Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Cheer

What a lovely weekend!  Northern CA was supposed to get this crazy stormy with about two solid weeks of rain. Instead I woke up Thursday to blue skies. What an amazing early Christmas present. Even though I had an insanely busy day planned (it was my mom’s birthday and some how I volunteered to make pork carnitas for dinner) I couldn’t resist the urge to head over to the barn.

I had remembered to take a bridle home so I jumped on December bareback and rode her over to my neighbor’s barn. She almost looks normal again. Still a little thin but I gotta tell ya she’s already less boney than Tax. I really enjoy trail riding her. She seems very relaxed right now and like Grace she plunges down the trails at a quick walk curious about everything around her. She’s always got her little ears pricked forward and loves to look around at all the scenery but never spooked at anything including an entire flock of pheasants we scared out of the bushes a few feet away. I’ve never seen more than two at a time but I swear there were like ten. Every few steps she took more kept bursting out of the bushes and flying off with this weird honking sound they make. I’m pretty sure the geldings would have had a heart attack. A couple of times going around blind corners where she couldn’t see over the blackberries she was slow and cautious but when I pressured her to go forward she did without much of a fight. What a good girl!

When I got to the barn I actually put a saddle on her and I managed to ride both her and Tax in the arena before I had to take off and finish my shopping and dinner preparations. December is out of shape and wants to lean in through her inside shoulder which was always a weakness but with a little support was trying to move straight. She’s high headed and I didn’t ask her to try to collect much but I got her to relax and got some decent trotting work from her. We cantered just a little and she feels as good as ever…so smooth and comfortable. Tax felt awesome on Thursday too. He feels so connected through every part of his body right now.

Friday I managed to sneak in a little trail ride on December bareback again, and I lunged Charlie. That was about it before the lure of wrapping my kids presents called.

We got some rain on Christmas. I was stuck feeding and cleaning stalls in it (boo) and I didn’t get to ride again until Sunday. Sunday I rode all three horses in the arena and December on the trails to and from the other barn. Charlie wanted to misbehave and every time I’d ask him to move forward at more than a trot he’d kick out his back right leg. I started spanking his butt on that side with my hand when he does it and he finally stopped and we jogged, trotted and loped. My favorite part is that I’m not nearly as afraid as I would have been of him a year ago. I made the mistake of riding Tax without spurs which was kind of a bust. He didn’t feel so connected without them and wanted to lean in and get strung out on me. December was a real sweetheart and the other ladies at the barn were impressed with how much better she looks. We worked on relaxing deep into the trot again and cantered a bit more this time. We even trotted a couple of ground poles and she hopped right over them. She was happy and perky through it all. No tail swishing evil bitch mare. I noticed she didn’t even flinch at the girth this time…hmm. I think grazing all day has been very good for her tummy.

I didn’t get Christmas pictures of the horses and I should have. They are all hairy, muddy disgusting beasts!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A horsaii confession...

I have a confession. I haven’t decorated for Christmas yet. I haven’t completed my shopping. I’m useless unless it comes to barn chores. I’m fairly certain at least one of my children and probably my husband hate me. I didn’t finish the novel I started for NaNoWriMo. Even though all of this is true the only thing I want to do this weekend is sneak off a trail ride with Tax. Sigh…

I was looking at December last night and you know, I’m not sure she needs a whole month before we start some trail riding. She’s looking great. Once I get her leg healed up and get a shoe on her I might start riding her over to the barn on Saturday mornings when I feed. I think she will enjoy visiting with Tax. I figure I will just play it by ear and if she seems uncomfortable I will get down and walk her. I’m thinking about investing in a bareback paid with stirrups so I can make sure I’m balanced and take some pressure off her without adding any additional weight.

I’ve decided my plans with Tax are to set up some ground poles spaced far apart. I’m going to try to start cantering over and if he speeds up we will halt right away. When I can get him going over them consistently I’m going to place them closer together. When we can rate our speed over the poles then I will go back to crossrails and start over. I don’t want to undo any of the work that Tina has done with him.

I think it’s time for some real writing soon. Maybe another installment of my Applejack story… Maybe something new... I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the kind of person I want to be and it weighs heavily on me sometimes. Maybe I will just whine and rant about life in general and what I’ve been thinking about. I mean what good are fairly anonymous blogs if not for some ranting?

Monday, December 6, 2010

12.6.10 Updates

Friday it was 4 weeks since December came home and I have great news...still no signs of any actual illness. We’ve continued the routine of turnout all day as long as the weather is good, then she gets put up in the barn at night with her pellets and beet pulp. She continues to seem perkier every week and now she’s tearing around my pasture at a gallop when she’s feeling particularly good. She’s still too skinny but no where near what she looked like when she came home. I was even brave enough to take off her blanket before I turned her out on Saturday without worrying I was going to have animal control ringing my doorbell. I’m hoping in another month we can start some leisurely trail rides and I’ll decide what to do with her from there. I’m wondering if she could make a nice trail horse for my husband now that Grace is gone. He seems to like her judging from the number of bags of carrots he’s bought in the last 4 weeks.
She has managed to pull one of her shoes off and I’m not sure what to do about it. When I had her before she wasn’t sound without shoes in front and we even had to do pads. The trainer leasing her put Natural Balance shoes on her which I have heard some very bad things about, however, she is completely sound without pads and moving better than I’ve ever seen her move. Now I’m torn. I’m doing some additional research but if anyone has experience with these shoes I’d love to hear about it.
She also managed to cut her leg somehow and now it’s pretty swollen. I cold hosed it for 15 minutes last night, cleaned it with an antibiotic and wrapped it. I also gave her some bute. Looks like I’ll be cold hosing at least once a day for a while.
Saturday we had some lovely weather and I got a chance to ride Tax and Charlie. Tax was pretty darn good. Tried cantering a really low fence a couple times but he kept getting to strong and fast over it. We went back to trotting it and he was an angel. I think I’m going to try cantering poles a million times until I can rate his speed better. I asked one of the other boarders, J, if she wanted to ride him and she said sure. Their trot work was beautiful. She commented on how nice he was to ride. She said she could tell he’s had some good training and J rode him well. I think Tina, his trainer, has done an amazing job and has never done anything I wouldn’t have done myself if I was her. She’s slow and steady but has built an amazing foundation. He’s very responsive to everything you ask for and wants to please. He seems happy with his work. J has ridden with some big trainers so it was nice to have her acknowledge that she was impressed.
The trade off was I got to ride J’s Irish Sport Horse. He gets really wound up when they jump and I spent some time just seeing if I could get him to relax. I didn’t get the softness I was hoping for this time but I got a very nice forward trot and we worked on some bending. I think he’s a very fun horse to ride and I’m hoping I get a chance to work with him more just to see if I can figure out how to bring him down a notch and help him relax. J thought he looked nice though and asked me for some advice I what I was doing to get that trot from him. It was fun trading horses and ideas with someone.
Charlie and I have been taking it slow. He’s definitely far more temperamental than Grace. He’s got a lot of TB in his breeding and it shows. He kicks at me on the lunge line which infuriates me but I’m trying not to lose my temper. Each time I just drive him forward until he wants to behave better. When he acts up he gets more work. I think it was a good idea to go back and start slower. I’ve still been getting on but I only push for a little improvement each day. He’s been spooky and stubborn and not wanting to move forward. On Saturday I rode him for longer than I’ve attempted in the past and there was no balking at all. He moved nicely and we even loped a couple of laps each direction. He was so good I called it quits at that. I’m hoping we continue in this direction.
I also got to spend some much needed Sister Time at the barn my sister is keeping her horse at. Promise is fat and happy and his personality is so very different from the horse we bought. He comes right up to the pasture gate whenever anyone comes out instead of cowering in terror. She even managed to find a farrier who could get shoes on him which due to the slight rotation in his coffin bone is probably a good thing for him. I helped her with her chores around the place and fell even further in love with a pretty little barrel horse named Bullseye. She reminds me of Grace but she’s a dark dapple gray. Mmm….gray. We all know I like a gray horse. I do not need a barrel racer, I do not need a barrel racer…reapeat after me….I do not need a barrel racer.
Have a good week everyone. Looks like we have some serious storms coming in so I probably won’t get to do much riding but I’ll update again soon.