Things I Love: Part 1

I’m pretty frugal when it comes to purchasing horse items. I’m typically two years behind “the hot new trend” as I want to see if things last, and all the hype sticks around. Therefore, when I do make a purchase, and I love that purchase (whether new or not) I feel like celebrating it and sharing my love for it. So, here are three new to me items that I am over the moon about.

1. You all may remember that Amanda C kindly gave me her Lund bridle when she upgraded to a new one. I had been searching for a bridle that would fit June and not having much luck. Her bridle was in excellent used condition and it fit June really well. In the meantime, Lund ended up sending me a pair of reins to match the bridle, which was great, as I was riding around in non matching, black reins (Horror!)

When I got these reins, I instantly fell head over heels for the entire bridle. I now had a really nice bridle that fit my horse well and as an added bonus, it had really nice leather and looked great too.

bridle

stock photo from Lund

IMG_1080

Cute pony, cute bridle

The leather always looks cleaner than it is, and it’s really soft. Plus, at the price point of under $175, you honestly cannot beat the bang for the buck. Honestly, I just love this bridle. So much, in fact, that I chose to ride in it, rather than my other new bridle, to June’s first Arena Cross event.

IMG_1073

Ignore side eye, she loves it too!

2. IMO no bridle is show ready until it has a browband with some bling. I’ve always been unimpressed by pre made browbands, and could never find one I was really excited about. When I found out about Dark Jewel Designs, and that you could make your own browbands, I was SOLD. I now have multiple strands and multiple set ups. Amelia is great to work with and most recently really worked with me when I wasn’t sure what size would fit June and my bridle. We ended up on a cob size curved band with snaps. The great thing about the snaps is it is SO easy to remove the browband and change it out. Plus, it makes it a little bit longer so you can slip wider bridles through the sides of the browbands.

IMG_1077

I credit our lucky 4 leaf clover for the success we had last weekend. It’ll be our go to xc browband for a while

Dark Jewel Designs browbands range from over the top blingy to a subtle hint of shine. I have both ends of the spectrum and love them all equally. And while I really love the newest ones I have, I find myself still loving the ones I purchased a couple of years ago. They last and keep their bling.

4. My Secret Santa this year hit it out of the park. I mean Michelle got me some amazing things, including an adorable purple tote with June’s name on it and  something else I really ended up loving:

Annotation 2019-03-21 075828

The Tough 1 Great Grips Brush

Sure, its purple. But that isn’t the main reason I love it. I love the fact that it bends! It’s so great for cleaning legs and other parts of the horse that aren’t flat. It’s my go to brush right now. Is it fancy and soft? Nope, but it’s perfect for getting dirt and mud off. It wraps around the horses legs so you can clean both sides at once! Hello time saving tool! I just love this simple brush and am so happy I now have one!

3. My biggest purchase of the past year was my horse trailer. Going from a tiny two horse with no tack room, to a much larger two horse with a full dressing room was a serious upgrade for me. But, beyond the size, I can’t say enough good things about how this trailer hauls. Despite being more than twice the size of my last one,  my truck pulls it without an issue. Even with two horses in there this past weekend, I didn’t feel a thing and the truck chugged along nicely. It’s so spacious for the horses and incredibly inviting. I’m so happy I made the upgrade and just can’t say enough things about how much I love it.

 

IMG_9636

When I first purchased it. It now has a level hitch

The dressing room has four windows and is HUGE and I’m looking forward to setting it up for show season so I can sleep in there. For me, this trailer is everything I wanted, and I’m just so excited to have a trailer both June and I love.

So those are the material things I love. I have lots of stuff I like, but it isn’t worth raving about. These items make me happy, stand the test of time and in my opinion, were super solid purchases.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

June’s Arena Cross Debut

Since every plan I had thus far for February and March had been scratched from my calendar due to weather or work, I was doubtful June and I would be traveling to an Arena Cross event this past weekend. So doubtful, that I didn’t even mention it to the blogosphere or update my online calendar.

But the days leading up to it were sunny and nice and on Friday I found myself packing my trailer (after digging it out of the snow AGAIN) and trying to figure out what cross country boots would fit June.

My friend Meg came with me and she brought her adorable new horse Eleanor. June loaded like a champ (it’s so much easier when they have a buddy) and we were off. June is pretty seasoned about going new places now. She gets off the trailer, has a look around and is happy to stand at the trailer while I walk my course and get my number. She still doesn’t eat well in the trailer, which is concerning, but hopefully she’ll get more comfortable in there as time goes on.

The way the event was set up, you would start in the outdoor arena over stadium jumps before heading out onto the cross country field for a short loop over four jumps and then back to the arena for a final solid obstacle. There was a gently sloping hill, which was fun, and June had to canter away from all the other horses which was also a great experience. We signed up for grasshopper and Intro. In my mind, grasshopper would be crossrails, but when we showed up they were set to about 2′. It didn’t really matter to me, since the solid obstacles were all logs, except the last one which was this adorable little pine cone covered log pile.

IMG_1006

From this angle it looks HUGE, right???

I think the hugest feat of this entire outing was that we survived the warm up. It was held in the small indoor arena and at one point I think I counted 8 horses in there. Jumping jumps both ways, cantering up June’s butt, and just general mayhem. June only kicked out once, but I realized the less time spent in there the better, so I picked up the trot, trotted the cross rail and figured our first round could be our warm up. Maybe not the best plan when you’re riding a youngster, but we were jumping 2′. She could walk over the jumps if needed.

IMG_1031.PNG

Our first round gave me lots and lots of knowledge about what June is like out on course, away from other horses and in a new venue.  My game plan was to trot most of the course, just so she could have a look around and figure out what we were doing. She was absolutely game for all of it, but she was definitely distracted. Lots of whinying for her friend, and forgetting about turning aids. She hit a rail as she stepped/jumped it, because  she was busy looking around. She trotted out to the cross country field like a champ, jumped the first log, and then realized we were moving further and further away from her friends. A stop at the second log and a long whinny. I circled, re-approached with my leg firmly planted at her sides and we never looked back. It’s like it clicked that if we keep moving forward, she gets back to her friends even quicker.

My favorite jump on course was the last one. June just soared over it  and she jumped it right out of stride, giving just a wee bit of space between her and the jump. Mare definitely thinks we should be jumping obstacles that are a bit more of a challenge.

IMG_3861.PNG

Our second round at Grasshopper was our best one. June now got what we were doing and it was GAME FACE ON. We cantered most of the course and she was rideable and forward. At this point, at this height, I’m letting her figure out her distances. She wants to get super close, ok, I’ll support and let her figure it out. I want her to make mistakes at this height and figure out where her feet need to be. She was less distracted this go around and I swear the minute we hit the grass field she’s like a different horse. She just wants to find the next jump. We’d come down the slope to the final fence and she was ALL BUSINESS.

IMG_1035

Her ALL BUSINESS face

When we were done with the course she thought she was super hot shit and thought she could gallop out of the arena. When I told her “um no” she was VERY upset with me and had a mini tantrum. It was no big deal, and I had to laugh that June thinks she is way too good for all this Grasshopper crap.

We then had quite a long wait for our intro class. I ended up getting off, and just standing around with her. I never got her focused back on me when I hopped back on, and instead just walked her around for a couple minutes. Note to self- baby horse needs to understand that my getting off and then back on 15 minutes later, means we are going back to work. She was definitely a bit pissed off about having to do this AGAIN and was a little sticky from the get go. She decided that half halts meant hop hop STOP and that turning was for the birds. It was nothing horrible, but it was not nearly as smooth as our second round and I really had to work to get June focused and forward.

IMG_1038

When I dared to ask her to turn and she was busy whinying and paying attention to everything BUT me.

Once again, when we got out onto the xc field, and she saw we were jumping new jumps she was game. But then, she decided that GALLOPING (ok, it was a fast, on the forehand canter) to the last jump was a good idea, and so we had to have another discussion which resulted in me having her trot the last jump.

IMG_1042

She made sure I knew she can still jump like this even out of the stupid trot

All in all I am thrilled with how the day went. There’s so much to work on, but just knowing June is totally game for this stuff, makes it all worthwhile.

I’m so excited for our snow to melt so I don’t need to drive 2.5 hours to see green grass, but that may still be a while…

IMG_0987

 

Two Years Ago Today

It was two years ago today that I retired Georgie as my competition horse. Man that day sucked.

G

Our last event together- Training 3Day at Rebecca Farm

Being where I am now though, two years later, I almost feel like it’s ok that it happened. Don’t get me wrong. I miss riding Georgie. Especially when it comes to how safe and secure I felt going cross country.

G2

But, I get to see her and feed her treats every day. I can hop on her once a week and enjoy being on a broke horse. I care for her when her junior lessee is out of town, and she still uses a bunch of the tack I had for her. Honestly, she is still a part of my life on so many levels. Which is what I had hoped for when I stopped competing her.

And now I have this special baby monkey horse named June. Who is teaching me so much. And while she isn’t making anything as easy as Georgie did, I have to say, just like Georgie, she really does have a heart of gold. Sometimes I don’t verbalize how much I appreciate June and how much I love having her.

When I got Stella as a teeny tiny puppy, I kept comparing her to my senior dog Montana. Montana was the easiest dog ever, and I kept wanting Stella to be just like her. As a young dog, there was no way Stella could meet the expectations I had for her if I wanted her to be like Montana who I had had for many years. I worried that Stella was less than because she wasn’t Montana.

And look how that turned out. Poor Siri…

13729072_10153863105188251_2827591802976668088_n

The two that can do no wrong

So, while I may compare June to Georgie, or be sad that I don’t have a solid Prelim cross-country horse anymore, I realize that what I do have with June is pretty damn special. She makes me laugh and smile, but she also makes me ride well, and be incredibly thoughtful in my riding. Where Georgie was easy, June is a challenge. But it isn’t a mean-spirited challenge in any way. We probably match each other equally on a scale of who is more opinionated. And just like Georgie, she’s game for pretty much anything. I hope I can keep her curiosity and willingness intact, as they’re two things I really love about her.

IMG_0965

AND she looks good in purple!

So, while two years ago I was pretty much in shambles, I’m happy to report that time did heal a broken heart. Along with a sassy young mare named June.

Tagged ,

3DayAdventures Blog Hop: My Favorite Event

It’s that time of the year when I’ve got ants in my pants. While some of you are already hitting green grass at a gallop, we’re still covered in snow dreaming about one day actually being able to see the ground beyond the white.

So, to keep me motivated, and from going insane, I figured it was time for a good ‘ole blog hop! And what better, than to discuss our favorite show or event. So, go ahead and tell us where you love to go, and enjoy learning about my most favorite event, Inavale Farm Horse Trial.

10380609_10152322076828251_8557421660186291634_o

That time I went with Haley and Gusty and it was the most fun ever

Held every year at the end of June, Inavale has become a regular event for our barn to attend. And while it doesn’t draw the crowds Rebecca Farm does, or have the super cool, elaborately designed course that Aspen Farm does, what it does have is great footing, a relaxed and professional vibe in one of the most beautiful locations ever.

I love nature, horses, quiet locations, and nice people. And Inavale has all of these things. You head into the town of Corvallis, where Oregon State University is, and a few turns later, the roads narrow, you’re surrounded by hay fields and you can feel your blood pressure drop.

inavale

Such a great camping spot for the weekend!

A right turn onto a dirt road leads you under a thicket of pine trees and then you pop out into hay fields for as far as the eye can see. Oh wait, that’s wrong. There’s also a pine tree farm up on a hill, so the fields just blend out across the vista, until they hit a bright shot of green trees.

The footing is fantastic. Soft and bouncy due to all the rain they get. And while both dressage and show jumping are held on grass, I’m willing to forgive that since the arena’s are rarely ever anything but perfect.

ina 2

I mean, SO PRETTY

Their cross country course used to be considered stout, but people complained and they’ve toned it back a bit. Which makes me sad, I like a good, safe, challenge. Inavale’s cross country has it all. Varied terrain that takes you up and down hills and in and out of the forest. Drops and banks and ditches abound, along with some really nice stretches where you can gallop.

in

This log, off a longish downhill rode way better than I expected

It’s one of the few events I’ve been to where everyone is friendly and laid back, but it still runs on time and people know what they’re doing and get shit done.

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve come in 3rd place on two different horses, once at Novice and once at Training. They always have really good prizes 🙂

I don’t think June and I will be ready for Inavale this year, especially since it is the furthest event away from us, at 11-12 hours driving time. But I know I’ll be back soon and I cannot wait to turn that corner onto the dirt road and be greeted by that vista.

 

Tagged , ,

Chapters

This past weekend Sarah held some course work jump lessons and I signed right up! Sure, June and I are currently trotting poles to a cross rail, but I knew Sarah wouldn’t over face us, and I knew we needed to spice things up a bit as June is not one for constant repetition.

IMG_0926

She was super chill to tack up and on the longe. But I got on her and she realized we were jumping and I swear mare became a hot and sensitive beast. Now… I also realize the fact that she was calm until I got on her doesn’t bode well for me. Perhaps I made her a hot and sensitive beast? Maybe. But she definitely comes out of the gate raring to go, this one. This is so out of my comfort zone. A forward horse is lovely. I mean, I’m sure it will be, once I learn how to ride it. What I learned in this lesson, was that sometimes I just need to go with it.

Because June likes to take over to the jump, I came into this lesson prepared to do lots of transitions and keep things calm and her attention on me. She was great in warm up over the ground poles and settled in quite well as the lesson progressed. I wasn’t getting my typical June reaction, which has been, good for the first part, and then as things progress she gets more and more opinionated.

IMG_0929

There were a couple of moments where I had to tell her “um no” as she grabbed the bit and took over. But they were few and far between

And so, this is where I made my first mistake of the day. I didn’t read the horse I had. Now, it could have been that she was good because we were doing so many transitions and mainly working out of the trot. But it also could have been that she was good because of the work we had been doing and now was ready to progress. But instead of letting her canter to the jump, or letting her do her job, I got stiff in my body, constantly brought her back to the trot, and basically fought with her more than was necessary. I was unable to move forward with her, and instead just wanted to control every little thing.

IMG_0925

Meanwhile she just wanted to jomp jomp

I like to think of bringing along a horse as learning from a book. You need to know when to move on to the next chapter. When is your horse ready for you to move on, even if everything isn’t perfect. Or, when do you understand that they are ready for what’s next? I struggle with moving to the next chapter sometimes. I want to be as diligent and understanding of the current chapter and basically understand it to the nth degree before moving on. And this isn’t the most advanced form of horsemanship. Sometimes I need to take a risk and move ahead and use what we have learned to be successful with what we encounter.

IMG_0924

When she sees the jump, ears go forward

In this current lesson, despite Sarah telling me the same thing over and over, I didn’t relax my elbows and allow her to do her job. I didn’t see what would happen if I landed in the canter, re-balanced, and kept cantering to the next jump. I just kept thinking “Don’t let her take over, don’t let her go too fast.” Which was irritating, but understandable. I’m not used to a sensitive go get em, kind of horse, which June most certainly is.

All in all, the lesson was a lot of fun. I’m really excited to replicate it in my next lesson. I’m excited to allow June to canter and just see what I need to do in order to not pick, pick, pick, to the fence. Mare has zero issues jumping, so now, as we jump cross rails, is the time to get all of this sorted out. I’m really excited and can’t wait to work on something that is clearly out of my comfort zone.

Tagged , , ,

Fraggle Friday (On Saturday): Leaving

I’m a bit panicked.

I head to Seattle for work Friday and am leaving the dogs behind. It’s a quick, two night trip, but it’s the first time I have left Stella since July. You know, the trip where I got an ulcer? I feel calmer about it this time around, but still don’t like the idea of having to leave her.

It’s funny though. For more than 15 years this dog has been making me feel anxiety about leaving her. When she was younger she was “easier” but would also require a lot of exercise, and I always worried she wouldn’t get enough in my absence. Then, there was the time my pet sitter told me, upon my return, that Stella had taken off and was found trotting down the road back to my house. Which was about 15 miles away.

IMG_0882

Still enjoys running down roads…

So, really, in the grand scheme of things, maybe Stella is easier to care for now? Now that she mostly wants to sleep and has short spurts of energy? But she does require a potty break during the night, and she does require her meds, so I’m clearly anxious about making sure those things happen for her. I have a good pet sitter in place, so I think everything will be fine.

IMG_0918 (1)

Her comfort is of the utmost importance

This was  is going to be the year of travel, as I put off so many plans last year. I’ve got trips to New Orleans and eastern Washington planned for work in April and May, and from there, things just start snowballing between horse shows and work trips. I honestly think Stella will be fine. It’s just tough to ask someone to petsit with the caveat that they won’t sleep through the night. And they have to make sure they’re home at 7:30am and 7:30pm to give her her meds.

IMG_0887

The storm I spoke about in my last post delivered. The ONLY good thing about it was it gave me an excuse to have Stella run around in her yellow raincoat

Old dogs are just tough to leave. I think that’s what it comes down to.

IMG_0884

Can’t stop, won’t stop. Raincoat pics are the BEST

But Stella is a tough gal, and knowing her, she’ll probably enjoy getting a break from me. Siri will help take care of her and again, it’s only two nights.

It’ll be fine, right?????

IMG_0883

Such an uphill gallop!

Tagged , , ,

The Winter That Never Ends

I wanted to title this post “What it Takes to Travel to a Lesson During an Idaho Winter,” but that seemed a little too lengthy.

Remember how excited I was to get June and I out of dodge and down to Gary’s for a lesson? Well, in my temporary excitement, I forgot what it would actually take to get to that lesson. So, here’s a recap of this past Friday and Saturday for you.

Friday PM I drove my truck to the barn to hook up my trailer. I had asked a farm manager to clear the snow in front of my trailer, and they did, which was GREAT. But the snow was still up over the wheel wells. So I started shoveling. Thirty minutes later I hopped in my truck and hit the gas. The truck fish tailed and the trailer barely moved. I shoveled some more and realized that my Trailer Aid ramp was frozen to the ground and obstructing the trailer tire. I picked at all the snow and ice around it but COULD NOT get it unfrozen. So, I cleared all the snow and ice as best I could and gunned it. We got over it. I hoped that perhaps being out in the sunshine would help unfreeze it and that HOPEFULLY I wouldn’t need it on my trip. My block that the hitch tongue lies on was also frozen solid to the ground, but that was less of an issue.

Since I hadn’t used my trailer in a few months, I wanted to take it to the tire place and get air pressure checked. Everything checked out ok and so I drove it home and quickly realized, that with all the snow we’ve had, it wasn’t going to fit in my driveway. Shit. I considered driving it the 30 minutes back to the barn, but was too stubborn, and instead parked it on the side of the road outside my house. Now, I live on a REALLY quiet cul de sac, and there’s probably only 10 houses with full-time residents. But I still texted my neighbor and asked if everyone was going to hate me for this. His answer was pretty funny.

IMG_0872

Neighbor Brad keeps it real. And no, it didn’t work even if I parked my truck behind his car

So, I spent most of the night waiting for an angry text from a neighbor. In their defense, the road is narrower than usual because of the snow, but there was still PLENTY of room to get around the truck and trailer.

Apparently I worry too much, because I didn’t hear a peep from the neighbors and at 8 am I was off to the barn to get June. She got her Ulcergard, and Purina Outlast, then I wrapped her rear legs and put shipping boots on her front legs and we loaded up.

Now, something to note about Idaho. I live in the mountains. But much of the state has a desert landscape. When you get out of the mountains, it’s possible not to see any snow. In fact, about an hour away from us there is literally no snow on the ground. Boise, where my lesson was, typically gets very little snow. So, in theory, once you get out of the mountains, it should be smooth sailing in terms of winter driving.

One other thing to note? There are two ways to get to Boise. One is over a couple of mountain passes, the other is not. Guess which way I chose to go?

In my defense, it was not snowing at home. Ok, maybe it was A LITTLE BIT. We were scheduled to have a storm beginning at 5pm Saturday night, but there were no reports of snow before that.

About an hour into my drive it started to really snow. I’ve decided that weather reports are just stupid.  The roads started to get really crappy. And just before I had to go down a mountain pass, the visibility got shitty. And that’s when I realized I had been gripping the steering wheel so tightly I could barely unlock my fingers from it. Pulling a trailer in the snow is one of my least favorite activities.

But then, you get down the last pass and you’re back in the desert. It’s like the horrid winter driving never happened. So, lucky for me, the last 40 minutes of my drive were easy peasy and I was nice and relaxed by the time I got to my lesson.

IMG_0864

Siri immediately found a dead bird when we arrived and I got to pry it from her mouth. Fun times!

I had left with plenty of time, and even with the tough road conditions, we still had about an hour to get ready for the lesson. And while we went into the lesson calm and relaxed, the lesson itself was not great. June was a friggin rockstar. She was calm and there were zero shenanigans. She went right to work when I hopped on her back and while she was a little distracted by being in a new place, she was really quite good. I told Gary I’d like to work on trot poles to a jump and getting her not to take over. I felt in a new environment, it would be nice to see how well this was solidified.

Gary had us work on transitions in the trot and we were getting what he was asking for. Was she perfect? No. Is she a 4 year old? Yes. But, I was pleased with her trot work. He then asked us to canter right and we didn’t get the correct lead. Second time we got the correct lead but she immediately broke. He then had us stop and discussed my position and aids.  I did what he had suggested and lo and behold we got the lead, and kept it for 4-5 circles before doing our downward. We then went left which he was pleased with.

And then right again.

June really struggles with keeping the connection, and not running through her outside shoulder. If I can keep her shoulders straight we can get the lead. If I can’t, she either swaps or breaks. It’s a timing issue and something I need to work on. So, he asked us to go right and she swapped after a couple of strides. And then Gary asked if he could hop on her. And I thought “Great, this is going to turn into a right lead canter lesson. This is exactly what I didn’t want.” But, I wanted to see what he would do to resolve the issue, as I am a visual learner, and so I said yes.

He struggled a bit to get her on the correct lead on a small circle. In the end, he was successful, which was great. I learned that his hand was closer to her shoulder than mine had been and that he counter flexed her when asking for the transition which was helpful to see from the ground.

But then he proceeded to keep riding her. He did a bunch of work in the trot. And he kept going and going. And then pulled her up and said “I think that’s good for today.”

Um. Ok.

I have a gazillion thoughts about this. But here are two:

  1. I just drove through a snowstorm to have you ride my horse. I appreciate the work you did in the canter, but then I never got to get on and practice what you taught me.
  2.  Yup, my horse has a nice trot and you can do lots with it (counter flex, lengthen, come back, go forward). Who do you think got her to that point? Why are you showing me all she can do in the trot?

I think I was just pissed that I drove 2.5 hours for someone else to ride my horse. ESPECIALLY when Sarah already does this for me in my own barn. I needed to work on me. Hopping on my horse and riding her isn’t going to fix her issue. I appreciate that he got on her for the canter, I honestly do, but I was really hoping to get back on her. And, I had asked to work on something completely unrelated to this, because I KNEW we weren’t ready to have a lesson where we are doing canter work.

Blerg.

When I got outside, it was snowing again. Yay!

But this time, for the drive home, I was smarter. This time, I took the slightly longer way  that involved zero mountain passes. And we had dry roads and smooth sailing. When I got home, I got June unloaded and then went to go see if I could get my Trailer Aid out of the ice. Apparently, when you have a high of 20 degrees, things aren’t going to unfreeze. So, I found the pick ax, and started chipping away. Which resulted in this text with Sarah:

IMG_0873

So, yeah, a pick ax is a life saver.

Which is good to know, since the snow storm they predicted, is certainly here. We’re supposed to get 2-4 feet of snow, and it won’t stop snowing until Thursday. I’m so over winter.

So, all in all, things aren’t easy in Idaho right now. But what’s that saying? About that which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger? I’m stronger than I’ve ever been right about now….

Tagged , ,

Trot Poles are our Future

I assume it’s the same for anyone starting a baby horse, but figuring June out has been so eye opening for me. I don’t know how I would do it without the expertise of someone who has gone through it before, as things are constantly changing. Then it’s sealing in what you want and having that be the expectation. And then things change again. And while this could be the same pattern in horse training in general, I’m finding that with June, since she has no base of knowledge to work from, we’re both figuring out what we want together, even if what we want isn’t necessarily the same.

I would like this ALL THE TIME

June’s connection has become so much more solid. We’re now working on not running through the outside shoulder and keeping her straight. We can keep the connection and stay straight on circles and in corners, but I work so hard on accomplishing that, that sometimes we lose our rhythm, and June quickens. On the flat, we’ve come a long way. We can canter in both directions, picking up the correct lead, but again, that falling through the outside shoulder is still a struggle. And June is far weaker going to the right, so there is a lot of swapping behind when I ask for connection in the canter. But, we’ll get there!

A slight tilting of my upper body and it all starts to fall apart

Our last few lessons we’ve concentrated on working over poles to a fence. As I mentioned in my last post, this usually starts out fairly easily. Losing the rhythm, and June taking over, usually happens as the exercise, or the jump height, builds. I’ve never had a horse as sensitive as June or as opinionated. She epitomizes “give an inch she’ll take a mile.” And while I love her work ethic, and her attitude of being an over achiever, sometimes I want to sit her in the corner and remind her she doesn’t know how to do EVERYTHING better than I do.

She always enjoys a good gallop around the arena. She’s definitely better at galloping than I am

Seriously, though. Our lesson was great. But it takes just one ineffective ride and it can spirl. One time, I let her rush the fence in the last stride. She was SO proud of herself and cantered off after the jump even though she knew that we land, take a few canter steps and then halt. The next time around, fire breathing dragon appeared. But it’s so funny how she does it. Over the poles it’s: perfect angel, perfect angel, perfect angel, and then the last pole to the jump it’s: MUST GET THERE NOW.

I was definitely more effective in my riding than I have been and shut her down a few times. But that one time, where I don’t catch her in time, and she gets over the jump in an on the forehand ball of not listening? That means we will have to work even harder the next time around.

But the good news is, June is a quick learner. And while she will continue to try some antics to get her way, (including snorting and bringing her head down as she does so in order to try and get the reins longer,) all in all, we’re making progress. I feel like we could trot poles to a fence everyday for 6 months before she gives in and stops trying to take over, but that’s not what we’ll do. We will keep mixing it up, lots of work on the flat, challenge her other ways and soon, hopefully, I’ll have a horse who is light and off her forehand to the fence every time. I mean, it will look lovely and effortless, but we all know, I’ll continue to be working my butt off every single stride.

Tagged , , ,

The Calm After the Storm

The last two weeks have been a good sort of mayhem at work.  After about 10 years of planning, and dreaming, and fund-raising, we moved into our new Animal Adoption and Education Center at work. Considering the tiny hovel we were working in prior, moving into a 16 million dollar facility has been a dream. And a nightmare. Things weren’t working properly at first. A part of the roof was leaking. Nothing had been shoveled so there was nowhere to walk the dogs. And on, and on.We have been working out the kinks for to weeks and yesterday had our Grand Opening. And the public response was overwhelming. We had more visitors than we could have ever expected. The community was thrilled with the building and the work we are doing. Which is excellent.

IMG_0818

Our adoption lobby with a cat colony room and our indoor dog play yard off to the right

But also absolutely exhausting.

Thankfully, I THINK life goes back to normal now. But I feel like there is going to be a new normal we will all have to adjust to.  I’m just so excited to be in the new building and so excited by how much the animals seem to love it.

IMG_0819

Sir Meows a Lot, my favorite cat at the shelter currently. Also, I am super proud that I set this room up for the cats and got to place all the beds and stepping platforms. You’ll also notice a camera on the wall- cat room live streaming!

Working 7 days a week for 2 weeks straight left little time to get to the barn. But I’m so lucky to have Sarah to help me. Whether she throws June hay for me, gets her lunged when I can’t come down, or puts training rides on her, I was so incredibly lucky these past couple weeks not to feel any guilt about not being able to ride or care for June. I think we can really only get through stressful times with the support of friends.

IMG_0820

Pirate and Percy, two adoptable rats housed in our small animal housing,agree that life is better with friends.

Anyway, I DID get to ride June on Sunday AM before I went to work. It was a COLD morning and Sarah was nice enough to turn the heaters on in the indoor before I arrived. I mean, how nice is THAT????

June was a BIT full of herself at first, and got to gallop around for a bit. I was REALLY happy with how she settled down though and we had a really lovely ride. She was light in my hands and nicely forward without rushing. I was especially happy since Sarah had ridden her Friday, her first time jumping her, and she was a bit of a fire breathing dragon. In typical fashion, it started like this:

IMG_0805

Such the perfect pony

And as the jumps went up, and the exercise became more challenging, June tried to take over and stopped listening. But this time, she had Sarah on her back. And they worked through it until she was once again a polite pony through the exercises.

She’s an interesting horse for sure. She’s going to try and try and try to do it her way, and I’m really learning that you have to ride EVERY stride, as she will go from perfect pony to fire breathing dragon in one stride. And once the dragon comes out, it’s really hard to contain. So, my homework is to be a more effective rider and not let the dragon out.

IMG_0807

Not a dragon. Fernando is one of the NICEST chihuahuas I have ever met. I got to help check him in at our new Spay&Neuter Center

I have a jump lesson tonight and then am headed to Gary Mittleider’s for a lesson on Saturday. I was going to cancel, or have Sarah ride June, but instead we’re just going to have a private lesson and work on trotting ground poles or something thrilling like that. June really needs to understand that she has to listen ALL THE TIME before we progress or we’re not going to get anywhere. I think riding somewhere new will be good for her, and getting to get out of dodge for a day will be good for me.

IMG_0781

You know who else is good? Sasha. She’s loving life in her heated floor dog kennel

Anyway, I’m excited for the coming weeks, excited to be in our new facility at work, and excited that one day, who knows when, it will stop snowing.

If you’re interested in learning more about the organization I work for, Mountain Humane, you can follow us on Facebook here: Mountain Humane on Facebook

Or visit our website here: Mountain Humane

Tagged , , , ,

Old Dog Winter

What initially was proving to be a mild winter, has taken a turn for the worse. I think it has snowed almost every day in February? And when I say snow, I mean winter storm snow. And while the current 3 day long storm was deemed “Winter Storm Nadia” I’m still over it and want it to go away.

winter storm

Best of luck to those of you who Nadia messes with

Last winter we had almost no snow, and while this is an anomaly in Idaho, I can’t say I minded. Especially since I am reminded this winter how much work snow blowing and shoveling are.

IMG_0786

I had to “find” my mailbox and dig through the snow to get to it

And while I could spend this post bitching about winter in Idaho, how fun is that? Instead I wanted to give some thoughts on having an old dog in the winter and prepare people for what may be to come when their pets become seniors.

The short story is that Stella is struggling with winter now that we have all this snow. And While I usually shovel paths for the dogs in my yard, I’ve decreased them significantly now that the snow has gotten over 4′ in my yard and there’s really nowhere to put the snow. How does this impact my old dog? Well, it reduces the area she has to potty, but what’s worse is that it changes up her routine.

IMG_0788

Once our back road gets plowed we get out for a potty walk

Stella is basically blind. She has limited daylight vision and really cannot see at all in the dark. Now, imagine having that limited of vision, and your entire world becomes a white blob. And that white blob changes from day to day, meaning you sometimes walk into snow piles because yesterday they were still a path you could walk on.

Because she is stubborn and strong willed, she is figuring it out. She refuses to actually poop in my yard, which means that no matter the weather, we’re going for a walk down the road. She’ll try to get off the road, into the snowbank, as she’s discreet about using the bathroom, but often times the snow is way too deep for this. So, I encourage her not to go into the deep snow, but Stella hasn’t listened to me for 15 years. Why would she start now.

IMG_0737

Stella 4 years ago tearing up the skate ski trails

I’ve basically started keeping her on leash all the time. I can kind of control where she goes and keep her from getting too far into a snowbank.

In addition to snow, we’ve also had some very cold weather. And while Stella has some great winter coats to keep her warm, she hates putting them on. Again, this dog has opinions, and putting her head through a hole and having a coat put on, elicits a grunt EVERY time. And while she seems a bit more stiff and sore, she still trot hops around when the snow is cleared from her path for her.

IMG_0777

Siri hasn’t even noticed it has snowed and spends her days romping with friends

I’m super hopeful that Stella gets to enjoy nice weather again. Seeing her struggle with the current conditions makes me realize just how hard winter is for senior dogs. If nothing else, even though she dislikes it, she looks super cute in her coat.

IMG_0337

Tagged , , ,
Advertisements
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning

A widower at forty-two. What Kateri gave me... what cancer took away... and how I'm coping with life from the woods of Vermont

Centered in the Saddle

On horseback as in life: stay centered for best results.

Eventer in Progress

Laughing at oneself is best done as a group activity

Adventures in Thoroughbreds

Chronicling the journey of an OTTB

Stampy and the Brain

Adventures with my two three favorite horses

The Homesteaders Wife

Faith, Family & Life On The Homestead

Boss Mare Eventing

An amateur eventer's adventures

Three Chestnuts

The life and trials of the three red heads

In Omnia Paratus

An amateur eventer's adventures

Hope's Promise

The blog of a dressage dream come(ing) true

SprinklerBandits

An amateur eventer's adventures

Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management

An inquiry into values and survival in a life with baby horses

the everything pony

who would really much rather eat all day

DIY Horse Ownership

on Mules, Horses, and DIY

OTTBs and Oxers

Eventing. Hunters. Horsemanship.

Horse Glam

Equestrian. Life. Style.

The Frugal Foxhunter

More bang for your buck than showing

The Printable Pony

An amateur eventer's adventures

The Roaming Rider

"Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life." - Robin Sharma

Urban Thoroughbred

West and East Coast adventures with OTTBs

Clover Ledge Farm

An amateur eventer's adventures

Eventing Saddlebred Style

An amateur eventer's adventures

The Repurposed Horse

An amateur eventer's adventures

PONY'TUDE

An amateur eventer's adventures

Poor Woman Showing

An amateur eventer's adventures

Live Your Adventure

Tara - Horse lover, horse rider, horse enthusiast

SmartPak Blog

An amateur eventer's adventures

The Blog of Travel

Motorbikes, dogs and a lot of traveling.

Hunky Hanoverian

An amateur eventer's adventures

*TBA*

An amateur eventer's adventures

Cob Jockey

An amateur eventer's adventures

She Moved to Texas

An amateur eventer's adventures

Guinness on Tap

An amateur eventer's adventures

Equestrian At Hart

adventures in riding & life

 Clover Ledge Farm

An amateur eventer's adventures

Viva Carlos

An amateur eventer's adventures

Horsemanship 101

Leprechaun Lane Training Center's Guide to Horsemanship

ridingwithscissors.wordpress.com/

Horse humor and the musings of a weenie adult eventer

May As Well Event

Here's To Not Following Your Own Advice

A Yankee in Paris

No animals were harmed in the making of this blog...

Horse Listening

Horses. Riding. Life.

EquiNovice

Becoming a student of horsemanship.