be a while before they got home, and I didn't want to ride solo without them there, so I left, and headed for the humane society.  It's been a while since I've gone, since I've been so busy with Arya!

I was nearly there when Shar called and said she was at a garage sale where a lady had a bunch of saddles for sale.  I wasn't too far away, so I asked for the address and met her there.  And bought a saddle.  It may or may not work out, but it's really light weight, and didn't cost much, so hopefully I'd be able to sell it for what paid paid, or close to it, if it didn't work out.  We'll see--I'm hoping to ride tomorrow, and have the chance to try out whichever saddle seems to fit best.  (It's imperative that it fit Arya, but I don't want to ride in a saddle that doesn't fit me very well, either, since I'm hoping to be riding 25+ miles by spring.)

Anyway, I headed off to the humane society, where I got to shadow two kitten adoptions.  One was the SOFTEST kitty I've ever petted--she was seriously as soft as a rabbit, if not softer.  And she got to home home with a lovely couple.  Another goes home with a 15-year-old and her mom.  Both will be QUITE spoiled, I'm sure.  :-)

Then I finally made it to Worthy Brewing before they had a wait list 300 people long, then home.

Tomorrow, hopefully a ride in one of my "new" saddles...we'll see!

I swear I took a bunch of photos of her and the geldings "talking" over the fence, but they're not on my phone.  Weird.  I did get this video of her rolling (and grunting), though:

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