dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Session #4

There has been a definite improvement in the temperatures since Wednesdays blizzard so the snow has not hung around. This morning I headed up to the ring to see if it was rideable. And yay! it was in good shape. Just a bit of wet snow along one side and not too wet. I decided to start with Steele. He had quite a bit of pep and did not want to stand still while I got my lunging equipment organized in the ring. I kept reinforcing the 'stand still and be patient' concept. It's not unreasonable to expect that a horse can stand in one spot without chewing on the railing, poking me in the stomach, trying to chew on the lunge whip or other fidgets. Steele of course had other ideas but I stayed firm.

This time I brought up the side reins with me and I put on his bridle. I didn't know if I would connect the side reins or not but I figured it was good to have them hung on the surcingle so he can get used to the flapping again. Initially he really didn't want to slow down so I stuck with walk-halt for a while. He didn't really want to let me set the pace so I had to stay persistent. He was not disobedient per se but 'obedient' was not a good descripter either. Let's use the word 'negotiating' to describe our conversation:

me: "walk on"
Steele: "yay TROT"
me: "no walk"
Steele: "what? I can't hear you!"
I slowly brought in the lunge line
Steele "hey I can't trot this small a circle!"
Me: "I know" 
Me: "now walk on"
Steele: "fine!"
Me: "and..."
Steele: "TROT yah!"
Me: "...halt"
Steele: "hey! No. TROT"
Me: *sigh* "walk. now HALT"
Steele: "it's not fair"
Me: "don't worry. It will be fine"

Once we had a reliable walk-halt-walk  I asked him to trot. We then repeated the above with Trot-walk-trot transitions. I have to remind myslef that it was session #4 which was a week after Session #3. And he's just 3. For that he was quite settled.
I also spent some time rubbing him with the lunge whip to make sure that he was not afraid. Not that I thought he was but it's good to repeat things. 

Things were going so well that I hooked on the side reins (on the longest setting). He tossed his head a few times as he walked around but didn't seem too fussed. 

Then it was Irish's turn. I decided to leave Steele in his stall. Like I said earlier, I want them both to be fine with being alone whether that is in the barn or the field. Steele was not impressed with being left in the barn and called plaintively for the first bit. My ride on Irish was quite pleasant. He was responsive and forward and we worked on suppleness and softness. When we got back to the barn Steele was happy to see us. But I was pleased to see that he was not frantic nor was he sweaty. So I'm thinking that the stress level was not too high. I'm glad that I've been keeping myself fit over the winter. Keeping 2 horses going is going to be hard. 

Tomorrow we're due for a large amount of rain so I don't know what I'll be able to do with them. However, I will clean tack and console myself that it's not snow!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Steele and the Snow-i-cane

So the weather people never changed their minds about the snow. I tried denial but it became increasingly apparent that we were in for some bad weather. I began to prepare for the storm. It's not exactly onerous. The biggest worry is a loss of power which will affect the ability to get water from the well. So I filled all my water buckets and stored them in the tack room so they wouldn't freeze. We made sure we had flashlights and batteries. I also emptied the manure cart and then brought it into the barn so it wouldn't get buried in the snow. 

It was hard to not freak out given the dire predictions but there was nothing left to do but go to bed and see what the morning brought. When I got up the snow had started. It wasn't bad yet but I could tell it was coming. I couldn't let the horses out because of the wind and snow so I made sure that they had fresh hay and water and headed back out to the house. I knew I wasn't going to be able to go to work so I was able to enjoy a leisurely coffee. The wind and snow picked up over the morning. At 11-ish I headed out to the barn to check on the horses. The wind was fierce. When I opened the barn doors Steele let out a whinny. Not a 'hi!' whinny but a "oh thank heavens you're here" whinny. I saw that his upper dutch door was open. I went around the barn to check and saw that the latch was off. I was able to find one screw but not the other. I don't know how it happened- the holes may have been stripped and with the wind it popped open. Or he may have pushed on it. I rummaged through Ed's bins looking for another screw. Once I found one I grabbed the screwdriver and headed back out. It was awful- the wind was so high and the snow was virtually ice being driven sideways- right into my face. As I tried to get the screws in I could feel my fingers freezing. Finally I got them in and secured the door. I then made sure that the inside latches of both doors was done. I fell inside and went into the tack room to thaw.

The rest of the day was uneventful.  It was hard to enjoy the 'snow day' with the worry that the wires would be blown down by the hurricane force winds. Heading out to the barn I could feel it try to lift me. But our luck held and we didn't lose power except for briefly in the night. I could actually feel the house shiver in the wind.  The next day I went out and the wind was still up but the snow had stopped. My car was buried. There were places where there was no snow and places that the snow was piled up high. Behind the barn it was about 3 feet. But, as usual, there was no snow against the horses dutch doors but about 4 feet way the snow was up to their bellies. As soon as he came out Steele climbed up the bank and had a roll.  After work I brought out the shovel to dig out the hay box and clean up a bit of the snow. Steele was helpful.

wow, this is a lot of snow to move
I think I could make this work
seems pretty easy, I don't know what all the fuss is about
hmm it's harder than I thought.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Back to work sessions #2 & #3

Despite some snow Saturday night, Sunday dawned clear and warm. The skim of snow was melted by mid morning so I went out to do some more work with the horses. I had planned to grab Steele first this time but they were having so much fun running around the field. As I headed out to get them I spied Irish's shoe in the mud. I swear I had walked over that spot 3 times yesterday. My excuse is that it must have been crusted in mud which the snow washed away. I then noticed that Irish had managed to pull of his boot with his running around. That settled it- I needed to get Irish before he bruised his sole on a rock. And since I had him in the cross-ties I needed to get the crusted mud off. And since I went to all that work I might as well tack him up and go for a ride. He was not as forward this time in our ride but he had been tearing around and this getting back into shape is hard. But it was still a good work out.

However, this weekend was not just about riding Irish. Steele also got to work as well.

Session #2 2014: Saturday
He was so crusted in mud that I had to bring him out of the barn to clean it off. After that I put on his boots, grabbed the lunge line and headed up to the ring. My goal for the session was to have him walk, trot, canter and halt both ways in the ring while staying calm (both of us) and to maintan a steady rhtyhm. As expected he was quite willing to go forward and no so keen on the downward transitions. All I do is ask and if he doesn't respond I bring him in closer on the lunge until he drops down. So if he's trotting and I ask for a walk and he doesn't respond I bring him in closer until he has to walk. I let him walk about 4 strides and then send him up into trot again. The next time I ask if he's prompt I let him walk for a longer time. This way he realizes that the break comes with obendience, not when he chooses. It didn't take long for him to figure it out. The other thing I worked on was not letting him come in close on the lunge. After about 15 mins he was doing perfect so I stopped and unhooked the line to do some free work. That was pretty simple too. He will stay at my shoulder while we walk, halt, turn and back up. It really is quite fun- I should get a book and try some more stuff. After this we headed back to the barn. I took off his boots and we headed out to walk down the driveway. He spooked at the green compost bin as we went by so I stopped to let him look and he stuck his nose out cautiously. I walked him around with me closer to the bin and then the other way with him closer. He really didn't care by that point: yes I get it, it's nothing. Can I have grass now? Elapsed time: 15 seconds. We carried on down the driveway to inspect the mailbox and then out onto the road to walk up and down a little bit. Definitely a whole new perspective from the bottom of the driveway. After that it was carrots and back to the field.

Session #3 2014 Sunday
I left Irish inside in his stall and brought Steele in for his turn. I decided to leave Irish in as part of the seperation work. I don't want horses that freak out if they can't see each other. Besides at some point this summer I will be loading Steele into the trailer and taking him away. I want Irish used to being inside so he doesn't disrupt the loading process with a hissy fit. I decided to put on his pad and surcingle this time. I toyed with the idea of also putting on his bridle. He's been so easy so far that it's tempting to push. But I really believe that it's shorter in the long run to do things one step at a time. This way there's no big reaction and I can be sure that I'm not leaving any holes in the training. I figured the addition of the surcingle and the separation from Irish might be enough. He was a bit slower walking up to the ring because he could hear Irish calling. I also heard a few 'clunks' as Irish kicked. Silly bugger. Steele was a bit unsettled as I closed the gate to the ring but stood when I asked. When we went to work he didn't call out or become too upset.  The lunging was perfect. He did get a bit excited at the canter but settled down when asked. I introduced the idea of him halting on the lunge and changing direction just using body language and moving my whip to the other side. It didn't take long for him to figure it out. Again another short session. I let him mosey about the ring while I picked up some rocks. He didn't care about the surcingle around his middle at all. So we headed back to the stable so that Irish wouldn't pine for much longer. I intend to bring them in periodically while the other is out so that they get used to it.

What was really cute was both Saturday and Sunday when I came back to the barn after working Steele he nickered at me. It was like he was saying "hi there. that was fun. Want to do more"

The answer to that , of couse, is yes. However, today it's back to being -10 with a windchill making it worse and Wednesday we're due for a major Nor'easter:
we're in the area due for 30-45+ cm snow (just a bit left of Halifax)
I tried denial in hopes that this would go away but the weather people are sticking to their guns on this one. sigh. Time to batten down the hatches. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't live up to predictions.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Nice Try Irish

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day- perfect for working with the ponies. I decided to start with Irish.

First I double checked to make sure that the ring had thawed. It was perfect. So I put a halter on the red head and we headed to the barn. When he came in I realized that he had lost a front shoe. I'm not surpised- the ground has been quite muddy and he's due for a trim.
oh did you want to ride? My bad. I know you had your little heart set on it. Better luck next time. 

Ha! Not so fast mister. 

I cleaned his feet and then rummaged in the tack room and brought out my Old Mac horse boots. I bought these a few years ago and they have been worth every penny. I put it on and continued with tacking up. Steele stayed outside and completely ignored us. I mounted and headed up to the ring.

As always we started our warm up on a long rein. How long the rein is depends on Irish. If he's a bit excited he tends to imitate a giraffe.  While I'm sure that giraffes are perfectly fine it's not in Irish's best interest to imitate one. For one thing it's not good for his back and second he's far more likely to spook. So when he's like that I shorten up a bit to encourage him to stretch down and over his back and feed the rein as needed. His walk was definitely forward. I find it works best with him to spend time on the walk warm up and not jump right to trot and canter. So after a few circles and a couple leg yields I asked for the trot. Boing- he bounded forward from behind into this lovely working trot. After a few strides he asked if he could stretch so I gradually fed him the rein and we did this lovely stretchy trot all the way around the ring without a change in pace or with him inverting. It may not sound like much but this was impossible a few years ago- he would always fling his head up and or fall on his nose or build up speed like a runaway train. I slowly shortened the reins and asked him to come into contact. It all happened without issue. Again this is a big breakthrough. Somehow, despite the time off my body/brain has finally figured out to not use the hands but the legs to ask him to come into contact. And because he's feeling good he can do it.  I crossed on the diagonal and I could feel him saying come on, you know you want to.. So I half halted and gave the cue to canter. Again I was rewarded with a lovely, forward, bouncy canter. He began to blow in time to the strides and just sat there and stayed out of his way.

It wasn't all perfect- there were a few difficult transitions up and down but none of the resisitance I used to get, more like habit. A few deep breaths and corrections and it was all pretty good. It would have been easy to keep going but it was only our second ride of the year so I made sure to take lots of stretch breaks and kept it to 45 minutes.

When I came back Ed had pulled the SUV partly into the barn to vacuum it so I just led him into a stall to untack. I then went out and looked for the shoe. No luck there. It will probably turn up when we drag it and reseed it in a month or so.

I'm glad I rode him before he had a chance to do this:
video

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Sharp Dressed Man

"The come runnin' just as fast as they can
coz every girl crazy about a sharp dressed man"

Forgive the foray back into the 80's but I did love ZZ top. 

The first step in the next step of backing Steele requires a saddle that fits. I have been putting Irish's on him but recently I was thinking that it was not a good fit- it looked good but I believed that I could feel some excessive pressure behind the stirrup bars (the piece of metal that the stirrup leathers hook onto). Howevr, I am not a trained saddle fitter, nor do I play one on TV. So I got in touch with Callan Saddlery. The owner is a Master Saddle maker (trained in the UK): http://www.callansaddlery.com/ She also happens to be one of the breeders of Steele. It is a small horse community in the far east of Canada and you are bound to run into the same people for various reasons. We e-mailed back and forth and were having trouble coming up with a time we could both be available. Finally, we arrived on a date. The weather was cold and rainy- but it wasn't raining so I was happy.

Rachael and her apprentice, Holly were right on time. Earlier that day I had given him a groom and told him to stay clean because today was a 'big day'. He looked intrigued but I didn't tell him any more. I brought him out to the cross ties and he stood there taking in the admiration with all the aplomb of royalty.

We tried Irish's saddle on first and it turns out that I was right- there was a major pressure point. We talked budget and use. I really wanted a saddle with an adjustable gullet so that I could adjust it as he grows. I went through 3 saddles with Irish which was expensive, time consuming and stressfull. Rachael brought out a saddle and it fit him well. I sat in it on a saddle rack and decided I needed a slightly larger seat. So it's on order and will be here in about 6 weeks. Which should be perfect timing.
 Steele, was of course consulted. There were so many choices- style, size, colour....

I know that there are many saddles out there and some are very very expensive. I, like most horse people, am on a budget but I also know that a saddle is good investment - not so much for return on value for lasting and comfort. A poor fitting saddle is like walking around in poor fitting shoes. So I give you:

it's a Kent and Masters dressage saddle-http://www.kentandmasters.co.uk/original-range/dressage-range/51-cob-dressage. Made with quality leather, and wool flocked I can adjust the 'gullet' (ie., the size), the placement of the girth straps, movable blocks (to fit my leg), and precut flocking slots so it's easy enough to adjust the flocking.

It is a good working saddle that seems to be well made and competitively priced. I would have loved for brown but this is not an option and I won't pay hundreds more for colour from a diff't saddle maker. Besides, since Steele will eventually be white the black will be sharp on him.

Now we wait. And plan. And train. It's going to be a good summer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Back to School

After an afternoon and night of rain Sunday dawned clear and lovely. Perfect for my plans. I fed the horses and then went in for morning coffee. After a coffee I went out the paddock. It was difficult to get the halter on Steele. Not because he was resistant but because Irish kept getting in the way. I guess my work on making him agreeable to be caught is working. I finally got the halter on Steele and led him into the barn. After a groom that he thoroughly enjoyed I started to put on his protective boots. It was funny- I put on the first one on his right fore and he proceeded to wave it around.
"um mom? there's this thing stuck on my leg"
 I put on his back one. With that the penny seemed to drop.
"oh right. These go on before work"
I haven't put them on since November. He stood still for the other two.

My plan is to start by reviewing all the learning from last year. I don't want to 'assume' that he remembers everything. How fast I proceed will depend on him. So for our first time back I just wanted to review the basics on lunging.

We headed up to the ring and he stood still while I unhooked his lead and hooked up the lunge. He walked off before being asked so I quickly brought him back to a halt and then asked him to walk on. I could see that he really wanted to run off but I wouldn't let him. Once he was walking calmly (all of 2 minutes) I asked him to trot. He headed off promptly and was perfect for about a circle and a half. He then decided that a full bore canter was called for. However, I brought him back down immediately. A few more walk-trot circles and then he got excited again. It all makes sense- it's spring, he's young, the air was fresh and he was full of energy. But I don't believe in letting horses run and carry on on the lunge. It's too easy for something to go wrong. Besides you can end up feeling like your flying a 1000 pound kite.

It really took no time at all.  It was lovely to watch and a bit amusing. When I finally requested that he 'canter' his wole face was 'yes! finally!'  He started to buck. I immeditately brought him back to trot. So the next time I asked he tried it again. I brought him back again. When I asked for a canter and he did a nice depart I gave him verbal praise. The next time I asked he launched like he was jumping a 4 foot fence. I didn't praise him- I waited for half a circle and then brought him to trot. When that was going well I asked for canter. He did a lovely depart that got him more praise. I could see him working it out - he was all excited but he was allowed to run, buck or bolt. How was a young and enthusiastic horse to shake off his tension? He finally settled on a course of action- as he trotted around he shook himself like a dog coming out of the water

He looked quite proud of himself for figuring out a way. After that shake he settled right back into work. We worked our way up and down the ring - he never once pulled on the line. By the end he was prompt and obedient. I found myself mesmerized by watching him go around. I could see that his physical maturity has resulted in a much more steady rythm and balance.

All of this took about 15-20 minutes. I ended it and we headed back to the barn. I let him have a few bites of the new grass before going in while Irish looked on appalled that he wasn't getting grass. No one can look more affronted than Irish.

In the barn I took off his boots and gave him another groom. I then took his bridle out and put it on. I spent a few minutes getting him to yield to pressure on the bit- it was simple and he caught on quickly.

The whole thing was simple and without drama.

Exactly like training should be.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Finally!

Friday after work before starting chores I headed up to the top of the hill to check out the ring. I was thrilled to see that it was thawed. I became so excited. Finally I could use it again. The horses were both watching me and I couldn't resist saying to Irish "Tomorrow is a big day". He looked at me suspiciously.

This morning I had a spring in my step as I did the chores. I let the horses out and headed back into the house for my coffee.  I was trying to let the ring thaw (the temp had dropped to freezing overnight). However, it was also forcast to rain so I was trying to make sure I didn't wait too late. I finally couldn't take it any longer and put on my breeches. I went up to check the raing. It was somewhat soft. Since I was only planning to walk Irish I figured that it would be fine. As I went into the field Irish came right up to me for his halter. I gave him a groom and tacked him up. He stood in the cross ties looking quite keen on the whole venture.

I mounted up and headed into the ring. He was a bit 'up' at first but quickly settled into work. LIke I said I just wanted to walk but i was glad that the ring didn't encourage trotting because I'm sure that I would have been tempted to push it. However, I havent' been in a saddle since November and given  Irish's history I didn't want to make him sore. It felt so nice to be in the saddle again. I liked how he felt as well- I could definitely feel his weight gain. He didn't feel sore anywhere. We worked on bending, leg yields, circles, lengthening and shortening reins. I also worked on stopping him just with my seat and it worked perfectly. I ended it there so that we were both happy.

And what was Steele doing while I took his BFF away? Ignoring us completely and eating all the hay.

While I was riding I saw that some rocks had made their way up over the winter.  I decided to empty the manure cart and then drag the ring. I wrestled the drag out of storage and headed back up the hill. I hooked it up and started going around. As I was getting into the groove I head the dogs barking. I looked up and there were 3 young boys standing on the hill watching me. I waved and kept working. They watched me drive, stop, pick up rocks, drive, stop and pick up rocks. When I got closer one called out and asked if I wanted them to pick the rocks for me. Sure. So they did. When we were done they wanted to see the horses. Turns out that they were visiting their grandparents next door. I smiled and said that his bull had been over to visit (for history see my blog post on Charlie part 1 and 2). The oldest one informed me that Charlie had passed on. I tried to look sympathetic. We had a little chat and then I had to head out so we parted ways. I told them to feel free to come and visit again.

Just as I was coming into the house for lunch the rain started. I had time to grab a quick lunch and shower and then headed out to Lunenburg. I had volunteered to help set up photos for an exhibit my photo club was having. It's an exhibit to celebrate World Water Day.  This took way longer than I expected but I got home in time to feed and then Ed and I headed to the pub for supper and some music.

I am now sitting in my pjs, tired but satisfied. It would have wonderful to work Steele but I'm glad that I spent the time ensuring that the ring was safe for him. After all, Tomorrow is another day.



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Annual Check Up

Late winter, early March means it's time for the annual vet visit, complete with vaccinations, check up and teeth floating. I was lucky and got the first visit of the morning. This means that the vet stops in on his way to the office (I'm on the way) and there's less likely to be delays because of other calls. I don't mind being put off because another person needs the vet more, but it is easier if I don't have to rebook.

I decided to keep them in until after the appointment. Irish was not impressed and used his facial expressions and body language to communicate that quite clearly. I ignored him. I cleaned the stalls and gave them each a groom. Just as I was finished all my chores he drove up. Perfect timing.

We started with Irish. When the vet walked in to his stall he stopped and looked.
"wow".
I smiled
"he's fat! Well he's not fat, but he has cover on his ribs"
I grinned.
"remember that diet that I said I wanted to try in the fall?"
"yes"
"ta dah!" I flourished toward Irish (imagine Vanna White but in coveralls and with hay in her hair).
"That's terrific" he said. He admired Irish's thick winter coat and commented on it's sheen (elbow grease).
all that and a bag of chips
Irish was his usual cooperative self getting his teeth done and his needles.

then it was Steele's turn.

The vet thought that Steele was looking nice and mature. He said that Steele was his first chance to see an Andalusian grow and he liked what he saw so far.
"How's his weight?" I asked and held my breath.
"oh he's good. He has a layer like Irish but he's not fat"
Phew. I did an internal triumphal fist pump while maintaining my outward cool and calm demeanour.

Steele had a couple sharp edges on his teeth that the vet filed away. He was not that impressed with the process- backing up and trying to get away. But he didn't put his heat into it and handled it all very well. When the vet was done he rubbed his head on me and looked at me as though to say 'what the heck was that about? "

Now last year when the vet gave him his needle Steele barely flinched. This time when the needle went he completely tensed. His arched his neck and managed to look appalled and offended all at the same time. He looked at the vet
"what the heck man?!"
I could see a glimpse of the proud horse he's going to mature into. I do not think that he will like anyone taking liberties.

The vet finished quickly. He then came and began to scratch Steeles neck. Steele ignored him and did his best to appear aloof but he could only maintain it for a few seconds.
"darn it, he knows all the itchy spots"

The vet said that he wanted to spend a few minutes with Steele to make up to him. Have I mentioned how I love my vet? He was busy (he's always busy) but bonding with the horses is important to him so he makes the time. I went and grabbed a carrot and gave it to the vet.

Scratches and food- the perfect combination. The vet left the strangles vaccine for me to give later.

I'm so proud that I've been able to manage to keep a thin horse fat and a fat horse thin.

Next on the list--- getting a saddle fitted.....so stay tuned!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How Horses creep into all aspects of life

There have been situations that I've been in only because I am a horse person. The existance of my horses makes it way into other aspects of my life. I thought that I would describe some that I've found myself in and see if anyone has other stories to share:

#1. This is an actual exchange that I had today on Facebook. A friend of mine is a retired teacher and he put on FB that he had a bunch of equipment for anyone that would benefit. I asked him if he had a microscope:
Me: Do you have a microscope?
J: I have an old microscope
Me: Ooh can I have it
J: yes
Me: Thanks for the microscope. How much do you want for it? Can you bring it tuesday or do you want me to bring it?
J: Can you drop by and check it out?
Me: I could tomorrow if you tell me how to find you. I want the microscope so that I can check for worms in fecal samples.
***silence for several minutes*****
J: Let me check is the lenses are still in it and I'll get back to you later. I've got a few things to do. Including wiping my coffee off the screen.

Poor J- one minute he's being generous on FB and the next minute he's faced with images that he never thought he would have.

#2. Hay and other horse detritus making it's way from home to unexpected places:
 Like, I'm at work in a meeting when my colleague reaches across and plucks a hay off of my sweater. I tried to be all innocent and non-plussed as to how it could have gotten there.

Or while curling last night my opposite competitor picked up some debris off the ice. "Why it looks like grass!" she ays shocked. I put on my best shocked face and then surreptitiously checked myself over.

Or when I was going away for work and put my sneakers in the hotel closet to use later. When I opened up the closet all I could smell was 'barn'. Oops. I learned that I need on-the-farm sneakers and off-the-farm sneakers.

#3. I was at an executive course a few weeks ago and over lunch I became involved in a conversation with another person about owning horses and a small property. We got quite involved on the topic of 'manure' and it's value. All of a sudden we realized that everyone else had left the table.......

#4. When Irish colicked a few months ago I gave him a shot of banamine. Rather than take the needle back to vets I decided to take it to the phramacy in the building where I work. There was this teenage boy working there and I explained that I had a 'sharp' to dispose of. He brought out the container and I pulled out my needle. His eyes got huge and he looked in shock from me to the needle. I smiled sweetly and said 'it was for my horses'. I could see him struggling with this idea and whether they accept animal needles and then I saw him give up thinking about it and he simply shrugged and gave me the container.

#5. At a work lunch a few weeks ago we brought in boxed lunches. My boss' lunch had an apple with a big bruise. She went to throw it out and I spoke up immediately "I'll take that!" She gave me  curious look "it's for my horses" I explained. I got the apple.

#6. A friend of mine was visiting and we were in my tack room. She saw the package of sanitary napkins in my cupboard. She looked at me curiously. "They make fabulous bandages" I explained. "They soak up a lot of blood....." at that point she was no longer interested in the discussion.

#7. When I can't sleep I practice dressage tests in my head. I find riding in my head very soothing and it allows me relax enough so I can sleep.

#8. A few years ago at lunch everyone was talking about a local scandal of two married people having an affair. As the discussion continued I spoke up. "I could never have an affair" I stated firmly. Everyone nodded. "It would cut into my riding time"  Everyone laughed. Our secretary spoke up "she's not really joking..." And she's right. I wasn't.



There really is no compartmentalizing horses in my life. I have come to accept that and am completely comfortable with it. however, I suspect that I will need someone to inspect me for hay at for my children's wedding....

of course we complete your life. And I assume that we're invited to the weddings




Thursday, March 6, 2014

Good Morning!

A few weeks ago Ed and were out to dinner with another couple. We were talking about how our lives revolve around the horses have changed since we moved out to our little farm. I could see the guy giving Ed a look that I see frequently. It's the look of incredulity that says 'you really enjoy this? How did she talk to you into it man? and I hope my wife is not getting ideas!'

I find that look amusing. Then Ed said something that surprised me. As we were chatting about what's involved in the care he causally says "one thing is that getting up with the horses has made Teresa a morning person".

I was speechless. No one has ever used that phrase to describe me.

ever.

My definition of a 'morning person' is someone who leaps out of bed greeting the day with a bounce and smile.

My dog, d'Arcy is a morning person:




He's so excited it's morning he can barely contain his glee.

I find it very annoying.

I do not greet each morning by bounding out of bed eager to see what the day will bring. I view mornings as something that needs to be negotiated. I need to take my time in waking up and will always hit the snooze button at least once. If you are visiting and are up with me in the morning do not take offense that I'm not speaking to you. I don't speak to anyone. On more than one occasion when Ed is asking me a lot of questions in the morning and generally asking me to make decisions and pay attention I have said 'You need to stop talking'.




 I believe that I need to own this mug:



So how on earth did Ed reach this ridiculous conclusion that I am now a morning person?  Now that was a puzzle. But I like puzzles (although not in the morning) so I thought about it. And I think I've figured it out. This is the evidence that Ed is going on:

  • I get up every morning without complaint
  • I feed and muck out the horses
  • I make coffee for us
  • I feed the birds
  • When he comes downstairs I speak to him
See- it all makes sense. Except that I'm not a morning person. I get up every morning because I know that the horses are dependent on me. I still hit the snooze button once. and I spend time in bed talking myself into getting up while my more selfish half says to me "but the bed is warm. and I'm still sleepy". I finally subdue that voice and get up. The coffee I've made up the day before- I just have to hit the 'on' switch. As I walk out to the barn the dogs are running around, the birds are singing and the sun is rising. It's actually quite peaceful and magical. I am greeted in the barn by Steele blinking sleepily over his stall door and Irish stretching. I give them their feed, top up the water and fill up the hay racks. But I can do this at my own pace and neither the horses nor the dogs require conversation. Unless it's freezing cold I always stop for a few minutes to listen to the quietness of a morning in the country. It's very soothing.

By the time I make it back to the house and pour my coffee Ed is just getting up. And now I'm awake and can actually hold a conversation. As long as it's not too complicated.

I don't think that I'll ever describe myself as a morning person. But it's a heck of lot easier when it's like this:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hurry Up Spring

Spring cannot come too soon. As we prepare for yet another week of frigid temperatures Steele and I are starting to get restless. I'd love to have an indoor, but unless I win the lottery that's not going to happen. So I do what I can.

yesterday I was cleaning out the stalls and Steele wanders in.
Hi! Whatcha doin'?
He's looking for attention and some love. However, it's not easy to clean a stall with him picking up the muck bucket, nuzzling my ear and trying to get out of the stall into the aisle. So I chase him out. He goes into the stall beside and starts making faces at me. He then starts playing with the latch. I'm sure that he's going to figure it out one of these days and my life will get more difficult. I'm reminded of the time I was trying to stop squirrels from eating all the bird seed in my feeders. I bought different contraptions and tried all sorts of strategies to outsmart the squirrels. The result of all of this was smarter squirrels. Ed was amused no end by my tactics. It started to become an obsession as I perused war plans catalogues and started muttering about buying a 22. I don't want to go down this road with Steele.

To prevent him from getting into more mischief I grab his halter and bring him in for some grooming. He loved it. He's such an expressive horse- stretching out to show me where to scratch and curling his lip when I get it perfect. I then weighed and measured him. He's now 15'3 and weighs 1166 (according to my tape).  After out session I led him back out figuring that he would be satisfied and wander off. Nope, he came back in for more. As long as I was in the barn he was going to hang out.

What we both need is a break in the weather so we can get back to work. I have my plan all worked out:

  • saddle fitting
  • review last years lessons of lunging and ground driving
  • continue getting used to saddle and weight
  • backing
It's like waiting for Christmas when you're a kid. 
In the meantime...
Steele playing with the latch.(taken with the iphone)
Board Room Conference: I'd love to know what they're talking about here