Tag Archives: perspective

June’s First Trail Ride: aka June Can Buck

In my human mind, trail rides are like when your teacher tells you you’ll be watching a movie during class. You’re like ” sweet! Easy class!” I mean, what horse wouldn’t love a trail ride? You get to hang out with friends, not work, and munch grass.

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Look at that view! Who wouldn’t enjoy that view??

But that was my human mind. I didn’t really look at this from the perspective of an equine. June doesn’t know what a trail ride is. She knows she was trailered about 30 minutes to an unknown location where there were no other horses other than the one she trailered with. We’re in the middle of nowhere. She knows her mother didn’t lunge her, even though she lunges her before every ride. She knows that her mom got on her and expected her to walk out into the unknown forest.

And she responded by launching her mom into outer space.

I’m not making excuses for her. Launching me 1 minute after I got on her back, is not ok. But, since she is a baby horse, I am trying to figure out where I went wrong. And all I can think is it was a bit too much out of her comfort zone.

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Sure, this looks like fun… but not really

We did complete the trail ride. Despite a hard fall, I lunged the snot out of her, and then walked with her out the trail. I rode for about 1/2 the ride and for those moments, she was great. But I was sore, and defeated, and my confidence was blown. So, I didn’t ride her over stream crossings, and when I felt she needed a break I walked along side her. But we completed a 3.6 mile trail ride in the Idaho wilderness.

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Look at me riding my horse on a trail! Also, maybe I shouldn’t have brought Siri along to run around her?

And because I have an amazing friend, and I knew I had to conquer my fears of getting launched on trail rides, I asked Sarah if she would be up for another trail ride the following day. And so, the following day, we loaded the horses up, and gave it one more shot.

And this time, I lunged June.

I left the dog at home.

I didn’t ask any more of her than I do back home in the arena.

And she was foot perfect.

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And I look pretty happy!

She looked around and took it all in, but happily followed Rapid into the Idaho wilderness. This was somewhere she had never been, and she was okay with that. I asked her to lead on the way home and it was ok- she led for a bit, but was clearly a bit unsure. So, we let Rapid lead again, and I rode home on a loose rein.

Was it the perfect first trail ride?

Hell no.

But it ended well, and I am less sore than I was. I learned that keeping her routine as solid as possible is important for her. She wants to be lunged before I ride her no matter where we are. Skipping that, and asking her to be perfect somewhere new, wasn’t fair.

So, June can buck. I knew that. And I need to keep that in mind next time I want to hop on her and do something new. That seems a small price to pay for a horse who otherwise has been fantastic.

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Fraggle Friday: Stella Milestones

Today marks two months from Stella’s first seizure.

When that seizure happened, I hoped I had one month, prayed for two months, with her. I heard brain tumors grew quickly, and 1-2 months was a reasonable prediction for how long she would have.

Stella had back surgery on April 10th. On that day I hoped she would make it through surgery and regain some mobility. I hoped she could walk on her own again. I never expected her to walk up stairs or run. At 14 years old, I kept my expectations in check for what this dog would be able to do.

But apparently I forgot it was Stella who had back surgery and a brain tumor. Stella, the dog who I joked, if she were a human, she would be a multi sport Olympian. This is not a dog who is going to sit around and let anything stop her.

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This photo was taken 7/13. Clearly she can run…. PC:Nate Liles

And, so, a summer of adventures began. And, because it was summer, our adventures have involved a LOT of time in the water.

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Amazing weekend trip to Stanley, Idaho. Stella hadn’t been in the water yet this summer, and I worried she would have trouble. She didn’t.

On this trip to Stanley, Stella realized she felt GOOD. She took off down a trail thinking that’s the way we were going. Bring that she is basically deaf, and totally independent, I ended up running after her down the trail for 5 minutes when it became clear she was not coming back to me.

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She’s still one of the strongest swimmers. Siri does her best to keep up

She still loves to play fetch, although sometimes she can’t actually see the stick once I’ve thrown it into the water…

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Ready to fetch!

And to be honest, some days are better for her than others. Yesterday she just wanted to sleep. It’s been hot and smokey so I pretty much feel the same way. I’ve stopped thinking “is this your last day?” every single day, and instead am just enjoying every single day we have together.

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Siri is really good at convincing Stella to cuddle

It’s been an incredibly fun summer with her, and I am so thankful I get to continue having her in my life!

 

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The Georgie Predicament

To catch you all up, Georgie went to her new lessee April 1st. She’s being leased by a junior rider who hasn’t done a whole lot of jumping and Georgie is the perfect match to help her build confidence in eventing.

I was super happy when I heard this gal would be riding Georgie. She’d be in a lesson program with Sarah, part of Pony Club, and I knew Georgie would love not being asked much in dressage while still getting to jump some small jumps.

I have the option of riding Georgie once a week to assess mental and physical soundness, and give any feedback to Sarah. Initially I thought I would DEFINITELY ride her weekly, but as the months have gone by, I’m riding her less and less. For one thing, Georgie doesn’t need me to ride her. I watch her with her new rider and she looks great. Sound and happy. Secondly, I have June to focus on. And while I did pony June off of Georgie one day, that ended up being a lot of work and not really stress free, so I haven’t done it since.

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This about sums up that ride

I’m lucky in that Georgie’s pen is next to June’s. The two mares have become buddies and get turned out together. When I bring June back from a ride, I give Georgie a treat before giving one to June, just so June knows where she stands in the hierarchy 😉

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I get to see lots of Georgie’s butt when she’s out on pasture..

My dilemma is this.

I love watching Georgie with her new rider, I honestly do. Of course there is a part of me that wishes I was still her rider, but dwelling on that does me no good. What’s harder for me, is watching Georgie succeed without me.

Does that seem weird/selfish/horrible? It probably is, but hear me out.

Georgie is currently competing at the Intro level in Pony Club events and doing up to 2’3 at jumper shows or derbies. This should come as no surprise, but she is rocking it at this level. Mare can “assume the position” in dressage and is far more put together than any other horse she is competing against. Get her out on cross country and she lopes around safely with an attitude of “just hang on, I got this.” And while she did hit a rail at her last event (which made me laugh out loud) the mare has got show jumping down, even if her rider has the tendency to jump ahead. Essentially, she is safest, most capable, horse out there.

The problem arises when people tell me things like “Georgie is amazing.” “Georgie is such a great dressage horse,” “Georgie is so easy.”

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Back in the day at Rebecca Farm

Yes, she is all of those things. But it took me years and a lot of work to get her that way. And when she wins competition after competition, all I can think is that I hope her rider realizes how lucky she is to have such a great horse. I hope her rider, and those commenting on how great she is, realize there was someone who helped create that. And that, right when she was at her peak, and the hard stuff started to get easier, I had to let her go.

I know it’s a testament to my hard work that Georgie is still easy and happy and retains lots of what we worked on together. But sometimes I don’t want to hear how great she is without a “you put a lot of work into her” at the end of it. Georgie has the best brain and the best work ethic, so she was easy on so many levels, but it doesn’t mean she magically became a great dressage horse, or easy to ride.

So therein lies my dilemma. Be happy for Georgie, and all the fun her new rider is having, without lamenting that I no longer have her, and am no longer the one succeeding with her. In the grand scheme of things, really not a big deal. But every once in a while I long for the good ole days, which seems only natural.

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The Dressage Training Pyramid

In our indoor arena Sarah has painted this on one of the walls:

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The well-known dressage training pyramid.

I spend a lot of time looking at this piece of art. When I was riding Macy, I wondered if we’d ever get to the pinnacle. I’d check off what we had accomplished after every ride, and ask questions like “So, today we had rhythm and impulsion, but not much relaxation. Do you have to go in order of the pyramid?”

I feel like this pyramid haunts me a little bit. It teases me by showing how much I have yet to achieve in my riding. It goads me into thinking that one day I can have true collection, but not without connection!

Now that June and I are solidly doing some WTC rides, the training pyramid is back on my mind. After last week’s lesson, I pointed to the pyramid and said “We don’t even have rhythm. How will we ever achieve rhythm????” I never in my life thought that achieving rhythm could be so hard.

But then yesterday, I looked at the pyramid and said “Watch this.”

And I engaged my core, applied my leg and asked for the trot. June maintained a beautiful rhythmic trot all the way around the arena.

“See THAT, pyramid??? There’s a lot more where THAT came from.”

Of course, I couldn’t maintain this trot for 3 circles, but hey, baby steps. Literally, baby steps.

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Speaking of baby steps, not only is June so much calmer when tied up, she allowed me to put standing wraps on her and wasn’t a freak about walking around in them!

This pyramid, while it taunts and goads me, is actually really cool to have as a visual when I ride. It gives me a goal to work on, of course, but also really makes me reflect on each ride and see what needs work and what needs progress.

Of course, I think we’ll be working on rhythm for quite some time, but that’s ok. You’ve got to start somewhere!

 

 

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June’s First Stock Horse Event

One of my favorite things about our barn is that there always seems to be something going on on the weekend. If Sarah isn’t hosting a Jumper or TOC show, our western riding trainer is hosting a horsemanship clinic, sorting show or stock horse event. And while June may not partake in all these events, it’s great for her to see trailers and horses coming in and activity all around. I want her to be used to chaos.

This past weekend our barn hosted a Stock Horse event. I didn’t really know what this was, other than you do a pattern and basically show good horsemanship and a calm and relaxed ride. I signed June up mainly because it seemed low key and would get her out and about with other horses.

I mean zero disrespect to the western riding discipline, but I was pretty surprised by how warm up went. There were about 15-20 horses in the outdoor arena, everyone was going every which way, and June had horses spinning (like fancy, western, spinning) cantering and sliding to a stop all around her.

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She needed a little encouragement in the chaos

All I could think was, dressage warm up is going to be a piece of cake if we keep doing this!

The event itself was lots of fun! It started in the outdoor arena with a pattern. June and I only walked and trotted but baby horse was SO good. We had to stop and turn (other horses spun), and trot out of the arena under some trees to another paddock, and at the end we had to open a gate while on her back. I figured that would go very badly, but actually, we got the gate open fairly simply. I couldn’t close it, but that was ok, I was happy with how it went considering I had never asked that of her.

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Siding up to the gate

Next we moved to another arena where there was an obstacle course. I hadn’t done this under saddle with June so just figured I would see how it went. She was resistant to go over some bridges (but not others, others she walked right over) and she wasn’t sure about the teeter totter at all. But at the end she happily walked through the elevated tires with no problem. I’m signing her up for an obstacle/trail course clinic in August so we can work on this. While I don’t think it’s a huge deal, I think it’s a confidence builder and the more slow, mental work we can do, the better.

Lastly, we entered the cow pen. Now, June hasn’t spent any time with cows other than when I turn her out in the paddock next to them. For this challenge we would be moving cows from one pen to another, and then keeping certain cows in certain areas. I figured I would get June in the pen with the cows, see how she reacted and maybe get her as close to them as possible.

Well, June had another idea. She wanted to get in the cow pen and start moving cows! Bossing cows around is right up her alley!

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She had absolutely no hesitation around the cows, and pushed them this way and that. I guess if eventing doesn’t work out she can be a ranch horse.

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Awfully proud of herself

In recapping the event to Sarah I told her that up until now, most of my tests of June have been to see how her brain would handle things. Her brain has handled everything well. Incredibly well. Moving forward I feel like I can stop worrying about how she’ll react to things and start asking more of her physically. Like, work on getting our steering more refined. And trotting a circle at the same pace the entire way around.

So here’s to boring circles and steering. I can’t wait!

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Not So Boring Basics

I’m loving everything baby horse right now. Honestly. Other than not having a horse to gallop around xc with, this journey, so far, has completely exceeded my expectations.

So, obviously, with a baby horse, you start from the beginning. But, I’m finding that this is the perfect time for me to start from the beginning as well. Long story short, I’m hoping I can refine my riding a bit so that I bring June up properly and as beneficially as possible.

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I have some amazing media for this post so GET READY

I have the opportunity to ride a great little Appendix QH named Flint while his junior rider is on vacation. Flint is a GREAT teacher. My first lesson on him consisted of me really struggling to get him going the way Sarah wanted me to. So, I asked if we could stop the lesson and if we could just work on me? Forget about Flint for a minute and get me to stop riding backwards?

And so we did.

And for every ride since all I work on when I ride Flint (and one of the things I work on with June) is to make sure I am not riding backwards.

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The four legged family

Now, I’m sure many of you know what this term means, but if you don’t, here is my interpretation. Riding backwards is essentially not allowing the horse’s energy to flow freely forward.Restricting the motion instead of giving with it.

How do you know if you’re riding backwards? Well, in my experience, if you’re riding backwards, you don’t have an independent seat. When you aren’t balancing with your hands, you can feel it in your abs. A visual that helped me is when Sarah had me think about there being a block in front of the saddle. My hands could not come behind the block, so they keep pushing forward towards the horse’s mouth.

Some people do this naturally. Others, myself included, when we get nervous, or stop thinking about it, start restricting the motion. It is really counterproductive to everything you want the horse to do. They can’t come up over their back, they’ll shorten, and well, it’s just not good.

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Mouth full of hay, of course

So, Flint and I, good boy that he is, just walk, trot and canter, and all I do is think about my connection. His head can be anywhere, he can be unbalanced, and he can careen all he wants. I just keep thinking of bringing my hands forward.

And wouldn’t you know it? After a few minutes of me doing this consistently, Flint accepts the contact and stretches into it. He’s a sensitive boy and the perfect teacher. If I stiffen, or stop the forward motion, he immediately inverts and brings his head into the air.

I’ve ridden him 3 times now and today worked at the canter for the first time. It was so fun! When I ride correctly, and problem solve as to why he’s unhappy, I end up working through it and have a horse who slows down, accepts the contact and actually goes around quite nicely. My hope is, in the 3 weeks I have to ride him, I can keep these moments for longer and longer on him.

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Always making me smile

And, obviously, my ultimate hope is that this way of riding becomes a habit for me. Anything I can do to make it better for June, I’m totally up for. I had no idea how fun the basics of riding are!

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Trotting Our Way to a Blue Ribbon

Sarah gave June and I the green light to enter our barn’s jumper show after one of our lessons and I was like

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I mean, any time Sarah has enough confidence for the two of us to do ANYTHING outside of a lesson, it’s a total win.

I had ridden her in a bit ONCE before the show and she was proving to not care much about it, but our steering became a bit (ha ha) less consistent. I knew I would have to keep this in mind when trotting around the course.

Since I hadn’t yet ridden June at a show, or really any time there was a lot going on, I spent some time thinking about what I wanted our warm up routine to be. Once I had an idea of how to proceed, I was so excited for our first show!

The morning of the show I got to the barn about an hour before my class. I brought June to the barn area from her paddock and walked her around. There were two tack sales going on, one out of a trailer and one with a full set up of tents and racks of clothing. She was unimpressed by all of it and totally calm around all the activity. So, I brought her into the indoor and groomed her. There wasn’t anyone warming up yet, so I lunged her for a bit in the indoor arena. She was fine about all of it and hardly peeked outside to see what was going on. So, after tacking her up and seeing how busy warm up had gotten I made a change in my original plan. With June’s lack of consistent steering and people going every which way in warm up, it seemed like a bad idea to ride her amongst all that. Plus, we’re doing ground poles. I didn’t need to practice them in warm up.

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I also found this SWEET shirt at the Pony Club tack sale. Alas, the fit wasn’t perfect so another rider decided to purchase it

I headed to the round pen, hopped on and June and I just did some quick walk, trot, halt and turning work. I opted to be first ride in the class since she was being so calm and good. Might as well see how it goes trotting our first course at our first show!

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Spoiler alert. It went well!

June was a bit quick and excited when I picked up the trot but I asked her to whoa and we did the rest of the course in a lovely relaxed trot. I was really proud that we trotted the entire thing and made it through all the standards. (There were one or two times we nearly had a “run out,” due to my lack of preparedness in turning her)

June was awesome! We did the class twice so I could work on steering and giving her enough time to turn, and the second round was leagues better than the first. Second round was just a schooling round, so we didn’t get to do the tighter jump off turns, but that was fine.

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Ears forward and adorable

After our rounds, because she is a baby, I stuck around and had June just hang out. I was so happy with her! She stood like a pro and was totally happy jut standing around with all the other horses coming and going and all the chaos around her. SUCH a good girl.

Our class had people that cantered the  course, (a couple of horses with auto lead changes!) a few that trotted and cantered and some walked the entire course. It really ran the gamut! I figured June and I were out of the ribbons so I put her away and changed into my clothes for volunteering the rest of the day. Imagine my surprise when I found out we came in first place in the Adult division!

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I wore and kept the ribbon, since it was June’s FIRST EVER. She was scared of it when I showed it to her later, but in her defense, I waved it around her face excitedly proclaiming she was a champion. Weird she didn’t like that.

So happy with this mare and so excited for all that is to come. I imagine one day soon we’ll be cantering, and I’m really excited. I don’t expect any antics from her, and I think she will prove to be a solid horse with all I ask of her!

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June’s Birthday Weekend

 

So, not long ago, (like a week ago), I decided it would benefit June and I to go to a local-ish derby and school the cross country course. The facility is a little over 2 hours away, but it has great obstacles AND I knew there would be lots of riders. I really haven’t been able to get her out and about into situations where there is a lot going on, and I want to see how she handles these situations in preparation for the FEH competition in August. I’ve been reluctant to go anywhere that involves a sleep over because of Stella, but she has been doing so well that I figured I’d bring her along and find a pet sitter for Siri. The idea of taking young horse/young dog still stresses me out a bit.

I loaded June up early Saturday AM and headed over. She loaded well but then the baby horse antics began. She was back there pawing and dancing and it was kind of annoying, especially since the wind was so strong, I really couldn’t drive over 65mph.

When we arrived at the facility I realized she had untied herself. The trailer I was borrowing didn’t have a divider so I imagine she spent some time walking around back there. She had eaten all her hay though, so she clearly had her priorities. Interestingly, about halfway through the drive the wind had died down and I didn’t feel the trailer pulling any more, so she must have just started munching at that point. Things could have been far worse I suppose.

What I am learning about June, and perhaps is true of most baby horses, is that she is prone to tantrums, but they are short lived. She still struggles with being tied alone, whether on the trailer or off, but she knows to settle down eventually. She got off of the trailer, tied nicely with minimal pawing while I groomed her , was calm while we walked around before our lesson time, and then was all business for the lesson itself. She could have cared less about the other riders, horses, or any of the chaos around us.

We schooled a ditch, log, and A frame before moving to the bank complex. She was unfazed by all of these and the bank was no different. She seemed to really be enjoying herself!

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We took a short break and then headed over to the water complex. She was a bit freaked out by the water. There was some snorting, and side eye, and she was reluctant to get in it. Or near it. In her defense it was dyed a crazy turquoise color. But I have no idea if horses can see that color? So, anyway, it took some time. And lots of Sarah telling me to just be patient. But then, about 30 minutes later, someone was happily trotting through the water!

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The water was great for pictures even if it was a bit unnatural looking!

We called it a day on that, and June headed back to stabling where she got to rest, relax and think all about how great water was. Meanwhile, we returned to the event and volunteered to get it all set up for the following day. Unlike June, Stella thought the water complex was the BEST THING EVER.

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This is her “please throw rocks for me” look.

She was pretty damn adorable- especially since she can’t really see so she would miss about 50% of the rocks I was throwing. She had probably one of the best days ever, and I can’t tell you how great it was to have my best horse show dog with me.

Because I could, and because we felt it was good for June to get right back in the water, I loaded her up early the next morning and took her back to the facility. (We were stabling just 5 minutes down the road.) She didn’t want to get in the trailer, especially after a night of hanging out with her friends. But, we got her loaded (yay for people helping!) and off we went. She was a bit more high this time, but in her defense, I was in a hurry and just like “we need to get out there asap, before the event starts” which is really never the best mind frame to be in with a baby horse. They don’t always respond well to people hurrying.

I did minimal lunging and then walked over to the water complex. We walked the edge with no issue. I lunged her on the bank with no issue. I then asked her to lunge into the water and there was no issue. Within 5 minutes we were lunging in the middle of the complex and she was perfect. So, I snapped a pic, gave her some big pats, and we were done!

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This is her “I’m fine with water” look

I was going to be volunteering for a few hours and debated about taking her back to her stall. But, I was running out of time and figured this could be a great exercise in just standing for her. So, I tied her and her hay bag to the trailer and hoped for the best. As I was leaving I could hear her pawing away, and figured that at some point someone would complain about the unruly horse that’s tied to the trailer.

An hour in and I heard no complaints.

An hour and a half in, and Sarah texted me that June was standing quietly at the trailer

Two hours in and a colleague told me June was being so good at the trailer!

And at three hours, when I got back to the trailer, there she was, just hanging out. She was completely calm and relaxed.

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Hi mom! Where have you been?

I just can’t fully express how great this weekend was. I achieved so much with June, and got such a good sense of what I can expect from her. She was such a rock star about ALL of it. From being left alone, to being introduced to jumping xc obstacles, to working among chaos. She wasn’t barn sour, or scared, or difficult, at all. If I can remember to be patient with her, and really plan for the fact that I am working with a baby horse, I think the sky’s the limit with her.

And as for Stella, this weekend just reminded me how lucky I am to have had her for almost 15 years. She was the cutest, best behaved dog, who just rolled with the punches all weekend. Whether she had to be in the truck, or tied to the tent while I was volunteering to score for the event, she was cool with all of it and friendly with everyone.

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Plus, her bed head in the morning is amazing

I realized, driving home, how badly I needed this weekend. A weekend where my animals brought me nothing but joy. A weekend where I could see the future with one and enjoy the present with the other. And while I don’t know what the future holds with either,  a weekend where I could just enjoy everything about them, in two very different ways, has put a smile on my face that I can’t seem to shake. These are the moments we live for, right?

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Using What I Know

Things with June continue to progress quite nicely. I have to say, under saddle, so far, she has been amazing. We’ve been riding at the trot on our own quite a bit and I am getting more and more comfortable with all of it.

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We had a wedding at the barn this weekend, which essentially just meant it was completely chaotic there. I wanted to ride June one of the three days that the wedding prep was going on, so decided I would take her out to the field and ride her in the jump school corner. I figured I would see how she was on the lunge line and take it from there.

Well, she was perfect on the lunge, even with the new footing that had been put down and the fact that all the jumps were askew around the edge of the footing. After about 15 minutes of calm lunging I decided to hop on her.

Now, keep in mind that we are about 100 yards from the barn, there isn’t a fence, and I still ride June in a side pull, so if she wants to bolt back to the barn there is really no stopping her.

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She enjoyed the view

I hopped on and we calmly walked around for about 10 minutes. She was so calm I decided to ask for the trot. And we trotted around calmly and happily, changing direction and having a grand old time. Baby horse exceeded my expectations for sure.

So, while our under saddle and ground work seem to be solid and moving in the right direction, June’s ground manners are pretty horrific. Specifically when I have her tied and am grooming or saddling her. She seems to think that any time a person comes up to her it is to give her treats, so she immediately throws her head at you. (I rarely hand feed her treats, but her owner/breeder was basically nothing more than a treat dispenser to her, and she has not forgotten that people=treats.)  I can’t groom her without her throwing her butt and/or shoulder around and pinning me between the post and her body. She can’t JUST STAND. And she’s not much better on the cross ties. She moves constantly and will move backward and forward the entire time. Ironically, she is great to bathe. Stands there perfectly, but she cannot stand still otherwise.

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The beginning of the temper tantrum

I understand she is a baby. And Sarah has even said that as she grows up she will become more patient. But yesterday she pushed me past my limit. I tied her to the rail while I cleaned up and she began pawing. Hard. And then kicking out. And throwing her body left and right. Once I was done cleaning I knew I couldn’t reward her by un-tying her, so I hung out while she had a temper tantrum. And it got worse and worse. I hid just outside the indoor arena to see if it subsided if I wasn’t in view, and it didn’t POUND, POUND, KICK, was all I could hear.

So, I came back inside, untied her and made her move her feet. Re-tied her. No difference. We did this a few more times. She was now lathered in sweat, and it had been about an hour. All she had to do was stand. But she was giving that a big fat nope.

I got her to stand quietly for 5 seconds, called it a day, did ground work the entire way back to her pen and left über frustrated.

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She and Stella did go for a nice walk together though!

And then, that night, I awoke at 2am and couldn’t fall back asleep. And that’s when it came to me- an idea to work on June’s behavior while tied.

Clicker Training.

This is not a new idea to many of you. So I won’t get into all of the theory behind it. But I will say it is a GREAT way to mark a behavior you like and get animals (and people!) to understand what you are asking. Maybe June just needs to understand what I want, as well as get rewarded for when she does something correctly. Now, my one hesitation is that I will have to hand feed her treats. But, she only gets a treat post click. She only gets treats when she does what I ask. She will soon learn (I hope!) that she doesn’t get treats just becuase she mugs me for them. I’m a bit nervous about this, but I think it’s worth a shot. I have a clicker, plenty of treats, and I think small increments of training this way may be super beneficial. And while no one would say my dogs are incredibly well behaved, I did clicker training with both of them, and it worked well. I could eventually wean them off the clicker, and treats, so maybe I can do the same for June.

I’d actually love any thoughts you have on the topic- am I setting us up for success? Or for complete disaster?

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Fraggle Friday:When Life Hands You Lemons

Oh man. Life threw me a curveball that has kinda rocked my world.

Two months to the day of Stella’s back surgery, she had her second seizure.

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Siri does her best trying to comfort her

The fact that it was her second was significant. She had her first seizure 70 hours prior. We were on a walk and she fell over and started paddling. Stopped, sat up, and then got up. The seizure lasted maybe 5 seconds? We walked slowly back to the house and she slept most of the day. After speaking with her surgeon (who I literally have on speed dial) there were a couple of possibilities. 1) Hopefully it was a one time event. 2) She has some deficiencies, and we can see if calcium and other levels are low 3) She has a brain tumor.

So, when Stella had her second seizure, after going to the vet and her blood work being absolutely perfect, we’re left with really just one option.

I cried all day Tuesday. I tried to go to work and was just a blubbering mess. I kept apologizing, but was unable to talk about why I was crying, so basically I was just super awkward and super unprofessional. Fortunately, I work in animal welfare, with a bunch of caring, compassionate people, so they handled my blubbering mess well.

And while that Tuesday was horrible, and I know my time with Stella is limited, here is the lemonade part of this story.

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We started her on Keppra, an anti seizure med, and she is like a new dog. She sleeps through the night, she eats all her meals, she gets up to greet me at the door, she drags me down the road for walks, and yesterday, when I took her to the banks of the river, she wanted to play fetch.

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Momma throw sticks?

The meds made her a bit more unstable initially (and gave her serious diarrhea, but that has resolved), so walking hasn’t been as easy for her, but now that she seems acclimated to the meds, she is really feeling great. Like, pre surgery great. For weeks before her first seizure she would get up one hour after I went to bed and begin to pace. The pacing got worse and worse and lasted longer and longer. And it was after a particularly bad night that she had her first seizure in the morning.

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Searching for sticks…

I think Stella hadn’t been feeling right for a while. And I’m not an idiot. A brain tumor is not a diagnosis anyone wants to get. I know my time with her is limited (they say it is a rapidly growing tumor and if lucky I will have 1-2 months with her). I know that one day she will probably stop eating again. She’ll start pacing. And while it scares the crap out of me, she will probably have another seizure, and it could be far worse than the last two.

So, I’m literally enjoying every moment I have with her. I’m so thankful I get to see “normal” Stella again. I’m so glad she feels good. I love that she drags me around on walks again. Knowing the end is near gives me anxiety and I’m so sad, but instead of dwelling on it, I try to focus on the now. And how lucky I am to have had this dog in my life for nearly 15 years.

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And taking lots of naps. She still enjoys that!

So, be prepared for lots of Stella posts, she’s pretty much going to rule my life for as long as she possibly can.

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