Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC
Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Behind The Bit: Grooming Box

My old friend Carrie has been after me for years to start doing some video blogs for client education, and I'm happy to announce and present our first episode of Behind the Bit! It's all about what you would find in Highboy's grooming bucket and why I use those tools for him. If you have a topic you'd like to see covered in an upcoming episode, make sure to comment here or on Youtube and you'll likely see your question addressed! Sabbath made some well-timed cameos as our Barn Bikini Cat, too.

Episode 1
Behind the Bit:  Grooming Box

Monday, September 18, 2017

Trail Ride at Red Mountain

Today Carol drove her truck pulling her two horse trailer, taking me, Highboy, and Shambhu to Red Mountain Open Space to trail ride today.  This is one of the most picturesque places in Northern Colorado, and one of the best kept secrets.  The rock formations are incredible, and you feel like you're riding through something other-worldly.  There are many other miles of trails in this open space we didn't get to today, but here is a photographic smattering of our adventures.

Riding through Ruby Wash trail was my favorite part, the red rocks are stunning.  Here is a little video of that portion of the ride:

Near the end of our ride we meandered in a little stream so the horses could have a drink of water after the many hours on the trail.  I got some video of that too:

I've come here many times with horses, but this was the first time Highboy got to go.  It was also Carol and Shambhu's first ride at Red Mountain.  Now that they have a taste for the nearly unending miles of gorgeous trails here, I suspect it will be a much more frequently requested ride. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Weekend Jumping

We spent our day jumping horses, nearly everyone was here!  Beauty and Alice were practicing their grid work and improving the quality of their canter.  Such progress with these two!

Andrea and Apollo are new in the barn, and we're so excited to have them join us at Bit of Honey!  Apollo fits right in with my bay thoroughbred color scheme, and since Andrea is a fellow eventer we're expecting a bunch of fun times ahead on both long trail rides and at competitions.

I rode Highboy while Kim H. was taking photographs, so we got some fun shots of him actually  jumping like a calm creature. Because he was well-behaved, I allowed him to do some larger fences.  It's amazing what happens when this horse is riding quietly.  I get easy lead changes over the fences, it's nearly effortless to find a good distance, and the photos look so much better! 

Even though they rode with us today, not pictured (because our photographer was riding) are Joan and June, Sara and Dewey, Kim H. on Rain, and my ride on Raven.  We all had a great day, and just enjoyed riding around the ranch on a weekend where we didn't have to go to any shows.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I Bought a Pony at Home Depot

She's a little thin, this pony I bought at Home Depot while I was in town today.  Fortunately I also brought home plenty of beet pulp and senior feed. 

I found her in the middle of the aisle in front of the power tools.  She was part of a Halloween display, but was actually remarkably close to anatomically accurate for a plastic skeleton.  At a pretty reasonable price, and as the only model equine in the store, I decided it was worth the splurge to bring her home to use for teaching purposes.  I have a human skeleton that is just the right size to ride her, so now I can teach comparable anatomy more easily.  My plan is to get a large cupboard and put it in the tack room as a home for all my skeletons.  I also have a female human pelvis, a bovine pelvis, a bovine femur, various antelope vertebrae, and an antelope skull.  Once they are all together in the tack room I'll be able to honestly say I have skeletons in my closet.

We initially went to Home Depot for materials for fencing repairs around the ranch.  As we were leaving the store Jasi and I loaded the skeleton into the back seat of my truck.  Several men paused and did a double-take to stare at us.  I have to think that either my new hairstyle is dramatically eye-catching, or it's not every day you see a horse skeleton being loaded into the cab of a pickup.  At any rate, the three guys put down their purchases (they were also patrons at the store), and they proceeded to load up all my lumber in the bed of the truck!  I went to get a plastic red flag for the end of the 2x4s, but another guy (also a shopper) had already beat me to it, grabbed plastic, and then fastened it to the boards for me.  I thanked everyone for their help, and Jasi I pulled out of the parking lot feeling like the world revolved around us! 

Once we got home I took the skeleton out of the truck.  It really and truly upset Mahzi the dog.  She growled at it, hackles up, and barked continually at it until I took it in the house.  Even once it had disappeared into the garage she wouldn't take her eyes off the garage door in case it reappeared.  Finally Jasi convinced her to come back to the barn for dinner.  We'll see what Mahzi thinks about it once it's living in the barn all the time. 

Last on the day's agenda was cleaning up after the new kittens.  Orzo is the only one that we can hold so far, so I made her into a kitty burrito (I have to catch her in her dog crate with a towel because she's like piece of popcorn ricocheting around the interior, all claws and teeth).  Once she's safely ensconced in a towel she will let us hold and pet her.  The cutest kitty burrito on the place. 

Linguine climbs the walls and dangles from the top of the cage while growling and spitting when I go to change water or Jasi goes to feed her, and Gnocchi attacks if we make eye contact.  They need a little more time to settle in before we'll reach this stage with them.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ain't No Party Like a Deskunking Party...

Cause the deskunking party don't stop!  The most recent exciting episode at Bit of Honey included copious amounts of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and Dawn dish detergent (saving wildlife for decades!) in a massive de-skunking procedure.  This time it was Miles and Mahzi who had tried to make friends with the skunk doggie-style, resulting in an aromatic dousing of skunk juice.

This afternoon's episode is merely a continuation of an August premier featuring Forrest and his official initiation into ranch life.  At the time I had a horse here for rehabilitation who was receiving 6x daily treatments that lasted a half hour each.  The dogs and I had all gone out together to take care of his late night treatment at 10pm.  I heard a great kerfuffle outside the barn, and as I administered one of the medications I began to smell skunk.  The malodorous guilty canine culprit then appeared, and Forrest proceeded to roll in the dirt in the main barn area trying to rid himself of his newest parfume, unappreciative of this barn dog right of passage.

I got him washed using my special brew and routine deskunking concoction, which I also used today on the other two barn dogs.  Proof that there are dire consequences for attempting to befriend wildlife.

In case anyone else needs it, the magical recipe is:
1 quart Hydrogen Peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1 tsp Dawn dish detergent

It works because you have to completely strip the dog's fur of oils to remove the skunk smell which becomes embedded in the oil.  I mix up my potion, wet the dog down (outside!) then suds him up with the brew.  I let it sit for 5-10 minutes.  I rinse him and do a sniff test.  If he needs it (depending on how badly he was skunked) I repeat the H2O2 washing, waiting, and rinsing.  Then I do a third wash with a regular dog shampoo and rinse with water.  By this time the dogs are pretty sick of the hose, but they seem to have given up any hope of venturing into the garage or house until this process is completed.  I do wear old clothes for this, because it's hit or miss whether my shirt and pants will survive the deskunking unscathed and unencumbered with fragrant after-effects.

Three Cheers for Three Kittens

Hip hip hooray!  I've been waiting all summer for new cats for the garage.  Late this spring my garage cat, Sal, took off and disappeared.  I prefer to imagine that she went to live in someone else's barn, rather than the likely alternative.  That's the hard part about feral cats, they often don't want to become tame.  I do everything thoroughly to get a cat acclimated to domestic life including confining her in large dog crate in the garage for at least five weeks.  Once they know that the crate is where food and water arrive regularly, then the cat graduates to nighttime loose in the garage.  Sal was with me for a year, and was totally acclimated, but sometimes a cat simply hears the great wild calling, and despite being spayed she left.

I prefer to work with the Fort Collins Cat Rescue for my ferals.  In June I let them know that Sal had left and not returned, and said I would be happy to get a cat or two to take over her job of mouse control in the garage.  As it turned out, they had two kittens that were coming in that week who had been living on the roof of a restaurant on a main street in Fort Collins.  However, once the young cats arrived at the rescue and the volunteers had a chance to handle them, they discovered that they were pretty friendly and would make good house pets.  Because they could go to a regular home, the rescue volunteers socialized them and adopted them out as house cats where they will likely live longer and be safer than as outbuilding cats. 

This cycle repeated itself multiple times throughout the summer, with me getting an email saying they had a few cats coming in, but then a few days later it was determined that they could to go to regular homes.  I didn't mind at all, since these were either ferals or cats with behavioral problems coming from the kill shelters that would otherwise be euthanized.  Because the rescue knew they could send the cats to me if they ended up being too wild, they could take them.  More than a dozen lives were saved this summer because I was available as backup for cats who ended up just needing a little more attention!

Finally though, three kittens arrived at the rescue from a trailer park on the north end of town.  The trailer they were living under was to be demolished, and the three kittens running around underneath it were considered a public nuisance.  Residents who lived near them were actually trying to run them over with vehicles, which probably contributed to the kittens strong aversion to all things human.

The eight week old kittens were trapped and brought in to the rescue.  They stayed for a whole week and yet still wanted nothing to do with the humans there.  That was the deciding factor, that they were still defensive and aggressive after a week of handling.  I was called in to come pick them up!

We got them and brought them home today!  It was a little exciting, since two of them are definitely not friendly and I needed leather gloves to get a towel wrapped around each of them.  Once each feline was a kitty-burrito I could lift them up and place them in their crates without worrying that they would explode and get loose.

We set them up in the garage in their own crates so they can all see each other, with food, water, litter boxes, cardboard boxes to hide in, and towels to snuggle.

The male has the most white and is also the most fearful and aggressive.  If you make eye contact with him he flattens his ears, then hisses and growls at you.  Because he seems to be loudly saying, "NO!", we are calling him Gnocchi.

The kitten that shows the least fear is grey and white with stripes on her legs.  She's the runt of the litter and a little female we are calling Orzo.  She looked fairly pleased with her new accommodations and even happily ate her kitten food once I had put her in her new crate.

The last one is also a grey and white female, but is a bit wilder than Orzo.  We're calling her Linguine.

Three cheers for three kittens!  It will be fun around here seeing how friendly we are able to get them.  I looked it up, and a group of cats is called a "clowder" or a "glaring". Judging by the dirty looks these young ferals are currently giving me, I think we have a glaring.

Saturday Jumps

Saturday was a full day of rides here!  I was able to get on Highboy, Tao, and Raven, and all three had some fun jumping around the arena.

Here is some video of the angled gymnastic line we've been practicing.
It's a tricky task because it's an optical illusion.  You can jump the fences individually and go at them straight so the horse's body is perpendicular to the jump, or you can jump all five in a row, but you have to do it in a straight line and take the fences at an angle.

Jasi also rode Beauty and had a fantastic jump school with her.  I took my new camera (got it for my birthday) to the arena and captured some fun photos.

I like this one because you can see how balanced Jasi is on landing.  If I were to erase the horse out of the photograph, Jasi would still look like she's standing on the ground because she landed with her feet underneath her and her body balanced over them.