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.

*Sigh*

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 time...got the video camera ready to record his funny walk and...

...nothing. He just walked.

Bugger.

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.

*sigh*

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.

*sigh*

: ( 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.

*sigh*

__________

Oh, and the best part of the whole clinic?

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

Would *you* be?? ; )

4 comments:

  1. It is always scary introducing a new horse to a herd, especially when it is your horse! I am sure they will work themselves out, I just hope Moon stops running into the fencing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh wow, poor Moon! That story totally freaked me out and I wasn't even there. I'm glad to hear he is ok. I sure hope they settle down soon.

    I had to laugh at your comment about Moon's back looking long in the AP saddle. I think that about Dee every time I see her in and English saddle after two years of her wearing a western saddle. She looks like a city bus in an English saddle! And not one of the regular ones. One of those double length ones with the bendy part in the middle!

    Your clinic story makes me think of the terrible video I submitted to the online clinic this weekend. I felt terrible because I had to show the clinician our worst side! I sent this huge explanation with the video of how that's not the way she usually is lol. All the same, maybe it's better to get help on our worst day than on our best day.

    You and me both. How is it that after riding on and off for most of my life I'm still struggling with the basics?! Then my sister can ride for like 2 years and she's already working on piaffe with her horse?!?! Blah! That said, you look good in all of the pictures you posted and it sounds like you got a lot out of the clinic in spite of having a tired Moon. The jumping looks so fun!

    I bet you don't really struggle as much as you think you do.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Poor Moon and you!! It must have been terrifying seeing him laying there on the fence. I hope they sort it out soon and settle down.
    Sounds like you had a good time at the clinic though. You guys look super over the jumps :)
    Don't worry about the mistakes though even the professionals get themost basic things wrong too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm so glad Moon wasn't seriously injured!! I hope the horses are able to get their issues worked out so Moon can settle in and make friends. Is there a backup plan if the Black just keeps chasing Moon around?

    Just so you know, I only cue for the canter/lope with my outside leg. ;) Sounds like the clinic was productive, and constructive criticism is the absolute best. It's the only way you'll be able to improve. You're the kind of person that can take the advice and build on it, and I can't wait to see how you and Moon do at your show. You've come such a long way already! :)

    I love the pictures!!

    ReplyDelete