Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hi Tie Ropes for over head tie systems.

Video info: (may need to cut and paste)

After years of using over head tie systems I wanted a better, safer rope than what was offered. Flat nylon web ties can leave a nasty cut if a horse does get tangled. Poly ropes tend to leave a rope burn worse than cotton. I wanted a safety release I could get to in a hurry. One I could reach. Not up over my head, and not on the horses halter that may be difficult to grab in an emergency. 

*Adjustable nylon upper section with either velcro attachment for Hi-Ties (Easycare type) or snap to attach to arm for those with rings on end, such as Spring tie.  

*You can adjust height for a range of mounting heights of the over head tie.   

*An "O" ring on bottom of adjustable strap to snap the cotton tie into that is hung at a height people can reach (not 7 to 8' in the air)

* Cotton rope, which will give less change of a rope burn if horse does get caught than flat nylon web ties, or bungee ties. (although rope burns can happen with even the softest rope)

 *A special quick release snap with an florescent orange tab to grab and pull in an emergency to release.  The bright Orange will catch the eye of someone who may happen upon a horse that needs released in an emergency.  This snap is at about 5' off the ground, where you can grab it safely, without trying to get to the head of a horse in a panic, or trying to climb up on your trailer fender to release the tie at the tie arm

 * The  cotton rope has a strong bull snap on the other end to fasten on to the horses halter or neck collar.  I have found bull snaps are one of the few snaps that very rarely get bumped open on a bucket or edge of trailer like some other snap styles

Price: $70 for whole set up/shipped.

I need to know the type of over head tie arm you have (Easycare Hi-Tie, Tilt-Tie, Spring tie etc) , and how high it is mounted from the ground. (attachment ring to ground) I make these to specifications to adjust for YOUR tie. 

I have black rope in stock. Others colors some times available. Just ask.  

I take paypal, or checks. I'm looking for a air of Cloud stirrups if you are interested in trading. 

I ship priority mail. Questions, drop me a note at:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Broken Bit Update

In the post below I shared that my Myler bit had broke at the trail ride. I sent Toklat (who owns the Myler line) and email on Tuesday, with photos of the bit, explained it had broke, but did not want to send it to them, as I had sentimental value due to the rides we have done in it. I just wanted them to be aware of it breaking, as I had someone else mention they had seen one break. Well, today in the mail, Toklat sent me a  brand new bit!!!  Now, is that customer service, or what??? We have been using Toklat products for years. I still own one of our original Toklat trail breast collars we bought in the mid 80's!!!    I thought I should share about their customer service, in this day and age of some companies never even replying to concerns. I had gotten years of use out of the bit, and did not expect anything from them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Arkansas "Whoas"

     This weekend was the Arkansas Traveler NATRC ride near Dover Arkansas. Two years ago, after we finished this ride, the ride manager suggested because we had been doing so well at that point, that we should try for the Presidents Cup.  Who knew what a year 2009 would turn out to be. During the weekend, I thought about all the places we rode that year. Thinking how this ride had been the beginning of that wonderful journey.

I headed up Thursday with Hank in tow, and Mardi in the back seat. She is a good traveler, and enjoyed stopping for "road food" which was a corn dog for her.

The 380 mile drive passed quick enough, getting to see much of the small Oklahoma towns, and farm and ranch land, then through parts of NW Arkansas.

 We arrived mid afternoon, and got settled in, and prepped for potential severe weather that was heading our way. The warm night with little to no wind was going to change, and we knew we could be in for a rough one.  I prepped the horse compartment of the trailer to put Hank inside if needed, and headed to bed. After midnight, I got a knock on the door that we were under tornado warning. I listened to the borrowed weather radio and checked a map for the locations the weather alerts were listing, and felt that we were OK as far as tornadoes, but I feared hail, and I think all of us in camp loaded our horses in their trailers for the night, or had them in the barn down below.  Turned out we had heavy, heavy rain, thunder, lightning, and high winds, but thankfully no hail.  Hank has spent so much time in the trailer, he is a pretty good boy. Had a bucket of water, hay, and was dry.

Friday was cooler, and windy, but the ground dried out quickly, and the horses ended up not having mud in their camping area.  We got all checked in, and everything ready for the next days ride. We would be doing 30+ miles. With the cold temps, I put Hanks warm blanket on, and tossed the electric throw on my bed, and we were both cozy.  Mardi had her little horse blanket on, and a nice bed of shavings and hay tucked in the trailer. She got to sleep in the camper the night before, since Hank was using her bedroom, but that requires her being lifted up into it, and helped out of it, since it is not really "dog friendly".  She is pretty happy in the horse compartment.

  Saturday morning arrived, and I was ready to ride. These are such beautiful trails. A bit chilly, made for some overly cheerful horses on the early morning start. But it looked like Thursday nights rain was all we would have for the weekend. Although I did pack a rain coat Saturday AM until the clouds cleared up for the afternoon trail.  We timed out, and headed down the mountain, and Hank was full of himself. He wanted to go, go, go. The winds blew a tree across the trail that we had to negotiate.  The lowest part, at about 18" high had a small soft branch extending out the other side, and I knew if Hank stepped on it when going over the tree, and it moved, he would most likely spook, and so something silly, so I went for the higher about 2' section, that had a clear landing on the other side. Hank walked up, and decided he needed to tackle it like a 6' wall. Well, at least from MY perspective. He launched, we landed, and I had lost both stirrups, and had shifted a little off center. He was still ready to continue on down the trail, but this was not gonna work in my favor if he went much further, so I said WHOA, and he stopped, I got my self put back together, looked to see if anyone had got to witness my rather unflattering leap over the log, and then picked up the trot to continue on down the trail.  He had a few horses in front of him, and was anxious to catch up. We were trotting along a nice stretch of trail at a pretty good clip when he sort of ducked his head to tug on the reins, as I checked on him for tugging on me, and suddenly I felt things "give". I quickly thought I had a rein or snap break, sat deep and said "WHOA", ( twice in less than 15 min. we are needing to stop on a verbal) and he slammed on the brakes. I hopped off, and saw the reins were still connected to the bit, but the bit was now in two pieces. His Myler bit broke at the joint of the barrel in the mouthpiece.

 Well, not a lot of choice, so I stuffed the bridle in my pack, snapped the reins on the side rings on his halter, and got going again. I caught the horses in front and asked if we could get ahead of them for a bit, until I was sure I had the communication I needed. He has been ridden a lot in a simple S hackamore, but I prefer the bit, as it gives me a better finer detailed communication with him when negotiating tricky trail sections, or doing obstacles.  He was going along nice, and after a few miles the other horses went on ahead again, and we were fine.  Then we came to our first obstacle. It was a tree up on a small 3-4' slope that we had to back up and around it. Backing around trees have been an issue over the years, but he had been doing well lately. So, I positioned him, asked him to back,and he zipped around it nice and smooth, and we were heading on down the trail. (he got an excellent from the vet!)

The sky was slowly clearing from the cloud cover, the blue sky was showing, and the sun started shining down through the trees and the dogwoods were blooming. What a beautiful, beautiful day!!!

We had a lunch break in camp, where I put his hackamore on over his halter and then headed out across the highway to our other loop. This loop has the water falls.

 So much to see, and take in.   We rode alone for the most part. Hank is a horse who never forgets a trail, and I could tell he knew where we were going, and when we got to intersections of trails we rode in past years, he would try to go where the trail had gone before. At least I should never be lost if I need to get back to camp.  Before we knew it, our 30 miles were done, and we were back at the trailer.

While relaxing after our days ride, I talked to a few people to consider if they felt they could stop their horse if their main means of communication through the reins were to be lost. It really does not matter if one rides with a bit, hackamore, bitless bridle, or halter. If it broke from the horses head, could you stop that horse? How much do you depend on the reins to stop them, or even control their direction?  When I needed it, Hank stopped on my sitting deep, and saying "whoa".  Something for riders to practice before they need that skill when things go wrong. I will admit I had not made a point to ever practice it, but just by always asking with my seat, and usually voice too, I had taught Hank to respond to more than just the reins. Because I used to do carriage driving, I am big on verbal cues. And like any cue we use, they are as subtle as possible to get the response I am seeking. (so my louder, more firm WHOA sue got his attention!)                                                                                                                                              

Sunday morning dawned warmer than the previous day, and no jackets were needed, at least for me. Blue sky and breezes were the order for the day.

 I had moments of that feeling of just being absolutely perfectly in sync and "one" with my horse. That usually brings out the gushy emotions of how lucky I am to still have Hank with me after his surgery, and glad I am riding alone, so I can sweet talk him. Had my Ipod on for a bit, and enjoyed some of my favorite music as we took in the views, flowers, butterflys, and wooded surroundings with spectacular streams. Up along one section of trail Hank had the best grazing he has ever had at a ride.

 He could not stuff enough in his mouth at once to suit him.  Today I found that I was able to soak in even more of the sights, sounds and smells of the mountains we were privileged to be exploring. 

 The sun coming down through the trees, shining bright on the forest floor to set of the greens of the foliage,the colorful spring flowers and the sparkling creeks.  Before I knew it, the 20-something miles flew by, and we were back in camp, doing our final vet check.

All the horses were checked through, and then management was announcing awards were ready!  I felt Hank had done well, his metabolics had little change through the weekend, and he had no soundness issues, his back was good, and I felt he was a pretty good boy on his manners and trail ability.  But we never know how the other horses have done, so I don't ever get confident of any placing.  But when the awards were all said and done, I had placed first in Horsemanship, and Hank had Sweepstaked the ride. Meaning he had the highest score of all the horses in the Open division, which was around 18 to 20 horses. This is just his 3rd ride of the ride season, but he has met the placing requirements for his National Championship again, so now all we need are 27 more points.  Beyond that, I do have a goal / award I'd like to try for, that thankfully would not require I drive all over the country to achieve it. But the greatest reward is spending weekends like this one, taking in such beautiful trails.

I spent the night and headed home at pre-dawn hours, arriving a bit after noon. Turned Hank out, and he was as always, anxious to roll, trot around telling the others all about his weekend, roll some more,and start munching grass.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Have you seen the trails in Arkansas?

Our Arkansas Traveler NATRC ride is next month. This is one of the prettiest NATRC rides I have attended. They only have it every 2 years now. Thought I'[d share some pix from past rides, to remind some of the beauty, and maybe convince some others that it is well worth the drive! This ride is near Dover, and more info can be found here:

Arkansas Traveler info

Trails through the woods

Mountain top views

Lovely streams and small rivers
Sun beaming thru the trees
Water falls
Cute pintos. Oh, wait....
Dogwood trees in bloom

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It is a mental condition

We know we must do physical conditioning of our horses for distance riding, but how many of us think about MENTALLY conditioning for the conditions?

We are faced with many challenges at a distance ride, and the more homework you can do ahead of time, then hopefully the better prepared one will be.  While I think those new to the sport are more often finding some of their pre-ride training end up with a few holes in it, I have seen experience riders have some issues that they might have been able to lessen had they done a few extra preparations before heading off to a competition.

When we prepare and condition for rides, many of us have a tendency to only ride in weather that is more perfect, as we have a choice. If it is windy, or cold, we can wait a day or so for something better to head out to enjoy some trail time. But when we get to a competition, we do not always know what the weather is going to do. If it is not to our liking, we can always choose to not ride. And that is up to each individual. This has to be fun, and if riding in less than wonderful weather is not to ones liking, that is their choice, and theirs alone. This is recreation for us. But if one does choose to ride no matter what the conditions, then consider training for those conditions. On the physical end, consider doing some training in muddy conditions to be prepared and know how your horse might handle that footing before you end up at a ride and the sky opens up and changes things from dry and perfect, to muddy and slick.

 Also, muddy conditions can be very mental for both horse and rider as it can end up slow and stressful, so it does fall into some mental conditioning.

Now, lets talk about cool or cold and windy conditions.  At home, how many of you have decided to not go riding because it is windy? How many avoid it because they feel their horse is going to be naughty?  For those who do not ever train in the wind, what happens when you get to a ride that has those conditions?   Often the rider finds the horse they loaded in the trailer at home, is not the one they saddled up that morning.  The horse is jumpy, uptight, and maybe even ready to buck, or does buck. And I think most of the time it is because the rider is the one who has concerns, worry, and tension about the wind,and what the horse is going to do and the horse is picking this up from the rider. Think about it. Most of  our horses live outside, and deal with the wind on a regular basis.

 It is not really a big deal. The wind is not what upsets the horses, but the riders feelings of the wind upsetting the horses, causes the horses to pick up on that anxiety, and then in turn, the horse becomes tense and does goofy things. They feel if their rider is nervous, they need to be on the look out. They spook more, and then just start feeling full of themselves. But if you take the time and make the effort to get out and practice in conditions that we think makes the horses mentally silly, we condition ourselves to learn that those conditions are not an issue. If I push myself, and my horse to conditions that mentally are worse than I'd ever expect at a ride, I can relax when these conditions present themselves at a ride, knowing I have done my homework and we have ridden in much worse, and this is not a big deal, and my horse and I can handle this. You end up having confidence that the conditions are not any different than just another day of riding.  A windy day is no different that a clear warm day with no wind.  If YOU have no worries, then the horse will not pick up concern from you. Instead they pick up your relaxation and lack of concern, and treat it like any other days ride.

 There is other Mental conditioning you can do to prepare you and your horse for a competition. Find someone to ride and train with some, or a group of friends, and practice riding in groups. If you feel your horse is gonna be an idiot when horses pass him at a ride, then chances are they WILL be as you expected.

 But if you get out there and ride with others when you can, have them ride in front, behind, and even go off ahead of you as you work with the horse that this is no big deal, then you will be more confident in your horses behavior at the ride when these situations arise. Have a friend trot off ahead, or even canter away. Now is the time to school the horse, and do the mental conditioning to deal with these things so when you get to a ride, and riders pass you, leave you etc. you do not need to have those concerns that your horse is going to be naughty and out of control, as you have done your homework. Now, chances are, some will still get silly at a ride even with all the homework, as others around you may be tense, thus getting their horses uptight, and your horse will pick up on that from other horses.   Horses are herd animals and herd bound, and teaching them to not have a herd issue is tough with some, but worth the effort.

Also put in the time at home riding alone, so the horse gets used to not needing to have others to go down the trail with you. If you have that confidence, the horse will pick up on that. Some feel this is something new, and all the natural horsemanship folks talk about being the leader, joining up, becoming one with the horse etc. etc., but this is nothing new. I've been doing it with my horses since I was a kid, long before it started getting marketed with catchy phrases.  Your horse looks to you to be in charge, and if they do not find that, they take matters into their own little brains at times.

So next ride, if your horse starts to get uptight, look at yourself, and ask if you are sending the horse signals that are making him that way. Take a deep breath. If you are so tense you are holding your breath, sing! You can not hold your breath and sing at the same time.  If you have done your homework, wrap your mind around the fact that you have ridden and trained your horse to deal with as many situations as possible, and this is just another ride.  If your body is tense, try to relax. Look on ahead down the trail where you want to go, and enjoy the scenery.  Don't focus hard and fast on 3' in front of your horse. Most of us do not do that at home when riding. We look around, take in the day.  Enjoy your ride! That is why you are there.

Monday, January 24, 2011


We met her and said "hello" the first time a little over 10 years ago when she was just 5 weeks old, and she was in the bed of a pick up with her brothers and sisters at a local tractor auction. We said our final goodbye to her today, in the bed of our pickup, at the vet office.

When we moved here, we wanted a dog to keep an eye on the property, keep coyotes away, and be a guard dog if needed. But we also wanted one to be nice to the kitties. My husband had always wanted a Catahoula. They are a hog hunting dog, and those he had known were very smart. So when we went to the fairgrounds that day, and saw the sign saying "Catahoulas for sale", we just had to go take a peek.  As we watched the pups, one stood out. Not because of her color, as she was actually sort of bland as compared to her merle colored siblings, but because she was very sure of her self. She move the others out of the way to go get some food, but did not fuss or whine when picked up to be looked over. Something about her made us decide she was the one to bring home.
She quickly grew, and grew, and grew. Standards for a female Catahoula are 60 to 65 pounds. By the time Thelma stopped, she weighed in at 80 pounds.

She was a hard headed, stubborn pup, which we had been warned about the breed.  But she learned her duties very quickly. At 10 months old some wild pigs came on the property, and she took off after them and had one cornered. When it made a break for it, she grabbed it, and flipped it, but it got away.

She instantly took to the cats, and adored them. Thelma never met a cat she did not like, even though new ones were not keen on her until she kept wagging her tail, going up to the slowly, and showing them she was their friend.

Once they figured out she liked them, They in turn, liked her.  Peanut, who came with the house, had feared dogs from the previous owners, but quickly figured out Thelma was a great place to keep warm.

I hope at least some of her "kitty love" has rubbed off on young Mardi. But I don't think it will ever be like what Thelma had with the cats. We would watch her whine at stray cats when she was in the back of the truck at the feed store. Not to chase them, but I think she wanted to go met them.

 She stayed fit and active. Between doing those doggy things, like patrolling the property all night for things that should not be there, she loved to go out when we took the 4 wheeler, and race it back across the pasture. 80 pounds of muscle. My husband saw her one day take across the pasture for a coyote who was chasing a fawn, barrel in to it, knock it down, and come up shaking it by a front leg.  Did I mention she HATED coyotes? Smelling them on the wind would make her sit and growl, sniffing in the direction the scent came from.

In 2009, when I started traveling to so many rides around the country, Thelma found her place in the back seat, heading to the rides with me. She was getting older, and leaving her home was not a good option, as my hubby was often away for work.  As soon as I would start to pack the truck and trailer, she would lay down near the truck, and not let me out of her sight. She wanted to make sure she got to go too. A good traveler, she would sleep in the back seat, occasionally standing up, letting me know she needed a potty break.

She always camped well, and only barked if another dog entered HER area. She was easy to travel with, and if I went to a ride without her, I'd find myself glancing in the backseat, to see what she was doing.  2009 was a pretty special year for her, and part of the memories from my travels, was having her along.  Thelma had never really liked me, like she liked my husband. No doubt she was HIS dog.  She tolerated me. I think because I was the one who was in charge of her training, and he was in charge of feeding her cookies.  But, she respected me.  
In late 2009, we knew we had better get another puppy, for Thelma to train. She was starting to have some minor health issues and was not gonna be around forever, and getting a pup, we hoped it would learn from Thelma about protecting the cats, and to hate coyotes. So, we found a Catahoula mix at a rescue, and she came home.  Even as Thelma was becoming a senior, she was very tolerant of Mardi, who had excessive energy. In fact, we saw Thelma act a bit younger, and the bouncing Mardi seemed mentally, and physically good for Thelma. But, through 2010, we could tell Thelma was starting to feel the effects of age, and a few more health issues creeping up.   Where she was always first to bark at the sight of a coyote in the distance across a pasture, now she would just sit and stare, but allow Mardi to bark and take care of things. I swear I would see a look of pride as Thelma sat there, very dignified, with a look of  "I taught her everything she knows".  We had watched Mardi grow and learn, and slowly take over the duties of the property. And, we were starting to see Thelma show more and more discomfort.  Her health was slowly declining, as expected for her age, and size.

Over this past weekend, Thelma pretty much stopped showing interest in food. Besides other issues, her lack of any appetite was a turning point in quality of life.  Sunday we spent a lot of time with her, and could tell she was ready to go.  Even my husband did not generate a tail wag from her.  So, this morning we backed up the truck to the porch, and Thelma jumped in the back.  One of her favorite things was riding in the back of the truck.  We had taken photos of her in the past (included), as I always loved the image of her in the mirror, ears in the breeze, and usually a doggy smile on her face.. So she got one more ride, and stood again with the wind in her ears.   While making the decision is always tough as to when is the right time to let them go, I guess it is normal to have some sort of doubt, when you see the animal show a bit of brief improvement. But we knew that letting things wait, even a couple days was not for the dog, but for 'us'. And that was not fair to her. Why let her deteriorate even more, and maybe start to suffer to a different level.  So seeing her have that last bit of joy, in a ride in the truck made me feel both happy for her, and sad, that it would be the last time I'd get to see that image in the truck mirror.

At the vet, we did not have to take her inside the office. They came out to the truck for us.  I've been in the vet when an owner had to bring in their animal for that final trip, and the emotions of the owners are what get to me the most. The pain they feel for their loss. I have felt that loss myself many times before, and will in the future. Anyone who has an animal will one day have to say goodbye, that last time.  While we had both spent some time with her alone that morning, telling her secrets and sharing thoughts only she would hear,  this was the final chance to tell her she was loved, and what a good girl she was, and that she taught Mardi well, and the kitties will be safe.  And if possible, I just did not want it to be inside the vet office, when she was most comfortable right now, in the back of HER truck.  I had paid for the service before the vet came out, so we could just leave when it was done.

We got her home, and let Mardi come over to see her. I had discussed this with some friends, and felt it might be easier for Mardi to actually see Thelma, sniff her, and realize she did not just disappear.  Mardi really looked up to Thelma, and was still looking towards her for approval and doggy advice. But after she checked her out, she trotted off, and has seemed OK all evening. I never underestimate how much the animals feel and know about such things.

I had a friend tell me once that after one loses an older animal, the will often feel a sense of relief, or maybe a feeling of stress release. We are not always aware that we have concerns or worry about them. But deep inside, we do worry something will happen to them while we might not be home, or they will have something happen to cause them to suffer until we can get to them. This happens with old horses too. I have had horses I worried about, and when I lost him, felt that odd release of stress that I no longer had to worry about him. And, we had that with Thelma.  Every morning I was a little apprehensive about checking her dog house until I saw her up and moving.  But tonight, while I am still feeling sad from the loss, it is MY loss I feel. She is no longer in any pain or discomfort, and for that, I am relieved.

Sept. 6, 2000  - Jan. 24,  2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Four month break

I guess I got sort of bored with the blog, and needed a break for awhile.  We finished out our Fall ride season, and in the end, Hank earned his National Championship again. We had gone to Kansas for a ride, so I was not waiting for the very last ride of the season to depend on him getting a 1st or 2nd we needed for that National Championship.  The Kansas ride was one I had not been to before, and I enjoyed getting to another new location.

 Also, the vet was Dr. Weil, who would also be vetting that last ride of the year. Dr. Weil is the vet that Hank always seemed to try doing something totally goofy at least once, getting Did Not Complete on an obstacle. But, he was good in Kansas for the most part, we earned our 2nd place, and we got to relax at the final ride.

The last ride of the year was at Lake Carl Blackwell in Oklahoma. Hubby went along too, and got to do some riding, and we stayed an extra day and rode on our own after the ride.  Hank was a really good boy all weekend, and did everything I asked, and had great metabolics.

 And, when he does well, I usually do well with horsemanship.  In the end, we both had PERFECT score cards, and won a special Silver belt buckle for the highest combined score of the ride.  I was pretty shocked, but really excited that we had finally done so well with Dr. Weil. Maybe Hank decided entertaining him was not as much fun as before. ;-)

Then, our first ride of the 2010 ride season was in December, and Hank again won his class, and Sweepstakes for the ride (highest score of the division) . So, since we have not had any other rides yet, Hank is leading the nation in points. lol

Our ride season picks back up again in March. I have no set goals, except to try to get another National Championship again if possible. But if the fuel prices continue to rise, we may have to replan how many rides we do, and pick ones that are most favorite.

So, that is the very quick, and somewhat boring recap of whats happened since September.  I actually came on for a post that I have to do,  that is one I am not really looking forward to, but have things bouncing around in my brain, and I need to write them down. Figured I better do a quick catch up first though.