Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Getting "OTTO"

 In case you didn't catch the announcement post ( Ok I admit, it was a bit hidden) it's here  .

Yes, the herd at Acer Farm is going to be back up to five horses before September is over.

                              Little "Otto" , short for  "Octavius " will be joining the Acer Farm herd.
Sweet boy Otto

I know, I know I plan went completely out the window. I was planning to wait until spring of next year to begin casually looking for a potential mount,  assuming it would be late summer or even fall , or maybe not even until next year before I actually found something suitable.  I had two parameters in mind (both totally opposite ends of the spectrum) of which I intended to stick solely to.

A: Find Ideal horse = Find another Morgan or Morgan/TB cross but it must be a gelding and it must be 4-7 years old and already started. Something with brains, good bone and good feet and about 15 hands, but not much bigger. If it has Morgan in it, I knew I could count on toughness, brains, good legs and good feet.

B: Rescue a TB off the track and commit to the restarting an OTTB project and hope to hell it was going to stay sound mentally and physically and try using him as endurance/sport horse prospect.

Then....This little guy came across my radar


He didn't come close to meeting either of the criteria I had outlined for myself but something about him struck a nerve. The TB bloodlines for one. And Crytoclearance on the Dam side. Bonus. Cryptoclearance was an amazing racehorse.  He produced some fine sport horses as well. As  I  mentioned in a previous post,  the daughters  and granddaughters of Crypto seem to consistently pass on the heart, toughness, longevity and success as a racehorse, train-ability and personality that Cryptoclearance became so known for.  There are also a higher percentage of successful sport horses from the daughters of Crypto.  The  sons sired by Cryptoclearance were all good horses as well with some pretty outstanding race records, but did not consistently stand out like the those from his daughters.

One of the blog readers asked about my preference on that which I  mentioned in my initial post, so there you have it.

As far as the breed, which did not exactly meet the criteria....

I have always thought the Anglo/Arab cross would be ideal for what I want to do with  my horses but honestly, I never got too serious about looking for one because I like Morgans better than Arabs. Finding Morgan/TB crosses are nearly impossible to find because, well, they are just awesome and no one sells them when the find one. Not only was this colt  not within my established criteria at all , he was a 1000 miles away.. in Missouri. and yet...I had some inclination to look more carefully at him.. I guess it was just a gut feeling.

Movement and gait is really important to me, after having a couple of not so , shall we say, elegant movers in the past (Maggie, JB, Rebel). I was really looking for some specific movement this time around. Long  floaty strides and good freedom through the shoulders were high on the list of requirements.

In the photos and videos, this colt displayed that, even at his young age, his movement was quite nice.  His conformation seemed very proportionate when divided in thirds.  He wasn't wasp wasted and he had a nice deep hearth girth. More than all that, I liked this colts Thoroughbred blood lines . The Arab side was a bit unknown territory for me.  I don't know much about Arabian  bloodlines. I did at one time, when I worked on a large Arabian breeding farm back in the early 90's but that was a long time ago. What I do know is that I tend to like the Polish and Shagya lines because the ones I have always seen appear to be a little bit more substantial build and generally less hot . They just seem less .. well.. araby??

As luck would have it, this colts sire had more Egyptian lines.  I just remember from my time working on the Arabian breeding farm from years before that we always referred to them as Gyptoids. They were always a little hotter, and sometimes downright crazy. I would be lying if I said that learning this colt was mostly Egyptian lines didn't give me pause on considering this colt...

Otto's sire is  KA Odysseus and he is some Canadian National champion of something.. I have no idea what value that brings to a horse.  I am sure its important in the show world but it doesn't mean much to me. What I did like about the stud was that he had decent substance to him , great movement and he was very balanced.  Apparently his sire, SC Odysseus was considered a great contributor to the breed but again.... clueless on any of that.. That was all great but  none of that told me much about his personality thought. The  owner of Otto met the stud  and said that his demeanor and personality were a big driver for her decision to breed her TB mare to him. She said he was very gentle to be around. I also read up on some of the owners of his colt crops and what they got for colts. There seemed to be one common theme , personality and willingness.. This was going to have to be a leap of faith.  It was all I had to go on regarding personality. I did like the fact that the stallion didn't seem to have one of those really ugly  pronounced swan like necks with one of those little seahorse heads attached at the end.. I find that hideous in the Arab breed and it's not exactly great for balance over jumps either.

So when I penciled it all out, he was definitely something worth pursuing. There has been a lot of planning, calling, scheduling and more planning going on with this sale. Many things had to fall into place and there have been a few hurdles along the way .

Stay Tuned for details on how this deal all came together...It has been quite the process and  I think it's blog worthy..

Monday, August 25, 2014

Peak Bagging.. Jewel Basin - MT Aeneas

On Saturday I was supposed to hike Siyeh Pass in Glacier National Park but the weather forecasted 100% rain and rain in the valley can mean snow , wind and nastiness in the park so we cancelled. As it turned out, no rain came but it was cold and dreary. Determined to get some sort of hike in this weekend, I ended up going up into the Jewel Basin and hiked Mt. Aeneas (pronounced correctly Uh-Nee-Us because I know what it looks like :))

It was an 8 mile loop hike to the Mt Aeneas Lookout. This hike has been on my list for some time . I took my brother-in-law who is here visiting.

What an awesome awesome day..
Just starting out and heading up through an old burned out area..I think this is fireweed blooming.

first decent view. That small body of water is a slough, the big dark blue area is Flathead lake in the distance

Looking across a bowl to a distant ridge . The return trail runs along the very bottom of the pic, in the green treed area.
This is the weird Microwave Tower lookout station. See the goats behind and to the right ? See the steep drop off  just on the right side of the pic? There were more goats down below. One of the dogs with the group decided to go after the goats and launched herself down the cliff. It was a scary moment for all of us but the dog got stopped at the grassy part in next pic.

Some goats just below us ,that the dog went after. It a straight drop down about 50 feet. Then beyond the grass, it drops straight off again , for several hundred or more feet. Luckily the dog was able to stop her roll here in the grass and the owner was able to carefully climb down and get her. The goats climbed back up to the microwave tower when they saw the dog scrambling down the hill. Lesson: keep dogs on leash in the wilderness. 

Looking down to Picnic Lakes, return trail will take us right by these.

a look back towards where the microwave tower was, on our way to the summit..Definitely Ridgetop type trail here.. almost dizzying!

and a look up the trail to where I am headed.. to the far left of the pic you can kind of see the summit, still a long ways off

The summit.. see the three people at the top?? that is where I am headed.. 

while stopping to catch my breath, a cloud rolled in.. it was very very cold.. thought we were going to get wet!

Happy hiker, made it to the top. Tired but amazing view.. so worth it! See the microwave tower now?? 

Coming down the other side.Still snow there

More snow.. 

Beargrass field..

Weird cousin IT flowers. No idea what they were but they reminded me of cousin IT hair

More bear grass.. at the end of its bloom

an outhouse..roof accomodated for big snow..

from one of the other intersection trails, these signs.. fitting..

The Jewel Basin has a number of trails and lakes. Crater lake and Big Hawk lake are two additional hikes I would like to do before the snow flies but snow comes early in that country!  I am thankful I got to make this long awaited hike this weekend. It was beautiful and what was really amazing is that on one hike , so many different types of landscapes, from green, to cliff, to wetlands, and heavily treed to open meadows.

The only issue , other than the dog /goat situation was that my left knee flared up again. It started a year ago with the Spartan race .  It had been feeling better and I had done a couple of hikes earlier in the year without any issues with downhill . Not sure what the problem is but it's on the outside of the knee and whenever I hike any downhill for any length of time, it flares up. The MRI revealed no issues a year ago. I have spent the last year doing lots of strength excercised and I thought the issue was addressed. Yesterday, it only took about 5 minutes of decending, and there was that old familiar pain making it difficult to walk. When I got home I did the Ice/anti inflammatory thing. It helped but it's still pretty sore. Debating on whether to have it checked again or just try a knee brace and hiking poles next time. Nothing like feeling old..

Friday, August 22, 2014

FINAL 2014 Horseback Archery Competition and Video

Last weekend we finished the last Horseback Archery for the year that Tom will be attending or involved in. Everything went great. Lots of new records and goals set for many of the members. Participants come from all over, most are Hungarians who reside in Canada. It's always kind of neat for me to be around a room full of Hungarians speaking their native language. My grandmothers family was from Hungary and I have many fond memories of listening to them all speak it during holidays.  As a child I knew a few phrases so I constantly am asking them what did he/she just say???  It's a difficult language to learn and understand.

Several of the members tested into a higher level , gaining a new color bathrobe (Kaftan) or different colored  belt to go with their bathrobe depending on what exam they took. There are lots f different exams/tests and they are all called something in Hungarian, which is  mind boggling  so I can't really clearly explain that part of this sport without a list in front of me . Tom shot off Brego the first day. He is a fast horse so Tom was shooting three arrows, 9 runs, over 137 points. That is a master level competition run because of the quickness of the horse  combined with the score of over 120. Basically the horse has 20 seconds to canter 90 meters. Brego was generally running the track in 9-12 seconds. That boy can run and loves to do it!  Any seconds left on the clock below 20 seconds is added to the arrow score. So if he runs it in 10 seconds,  and the rider shot 10 arrow points, his combined point for the run is 20 point. He gets nine runs total.  Do you know how hard it is to get arrows knocked and shot off of a horse running that fast??? More than anything it creates a huge mental challenge for the rider.. Tom makes it look easier than it is. The nice thing is that while Brego runs fast,  when he gets to the end he stops , and walk quietly to the beginning again. No big deal. That is ideal. Sometimes, fast horses in this sport who have not been brought along correctly or are not a good fit,  are running scared. That is not good. The school discourages people from getting into the idea of just running their horse as fast as they can down the track,  In Brego's case,  I prefer to refer to him as " Phar Lap" because in spite of his shorter stature of just under 15 hands, he has a huge ground eating stride , something the famous TB gelding was known for.

The second day of the competition, Tom rode Cassidy who is not as fast but that means the rider can get more arrows off. Tom shot a 136 something and Cassidy was scoring 3-5 points a run for him on average. Basically Tom outshot his horse. Changing between a fast horse and slow horse is definitely an acquired skill, with or without the added complication of managing a bow!

Here's  quick video clip on You Tube or Search for  2014 HBA Hamilton Montana.

Sorry I can't I can't link up to it directly because when I am logged into my blooger account, I can't access my saved videos on You Tube because my  Youtube account is tied to my gmail account  and my blogger is tied to a different email.. anyways...well, it's messed up.. nevertheless...  I can't seem to get the two linked.

 (if anyone has any suggestions to fix this issue, I am all ears by the way)


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Time , Freedom , Clarity and News!

This summer , with the sale of Maggie, I have had time to do other stuff with out that nagging voice in the back of my mind that  I need to work a horse. Ever since her selling,  there has been offers after offers of horses crossing my radar. It seems everyone has a horse for sale, or a horse to give away.  I have turned alot of nice horses away that probably would have been great mounts but I had to be honest with myself.  I am enjoying hiking, gardening, kayaking, floating the beautiful Montana rivers , boating on Flathead lake and just taking a huge deep breath. Summer in the Flathead Valley is magical.  No place better to be June , July, August  and even into October.

I am  occasionally riding JB and Rebel but it was only to help keep them in shape for the upcoming (this weekend) Horseback archery competition but that is it. My riding has been minimal. Unfortunately, both horses last week went lame on us. Rebel got a little inflammation from past laminitis issues because I had been letting him out on pasture. I thought it was dried up and cured enough but apparently there were still enough sugars in the grass to cause him just enough inflammation to irritate things.  I noticed it right away and penned him up.... much to his disliking.  He bounced back to sound a few days ago so he is still a go for the competition.
JB on the other hand, we aren't sure. I was cantering  JB last week and he took a bad step with his front left and came up lame. Need I remind you all... the front left is the good leg. The right is the Pastern Arthrodesis. We did not need this.  We were finally getting him back into some level of fitness and his canter was really freeing up .
The best we can tell, he stone bruised. I thought maybe the heel bulb but there is no evidence of that. We will just wait and see what transpires over the next week or two. There has been no swelling, no heat, no signs of inflammation other than he is off and remains off. He will not be competing. (insert sad face)

For the last several weeks, I have been trying to figure out where  horses fit in my life?  I have so many other interests.  How do I balance them all?

Do I just give the horses up and become the supportive wife of a horseman? Become the occasional rider?

Other people have busy lives and balance it,  why can't I?

Why do I get so wrapped up and one track minded about making sure my horse is worked and not just sitting?

What does it matter if my horse sit in the pasture and hang out? They are just as happy to be out there in the pasture hanging out than they are being ridden.. probably more so.

In the end,  I get myself so burned out because I am trying to do too much.

Truth be known?? I do it in my professional career too.. I put waaayy  to much pressure on myself.

It struck me in late June. I got really , really,  REALLY sick. Sicker than I ever remember getting.  I was on the couch for  days on end, and at one point the doctors were trying to decide if I needed to be admitted for IV antibiotics.  It was an awful bacterial flu.They thought I had Meningitis. I thought I was going to die. I was in so much pain.  I went through two rounds of different oral antibiotics.  The first round just tipped the bacteria on its side a little and then it came back with a vengeance. The second round finally kicked it Eventually I started getting the upper hand. It took a month to recover fully. I was off work for two weeks and when I did return, it was only part time for another week. I was still recovering when we went to San Francisco.

So, I came away with a new found clarity about things. Even though I work remotely , I am working very hard at  keeping NORMAL office hours. No more of the get up at 3 am , log in and work till 10 pm. No more fretting and losing sleep over a report that I didn't finish reviewing.

I am done with that noise.They can fire me if they don't like it.. No job is worth my health.

 I work till 5 or 6 if needed. I don' t log on for weekend unless ABSOLUTELY necessary. I am setting those boundaries and sticking to them.

Funny thing... I am sleeping again. I am not stress eating and I am two weeks back into a workout routine. I am doing MUCH better.

Working remotely has it's advantages, but also its very easy to overwork,.I am learning how to balance it all.

 But I digress.....

So to my point,  horses are still very much a part of my life. I don't ever see that changing. I spent alot of time questioning  that this year but I realized something. It wasn't that I had lost interest in horses or riding or any of it.  It was all the other "crap" getting in the way of  letting myself enjoy them like I once did.

I don't regret selling Maggie. She is with a great family and they are doing great things with her. But it did leave a void.  It wasn't  like I went cold turkey with not having a horse around the place after she left.  We have 4 others to choose from !  I have a special bond with both Rebel and JB but  the reality is that neither is a reliable mount. They have alot of limitations because of  their unique health issues.

It's funny how things have worked out.. everything all in good time. Its like I had to go through some crap to get back to being me.  I am getting there.

I really didn't anticipate looking for another horse until Spring but ..... as l said.. funny how things turn out...

It's been a process but I have NEWS.. HORSE NEWS!!

Stay tuned for info about an upcoming  special delivery to Acer Farm next month!
Ok,  because that is kinda mean and I really like my readers to keep reading....

I will give you a tidbit- heres a photo...I just loved him the first time I laid eyes on him. No was not an option in this case. He's my dream horse. A Grey Anglo. To top it off, he goes back to one of my favorite TB lines.

Cryptoclearance. Better yet, Cryptoclearance on the Dam's side. (its a breeding thing)

It had to have been fate finding this yearling colt.

I also didn't anticipate having another colt to start . After I sold Maggie I told myself that the next horse I got was going to be started and going well under saddle so I didn't need to  deal with all that again. That is all I have been doing for over 10 years now is starting youngsters. I really wanted to get away from it.

But I realized that this probably works out better given the circumstances. I don't need to do anything but play with this punk for the next year or two. NO pressure! Just have fun teaching him groundwork and exposing him to all kinds of stuff. Cows, trail obstacles, water, etc. That is the fun stuff if you ask me.

I think it's going to be a beautiful thing!

In the meantime, I am off to the home gym to crank out a workout !

Arrivederci, amico

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Shout out to the Montana Riders at Tevis 2014

Its Tevis time. Three of my riding acquaintances/friends are there. Every year I think about planning to go out there to volunteer just to experience it, and then before I know it , it's here and I am resigned to watch from the internet world.

Montana looks pretty well represented this year with 5 Riders .

218- Bill Brown
211- Kathleen Edman
180- Kaci Monroe
136- Janet Walker
?     Sherri Calaway (Kaci's mom) and my mentor when I was just getting started in Endurance. Oddly, She doesn't have a number assignment for some reason according the website.

Sherri and her daughter Kaci have done Tevis numerous times. I believe Sherry top tenned one year. I expect she will do well this year. She has some pretty amazing horses. Her daughter is riding her gelding Flag. 5 years ago, Sherrie was just starting him on the trail and we traveled on several training rides together. He was such a good quiet boy right from the start. I can't wait to see how they do this year.  Last year,  Kaci rode Flag and they were pulled at Deadwood for lameness so I hope this year they make it through.

During my very first CTR with JB,  I rode along with Janet Walker, aka Bobbi. She was not a confident rider as I remember . Seems she must have gotten over her hurdles.  She rode Tevis last year and did well , finishing in 21 hours.

Bill Brown is a vet here and often vetted at the regional rides here in NW Montana like the Helena rides, and the Potomac ride, which is no longer being held.. so now just the Helena ride! Literally , that is the only ride in this part of the state any more.. kinda sad..

So a look at metrics... last year at Tevis, only 75 riders finished. I wonder if that is within the "normal" or expected rate of completion? . In  2012, 98 riders completed. I wonder if  there IS general % that completes each year. I would be curious to see what that iS