dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Sharing the Good News

 Everyone has been so supportive and excited for me. Which is wonderful. When I was waiting for Carmen I was excited but it was tempered with a lot of grief and pain. It's nice to have the anticipation without that. It's more like when I was waiting for Steele to arrive. I've been spending the last few days getting things organised for Quaid to arrive. It feels a lot like getting a nursery ready to be honest. Pretty sure that makes me a terrible mom. But the one thing I still had to do was tell the rest of my kids. 

Me: Hey guys, I have some wonderful news for all of you! 

Carmen: does it involve snacks? 

Guinness: Snacks? That sounds good. 

Me: No, it's not food related. I wanted to tell you that we getting a new addition? 

Carmen and Irish: .......

Me: We're getting a 2 year old gelding joining us in a couple days! *voice raises an octave* I AM SO EXCITED. 

The best babysitter

Irish:  A baby? We getting a baby?! That is so awesome. I will take great care of him. I'll show him where all the good grass is and where to find water and the best nap spots. 

Carmen: What do you mean we're getting another horse? You already have me...

Irish: and me..

Carmen: don't interrupt. I see no need for another horse. 

Guinness: has he had the proper clearances?

Me: um, well he had a vet check if that's what you mean. 

Guinness: *sigh* as head of security I should be the first to know about these things. 

Willow: why am I here for this? I have to go patrol the field for mice. *saunters off*

The Girls: *ahem* excuse me but where is this new addition going to live? Our coop is already pretty crowded and you told us we couldn't have the new building. Even though it would PERFECT. 

Me: Well,  he'll be in that 3rd stall beside Irish. 

Irish:  yay!!! He'll be beside me. I CAN'T WAIT. 

*outraged clucking noises as hens confer while shooting me baleful looks* But that is our stall, It's where we nap from 10:30-11 and 3-4. Also our shelter when it's raining. 

Me: well now it will belong to Quaid and you will adapt. Besides, you have your coop, your run, you hang out in the barn, on the deck and range all over the place. 

*more outraged clucking*.........this is an outrage,......I'm not going to stand for it.....if she thinks she's getting any eggs from me after this.....

The girls: well we shall just have to see about this. *as one they turn and sashay out of the barn. 

I can't even look at you right now

Carmen: What is your plan for this horse? Not that I care. Because I don't. 

Me: Well he'll grow up with. us and then he'll learn to be a saddle horse ......

Carmen: for who, exactly? 

Me: well....me?

Carmen: a baby? Really?! 

Carmen: so I am not good enough anymore? You need more? 

Me: no, it's not like that. I love you. It's just that he'll also be here with us. He could never replace you. 

Carmen: don't get the idea that I like being ridden .... *Irish: you most definitely do. you were totally bragging about your 'talent' and how your training her the other day*....But I don't see how you can do this. 

Me: Oh Carmen. Love is not a pie. If I love another horse it doesn't leave less for you, it leaves more. 

Irish: don't mind her, she doesn't want to share you. Even with me. It will be good for her. Now when does my new baby arrive? 

Me: if all goes according to plan, Tuesday. 

Guinness: that explains all the work you've been doing. Well, I will make sure he understands all the rules once he arrives. 

Carmen: I shall reserve judgement then. He might be okay. 

Me: Oh you will love him, I'm sure! 

Irish: I am sure I will. A baby. At my age! Well, well, well. 

Guinness: As a dog, I'm obligated to love unconditionally so.....

The girls: this is NOT OVER

Willow: Still not caring. 

The shipper sent me this: Quaid overnighting in Thunderbay 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

So I, uh, did a THING

So two posts in one day but I cannot keep this quiet any more. 

 This all started when I realized that Carmen turned 12 this year. 

Like, how does that even happen? 

look at how dark she used to be!

she's changed a lot, not just in colour

Ed was talking to me and asked if she was my last horse. My response was immediate:
nope, I have one more in me. 

You know where that leads, right? To idle scrolling of ads, that's what. 

For a while I didn't anything more than scroll. But as time went by I found myself doing it more. 

But did I really want another horse? And if I did, what was I looking for? Was I ready? 

one way to get a pony

Part of me felt that I was not ready. And part of me knew that I could also be facing a dilemma if something were to happy to Irish (which is very possible) and Carmen was alone. 

I looked into the idea of an inexpensive companion horse. But aside from the purchase price it costs the same to keep a cheap horse as an expensive one. I was also aware of the passing of time. I am 58 this year. I would like to keep a horse for it's lifetime (even though I know that's not always possible). Which means that I could be into my 80s by then. You can say that age is just a number all you want, as you get older you become quite aware that it's ticking away.  

I like to be logical and so decided to draft up a list of what I wanted: 
  • Andalusian or Lusitano, either pure or cross
  • solid temperament- curious, friendly not spooky or reactive. 
  • Between 1 and 3 years, 
  • Not gray (no more tumours please)
  • In Canada (I didn't want to deal with crossing the border again!)
  • Under 20 k 
  • Would likely reach a height of between 15'2- 16'2
  • nice conformation 
  • a seller who would be responsive and have half-decent photos/videos. 
I sent this list out to the universe and figured it would take a while for it to land. To cover my bases I did reach out to Winterwind Kigers . She is local and had been crossing Lusitano studs with her Kiger mustang mares. She had one that I quite liked but I worried that she would be too small for me. However, you should check out her website, her horses are stunning!  She told me that she wasn't doing any crosses this year but that TNT Lusitanos had some nice 2 year olds for sale. 

I did know about them but didn't see any horses on their sales page. TNT Lusitanos is just outside Medicine Hat Alberta. They are a working cattle ranch and all of their breeding horses also work. I love that about them. I knew that they had posted some a while back but figured they were sold. 

That turned out to be wrong. The owner messaged me right back saying she had 4 2-year olds and then sent me videos. All of them were really nice. Two stood out for me and one I was quite drawn to. In her follow up message she said that they were all solid temperament wise but one was the quietest of the bunch. Turns out that was the one I really really liked (as opposed to really like).  I saw photos of his dam and she is gorgeous! 

To keep what is currently a long story from becoming a novella, after videos, questions, asking Karen's thoughts, some conformation photos I decided to go and book a PPE.  The PPE was today and he passed without issues. The vet even commented on his temperament and that a train went by and he didn't really react. 

When I started this process I also looked into shipping. It is not easy to have a shipper come this far east. Turns out that Nothern Horse Transport had a run from BC to NS the end of June. 

Honestly, it all came together in a way that feels fated.  

Do you know how hard it was to keep this quiet util everything was settled???? 

Allow me to introduce you to Quaid TNT. A 2 year old 3/4 Lusitano/ 1/4 Quarter horse. He will be on his way later this week and I am very excited (what an understatement that is). 

Isn't he handsome? 

his dam: Azteca (QH/Lusitano cross)

Sire: Marialva- full Lusitano 

He's supposed to be calm and gentle. I know that he's 2 and sensitive but give me a solid temperament and we can build on that. I do love his movement. 

Let's not dwell on the fact that I will be 59/60 when I first sit on him...... 

FYI, there are still some lovely 2 years olds and quite a few yearlings.......

Show Takeaways

 After the show Carmen and I enjoyed a little down time. I left her totally alone for two days. When I started riding again I tried to keep it light and easy. And of course I have been reflecting on the show. 

Not caring about ribbons, just whether there's hay

First of all, Carmen has become very good at traveling. She loads, unloads, looks around and settles in. I believe it's because I spent a lot of time with her when we first started. I wasn't sure if it was actually working or not but now I believe it definitely helped. I put my chair by her stall and on our first day she will check on me by nudging my head.  She didn't fixate on the horses around her but didn't seem to care when they came or went. 

She wasn't Suzi level chill though. 

Carmen is understanding her job these days. Pigeons of doom, not withstanding. I am a better rider and, when I stay out of my head can do a competent job. Carmen will always be Carmen. And while I get frustrated when the hamster falls off the wheel, 

Show dogs, wondering why everyone is focussed on the horses

I had a grand time with the other competitors. Everyone was happy to be back showing and so supportive of each other.  I really enjoyed the time in between riding just hanging out. 

Those are some general takeaways. Others are more specific:
  • half-halts are so key. Carmen will get tight and fall on her forehand but frequent half-halts will get her back. 
  • I have to insist at times that she listens to my aids. I also have to give. It's all about the balance. Getting that accurate is not so easy, but we're getting there. 
  • ride forward. In my concern about bolting I tend to hold far too much and not send her forward. 
Overall the show on the weekend was a good test of where we are- what is solid, what needs more work. Which is great, because it is likely my only show this year (life plans). 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Every Rose Has its Thorn (Show Recap)

 Buckle up for a long post. I thought about breaking it into 2 but decided to subject you to the whole story. 

Last weekend Carmen and I headed off to our first show since 2019. I was quite excited and felt really positive about it. We arrived Friday around lunch time. We had booked an hour in the warm up ring and Jane put her three students together so she could coach us and then prepare for her own show. It was interesting to share the ring. I was riding first, Tanya second and Nicole third.  Carmen seemed pretty relaxed on arrival. Throughout the whole show horses were coming and going and she didn't care at all. 

Carmen: oh, this again. I thought I was retired

Carmen and I had a great warm up round. We started off with me being all tight and tense and Carmen being just fine
Me: oh my god, we're going to die
Carmen:  settle down woman, I've got this. 
Once I settled and got out of my head we had a great school. She didn't spook once or get resistant. Even when Nicole and Tanya left. 

I felt really confident about the next day. 

definitely packed enough snacks

Our ride times on Saturday were in the morning and about 25 minutes apart.  It wasn't enough time to dismount and let her rest so I decided (with consultation to Jane) to do a 45 minute warm up, ride my first test, walk her out in the warm up ring, do a brief warm up and do my second test. 

Our warm up went pretty well. Just one spook but once I got her in front of the leg she felt good. There was a bit of confusion when it was time to go in because the ride times had changed and they moved my time but hadn't actually told me. It just was one ride out but it was a bit confusing. while we waited I walked her up and down the alley between the show arena and warm up arena. In the past I wouldn't have dared but she was quite happy to do that. 

My friend, Paula agreed to read my tests. I had them memorised but I like the back up. We walked around the ring until the judge rang the bell, then I put a huge smile on my face and trotted down centre line with the attitude of 'this is my magnificent horse'.   I halted, saluted, trotted off and completely forgot what to do next. Thank god for the reader. Once I started my first trot across the diagonal it all came back to me. 

Here's a video for you. I was thrilled with our ride. Is there a lot to improve? Yes. Was it a bit conservative? also yes. But she is relaxed and listening and we felt (and look I believe) like a team. 

First Level Test 2

Our scores were a ranged from 5.5 to 7.5 (on our leg yield!)  with most being 6.5-7. Our final score was 63 and the comments: capable horse and team. must show clear lengthening in trot and canter at this level.  Totally fair, but given that we really didn't have a lengthen 3 months ago (or forward for that matter) I'll take it. I was excited to get a 7 on Riders position and seat. (Yay for lessons). 

Of course I had no idea of my score before doing my next test. Which was fine. Our scores were a range of 5-7's. I was feeling the heat and excitement. This time I remembered my test but I had a brain glitch at my first halt-salute. I  saluted with my right hand, thought it was my left, so saluted with my right and then laughed at myself. 

First Level Test 3

Again, I was quite happy with this- I felt that I rode fairly well, stayed out of my head and kept her attention. Carmen was really trying too. Our score was 60.83 with another comment about the lengthens. But she also commented that Carmen was beautiful so clearly she has good eyes. 

I was excited to learn that I had scored two first place ribbons. 

Riding in the morning left me free to cheer on my friends in the afternoon. It was wonderful to be showing again and everyone was having a great time and supporting each other.  One funny moment was when a rider entered and asked Paula to read. She didn't have a book and it was a 'oh shit' moment. I ran to the barn grabbed my book and ran back in time to give it to Paula just as the rider was leaving X. I didn't know I could run that fast. 

Tanya, Nicole and Jane all had beautiful rides. They are very inspirational to watch and fun to drink with. What more could you want? That evening we ordered pizza and at on the show grounds laughing and talking and swapping stories. Paula loaned me her slinky to help keep Carmen clean. It worked a treat and, bonus, she looked like the green goblin! 

Carmen: really?

I had a great sleep and was up early and ready to tackle day 2. Julia and her sister came to help out. It was lovely to have grooms. 
show grooms for the Spanish queen

 It was a warmer day and someone had opened the window in the warm up ring. You won't recall but, in the past, when that was open Carmen would lose her mind. Like, dangerously so and I had to insist that it be closed. This time I looked at it, rode Carmen towards the centre of the ring and then turned her to let her look at it. We gradually got closer and then she looked out and realised that it was just a window. After that we were able to work in the ring without her getting upset about the window. To be honest that felt like a huge win for us, even more than the show. 

Carmen was a bit more tense but Jane helped us in the warm up and we felt great going in to ride our first test of the day. It went even better than on Saturday and our scores reflected that- they ranged from 5 to 8.  

We were tired but our ride was not far off (I think 20 minutes this time). We went back to the warm up ring and I practiced our trot-halts because those were causing me trouble and we can honestly do that. Once I had 2 good ones we walked back out to do our last test. I was relaxed (also hot). I put a smile on my face as we trotted down the centre line. 

So here's where we get to the 'thorn' part. You see a pigeon got into the show arena. Part way during my ride it became upset and began to flap around frantically while making loud distressed noises. I asked for our left lead canter to begin our counter canter move, as we crossed X, Carmen just 'noped'  out.  I got her stopped and turned around. The judge asked if it was the bird. At that point I hadn't actually heard it- I was very focussed on riding and didn't hear it at all. So I said it couldn't be. Not my finest hour but, in fairness, it's not unusual for Carmen to decide she'd had enough. I tried to regroup but it became clear that it wasn't going to happen. 

 Fortunately, I was the last rider before lunch so the show committee let me stay in for a few minutes to walk her up in that area. I was so happy that I could do that - I needed to give Carmen a good experience and not her last memory of the ring be one of being scared. 

I dismounted, hosed her off and walked her to cool her off. As you can imagine I was fairly bummed. I had to do some deep thinking as to why I was upset. At first I thought it was because I was unable to complete the test and get a half-decent score. And, sure, that was part of it. But I realised that most of it was because people saw Carmen lose it and would remember not and not see her for all her beauty, sensitivity and quirky sense of humour. She is so much more than that. 

Everyone was very supportive, which was nice but I honestly thought that's all that they were being- nice. Tanya keep telling me to watch the video. Not just assume it was all shit. I didn't do that until Monday, but when I did I saw what she was talking about. I saw a horse that had been really good all weekend and dealt with all the things but just couldn't deal with this last thing. Even after the blow up she really tried to listen to me and follow my aids. 

The judge was incredibly sweet. She was very encouraging and said 'everything was going so well' and 'she's so beautiful and talented, you will get there'. After I went to thank her for her kindness. She was gracious and when I jokingly asked her if she wanted to buy a horse she said 'you take her home  because it's clear how much you do love her.'

Here it is with the pigeon of doom. Turn up the sound to hear the sound. 

In the end we had 3.5 amazing tests and came home with three red ribbons. She was well behaved and mature and we conquered a lot of dragons. 

Next time maybe I'll strap a bb-gun inside my show coat......

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

How Does this Work Again?

 Well, time really does fly when you are registered for the first show.  

Especially when you haven't shown in 3 years. 

Carmen: don't worry I got this

I had a moment of 'what the hell was I thinking' earlier this week. 

But now I'm just trying to figure out what I need to pack. 

Like how many snacks would be reasonable? Should I pack beer or buy it when I get there? 

I've been trying to not fret too much or drill the tests. 

Which of course means I am now worried that I haven't done enough. 

It's too late for that now. And really, there's literally no point is worrying if I did too much or not enough, am I right? 

My little slice of heaven

And, if I'm being completely honest, I feel that we are pretty solid in our work right now. 

We have the potential to lay down some pretty solid tests. 

As long as we can keep it together. 

Okay, as long I can keep it together. I need to make sure I don't pick-pick-pick or get into a fight or back off too much. 

I need to remember what I've been learning in my lessons and stay the course. 

airborne (but in a good way)

So we'll get ready and I'll haul out on Friday. I'm excited to be back in the ring. I'm also excited to show with my friends and hang out with them. Together we will share in the triumphs and tribulations of horse showing. We will also probably share a couple drinks and probably ibuprofen. 

All clean - please stay that way....

Friday, June 3, 2022

Riding Today's Horse

Spoiler alert- this is another 'my horse is awesome' post. (#sorrynotsorry). 

One thing I struggle with is reinforcing old patterns instead of staying in the moment. I am sure I am not alone. When Carmen is a bit tight and looky I can find myself tightening up and anticipating a bit reaction. 

While that is totally understandable, it actually doesn't move us forward. Jane likes to tell me 'she's not that horse any more'. And she's right. 

my new favourite photo. It might make it's way to my banner. 
Clearly Guinness takes his job as sidekick very seriously. 

But every ride is helping me realise that Carmen is not the same as she was even last year. And realising it at a deeper level than just superficially.   This week Julia's sun visor flew off her helmet and she managed to use her crop to move it out of the ring. The first time by Carmen gave a spook and a jolt. I put my leg on and used my outside rein and we carried on. By the third time by she was happy to just give it the hairy eyeball. 

In our lesson Jane is able to throw harder and harder things at us and neither of us melts down.  Even when it's hard. Here we are doing a 10 meter (ish) half circle to counter canter down the rail and then transition to trot. This was literally the first time we've ever tried this. 

Another new one was to leg yield and pick up a canter when we got back to the rail. 

Clearly there's a lot for me to work on with me. But I'm finding that we're becoming very tuned in to one another. And when we don't start that way I can get us there without feeling like I need to sacrifice a small goat at the alter of dramatic mares. 

Remember our canter departs and how difficult they were? And how much flail we had with our right lead? 

What is even better is that either one of us can make a mistake and just move on. I have to share this video of how I totally screwed up the walk-canter. I put my leg on too much and Carmen was not impressed. She started on the correct but I screwed it up so she switched to the wrong lead and then fixed it. You can hear me apologise. And then we just went back to working on it without a lot of drama. 

I love how rhythmical we're getting. I love that I can saddle up and hop on without lunging for 20 minutes. I love that I can hack out on a long rein. I love that we can work towards things and end up better at the end of our rides.  

I love that she's actually enjoying the work these days. 

but mostly I just love this mare