What’s in a Name?

I take show names VERY seriously. I’m always thinking of good names and forgetting to write them down for the future. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve tried to think of clever names for our horses, even if I was the only one in my family who thought our horses needed anything beyond the name we used in the barn. One year I even went so far as to save up my money and get a stall plaque for our horse Mouse with the name I had given him- Frequent Flyer. My Dad was kind enough to put it up on his stall, not even questioning the fact that I had renamed his horse.

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Mouse. Man this horse was fun to jump!

When I got my first horse as adult I thought endlessly about what I wanted to name her. Her current name, Hillary, was the same as my sister’s, so I knew that had to go. Being obsessed with everything Irish, I named her Kilkee, after a small seaside village in Ireland. As for her registered show name? I knew I wanted it to be a nod to U2, the band I have loved since grade school. And so, Kilkee’s Beautiful Day became her registered name. I LOVED it. Even if it was a mouthful.

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This was Buttons. The Irish horse I did not bring home. But I decided that if I had his name would be Dartfield’s Dream Maker

The only bad part about leasing Georgie was I couldn’t change her name. And while I deemed her The Sweetest Thing (another U2 song) for unrecognized shows, her “show name” was always just.. Georgie.

And so, clearly, I’ve given a lot of thought to June’s show name.  And while I thought I had one all figured out, now I’m doubting myself.

Because June is a warmblood, and I got her from a breeder, her name comes with some contingencies. Apparently, in this new world to me, warmbloods are supposed to have names that begin with the letter of their sire.

So, June’s sire is Riverman, and therefore her name should start with an R.

And, her breeder, before I bought her, had already named and registered her with USEA as Riverine.

Which, if I am being honest, I don’t like at all.

But, June’s registered name is still Riverine and will be for a little while longer per an agreement with her breeder. And, that’s fine. Other than her 4yr old FEH class, I haven’t taken her to a recognized event.

Knowing that I don’t want her name to stay Riverine, yet wanting to stay with the U2 theme, I got to thinking. Here’s my choice of songs that start with R:

Raised By Wolves
Red Hill Mining Town
Red Light
The Refugee
Rejoice
A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel
Running To Stand Still

And while Raised By Wolves would actually be apretty funny show name, it may not be appreciated by those who raised her…And she’s actually far from feral. I LOVE the song Running to Stand Still, but it seems to be asking for a jump refusal?

So, I decided to stretch my scope a little bit and moved to an album name. Rattle and Hum. Not my favorite U2 album, but I liked the idea of the name. A little bit rough, a little bit smooth. I figured this characterized our relationship. So, currently, her unofficial show name is Rattle&Hum

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Her recognized name is Georgie, her barn name is Pig Pen

But there’s been something nagging away at me. One of my most favorite names for a horse, and one I have been DYING to name a horse, is: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts.

Any Friday Night Lights fans reading this blog? If there are, you’ll know that before running out onto the field, the football team would rally around each other and yell “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!”

And, since that show gives me ALL the feels, I would get goosebumps every time. (Also, if you’ve never seen the show- give it a shot. It’s actually NOT about football, and is so incredibly well done.)

But, that name would not start with an R. So it went out of contention pretty quickly.

And then this happened:

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Taylor Kitsch, one of the stars from Friday Night Lights came and played hockey against our local semi pro (ish) team

And I totally fan girl’d. I went to the games and was the only one cheering for the Austin Wolves, our home team’s rival. And it was a blast.

And I started thinking about the show, and how much I loved it, and also, more importantly, how much I loved the message of Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.

Maybe it’s totally cheesy? Maybe I’m over thinking it? But besides most U2 songs, there’s not much else that gives me such strong feels as much as this show does. (Some seasons and story lines more than others..)

So, what’s a girl to do? How important is the whole sire thing? I guess the real question is, how important is it to me? And the answer is not very. I clearly root for the underdog, so I don’t care that everyone knows I have a Riverman baby (although I do name drop him here a lot- sorry about that.) I also don’t “owe” anything to anyone- I’m not campaigning this horse for anyone. I’m pretty sure people aren’t going to watch us go around and immediately try to find out who her sire is.

So, do I buck convention and go with my heart? I’m leaning that way.. but a part of me sometimes has a hard time bucking convention because I don’t want to upset anyone. Even people I don’t know. Sigh. It’s a problem.

And here are some more photos of Taylor Kitsch on the ice, because I hope I’ve got some fans reading this blog.

So, let me know your thoughts. And also if you’ve got some great names you’re dying to use.

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Getting Back to Work

Great news- June is feeling much better! So, as much as I will complain about the cost of this product, hey, at least it works!

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Stocking up. I’ll be seeing lots of it while I have June

June is back to eating well and she doesn’t seem to mind the hay nets.

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Sometimes she gets a little extra in her tub, just to entice her to come over and eat

And while I am pretty much a pro at filling hay nets now, it’s not my long term plan for her. If I want to make sure she has hay in front of her for long periods of time, a hay net isn’t going to work if it is being changed out twice a day, which is what my barn offers.

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Her set up. Alfalfa on the left, grass/alfalfa mix on the right. Isn’t Idaho hay beautiful?

So, I’m going to go ahead and purchase a Porta Grazer. Thanks to the recommendation of my veterinarian and the confirmation of it being great by Stampy and the Brain, I’m excited to try it out and see if we can get her hay to last a long time.

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And, as the name suggests, it’s portable and can go wherever June goes!

So, with my pony feeling better, a crap load of Gastroguard still to give, and a feeding plan that I think will work well, we’re ready to get back to work! I have a lesson scheduled for tomorrow, so vacation #2 is over, June. Sorry!

Here’s to moving forward and never looking back!

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Being June’s neighbor has it’s advantages. Someone gets lots of treats and maybe a handful of hay as I am filling hay nets…

 

Ulcers Confirmed

Yesterday June went in to have a gastric scope done and see if ulcers were in fact the culprit. She was not happy about having been fasted, which I found ironic, considering the hunger strike she’s been on.

I’ve never seen a horse have a gastric scoping, and while I would have preferred to have seen one done on someone else’s horse, it was still really interesting.

I’m smiling as dolla dolla bills come flying out of my wallet…

June was sedated for the scoping and once she was sufficiently sleepy, a tube with a camera on the end was placed into her nose. The tube was snaked along until it entered her stomach. At this point, air was pumped into her stomach, making the lining nice and taught, so the veterinarian could get a better view of what things looked like.

At first, things looked really good. But then the scope was snaked a little further, and we could view the opening of the small intestine. Apparently this is where ulcers like to hide. And, we found some!

See the white line at the bottom right of the picture? That should be nice and smooth. The jagged edges are indicative of an ulcer, as is the redness in her stomach lining

The veterinarian considered them mild to moderate, but in my mind, an ulcer is an ulcer. You either have them or you don’t, and if you have them, they need to be treated. So, we’ll continue the Gastroguard regiment for 28 days and see how she’s feeling.

We spent quite a while talking about management as well as how to move forward. My veterinarian felt June had experienced quite a few changes lately, so it wasn’t totally surprising that she developed ulcers. In her opinion, the best thing we can do is give her a chance to be continually eating. She said she wanted June to have the opportunity to eat for 20 of the 24 hours in a day. Wow. Now, I know I’ve mentioned that my horses growing up would do this. But that’s the joy of having horses at home. You can control things like that. It’s far more difficult when you are at a boarding facility.

A drunk June loves Sarah

So, I’ve begun researching slow feeders in earnest. And have a few ideas on which path I want to take. (But would love any yays or nays for those of you with experience with certain ones). We’ve added alfalfa to June’s diet which has shown to help ulcers and I’ll be adding a feed that also helps prevent ulcers. When she travels and is at shows she will get Ulcerguard. Hopefully, with some good management we can keep this from happening again.

Such captivating images of her stomach!

I lunged her today per my veterinarian’s recommendation to exercise her lightly and she seemed to feel good. She ate quite a bit post vet appt and seems to have a bit of an appetite back, so hopefully her meds are helping.

I’m hopeful we can get back to a consistent routine soon, and also hope our new management routine will be good for her long term!

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Cold Temps, Belly Kicks, and Scopes

Not too much to report, as I am just waiting to get June scoped tomorrow. She was doing much better, eating well, and then fell off the wagon again and went on a mini hunger strike. We added some straight alfalfa to her daily feeding (she already gets grass/alfalfa mix) and she seems to enjoy that. She is eating out of the hay net, but prefers to throw it around all over the place when it starts to get empty. I was worried she wouldn’t eat out of it, but that isn’t a problem. Apparently she thinks of it as a toy that also tastes yummy…

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I have zero recent media so here’s a pic of happier times

I took her out Monday to groom and lunge her a little and she was feeling meh. On the lunge I asked her to trot and instead she started galloping and kicking out. Not a buck, more of a “my belly hurts” kick. So, we stopped, and I walked her and then put her away. Interestingly she went to eat when she returned to her paddock. So, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to when she does and does not eat.

Tuesday I just came down to give her meds and kiss her nose. It was all of 1 degree out, so I didn’t stay out there any longer than I really needed to. This cold spell has me even more concerned about the fact that she’s not eating, and my hope is the cold weather spurs on a need to get some calories and she eats a bit.

Fingers crossed the scope is routine. I am expecting ulcers, but lets hope they aren’t horrid, or the worst the vet has ever seen? My animals seem to go to the extreme when they hurt themselves….

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She may have severely injured her back at age 14 but look at her go now!

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Dressage Tests and Ulcers

Despite the fact that we had a dressage schooling show coming up, in my most recent lesson, I opted to jump. And while I have no media as proof, June was really fantastic. I gave her a day off afterwards and got a text that June didn’t seem very interested in her hay. I went down to the barn to find June in her shed with a tub of uneaten hay. Banamine was given, she was lunged lightly and fingers were crossed. She wasn’t any better the following morning, so Sarah gave her some more Banamine and I stopped by to check on her. She was bright and alert and seemingly normal. If she was colicking, it must be mild. But then, why wasn’t the Banamine working? Just as I was thinking she might have ulcers, I received a text from Sarah that said “Ya know, I think she might have ulcers and this isn’t colic.”

I drove over to the vet’s office to see about having them come out and happened to catch her veterinarian between appointments. She agreed, ulcers seemed likely. I have her scheduled to be scoped on Thursday, and in the meantime have begun her on the crazy expensive Gastroguard regime for 30 days. I will admit there was a part of me that was like “How does this horse have ulcers??? I haven’t even asked anything of her yet?”

But in thinking it through, and reading a great article Sarah sent me from horse.com (along with some others) it seems it doesn’t take much for most horses to have ulcers. And probably the biggest contributing factor to her ulcers (which at this time I can only assume are the problem) are that she is “meal fed” as my veterinarian called it. Meaning, June gets two meals a day, and that isn’t great for a horse’s gastric health. Now, I love the barn I board at. But, do I love that my horse spends hours upon hours without anything to eat? No. Especially since I grew up with horses who never had any issues with colic or ulcers and spent their days out on pasture, eating all day long. So, this is tough for me. And clearly, it’s tough for June too. But the good news is, I have some solutions to keeping hay in front of her for longer periods of time, without having to change how the barn feeds her. More on that, later.

 

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More of this please!

Having suffered from an ulcer myself this summer, I knew how painful they can be, and also, that eating actually makes them feel better. Along with Omeprazole. I also knew the meds can take a few days to work, and actually, if she doesn’t have ulcers, they would not help a bit. But, by the next day, she was already eating a bit more. And while she wasn’t her complete sassy self, she was feeling well enough to at least get excited about feeding time.  And while I had initially thought I would scratch from the dressage show, on Saturday morning, seeing as she was feeling better, I decided to go ahead and ride in the show. I mean, we were doing a walk/trot test and it was at our barn. Stress levels should remain low for all involved. I made a deal that I would keep spurs off and that I wouldn’t fight with her. We’d just go into warm up and see what mood she was in. If she was willing to work, we’d work. If she felt crappy, I’d scratch.

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So cute!

She actually felt calm and relaxed. Perhaps a little duller than usual, but with lots going on around her, she was curious, but not anxious. And she handled the little bit of atmosphere like a champ. I definitely could have been smarter about my warm up. I could have done more transitions and worked on getting her to listen to my aids. I did some work on 20m circles and trying to be straight up centerline, which was fine. But I think in general, I just need to go into warm up with a plan, rather than figuring it out when I am already on her back. Especially with a young horse. I was overly concerned with symmetry instead of quality of my gaits. Therefore, our circles were ok, but June was dragging me around, and not listening to my aids very well. Lesson learned. There is a lot of work on transitions in our future. I was also overly worried about connection, instead of riding forward and with rhythm. Rhythm before connection, Nadia. Remember that next time.

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But connection can look so pretty!

But overall? Overall I was thrilled with her. She was focused and willing and a really really good girl. I think with a better warm up plan, and using warm up wisely, I could have imporved a lot of things, but I came out of both tests just thrilled with how it went and thrilled at our potential future.

June seemed unfazed by all of it, and was completely ready for treats when we were all done. And while she never gets treats unless she is in the horse trailer or her paddock, I made an exception and was happy to see how eager she was for them.

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So, all in all, a mixed bag week. I’ll keep you all posted on her scope this Thursday. I guess at this point, fingers crossed we find ulcers? Blerg. But, as always, I have a plan in place and we’ll get through this.

 

 

 

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Fraggle Friday: Things I’ve Learned About Senior Dogs

Stella is not my first senior dog. Montana, my very first dog, was adopted while I was in college and I had her for about 12 years. She grew old with me, and in the end, despite two hip replacements to help with severe hip dysplasia, her body just couldn’t do it anymore.

There’s some ailments that seems to affect most senior dogs, once they’re of a certain age. Decreased mobility and dementia seem to be the ones that effect the most dogs, in my experience. Montana started to go into corners and stare at walls. She began panting and pacing a lot, usually not needing to go anywhere, just as if she was uncomfortable in her own skin. I tried special food, and even meds. And they helped to a certain degree, but in the end, she was an old dog, and I couldn’t change that.

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While I did everything I could for Montana, I feel I have learned so much more about what senior dogs need through the years.  And while I am happy Stella gets to benefit from this, it hurts my heart that Montana did not. Senior dogs need special care. More than just a dog food labeled “Senior.” A friend, lamenting about aging parents, said to me “once an adult, twice a child.” It took me a moment to understand what she meant, but then it rang so true. We start our lives depending on others, and unable to care for ourselves, and if we live long enough, most likely we will end our lives the same way. I think about this phrase a lot when I am caring for Stella and it’s led me to understand a few things that can really help senior pets.

Stick to a Routine

If you don’t do anything else, this will still help your senior dog immensely. Stella knows my routine better than I do. She knows that I open the blinds to the front window right before I take her for a walk. She would hear or see those blinds move, and she knew it was time to get up and get going. Nowadays, she can’t hear the blinds opening, and rarely wakes up while I am opening them, but I keep the routine the same regardless. Feeding time, walk time, nap time, everything, I try to keep it as regimented as possible. If she wants to sleep in, great, but if I don’t wake up when she wants to go out, she starts to pace and gets stressed. Knowing what to expect greatly reduces her stress, and I do my best to help with that.

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Remember New Places Aren’t as Fun as They Used to Be

What young dog doesn’t bound out of the car and love to explore new smells? Siri is an absolute spaz the first night in a new place. And while Stella has travelled to hundreds of places with me, and she still loves a car ride, spending time in a new place when you can’t see or hear very well, can be very stressful. Especially for dogs suffering from dementia. Getting out of her familiar routine and having to adjust to a new place can create an anxious, pacing, dog. To try and help her, I always bring along her favorite bed. I try to put this bed away from all the activity going on so she has a quiet location she can claim as her own. If she were better about being crate trained, I would bring her crate along and just have her hang out in her crate in a new place. I’ve cut back on a lot of the places I house/pet sit as it’s too stressful for her, and instead try and only take her places with me that she knows well.

Take a Cue From Motel 6

And leave the light on for them. Stella used to get up and walk into things when she was trying to find her water bowl. After a night of this, I went out and purchased a night light. Now, Stella follows the light and has no problem finding her water bowl. In new places, I leave a stronger light on for her since she won’t be as familiar with where she is going. It seems to have made a huge difference in her anxiety level. I also think this is key for dogs with dementia, especially if the pacing and staring happens primarily at night.

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They May Need to Go Out More Frequently

This one probably seems pretty obvious. But it took an accident in the house for the first time in 11 years for me to realize my senior dog Montana couldn’t hold her bladder for 6-7 hours anymore. With Stella, I try to get her our every 4-4.5 hours during the day, and she usually sleeps 7-8 hours at night without an issue. However, she’s quick to let me know that even if it’s snowing and 5am, she still needs to go out. I limit her evening water intake if possible, or try to get her drinking around 6-7 pm rather than 9-10pm.

They May Not Want to Go for a Walk

Stella loved nothing more than running and running and running some more when she was young. Even these days, she loves bombing around the barn, helping me bring June in from her paddock. But other times, she has zero desire to go for a walk. She wants to go potty and go back inside. And that’s ok. I let her dictate what she wants to do, rather than me sticking to a plan. I let her be the control freak, rather than me. Or, I try at least.

Getting Old is Hard for Them, Too

It’s hard for us to see our dogs age. The once crazy puppy who now spends 90% of its time sleeping can be a hard transition to experience. Stella has always been an independent dog who never needed my help. But that’s changed now. She needs my help going up the stairs. She needs my help to soften her kibble prior to eating it. She relies on me for so many things now. I know she doesn’t love it when I help her up the stirs. I know she would rather not need to be leashed when it is dark out because she can’t see her way. So, I try to honor who she was by still giving her as much independence as possible. If there are steps she can go up and down, I let her. I praise her like crazy for taking a few steps at a run. I pretend I’ve just walked into the house when she doesn’t wake up until I have been there for a good 5 minutes. I try to be my most patient self at all times because deep down, I know that taking a minute or two longer to get up isn’t happening because it’s what she wants, it’s happening because it’s all she can do.

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We still spend time on top of mountains so she can feel the wind in her fur PC: Nate Liles

So give your senior pup a kiss and enjoy every single moment you have with them. They sure deserve it!

 

 

 

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June’s Dressage Foundation

June’s dressage work has begun in earnest, and I thought it would be interesting to share our progress thus far.

Someone once said to me that dressage is similar to Pilates for humans. Essentially, we’re building core strength, so our horse can become more flexible and supple for whatever we are going to ask of them. If you have no core strength in either Pilates or dressage, you have no foundation, and doing anything that is asked of you is that much more difficult. And I don’t know about any of you, but if I don’t have a solid core for Pilates work, I start taking short cuts. And these shortcuts do nothing to help me become strong enough to do what is being asked of me. Again, I think this is very similar to dressage. And while some may say dressage isn’t as thrilling as jumping, I tend to disagree. While I don’t get the adrenaline rush from dressage that I do from jumping, feeling my horse work underneath me, from very simple aids, is actually quite thrilling, and quite amazing to me.

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Seeing this happen was really, really thrilling

So, June. My number one goal with her has always been to make sure she is fit enough to do what I am asking. This is why, in the beginning, I focused solely on getting miles on her. Sure, I had to work on the simplest of simple things, like go forward, woah, and turn. But we also worked on what my leg meant, especially what different leg aids meant. And then we added the trot, and I started getting her used to finding her balance with me bouncing around on her back. We began working on walk/halt transitions where she couldn’t halt in a hollow frame. Everything had to be coming back to front. This is a work in progress. As you can imagine. It’s far easier to halt, throw your head up, hollow your back and use zero ab muscles. But, with time, we are getting to where June naturally steps into the halt using her abs and her back doesn’t hollow. Is this thrilling work? No, but it is fascinating to me to see how capable she is of the work, and how all the pieces are coming together.

I’m going to refer to our old friend the Dressage Pyramid again:

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While I don’t think the Dressage Pyramid must be worked on from top to bottom at all times (some days you’re going to have impulsion without much rhythm), I do think it is really helpful when starting a young horse. For example, June and I spent weeks (and still work on it..) just on Rhythm. Getting her to walk and trot in one rhythmic pace was nearly impossible for her in the beginning. And again, when I began asking more from her, for example, when I began working on connection, rhythm went out the window as she tried speeding up and slowing down as tactics to not have to engage her abs. So, Rhythm was our goal, and some rides, continues to be our goal.

Relaxation is a funny one too. There is a reason it is near the beginning of the Pyramid. When June is relaxed and focused, we can get so much more work done. You need a relaxed horse in order to get that work from behind. In my experience, when she is not relaxed I go back to that hollow, un supple horse, who is not fun to ride.

And, we’ve just begun working on connection. I probably took longer to get to working on connection than many people do, but I don’t regret it. Especially when I see how easy it is for June, now that she has a good base of fitness, understands my aids, and she is strong enough to properly execute what is being asked of her. No short cuts for her!

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Maybe one day she’ll look as good as her Daddy

We’ve done quite a bit of work in side reins prior to me ever asking for connection on her back. Months of slowly shortening the side reins. I didn’t want to overwhelm her, or scare her, and again, I wanted her to be strong enough for the next step at all times. This has helped her get a strong core, so that, when I got on her back and asked for a leg to hand connection, it was there. At first, only for a few steps, but with each ride it is getting better and better. Two weeks ago I was complaining that our downward transitions were crap, and just recently I asked for a downward and was shocked at how she kept the connection and stepped into the transition, rather than hollowing.

June isn’t even 4 1/2 years old yet, and it is really important to me not to push her too quickly, especially since so far she has responded so well to the work at hand. And while some horses mature faster than others, and can handle a bit more pressure, I honestly don’t think I would start a horse differently than I have with her. As an athlete myself, I can’t imagine being asked to do something I am physically not strong enough to do yet. Sure, we need to push ourselves occasionally, but if we push ourselves prior to having a good foundation, that’s where I believe we start to see injuries and problems.

Obviously this is all personal opinion, and there are a hundred ways to start a horse. However, there’s no harm in seeing what has worked for people, or understanding their approach, even if it’s not the way you do things. My hope is I continue to learn as much as June during this process and we’re a capable and strong team for may years to come.

 

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How To Let It Go

June has been back about 3 1/2 weeks now, and all in all, I am REALLY happy with the progress we are making. But, as of 5 days ago, I hadn’t cantered her since her return. I wasn’t really all that worried about it, we had so many other things to work on, but then I realized I had entered an upcoming dressage show and that test involved cantering. So, the time had come to get cantering.

On this particular evening where I decided to canter again, June and I were not having the best of rides. There was a lot of miscommunication going on, a lot of unhappy pony and rider. But, because I am not the most easygoing and flexible person (I’m working on it!) I decided it was still time to canter. And so, I asked her to canter. She picked it up for a stride and broke. So, we tried again. And same result. So, I changed direction. No better luck. So, the next time I kicked her into the canter and off we went. There was nothing nice about it, but we were cantering. At about the third 20m circle she let out a buck. And while it didn’t unseat me, I did pull her up, which is basically exactly what you shouldn’t do. But, I was by myself, and scared. So, we did some trot work, and then I threw her in side reins and lunged her in the canter. She didn’t buck once

A couple of days later, I had a lesson. I let Sarah know what had happened and we both agreed we would see how the lesson went, and if we would canter. And the lesson was going great. I had a responsive horse who was trying hard and there were very few disagreements between us. And so Sarah said “when you get back to the rail, ask for the canter.”

Oh, we’re going to canter? Wait, I didn’t know. Um, ok.

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Basically my face when I heard the word canter

But, I asked her to canter. And she had the loveliest transition. So what did I do?  I sat on her back  with my knees clenched into her sides, my arms not moving, and I couldn’t get my shoulders behind my elbows if my life depended on it. Sarah was telling me to relax, bring my hands down, follow, ungrip my knees, essentially do ANYTHING other than what I was doing. And I got a little better, but then we had to change direction. And again, lovely canter transition, but I didn’t care, I was gripping and pulling and then I felt her back tighten and I just stopped her.

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Basically what Sarah looked like after me pulling up June

Which led to a bit of an exchange between Sarah and I. When I tried to explain that I pulled her up because I thought she was going to buck, and I clearly was riding like crap, and couldn’t relax and was therefore pissing her off, Sarah basically read me the riot act. Sometimes, when it’s your best friend, who is also your instructor, you can be brutally honest with each other. And essentially, she told me to buck up (ha ha ha) and that I need to get over the fear of her bucking and ride well, and don’t teach her that if she gets tight in her back, she gets to stop.

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Yeah. She’s right. But still. My tailbone is barely healed.

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So, we picked June back up, and got right back to it. Sarah was expecting June to be pissy now that she had gotten a break and I didn’t know what to expect but I vowed to ride well and be better than who I had been 5 minutes ago.

So, we did some nice walk/trot/walk transitions, and then moved on to the canter. I relaxed my knees. I followed with my hips. My arms moved with the motion, elbows unstuck from my sides. By God, I think my shoulders were actually behind my elbows, in case something went awry, but most importantly, I just let her canter. And it was quite lovely. And easy. And then we trotted, changed direction at X and did it all again the other way. We had lovely upward and downward transitions and it was all just magical. I didn’t worry about getting bucked off. I didn’t worry about anything,really, and instead I just rode my horse, and did what my instructor told me to do. Essentially, I took Step 1 in Letting It Go.

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Macy used to be spooky and reactive and I used that as a crutch as to why I couldn’t do what Sarah was asking me to do.

Now, June bucks, and I am using that as a crutch as well. But unlike Macy, this is my horse, my partner for the foreseeable future, and to have that crutch is just going to hold us back. So, I’m letting it go. And I’m going into each ride, thinking about riding well, and how I want to ride this horse, instead of “but what if?” Because “what if” has never helped anyone move forward, find inner peace, or develop a partnership with their new horse. So, here’s to a new attitude, and riding to my ability, not my fear.

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Black Friday on Wednesday

I’ll be honest. I LOVE Thanksgiving and hate that it gets overshadowed by Black Friday sometimes. I mean, isn’t the entire point of Thanksgiving to be thankful for what you have and who you are surrounded by?

But the other part of me, the frugal part who loves a deal, can’t turn a blind eye to Black Friday. And I secretly love Amanda C’s Black Friday post, even though some years I come away without a single purchase.

This year though, there were a couple of things I had my eye on. And, because I just wanted to get the shopping done, I started shopping on Wednesday, hoping I could get it all done before prepping for and thoroughly enjoying, Thanksgiving.

And, well, I got it all done before Black Friday, thanks to Riding Warehouse.

In my opinion, RW did a couple VERY smart things. For one, giving 25% off all purchases is a huge selling point. I ended up purchasing a new black show coat from them, something I really, really, needed. Going into the purchase I had a couple of requirements. I wanted a moderately feminine design with a hidden zipper. I wasn’t sold on one brand, although I  loved my Horseware coat that I previously had. Upon some perusing I found an Equine Couture coat that was on clearance. It met my criteria and while I’m not entirely convinced it’s not a bit too Michael Jackson looking, a 50% off pricetag caught my eye and had me taking the plunge.

I’m hopeful I love it and June and I will be moonwalking to many amazing dressage tests. Or something.

So, I purchased the coat and was like DONE!

But then, a few hours later I was like “Sh*T! I need winter riding gloves!!”

And this is where RW did the second incredibly smart thing. The gloves didn’t meet the $50 minimum for free shipping, so I was hoping I could add them to my existing order. I contacted Customer Service via online chat and was told that my order was already packaged (holy quick processing!) and therefore the gloves couldn’t be added.

But they would be happy to waive the shipping costs if I would still like to purchase the gloves.

They made it so easy. I used the same payment method, and before I knew it, I had another email confirming the purchase of my new Heritage Spectrum Winter Competition Show Riding Gloves

Also, 25% off and no shipping costs!

So, with Thanksgiving and all the joys of family, friends and food behind you, if you haven’t already, get shopping. And may I recommend Riding Warehouse? I am so impressed with their customer service, ease of use and obviously their amazing products.

I already have my eye on this saddle pad. Let’s see if I can get through today without purchasing it….

 

 

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What A Week!

June got put through ALL her paces this past week, and I’ve got to admit, I am very proud of how she stepped up to the plate.

On Tuesday, she had her first lesson since returning. I had Trainer Sarah hop on her first-I wanted Sarah to have a clear idea of where June was at and what we needed to work on. Sarah worked her hard. She didn’t let June get away with anything, and while June kept trying different tactics, (which will be a post of its own) in the end, June was willing and tried hard.

And then, Sarah handed the reins to me. And all I could think was “You want me to get on her after you just worked her hard? Great. She’s going to buck me into next week.” I mean, that was pretty much the MO of our last ride. She got tired, I made her keep working, and she said “NO THANK YOU.” (That loudly..)

But I hopped on her and I got this.

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Sorry for the blurry screenshot, but you get the idea…

She went to work and really, really, impressed me. We worked for about 20 minutes and I got a feel for all her evasion tactics, but also got a glimpse of what things would be like in the future. And I am really,really, excited.

Next up was trail ride with my friend Haley and her talented and adorable OTTB Tommy. This would be a tough ride for June. Lots of hills and lots of tough terrain. It was also her first trail ride with me back in the saddle since her return. She loaded up easily (and has even been granted her hay bag back so she can eat out of that instead of a hay net) and after a quick lunge at the trail head, we were off.

She was basically perfect.

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Incredible views

She led, followed, thought about where she was putting her feet, ignored Siri running around, and even crossed a stream! I was thrilled with her.

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I hoped she was tired, because the day wasn’t over for her yet.

When we got back to the barn, Haley and I brought our horses into the indoor arena and got ready for a time-honored fall tradition.

Clipping.

I’ve clipped June’s bridle path, and de-sensitized her to the sound and feel of clippers, but this would be her first time getting body clipped. I soon realized I didn’t have an extra extension cord and that she would just have to ground tie. So, expecting the worst, I got started. And she stood there, back foot cocked, not moving for about 3/4 of the entire experience. She got a little antsy at the end, especially since Tommy was also done, so we have some finish work to do. But honestly, I clipped her head, belly, flank,and had zero issues. She couldn’t have been easier. Um, she was better than Georgie. But don’t tell anyone I said that.

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I think she likes her trace clip…

And then, to end the week, I agreed to help out with Drill Team. You may remember I did this with Georgie a couple of years ago.  It’s kind of organized insanity. Lots of horses, flags, more horses, and lots of riding in pairs.

June was a little skeptical. Not about the flags flying by her, but by horses getting too close to her. She made it clear she likes her personal space.

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Flag flying around behind her? No big deal. Horse wanting to befriend her? Skeptical.

She was, once again, a really, really, good sport for all of it. We did some “pattern” work and her biggest challenge was slowing down for her partner, a western pleasure horse who was in no hurry.

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See that paint behind us? That’s our partner who had some trouble keeping up….

I’m hopeful drill makes a warm up arena seem like no big deal.

It was quite a week for this baby horse’s brain, and I think she proved to me just how capable she is of being a big girl!

 

 

 

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