Friday, January 30, 2009

Calling In Sick Monday?

1/29/09 Ransom Handsome

Saddled up dressage, and lowered my stirrups a hole. Tuesday's ride, they felt a little short, and, while I had ridden Chewie for about six months with the stirrups there, all the hours in my Western saddle, the dressage irons felt good a little longer. (Note to self: Lengthen hunt saddle irons, too, and see if that helps a bit, eh?)

No side reins today in the warmups. Just ten minutes light w/t/c to open his eyes & stretch legs.

Our ride was fantastic! We both settled & relaxed on a pretty long rein, an entire "section" longer than I was used to on Chewie. (All things being compared since I'm back to Chewie's old tack.) Again, almost cantered, and chickened out last minute. Lots of walk & trot, and focus on smooth transitions. I worked a while at sitting trot, and found that, if I stretched my heels way down, thigh muscles were tight, and my seat wasn't secure. If I ignored heels, and focused on a relaxed seat, it was much easier to move with him.

Total day about 45 minutes. If I get done with Romeo moderately early tonight, I might flip the lights on the round pen & give Ransom a go again.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Bucket List

The Bucket List
*Hit forward and place an X by all the things you've done and remove the X from the ones you have not then send it to your friends (including me). Things you have done during your lifetime.

( ) Gone on a blind date
( X ) Skipped school
( ) watched someone die
( X ) Been to Canada
( ) Been to Mexico
( X ) Been to Florida
( ) Been to Hawaii
( X ) Been on a plane
( X ) Been lost
( ) Gone to Washington , DC
( X )Swam in the ocean
( X ) Cried yourself to sleep
( X ) Played cops and robbers
( ) Recently colored with crayon
( ) Sang Karaoke
( X )Paid for a meal with coins only
( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch
( X ) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
( X ) Made prank phone calls
( two weeks from now, YES ) Been down Bourbon St. in New Orleans
( X ) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose & elsewhere
( X ) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Danced in the rain
( X ) Written a letter to Santa Claus
( ) Been kissed under the mistletoe
( X ) Watched the sunrise with someone
( X ) Blown bubbles
( X ) gone ice-skating
( X )Gone to the movies
( X ) Been deep sea fishing
( ) Driven across the United States alone
( ) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
( X ) Gone snowmobiling
( )Lived in more than one country
( X ) Laid outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
( X ) Seen a falling star and made a wish
( ) Enjoyed the beauty of Ole Faithful Geyser
( X ) Seen the Statue of Liberty
( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
( )Been on a cruise
( X )Traveled by train
( X ) Traveled by motorcycle
( X ) Been horse back riding
( ) Ridden on a San Francisco Trolley
( X ) Been to Disneyland or Disney World
( ) Been to the top of an active volcano and seen hot lava
( ) Been in a rain forest
( ) Seen whales in the ocean
( X ) Been to Niagara Falls
( ) Ridden on an elephant
( ) Swam with dolphins

I'm starting a little bit of silliness here - FSSunny & Jessie - You're tagged!! Grab the list & fill 'er in!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1/27/09 Ransom Cold Front

What a funny title header, huh? "Cold Front", in South Texas. Well, anyways...

Saddled Ransom dressage for the first time (added the Mattes half pad, which seemed to help saddle fit). Warmed him up in side-reins (on 4s) and praised all the bountiful slobber that ran down his chin. Just adorable. He never got fast or goofy, though slightly distracted by the neighbor's cows wandering about. Warmed up & side reins for about 15 minutes, then I hopped on.

My first adventure since about the first three rides out of my western saddle, I wasn't entirely sure how he'd feel. I was pleasantly surprised. Our walk/trot transitions and time spent in the trot was pretty darn awesome. Nothing I would be confident showing a judge or other competitors, but good enough I could do it for a lesson. Impressive.... I almost cantered him a while, to loosen up the joints, but I could see the dark weather clouds to my north, and realized that wasn't a good idea.

Then, in about 5 minutes time, it dropped from the mid 70s to the mid 50s. Snap. Just like that! Warm humid southeastern winds were suddenly calmed, then abruptly replaced by sharp gusty northern wind bursts. Ransom and I quickly realized neither of us were dressed for the occasion, so I dismounted and walked him back to unsaddle.

Total work about 40 minutes. Decent enough, but not nearly as long as I would've liked.

35F on the truck-o-meter when I left home. BLECH! Praise enough, we got rain... I don't know how much, but my back porch was wet, and there were hanging rain drops on the stall doors. YipEE!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Here We Go, Bring Home the Six Pack

I know where I'm from, and I know the odds.

Here We Go, Steelers, Here We Go
Pittsburgh's Going to the SuperBowl!

Monday, January 26, 2009

It's Not Cheating - He's a SchoolMaster

HAH! I remember reading a horse-funny somewhere about how one rider won't get upset at the other for taking first, being satisfied with second on her "horse she trained herself." I used to think, with Chewie, "Yeah right, dude. I'll take my 2nd or 3rd, or near last for that matter. It won't be cheating, riding a trained one and getting credit for someone else's work."

And then I got Ransom. Yeah, he's trained. Yeah, someone else did the work. But the amount that guy has taught me in the few lessons I've had, in our (all but one) dozens of rides, it's immeasurable.

So nope, now I don't think it's cheating. I'll do my teaching & boasting on Romeo. As for Ransom, I'm going to now say, "I might not have taught him, but he sure has taught me."

There is a huge benefit to inexperienced rider on experienced horse! Got a similar story? Share it! Reassure me it's not "cheating".

1/25/09 Lesson

Romeo English, turned into Romeo Western. Jenn summed it up best, "You don't really need another hunter horse. You've got one over there." pointing at Ransom... To be anywhere close to decent enough to show it, Romeo's got probably another year of canter to get better at. I don't see much reason to ride hunter except to show it, because let's all be honest - how many of us are dying to trail ride in an english saddle? If you've got that courage, and believe your balance is good enough to handle a misstep or a stumble, great for you! I'd rather have swells and a cantle to hold my hiney in place.. that big "hold here" handle helps, too.

Romeo's lesson consisted of walk, jog, lope (HAH! It ain't slow, but we can call it that now for real), a few rollbacks, weaving in & out of "poles" (jump standards), and walk in & back out of L-shape. His "spins" (turn on haunches) weren't real pretty. Effort, but not pretty. Something to work on the ground, and under saddle. Total work about 45 minutes.
Romeo homework: Snaffle hunter bit, work on turns, spins, rollbacks, offering up more help on the bit that the TT just doesn't help with. Trail riding, goofing off, and getting back to enjoying each other rather than training to show.

Ransom then got to carry the western saddle, walk, trot, canter on the lunge line. Jenn warmed him up, and I was happy to say he looked good. Lunge lesson on side reins, with the regular ride reins tied up. That meant working on me, and staying with him. I did notice for the first time the lack of movement in his sitting trot. It's not a lot of side-side movement, and it's not a forward-backward movement at all. It's very different to sit than other horses I've done sit trot on. Fortunately, there isn't much of that in hunters, and perhaps once he develops more muscles, his trot will become more defined one way or another. The canter work was nice... each circle gets a little better. That tacky western saddle seat was almost limiting, for the first time. I felt too "stuck" to move with him. That's fixable - next week's lesson moves onto my dressage saddle, and with riding breeches, there won't be much "stickie", and more opportunity to move my hiney with him...
Ransom homework: Ride or exercise every other day, lungeline w/side reins or riding. Prepare tack & mind for dressage saddle lesson next week.

1/24/09 Both Boys Hard at Work

Ransom had the first of the day, since I wasn't sure what horse I'd have to work with. Romeo can handle days off without incident, and I was more concerned Ransom would be high on his game. I was determined to ride, and he wasn't getting out of it, either.

A true gentleman. As if Friday hadn't happened, Ransom had a nice easy warm up, accepted the side reins calmly, and breezed through a 20 minute warm-up session, giving to the bit & relaxing on my cues.

I hopped on, anxious to get a good solid ride in. And I did. Nearly a half hour's walk, trot, and canter, both directions. It was a blast. I am not still 100% balanced, coordinated, or pretty at the canter, but I'm really getting there. He broke gait at canter headed right, but I think it was more him protecting me, and less avoiding work.

We worked together for nearly an hour, and he was back to himself in the first few minutes. I can only guess the grain I'm feeding doesn't lend itself to long breaks from work...

Romeo was up next. Tacked up western, headed to the arena. A little walk, a tiny bit of trot, and I worked on his canter. We loped and loped and loped and loped. About 15 minutes of canter work only. He was soft, quiet, and relaxed. A bit happy, I would guess.

Walked it out on a loose rein up & down the dirt road. I saw happy horse ears, soft eyes looking around protecting me and him from "boogers", and easy stops at every request.

Good rides on Good horses.

1/23/09 Ransom on the Gas

Les came to the house to measure some things needing repairs. I asked him to hold the lunge line for me & Ransom when he was ready.

Ransom had other plans. He let me know he had too much time off, taking off at canter in warmup at every opportunity. He pulled on the line a few times as well. Not enough to frighten me, well, not at first. I decided to take him to the round pen, let him work it out. Les said to me, "Can I try to lunge him?" I said, "Sure, but I've been doing this for a few years, and I don't think I'm doing it wrong." He got mad, I got mad... it just wasn't pretty.

Off to the round pen we go. Ransom cantered and cantered, and cantered and cantered, and, got himself all sweaty & annoyed. I tried direction changes, I tried standing very still.... Finally I left him go as fast as he chose, and when he tried to relax, I pushed a little more.

I crawled on, did a little walk & trot, but by then, I was frightened. I wouldn't say "terrified oh my he's going to take off & kill me", but tense enough that Ransom felt it. His head was up, his back was hollow.. Just ugly.

When I dismounted, I took him over to the paddock & tied him to the fence. He stood there, very still, and finally looked apologetic. Les and I stayed mad... more at each other than at Ransom. He finished what needed measuring, and headed out.

I walked back to Ransom, awful confused. This was the first time we had a "bad day". I'd given him time off before, but I guess not that much on our new feed diet. He was in all-out running mode, and I had never seen him "go bonkers" until today. Frightening....

Trying to convince myself he was just not in the right mood, I unsaddled, walked him to the trailer, and still found him with this "I'm sorry" look in his eye, eye-lids wrinkling, head down, obeying my every ground leading command. I gave him his first bath under my care, and he stood very calmly. While he dried out, I walked him across the road to some grassy spots. At first, he stood & looked at me, not eating. He did finally get the point, and relaxed & munched grass...

So, my first "Bad Ransom Day" wasn't entirely horrid, but just not pretty, either. I had high hopes of cantering him on the lunge today, and instead, he got all the work, and I just got confused.

Friday, January 23, 2009

1/23/09 Romeo Hunter

Saddled English (after almost changing my mind & going for a walk down the road). Headed for the arena, again with a little hesitation.

Walk and trot warm-ups were great .... worked on a little "Coming and Going" at trot for the first 30 minutes. Then I set up one crossrail, and got after it at trot. With a little leg in front of the ground rail, he was truly jumping & not "trotting over" the rails. No rails down! I think we did 4 reps left, 4 reps right.. or was it 5. Don't remember.

Worked on a little canter. He gave me three pretty transitions in and out, and only the first walk to canter trans was ugly ugly. (It took a lotta lotta leg, which is better than a gentle squeeze & he's flying out from under me, ya know??)

Ransom this afternoon. I'm feasting on the splendor of Burger King lunch, watching the crowds. They've got free WiFi, folks... and I'm too impatient for this junk on dial up. =)

1/22/09 Romeo is Back

He's back in full swing. He's not out of shape, and didn't loose a bit of mental usefulness during his sickie haitus.

Whatta horse.. These are the days I think, "Man, what lucky dweeb am I?! The family I bought this horse from gave him away, for nearly nothing because he was a cribber, and they had no use for him." Suckers!!!

Saddled Romeo up Western, TT bit, and helmet, just in case he'd be up to his old nonsense. Headed for his pasture, so he'd have plenty of room to run, and at the same time, have to think about his feet. Didn't want him getting arena-lazies...

Walk, trot, canter, all great. His canter was slower than it's been, and while he didn't always want to stay in it, that might've been me (mighta had too much bit contact). He seemed awful eager to get back to the barn, so we trotted to the barn, then did 20 minutes of circles, figure8s, serpentines, all around the stall opening, all over the pasture, and anytime he'd try to get back to the barn, I'd let him, and he had to work harder, make tighter turns, and more direction changes the closer we got to his stall. Poor guy took almost 25 minutes to get the hint. =) I prevailed, and had another session where he taught me to persevere, and he learned not to argue with little-Me!

Total work nearly 45 minutes as the sun was setting on a beautiful sunny South Texas day. I'm glad he's doing better, and I'm glad he's calmed down.

English fences tomorrow!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

1/19/09 The Week

Haven't had any riding yet this week. Ransom decided Sunday he didn't need all four shoes, and that's since been repaired. Romeo seems to be feeling much better. He's nickering when I walk up to the stalls, and seems to be eating his meals, though much calmer than before. I'm saddling him up tonight, and we'll see how he's feeling. I suspect he won't be as wild as he was, from the tummy problem combined with a significant feed decrease.

Outside of horses, life at work has been stressful, personal life a bit more interesting. I've given my brain plenty to process, and my heart a bit as well. My country has a new President, and, while I don't trust him any farther than I could throw him, I will stand behind him. Well, wait, hold that thought.. I'll stand way way behind him, hiding behind a soldier, with all my cash stashed in a coat pocket. When the trouble comes, he won't find me saying, "Hey Boss... Pick me!" I'll instead say, "Hey Dude. You got us in this mess. It's your job to get us out!"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

1/19/09 Momma, My Tummy Hurts!

I was up at 4:30am, got ready for work, packed my lunch, filled my coffee cup, and headed outside. The boys were in their turnout blankets, and I needed a few extra minutes to take them off before heading to work.

I fed Ransom, fed Romeo, and removed Romeo's blanket first. Romeo nibbled on his grain, then turned his head and looked back at me, not devouring his food like normal. I removed the blanket, went out of his stall to fold it, and he still didn't eat, his back legs buckling just a bit. I walked over, checked Ransom, who was happily tearing into his breakfast like he'd never been fed. I walked back over to Romeo, and he was pawing at his hay. I haltered him, and we started walking. I called in a bankday at work, explaining, "No, I'm not celebrating MLK. I've got a sick horse, and he means more than a work day right now. I'll call later." I called Les, explained the situation, and when he returned my call, he said, "Lemmee get dressed. I'm on the way." I knew then I had about 40 minutes of walking until he'd arrive.

We walked and we walked. Romeo pooped a little bit, with a huge heavy sigh attached. I didn't realize that's what he'd done until a bit later, since it was entirely dark outside. I smelled what caught my attention as a huge load of gas at one point, happy. Romeo was licking & chewing a bit at this point, but still pretty quiet & almost too mellow for his normal self. Talked to Jen, who suggested "Hey! You've got lights on your round pen! Take him in there, lunge him a while, that might help, too." As we walked to the round pen, right in front of the gate, he pooped a huge load, letting out a massive sigh all at the same time. He walked & trotted around the round pen for about another ten minutes until I could hear Les' truck roaring down the dirt road.

We loaded Romeo up, and took him for a tour of my little town. He pooped a bit more in the trailer. When we unloaded him, he looked alert & responsive. We turned him out in the bare paddock with water, and went inside for human breakfast. All the time, we watched out the window, finding him standing upright, and mellow, almost like he was sleeping standing up. Thinking our job was done, Les headed back for his house.

I got into some big-clean jobs at home, filling up my trash can with assorted junk from my laundry room. About every hour I would go back to the paddock, and find Romeo laying down. He'd stand up pretty quick after I'd arrive, and as the morning went on, he looked more and more tired & unresponsive to me. His water bucket had gone untouched, and when I put some hay in his stall, he barely nibbled on it.

I called the vet, and waited for a call back. Meanwhile, I got the bright idea to get my thermometer & check his temperature. Old-style Hg glass thermometer (That's Mercury, for you non-chemists reading...*snicker*), I gently pushed it into his hiney. About then, the vet called. I said, "Great timing! I just started taking his temp." I explained the events of the morning, and responded, "No, I have banamine, but haven't given him any. I thought he was getting better until just a while ago, and didn't want to drug him if you wanted to see him without the influence first." I took the thermometer out, said, "Holy moley! It's all the way to the end of the thermometer! That means he's over 110F!" Vet said, "Jennifer, did you shake it down first?" "Of course not!", I answered. "That's what I get for using those digital ones all the time now!" I shook it down, and tried again. 98.4F. Vet said, "Well, he's not in so much pain to raise his temp. Give him a dose of banamine, wait about an hour, and call me back. If he's not showing any improvement by then, let me know." I got my banamine paste out, gave him about 900lb worth, and walked him around in-hand until he was done licking his lips, wanting to make sure he actually got the drugs.

About an hour and a half later, Romeo splashed around in his water bucket. I called the vet, said, "He's eating the hay I put down, and I think drank a little bit. We should be good for now." He suggested I continue to watch him carefully, and call back if he doesn't continue to improve.

I watched and watched. Romeo ate most of the hay, then stood in the sun, sleeping standing up. He hadn't laid back down, so I was comforted that maybe the banamine had worked. At 4:30pm, I put him back on his own pasture, gave him half the normal supper, but poured some home-made gatorade on it (bottle of water's worth with one of those little powder adder thingies). I left it soak in, hoping he'd eat it all up. About 5:30 I went back outside, found him with half the hay gone, almost all the grain gone, still standing somber. I went back inside, and worried and worried. Around 7:30, I decided he was either going to be out grazing, or in the trailer headed to the ER vet Shorty went to. I found Romeo out grazing in his pasture, and when I got to him, he seemed to look at me like, "Mom, What?! I'm fine now, go away.. stop worrying!" :)

He was happy to have his breakfast this morning, so all seems well at my house. I came to work today, so hopefully I arrive home to a happy horse.

1/18/09 Ransom Quickly

After church, before lunch, I grabbed Ransom. Only a lunge in the round pen, I thought to myself. No reason to make him work hard. I put him in my hunt saddle, convinced I wouldn't ride...

He was adorable. I couldn't help myself. After a ten minute warmup, I hopped on. We worked on walk and trot, working on even transitions, and me focusing on not bearing down my legs on him, staying light on the bit.

Absolutely adorable. I like riding him more with each ride. Total work about 35 minutes.

After lunch, I went to Les, and we rode. I got some walk, trot, AND canter on Blue, another Appendix, but one trained for cows & other swift events. Blue has Ransom's stride, but it's a bit faster. If I stayed on bit contact, I had Ransom's stride and speed. Pretty cool. Like Ransom, Blue's trot is forward, not sideways.

Slipped my saddle up on Amigo, and we headed out for a trail ride. It turned into a rather long one, about two hours in length. We added another ride (R) and a younger horse to our bunch, and wandered a while longer. I took a walk break near the end, my toosh sore from the lunge lesson the day before. No wild adventures this ride, just lots of calm walking along the trail. Amigo looked hard at a few things, but never spooked or reacted, dispite some raucus around him. A very good hack out day in the warm winter sunshine.

1/17/09 Whoa Romeo, Lunge Lesson

Saddled Ransom western, and tied him to the paddock. Saddled Romeo English, and headed to the arena. Thinking he'd had a decent workout the day before, I hoped he'd be a bit calmer. I'd shaved his grain rations in half, recognizing I'd over-done his transition from sweet feed to 14% pellets. I wish I could say Romeo was quiet and relaxed. He just wasn't. He was still hot, over-reactive, and hyperresponsive. His brakes were there, but into the canter, he was springing upwards before forwards, leaving me hanging onto more mane than I wanted to.

We had worked so hard to get ready for the lesson. I was anxious to show off I was improving my body position in and out of canter, not leaning forward, trying terribly hard not to ride canter in two-point, but actually putting my bottom in the saddle.

Romeo had other plans. When Jen arrived, he was still hot & overreactive. We tried canters from walk, canters from trot, and he continually sprung into it, flying around the arena. Knowing I was still making grain changes, and Romeo hadn't yet adjusted, I took him to the round pen, let him fly around for about 5 minutes, with plenty of direction changes. I loosened the girth, tied him to the round pen gate, and moved on. No sense in arguing with him when most of his energy was my fault....

Our focus shifted to Ransom for a lunge lesson. Started him out walking over ground poles. Surely he's done this before, right? No reason to walk him in-hand over the poles, just confidently pilot him over the series of four. Ya, right. Ransom stepped right on one of the poles, stumbled forward, and even caught me off guard. It took a handful of attempts and pole adjustments before we were clear both ways. What I did learn, is he's very careful. I felt him pause before each step, almost checking to see where his feet should go. He slowed down considerably over the poles... carefully carrying me over them. Well, except for that initial big splat. :)

The lunge lesson portion was incredible. Ransom was very steady & quiet, a product of the time we'd spent together during the week. His transitions were even quiet. He kept his body quiet, only changing his legs in the transitions. I alternated dropping reins & dropping stirrups. At one point, I tried dropping stirrups and putting hands on my helmet, but quickly lost my balance. I discovered even how to sit his trot, which feels very "forward/backward", rather than the "left/right" motion I felt on Chewie. Ransom doesn't have a flat trot, not one bit, but it was incredibly easy on him to open & close my hips. I even did some "dog & frog" at the trot - pretty frigging cool! Ransom was a total babysitter, although his slowing at trot for the changes I would make with my body told me he hadn't done that before. I don't imagine many horses that haven't experienced Meredith Manor have ever carried a rider for "dog & frog" stretches. Even got in some canter left & right on lunge. Incredible! I'm stronger canter-left, but Ransom is stronger canter-right. It was easier to sit and move with him headed right than left. Ransom lesson time was well over an hour, and all time very well spent.

1/16/09 Tune Ups & Jumps

Les saddled Romeo, I put my tack on Ransom. Romeo went to the arena for a ride, while Ransom and I stayed in the round pen a while. After a bit, Les rode over to me, and said, "We need to decrease his feed. He's sure hot enough to rope off of, but I know you don't want him like this. He needs a warm-up run across a turnrow, and I know that isn't a daily option..." They rode off, for a while longer, and concentrated on transitions in and out of canter.

Ransom and I worked w/t/c for about 20 minutes, then I went into the arena to watch Romeo. They seemed to get along pretty good, and the transitions looked pretty. Les and I switched saddles, and I took a turn on Romeo. Hot- only way I know to describe him. I got one ugly transition, and two pretty ones, and walked him out.

Les and Ransom were fun to watch, yet again. Walk, trot, canter, Ransom's canter-right was beautiful. Measuring Ransom's level of patience, again, I set up a PVC ground pole across the standards. Asked Les, "Hey, canter him up to it, look up & over, I'm curious what he'll do." Ransom focused solely on Les and his body language. I saw them in front of it the first time, Les' face said, "Oh Goodness.. Please don't", and Ransom tried to refuse around. They fumbled over it, ugly as ever. I told Les, "This time, loosen your reins two strides before until two strides after. Meanwhile, glance at it, then look up at the treetops out of the arena, after the post. Don't look at it long, or he's going to do that same thing again." They got up into a canter, and as Ransom approached the rail, he shortened his stride, and barely lifted himself off the ground over it. He sailed over the ground pole as if it were only a bump in the middle of a stride, not increasing stride length over it, simply floating overtop. Les exclaimed after the post, "He really jumped it! That was crazy!" *laugh*. "No", I responded, "He just lifted over it. That's not even close to a jump. If you really want him to jump, point him at that crossrail over there." Les said, "No way, cowgirl! I'll stick to roping! That's hard work!" "Yes, it is", I answered.

Yes, it is....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Take Some Happy Pills

Cowboy Les and I have a HUGE joke...

See, when we were hauling Chewie to Katy, I was a nervous wreck. I was worried if they'd like him, worried if he'd behave, worried I wouldn't like the new horse (Ransom). I was nervous...

We took a lunch break before arriving at the barn, and had some lunch. Les walked over to the gas station across the street, saying, "Wait here, I'll be back. We're going to get you some happy pills and calm you down." When he walked off, I started to ponder what he might be up to. I wasn't going to drink - seriously... I had to ride a brand new horse, and I wasn't doing it even with a buzz. I don't take many over-the-counter medicines, just a couple for my blood sugar management. So I was a little puzzled what he'd be up to.

He arrived back at the truck, holding a bag of M&Ms, and two diet Pepsis. He tore the end of the M&M bag, poured out two, handed them to me, and said, "See if that doesn't cheer you up & make you smile."

M&Ms - The Happy Pill.

FriDay Fill In

1. Enough with the "Economy is falling" BS. I'm so sick of my employwer acting like the economy is going to dive deeper than the Great Depression. If everyone would just lighten up, be more positive, investors would raise up Wall Street, and we could go back to a normal life.

2. Our President-Elect causes me to be conflicted. I don't trust him. So far, the cabinet choices have been reasonable, and better than I could've expected, but I still don't trust him. I'm already not feeling safe, and watching evening national news more often. It's like I'm 'waiting for the bad guys to come after us', terrorists, economists, and gas-thieves.

3. I've been craving dark chocolate and a pepsi - with adult humor added.

4. Ransom makes me laugh when he knickers for his breakfast.

5. I wish I could go to the park next week and trail ride Romeo.

6. Past relationships, and reanalyzing failed ones have been on my mind lately.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Romeo's tune-up and dinner out, tomorrow my plans include Lessons in the morning and Sunday, I want to have after-church lunch with friends!

1/15/09 Both Boys

I had an early doctor's appointment that yielded me a few more hours of daylight, so I figured I'd ride both boys, enjoying our warm-ish weather and bright sunshine.

Caught Romeo first, no spurs, and decided it was a "back to basics" day. I was only going to work on me if he was in line. Otherwise, it was all him, equitation and "prettiness" thrown out of the arena into the trees.

Western saddle, TT bit, and off we went. Walk, whoa - Good. Trot, whoa - Good. Canter - whoa - Not so much. Rather than allow him to burst forward again, I hauled him backwards. It wasn't pretty, and it probably wasn't very kind. I wasn't in the mood to let him frighten me, again. He's had the riding hours, he knows what to do, it was a test... a test to make sure I actually "meant business". How he got there, I won't speculate, though I have some ideas.

We backed up nearly half the arena rail. His head dropped, and he started to back cadenced & calm. I stopped him with a hard loud "WHOA", and we started forward all over again. Walk, whoa - good. Trot, whoa - Good. Canter, whoa, a bit better. I let him canter only a few strides at a time to start, ignoring leads, and turning him into whatever lead direction he was in. His stops got better, more solid, more responsive. I rewarded every try that was a bit better than the previous with a small peppermint horse treat, lots of pats & praises, and it seemed to get even better.

With him responding to WHOA much like I want, and less like a runaway spazz, I gently took up direct contact (well, really, just a rein in each hand), and worked on myself for a few transitions in and out of canter. He was good, and his down transitions into a trot were stellar. I didn't use WHOA verbal commands for the downs to trot, just a little bit & seat. He was also a bit tired by this point but listening to me anyways.

Total work was about an hour. I wasn't ever intending on it being a week of "Romeo training", but was hoping to work on me. I'm learning that's how it goes with horses, though. Since I'm not blessed with two perfectly trained partners, I've got limited days to work on me... and have to compromise with work days for them.

Unsaddled, groomed him up real good, blessed him with cookies & praise, and sent him back out to graze. He stood in his stall, pretending to be tied, and pouting... it was cute.

Grabbed Ransom, saddled up Western, grabbed my side reins & full cheek, and offs we went. Round pen! Warm-up free lunge & warm up on side reins were both really pretty. He didn't fight the contact, and had a nice big free flowing stride, all three gaits. He is improving with his stops and direction changes in the round pen, reversing facing in, and polite.

Our ride together was phenominal. It was one of those days I thought, "We're going to be a killer team! Every day gets a little easier." Our transitions were improving, I even got some canter-left with an easy down transition, without feeling like I had to haul down on his face.

Ransom and I enjoyed a little over 45 minutes of work-time. He was yawning & relaxing after our workout, so I finished his grooming up with some stretches, cookie-reaches, and a little leg stretching. Again, much appreciated, I am guessing, by his body language & behavior.

1/14/09 Romeo Scare

Saddled him up Western, hoping to focus on my body for transitions, and give him a "thinking break", neck reining, loose-reins, relaxed. Les said earlier this week, "Those spurs you rode Amigo with, Romeo's the same way - you can use them. Then you can pay attention more to your riding, less to kicking him into the lope."

Ya.. That didn't happen.

When I asked for a canter, he took off like a lightening bolt. I noticed his lead was wrong, so I tried to stop him - No-Go! Complete disregard for all the aids, even my hollering "whoa!" I thought it might be the spurs, so I tried taking them off in the saddle. That didn't even work. When I got off, he had an absolutely terrified look on his face. So I did a little short-line lunging, hollering, "Whoa", hoping he'd stop. Even then, I had to "help" him turn & face me.

I got back on, tried walk & trot again with verbal "whoa" cues, he was okay, but still bouncy. Asked for a lope, and he took off, again. This time, I left him go, running around like an idjit. He ran and ran and ran and ran, head up in the skies. For the first time, in over six months, the little guy scared me, justa bit. Really, just enough that I had mane & reins in one hand, saddle horn in the other, trying with all I could not to tense up my legs or put any undue pressure on him making him think he had to run like that. About six rounds of the arena, his head started to drop, and he started to relax.

Worked on a few more transitions, and called it done. Some "Romeo training" is in order... I do declare.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Questions, Questions

Who was your last text from?

Your relationship status?
Adopted by two horses, two dogs, three cats, and the stray that lives in the pasture
seriously.. single

Have you ever lost a close friend?

What is your current mood?
Mostly cloudy

What's your brother's name?
Only child

What's your favorite color?
High pressure sky blue

Where do you wish you were right now?
Galloping down a cross country course on Ransom

Have you ever been in trouble with the cops?

Ever had a near death experience?

Something you do a lot?
Work, Critter-Care

Angry at anyone?
A little bit, yes

What's stopping you from going for the person you like?

When did you cry last?
This morning briefly

Is there anyone you would do anything for?

What do you think about when you are falling asleep?
Which cat just laid up against me?

Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?

What is your favorite song?
Many the Miles, Sara Bareillis

What are you doing right now?
Coffee Break

Who do you trust right now?

Where did you get the shirt you are wearing?
JCPenney Fall clearance two years ago

What is your lucky number?

Describe your life in one word?

Have you ever kissed in the rain?

Who are you thinking of right now?
Lab Analysts down the hall

What should you be doing right now?
Refilling my coffee cup & calling Freeport R&D

What did you do yesterday?
Fed the family, came to work, did too much here, got startled by Romeo riding, fed again, scrambled to choir practice, came home & ate Doritos I shouldn't have, fell asleep on the couch

What are you listening to right now?
Kitchen conversation in the background, and my space heater

Who was the last person you hugged?
Bruce & Lauren

Who do you hate at this moment?
No One

What is your natural hair color?

Who was the last person to make you laugh?
Genie, at choir practice, making fun of the men's bad singing

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

1/13/09 Side Reins Ransom

Ransom met the side reins & surcingle for the first time. I decided to put him in 4-polos, which he quickly wriggled one leg out of in the rear. So I took the rear polos off and sent him back on his way in the round pen.

I also grabbed an old western headstall with a loose ring simple snaffle for the work instead of his slow twist full cheek. The full cheek seemed like a bit much just for lunging... where with the little snaffle, it wouldn't damage his mouth. He slobbered quite a bit, and all the transitions were good, so I think that'll be the lunge-bit for a while.

Set leather side reins on 4s both sides. He did great, after a few bobbles & arguments. He didn't want to trot right in them, and tried to kick out and reverse quite a number of times. I finally got him convinced, and sent to the round pen rail.

Total work was about 40 minutes. He fought the rein contact for the first 25, and once he started to relax his neck & poll, I wanted to go a bit longer, the whole point of this exercise being to strengthen his topline. When he did bend up all pretty & framed, he would hold it for only 3-4 strides, the pop his nose back out. I'm 98% certain it's a muscle developing issue that will come only with more exercise.

He was a happy slobbery boy when I finished... He, um... let it all "hang out" while I was untacking & grooming.... It was funny, because now that I know that's ultimate sign he's relaxing & satisfied with himself, I'm going to watch for it. =)

I heard on the radio this morning it's f-f-f-f-freeeeezing cold up Nawth.. Ya'll keep your fuzzies on. Makes our RealFeel temps in the high teens sound almost tolerable.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

1/12/09 Teacher Teacher

Hadda Lunge-Line Holder (LLH) who got a lesson on holding the line from Ransom. Meanwhiles, I sat aboard, worked on walk & trot. It got cold cold pretty quick, as the sun set, temps dropped about 15F or more. It was a swift trip from decent weather to cold. Worked for a total of about 40 minutes. Neighbor's cows were dangling across the fence, I believe they were sight-seeing at the new pony. Ransom stared at them every time he circled thatta way. They crept closer the longer we rode.

Steady... Probably the best way to describe the big guy. Transitions up & down were pretty, we're working on 'shhhh' down transitions. The ups were really simple - we're starting to learn each other.

Romeo stood calmly by the barn, appreciative of the day off.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Those People that Wear Helmets

HAH! I've got a humor cartoon on my office door - Cowboy after OSHA.

A gentleman walked by my office door earlier today - a guy I'd never before seen or spoken to. He stopped to look at the cartoon, then made the remark, "Ain't that the truth? Not far from it either. Now-a-days people all over think they have to wear helmets & body vests to ride a horse."

I responded, "Yeah, but you're talking like that to someone that rides in an English saddle, and it's not exactly like the cowboys. I don't have much to hold on to in a wreck. Besides that, it's a show rule they be worn."

He gave me almost an annoyed look, as if I was retarded for supporting helmet use. So I went on. "I took a nosedive just this weekend. If I didn't have that helmet on, considering how I fell, I probably would've had at least a concussion."

He walked away, still with a look of disgust.

Those crazy people and their helmets.. Yup! That's me! I'd rather wear one and protect my mental assets (& college edu-ma-cation) than go splat without one and burn brain cells irrepairably.

People. Are. Stupid.

1/11/09 Lessons on Both

Jenn showed up right around 1pm to get our lessons started. We began our adventures with Romeo. =) The whole lesson was just flat-out fun! I showed her what he's got - as Romeo lazily trotted over the crossrails, making no effort to jump. So she set it up as a vertical, nearly 2' (my estimation from the last time I measured it). Romeo finally started jumping over the vertical, trot to and from. We worked on jumps for nearly an hour, then focused on walk-canter up and canter-trot down transitions. Romeo needs to clean them up, and so do I.

Romeo Homework: Transitions transitions transitions. In and out of canter, plenty of them. Romeo needs to respond quicker to the transition request, and I need to be more upright in the saddle, confident contact on both reins. Work on less upper body leaning forward, grab mane instead of saddle pommel for transition up. Over rails, open up shoulders, and look up(!) over the fence. I realized yesterday that, over the rail, I'm looking at absolutely nothing. I look up and away before the fence, I look up and out after the fence, but for that mid-air moment, I'm not looking at anything, which is bad. Get out the little bittie spurs, and use them on up transitions, and a stride before all fences for an extra burst.

Then onto Ransom. This wasn't so much a lesson as it was a "learning session" for us. I didn't get coaching, like "heels down" or "sit back" or anything of that nature, just a few tips like singing to keep the muscles relaxed & my brain focused. We worked on lots of trot, and a little canter. His transition into it is easy, his transition out is still a little bit of a mystery. I haven't found just the touch to get him back into an easy trot. It was a nice 40 minute session.

Ransom Homework: Lunge Line. Find somebody willing to hold the line, and just stand there, ready to take control if I need something, but mostly, just hold the line, and do nothing. Allow me to ride without worrying about where he'll go, any gait I choose. If I can't find a line-holder, hang out in the round pen, where there's not enough room for him to gather any kind of speed, and repeat much of the same. Any saddle I choose, western or English, no focus on being pretty right now, just relaxed.

Great day overall! A nice chance for me to demonstrate how much I've accomplished in the past few years since she last saw me ride, and a good time to show-off how solid Romeo has become.

1/10/09 Hey Hay Hey!

Les and I drove a bit up the highway in the morning, seeking some mix-blend round bales of hay, two for him, and one for me. The guy we bought from gave one city in his newspaper listing, and thankfully we called before we reached that city, because he honestly lived about 20 minutes closer to us. Hay bales of moderate quality loaded, we scrambled back to my house, and unloaded one into Ransom's pasture. I turned both guys out on it for a while, and they both seeemed pretty satisfied. (Of course, three days later, it's no longer round, but instead a pile courtesy of them pulling it all over the place searching for the best niblits in the whole bale.)

Then I saddled Romeo up again. I chose to only ride Romeo Saturday, because Les was anxious to get back to his place and ride his horses. It was incredibly windy all day, and I wasn't in the mood to haul both horses down the open road with the wind flipping my truck & trailer all over the place.

Romeo was, well, mostly good. We worked on walk, trot, canter, and trot over crossrails.

Then, by accident, due to a little too much leg before the rail, Romeo broke to canter two strides before the jump. Stride, stride, JUMP, stride, stride, back to trot. It felt almost natural, though I probably wasn't in the best posture for a canter fence. It was our first, definitely the first for me, and definitely the first intentionally for Romeo, and I think the first he's ever done. It felt pretty...

So, with a little bit of ill-placed confidence, and some canter around on the flat again, I aimed at the fence, with about seven strides of canter to the crossrail. Romeo hesitated before the fence, tried to swing around it, and at the last minute, jumped over the high side of the cross rail. He landed pretty hard on his front end, tipped me out of the tack, and the badness started.

My left foot got a little hung in my iron, I was almost laying on his neck, trying to find an easy way to get off. In the distance I heard Les hollering, "Let him go!", apparently thinking I was hanging by the reins. I found a way to the ground, thankful for the freshly disced sand beneath me.

It wasn't a hard fall, it wasn't a bucked-off fall, it wasn't even a "geez I suck" kind of fall. It was just a bad loss of balance for both of us. I landed somewhere between my shoulders and head, again thankful I had on my helmet.

Not really scared or shook up about the fall, I stood up, gathered my horse, knocked off all the dust and sand I could, and got back on.

Finished up the ride walk, trot, canter, with a new focus on "whoa". Romeo got a little butt-chewing back-ups a few times, since "whoa" didn't seem to mean much, nor did my bit contact a few times. I should have sailed over the rails again at trot, forcing him to end on a good jump, but I didn't. I was a little sore, and at that point, not entirely sure how bad I'd been hurt, if at all.

About a 45 minute ride, splat included. Unintentional flying lesson... that sounds much better.

1/09/09 Romeo Ride

Saddled up Romeo English, happy that my 48" Professional's Choice girth has arrived.

We worked for about 40 minutes, a little pressed for time to get Ransom to the vet. A good ride, walk, trot, canter and a few hops over the crossrail at trot. He was a little sluggish into the canter, a sign I need to get the spurs back on and start using them.

In his cool down, I've started teaching the "long and low stretchie trot" that I did with Chewie. Applying steady outside rein pressure, I have pulsed gently on the inside rein. As soon as his head drops, even the slightest bit, release inside rein and reach forward scratching his neck with a cheerful "atta boy" reward. Repeat, repeat, head dropping lower every time. Once he starts to get the point, his back starts to stretch out, nice topline stretches I can feel through the saddle. We work on this at trot, both directions, until he's had four to five solid stretches down & long. This grew to be Chewie's favorite part of the ride, because I lighten my hands, lighten my seat, and ask him only to stretch, with no demands for a giant stride or pretty collection.

1/8/09 New feet 1/9/09 Ransom Vet

Thursday, both boys got their shoes re-done. Romeo is good as new, and the word is Ransom behaved like a true giant gentleman, and needs only a trim or two's worth of rebalancing. From everything I've seen of Mr Dale's work, I think the result will be great. Of the four horses that live at Les' house, I haven't seen one take a lame step following a farrier appointment. They all perform great, no matter how recent or how long it's been from an appointment.

Friday, Ransom and I went to see Dr. M for a full evaluation, shots, the works. I believe Dr M was a bit intimidated by Ransom, and Ransom felt it. He was apprehensive about going into the stocks and getting "tied in". He looked all around, listening to barking dogs, squealing cats, cows in the next door pasture, cars whipping down the highway outside. He was certainly a bit nervous to start the appointment.

Ransom got all his shots (Rabies, Tetanus, VEWT, Flu, West Nile)... Sheath cleaning (nasty large silver-dollar size bean removed.. YUCK-O!), and dental float (all good, though canines had been ground down pretty short, and when Doc removed the tartar, we expected a tooth to be revealed, only to see not much was there... they should come back over time). He got a mostly clean bill of health, though Doc recommended XRays "if and when I start jumping him". Doc pointed out his front left knee and back hind ankle, and said they looked like "old injuries that are probably nothing, but worth a better exam by someone more trained in performance horse evaluation." I was a little troubled by the whole appointment - Doc wasn't nearly that sensitive when he did the evaluation on Romeo, and I was pretty honest that I had high expectations for Romeo, and knew he had old scars and weird leg conformation. Overall, though, the appointment was good, and when Ransom's appointment was done (after Demosodan (Sp?) was given via shot for the float & sheath), I was a little worried how he might load-up to go home. Ransom took it all as if he'd done it a million times, and loaded up on the trailer like a baby doll. When we got home, he unloaded the best he's ever done, waiting patiently until the trailer door was open and I was holding the lead.

He seemed to be moving quite a bit better Saturday morning, and really good on Sunday. With all of his "appointments" out of the way for a while, we're set to play and ride, no worries ahead.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Monday night, I could hear my horses growling at me when I got home. It was in the upper 30s, misting rain, and breezy. I hurried to get their blankets on, apologized profusely, fed them quickly, then hurried back inside. It was too too cold to mess with anybody, too much a breeding ground for sickness.

Tuesday, however, when I walked out of my lab building, the sun was shining, blue-bird sky, mid 60s. Oh yeah... That's what I'm talking about. I hurried home, watered the dogs, changed into my breeches, and grabbed Romeo.

Saddled up Romeo English, grabbed my helmet, and headed to the arena. Rain had sprinkled the property, knocking the dust down to something reasonable, instead of the wild dust bowl it was. I was relieved.

Worked in the English bit, a Korsteel loose ring link snaffle, with a copper link in the middle. Spent enough time on the flat w/t/c to make sure he'd stop. I caught myself resting my calves on his sides, and he kept breaking from walk to trot. After two of those "up transitions", I figured out what I was doing wrong, pulled my legs off, apologized to him. Romeo let out this huge head-shaking sigh... It was quite comical.

Friend from work came to set up the x-rail, and "babysit" our first jump attempts since the June show disaster. I had the new saddle pad on, a gentler girth, and Romeo seemed responsive. He sailed over the x-s like we hadn't taken a break. It was beyond awesome. He hopped the rail three times clean, and I quit that. I did learn last night that if I keep leg on over the fence, he's probably going to land in a canter. First time over it, I thought mid-jump "geez, I better get my leg off, he sure did take off with some high energy." He landed in a canter stride, but took my light aids and went back to a trot. I don't want my first canter-from, or canter-to for that matter, to be without educated counsel standing by. I haven't a clue what I'm doing, and don't want his first experience to be horrid.

Finished up the work with a little loose rein canter, almost as a reward to Romeo for his contact work. On each walk "break", I kept leaving the reins loose, trying to reward him working on contact. Each time, he would stretch into "long and low", reaching out slowly with his face, looking for the contact. How Cool Cool Cool!

Neat 40 minute ride. Ransom was free in the pasture just outside the arena, wandering around, watching, grazing, and acting like it was no big deal to him I was riding Romeo and not him. Awesome!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

1/4/09 More Rides

Romeo - English, TT bit. His canter was pretty darn awesome... Nice & easy enough that I was able to release the death grip on the saddle pommel. I grabbed on for the up transition, then lightly took a rein in each hand, and worked on bending elbows & upper body with the forward motion. Pretty neat! As we worked through the trot, I could feel him happy to be in a nice hunter trot, bending with me as I changed diagonals. We put hoofprints on nearly every inch of the arena, a pretty cool thing to do.

Rather abruptly, Romeo slowed to a halt, his head aiming south-west. I was a bit annoyed, and was just about ready to leg him up to the lope, growling, when I heard it... The cold front weathermen had been warning us of. The wind whistled through the trees behind us, and I turned to face it just as the temperatures started to drop.

At the start of the weather, it was in the 80s out. By the time I unsaddled, brushed the sweat marks out, gave him cookies, took him to his pasture, it was in the 60s. By dark, it was in the 40s. Texas winters... YUCK.

Later in the afternoon, an old friend came over, and watched a bit with me and Ransom. She suggested a Clinton Anderson style "extra knots on the nose" rope halter for leading pushy issues. I borrowed one to try it out, and it worked pretty darn good. Got his attention, for certain. She also suggested lungeline lessons to get us used to each other. Something I may take her up on - gives me a chance to get to know him with someone experienced holding the line end.

A good day overall, but transitioned from too-hot-for-winter, to good-grief cold and blustery wind in the evening. Warm blankets & cookies for all... Including me!

Monday, January 5, 2009

1/3/08 Determined to Ride

Both boys were ridden. Romeo was tacked up English, in the new saddle pad I'd bought. It's fleecie-soft, and a bit thicker than anything else I have. I didn't want to argue "whoa" with him, so I put the Tom Thumb on. Yes, very uncoordinated, and very unprofessional. I don't care - I wanted to canter in the English saddle, and didn't want to have a discussion with him about brakes in the tack. Last time I rode in the English saddle, he refused "whoa" - and I wasn't going to have that again.

The pad made the difference. I got in w/t and canter both ways, in the English saddle. He didn't flinch, didn't take off, didn't speed away without me, and listened to "whoa" just as good as always. A fabulous ride overall. He was a sweaty mess when we got done, since his winter coat and the warm Texas winter day didn't agree. About 45 minutes total, the sand still a bit deep in the arena.

Saddled Ransom western, and headed to the arena. I worked with him a few minutes on the lunge line, and he was pretty obedient, understanding "whoa" and "come into me" a bit more. I hopped on, with my full cheek slow twist bit that had arrived via mail order.

I worked entirely at the walk. Ransom had a huge, flowing, ground-covering walk. I worked on contact, on transitions, on a loose rein, all over the arena. I was also testing out various cues on him, and I learned that a left-right-left pulse on the reins, with thigh squeezes, bring him through down transitions. He'll walk super fast, but unless I squeeze with calves, he won't break to trot. He never tried to run to the out-gate, never broke to a trot, no matter how fast I left him go. Nice big walking work.... About 40 minutes total. I was much happier with him today than during the lesson, when I was entirely frustrated I wouldn't be riding.

1/2/09 Ransom Lesson #1

A good summary - a waste of time. I considered hauling both horses, just to show Susan what Ransom looked like, then leaving him tied to the trailer. After the 1/1 ride, I was pretty convinced he'd be a great lesson, and left Romeo at home.

As I took Ransom off the trailer, Susan seemed to want to be involved in all of it. When I mentioned Ransom doesn't waste time getting off the trailer, she suddenly acted like he needed her supervision. She made a huge dramatic deal about unloading him. I was misunderstood. I only untied him before opening the trailer door because the knot got stuck the last time I unloaded him, and he was hard to stop while I fiddled with it. So after much turmoil, he was off the trailer.

The lesson consisted of disagreements. I wasn't leading him correctly. She got out a lunge line, and free lunged him a bit. Unlike anyone else I've ever seen lunge a horse, she stood stationary, not even turning her body with his. It was very strange. I'm used to keeping my eye facing the horse, turning my entire body, even walking a small circle. When I did this, she said I was "chasing him", and forcing him to go faster. I didn't see a bigger trot when I lunged as opposed to her, so I figured difference of opinion.

To "improve his ground manners", she got out a stud chain. I should have right then and there refused, but I stayed quiet. The chain was placed over his nose, and again, I should have refused to let it happen, and I didn't. Ransom was a little more obedient, but still pushy. The chain didn't upset him, which is good to know. Nevertheless, I don't think he needs a chain, just a little more patience. He's been a lesson horse, probably allowed to be pushy and greedy, always looking for treats. The pushy behavior won't last at my house, but I won't be fixing it with a chain, either.

I never rode in the lesson, as I'd hoped. All the work was on the ground, and full of disagreements and me questioning why she insisted I do things a certain way. My leading habits weren't right, my showmanship halt wasn't right, my back-up cue wasn't right, I didn't tie a knot in the lead rope to the trailer right. It was almost ridiculous. He didn't have enough weight (I knew that! But it's not fixing overnight). I shouldn't lunge on side reins (even loosely) to build muscle - he's "too old" for that.

I was pretty bummed when I left the lesson. I essentially paid for her to "scout him", find things wrong, and keep me from riding. Frustrated, I didn't want Romeo to think it was his fault, so I skipped that ride, and instead ran errands in town for the afternoon.

Not a good start to the New Year in lessons.

1/1/09 A New Year

Les and I slaved all morning. The arena was complete. It's fenced in, gate created, disced, dragged to level, and settled in place. After we accomplished our work, the fun got on....

We saddled the boys, both western. Fortunately, I still have my older, larger, "doesn't really fit me" pleasure saddle in the house. It is horribly big for my behind, but fits Les well. He rode Ransom, and I on Romeo, for the first half hour of the ride.

I had Les ride Ransom for a few reasons... One, I wanted to see Ransom in action. I hadn't seen anyone else ride him, and wasn't really sure how he moved with a passenger. Two, I wanted to see if he had any ill reaction to hauling a burly cowboy around my arena. Would he buck? Would he wring his tail or pin his ears? Would he try to be the least bit uncooperative while Les used intermittant leg contact? Three, I wanted Les to do all the stupid things I'm going to do - trot and canter on a loose rein, hold on to the saddle horn & flip his weight all over the place, accidentally pull on the reins without notice. All things a cowboy will do without thinking about it - as cowboys that I know all ride on a loose rein, and the idea of seat contact is "whoa with deep seat" is second-nature.

Ransom was an absolute babysitter - Exactly as I'd hoped. Les rode him extensively at trot, and while Ransom cut the arena corners, he never offered any ugliness. He rode him canter left on contact (well, sort of), and cantered right a while on a loose rein. While long-strided, Ransom wasn't speeding around like a crazy jumper.

I rode Romeo just a bit, mostly to "get in the way", and to gauge Ransom's reaction. Neither flipped an ear, or swished a tail. We swapped saddles, and I worked Ransom a bit as well. Light trot in the arena, and then canter in the round pen. Les was absolutely determined to get a canter in the arena outta me, but I wasn't up for the challenge.

Finished up the day with a quick trail ride around the pasture. I got scared, and I'm not entirely sure why, except that Ransom wasn't understanding "whoa and stand" very well. He was antsy, constantly moving his feet, perhaps because he was so pleased with his workout. While Ransom was untacked, I took Romeo on a quick walk around the place, just to remind myself I can ride, and my horses mind me.

A great New Year's Day overall!

12/31/08 We've Got Company!

Friend from work came to meet Ransom, watch some rides, and check up on Romeo's progress. I got to deliver some Christmas cheer where it was needed. We've both been pretty bummed about all the bad news at our employer. They've been announcing plant shutdowns, business closure, joint-ventures that weren't going to happen, announcing lay-offs, more hour reductions, it's just been bad. A really poo-ie situation to build up Christmas cheer. Friend's reaction has been to live "gloom & doom", refusing to participate in Christmas spirit. Mine, however, was to be grateful for what I've got, and find at least a little holiday happy in every situation. It's also been to find a small thoughtful gift for everyone around me, demonstrating that the giving means more than receiving. Well, it worked. Cheer was spread, and I was glowing myself just for giving.

Saddled Ransom english, and headed to the round pen. He was cooperative, but speedie. I wasn't entirely sure of the cause, but one of his front shoes was missing nails on the inside, and had slid a bit to the outside of his hoof. I could hear it clinking a bit. Anyway, we're all getting to know each other, and he put on his standard pretty-old-boy routing, with not a bit of ill spirit.

Romeo was himself. A saint, an angel, a little cowhorse just dying to show off to anybody that'll watch. The last time the friend saw me ride him, we only cantered a bit, and I still had a death grip on the saddle horn. This time, as I entered his pasture, I didn't even hesitate or warm up with a walk. We worked straight into the lope, and off we went. Romeo was great. He stopped on a dime (and on no rein contact, so I was told later), demo'd his rollbacks, and his awesome easy jog. Friend was more than impressed. Even jumped on for a bit, with me psuedo-leading Romeo, standing at his head walking around. He was, well, himself... no evil spirit intended, and incredibly cooperative as always.

Total rides were around 45 mins a piece. I gathered up a strong pair of pliers, and good will, and removed Ransom's loose shoe. He let out a licking & chewing sigh, perhaps to say "Thank You" for my choice to get it removed.

12/30/08 Romeo Only

The arena was disced enough that, while I didn't have four sides of fence, I sort of had three. That was enough to at least show him the area, get him reaquainted with respecting the rail, and in the swing of work again.

Saddled up, and walked the pasture perimeter behind the treeline to get there. Ransom went bezerk, whinnying, hollering... apparently pretty ticked to be in the paddock & not out grazing.

Worked with Romeo w/t/c for only 30 minutes. The arena was uneven, and still deep in spots. Bad enough that I didn't need him getting an injury in the sand. He was agreeable, and though he had a serious issue picking up the right lead, we got through it.

Opened the paddock, let Ransom out, and the three of us went for another walk around the pasture. I wasn't entirely sure how it'd go - Last time I did that aboard Chewie, they both took off, and left me in the dirt. This trip was completely different, though. Ransom walked all around anywhere Romeo and I went, staying close beside, but not really getting in the way. No one spooked at anything, and Romeo stayed very "alpha horse", listening to me, but making sure Ransom knew he wasn't the horse under saddle.

Total work 45 minutes. We ended & untacked in nearly dark. Darn winter.... stealing my sunshine evenings.