June 29, 2013

I seriously love this friggin' horse.

It's Saturday morning. It's 74 degrees at 10 am, so I rush to the barn to ride before temps sore into the 90's. I haven't been to the barn since our Wednesday lesson. Rose seems happy to see me when I pull her from her paddock. Her feet look great. She's walking out nice and quickly on the asphalt...sound. I am relieved, I release the pent up breath that I didn't realize I was holding, smile, and head into the the barn. Rose is a bit fidgety. We do some ground work. I put her in the cross ties. She's still a bit fidgety. She finally pee's in the cross ties and then stands quiet. It's clear that she's in heat. I groom her and saddle her up. We ride in the outdoor arena next to all the geldings and the Oldenburg pony stallion. He is glued to the view, pressing against his fence rails, and does not move an inch the entire time I ride. Rose would clearly prefer to focus on the boys, but listens and we have a productive and good ride.

It's really something to me that I own a mare who, although understandably distracted, can easily be ridden while in heat. Granted she'd rather not listen to me, but for the most part she complies with my requests, and falls in line. I'm am very happy that I do not have to resort to hormone treatments to keep her "sane".

If nothing else, Rose is one heck of a great horse undersaddle, and I'm very certain that she would have been extremely hard to replace to that end. It's certainly nice that she's got fancy looks and great conformation that comes with it. Right now I am so happy that it worked out that she never sold!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

June 26, 2013

Sound Feet, Awesome Lesson and Two More "Firsts"

Rose's feet seem to be hardening up nicely now that the rain has subsided and her dry lot is once again dry and mud free. I've also been applying my old friend Thrush Off to her soles and frogs once a week to help then harden up quicker. I was using salt and iodine, but it didn't really seem to be working in terms of hardening her soles, but the salt water certainly was working against any thrush she might of had. Her feet were looking pretty good when I checked on her at the barn on Monday evening, so I decided to hop on for a short ride, and also to try a new saddle (more on that later). She felt great and her feet seemed happy. So...I arranged to haul out for an evening lesson with a new trainer SS.

I do feel like I'm cheating on CR, but unfortunately our schedules just don't mesh now that I have JR. CR can only do week day morning lessons and SS is able to do evening lessons, the only hitch is I have to haul a half hour to her place. This is actually a good thing, because I get more experience hauling and Rose gets off the property more often. That and it gives my famous trailer a reason for being.

So, today was the day. Hubs came home Johnny-On-The-Spot at 5 pm with  a full tank of gas in the truck for me, and I headed out the door in hopes that 1.5 hours would be enough time to get to the barn, uncover the trailer, hitch the truck, groom Rose, load my tack, and load Rose all on my lonesome, and drive a half hour.

I arrived at SS's barn 20 minutes after my 6:30 pm lesson was supposed to start!

In my mind I had thought I might be a good 15 minutes or more early. Ha! It was alright though. SS also has kids and totally understood. I am just a VERY punctual person and absolutely HATE being late, kid excuse or no. So I was more distraught over it than she was. Next time I'll either push the lesson back to 7 pm or have Hubs come home at 4:30 pm. But hey, those were my two big "firsts". It was the first time I have ever hauled Rose (or any horse) alone, and the first time I've loaded Rose alone. She was a pretty good girl too. All in all, I think it took me ten minutes to get her loaded. Once she was on, she was quiet and well behaved as always.

Once we arrived, Rose walked off the trailer completely calm, stood quiet tied to the trailer like a big girl, let me tack her up, walk her around the new outdoor arena, assess the lack of panthers hanging out in the patio furniture, and up we went for our lesson. She was so laid back that I actually had to put on my spurs for the lesson! And what a lesson it was. SS has an amazing eye for seeing what I'm doing wonky with my body, hand, pinky finger, seat, etc., and she is very skilled at communicating exactly what I should be doing and how to do it. We mostly worked on flexing, stretching down on to the bit, and creating a connection between my inside leg and outside rein and my seat. Oh the bad habits of the preaching hunter seat. I know it sounds like little stuff, but it was a huge a-ha moment for me when Rose started bending and stretching and got light in the bridle. She was balancing herself, and not trying to goat me into doing it for her...like usual. We both learned a lot and have lots to work on. I'm really excited about working with SS on a more regular basis and also how much great experience I will get hauling Rose around.

But now, it's time to take these sore muscles and crawl into bed while JR is still sleeping!

And in big JR world news...he walked for the first time today! I'm so excited. Once he got going he didn't want to stop either. He's already a pro!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

June 20, 2013

Giving up the Ghost

The process of selling Rose has been trying at best. There have been MANY ups and downs (I think the Universe has been trying to tell me something) and quite frankly, the fact that I fundamentally do not want to sell her isn't helping.

Last December when I decided to sell her I was in a very different place mentally. I was EXHAUSTED. JR hadn't slept more than 1-2 hours in a row at night for the past four months (at the time, it would still be two more months before we finally got that straightened out). I was teaching at the University, coaching the IHSA team, helping Hubs with his business, trying to run mine, and being a stay at home mom on top of it all. Of course I committed to all of these commitments BEFORE I had the baby. What idiocy became me back then. I cringe at my pre-baby ramblings of how I could do it all. Faced with an overwhelming amount of stress and lack of sleep, I went into self preservation mode. I started picking off one obligation after another in the vain hope that I would finally get some sleep, no matter when or where.

My fall semester class ended, I quit coaching the riding team and then it happened.

Rose stepped on my foot. She stepped on it good too. She got the big toe, second and middle. I'm sporting some glorious home grown nail polish this season. At least I still have toenails for which to paint, I'm happy about that. Thank goodness for proper footwear. I shudder to think what would have happened had I on anything other than riding boots.

Sad sad toenail...hello pedicure!

In that moment, every challenge I ever had training Rose (despite overcoming them all) came flooding back to my sleep deprived consciousness. I didn't see the accomplishments, or things we over came, or my beloved horse at that moment. I simply saw her as one more obligation that I could get rid of. One more "out". So the task of getting her back into shape and sale ready began.

During that time I looked at Rose with fresh eyes. With a buyer's eyes. Where I used to tolerate some silly baby behaviors I now demanded compliance and perfect behavior. Ground work ensued. Lots and lots of groundwork. She got back in shape, burned off some fat, and her stellar work ethic re-emerged. Somewhere along this point we became a team again. That was the relationship I had been missing when I was too big and too exhausted to ride or work with her. During this time JR started sleeping through the night and I finally got sleep. I could think again and sound somewhat intelligent. As a result, for the past couple months I have not been wanting to sell her anymore, but have stuck with it as I felt that now I should or had too. I knew I was in trouble after having a wonderful time at the barn, and then getting in my car to drive home and feeling sad that any day she could be gone.

After much reflection, I'm giving up the ghost and taking Rose off the market. This means Miss Thing gets a break and I don't have the stress of selling her to deal with anymore. I have a HUGE work project that is kicking off tomorrow and will consume my days for the next month. I doubt I'll be able to ride much, so it would have been impossible for me to keep her in full work and sales ready anyway. Oh and showing this season? Ha! There is a joke and a half. Maybe next year.

On the side: Ghost is a really weird word to spell. I've never noticed that before, but it struck me as very odd this evening.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

June 17, 2013

Soft Soles Get a Rest

It has been raining here non-stop for a month. We finally got a break from the deluge this weekend and Rose's paddock has dried out thank goodness. Unfortunately the bad trim job she had a few months back, coupled with the rain/mud has caused her soles to soften. I've ended up giving her about a week off, since she was showing a mild lameness on her left front last week, but no signs of any injury or swelling. My assumption at the time was stone bruise or abscess brewing. No abscess has surfaced and she's completely sound again, so I'm guessing stone bruise. I'm now being diligent about trying to get her soles hard, through the use of salt water and iodine applications, and have stopped trail riding her. It's a bummer because all I want to do lately is trail ride her. It just might be time to break out our cavallo sport boots for her front feet if the rain doesn't stay away!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

June 3, 2013

New flatwork video

Here is a little video of my trainer CR hacking Rose for MM on friday.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

June 1, 2013

Conquering the bridge

I posted recently about how I haven't had the guts yet to take Rose over the scary looking concrete bridge behind our barn...which leads to more trail riding area on the neighbors property. Well, today was the day!

I headed out to the barn to ride like any other day. I had a list of little things to work on in my head, dressage, dressage, dressage. Then I took a moment to pause and soak up the sunshine that finally arrived after two weeks of rainy deluge. I did not want to work hard today. I just wanted to enjoy my horse. I resolved that it would mostly be a trail ride day. We still did a twenty minute warm up in the outdoor arena and Rose couldn't have been more perfect. After that we walked around the pastures, the pond, and the little trail area along the property's back fence line. That fence line brings us to the bridge. Usually I just walk past the bridge, loop around the hay barn, and then call it a day. It's an enjoyable but short trail ride, as trail rides go.

Instead of passing by the bridge I thought about taking Rose over it, and I felt my anxiety come flooding back. Rose, I knew would have no issue with the bridge, unless of course I gave her a reason to have an issue with it. I was bound and determined to keep my blood pressure low and not let that happen. After all, I WANT to go over the bridge right? I walked her over to the very loud and high creek and stood contemplating the bridge while Rose got used to the loud noise. I still felt myself chickening out over it. I have never even tried taking her over a bridge, so really I have no reason to be concerned about it, other than the fear of the unknown. It seems to me as one gets older, the fear of the unknown become a much larger aspect of one's life. That or I've just become really lame.

"Suck it up and get some balls" I told myself.

The potentially scary concrete bridge.

I decided on a quick plan of action. As some of you previously suggested in your comments, I decided to take your advise and walk Rose over it in hand first. This would give me some confidence once I saw how she approached it. Confidence boosting it was! After looking at the creek a bit I had her full attention and she dutifully tried to figure out what I was thinking. I could tell she was observing every single twitch of my arm and fly buzzing about my head. I took a deep breath and headed for the bridge. Rose of course had absolutely no issue with it. Not even with the echoing sound the shallow concrete bridge made as she clip clopped across it. After I had walked her back and forth over it twice, I mounted back up, took a breath and walked her over it.

Looking back at our barn from the other side of the bridge!

The grass definitely seems pretty green on the other side!

She was of course perfect about it and won lots of praise, scratches, a nice bath, and hand grazing from me.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


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