Monday, April 30, 2012

The Tough Times.

It's been a long weekend.

I don't even know how or where to start. I don't even know what to say.

Saturday was rough from the get-go. As I walked into W's place, her dad stopped to chat. Asked me if I was headed out on a trail ride...and I got to break the news that we were moving out (I'd told W a month ago and left a detailed note with my final month's board payment. And then left a note on the board too...). I could tell he was kinda hurt, but I tried hard to make it clear this had nothing to do with the care the horses get. I know he thinks very highly of Moon and apparently his grand-daughter likes him too. It was nice to hear him say "Well don't be gone too long" as we parted ways. : )

The barn was nearly empty and I gathered a few handfuls of stuff and loaded up my car. Then I brought Moon in and got him tacked to head out. Again, telling more people, like the two kids that we were leaving. I didn't really realize how much they liked having me around. I probably didn't realize how much I liked having them around too. : )

We headed onto the trails and Moon was kinda lethargic. I was concerned a bit that he was sore, as the day before his trot seemed a little off. But in the end, I think he just needed some time to get into the trail-riding mindset. We walked that first mile and then trotted, cantered and galloped the next 3. Finished it off with a nice walk the 3/4 mile to the new place.

He stood really well at the tie post, and H commented on how he only needed one visit (two weeks ago) to feel at home. : )

We got out his two pasture mates to ride them a bit while Moon had a chance to explore the new paddock and get an idea for where the fenceline was.

I have to say, I've learned a valuable lesson about introducing horses. In my next life, I think a BIG pasture with lots of room to run is the better choice. This wasn't an option due to the grass just starting to grow (and we didn't need it all ripped up before they even got to eat it!), but it certainly didn't help. So they were in a small paddock.

Next life learning #2, is that high-tensile in a small paddock is NOT condusive to horses establishing heirarchy.

I believe that our chances at "Best Groomed" at the fun show has *probably* dropped just a touch...unless I can start gluing hair back on him...

I rode around for a bit on the gelding he'd be living with "The Black", and did some walk-trot-canter. In hindsight, a good 4 mile trail ride with LOTS of cantering and galloping *may* be a better means of tiring a horse out. That being said, next time I also wouldn't wear Moon out on the ride over!

The mare and Moon seemed to get on fine. Pretty typical.

The problem, is that The Black feels it's his Mare.

Insert dominant heirarctical display.

Except "The Wizzard" (as we'll call the mare) just wanted to visit the new boy! And was gonna go do just that.

And more running around.

Every time the Wizzard went towards Moon, the Black chased him, and Moon ran, squeeled and tried to kick.

Around and around. We did our best to keep everyone moving while they established their order to keep them tired and realizing that they could just get over all this fighting.

Then came the moment.

I can't even remember exactly how it happened. I *think* Moon was running from the Black and went to kick him or something. And just got balled over into the fenceline.

And the fenceline went down.

The Black and Wizzard buggered off. My heart stopped and there was a moment when everything froze. I could just see my boy, laying there on the ground atop the fence wire (electrified to boot) and the fencepost below him, not moving.

I just started running. We all did. As H's husband said, he just saw three woman running across the paddock to a downed horse.

*Not* good.

H took charge and told me to grab his hoof and roll him over off the fence. He had tried to get up once but the other fence post kept coming towards his face and the fence wires were still in his way. So I did. Just grabbed him and rolled him right over his back to the other side.

He LEPT up and bolted across the paddock, my lungewhip trailing from his tail.


He didn't suffer anything more then a couple of small scratches, and I could only thank whatever power that was looking out for him and I for making him the kind of horse that just freezes and waits for someone to save him, versus freaking out. Had he freaked out...I don't know. And I kinda don't want to know.

H took charge again and lunged and lunged everyone (and fixed the fence to boot!). Until they finally gave up on running around and settled to just eatting hay. Phew.

In my next life, I'm getting the dominant horse!

...okay, we all know that wouldn't happen. I love my pansy pony. He's like me. Soft and squishy and meek.
(A wonderful moment where my two best fur-family were together)
Throughout the day, they ran about once in awhile and Moon would squeel and try to kick the Black. The Black would chase him with his ears pinned away from his mare. And his mare would just stand there looking disgruntled.

I brought Moon a pail of water since he was too nervous to drink out of the auto-waterer. It was around the corner just enough that he felt like he couldn't see if the Wizzard was approaching. Seriously, the instant she walks towards him, he bolts. Cause he *knows* he's gonna get chased by the Black because of it : P

(Moon well aware that the mare (roan) was coming and the Black wouldn't be happy)


I got out to the barn the next morning and everyone was still alive. Phew.

Brought Moon out and was happy to see that he had no serious injuries. He had a few new fence-marks on him, but nothing serious. A trot in the ring showed that he wasn't lame despite all the running around, kicking and landing on fence posts.

I invited one of W's students to join me at the clinic and enjoyed the chance to talk "horse" with her. She doesn't have a ton of horse experience, but that's okay. I didn't either when I started, and I'm looking forward to teaching her AND getting to learn some new things myself! I honestly, seriously, LOVE teaching and talking to people about horses. I amazed myself at just how gabby I was!

We put Moon's shipping boots on for the first the video camera ready to record his funny walk and...

...nothing. He just walked.


Onto the trailer (T's soo awesome! She even filled TWO hay bags for him! <3) and he was happy to have free access to hay. At the new place he gets to eat out of a slow feeder and he's not overly impressed by it. Yesterday I caught him pawing at it trying to figure out how to make the hay come out faster... ; )

We drove the hour and a half to the clinic location and only made one wrong turn! Whoops!

Parked, unloaded, tacked and were in the ring. No issues.

Moon was barely looky the whole time and was just a dream.

In hindsight, running around a paddock for nearly 24 hours, finding your hay cut down by the new feeding system and having been worked the past two days, he was just exhausted. This wasn't good behavior because of good behavior. This was him being too tired to even bother.

(Moon-pie and me. First time in my AP saddle in months...boy, does Moon have a LONG back!)

I spoke with the clinician about what I wanted to work on with Moon. Canter. We also spoke about his gapping mouth. She suggested trying a flash noseband to keep his mouth shut, though she agreed it wouldn't address the problem. *Unless* it's more of a habit and not being able to do it for awhile makes him stop bothering.

Not sure my thoughts on that. I'm not ready to put him in a flash and tie his mouth shut just for an *unsightly* problem. I do plan on trying a few more bits to see his thoughts on them, but no flash.

We walked and trotted around and it's amazing how easy it is to suddenly feel inept. Really. She told me I was counterflexed through my corners. That I was on the wrong posting diagnol (teehee!) and that I don't keep enough solid contact with his mouth. That I keep my fingers loose and need to be closing my hand.

: ) Yup. : )

We worked on canter. She had me slow him down and then push him off through my corners. She at one point said with him, it was like working with a young horse. And that he doesn't know what I'm asking for. And that the only way to get him to understand and learn, is to keep asking the same way, over and over. Lots of transitions to get him off his forehand and slow him down, think *walk* as my half-halt and then ask for canter.

I also had this shocking moment when I realized that I was squeezing with my outside leg instead of my inside! : O

Um, yeah, no. It goes back and the INSIDE leg squeezes to ask.

*Face Palm*

Seriously. There are naturally gifted riders. There are good riders. And then there's folks like me that even after a thousand lessons still manage to suddenly start doing the most basic things wrong! ; )

I had a moment there when I felt defeated. I won't lie. I felt like the children on their ponies were better riders (well, they were, but not the point!), that Moon and I were a disaster despite our best tries. I mean, you can *only* be singled out so many times by a clinican before it starts to get to you.

Then I had an even better moment. I reminded myself that I love my horse, love riding and what everyone else thought, just didn't matter. I wasn't here for them. This was for me and Moon. Suck or shine, I'm having a good time. I'm learning. And I'm improving. To hell with feeling bad about that!

So I let it go. I just tried my best and kept going. I listened and learned and asked questions.

In the end, she set up some jumps for us. We had done trot poles and I got some good "Heels down!" and "Slide back! Get off his neck!". : ) I *loved* getting the lecture on how you can't balance when standing on your toes.

Teehee. I mean, I was BAD!

When we went to ride our jumping line, Moon refused to trot. I mean, he was DONE. Tired. Ready for bed.
We got him a dressage whip and he perked up. We did our trot poles, and I was brought back to an old coach's jumping class. My first 2'6" course. Hunter too. And I rode it like I was in a freakin' jump-off in a jumper class. Cut every corner, took everything sharp. And the whole time the coach was yelling "HUNTER LINES!".

: P

We came out of the trot poles and cut the corner. Teehee.

Went around again, got a straight line to the "jump" (a cross-rail) and Moon went happily over it. Didn't balk, didn't run out, just went to it and jumped.

We did it again.

He did it again. : )

We weren't perfect. I sucked.

And that's okay.


We dressed him for the ride home and let him nibble some grass. Sulky-owner came over and said she had some great ideas to help us with our riding. I had a moment of feeling like "She thinks I'm useless. A terrible rider. She'll never want me on her horse again. She'll tell everyone in the club I'm a loser!"

And it was the BRIEFEST of moments. Because you know what? She's pretty dang awesome. Cause she's willing AND looking forward to helping me better my riding. What more can you ask for in a friend? Being proud or too unwilling to accept my struggles will only keep me from improving. And get me nowhere.

I'm thrilled about bringing him over to her place and getting her advice. : ) Like really, really looking forward to it. Opportuntities for growth. : )

I taught the new girl how to load Moon into the horse trailer, and couldn't stop smiling.

It was a pretty darn good day.

We hauled home and I was exhausted. A lot of riding, a lot of miles, that moment when Moon went down and watching the horses chase one another around just wears you out. Then spending the day at your first clinic doesn't help either.

Unpacked, put Moon back in his paddock and let him get a drink of water. Then watched him get chased around again.


Dropped the trailer off at T's and got to catch up with her. I miss her. And I know she misses me, and the chance to talk about life, and to be that someone who cares and is there for her. : ( I need to get out to see her more. We spoke a bit about Moon's move, and she understood how hard it can be to watch. You can try to be objective all you want, but let's face it. They're too important in your life to make it easy to just shrug and say "Horses".

I drove back to Moon's to put his rain-sheet on and as I drove up the driveway I saw him being chased again. I just bolted from my car.

And watched them kick at each other in the corner.

I went back, grabbed my blanket and went to see him.

When he finally stood still, I looked him over...and found another 8" wire cut across his arse.

I put his rainsheet over his head and got one belly strap done up. Before he was bolting away to escape another fight. Leg straps flapping in the wind...

I kinda just lost it then. I just sunk down to the ground in front of him and stayed there. He's just tired. I was just tired.

After awhile, I went and sat in the run-in out of the horses' sight and watched them. Feeling miserable. I can't protect him, I know that they need to settle this, but I'm worried. We've been lucky this far that there's no serious injuries (they broke some more fencelines overnight, and Moon kicked the Black in the knees). But things need to start settling soon, before something *does* happen.

I had to get going as it was well past supper time (and I didn't have lunch, ate 1/2 my bowl of cereal and was running on a cupcake that my clinic partner was sweet enough to make! Hmmm...overtired, over worked, over stressed, over hungry...what a combo!), so I just walked away. They were standing and eatting in their own corners at that moment, so I couldn't do much. And I was probably too tired and hungry to think properly anyway.

As I drove away, I slowed to watch them from the road. And watched them run around some more.

I could only just drive away. Staying would have made me do something stupid like pack him into my car and bring him home.  : P


Needless to say, introductions can be hellish. There's reasons why most barn owners introduce horses when no one else is around. : P

Last night, it was raining. I'm hoping Moon's rainsheet is still in one piece (since there's zero chance he's getting into the run-in), and that no one has killed anyone else. Or gotten hung-up on the fenceline. If they were out on the big pasture, it might not be so bad, but there just isn't enough room in the small paddocks for disagreements of the horse-variety to last too long. I hope they've gotten over themselves already.


: ( I just wanted the ponies to get along and things to be merry. If they weren't fighting, this would have been a near perfect weekend. Instead, I just want a long sleep. And set-up a live-video connection to Moon's paddock.



Oh, and the best part of the whole clinic?

When the clinician told me "Your horse isn't very forward".

Would *you* be?? ; )

Saturday, April 28, 2012

We survived.

So Moon is moved. I wouldn't say he's settled in, but when I left he was munching his hay and starting to get that sleepy look in his eye.

It's getting late, I still need to fit in a shower to remove 12 hours worth of dust, sweat and random horse-debris. I ache. I'm sore. I can't begin to imagine how Moon must feel. He got a good workout. He really is an agile horse when he needs to be, and our experience today only served to remind me yet again how important he is in my life.

Tomorrow we're off to our first clinic together. I'm looking forward to it. He'll never be perfect and we have a ton to learn. But he's my heart horse. He's my boy. He makes my heart swell with pride, and I've found an inseperable bond in him. I need him; and he kinda needs me.

I hope he gets a good night's sleep and isn't any worse for wear come morning as we head on our next adventure. He deserves it. I'll stress and worry about him tonight, but I'm pretty darn sure that there's a higher power looking after him, especially after today.

: ) The whole story will come, and what a story it is. But you're gonna have to wait! ; )

And thank you everyone for your well wishes and hugs a plenty for Moon. I can tell you that we both needed them today!

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

Today is moving day.

Technically, instead of writing this I should be getting my butt in gear.

But a girl can type and eat breakfast, right? Well, pretend to eat breakfast. I'm too excited/nervous/anxious/excited to really eat.

And this isn't even a show day!

Yesterday was a bit of a sad day, as I had my final ride as boarder, spoke briefly to W and watched Mr. Moon eat his last supper with his paddock mates.

Today is a happy day, as we head to a new place, meet new friends and start new adventures.

Too bad I won't have any time to blog about it! ; )

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oh Kur.

The ever elusive Kur.

The finest display of horse and rider beauty, within perfect synchrony of the music to movement.

The dressage musical freestyle.

A creative expression of the relationship between a horse and rider.


Oh kur.

We're 2 weeks away from our first Kur. Our first expression of our relationship. Between cute little QH trying his heart out, and rider, there to support him through the whole thing.

And I need a song.

I've gone through my iTunes.

I've gone through my BF's iTunes.

I've gone through YouTube.

And now, I'm turning to you, my blogging buddies.

What becomes our expression?


I have one front-runner. I'm leaving it a secret for now, but will have to give a prize to anyone who suggests my front-runner. ; ) Hmmm...I'll have to think up something good!

I've had some "interesting" suggestions.

Including Rammestein's "Du Hast"...which also would be GREAT for costume class! (How much eyeliner would Moon need...)

Big and Rich's "Ride a Cowboy"...which yes, the BF suggested.

Good ol' America's "A Horse with No Name"

The opening theme for My Little Pony...
A great costume opportunity if Allison and Shyloh hadn't stolen it already!

Newly popular "Mr. Saxobeat"...which while awesome, is probably faster then our walk-trot legs can take us!

I liked the idea of "Wild Wild West", but it seems someone beat me to a walk-trot test to boot!

Rascall Flats "Me and My Gang" is another great "riding" song...

I feel strangely compelled to choose Tody Keith's "Beer for my horses"...but am concerned I might actually have to deliver on my promise...and Moon loves his grain fermented.


Needless to say, none of these have quite captured what I'm looking for.

So I'm hoping for some inspiration. Share with me your favorite freestyles, the music that you love to ride to and any suggestion you can come up with! I wanna know! : )

And remember: We don't canter : )  And since it's a "fun show", we can use whatever moves we'd like. So walk, trot, and leg yield are all in! And halt. I can do a halt. ; )

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Aw crap.

I wanna suck.

The thing I struggle with, is why people feel the need to thumb their noses at those who do not feel so compelled to fit within their "box".

Someone made a comment to me about the horrors of riding clubs, full of grade horses with ill-fitting saddles and young riders hanging off their backs. That there is NO WAY that a Dressage horse would ever venture down a trail, and would likely kill horse and rider in any attempt to do so.

They said this with great pride.

They also used a string of foul language to belittle the lowly volunteers, often without any knowledge or experience in dressage, unguided by the show organizers, who stupidly close the dressage ring at the wrong moment.

And we all know, how putting down that tiny white 2x4 can scare the best dressage horse out of his halt-salute.




I could only breath deeply to avoid the desire to beat my head against the nearest solid object.

Okay, so your fancy-schmansy dressage horse is scared of rocks, white fences and should we be so lucky, grass over an 1" tall.

Fine. And if that same rider believes that "Amateur" status should include those paid by the barn they own to ride and train horses, since you know, they're not being directly paid by the people, okay. I'm never getting to your FEI classes anyway, and your red ribbons are purchased on the backs of others. And since my back is covered in a discounted $8 crunchy white show shirt, I'm not going to feel much of a loss.

If you want to crank your horse's nose to his chest, pull on your spurs that resemble small Renaissance torture devices strapped to leather and beat him occasionally over the head with your whip (ensuring of course, it meets FEI regulations on length and color), you go for it.

Because I'm not going to be like you. I'm not going to belittle folks just because their not doing with their horse, what I do with mine.

You wanna run barrels? Do it. You wanna Parelli? Do it. You wanna vault, do Wessage, ride in a bitless bridle or heck, ride in a crank. Do it.

Just get off your freakin' high horse when you're doing it.


I've filled in my entry for the May Dressage show. I'm mailing it in today.

And it takes with it, all of my nerves, all of my feelings of "not being good enough", and all of my self-consciousness.

Because I had an epiphany yesterday.

A moment of insurmountable joy, where it was like the clouds parted, the sun shone through and then rainbows and butterflies burst into the air.

No, seriously.

You see, as much as I like to pretend otherwise, I've been pretty self-concious/nervous about heading into dressage show season.

I know. You'd never believe it ; )

But I have been. My riding jacket is laughable. My breeches are second hand. My helmet is NOT a GPA and therefore, not cool. I don't own a stock tie. The nicest thing I have is my boots, and they don't fit after 2 pm.

Actually, as I learned today, the nicest thing I have, is my pony.

And the best thing about us?

Is us! : )

Okay, it sounds crazy. Crazier then believing I was nervous about showing.

But you see, yesterday I met a group of people. Horse people.

One was a stellar dressage rider. Has beat riders in FEI competitions, has horses with breeding that by the way she spoke, had more impressive lineage then the queen of England. Probably more ribbons then a quartet of girls on May Day, and more training then I have public education.

The other two, were appaloosa breeders. They told me about taking their kids to horse shows, getting 1st place ribbons after 30 years out of showing and hand beading costumes.

They cheered me on when I said I was taking my boy into the ring even if we got all zeros. They chuckled when I said I'm pretty sure he'll never be a jumper...but I'll let him try everything anyways.

The other snorted at who my coach was. And belittled and mocked my Interlake Riding Club.

And the whole thing gave me my confidence back.


I'm not even joking. I'm gonna go into that ring, over and over again this summer, and ride because I LOVE IT. And because I love my horse, love what my coach has helped us achieve and LOVE that I AM DOING THIS.

And if we suck, I'm gonna be proud that we went in. Because I really, really am starting to believe that some of these clubs are the way they are because they have scared off all but the most talented, most famous, most well endowed or if we be so lucky, most blissfully unaware of their own personal suckiness.

It's time to bring the power back to the dorks, the last place winners, the chunky qh's and the second hand breech wearers.

We've gotta be out there. I can't be the only one. But I will lead the charge! I will champion the losers, cheer the ungifted and support those who are there NOT to chase red ribbons and FEI points, but rather to learn lessons, exhibit their personal successes and be proud of who and what they are.

So, riders in your clearance riding jacket, mature horse and slouching back, if you're headed to the May 12th Dressage Winnipeg Show, come find me. I'll be on the chunky brown QH named RR Moons Sox. We'll come cheer you on too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Get Your Money's Worth

Driving to the barn yesterday, I had the most horrid epiphany. In under a week I'm headed to a clinic and my horse can't canter.


I envisioned the clinician telling us that "every horse can canter", and then making us try in the arena full of strangers. And Moon proceeding to whip around at lightening speed, in his usual gallop. Or conversely, trotting faster and faster and faster...and that's it.

I got to the barn with a goal in mind. Canter my pony.

The sun was shining so we groomed and tacked outside and then I hauled him back into the indoor. I could tell he was stiff automatically, the result of the four days off. It's amazing how in tune we can become with our animals the more we spend with them.

I had borrowed a thinner copper d-ring bit to try (p.s. Thanks H!), and tried to be consistent with how I normally ride him to be able to compare the difference to his double-jointed, egg-butt KY rotary bit.

The first thing I noticed was an apparent increase in contact. And a hypothetical ability to release small amounts of rein and have Moon take up the slack. But I could have very well be delusional.

I found our circles in our normally good directions were sloppy and stiff. He seemed to fall onto his shoulder a lot and was having a tough time bending. Here I ran into a problem. Hypothetically, the D-ring snaffle is a "harsher" bit because of the nut-cracker action. I had chosen it only because of some past discussions I'd had with W where she thought perhaps he had a rather large tongue and some of his open-mouthedness related to that. The D-ring was a lot narrower.

I had a REALLY hard time asking for bend knowing that could feel harsher to Moon. Now, me saying that, I did most of my asking while being EXTREMELY conscious of using a lifting rein action, never downward. Which means next to no, or very little nut-cracker action at all. But I still kept worrying that I'd slip up and bang him in the mouth.


I swear it's all psychology and has nothing to do with actually riding.

I got some lovely leg yielding out of him after awhile and was pretty pleased with our continued attempts at shoulder-in. We also stopped and worked a bit on turn-on-the-fore just to help him with listening to my leg for shoulder-in. Somehow we got a turn-on-the-hind in the mix, but despite my best efforts, it never rematerialized.

I did seem to feel like his mouth was closed more often then in the double-jointed, but I also know that I likely wasn't maintaining as much contact consistently OR asking him to bend in ways that normally lead to him gaping...

I finally asked him for some canter departs and they were sticky at best. I can honestly say that I'm doing something wrong. Because I ALWAYS lose my inside stirrup. ALWAYS. I suspect I'm probably gripping like a bugger with my knee/thigh and that's what causes it. Ger.

Our last two attempts of about 7 or so, I was pretty darn certain we were on the correct lead (I swear the rest were galloping). I praised him heavily and each time made sure that we came back to trot BEFORE he fell apart on me.

And then into the barn walks another woman, whom I'd been out trail riding with before. "J". She was wondering if I wanted to hit the trails for a bit before heading home?

Sure! : )

I love trail riding and as much as I really wanted to work on my canter departs a whole lot more, I'd had some success and should probably leave it at that. Plus, since Moon and I move on Saturday, this would probably be our last chance to go out with her. And seeing as there aren't a lot of trail riders in the barn to begin with, those who want to hit the trails with company, tend to do it with me. Unfortunately, there's only two horse's in the barn that are trail-safe besides Moon. One is owned by a teenage girl exclusively, the other is a leased horse so everyone rides the same one. Kinda hard to partner up with just one horse between two people!

The sun would be setting soon, so we only did about a mile and a half out, and then the same amount back. We had one "moment" when genius me, inspired, feeling good, loving a well mowed ditch, and straggling behind, decided to trot Moon to a rather steep driveway to encourage him to jump up it (simulated "bank"...yes, I really am craving an attempt at baby beginner novice XC here!). Well, he need a little more "omph" to get up it, and of course, landed in a canter.

Which sent the other horse off cantering.

Now, I would happily canter over that well mowed ditch for at least a 100 yards. I'd probably even gallop it.

But I'm aware enough to tell when my riding partner is not quite as happy to set cantering with no preparation time. My bad.

So I slowed Moon back to a walk and her horse resumed a sensible pace. We walked most of the way home, occasionally I'd luck out and have to trot my tiny pony to catch up to her long-legged beast.

Which had me thinking back to another trail ride I'd had with someone else for the first time. And they asked me what I like to do when I ride.

My experience riding with others is a nice walk, a couple short to medium lengths of trot and finish it all off with maybe a really short canter. Then walk home.

People enjoy that. They get all the paces, they're not too sore the next day, and they have a good time. And feel safe while doing it.

But that always feels like the local park's hire-a-trail-ride to me. When I mentioned this to the BF last night, he reminded me that I have an awful lot of trust and comfort with my horse. So to gallop down the side of a gravel road doesn't feel unsafe. That and I'm not a talented conversationalist, and galloping, thankfully, is not conducive to conversation.

Okay, okay. Point made. : P But I really would love at least one *little* gallop... ; )

Which makes me excited again about our move. FINALLY, we'll have a lot of wide open space to gallop in without having to travel 5 miles! : )

The temperatures had cooled way down by the time we got back to the barn, and I could feel a bit of a chill setting in. We rode up to the driveway gate and I had felt like trying one more thing...

Opening the gate on horse-back. A true test of skill.

And I was more then pleased that we opened the gate, walked through and got the gate shut (but not latched). Finally after realizing latching just wasn't going to happen from horseback (you have to wrap the chain around the post then over a metal tab), I figured I'd just dismount.

That's when it got awkward.

You see, my paddock boot had come untied.

And I'd managed to get the lace caught somewhere on my saddle, so my foot was half over the cantle and stuck.

And my other foot was already out of the stirrup and braced against the saddle flap.

And I was *still* holding onto the gate-chain.

....insert awkward moment where I hang between gate and horse, one leg stuck over saddle...

: ) And manage to dislodge myself before anything more embarrassing happens!

Still, that's one step closer to making trail class, right??! ; )

Moon got untacked, a quick grooming and then I put him outside where his grain was waiting. It was pretty funny to watch him eat, as he would take a mouthful of grain, and then take a mouthful of hay. Like it was an equine salad bar! : P

Finally he finished his grain and I tossed the last of his hay into the paddock for him (made him eat the grain outside the paddock or else Curly-horse would just steal it from him). So I let him in, remove his halter and go to kiss him on the nose.

And get smashed in the face.


Cause Curly-horse had come for his hay and Moon was getting out of there.


Teeth into lip, which is now a little fat. Thanks, thanks a ton. Note to self. Be cautious when kissing horses.

On the drive home I was thinking about how I didn't really get to loosen Moon up, and how we didn't make any great progress on our canter in prep for the clinic. Oh boy.

I was lamenting to the BF and he just raised an eyebrow. "Isn't that why you're there?".

...oh, right.

I suppose, there's no need to be a pro in order to go to the clinic. And while we may not be able to canter, perhaps this is another opportunity to improve it. And since cantering is not a requirement to jump (since we'll be doing mostly poles/x-rails), I really am not going to miss out on anything. And if I'm there to learn, I'd best be sure to suck at lots so I get my money's worth! : )

T - 4 Days to the big move!
T - 5 Days to the big clinic!
T - 6 Days to Moon's first bath!
T - 19 Days to our first show!

Oh, and after watching THIS local dressage rider's freestyle....I started rethinking free-styling it myself...

But what the heck! Maybe if we do it in costume, no one will even notice our riding skills! ; )

Monday, April 23, 2012

Oh, Relax.

I had a lovely collection of images to post, but as my luck goes, my camera consumed them.

Oh well, probably doesn't matter anyway, since none included a picture of my brown steed.


Because I haven't seen him since last Thursday <hang head in shame>

It's true.

We had an amazing ride last Thursday and I was game to head out again on Friday. Except they were predicting rain for Saturday, all day.

A couple weeks back we cleared out a half-acre of underbrush in our future backyard. That's a LOT of underbrush. And with it, we hacked out more Poison Ivy than most people care to encounter in their lives. The trick with Poison Ivy, is that to keep it at bay, you need to keep the area mowed, well trimmed and grassed.

We had reached the point of...barren mud.

The only way to keep the brush and Poison Ivy from re-invading (experience tells us this does not take very long), we needed to start the grass a growing.

Since Saturday was going to rain (meaning no grass could be planted on Saturday OR Sunday), I had best do it Friday evening.

I left work early, sprinted to the property and started chopping, raking and leveling. 4 hours later, I had the *tiniest* patch of grass seed planted.

Seriously. Tiny.

And the sun was set and there was no time left to ride. No biggie, since Saturday would be a rainy day, perfect for me to enjoy the last of my indoor arena days.

Except Saturday rolled around sunny and clear.


Which meant instead of riding my pony, I dashed back to the property to plant more grass.

I spent 7 hours out there. I got a measly little patch cleared and seeded. Then I hung my hammock FINALLY, and laid back for a moment. It was 4 pm already. I'd been out there since 9 am. On A SATURDAY.

And I was starving. So I called the BF up (who had been working all day) and we met up at a local burger and fry joint. A summer hot spot for most people.

Needless to say, by the time I had cleaned up and put all the tools away, driven to the restaurant (which was not particularly close), ordered (beat the school bus of kids thankfully) and eaten, I was exhausted.

Seriously, exhausted. When the BF suggested we just go home and watch movies on the coach, I hardly thought about my tubby pony relaxing in the sunshine in his paddock. He was as happy there as I was on my couch.

Besides, there's always Sunday!

Sunday greeted us with more blue skies. My plan was to get my pony trailer roof scrubbed clean, throw on a coat of clear coat and then head to the barn for a short ride before going to a birthday BBQ. Should be fast, right?

For starters, Blue Moss is evil. The pony trailer roof was covered in the most adhesive blue moss I'd ever encountered. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. Skin peeled off my fingers, my nails chipped and broke, and my back ached (still sore from two days of clearing for planting grass...and picking rocks in my future pony field).

Finally the BF came over and offered me a hand. In exchange for my help on holding a screwdriver while he fixed his motorcycle. Sure! Anything to not have to scrub anymore!

I rinsed off the trailer roof and WOW. It was a HUGE improvement.'s painted white. And blotchy (from factory). Dang. Now, I get to go back to the fiberglass repair place and figure out what I need to use INSTEAD of the clear coat. Oh joy. Needless to say, no roofs were painted.

I thought "holding a screwdriver" to help the BF would be short and sweet. It was already 11:30 am, and I wanted to hit the barn. And still had to buy a present for my dad!

1 pm rolled around by the time we had finished adjusting valve clearances on his bike. AN HOUR AND A HALF!

I ran inside, scarfed down food and we bolted to the mall to buy our gifts. I already knew what I wanted and that was quick and easy. Got home and surprise, surprise, it was 3 pm. Which meant I had to leave in 20 minutes for my folks.

Yes, this entire post reveals ZERO pony time. None. Zip. Nada.

Tonight however, there will be pony time. Because tomorrow, there will be none. : (

Tomorrow I'm completing the first 4 of 8 volunteer hours for Dressage Winnipeg. Fail to complete your hours results in the cashing of your $140 cheque. Yup, that's incentive! So I'm working a bingo all night tomorrow. Go me. : P

Wednesday is the next IRC Executive Meeting, which means again, no riding. But at least we get to talk horse stuff!

Thursday and Friday I aim to be at the barn, enjoying the last of our indoor arena adventure. I have to say, that I'm really, really glad that I took the opportunity to do this, and had the winter to prepare for the upcoming show season, with an awesome coach to guide me. Moon will never again be the horse that he was when I showed up at W's. Never. I'll probably never be the same rider or owner that I was either. Change = growth. Growth = adventure.

Saturday morning, we'll be packing up and heading out. I'm beyond excited to make that ride. Something about lying in my hammock for 10 minutes on Saturday, surrounded by the young grass seeds I hope will flourish, helped me distill my worries. Because really, what do I really have to worry about?

H's place is opportunity to run. Stretch our legs. Moon to stretch his legs. And to be free.

I'm going to be going from hands-off horse care, to hands-on. I get to look after some feedings, cleaning of the paddocks and general care of the horses. Making that transition from horse owner, to horse care giver, which is exciting.

I'm excited because it really does kinda feel like the closest thing to coming home, as I can get without having Moon in my own backyard. This is a place, that over and over, I keep coming back to. H is kinda like that sister, who always seems to know what your thinking. I sometimes chuckle thinking back. It's been a long time that we've known one another. I'll never forget that fateful day when she asked me if I wanted to free lease a horse.

I'm not sure she ever really could get rid of me after that. Horses, over and over, drew us together, just as they do once again. I probably should have always known I'd be bringing my horse home to her. It will probably be a bit of time before we're riding the trails together, setting each others jumps, offering advice and trudging through the fields, feed pails in hand. But it will be without a doubt, fun to watch our dogs romp and play, to sneak in a quiet chat over a soda after a long ride, and to lean on a fence post watching our horses nibble from their buckets.

I find, over and over, that it is the start of spring, and the days that follow that leave me feeling truly spoiled in life. Yes, things are no always perfect. Yes, I'm tired and sore from a busy weekend, and no, I haven't seen my horse in awhile. And yes, Saturday morning will roll around and my pony will scream like an idiot and probably try to kick my dear friend's horse, and I'll realize all over again just how incredibly silly horses can be.

But I'll shake my head, look over my shoulder, and there will be a friend, watching and shaking her head too. So who cares it if the move-in isn't "perfect"? It's not the move that matters; it's the friendship that you find when you get there that matters most.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Little Big Man.

I received an email today from my old polo boss. There were no details in it, just asking for me to call him back when I had time.

...I'm just staring at the email. Over and over again.

I have a feeling I know what it's about. A deep, sinking feeling.

You see, I fell in love with one of his geldings back when I was grooming and riding polo ponies for him.

A little nondescript bay.

Known as "Hobo". Ran as "My Little Big Man"

Who probably is about 17 or 18 years old now. And ready to retire from the polo scene. You know...this season.

I can't say for sure that's what this is about, but I have a pretty good feeling. A very good feeling.

And I actually feel a little nauseous.

For starters, my history here is not good. He can literally convince me to do just about anything. Seriously. He's one of those people who's so skilled at circular conversations that you find yourself agreeing just to get out of it. And wind up stuck in the middle.

Then there's the fact, that I'm at a terrible cross-roads.

I'm not ready to keep horses at home. I can't. It will be a year or more before I can. And when I do, I'm pretty sure my first choice wasn't going to be a senior OTTB that's run polo hard and fast for the last 15 or so years.

I really can't afford board on two horses. I could, but I'm not willing to give up Moon's quality of board, my opportunity to show this summer, nor the work I want to do on our land. I won't. Not for any horse.

I don't have the time to ride two horses properly, regularly. So someone would be left out. I CAN NOT have that be Moon. I can't. I won't. He's my heart horse. Hobo might be a wonderful lover of my past, but I can't neglect the wonderful one I have RIGHT NOW.

But I know, I really truly know, that Hobo is a wonderful horse. A sweet and kind and gentle horse. The perfect packer. With tons of energy. Probably in really good shape too, since he was still running polo last year. When I used to ride him, I swore that someday, when he retired, I'd want to buy him. He'd be my first horse. The love of my life. My trusty steed. And now, that chance has come. And he still has lots of life left in him, just ready for a new career.

Only, I don't think that new career should be with me anymore.

I desperately want to call to find out if this is why he's calling...but desperately don't want to call so I can avoid being put in a place where I have to decide the fate of a dear and special horse to me.

If he goes to a bad home, I'll feel responsible.

But I kinda don't want to be that good home either. I'm not ready. I have my heart horse. I moved on. I fell in love again.

The truth is, I'm not responsible for providing homes for horses of people who use them till they're all used up and then want to pass them along. I'm not. I can't be. If I were, I'd have a pasture full of half-broken down horses, munching hay, getting fat and not being ridden.

But I'm still human. I'm still horse-obsessed. I'm still forever thinking of that nondescript bay that took me from lesson barn student to real rider. Who I learned to love the movement of a good gallop, the value of hard work and most importantly, the truth that there ARE heart horses out there.

I hope, nay, I pray, that wherever he goes, he finds happiness. And I hope that his owner believes he owes him that much, and even with my "no", still works hard at finding him the right forever home.

Because they all deserve at least that much. They all do. And I? I already made that promise to my Moon. And I'm not gonna let him down.

Tell me where it hurts...


I'm not even 30. And yet, by some evil twist of fate, I'm sore.

Seriously, sore.

Last night, I thought my abs were going to be the death of me. Not even my abs. Somewhere behind my abs, where I couldn't even get to massage.

That same soreness left me hanging over my pony's neck, willing the muscle cramping away. Non-riders may think that horseback riding is "easy". "Low impact". Requiring little "athleticism". We riders know better. It's not.


I tacked up Moon yesterday and despite the cool temperatures, strong north-west winds and clouds rolling in, I felt compelled to hack out.

I'm not sure why, but I have some sort of mental "block" when it comes to arena riding. I'm suspicious that it comes to those constricting walls, the mass of solid objects that surrounds the arena, just willing me to land atop, within or into them.

I once rode at a barn where the arena was held up by two MASSIVE concrete pillars. Right in the middle of the arena. Right there. You know, where you might cantering around.

Terrified me. Hated it. Winter riding SUCKED. Walk-trot, sure, fine. But canter? Hello, I don't have a death wish.

Never mind the solid walls just willing to be hit.

Summer was fine. There was a MASSIVE outdoor ring, so large you never ACTUALLY rode along the rail. It was lovely. I hated jumping in that indoor (I mean, even the ceiling was low!), but it wasn't a big deal out on the open green.

I'm still kinda that way. Look down at those solid rails, posts, anything and get a little nervous.

Now, we also know that most horses go better in an indoor arena then outside. Outside is "spooky". Outside has "distractions". Outside has places to gallop away. (well, except those horses that have never seen an indoor...then it's the whole reverse. But once accustomed, most horses are more focused it seems in these confined spaces...or maybe it's their riders?).

Outside WITHOUT any fencing should be worse. There's nothing at all keeping your horse where you want him, but you. Nothing keeping your horse focused, but you.

And since we're headed in 3 weeks to our FIRST horse show, which will be outside with only that pathetic little white planking about a 1' off the ground to keep us within our ring, I knew we best get our booty outside and practice.

Our journey led us about a 1/2 mile up the road to my new favorite spot. That community center I keep talking about. Moon gets his poops out before we even get there, so I don't have to worry about pooping on the field. Plus, they have the soccer nets set up in other fields, so I'm not even working in one that's "in use". Even better, it's on my way home, so if I need, I can grab a shovel and scoop my poop off the field when I'm done. : )

It's a nice spot. Flat and level green grass, well trimmed. The neighboring property has two very yappy dogs, but they're chained and provide nothing more then a distraction. The parking lot is close by and offers the occasional car rolling up. It has "artificial" ring markers on three sides: A treeline, a ditch and a road.

Moon and I started working in the soccer field and I could tell his mind wasn't in it. Everything meant "RUN!" Everything. His head was up, his attention was elsewhere and he certainly didn't think he had to WORK in this field. We play in fields! I never make him work outside.

I tried a bunch of things and wasn't getting anywhere. I did notice that he'd slow down a touch and listen better when I asked for a change in direction, but it was short lived. Too short lived to make a difference...


I made them more frequent.

So I did. We did 10 meter figure 8's, where each loop was a little 10 meter circle. Probably a little less then that, but we gradually worked down.

Boy oh boy. Did he start to come around. I was flabbergasted by my sudden ability to direct him with more leg then anything. I moved into sitting trot and there I was, manipulating him with leg and seat and *just a little* rein, to get a little bend. His head came down, he rounded and we had contact.

My occasional glimpse at our shadow assured me that we hadn't overcome our gaping problem, but I honestly, don't give a hoot anymore. He'll either continue to do it, or he won't. I'll keep doing everything I can to help him correct it, but if he can't, to hell with it. I'm not going to the Olympics. I've got a horse that's soft and bending and rounding. Sure, he's got a vice that most people associate with a tense, bracing horse. But if he's not, then tfb. Judges want to dock us marks because of it? Go for it.

Because out there today, in a wide open soccer field, with no fences, nothing compelling him to listen to me, I had one of the softest, roundest, most attentive horses I've ever owned. Moon WAS NOT the horse I brought to W's a year ago. He was changed.

I didn't want to stop. I didn't. It was too incredible to think that a year ago we never could have done this so fluidly. I never would have been able to so gently coax him back to softness. Attentiveness.

But, then the pain set in.

Apparently, I'd been in the sitting trot too long. Holding my core muscles for too long. To be honest, Moon had worked up a sweat! And I had a major core cramp.

So I let Moon walk and just laid across his neck waiting for the pain to stop. On a loose rein, he just ambled around. We got our nicest free walk to date (with the occasional attempt to trot : P ). Finally it stopped hurting. I mean, it still hurts, but the cramp was gone!

I wanted to try our canter. Canter in the arena is hard. Really hard. But we need to work on the canter cues to make sure he understand what I want and departs properly.

I read a long time ago, and someone recently posted about the value in doing it right. And if it's not right, do it again. Don't just keep going. So, I'd ask Moon to canter, and if he gave me a crummy depart, I'd bring him down and do it again.

We did it probably a dozen times in each direction. Unfortunately, I haven't a frigg'n clue how to tell my canter leads. Seriously. I *thought* I did. I do in theory. But it seemed we were ALWAYS on our right lead, no matter what direction we went in. Except, he seemed to be falling into the circle in both directions! : P

I decided that I'd best just work on asking for now. And perhaps, as we get better transitions, I'll get a better sense of what lead we're on and what I need to do to correct it.  Cause seriously, I don't want to spend my whole riding lifetime walking and trotting. And since I can't even figure out posting diagonals after 10 years of riding, why should I expect Moon to understand leads? : P

As he worked a bit on slowing down his canter (in other words, not galloping : P ), I brought him back to his figure 8's frequently to remind him to stay soft, loose and listening. Not EVERYTHING meant run! : )

When we finally stopped, we were both sweating. And probably sore. But I knew he still wanted his chance to run. Mr. Moon always loves a chance to run.

So we did. I walked him across the soccer field to the longest side and gave him his head.

He surged off and we galloped across the field, the wind causing my eyes to water and I just poised above Moon, feeling the surge of his muscles as his hooves ate up the ground beneath us.

Once we got to the far end, I turned him around and let him gallop back to the highway.

I've come to really appreciate my boy. Yes, we'll probably get all 3's on our dressage tests. We'll probably never jump 3' or win a halter class.

But by-golly, I can point my horse towards a highway, let him gallop his heart out and when we get to the end of the field, sit back in the saddle and feel him smoothly transition back to a walk. All that, in the softest double-jointed egg-butt bit I can find.

And then walk him the 1/2 mile home down the highway, right on the buckle.

And I wanna do it all again tonight. Except I'm not sure my core muscles can handle it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Going Topless

I fully intended on going to the barn last night and putting some dressage practice on Mr. Moon. I did. But by the time I got home, had some supper, got the dog out and fed, it meant I would only have 45 minutes at the barn, after an hour of driving. Not what I wanted so I decided to compromise with myself.

I'd still be productive, but instead of spending an hour driving around, I'd spend 2 hours on my pony trailer.

I dragged out the drill and got to work. Drilling out rivets was a first for me, but how hard can it be??

Well, the aluminum ones were easy-peasy. The steel ones?? A little bit harder.

It's kinda nice sometimes working by yourself. Not that I don't appreciate the BF's help, but he's a think, plan, decided, reconsider, gather tools, work until the project is done, kinda guy. That's wonderful. Except I'm a charge-in-head-first, stop frequently and plan it as you go, type of gal. Granted, this sometimes leaves me struggling for a way to complete a project I only gave 5 minutes thought to before grabbing a power tool and charging in, but for me, it works out. I mean, breaks are for thinking!

My dad is an avid woodworker/farm repair type guy and I spent many years outside and in his garage "helping" him out. My mom, your typical homemaker, ALWAYS brought out snacks, treats, drinks and such as we worked. Which meant LOTS of breaks. The BF, believes in working until the job is done. No breaks. As you can imagine (coupled with my scrawny, stickly, constantly snacking lest I waste away self), this is NOT always my idea of a good time.

So in the two or so hours I spent working on my horse trailer, I stopped repeatedly to snack, take pictures, play with the dog, and day dream about it being finished. My bad.

Irrespective, by the time the BF pulled up, the roof was no longer held to the frame and the only thing still needing to be done is lift it down (which let's face it, is a two man job). I'd even put the saw horses in the back yard to place it on!! : )

Needless to say, I got some props for being a gal who knows how to use her tools, and then it was official...

My pony trailer was topless.

Trim removed from roof. 

Drilled out the old rear lighting...and boy, I'm gonna have to do a lot of scrubbing...

I mean, there's MOSS growing on it!! : O

All un-done, just needs to be taken down. : ) Overall, it turned out to be in very good shape, a couple of minute fractures in the gel coat, but no cracks. : )

I saved the trim to go back on later. 

I even un-wired the lights! There was one original one still on (which was pretty badly damaged, and that I *probably* can't buy a replacement bulb for anymore...), and the other three were more recently added. Not sure if I'll buy 4 new LED ones, or just 1 replacement...

While I LOVE Ridgid power tools, this is the heaviest drill on earth! 

Naked pony trailer!

I wonder if he'd load easier if I left it like this... ; )

Roof in the yard, waiting to be scrubbed and refinished! Hoping the weather FINALLY cooperates this weekend!

Tonight, I will, without a doubt, be out riding Mr. Moon. If time allows, I'd REALLY like to hack him out to the soccer fields again and work through our dressage test in a "strange" environment. In all honestly, what I *REALLY* want to do is gallop around Birds Hill Park, but it's too far to make it there and back before the sun sets.

I swear, sunny days are NOT conducive to dressage riding in my world. And after our little adventure with the ditch last Saturday, I desperately want to see what his feelings are on "natural" jumping obstacles...Yes, the 'fraidy cat in my longs to be an eventer...well, it longs to do XC...maybe I could just scratch the Stadium portion?? ; )

I've also been sitting around contemplating our move. The problem with being a fairly new horse owner, is that you haven't had the experience that more seasoned owners have had, and as my last post said, experience reduces anxiety.

I'm quite certain it will end up being uneventful. They'll touch noses, kick and squeal a bit. Maybe a couple of kicks and bucks and running around and then things will settle down and be uneventful. I mean, Moon's been introduced to new horses a couple of times now since I've owned him. Once at T's where he fought with the other gelding for a week before being separated to a new herd. He was an outcast there until I moved him to W's. I didn't see him introduced to the herd at W's, but was told it went smoothly. He didn't have any injuries, for sure.

When he met Curly-horse, he came away with a lot of bite marks, but he still gets bitten. Not exactly a serious phenomenon. Likewise, I didn't even notice when little Haffie Jack moved in.

So would his introduction over to the new herd be any different?

It shouldn't be. But I sometimes imagine horses galloping around, breaking through HT fencing, someone getting a tendon in the fence wire and waving goodbye to our show season before it even starts. Unlikely? For sure. But like most newbie owners, obsessive horsefolk or worry-warts, it still runs through my mind.

The new BO and I have made every arrangement we could think of to try to make the transition easier. She had some great ideas that will only smooth things out more. Unfortunately there isn't space or time for long introductions, but he did have the chance to visit the new facility last weekend.

The plan is for me to ride him over again next weekend, which will mean that he'll be nice and tired when he meets the herd. Likewise, the two other horses that he's moving in with will be worked and hopefully a little tired too.

He'll get a chance to investigate the paddock alone, so he can learn the fence-line. Then he'll get introduced to each horse and the games begin.

Later that afternoon, another new horse (who was previously boarded there) will be moving back. And then everyone will get their toes trimmed! And of course, we'll put out lots of hay piles so there's no fighting amongst the horses...or less fighting : P

It's hard when you know your horse is more often then not, a total push-over. And barely over pony-height. And is moving in with two fit draft crosses, with their plate-sized hooves, curving necks and big ol'muscular bums. Not that I haven't seen Moon kick like the best of them. : P Maybe I'll get some good action shots... ; )

We should be spending the evening visiting, and then the next morning, I pack him into a trailer (larger then my own!) and haul him 2 hours to a clinic. We clinic all morning then haul back the 2 hours home.

Monday, I was planning on hacking him out to the park, which will be just TWO miles away! AURGH!

And then I wonder if I'm over doing it? I mean, he gets ridden 4 miles, moves into a new herd, gets dragged out of bed the next morning, hauled, meets a new place, riders, jumping, everything, then gets hauled back to his "new home". And then I want to ride him for a couple hours the next day too??

I think I'm overzealous. I'll be lucky if he doesn't collapse in a nervous, stressed out heap.

....or you know...*I* collapse in a stressed out heap!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A deeper thought...or two

I've been typing and untyping and not publishing on a handful of thoughts that are swimming around my head today. The steady rainfall outside probably does nothing to help my blase (add a little accent over the e please) mood.
I'm currently fermenting on a work phenomenon where I'm stuck trying to sort through two trains of thought. Is it better to withhold info or be untruthful in order to spare people the truth which at this point has no impact on reality BUT saved them undue stress in the past, or to tell the truth, let them stress and be honest and upfront?
I keep feeling like I prefer truth, as much as it may suck, to half-truths or withheld information.
Maybe it's the planner in me? The one that likes to be prepared? Maybe it's that side of me that kept telling the logical, pragmatic, realistic side of me to shut-up, because I was told by someone I *should* trust that everything was peachy-keen.

I'm pretty irritated that I trusted where my gut told me not to, and if it wasn't for a slip of tongue, never would have been any wiser.
Instead, I now I'd be an absolute idiot to trust what I'm told again. It very near left me in a position that I don't want to be in. Yes, it worked out fine this time, but who knows about next time? Maybe next time I'll find myself blindsighted when I'm handed an empty box...
Obviously I try to keep my work life out of my blog life. To some extent.
But my work life is what funds my riding, my Moon and my adventures. This is here because of THAT.
I just have to remind myself to let it go. Trust my gut. Always, always trust your gut. And always, always, be honest. People like to hear the truth, good or bad.


I've been thinking a lot lately about things like fear and trust, and in this instance, as they relate to horses.

My experience has made me the kind of person that feels safer on the back of a horse then on the ground beside one. I'd sooner ride a horse through a scary situation then walk one. Which to some people is nutty. But I've fallen off horses and no evil has come. I've been holding horses and been hurt.

I find myself driving to the barn and appreciating, having read so many other blogs, the fact that I feel no apprehension or foreboding on my drive. There are a great many things that I don't even consider "scary" as I'm doing them, that I realise later for so many others, may be fearful.

I look at myself and wonder, what makes me different?

Then I realise, perhaps it isn't me.

Perhaps, just maybe, it's Moon.

Because I still feel my heart beat fast when I lift the hoof of a different horse. Even if I've known them for awhile, worked with them before. If I lead them and their head is high and they're "looky", I put a little extra space between us and get ready for anything. My hands grow cold at the thought of walking someone's horse into the trailer, and the last time I mounted a new horse, I could feel my heart beating in my chest.

It's not fear so much as nervousness, but I find comfort in my boy.

From the day I first rode him, I felt secure. Even when I was nervous, I had some strange sense of security in him. I can't even begin to describe it. It's this feeling that he'd never intentionally hurt me.

I found and continue to find myself pushing his boundaries, pushing his anxieties, fears and nervousness with new experiences. Making him go through that deep puddle, asking him to jump that fence, leading him onto that trailer. Things that any other horse I'd be scared to attempt, yet with him...I'm not. Just simply, not.

I was caught off guard on the weekend when my boy was prancing and pawing and dancing around calling at H's place. And T made a joke about how you'd think he was a three year old.

: ) It was one of those times when you find yourself stepping out of you own paddock boots and into someone else's. In my head, my heart-of-hearts, I always perceive him as this chunky, tubby, hay-bellied short little QH pony, eeyore-like in personality, slightly sad little eyes, head hanging low and just meandering through the world. "dum-de-dum".

Wasn't it an eye opener to see that there stood my boy, foamy and glistening, head high, neck elevated, calling like the devil and dancing on the spot. Totally encapsulating his TB-ancestry, all snort and nostrils.

If he was any other horse, I can promise you, I would have been nervous right there. So why, why wasn't I? I've been injured before. I have fears relating to horses, I'm jumpy and scared of horses on the ground when they're nervous...

Because it's Mr. Moon. <shrug>. My Moon. He's just wondering why we're standing still when we've running and galloping to do. And things to see.

I had to wonder, if my horse, was maybe more horse then I've been telling myself?

And do I find myself feeling secure because of what I tell myself he is, and others perceive him as something else, or is he everything I perceive and merely misread?

I know that our time together this past year has developed a bond, trust and understanding that far outweighs any initial sense of security he gave me. And vice versa. I can gallop him and never feel like he's running away. I can feel him balk at going across a muddy patch of marsh, ask anyway and know it won't result in him rearing or bucking to avoid it. Because he trusts that I'm asking him to do something I know he can do. And he'll be safe.

I wonder if our heart horses are the horses that we feel comfortable with from the first time we meet them, and time does not create that trust/bond/security, but rather time only acts to enhance it? Experience only solidifies it?

I've ridden horses that I know how they'll react, how they like to be ridden and how to control them. But I never feel "connected" to them. I never feel "in-tune". I'd think twice before galloping them willy-nilly down a gravel road or hesitate to crouch before them in a narrow little horse trailer.

There's a moment that keeps sticking with me. When Moon was nervous about entering the trailer and the whites of his eyes were showing, his nostrils were blowing and his ears were standing straight up. He was scared.

I should have been scared too. But instead, all I wanted was to comfort him. I reached forward and scratched his little blaze and was floored by the way his tension just drained away at my touch. It was like my touch provided as much comfort to him, as his does to me. He trusted me. He found security in me.

Over and over and over again, I get this overwhelming sense that this is a natural bond. This is our connection.

I well up with happiness when I think of it. I think of Cuna and Charlie and wonder if they feel it too? Is THIS what we're all searching for?

And then, I'm stuck.

Yes, I'm stuck.
Why is it, that we believe that our fears are wrongfully placed and we must stand up to them and do things that make us so woefully unhappy?

I believe there are two types of fear. Fear that protects us and Fear that holds us back.

Fear that holds us back is both positive and negative fear. It is, in truth like The Force (I know, since when do I quote StarWars?). It can be used for good or used for evil.

I'm scared of high jumps. Let's face facts, that's a fear that holds me back. I just see any jump over 2' and my gut twists, my pulse races and I'm scared. I am. I'm not even shy to admit that. BUT, I know that in part, my fear relates to a degree of self-preservation. The fear that protects us. I don't have a lot of experience jumping, and there's a lot more danger jumping then there is with four hooves planted on the ground doing dressage.
That being said, I don't have any fear when I kick my horse up to a gallop and fly across a field, even when my horse throws in a buck or deeks out at the last moment.

Why? Do I have no self-preservation instincts in those moments?

No. It's experience. Experience reduces or promotes fear. Positive experiences overcome fears. I've galloped a lot of horses. Fast horses. Off-the-track horses. Polo horses. Quarter horses. And overall, my experiences have all been positive.

That being said, I have positive jumping experiences. I've only once fallen off over jumps...well, once a horse bolted on me in a field while cantering, jumped a chain-gate and sent me flying over her head...and whalloped my head with her knee. I'm not sure to this day if that's a jumping-related accident or a flat-work accident...

Overall though, I should be comfortable, aye safe, with jumping. But I am not. And as soon as it gets higher...uh oh.

However, my sensible side reminds me that the danger, at low levels is pretty minimal. Certainly no worse then galloping over fields or working dressage in a spooky ring. And so I remind myself of this and do it anyway. But I try to do it in a way that minimizes my fears. Is that bad? Probably not.

I use the fear that should hold me back in a positive way by taking pride in overcoming it. And facing it. But I remain respectful to the fact that it exists.

If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.
- George S. Patton

I think, perhaps I wonder, if we as a society have told ourselves, convinced each other, that fear is bad. Nasty. Weak people have fears. Unstable people have fears.

How foolish is that?

We all have fears.

But, how do we know where fear ends, and self-preservation begins?

We can't all be sky divers. Some of us are too scared. Is that a bad thing? Hardly.

We can't all rush out and jump 4'. Is that a bad thing? No. Show jumping would be a lot less impressive if we could all do it.

Our lives only last so long. I've come to realize, in the short time that I've walked the earth, that I haven't time for things I don't enjoy. I haven't time to waste doing things that scare the bejeebers out of me. I do have time for things that inspire me. Things that are challenging and just "scarey" enough to encourage me to work hard and be safe while doing it.

I learn to embrace those things. I learn to distinguish between the good fears and bad. The positive and the negative. The fears that make me a better person, and the ones that I allow myself to be convinced make me a worse person.

I'm not. My fears are not who I am. They are not me. I am me. And I will not, can not, never will, allow them to define me. Nor will I let others define me by them.

I WILL NOT face all of my fears. I refuse. I refuse to watch horror movies because they scare me. I have NOTHING to prove by sitting through them. I will not drive over 10 km/hr in a parking lot due to an unrational fear that I'll run someone over. You can't make me. I will remain scared of those ugly sow bugs that crawl out from under the picnic table every Spring, I will triple check that the stove is turned off before I leave the house out of an irrational fear that I'll burn it down. I will be scared of the tallest water slide (but still go on it!) and I will refuse to watch television shows with dismemberment. I refuse.

And I will not overcome all of my fears. I won't. I will do as I chose, when I chose. I will be pleased with who I am, and embrace my sense of self preservation, my fear that protects me. And when and if I feel like it, on any given day in any given year, I'll address those fears that hold me back.

But I'll do that my way, surrounded by those I love, trust and believe in. And I will take the same mentality, the same pathway for my horse, my dog, my family. Fear is, as I said, only what I chose to make of it. And I'm making it into nothing.
I've everything to fear, but NEVER fear itself.

Courage is knowing what not to fear.
- Plato

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dogs, Deals, Dads and Daytime Rides

Boy, I feel like I just have too much to blog about in one post! But I'll do it anyway!

For starters, a quick recap of my little trail ride with the Moon-pie last Saturday...

After we'd reached a point where he'd stand with his front two hooves in the trailer, I decided I'd best be tacking up and riding over to H's since it was already getting late and I'd promised to hold horses while they received their flu shots.

Moon seemed happy to leave the trailer "adventure" and was happily strolling up the road in no time. We headed up the highway two miles, which meant crossing two bridges on the way. Moon took it all in stride, with only one "incident". We were walking in the ditch of a beautifully manicured yard where the owner was driving his lawnmower around. No biggie. Until his dog came charging out at us barking.

The owner was yelling "get over here" and other pointless things that owners with poorly trained dogs seem to yell way too many times without doing anything to prove that the dog has to listen. Honestly, if you've yelled twice and he's still going for a horse and rider, it's time to get off your lawn mower and go deal with the situation. Say, grab him by his collar and drag his little dog-arse home...

Needless to say, I turned Moon on him and strode forward. Then barked deeply "BAD DOG! GO HOME."

I don't think he expected that. He dropped down and stared at me. "Go home. Bad dog" I repeated and he moved a few steps away from us. The owner continued to make pointless commands at the dog and the dog continued to ignore him. Until he finally wandered over and held the dog by the collar as I walked away. Probably because I refused to walk away from a dog that chases horses. That just instills chase and I was NOT being blind-sighted by ANY dog.

Of course, the owner offered the dog no punishment, no correction, nothing. Ger. So of course, I can't blame the dog, but the abysmal quality of dog training and dog discipline running amok these days.

But this isn't a blog on bad dog-ownership (though it so often goes hand-in-hand with horse ownership).

We trotted after we were out of eyeshot of that dog and then I asked Moon to continue his trot for the next mile. He did! : )

The mile after that we mixed trotting with cantering and made good progress. I turned him to the last mile (we did 4 there and 4 back) and thought about letting him gallop a stretch...

Until I head the steady clomping of hooves behind us. Turning to look at the road, a horse galloped past on the gravel road. Full-on galloped. Moon started to dance, wanting to run with them.

Then the rider galloped back the other way.

Okay. ??

We ended up walking the last 1/2 mile just to keep him from thinking he's allowed to race any horse that runs by.

At H's we had just dismounted when T from W's (don't you love the initials!) stopped by for a visit! : ) How awesome! So us ladies went about vaccinating ponies (Moon included) and enjoying one another's horse-obsessed company.

Moon stood tied to the tie-rail while we were wandering about, calling like the devil and refusing to stand still. Hence, why Moon was looking for China as he slowly dug himself a hole. I swear if I left him for another hour, he'd have half dug his way to the Asian land...

Mounted back up and headed home. This time I cantered him the first 1/2 mile and as we were coming down a nicely mowed road allowance at a hand-gallop, there was suddenly a small ditch in front of us. Which I hadn't seen.

...I thought about pulling up but at that speed, we didn't have the time. But what would Moon do??!

What else. He jumped over it, and continued on at a hand-gallop like it wasn't there.

: O


That means...

I jumped!!


I first "cross-country" jump! A ditch!!


(stop laughing my xc friends. Baby steps!...or baby ditches!)

I was happy to see I actually managed to maintain a nice balance as we went over, kept my hands in a nice release and didn't bang mouth or back during our descent. Score! I mean, it wasn't Hunter-class worthy, but I was in a dressage saddle! : P

I can say, honestly, that in this case at least (small ditch), Moon seems to enjoy natural jumps a lot more then artificial ones. Maybe we DO have a chance at being eventers?? ; ) ; )

We galloped the next mile down the side of the road, and despite my best attempts at keeping him on the grass he kept drifting over to the gravel road and barrelling down it. He just didn't care.

Not sure if this is the durasole helping, but I'm liking his new farrier more and more. Especially since he was 100% sound this afternoon...

He LOVED his gallop. He's such an easy ride at that speed that I just sat there and let him go.

The next mile he was sweating a lot so I brought him back to a trot and then the two miles home we just walked sedately. He wasn't tired and seemed to improve as far as contact and being on the bit went. We had some lovely trot going along and I swear I'm starting to see a nice neck developing on him. Probably no surprise either how easy it was for me to do up his 32" girth that previous required a lot of pulling to get on... : )

He was sweating, hot and happy when we got back. Did I mention happy? His breathing was back to normal, so I just untacked him and let him out for a roll. I knew he'd want that more then any type of grooming I could do to him.

And he rolled, and rolled and rolled. And probably slept well that night too!

Sunday, my dad had invited me out to an auction which was supposed to have horse tack as well as some fencing supplies. I'm hoping to buy my t-posts and poles at auction to save a couple of $$, so we're always keeping our eyes open for good deals.

Now, I admit this with the knowledge I'm probably now gonna be competing at auctions here with a ton of my lurkers, who thanks to me, discover the great deals that are to be had. And we'll wind up driving the price up for one another!! : P

But regardless, the fencing and such was all pretty crappy. I put a bid on a collection of harnesses, having an interest in a really cute driving bridle in the lot. The price got higher then it was worth for me (since I just wanted one thing out of the lot), so I bailed.

When we got to the western saddles, the seller started bidding on his own stuff, driving the price up to $500 until the auctioneer realized who in the back was placing the bids! So he called it void, and started again, making it clear the seller isn't allowed to bid.

The price went up and up, until it reached $375 which was still great for the saddles for sale. The winning bidder had the option to buy as many saddles as he wanted for the price, and to the chagrin of the other bidder (a nice lady), he took the two nicest ones.

...and then we watched as he carried the two saddles quickly over to the seller and the two of them deposited them in the seller's shed. Hmmmmm...inside job?? : P

It started to be clear to us then that there was some underhandedness of the seller. I'd caught him yelling earlier at the auctioneer about wanting to start placing reserve bids on things, and the auctioneer telling him you can't start changing the terms when there were 200 people outside ready to bid. And the seller was PISSED.

Never mind after two rounds of bidding on different selections of fencing material, he wandered over and said "Those aren't for sale", even though they were in the line up! One lady offered him $10 a fence post anyway and he still refused. A little while later, we saw him grabbing stuff in the line-up and chucking it over his fence to keep! Dirty!

The other western saddle went for about $300, but wasn't as nice. I'd been interested only if I could get a stupid cheap one, as I'd love to try some western events here and there with Moon. As the BF informed me over supper that evening he "needs a western saddle for when he rides".

...right... : ) Now I have an excuse to buy a really nice one!
The last saddle on the row was a little dried out, beaten up looking english saddle. Close contact.

The tree was sound (I checked earlier in the auction) and it would make a decent little saddle for starting young horses when you don't care they're rolling on it, biting it or trying to kill you with it. Granted, I haven't any young horses and don't know if I'll ever venture that route, but for the right price, why not, right?

I love a good deal. And chances are, someone would outbid me anyway.

Well, wasn't I surprised when the auctioneer asked if anyone would pay $200 for it...or $100...or $50...or $40...or $20...or $10...or $7.50...

I finally raised my hand, kinda feeling like if it went any lower, they'd end the bidding and not sell it at all (which did happen a couple times during the auction...once they even offered to pay a lady $4 if she took the box of stuff!).

So we had a $7.50 bid...and no others. SOLD!

I bought a dried out little saddle for seven dollars and fifty cents.

Score! : )

Especially since it came with a 52" english girth that was in great condition! And was a name-brand to boot. : ) The Aerborn!

It's only about $30 to $20 brand new, but has to be worth $7.50 cents used, no?? ; ) So let's consider the saddle free, and I bought a cheap girth!
Next out came the bridles. The auctioneer said that if no one wanted one specific bridle with a starting bid of $10, then he'd lump them and sell them as a set. Well, that wouldn't be a good thing for me, because as I learned earlier on (over the western saddles, breast collars, chaps, tie-downs and halters), we were in a Western riding crowd.

And there was one cute little dressage bridle in the lot.

When I checked them out earlier, the other two bridles were such cheap leather and dried out that the leather snapped in your hands. Ick. The other bridle had the brow band rubbed and scuffed.

But this little dressage bridle...

While dry and stiff, was clearly of nice quality leather and with some loving, should come back to life. It had pretty white padding and a flash nose band.

Even cooler, was that the leather noseband and flash barely even have grooves from the buckles!! They'd never been used!

So I jumped. I said I'd take the one dressage bridle and he started the bidding...

"We've got $10, do I have $12???"

..."Do I have $11???"...

...."Do I have $10.50???...."


Nope. : )

$10, english dressage bridle.

The only other thing I bid on was a running martigale, but someone bid against me and since I never plan on using a martingale on Moon anyway, I bailed at $10. So the gal got it for $10 ; )

I can share the wealth!

This morning I brought in my new tack (, don't come to my auctions! I want more deals!), and starting oiling it up.

The bridle is cleaning up nice, but will need a few more treatments with my leather CPR. In time, it should be supple again. I tried it on Moon and it's not too bad. Not my favorite look on him (almost too much to look at instead of his cute face), but certainly a good spare bridle. It's not black unfortunately, but a dark, dark brown.
The saddle I decided to have some fun with, and only started oiling one side. I searched and searched for a maker's mark on it (at the auction too) but nothing. I measured it as a 17" seat and about a medium gullet to boot!

As I was searching around, wasn't I surprised that tucked up under the flaps that cover the stirrup bars, way up there, was a little saddle makers plate.

I had to do a lot of scrubbing (DIRTY) and shine a flashlight up there, but I made out:

"made in England,
Exclusively for
The Tack Shop
311-17th Ave SW Calgary, AB"

Huh. English made (plus!) for a local (aka. Canadian) tack store.

I googled the tack store and nothing. The place was long gone, replaced by some sort of uptown shop.
(Where "The Tack Shop" used to be...)

Well, a little more cleaning and I could make out some letters...




So I googled it. It was some sort of European parish or something. But I can't find anything relating to a saddle maker...

But google suggests I try "Eldonian".

So I do.

And surprise, surprise, there's a picture of my saddle plate and a saddle very similar to my own. Eldonian.

(similar saddle for sale online)

(same company name, but mine says "made for The Tack Shop")

A line previously made by Jefferies in England, they're a decent saddle in their day. Probably about 15 or 20 years old and if it was in better condition, you can still buy them used here for $349.  : )

Not a bad buy for $7.50 : ) With a girth!

(pretty ratty condition when I brought the $7.50 saddle into the house...
and yes, my dog DOES have too many toys...)

(my saddle after one going-over with neats foot oil)

(the maker tag, pre-cleaning)


Today I headed out to the barn with two plans in mind.

First, as a birthday treat for a friend, I went out and rode her boy. He loved it, I loved it, and I got to practice my canter circles! : ) I threatened him that if he didn't behave I'd tell his owner, and no surprise, he gave me just one "halajula" buck at the canter and did lovely in our practice working deep into the corners.
Lastly, I decided to try his hand as a trail-class horse and we successfully opened, navigated through and closed the arena gate! : ) Score!

I unpacked a few more odds and sodds at the future place and then headed over to visit Mr. Moon.

Another application of durasole and then out into the arena. I'd swapped around my thinline pads so the thicker ones were in the front and the thin ones at the back, so I was excited to see if that made any difference.

I'd also been reading up more on bit placement, as I've noticed sometimes I hear Moon's bit hitting his teeth when we go around. I'm not keen on having lots of wrinkles in the corner of the mouth, but raised the bit a hole to make sure it wasn't banging his teeth either. He was a little unsure of the change at first but eventually settled in and moved out nicely.

I was a bit sore still from Saturday's 8 mile ride (!) coupled with standing in the cold and wind on Sunday at the auction (which equaled a sore lower back) and then add in another 45 minutes riding The Black, that I just did 45 minutes on Moon and considered it well spent.

He was moving nicely, we did lots of serpentines, some good work at shoulder-in and lots of leg yielding. His walk-trot transitions were nice and we worked through our dressage test without doing the free-walk like a drunken couple.
(Just doesn't suit him, does it?? Not that the lame expression is helping anything...)

I was beyond happy to see that he had no lameness as a result of A. Jumping the ditch, B. Galloping down the gravel road, C. trotting all that way, E. having his flu shot and THEN galloping/cantering/trotting

But nope (knock on wood!). Happy, sound, and more flexible then he is after three days off! : )

: ) I love, love, love my pony! : )

Just because I have too much to post and figure I'll force you to read it all at once, a quick in-photo recap of the pony trailer repairs to date. Since it came home yesterday and is now looking dirty and ready for further repairs in my driveway...

(Trailer rear door after we removed it and cut off the bottom rusted bit...then my dad cut off another 18" off rusted out metal. This was done to both rear doors, as both had rusted through behind the wood liners.)

 (the poorly installed, after-market "rock guard" which was just thin, thin metal was so poorly installed that sediment got behind it, trapped the water and rusted out the front of the trailer in a couple of spots.)

Now, be amazed by my dad, my hero (for more then just his stellar welding job!)...

He also welded on some plates to prevent dirt from building up behind the lights, made my rear doors removeable, ground out the old front window covers, welded closed EVERY rivet hole in the front and in the wheel wells, installed a new front hitch and emergency chains AND even wired my temporary rear lights : ) .

(Tidied up those ugly rivet holes and the rust spots; grey and black are primer/paint to keep his new welds from rusting until it's professionally painted)

(Inside the tack storage compartments, he welded on new sheet metal after cutting out all the rusted stuff! As close to new as you can get and SOLID)

 (And the piece-de-resistance, the new rear doors!)

(I mean, he welds as a HOBBY and look at that job! Pretty near flawless!)

I think I'm gonna have to get him an incredible birthday present this year!! : )

...did I mention, my non-horsey dad, then offered to give me a hand test-loading Moon into it? Granted, he also told me to wear my helmet ; )

: ) Best dad ever.