Friday, February 3, 2012

Yesterday and Tomorrow

Let me start by saying that yesterday was a pretty awesome evening, if you ignore the thick ice-fog that rolled in. Normally I wouldn't care much about the driving conditions barring anything torrential, but it sometimes seems like the crazies go out on the night when the weather's bad.

So I hadn't planned on working Moon. Little in-hand stuff or something. Well I was all alone in the barn, grooming Moon and had plenty of time before I was supposed to head over to "the future place" when to my surprise, T walked into the barn!

It was awesome to see her again after so long. She gave Moon plenty of praise for all of his hard work and we spent a good hour or more catching up. I swear we could have talked longer! Moon was a perfect gentleman and even stood beautifully the whole time without cross-ties. Just his halter and the lead rope slung over his back. Even when I was in the tack room, not a step out of him! So T and I made plans for next weekend's IRC meeting and tentative plans to head out plenty this summer. We both have the same Monday's off as well, so perhaps we'll get to spend a whole day on the trails together.

After T headed home in that nasty fog, I looked at Moon and then at the clock. Hmmm, not a lot of time left. I grabbed my lunge line and fastened his cavesson (accidentally taking a chunk of chin hair off in the process). Out in the ring I was pleased that he picked up his trotting circle well and I worked on getting him to trot smaller circles on the lunge line. I can definitely tell that he doesn't have a ton of lunging experience and I really wish I could get him to lunge with his head lower. That being said, I'm not a fan of side-reins and gimmicks and will keep plugging along for awhile. His transitions to walk are awful, though he responds great to a verbal "whoa". I TRIED like the devil to get a canter out of him and realized at one point I was scaring him more then anything. Less lunge whip action is better! He's such a silly goose. He's never even been touched by the whip, but will honestly come to a frozen halt if you snap that whip.

Finally I discovered that if I animatedly stepped towards him with a little shake of my open hand, he'd canter off. For about 4 strides before being too unbalanced to make the corner. And after a few of these he was knackered and I gave up on the canter for the day. He did get a few treats for the ones he did do, so progress shall be made.

I set up a little 12" pole on some blocks and lunged him over it. No problem, nice leg tuck, moved forward energetically. 18", still nice. So why not 2'?

Someone remind me that I need to quit when I'm ahead. And set my horse up for success : P

I trotted him around the circle on the lunge and then directed him at the 2' jump with a placing pole in front. The problem with lunging over a jump on a circle is that your horse is approaching the jump at an angle OR doesn't get a good straight away to it. And Moon won't canter, so he's coming to it at a very slow trot. For a very green and unfamiliar jumper like Moon, there's little opportunity for success. At first, he'd stop. Then he'd duck out. Finally when I drove him to it, he chose the easiest option: knock it over. *sigh*

I like to believe (so I'm telling myself) that we'd manage it if we free-lunged and I could set up an alley-way. I've photographed him jumping 2' back in his tubby-days, but that was back when he was as green as grass and was over-jumping everything. Reasons for your horse not to discover they can knock these things over...

W doesn't allow free-lunging and there's not enough poles to make any sort of set-up. He needs miles. And progression. Should probably do a lot more 18" before throwing 2' at him again. My bad.

(I know he can do it. Look what he used to do! And that was in way too long of stirrups, me on his neck and him jumping way far back!)
Now let's talk about the new place.

Do you ever feel that sometimes things just fall into place? I've never planned on staying at W's past springtime, and had resolved that Moon would head back to T's. I've investigated other barns but they weren't what we needed for the summer and for the cost, I'd stay at W's. Unfortunately, after the dog-fiasco, W's hasn't been the same and I really wanted to get somewhere for the summer where I'd have my freedom. That seemed like T's, though I wasn't looking forward to Moon spending his summer neck-deep in a roundbale. It seemed unavoidable.

Until a friend emailed me.

"You wanna bring him here?"

We both had things to offer one another. She's expecting her second child this summer and wanted to keep her boy in tip-top shape. Especially after their first awesome show together last fall. She'd also appreciate the help with feeding, someone around to help the new part-boarder and I'm her resident pet-sitter.

I must say, (and don't tell her) I got the better end of the deal. Remember this fellow?

This move means more hours schooling with him. Awesome! Her boy has way more hours under saddle then mine and of course, all horses benefit from a variety of riding styles.

House sitting for her? Hello, there's ponies RIGHT OUT THE BACK WINDOW! House sitting with your own horse out the back window? How cool? Feeding horses? Yes please! Meeting more horse-y people? Uh-huh!

(one of Moon's future pasture mates, trotting out her stuff)
I weighed my choices. I bartered a bit. She bartered right back. Friends are fun that way!

And let's face it. When it came down to making a decision about where to go this spring, her place was the easy pick. Oh, I'll be busy. I'll be "working". It's no "free-ride", pardon the pun! But it'll be awesome.

Let me tell you about it!

6 horses on pasture. Nice big acreage, lot of grass growing. No hay fed all summer. Couple of run-ins for the rainy days.
Standard size sand ring, not skimping on the sand.
Heated tack area.

5 miles to coach BA for Equine Canada lessons. 3 miles to W's for dressage lessons (or she'll come teach us right at home).
FINALLY control of his feeding. He's not going to get fat on pasture grass. If he does, he can join hers in a grazing muzzle. If he gets skinny, he can have a supplemented diet.
He needs a summer of weight loss and good exercise.

What else?

We'll bring our jumps and standards. That makes a large collection of cavelletti to work with. Maybe I'll paint them pretty colors this summer...then she doesn't have to both dragging them over from the neighbour. : P

Under 2 miles from the park.

What's at the park? (all pics are of the actual park...I stole them online ; ) ):
Miles of trails.

Cross-country courses.

Dressage ring and our show grounds.

Yes. Hills. You want to build bum muscle and topline? Ride hills. Oh, we'll be riding hills.
(that's "pope's hill" on the right. When no-ones around, it's great to ride up and down!)

Free lunging.
Her boy drives. I'm gonna watch them drive. Maybe see if we can at least get Moon long-lining.
Watching one another's lessons. Wanna learn? Watch someone else!
Trailer parking.
Hopefully getting to ride with her later in the fall.
Hauling out to shows...cause I can bring her boy along too. Maybe even a part-boarder.

The BF riding more because we'll be away from the "angry" dog. And we can borrow her horse too.
The dog's bestest friend ever. Boy she's gonna enjoy playing with him. And I'll be less guilty about her not being worked when I'm riding.
Trail riding with my dog!
Getting to see her and her family more!
Finally being able to just text "How's he doing" when I'm away for work!

Did I mention she's an ex-animal health tech?
Same farrier!
A friend on the ground to give feedback. Works both ways for both of us.
She's a nutter about feet. Led me to my current farrier who I'm thrilled with!

Now, don't get me wrong. There's always *imperfects* even in perfect situations. Boarding with friends can be risky, because there's a friendship at stake. But we had a good open and honest dialogue. What problems may arise, we'll tackle. And have fun while we're at it. Worst case, she throws us out! ; )

And that's decided. Spring is decided. I even have T's blessing, which while not a requirement, sure makes it a little easier to continue our adventure afield. There's something empowering about having responsibility for your horse. Being the decision maker.

So I'm excited for May. It's going to be crazy.
I'm hoping we can move April 28th. Looked at my calendar and boy it's full...
If we can move April 28th, that gives me the weekend to watch him settle in.
Monday I fly out to Toronto for a 3 day meeting.
Get home and have 1 week to practice for our first sanctioned dressage show.
Whole weekend showing (NERVOUS!) and then guess what?
Monday morning, I fly to Las Vegas for work!! For a week!!
Come home and get working again for the next show.

Busy times ahead. I best start appreciating our leisurely rides and making the most of it.
Oh, and our new surcingle shipped out yesterday! That's going to be interesting...

4 days of work this week. He'll work probably Monday - Thursday and Saturday next week as well. Can't wait to get out there. Poor guy better enjoy his weekend off


  1. Dang, I want to come too! It sounds like a wonderful place and the perfect situation for you and Moon. :)