Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2-26-12 Gunshot And the Sheriff

I owe a session with Jen and Harley (simple lead changes and softer transitions) 2-25, as well as rides on 2-24 and Mo 2-26. I'll have plenty of time to back track, and you'll see why here..

After riding Harley Friday and Saturday, and the length of Saturday, I assumed Sunday he'd be as level-headed as always, and hopped on him cold. His free walk was nice, his light-contact trot was relaxed, and nice. I picked up canter-right on light-contact, rode the middle circle, and headed down the long side.

We approached the treeline, *BANG*! Harley shot forward with the gunfire, made the two short side corners, and started a few small bucks. I couldn't stick with him. I rode the gallop-off, and was preparing to turn him in a smaller circle to slow him down, and the bucks unseated me.

Splat. Left hip and the back of my helmet. #$*&%^%@ #$*&%^, I shouted two expletives as I watched Harley run to the other side of the arena. Two more shots, but away from us rather than towards us like the first shot. *BANG* Another shot towards us. Harley's head popped up and over towards the neighbors behind the arena. I stood, shook the dirt off (and shook it out of my breeches), and walked that way.

As I approached the clearing, I saw a young boy, pointing the gun at me. He lowered the front of the rifle, noticed me, and then lowered it completely. The young child (an older boy with him) pointed the weapon randomly at the sky in two more places, then the children backed where they thought they were out of sight. I stood there a bit more, then walked away back to H.

I mounted, and proceeded at the walk. I walked him until he started to relax. The boys were walking around the clearnings, gun in hand, watching me the whole time. I rode H in the middle circle at walk, trot, and canter, both directions. He stayed pretty calm, but ears on the neighbors the whole time.

The young boy approached on a 4 wheeler, zipping by the arena. He circled around the wooded lot behind the arena short side, then came back to the older boy. I gave up, and walked H back to the house.

At the trailer, I had him undressed and ready to reward with a cookie (for the good after the spook), and the boys approached both on 4 wheelers down the dirt road. I watched them through the tack compartment window of the trailer. They zipped around the corner, fish-tailing and kicking up dust. Both looked behind back at H after their antics. I realized then their whole goal at this point was in fact to spook the horse.

I took Harley back to his paddock, and closed him in the paddock, afraid they'd go home and accidentally shoot him. R came over, and after a discussion, I called the county sheriff, who came to visit. I walked him through what happened. He found the children, and their grandfather, and explained they're not allowed to shoot in the direction of my property. The sheriff reported "the boys say they're sorry, and they will be more careful in the future."

Grandpa later zoomed up to my house on his 4 wheeler, glaring at us all (by now, Jen and her DH were there, trimming hooves). He made a fish tailed u-turn in front of my driveway, and took off back towards his house, glaring at us the entire time. This repeated two more times, and then Grandma appeared in her small SUV, and followed him back to their house. The boys appeared a while later on their 4 wheelers, smiling and laughing as they drove back home.

In some serious pain yesterday, I also noticed some tingling in my feet and lower legs. I visited the dr, had x-rays done. Outcome? No broken bones, just bruising and muscle sprains. Treatment includes tylenol, rest, and heat. He also suggested physical therapy if the pain remains, but I'll circumvent that by scheduling some chiropractic and massage later this week.

A scary afternoon, and stressful evening. My rides are postponed now until sitting and walking are pain-free. Entirely frustrating, as it was caused by children using guns inappropriately.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2-21-12 Harley Test

Saddled up endurance, walked to the arena, and hopped on. Harley's last ride was Friday, with a longe Thursday, and nothing for nearly a week before that.

I wasn't sure how wet the arena was under the surface, so the plan was to walk around, see how the footing responded, maybe trot. No longing to avoid the risk of a slip & slide. Besides, I was curious how the baby would respond to zero warmup after a significant break.

He walked off quietly, moderate energy. Nice. I left the reins loose, and continued the walk for 10 minutes. Up to a trot, as I noticed the ground wasn't shifting or sliding around under his hoof prints. Trot work, totally loose rein, posting, he was incredibly steady and relaxed. When Harley started lowering his head and neck, and reached his nose out, like he was searching for the bit, I shortened my reins just to contact. He reached even further into it.

Back to a loose rein, and a few down transitions on verbal and body language. The first few he blew straight through, kept on trotting. A couple tugs on the bit, and he remembered the body/verbal cues. Next few transitions were nice. A set of turns on forehand, turns on haunches, then back to trot. A few halts and a back up reminder. Still, incredibly relaxed.

I asked for trot-left, and thought, "Eh, why not. I won't know how he'll react to no warmup unless we ride the canter, too." Wrong lead. Shoot! Energetic, it took about eight strides, and a LOT of body language for the down transition. Verbal cue got me nowhere, and I had to resort to using the bit (bummer!). Three strides of trot, and he went back up into canter, correct lead. I turned him off the circle, then dumped the reins, and let him go wherever he chose. A very nice relaxed canter-left. Excellent.

A little canter-right, much like left. Without the lead blown, of course. Very relaxed. In fact, I could feel his footfalls and his legs moving, much like my last few rides on Mo.

Back to trot, which now was much more energetic. I adjusted it just by posting slower, and grinned. By now, my laughter was evident, as I was reaching all over Harley in the trot, patting and scratching, from ears to tail, one side at a time. He didn't change a bit, stayed in that steady trot all around the arena.

Success! Harley rode just like Mo does on the "easy days". No warmup, no solid collection, just going forward. The longer we rode, the more he reached down and out, searching for contact. I left the reins go, however, and let him decide for himself where to go (keeping us out of the one puddle that remains in the arena). It was an absolutely incredible 35 minutes, and from that, I've realized just how much the little guy has learned in the last year. From free longing over a few ground poles (ugly, by the way), and being anxious about anything new ... to riding out after a break, on a loose rein, without warmup.. Most excellent.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2-17-12 I got to Ride Once

Friday mid-day it had finally dried up enough for both boys to get some riding in. I darted between light showers, and rode both in the endurance saddle so my good dressage saddle didn't get a bath.

Harley was great. He did really well, behaving good considering the long weather break, and the not-so-fabulous weather conditions. Rode all three gaits, and tried to make the trot-canter transitions a little smoother. Also worked on halt-walk and walk-trot more polite. Trying to improve his up transitions from the head-popping nonsense back to collecting and mindful. With the longeline warmup and the ride, Harley got about 45 minutes of work.

Romeo and I worked on much of the same. He started out in his canter very fast, but settled down. I concentrated on studying his leg movement and footfalls, especially in the canter. It's neat to be able to feel the legs move underneath me when his canter is slow enough. His trot was a bit irregular, and after the canter, he was incredibly interested in a long extended trot. It took a little while, but he did relax some. No longeline, and Romeo enjoyed about 35 minutes of exercise.

This was the end of my riding since. It's been too wet. We got hammered with a huge set of storms Saturday overnight and early morning that lasted through mid-morning. With puddles all around the neighborhood, riding down the road wasn't even an option (choices being gravel road [rocks!], or ditches [water!]. Hoping things will be good enough tonight for a walk with Harley. If so, it'll be walking only, under saddle, minus a longe warmup. Could be interesting, but he needs the mental activity, and I need my horse-fix.

Friday, February 17, 2012

2/16/12 Longing

It was barely dry enough in the arena to even consider longing the horses. They both let me know it'd been too long since the last workout, too.

Harley bucked a fit for about five minutes. I have a hunch he stepped on a fire ant pile, because he was kicking up and out with some serious force on his hind legs. I refused to let him run like a maniac on the line, however, and made him stop and back up every time he tried being silly. Once he settled down, work lasted about 25 minutes total.

Romeo was much of the same, only wilder. Yep, the old man really got his run on. I held on, and when he turned towards me for a rollback on the line, he kicked his hooves up, tail flagging. "Oh no way, son. Not doing that again!" I chased him on the circle with the longe whip, and any time he got his body too close to mine, snap! Work lasted about 30 minutes. I believe by the end Romeo realized there was no point in kicking up his heels - take too much effort. :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Another Me and the Weather

Wow.. Rain .. First off, holy rain, Batman! I have one large pond instead of two big puddles. Standing water all over the pastures, in the side yard (receding). The road ditches are full, and we sure have water! It rained pretty hard overnight and through the morning. Surprisingly, the horses aren't coated in mud.. I see that happening in another day or two. That means, no riding. I may take Mo down the road tomorrow, but we won't get far before we're in muddy ditches, which isn't really very nice for him.. :( Might try to rent some time at the Equestrian center up the highway for Friday morning... Then I can "get my fix" in for a little while..

Went to the dr today. Test check up from 6 weeks ago.. The medicine he put me on, is in fact working. My system is acting more like "normal", and that's really good. If things had continued as they were, I was probably facing surgery. That means remain on the medicine I'm on. I asked about the mood swings, and my general disposition. It's a combination of a side effect of what I'm taking, and some stress from work and life. As a result, he's adding yet another medication. 6 weeks to "peak" in effectiveness, and I'm supposed to call & let them know how it is working. If it's working well, he'll extend the prescription.

I have no problem all day taking vitamins and supplements... you know, "natural" things. I am not a big fan of "prescriptions". Makes me feel, oh, I don't know.. weak.. limited, "not quite right". Maybe that's the "bug/virus" in my brain that has always made me feel kind of inadequate. This new medicine might help that.

I do know everybody around me, human and creature alike, will probably like me a lot more if this new medicine works. I'm optimistic.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2/12/12 Me Update

I see the doctor tomorrow for a check up, and plan to mention some of the other things going on in my head. A few things I've noticed this past week..

If I sleep really well, the next day isn't so bad.
Inversely, if I don't sleep well, it's a long and crummy day.
To that end, I've been lightly medicating the sleep, and that seems to be working. As a chemist, of course, I'd like to understand how that's working, and how the medicine connects to sleep connects to general disposition. Hoping to understand that very soon.

In the meanwhile, there are neat things happening around the house. I've taken the plunge into a new, much shorter, hairstyle. It's been on my wish list for a while, and so far, it's nice...

Around the barn, Romeo got a new halter yesterday from MrsM. We'll be at least going down the road in it later this morning, and I'll get some pictures to share. Harley has some BIG news, as we're teaming up with R.E.S. Boots to design him a "small" splint boot. Once I get some video taken of us fitting the new boots to his front legs, I'll post it, along with the rest of the story. My little Harley is a boot model! :)

2/10 & 2/11

Arrived home from work Friday night with a bit of caution about riding. I knew it had rained Thursday night, and Friday morning, but unsure how much.

Ew.. Wet, puddly, mess. Being completely honest, I'm thankful for the rain. We need it, the farmers need it, the cattle ranchers need it. I know of friends that are getting rid of some of their cattle herd (translation: Your beef dinners) because they can't find hay to feed.

So here, we're watching the standing water dry out. Saturday it still didn't look good up by the house for riding, so I didn't even bother walking out to the arena. I know the pond has plenty of standing water, and that's terrific.

More wet on the way today and tomorrow... I might be back to washing polo wraps, saddle pads, and scrubbing tack if this keeps up. :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

2/8 & 2/9 Quicks

Romeo and I puddled around in his bareback pad 2/8. Walked around the yard, down the road a little bit, and around his pasture. Nothing fantastic, nothing training/teaching, just a walk/trot stress break that I needed. He gets an eager look when I greet him in the bridle rather than the halter. Bit in first thing, he realizes "this isn't going to be work, just a quiet walk."

Harley and I rode last night just before the rain storms came. Endurance saddle, since I didn't feel like getting my dressage or hunt seat wet. He was good, and quiet. Stiff asking for a nice collected walk. Trot work was quite good, canter work improves each day. I sat the trot, and he started shortening his stride. Ugh. Yuck.

Also rode Harley through some leg yields early in the ride. Improving. First time I tried it, things didn't go so well. I settled for a step or two of effort. Last night, got quite a bit more. I was riding up quarterlines and yielding to the rail. Fantastic results. He stayed quite straight, and, while he didn't have huge cross-over steps, he was making the effort to work himself over to the rails without bending his neck. Nice job kiddo.

2/7/12 Testing the HuntSeat

Tuesday it was finally dry enough to get out the newly-gulleted (for the third time) huntseat and see how it fit.

Longe warmup was nice. No neck stretcher, just some time on the line to stretch out. I didn't intend on riding on a collected rein, just light contact to see how he was moving in the saddle.

The ride was good. Two fingers' stacked clearance for the entire ride, all three gaits, including a little two point. He was polite, and when I shortened my reins subconsciously, Harley gave into the pressure, and rounded up. Oops, baby. Sorry, dear... Anyways, a polite ride, considering the time off from "real hard work", and the cooler breezy weather.

I could hear deer rumbling around in the treelines throughout the ride, so I stayed on the "treeless" side of the arena at the rail, but rode inside the rail on the treeline side. Behind the pond, at the treeline, I saw a young deer pause at the pond. I saw same deer hop over the edge of the pond. Harley hadn't reacted.

He did, however, react, when same deer sprinted along the backside of the arena. Within a few seconds, he turned completely around, and was 5' farther away down into the arena. I remember thinking, "Out of his face, heels down." One lost stirrup later, I had him stopped, and was still aboard. Nice .. Serious progress to have him spook, I stayed on, and got him under control rather quickly. Huge advantage in my seeing the deer before he did.

After all that, back at the trailer, I paid a close look to his back and sweat marks. Even sweat on both sides, top to bottom. Not all of the side of the saddle up front is touching, but there's a bunch of wool can be added there as well. The same awesome saddle fitting ladies that came for his dressage saddle will be back in town in March, so we'll be scheduling some of their time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I don't know Uncle Jimmy

But he's a naughty guy ... Look at the names of these horse treats, and tell me you don't blush even a little.. :-/


Okay okay.. so I needed that humor in my week so far... :)

For the love of weather, somebody go ride a horse and take a picture! Thanks MrsM, SunnySD, and Jessie for the updates. Go look at Jessie take a flying lesson off of Oakley! And see MrsM loping Phatty! Sunny, You lesson-taking lady! So jealous!! :)

I hope to hop on Harley tonight. Test out the yet more narrow gullet in his hunt saddle. I hope it fits I hope it fits.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

John Mayer, Edge of Desire

"Edge Of Desire"

Young and full of running
tell me where is that taking me
just a great figure eight
or a tiny infinity

love is really nothing
but a dream that keeps waking me
for all of my trying
we still end up dying
how can it be?

don't say a word
just come over and lie here with me
cause I'm just about to set fire to everything I see

I want you so bad I'll go back on the things I believe
there I just said it
I'm scared you'll forget about me

so young and full of running
all the way to the edge of desire
steady my breathing
silently screaming
I have to have you now

wired and I'm tired
think I'll sleep in my clothes on the floor
maybe this mattress will spin on its axis
and find me on yours

don't say a word
just come over and lie here with me
cause I'm just about to set fire to everything I see

I want you so bad I'll go back on the things I believe
there I just said it
I'm scared you'll forget about me

don't say a word
just come over and lie here with me
cause I'm just about to set fire to everything I see

I want you so bad I'll go back on the things I believe
there I just said it
I'm scared you'll forget about me

2/5/12 Puddles, Inside & Out

I got a longe on H Thursday, and rode him bareback (all three gaits) Friday afternoon. Mo and I bummed around the yard Wednesday, then Friday I took him to the arena to continue working on his lightness and turning. In the canter, I paid very close attention to his footfalls, since he was moving quite slowly. Cadenced, it seemed like I could feel his hips and shoulders moving independently. I focused on my seat, relaxing while his body moved underneath me.

Harley rode dressage. Nothing super spectacular for him, but quite a bit for me. Started out at the walk, and again, I tried to feel each hoof land. Interesting, I shortened my reins, and I felt his back lift a little. Had the same results in the trot. When he'd hollow out, I felt it dramatically. In the canter, I wasn't able to feel the same hip/shoulder independence I felt with Mo, but it was still a side-to-side motion, something I haven't experienced before in the canter. Curious and worth paying closer attention to.

Things inside? Inside my head, that is. Puddly... uhm, thinking how to describe it... Generally back in that same depressed funk from previous. Now, it's got multiple causes, some of which go back much farther than my blog, my time in Texas, and beyond. I'm not comfortable "airing the laundry", but remembering back to what the previous counselor said, "I've got to stop playing the tapes". Here's a capture of just a few them, in my effort to "data dump" for the day..

biggest mistake of my life
things would've been so much different without you around
you're not going to amount to much if you keep that up
you're turning into him/her, and that's nothing to be proud of
if you're going to be involved in ___, you're going to have to be different
I would move ahead with us.. but .. it's just .. you ______

I've been marred by the thoughts. Smacking myself with a little reality, I am well educated. I am moderately successful at work. I made some pretty serious decisions about two years ago at the office, and now I'm doubting those choices. After a pretty horrible event at "church" (I use the term loosely, as someday I'll work up the courage to blog what actually happened), I've stopped attending. No sense in "faking it" with a bunch of people in charge that treated me lower than dirt. Says something about a place when they don't mind making a 30-something lady cry like a kid. With all the junk in my distant and recent past, it's all starting to impact everything. Thus the bareback ride on H when I could've just as easily saddled him. Easier to hop on quick, before I changed my mind.

All that being said, bear with me if I don't blog much more than the "bare bones" of the rides. I'm all for a good discussion, but consider kindness and thoughtfulness before sending anything my way.

1/30/12 Did It Fit?

The summary? No, it didn't. Longer story..

I saddled Harley up, anxious to try the new gullet. Longed him, things still looked okay. Got up on him, and within minutes, the saddle was waay too close up front to his withers. :( Bummer.

Rode all three gaits, trotted over the x twice each way, just to see what the impact was on him. Not a huge big bother, but longer term, I knew it'd pinch and cause troubles.

I set the saddle aside to change to a "one more narrow than average", remembering my event seat is a "medium tree", and that didn't fit either. Wish I'd thought of that *before* changing the gullet to one wider than avg. Grr..