From the "Horse Clicker Training" book:
Clicker training will strengthen your bond with your horse while opening the floodgates for equine learning. Using a clicker as a communication tool eliminates pushy and nippy behavior, improves your horse's attitude, socialibility and general horse manners around the barn--and in the saddle. Watch as your horse becomes your vet and farrier's favorite and begins preferring your company over other horses.
This fun guide simplifies the jargon and science of operant conditioning down to easy-to-follow steps and tips for the ABCs of horse clicker training. Get started on a conversation--and better relationship--with your horse today. Kindle version $4.99 at: http://tinyurl.com/bfjeffk
It's been a long year since I posted here: nothing seemed significant after losing Mister Purr on this day last year.
These winter blooms are on the jade plant my godmother, Bege Clark, gave me when I moved to Texas.
Six years ago, I flew from Atlanta to Texas in the backseat of a single engine plane, bringing only Mister Purr, one suitcase, and this jade plant.
Since then, the jade has tripled in size and made several moves with me. But it's never bloomed. This year, it sat on the porch overlooking Purr's garden grave all summer. I brought it in when the weather turned cold. And it bloomed--profusely.
Maybe it's a reminder from Mister Purr (the blooms do remind me of his fuzzy white chin). This plant--which sat by his side all year--is now showing me the potential for blossoming into new life in the dead of winter.
After the first frost here in Texas, these tiny, nature-created snowmen appeared around several plants in the pasture.
They seem to be the stems of certain plants growing under the live oaks. Anyone know what they are? They're very delicate and beautiful, but short-lived, melting away in moments once the sun finds them.
A new alpaca baby was born two days ago at Kathy and John's Melody Moon Ranch next door. They've named him Rickenbacker (after the guitar). As you can see here, he's quite adorable--especially at the end when he walks into the sun.
This handsome buck came along as I was having coffee on the porch this morning. His beauty took my breath away twice: once as he jumped the fence, then again when I saw I'd actually captured his fleeting visit on camera.
Thanks to our years of horse clicker training, Red Rabbit has learned to play the piano. Not sure what song this is. He makes it up as he goes along. Maybe we'll enter his concerto in Hannah Dawson'sWorld Clicker Equine Games for horse tricks...
At the risk of sounding prematurely nostalgic, I want to share a favorite view along my bike route.
I love the contrast of the sharp stones with the lush lowland pasture beyond. Today, the cloud line seemed a perfect juxtaposition to the gray stone wall. This is huge part of why I moved here: long horizontal views of expansive green open spaces--all just a short bike ride away.
I'll miss these stunning sunny days and brilliant green grasses. Yes, it's nice to have a break from the heat, but for me, summer is the sweetest season.
Almost every day for the past week, this family of wild turkeys parades across the pasture feasting on grasshoppers. And every day, at least two of them wander into the corner between the fence and gate, newly perplexed each time about how to get out and rejoin the others.
I can't imagine why Ben Franklin thought they were such smart birds.
You've probably heard of a "flock of pigeons" and "gaggle of geese," but a group of turkeys is called a "rafter."
This morning, I noticed a plethora of persimmon seeds in some deer droppings along the road and realized there must be a persimmon tree in the area. So today's bike mission was to find it.
My horse loves persimmons, and I was eager to bring some back in my bike pouch for him.
I rode around off-trail, checking every small-leafed tree and at last, found one full of round, purple fruit. And then I started seeing them everywhere––including one growing right by the driveway I've ridden down every day for months.
It's amazing what you can find when you set out with intentional observation--and what you miss every day when you think you know your surroundings.
Today, I found a beautiful female bobcat hit in the road. I've always wanted to see a bobcat up close, but not like this. She was such an extraordinarily lovely creature, it was extremely sad for me to finally see one this way.
Some people find sublime beauty in death. I can appreciate that to some extent, but when a wild animal is killed by a car, I don't see the beauty, only the horrible waste.
Still, I was mesmerized by her body, her huge ears and paws, her lush fur, and the way she felt exactly like my cat when I picked her up. She'd obviously just been hit: bright, thin blood dripped from her nose. Her eyes were still bright green and wide open. As minutes passed, those green, focused eyes turned cloudy, and then, oddly enough, went blue.
Soon after, the nicatating membrane advanced over her pupils. Mercifully, only then, the death flies came.
From what I could tell, she had been young and healthy. There was no sign of cubs or recent nursing. So I placed her body in the shady woods near where she'd been hit; if she does have family or a mate, they will be able to find her and know she is gone.
The movement caught my eye as I rode past: one butterfly had been hit––smashed to the asphalt, but still alive––as the other fluttered around trying to help.
When I got close with the camera, the healthy one moved a few feet away, watching while I pulled the stuck one off the pavement. Unfortunately, that action separated its abdomen and it died within seconds as I lay it in the grass.
As often happens, despite my good intentions, things do not always turn out well.
I hope her mate realized I was trying to help. I suspect butterfly karma may be a powerful thing.
Today was worming day for Red. He hates it, but knows he has to put up with it in order to get his breakfast grain.
Before clicker training, worming was nearly impossible with such a tall horse. When I first got him, he would panic and throw his head. It was a disaster. I was told his previous owner used to twist his ears to get it done. My usually calm horse would freak at just the sight of a wormer tube.
To get him over this, I used equine clicker training and desensitization. I'd touch him all over with an empty tube. Once I could hold it against his face, I started hooking my little finger of the hand holding the wormer into his halter so even when he moved, the tube was still against him. When he finally relaxed, I would click, take it away and give him a treat. Finally, when it was time for the real worming day, he knew cooperation meant a reward. He's been a trooper ever since.
In April, I used Panacur Powerpac, which has to be administered EVERY DAY for 5 days in a row. Red thought he was being punished or tortured, I'm sure. By day 2 he was suspicious when I put his halter on him before breakfast. By day 3, he was walking out of his stall. I had to wait him out until he chose to come back and be wormed if he wanted to eat. I think it was a very hard decision for him, but for me, it was worth the wait to finally have a calm, willing participant. Clicker training for horses is a great tool.
It will be a while before I worm him again, but when I do, I'll make sure the lighting and my technique are better.
I spent most of the day at a bar. The Genius Bar at the Austin Apple Store. It was worth it. They traced the problem to a corruption in my iTunes library (thank you, Limewire) and fixed it.
So here's an apple in gratitude for the day. But in this case, it's not a MacIntosh, it's a candle.
He was sitting on the fence while I filled the horse's water tub this morning, adding an additional barb to the wire. His lift-off was like a helicopter: straight up, then curving out in a slow, wide arc with lots of noise. Quite impressive.
On my morning bike ride, I stopped to visit the palomino pony and his owners happened to be out in the yard. They tell me his name is Biscuit and he loves snacking on tomatoes and figs. Peg and Gary invited me in for a cool glass of water, and shared these lovely home-grown tomatoes from their garden with me. As soon as I post this, I'll try one. Thank you, Peg and Gary. And Biscuit for letting me out the gate with the bag intact.
I usually glace at the Sunset Tree when I go out, and today, it had a new surprise for me.
Talk about camouflage: at first, all you see is tree, right? The only reason I spotted this handsome guy is that he was silhouetted against the sky when I walked onto my side porch. These Texas Spiny Lizards are plentiful right now and maybe too large (nearly a foot long) even for our resident road runner to catch and eat. Or maybe not--and that's why they're up in the trees watching the ground.
I haven't been getting any comments lately, and wonder why.
Are the posts getting too boring? I feel like I'm just talking to myself lately.
So today I'm taking it easy with a simple picture. I found this Walking Stick (Phasmatodea)on my wall before I put up the screens. When I learned they only eat leaves and not Daddy Longlegs (Harvestmen) he got transported outside where he can enjoy his vegetarian lifestyle.
BTW: Here's advice on how to comment for non-Google mail subscribers: 1. Click on "comment" at the bottom of a post and type a message into the comment box. 2. Click on "name/URL" underneath and just type in your name. 3. Then click "publish your comment." Easy!
My bareback strolls on Red Rabbit are a nothing like the stunning beauty and grace of a Stacy Westfall ride, but I sure do enjoy them.
This is one of our early Passenger Lesson outings. I'm videotaping, so the lead rope is laying on Red's neck. He's exploring the area around the house and pool (good thing he waited until the end to poop).
I'd love to have a hands-free helmet camlikethis oneto record my daily adventures, bike rides or even an exhilarating gallop on Red.
If anyone feels generous enough to donate one to the cause of making this blog WAY more interesting, I'll add a Paypal button to the right, just in case. I'd be forever grateful--and even show you how I taught Red to play the piano.
Meanwhile, I'll post more interesting footage as it develops. Red should be ready for his first piano recital pretty soon.