dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Golden Day

Friday was forecast to be sunny and unseasonably warm. I looked at my work schedule - it was open so I asked to take a vacation day.

The morning dawned full of promise. I had a leisurely coffee and then put on my 'working' jeans and rubber boots. I started with picking out the small paddock and tidying up the hay that fell on the ground. The slow feed net is working well and there's very little waste. I then took the tractor and dragged the ring. For some reason I find dragging the ring very satisfying- it's the next best thing to meditation. I then emptied the manure car. We have different piles for the year so that we can benefit from the composted manure from the year before. It's very rich and crumbly. I grabbed a bucketful in the tractor and took it up to Steele's grave. With the recent heavy rains a sink hole opened up over his grave and it was driving me crazy. I filled it in and stamped it down.

The sun was now nice and warm and the horses were dozing happily in the warmth. I've noticed that Irish now likes to doze down by Steele's grave. He never used to go down to that end of the field before Steele died. I don't know if it's related or not but now I do sometimes wonder.

I called the dogs and we sat on the deck while I gave them both a good groom. Chester the kitten joined us. The dog hair was flying and Chester was having a ball chasing it around the yard. d'Arcy is a BC so a rampaging kitten requires supervision. He tolerated the grooming but was off like a shot as soon as I let him go. Here's a video to demonstrate how difficult it is to herd kittens:

 By the time I was done I was dirty and happy but I was waiting for Cynthia to come so we could ride together. I headed in the house and distracted myself with house cleaning and laundry. I finally headed out to the barn and got the horse's stalls ready. I was like a kid waiting for Christmas- I was really looking forward to the ride. I groomed Carmen and got her ready. I know Cynthia was close and with Carmen having had 5 days off I figured she would need some extra time lunging.

Carmen was a bit excited but settled in very quickly to the work. While we working Cynthia came up with Irish and I was pleased that I could keep her focus on me and not on Irish coming into the ring. Shortly after they arrived I mounted. Again she was a bit tight but we were able to work through it. She was quite looky at the side by the next field. I could hear something in the grass too so it was understandable. However, we were still able to use the entire ring with very little fuss. What I've noticed is that Carmen will still get tense but it takes very little to get her back to me. Once I spied Irish and Cynthia going up by troll corner so I decided to follow along on the inside. When we right in troll corner Irish gave a huge spook which spooked Carmen. She spun a half turn to the inside but stopped right away and then we went on doing our work. It surprises me when it happens but it no longer upsets or unnerves me.

We did some serpentines- I love how easy she is to change bends (except when she's fixated on something). We did some canter work. I really focussed on keeping a following seat and hands and keeping my thighs off. That worked fabulously and had some nice canter work. I've been trying to figure out why she sometimes bucks in the trot-canter transition and gets annoyed. I really tried to tune in and see what I was doing. I used to think that it was because I was tense but I don't think that anymore. What it seemed to be that I've gotten lazy in my asks and if it's not the right timing with her footfalls she gets upset.  When I got it right the transition was lovely. I'm still not sure 100% that that is the issue but I will test it out the next few rides.

I finished with some lovely walk work. we halted and I gave her the rein. She stood there with her head down, relaxing while Cynthia and I chatted. I let her stand a bit and then dismounted. In the barn we fed the horses and headed into the house for a shower and a glass of wine. Ed picked up some steaks and the four of us (Cynthia's husband joined us) had a delicious dinner of grilled steak, backed potatoes, fried onions and kale salad.

We were all ready for a nap after but we had a curling game to get to (yes I am a curler, after all why frustrate yourself with one impossible sport like dressage when you can do two?).  It's a social mixed league and a lot of fun.
(gratuitous funny video about my sport)

By the time I crawled into bed I was tired and happy. Now that winter is coming the ability to ride regularly will diminish so I have to grab the times that I can. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I Don't Care

I had to go away for work the last few days. While it was a very productive time I find that I miss the barn chores so when I get back I head out to the barn for some centering time. Ed thinks that I'm checking on his work, but I'm really not. I just like to putter.

As I was working away Irish and Carmen came down to hang out by the barn. Carmen came into the stall- which she never does.
Me: Hi pretty girl. Did you miss me? 
Carmen:  no! don't be silly. 
Me: Well I missed you.

I went to give her a pat and she turned away.
Carmen: whatever. I don't care. 
Me: Okay then. 

Whenever I stopped work and looked over she was watching me. When she saw me looking she would turn away. I smiled. Finished up in the stall and went over to the next one.

In about 30 seconds Carmen was in there with me. This time she let me pat her.
Me: I'm glad to be home. 
Carmen: oh were you gone? I'm sure I didn't notice. 
Me: not even a little bit? 
As I worked she came closer. NOt in my space (she's been very polite about that since the biting incident) but near. I stopped working and leaned on my pitchfork just enjoying the quiet. Carmen brought her head close to me and blew gently on my cheek.
Carmen: well I might have missed you a little. 

Me too, my dear. Me too. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Gift

This weekend has been very rainy. It was annoying because it was interfering with my riding plans The horses were not impressed either and spent a lot of time in their stalls staring at the rain coming down. I get a little grumpy if I can't have some time outside- especially on the weekend. I spent some time last night in the barn giving the horses a good groom- cleaning their tails and trimming up Irish's mane.

This morning it was like a tropical storm outside. I opened my laptop to distract myself from laundry when my calendar app popped up a reminder: it was Steele's birthday. He would have been 5 years old. I had totally forgotten that I had put that on my calendar. I was not distraught by the reminder but it was a gut punch and I allowed myself a few tears. I then went to visit a friend and she was a welcome distraction- drinking tea and catching up. When I returned home I sighed and ate some lunch and tried to figure out what to do for the rest of the day.

I looked out the window and saw the sun bravely trying to peek out from the clouds. I waited an hour and the rain did not come back. I changed into my riding gear and got Carmen tacked up. We walked up to the ring and during our ground work she was calm and steady. I mounted and we began our work. She stayed tuned into me through the entire ride. Not that she wasn't worried about some areas but it really was negligible. As I rode I was brought back to my first ride together when I tried her out. I felt that same lift in my heart and excitement about the potential. When we were done my soul felt soothed.

The universe gave me a gift with the break in the weather. Carmen gave me a gift of a lovely ride. Having horses in my life is a real gift. Having had Steele for the time I did was a joy. I would prefer him to be here- alive, whole and driving me crazy with his antics. But I refuse to allow his death to take away the gift that he was. My life is richer because of Irish, Carmen and Steele.

run free my love

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lesson's Learned

I've only been able to ride a couple times since coming home. The weather has not been cooperating but that is always how it is in November. Since I can no longer rely on quantity in my training so have to focus on quality. I have learned though, both in work and with horses, that a few successful sessions are much better than a mass of okay or poor sessions.

What I've noticed in my two rides is that Carmen is looking to  tune into what I am asking of her right way rather than paying attention to everything else first.  In the first ride I was so focussed on spinning my ball, following with my seat and having a giving hand that I couldn't worry about anything else. She gave one huge spook and scooted off (I think she was startled by a crow). I lost one stirrup but didn't lose my balance. I brought her back and returned to what we had been working on. In that past a spook like that would have led to me spending the remainder of the ride calming her down (and possibly dismounting). This time it was just a couple minutes and she was completely calm again.

In the second ride I had a chance to see if my arena lights were going to work. In the summer we installed 6 solar powered spot lights so I could ride in the dark. They really worked and Carmen seemed to be fine. Before that ride I had a massage therapy session. I hadn't been in a long time but I wanted to see if she could loosen up my left hip. What she noted that was that some muscle deep in my pelvis was tight which was pulling everything forward (that's the leg that's want to be in a chair seat). She did a release on that muscle that really really hurt. But after it felt great. And when I rode I didn't have to think about following her with my seat- it just did. I also had an easier time with the giving  hand. After I realized that Carmen hadn't rooted the rein- not once.

I am definitely going back for further work with the massage therapist. If you are struggling with an aspect of your riding and you just can't get it to work it might we worth checking out to see if you have a physical cause (like we do with our horses).

It's not been easy to develop this partnership but what I've come to realize that is that I needed it to be difficult. I had so much baggage and heartache after losing Steele that if she had been simple I wouldn't have given her my full effort. The reality was that she didn't care that my heart was broken, she demanded my full and unwavering attention and would settle for nothing less. Whenever I was working her and my mind wandered off to Steele she would react by withdrawing from me and more worried about what was around me. But as time passed I was able to focus on her and throw my heart at her and she's been responding. She is a much calmer horse these days. I find her much more relaxed around the barn. She greets me at the fence when I come home and she is very respectful of my space.

I believe that Carmen is one of those horses that cannot really progress in her training without a relationship with the person on her. And that is what I have really spent our time together doing- sometimes well and sometimes not so much. Together we're learning to trust each other and our self-confidence is growing.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sunday- all about the give

On Sunday morning we were all a bit tired- horses, humans and Karen's dogs. I wanted to ride a 9 but was late getting out there. This time the lunging was about energizing Carmen, not calming her (let's take a minute to appreciate that, shall we?).

When I brought her to the mounting block she casually backed up a few steps.
'you know, I think we should just call it a day now. '

I walked her back up and she gave a resigned sigh.  I mounted and Karen commented on the difference in her even since September. We started off working on the loose hips and the spinning ball. It still took focus but it seemed a little easier. Karen then introduced the concept of a giving contact. I thought I had that because I'm very careful to not pull back (most of the time). But she said that I had a backwards energy in my contact.  I tried to wrap my head around that and figure it out.

 As we walked down the long side Carmen went into high alert and jerked to a stop. She was staring at a weed that was poking up by the arena doors and waving in the wind (it was an incredibly windy day). I let the rein go to the buckle and said 'run away if you want, but that won't hurt us'.  She stared hard at it and then sighed and lowered her head. 'no, I'm good'.  I was thrilled with that. I used to do that with Steele when he gawked at stuff. Give the whole rein so he knew he could  get away while I sat relaxed in the saddle. I took a moment to appreciate that I could finally do that with Carmen.

While we stood there Karen came over and took the reins to show me what the two contacts felt like. As Carmen relaxed Karen took the reins while I held them. After a few demonstrations it seemed to me that the 'backwards energy' contact felt harder even though the amount was the same. I then asked her to do the different ones and not tell me so I could see if I could tell. After a few minutes I then walked off with a better understanding. As I played with that I realize that every time I had a forward energy contact, Carmen would soften and reach for the bit. The tricky part was that she would then lose it and come behind the contact or try to jerk it out. At that point I would lose the feel and we'd start over.  However, we kept trying to figure it out together and there were no dramatics.

I then took this forward contact feel and put it with my spinning ball. Doing this I was able to get transitions from Carmen that were effortless and had her moving her balance back to her hind end. What a feeling that was- she was reaching into contact, balancing behind and it felt right.  We tried some canter and after a bit of flailing we got it together. She broke at one point to a very fast trot and I spun my ball backwards while telling myself to not pull backwards or tighten my hips. It worked and she came back to me.

We ended the lesson after that and I stood there one her letting her relax. She wasn't anxious to get me off but she did sniff my boots a bit. Then Cynthia had her lesson and Irish was again looking fantastic.

We packed up and got the trailer ready to go home. Irish hesitated about getting on and need a couple taps to self load. I then walked Carmen up, threw the lead line over her neck and said 'walk on'
'okay' she said and marched on so I could shut the bar behind her. I am not kidding myself that she's a self-loading horse but she's on her way. The trailer ride went well and when we got home she backed off  as easily as she got on. Irish was more settled too. The wind was bitter cold so we put on their heavier blankets and turned them out.

That night as I gave them their night feed I realized that we were all looking pretty tired and pleased with ourselves. They were happy to be home, as was I but the past weekend resulted in a real jump in Carmen's and our relationship and training.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Saturday- Building Rome

I was excited to have a lesson on Saturday morning. Karen is a Centred Riding Instructor and before my lesson she got me on a small trampoline. I was to imagine that my pelvis was a bowl holding a ball. I was to visualize that ball spinning different ways and see how it affected my balance. She also had me try bouncing with straight legs and bent joints to see the difference. I was then left to bounce and figure it out. To be honest, I felt silly but as I tried it I could see what she meant and it felt good.

I then got Carmen ready making sure that I followed our normal routine and did not rush her. We did our ground work and she as a bit wary (as yesterday) but the doors to the outside. I kept it all low key and worked on having her attend to me and the work.

I won't bore you with the details of the lesson but what we primarily worked on was getting my hips to follow the motion. After years of lessons telling me to 'sit still' I lock my hips. Karen had me focus on letting her motion move my pelvis. It took attention and as soon as I was distracted I locked up again.

Also, I noticed that my right stirrup felt shorter although I hadn't moved it. What I think happened was that yesterday when Karen loosened my hips I had more 'release' from my right. Which makes sense. My left is always tight (old riding injury) and my leg wants to go into a 'chair seat' rather than drape. When I do get it in the right position it hurts so I need to work on getting it to loosen. I may never get it perfect but then we all have our conformational flaws, especially as we age.

As we went along I thought that I was getting it but then Karen pointed out that I was too flexible in my waist.
'hold your middle still so the movement will go elsewhere.' 
'where will it go?' I asked.
'try it and you tell me'
I made a face at her and then tried it. And guess what? The movement transferred to my pelvis. Where it belonged.

It was neat, as I allowed her to move me she became increasingly free in her back and pushing from behind. We got some lovely medium trot. I'm glad that I was experiencing it in the lesson because it felt 'big' and my instinct was to shut it down.

We were riding a 10 metre circle and I was losing Carmen out the shoulder on one side. I tried the outside rein and was moderately successful but Karen told me to close my outside thigh and that worked perfectly.

The spinning ball came into play into many parts of the ride:

  • spinning backwards was my half-halt
  • spinning to the left or right to steer
  • spinning forward to send energy out but not to lean forward (I think I have that right). 
I'm not normally big on analogies - they get me thinking too much and not doing. But as I played with this in the saddle it made sense. Also, as I visualized the ball spinning backwards during downward  transitions we had some of the best transitions ever. All I did was think 'walk' and she walked. 

I was thrilled with Carmen and how much she seemed to enjoy the lesson and being with me. Irish was throwing a fit while we were out but after an initial worry she couldn't have cared less. We rode into the scary parts of the ring and while we had to discuss it a few times, we still got it done. 

After that there a few more lessons. I enjoyed watching all of them. You should have seen Irish and Cynthia go. Irish was perky and forward and enjoyed himself immensely. 

After we went into the house and I had a short nap. Then, before supper, I went out the barn. It was empty and quiet. Carmen greeted me happily and had a bit of a snuggle. I then tacked her up and we went back into the ring. I wasn't looking to work her hard. I just wanted to take some time and try to work out what I learned in the lesson. It seemed to be easier but I was sometimes not sure when I was moving my hips vs my waist. It was fun though for the two of us in the quiet of the indoor all by ourselves. We walked, trotted and cantered all over the place and it felt wonderful.  After I put her back and spent some time tidying up and feeding them. I then went back to the house and had a hot shower. 
there are no photos of the lessons but I captured this selfie of our solo ride

Jim again made a fabulous supper of Moroccan Cuisine. I could have eaten it until I burst. Later some women came over and we watched Mama Mia (and sang along of course). 

Once again I fell into bed exhausted and happy.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


friday I was up bright and early getting everything packed for our weekend.  The horses ignored me initially but then Carmen came into watch me. Irish knew something was up so he just tried to make himself inconspicuous.  When I brought the trailer up I could see him mutter "I knew it" under his breath.

When Cynthia arrived we brought them in.  Irish thought about making a fuss but followed me and loaded with an air of resignation.  He then became frantic for Carmen. When I brought her out she became excited too. I gave Carmen to Cynthia to hold and walked up to Irish.  I gave him a sharp tap with the butt of the crop "smarten up" I growled and he stopped. I then took the lead from Cynthia, threw it up over Carmen's neck and she walked right on like she'd been self loading her whole life.

The trip was uneventful (yay for boring trailer trips). When we arrived Irish was standing on three legs in the trailer.  I waited for him to stand up but he kept it cocked under him at a weird angle and was not weight bearing.

Uh oh.  I thought I saw blood on the inside of his fetlock.  Stifling panic I unloaded Carmen.  She backed off cool as a cucumber and looked around calmly.  I then asked Irish to back off.  He came off sound and I saw that what I thought was blood was just poo.

Ha! Just kidding. I swear he was messing with me.

We put them in their stalls and they settled right in.  After a bit I tacked up Carmen.  She was tense but very well behaved.  I mounted and we had some good work. Although tight she was listening and trying.  I was so proud of how far we'd come.  A little while in as she came around the corner she gave a big fart and scared herself. As she scooted forward I collapsed into giggles while Janet and Karen dissolved into a fit of snickers.  Carmen came to a halt while I was laughing so hard that I almost fell off.

It's not funny. 
Oh honey, it's VERY funny.  

Although a bit miffed at our laughter she carried on. Karen came out and helped me unlock my hips.  That helped immensely.  After a nice ride we fed the horses and then had dinner.  Karen's husband, Jim, had cooked a multiple course meal that was truly incredible. I asked him to write it out for me for the blog and here it is:
Muse: Young and old Manchego with Spanish olive oil and red clay salt
Appetizer: Maple poached oyster in a steamed bok choy leaf on smoked vegetable broth.
Tapa: Beef Pate wrapped in seaweed with a water chestnut and gooseberry snowball
Tapa: Quail egg and pork belly "Pain and Destruction" with caramelized onion Naan lattice
Main: Grilled striploin steak with peppercorn Bordelaise, baked potato and chef's vegetables
Sweet: Chocolate pound cake
Wines: 2011 White Rioja, 2014 Sicilian Grillo, 2008 Priorat
The food and conversation kept us at the table for a while.  There's nothing like spending time with people you truly like.

Is it any wonder that I could barely keep my eyes open? I fell asleep within five minutes of going to bed. Which was a good thing because the next day was going to be busy.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Winds of Change

It is clear that Carmen does not like windy days. She's much more excitable and reactive to all that is going on around her. This is true in the field, in the barn and most particularly in the ring. However, Nova Scotia is a windy province and my riding ring is on the top of a hill. It is breezy more often than not.

In the past, is the days are really blustery, I often lunge and not ride. However, I try to not avoid working on windy days. This week was very blustery except for one day. That one day there was virtually no breeze at all. On that day the riding was easy and we could school all sorts of things. The next day and the one after were, however quite breezy.

On thursday the wind was whipping the trees and bushes quite a bit but I decided to ride anyway. I spent more time on careful ground work and then got on. I was quite pleased that she stood still even though the wind was blowing up her tail. As we worked she was very distracted and mistrustful of the blowing trees.
Don't ride defensively I told myself. Unfortunately,  myself was skeptical and decided to ride that way anyway. It's hard enough discussing things with Carmen without also arguing with me too. I find that the inner voice and Carmen can gang up on me. OMG We're surrounded, we must flee! 

And I don't know why, but as I was going around trying for the 40th time to ride a circle  that was at least remotely round I had a new thought.
I LOVE the wind. Just love it. It's refreshing and clean. 
And then I sat up straight and rode into the teeth of the wind.
let's go! I said.
What? Said Carmen Are you sure? 
And off we went into the teeth of the wind. It rattled a bush at us and she scooted away.
Whoops. That's not what we were working on. I said. And returned back to the task.

We had a few discussions but in the end it was a successful ride because I stopped wishing that the wind would stop and decided to embrace it instead. (that probably makes no sense but I know what I mean).

The next morning was even windier. Cynthia came out to ride. Which meant while Carmen was happier to have Irish there, Irish was reacting to her tenseness. Once again, I decided to ride into the teeth of the wind. We had some hesitations, spooks and ran backwards once. Each time I sat up and rode forward. I gave her rein and said 'let's go'. 

We finished with some canter work and then I walked her on the buckle around the ring.

I doubt that she'll ever like windy days but she will get used to it (she has no choice).

This weekend we're heading to Karen's to work in her arena and enjoy some horse talk with other crazy horse women. This is good for Carmen because the only way to get a horse used to going places is to go places.

I will let you know how it goes.

“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.” 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hay There

With winter just around the corner it was time to figure out how to feed hay outside. My hay box did not survive last winter.  It became locked in ice and I couldn't remove it until May.  It also became a hazard as it was below where they were standing.  When we finally got it out it basically disintegrated. 

I know that they have hay in their stalls but I like them to be able to eat outside.  So in my research I learned about slow feed hay nets.  I loved the idea of less waste.  Irish is very messy with hay and fussy if it gets dirty.  I bought a small one to try. I asked Ed to put a pst in the ground and I hung the  net to see if it was going to work. 

It was comical to watch.  Carmen figured it out right away.  Irish was highly annoyed at have to take small bites of hay rather than the big mouthful he usually takes ( and leaving large wads of hay everywhere). At one point I say Carmen taking small ladylike nibbles while Irish tried to get some. In frustration he grabbed the top of it and started shaking it. 

What new torture is this?! I swear she's trying to drive me crazy. 

Here they are working it. You can see Irish's impatience and Carmen's patience. 

After a few days he was eating from it but there's still grass so he can ignore it if he wants.  I liked the idea that I can bring it in if there's bad weather coming.  That will reduce waste as well. I went online and ordered a large one that slips right over a haybale. That makes it easy if you are as incompetent as I am with hay net stuffing.  The problem was that it was too big for one post so we put in a second one and suspended it.  

So far it seems to be working.  I'm crossing my fingers that it was money well spent. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015


The positive changes in Carmen are continuing.  We are now regularly working on training stuff,  not just me convincing her that we won't die in the ring.

I allow her to have rein so if she wants to bolt she can.
And do you know what?
She doesn't.

It's not that I don't shorten the rein. I do but it's to achieve a turn or a bend not to stop her from running away.  When I feel her getting tense I have to override my instincts to tighten my legs and hands but it's getting easier. When she does spook I get us back under control pretty quickly.

 Friday was a good ride.  It was warm and misty.  While I was lunging it started to rain.  I decided that I didn't care, we were working anyway.  She was distracted a bit but not too bad. When I got on she was listening right from the start. After confirming that she was listening I began some serious work on transitions.  If Carmen agrees with the transition it's pretty smooth. But if she has a different idea it's pretty rough. I don't worry or fuss over the initial trot transitions- I've accepted that there will be some hesitation and discussion. Instead I just sit quietly and keep softly asking until it smooths out. I then give her verbal praise and we carry on. If I try to just get her to go forward she worsens. If I simply ride she gives up. This testing behaviour is getting shorter every time.

Once we had forward and steering I worked on transitioning up and down. I was trying to figure out transitions-how to make them smooth which is very much a work in progress. Mostly because Carmen does not appreciate my interfering with her vigilance. Asking her to do something when she is trying to watch for dangers (like psychotic squirrels). As a result I've become too strong in my asks and that's not going to be helpful for our dressage career. I worked on being as quiet as I could and as the ride went along we got better and better. We made some progress and finished with some nice walk-halt-walk transitions.

Saturday dawned sunny and warm.  For November, it was a gift that I wasn't going to second guess. Cynthia stayed over so we could ride early.  I only had to lunge Carmen for a short time before I mounted.  After that we went to work.  My goal is to allow the work to carry us in different parts of the ring without worrying that she will be scared of different things. I've been gradually expanding our work area.  With Irish in the ring I can push it even further about where we go.  I was playing with transition of  trot to canter.  She's been bucking and I think it's a combination of balance, tension and my aid being too strong.  When I ask Irish I just have to drop my inside hip. So I  played with that. The first time it didn't work right away but I applied a light leg aid and off we went. As we carried on it began to work. It was kind of funny because she would pick up and canter along and then suddenly it would occur to her that she was supposed to object. I just ignored that and asked to carry on. Soon  we were cantering nice and easy.  Once she cantered down the long side toward Irish instead of staying on the circle we were on:

Carmen: I want to follow Irish!
Me: okay sure  
Carmen: yay! Oh. Wait. We're cantering in the danger zone. 
Me: I know! It's awesome.

She broke to trot and then picked up the canter and then couldn't quite figure out whether to freak out, canter or stop. It was funny. In then end, because she didn't know what to do we did what I wanted - which was to canter into the corner and up the other side.

We worked on trot- canter transitions for a bit and then I brought her to walk and gave her a long rein. We marched around the ring even by spooky things and I let the rein be long and on the buckle.  I can't describe how nice it is to be working on real honest to goodness horse training stuff. We finished by riding down to the barn.

It's taken some time but we're getting there. And it's making me smile.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Future Looks Bright

Since the 'Squirrel Incident' things have calmed down significantly.  I'm thinking that it's not actually related to just the squirrel itself but also to something else that happened that I didn't have a chance to blog about.

In the morning I stick to the same routine. I feed the horses and while they eat I muck out their stalls. I do Carmen's stall first. While she eats her grain I do one side of her stall. When she moves to her hay rack I'm usually done so I go in front of her and do the other side. I don't go behind because I'm not comfortable being that tight between a horse's hindquarters and the wall (it's a tight squeeze). If she spooks and leaps back I would be crushed. So I go in front of her. this has never been a problem. However, this one morning as I went by she nipped at me and grabbed the sleeve of my jacket.

I have a Zero Tolerance rule for biting. So I immediately moved her out of my space. I then left her stall and grabbed her halter. In the meantime she went back to her hay which is probably what she wanted - I had been going between her and the hay. However I had not choice. I put on her halter and headline and tied her to the tie ring in her stall (away from her hay) while I finished her stall.  I realized that this had probably been coming but I missed the signs (cut me some slack it's morning and I haven't had any coffee). It was a dominance thing that I needed to address. That evening, after work I did some ground work with her in the ring. This was to 'teach her a lesson' but to help her understand who was the leader. It only took 15 minutes and was not stressful to either of us.

Then we had the encounter with the pissed off squirrel. However, we were able to work through it. Since then I have ridden twice. I planned to ride on sunday but it started to rain heavily so I could only lunge. I rode on Monday and she was fabulous. There was no spooking and minimal stiffness. Overall, she was tuned in and listening. It was lovely.

Today I hurried home from work. when I got out of the car she was down by the fence line watching me intently. I called hello and headed into the house. I changed my clothes and headed out to the barn. Carmen was now by the barn and when she saw me she nickered. That was the first time ever.

I quickly tacked her up. I wanted to try her up in the ring. Now that it's dark by 5:30 I can see how my solar powered lights worked in the ring. I was also looking to introduce her to the idea of working in the dark with just lights. I wasn't sure how she'd respond. I needn't have worried. She was fabulous. A few looks at things which were understandable. But I love that I'm working on bend and contact and not direction and attention.

I finished after a brief time. I just wanted to introduce her to it and wanted to end on a good note. I also realized that I hadn't brought a flashlight so while there was lights in the ring and outside the barn I didn't fancy walking down to the barn in the pitch black.

Which made me realize how far my girl has come. She ties, cross ties and ground ties without fuss (by ground tie I'm not referring to same level as a true western trainer would mean but that's a different post). She stands still while I'm mounting. She leads like a champ anywhere I ask and I can stop and back up or turn and she goes with me. Her manners on the lunge have been terrific and when she does freak out it's like she realizes it and she stops and looks to me for guidance. She loves having her face stroked and looks forward to her post ride massage.  I also recognize that her heats are done and that has an impact as well.

It's been a while to build to this but it seems to me that Carmen has become a happy and settled horse.  

My goal of us showing next year doesn't seem quite so crazy.

As long as there are no squirrels.......

Monday, November 2, 2015

Who Invented DST?

from Fowllanguagecomics.com

I have no idea who invented Daylight Savings Time but I want to go on record that I am not a fan. I know that conventional wisdom is that it was designed to help farmers but I seriously doubt that based my own experience.

This morning I was woken up at 5 a.m. with gentle pats on my face. I opened my eyes and looked into the eyes of Chester.
It's time to get up and fill my bowl
No, it's only 5. I get up at 6. 
I'm pretty sure that this is the time that you always get up
*sigh* no we had to turn the clocks back on the weekend. 
I have no idea but I'm not getting up for another hour. 
Okay then. I shall lay here and keep you awake with my purring but you can't get angry because I'm an adorable purring kitten. 
who can get angry at this face
So I laid there trying to sleep while listening to purring with the occasional whisker tickle.

Then my alarm went off. I hit the snooze button as always but the next thing I knew there were two dog noses in my face.
It's morning! And we have to pee. 
But I need a few more minutes
You are going to be late for work. We are her to make sure that you are not stressed by being late. 
No, the clocks went back. 
It's called 'daylight savings time'
oh that is awesome! But we still have to pee. Like right now. 
dogs are very helpful to humans. 

So I get up and head downstairs with my entourage. I fill the cat's bowl and let the dogs out.
Martin comes in grumbling.
You're late! 
No, not really you see..
I don't care. There better be food in my bowl. 
He stalks to his bowl.
daylight savings time? laziness I call it. 
I head out the barn.
Irish: you're late! 
Carmen:  yes I'm starving. What kind of establishment are you running here? 
Irish: standards are really slipping. 
Me: See, there's this thing called daylight Sav- Oh never mind. I'm sorry. I'll get on it. 
we don't want to hear about this 'DST' thing anymore

See, there's no way that this was for the farmers benefit. Can you imagine being heckled by an entire barn yard?