Sunday, July 29, 2012

A chapter closes.

I shouldn't post this here first.

But something about the anonymity (despite the fact I know a great deal of locals keep tabs on me right here), makes it easier. Or maybe, because I don't need to speak a word to have my say.

Yesterday, the BF and I decided to seperate. As far as I am moving out and finding my own place. My own way in life.

8.5 years.

I knew it was coming. I tried to fight it, tried to wish it different. Worked really, really hard to keep it all together.

I keep thinking back to years ago when I read a "Self-Help" book. I hate those books. But the author said "Stop rowing". And if you stop doing all the rowing in the relationship, do things stop moving? Are you doing all of the work?

It seemed to have gotten that way. I was willing to never stand up for myself to try to keep from a fight. And then when I did fight, he never seemed to fight fair. As he got more and more irritated with me, I was drowned in a mess of guilt and hurt and desperation. I can say, honestly, I believed I could change. Into the person he wanted.

The problem, was that I did. Only he never seemed to change himself. And I watched as he became more and more bitter at me. The harder I tried, the more I tried, the more hurt I became. And the further apart we difted.

I'm not faultless, but as the years went by, I went from feeling pretty darn special and wonderful, to have a really low self-esteem. I was never good enough. Could never get anything right.

It gets to you. I was scared to do things, because I was scared to screw them up. It was inevitable wasn't it?

These last couple of months, I've been finding my inner strength. I put in so much of myself into that horse trailer, and proved a valuable lesson to myself: "I AM STRONG". I can do anything, and I am a capable, competent and talented person.

That's what gave me the strength to confront him. And while the words hurt, and the pain still stings, I, when in the light of day, feel freed. The hurt is there, but it's mine. It's not crying at night and not knowing why. Not knowing why I was yelled at, or why he wouldn't speak to me, or wondering if it really was so terrible that I didn't do something so basic.

It's a raw pain. I believe he said it was like ripping a wound wide open, so now it can heal.

I cry a lot. I was living for the future. The house we would build, the family we would create, the dreams we would find together.

I let myself be trodden on, because I wasn't willing to give up those dreams. I hoped, and prayed, that he would come around.

I actually devalued myself by doing it. Today, I'm finding my worth again. And it's hard. But I will not, never again, let someone take me for granted. Nor will I let them not appreciate the wonderfulness of who I am. I will never again be scared of someone or of standing up for myself. Speaking up for myself. I will not be belittled or made to feel anything less than wonderful. I can't. Never again.

I'm not sure where I'm going or what I'm doing from here. I have my dreams. Always my dreams. And I will not let go of them. I'll find my way, as I always do. I will have my creatures. Those creatures that carry me through the dark times. The rough times. My Halo, the best piece of white fluff around. I will never leave her. I need her by my side.

And Mr. Moon. It's hard when your creatures remind you of that person. I still love him, he still loves me. But we have things to work on. And I don't know anymore if I'm willing to give up another 8 years of my life to go nowhere. To be hurt again. Love, is strong. But love can't hold you together. Everyone needs to row the boat.

Mr. Moon is a huge part of my world. A necessary part. I'll ride more, sink myself into the training and horses and that part of me. I'll do what I can, and know that no matter what my future holds, I'll have taken the time for the things that I love.

I may write off and on for the next while. I don't know. It'll be less pony-ish I bet, as I'll be caught within my personal turmoil. Where to live? What to do? How to rebuild my personal strength. 8 years is a very long time. A long time to lose yourself. My entire "planned" future is no more, and I must struggle to set the present right. Only then can I start my journey to what I will become.

Whatever that may be.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Approaching "Normal"

Yesterday, was trim day.

I arrived at the barn and was pleasantly surprised that H and C had brought all the horses up to the arena for us! So it literally took no time to catch Moon.



The little bugger ran away from me, sparking the herd into a rip-roar around the ring. Unimpressed, I chased him off a few times until he stood like a gentleman for me to clip the lead on. He can be such a brat (and I love it).

I should mention, he also took the time to jump one of the x-rails still out as he made his first mad-dash around. Silly pony. Silly jumping pony.

You'll recall, his ugly leg wound. Yes, he's still running and jumping like a moron. Can't hurt too much anymore, can it? : P

Healing rather nicely. Thanks H, for all the help!

The farrier trimmed him up, commenting on how nice his hooves were looking. With the hot dry weather, a lot of horses are cracking, splitting and chipping away their hooves. Mr. Moon has a couple vertical striations, but none of them are through the hoof wall nor splitting out. Just nice rock solid feet, holding their shape better then they ever have.

Farrier confirmed that he likely did blow an abscess out his coronary, though it's already starting to grow a bit down the hoof wall. She said it was a pretty small one, and really, with his other lameness, it wasn't really noticeable. He certainly hadn't seemed to be in pain prior to his scrape.

You probably can't really see it, but the abscess was there on the left. Trust me. ; )

Wish I knew the root cause, but such is life.

After his trim I took him into the ring and lunged him. Yes, stalker-N (you know who you are), I lunged him. No, it was not pretty, so I'll probably hold off on the mounted shooting for now. ; ) But he did manage to walk-trot around me in a 15 m circle, only once or twice stopping to stare in at me.

Going right, he actually looked nearly back to normal. Going left, there was a slight nod if you really squinted. His canter had looked nice earlier and he was sound at a walk. I was also lunging in the deeper sand, so I'm confident he's nearly back to normal. 85% perhaps?

I think he'll survive...

So this weekend I'll just stick to practicing our loading, and give him a little more time to heal. I'll be away next weekend quading in some beautiful country, so if I can get out three times next week, I'll just put some light walk-trot work on him. Then we'll have one week to get ready for...


Yup. We signed up to do the horse events (Stake race, Quad poles, Flag, Keyhole and Poles, Egg & Spoon, Ride & Run, Mailbox, Clothing Race, Walking Race) and I'm really looking forward to it.

I believe this will be our first "hauling", since if he refuses to get back into the trailer, I can always just ride him home!

I'm a little nervous, but will pull out the barrels, tires and mail-box this week and start getting him used to the items. Worst case, or any case, we focus on the experience, more then the competition.

And I'm super excited!

After Moon finished his supper, I put him away (with a kiss on his schnoz) and packed up a couple of grooming items for the trailer. It was time to put some finishing touches on it!

If he wasn't sunk into the sand, you'd notice that his tail now reaches past the ground! LOVE! Plus the dapples!
(please ignore The Big K, who's pooping in the background)


I trimmed away the plastic that was stuck in the caulk, vacuumed the whole trailer, installed the rubber mats, greased the divider pins (ick), lubed the rear door handles, added little foam blocks to anything that would bang around, and packed up my storage bins with all my necessary trailer supplies!

Four things left: 1) The interior light...BF got home late last night. 2) The clearance light (will do when we hook up to haul out) 3) The jack wheel which the BF is modifying today (I just got him the measurements), and 4) The hook for the grooming bag, which I'm stopping by Princess Auto today at the FAR end of town to hopefully buy.

While I'm at it, I want to buy two wheel chalks, some magnetic hooks and magnetic lights (to put under the tack area). And then really, it's done. ; )


I'm wondering if I should sew up some breast bumpers...not that they're "necessary" or they need to go in before I start using the trailer, but...

;  )


Of course, I need to thank everyone for the compliments on the Moon-Mobile. : ) I'm obviously a bit prideful over it, but I do appreciate the fact that everyone thinks it turned out! Now if only I could keep it poop-free... ; )


So that's life. Next week things will be back to normal, with the exception that I'll have a horse trailer on-site and will be free to roam.

We've got plans to get into our next fun show, we're hoping to convince H to go for a little jump course with us once we're sound again, and I really need to find another project ; )

Love this boy...even if he kinda looks like a donkey in this picture ; )

Happy riding folks!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


And now...

For the post you've ALL been waiting for!

It's been a LONG couple of months. Busy, hectic, and as usual, projects ALWAYS take longer then you anticipate. Okay, it actually took less time then I anticipated, but longer then I wanted. Funny how what you want and what you expect are not always the same.

Last night, after paying the insurance on the car and pony trailer, stopping for groceries (and winding up standing at the cash for 15 minutes waiting for the Supervisor to come off break, because the cashiers can't ring through more then $8 in coupons...I had $24 : ) ), stopping to buy the last hook I needed (and discovering they were sold out!), I got home just before 7 pm. 

Scarfed down some supper (or a close approximation) and headed outside. I WANT THE PONY TRAILER FINISHED!

Cut the last two pieces of diamond plate without making too big of a mess...I think I'm finally learning how to cut a straight line... ; ) ...kinda...

Riveted, and riveted and riveted. Seriously, my hands ache. I struggle to make a fist. So if you're gonna piss me off, do it today!

As I was putting the screws into the diamond plate on the rear doors (realizing that they'll keep the boards in place), I apparently had the torque setting *just a wee bit too high*, and snapped the head RIGHT off the screw. Leaving the post behind, lodged in the wood.

Now, today, in hindsight, I *probably* could have just pulled out the board (since it's the bottom one, that's only secured by the screw...which was snapped), but yesterday, I didn't have such clarity...

Instead, I drilled it out. It was a LONG process. Screws are HARD. I even snapped another drill bit. Oye. Gonna owe a LOT of drill bits...

Remainder of screws in, both diamond plates on. Success.

Spent a lot of time affixing the door-hold-openers (what's the technical term?!), making sure A. I put them on the right way!  and B. They worked. 

Then it was getting dark, so I quickly caulked everything, all the diamond plate, the door holders...

Still had the saddle rack to install...

Got that finished by twilight...

Squeezed the clips onto the trailer chains...I had bought the LAST two blue ones at the local store on my way home! And made it there 5 minutes before they closed! Bought the clips there too (very nice, strong clips), and made the mistake of perusing the discount bin...picked up 2 more bridle hangers (for the future barn since they were $1.75 each), a blanket rack (the chain style for $5), and another choker chain for the dog (which turned out to be too small...but it was $1, so big deal). REALLY happy to finally have those trailer chains though!

Clipped the chains onto the trailer and stood back. 

And then peeled all the plastic protector sheets off the diamond plate. SHINY.

The list of To-Do's?
1) Install Rubber Mats
2) Install Steel Plate in Tack Room and Rear Doors
3) Drill hole for interior light and Install (already wired)
4) Hook up trailer, connect clearance light and rivet
5) Find a hook for the front door....if only I hadn't misplaced the ones I bought...and rivet on.
6) Trailer jack wheel...rig something up for that one.


Seriously, I'm considering it finished now! The minor things I'll knock off tonight, and voila. FANCY TRAILER!

I had dreamed of hauling it out tonight, but can't and I still have those 6 things to finish off. And I might caulk the rear door boards just because I still have caulking left. Oh, and I have to cut the plastic that I accidentally got stuck in the caulk. : P

But really, it's finished. DONE. Complete. 

Saturday it'll likely roll out to the barn, ready for loading practice. Maybe my boy will be sound by then...

; )


And what's the big dream now??



Some of you, reading this, looking at the pretty trailer, might think, "Hey, I could do that! Take a $900 trailer and turn it into a beauty".

Last night, at 10:30 pm when I finally got inside and plunked down at the kitchen table with a bottle of water, I would have told you DO NOT DO IT. 

It's a hell of a lot of time and effort. It's difficult. You WILL screw something up. Things won't be perfect. It'll cost money. You'll be sore and aching. Blood, sweat and tears. Literally.

Is it EVER worth it?!


At 10:31 pm, I would have told you to go out there and do it.

Why? Why if it was so exhausting of a process?

Because I rock.

Tell me it isn't gorgeous. It's alright, I know it is. 


I rock. The trailer, isn't anything more then a testament to my awesomeness. And I'm pretty awesome.

I don't mean that in a cocky way. What I mean, is that THESE experiences, are what makes you. I caulked for the first time on this trailer. And did a really nice job. I cut sheet metal, riveted, drilled, measured, toiled, wired, crafted, created, modified and painted. It may seem silly, but I'm so much more capable, more independent, more sure of myself because of it.

I did this. Okay, I had help with the painting and the wiring. But overall, it was MY project. My success. My accomplishment.
Like my pony. 
It's easy to pay people to do things. It's easy to ask people to do things. It's REALLY hard to do things yourself and learn in the process. But I can promise you, it's worth knowing you can do it. 

My mentor last week, commented on my level of confidence this year. And how much I've changed since we met. I used to be meek. Tentative. Now, I sorta just stride into his office, shut the door and make my opinion known.

I strode into my boss' office the same way. I'm striding through life that way. YES, I make mistakes. The horse trailer is RIDDLED with them. I can point every one out. But every one taught me something. And I kept going. 

The final product? Looks awesome. To hell with the mistakes. They're mine and I own them. And I'm proud of them. I'll even point them out to you if you ask. 'Cause I learned to fix every one of them. On my own.

Not sure what my favourite part is...all of it??

The mentor had made a comment to me, that sticks really close to my heart. He said "As children, we think we can do anything, be anything. We dream and believe it will be reality. And then we grow up. At some point in our lives, we stop believing. We find limitations; a ceiling to our own potential."

"Sandra, the ONLY limitations in life, are the ones you place on yourself. You're no less capable, have no less potential today, then you did when you were a kid. Believe in yourself, dream big, and life will find a way to make it happen."

It sticks with me. Do not be limited. Do not tell yourself you can't do something. Just go out there and do it. Even if it's restoring a 1974 Blair Horse Trailer. 

...maybe ESPECIALLY if it's restoring a 1974 Blair Horse Trailer.
: ) 


Old, rusted, dirty hub (it was actually a dirt film!)...and new, shiny hub!

Trailer tie, matching of course. : ) Pressure treated feed bunks.

My wiring! : ) Yup, I got to rig this part up, all by myself! So if nothing bad. ; )

The jack, awesome new break-away module AND my really expensive, but gorgeous 7-pin plug, complete with brushed steel pistol grip and holder! Yes, it WAS worth it!

Even pretty from behind.

Yup, I hung a Canada Flag out the front. Ready for the Olympics...

SOO excited to hook-up and haul out!

Wait till her new tires are on!

Okay, so once the new tires are on, this'll be sweet looking. Look how SHINY that cap is! Remember, there's new electric brakes back there, another thing missing from a lot of these trailers!

Looking forward; can't wait to park Moon in here, and chase our dreams, together.

Sweet tack room. Three bridle hooks and my "stolen" folding step stool. Just gotta rig in my tack bin...

Folding saddle rack! Will add a piece of foam to keep it from banging around. But it works, fits and is pretty sweet. WAY better then leaving tack on the ground!

Beautiful rear door panelling and trailer chains (I like saying "bum chain" too much...). Gorgeous. No pooping in here.

Interior light. Hanging. WILL finish! And it'll be a SWEET addition! (seriously, how many of these little trailers have interior lighting?!)

Yup, I even made my own custom magnetic decal. Yeah, hand-made that puppy!

Custom decal. Custom paint. Custom trim. CANTERING CUSTOMS.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Imagine That.

I have to say, I love when non-horse folks write about horse stuff...

Our National Television Station wrote an article on Eric Lamaze's choice for the 2012 Olympic games, following the unfortunate loss of Hickstead.

The article states:

The reigning gold medallist in Olympic show jumping has decided on Derly Chin de Muze as his mount for the 2012 London Games. While the nine-year-old Belgian mare is a promising horse, she's not in Hickstead's league.

Now, horse folk, like me, read: "Belgian Mare" and think, Belgian horse. Belgian Draft Horse. THE Belgian. 

...and suddenly there's a mental picture of Eric Lamaze doing an Olympic jumping course on a Belgian. 

: O


Next time, Belgian Warmblood would be a more appropriate definition. Though the imagery is less amusing...

: )

Soo Close!

I *really* wanted to surprise everyone with some pictures of my completed horse trailer. You know...the one that I bought in January and swore I'd have finished by May 1st? Yeah, that one.

That's still not done.

So Monday morning I was up before the sun rose (almost) and was out the door to buy my rivets. Showed up at Fastenal 5 minutes before they opened and waited...

...and waited...

And tried the door twice, because I needed rivets.

Just as I got back in my car and was going to drive away (it was 10 after Seven), some kid drives up on a scooter, parks on the sidewalk and unlocks the door.

I told myself it's probably the first time he was late to work. That's it. He's just not some kid who can't arrive on time and leaves customers outside waiting.

...but judging by how difficult it was for him to find me the right rivet...

Regardless, I bought 100, thinking I only needed 50 (they wouldn't do any less, and they're normally sold by the box of 500), and some new jigsaw blades to cut the diamond plate, and was out the door and headed home.

Right away I started caulking and did all the stuff that needed doing. So the trailer is officially caulked.

Then I had a quick breakfast (1/2 bowl of cereal) and was out the door again to start cutting the diamond plate. Which is HARD. The jigsaw blade is too short (why?!) so sometimes if you tilt the saw accidentally, it will skip and smash the diamond plate. NOT good. Needless to say, there were some scratches, dents and bends put into the stuff. Whoops.

Then, I can't cut a straight line and the diamond plate won't fit under the door! So I end up spending 45 minutes (when it's still cool out!) grinding it away with a Dremel. A dremel. You understand why it took so long : P

Then I rivet it on...and do the whole top row first, which you can't do. It prevents it from lying flat. You MUST do from inside out. So I have to drill out three rivets (sounds like no big deal, but it is), and re-do it. Okay, finally it's all up.

So then I cut the diamond plate for the door. Get that riveted on.

Cut the diamond plate for the fenders. Get one on and then don't want to work in the heat to do the I lay it aside figuring I'd do it in the evening.

Cut the diamond plate for the rear doors. Again, sounds easy. It's not. It's about 1 pm by this point. YEAH, exactly.

Go to put it on and surprise, I didn't look at the other door (they were open), and the handle on that one is lower. Instead of needing 16" pieces I need 12" pieces. Frig. Too hot to cut them down at that moment, so I just put them aside. Stupid things.

Put the remaining rivets into the roof (since I'd run out last time). Wire up the rear clearance light...and discover I don't know which is the ground wire and which is the hot wire. Crap. Gonna have to wait until the truck is hooked up.

Moving on...

Rivet the bum-chain loops onto the middle gate...and break a drill bit in half. Dang. Get a new drill bit and carry on...

Rivet the licence plate lamp on, the licence plate...inside I rivet the bridle hooks up. One of the four has some cracking on the plastic coating, so I opted to just hang three. Spacing looks better anyway.

By this point, it's 6:30 pm. Not even joking. I had two breaks to wolf down a slice of cold pizza and a bottle of water, the other to take care of personal matters from all that water : P The sun had risen and started its decent, and I hadn't even finished.

A wasp was buzzing around, angry I had plugged his hole where he was building a nest. Nice. Gonna need to plug all of the holes...Imagine a horse being stung in a trailer?! Hell!


By the time I had cleaned up all of the tools, picked all the rivet posts off the ground and closed up the garage, it was 7 pm. I was dripping sweat. The sun was still shining. It was 30 degrees out plus I was standing on a concrete pad in jeans, sneakers and t-shirt. My thumb was cut, there were metal shards in my palms and I had a blood blister from pinching my thumb with the rivet gun when my hands were so sweaty I couldn't get a good grip on it.

I had used up that entire bag of rivets (100), plus another 50 from a bagfull I managed to find. 150 rivets installed. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY.

I hung my trailer ties and discovered they weren't made the same. One fits nicely around the tie ring, the other is too tight. Stupid manufacturing processes.

I headed inside and had a shower. A cold shower. A long cold shower. Then the BF made me a breakfast sandwich ( and I wolfed down another sliced of cold pizza. And a bowl of icecream. Laid there on the couch in front of the fan for 30 minutes (we don't have air conditioning). Then did a bunch of laundry, cleaned up the office, soaked my show clothes (which have been sitting around since...June?), organised the basement, packed all the spare trailer parts into a box and starting pulling out the items to stock the trailer with.

9:30 I had the laundry put away and the tidying done so I took the dog for a walk. Ran about the park for a little bit so she could stretch her legs. Then walked home. Took the back lane so I could have a look at the pony trailer...



Tonight, I have to get groceries on my way home, and after supper I hope to finish the trailer. Seriously.

I need to:
- Make two cuts on the rear door diamond plate, and then screw it onto the doors.
- Rivet a hook over the door for my grooming bag.
- Hang the saddle rack.
- Connect the clearance light and rivet (2 rivets).
- Drill and rivet the right wheel well diamond plate.
- Drill the hole for the interior light and rivet (2 rivets).
- Caulk the holes in the trailer to keep the wasps out.
- Buy bum-chains and hang.
- Install old rubber mats.
- Attach the door-hold-openers.


Seriously, look how short that list has become! : )

The dream is to haul it out of here on Wednesday evening. : ) The "DREAM".

Not that my horse is going anywhere soon. Between the scraped leg and the apparent abscess, he's down and out for the count. Fingers crossed he makes a comeback for the August 11th Gymkhana event... : )

In the mean time, we practice loading. Lots and lots of practice.

: )

And seriously, wait until you see the pictures of this bad-boy trailer. We're riding in style!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Crack of Dawn.

It's late, I'm tired, but for some reason, I just HAVE to blow through this post. Otherwise, I don't think I'll manage to sleep, instead mulling over the last couple of days.

Really, nothing significant, but rather, just busy.

Mr. Moon is healing, but the scab is big, his swelling has come WAY down, he's clearly lame at trot, and we're not riding. Between H and I, we've got him iced, poulticed and dermagel'd, so it's just a matter of time. As we've been working on getting the right hind back to normal, I noticed his left hind had a little red spot right at the coronet. I figured I was being paranoid, as I noticed it the same day he skinned his leg, and paranoia is pretty much my middle name. And last name. And probably my first and christian names too...probably my mom's name if I think about it...

Where was I going? Right. Red spot.

Called it paranoia and carried on. By Friday (?) or Saturday, I pointed it out to H, telling her that I'm fairly certain I've become a hypochondriac, but for my horse, and that he's gonna blow an abscess out his coronary. You know, because if you're already out one leg, why not make it two? That's why they have four, isn't it?

By this point, he had a little cracking on the hoof right at the coronary, it was appearing to be bulging out, and it was squishy where the rest of the coronary wasn't. And red.


Well, H saw it too. And we both clearly can't be paranoid. That or I'm rubbing off on her. My horse is a horse-a-chondriac.

Tomorrow, I'll try some home remedies on it and see if I can get it to blow. Which blows (ha), because he's FINALLY got beautiful hooves, they've not splitting from all the dryness and stamping, and we managed to trim out the last ugly abscess. Surprise, new one that'll take a good year to grow out. Friggen. Probably from trotting on those confounded stones up the road I bet you. Pardon me while I beat my head on the desk for a moment...

Right. So icing and treating and not riding.

What else can a girl do?

She can work on the pony trailer.

Up at the crack of dawn, house sitting so getting everyone here fed and walked, and then over to my own place. Saturday my dad came over, and we got the entire pony trailer wired! Yippee! Took me numerous trips to the store, and I cheaped out and used the wire I had instead of buying more, so there's no proper color coding. W/e. What's important, is everything lights up the way it's supposed to. The electric brakes are installed, the break-away kit is installed, the tail lamps, licence plate lamp, marker lights, everything.

Took ALL day, in the hot sun. Discovered why these brazilian cut jeans (you know the ones...where you can't sit down without exposing yourself...which in hindsight is genius when crawling around under a trailer : P ) ...well, I managed to tan JUST a patch on my back. Just a patch. The rest, paste-y white. Looks like I forgot to scrub in the shower. Nice. Classy.

So post wiring, back to the house, walk some dogs, back to the horses, feed, ice, back to house for some rest.

Morning? Rush home to try to caulk before it heats up too much. This RV caulking is uber flexible, however it sets up REALLY fast in the heat. Like too fast to smooth out. So of course, I can't find the caulking gun. : P Thankfully, Gramps saved the day and there was one in his old tool box! : ) Thanks gramps!

It's my first time caulking. Yup. Crazy. Always watched, never done it. Looking NICE if I can brag a little bit. Except, nature hates me (clearly) and it starts to rain.

OYE. Rain drops totally mess up the caulk, so I'm running around to cover the caulk which isn't dry. Grab a tarp, turns out it's really dirty and deposit copious amounts of dirt and grass onto the caulk. Beat head on fender.

Rain lets up, I caulk for another 30 minutes until it gets too hot and sets up on me. DANG. Nearly done, but not quite.

Moving on. I work on my interior light and Gerry-rigged switch. End up ripping the nozzle right off the crazy glue trying to open it. After a LOT of hard work and ingenuity, realize I missed considering one thing and now the light is slightly off center. ARUGH!

In the end, need more rivets. Everything depends on rivets. Rivet store doesn't open until 7 am tomorrow. Guess where I'm headed?

I do manage to drill some holes and tighten all the lugs on the new brakes. Then I buff the old hub caps really nice, and since the insides are rusting, I paint them. Then I decide, since I'm buffed chrome and some patches have rusted, to paint the rust spots with silver paint.

...then I decide to customize my trailer, just a little. THAT will be a surprise for when I remember to bring my camera card home and can actually take a picture of it. New reflectors too.

One heck of a nice trailer. REALLY nice looking trailer. Hope like heck to get that diamond plate on tomorrow and call the whole thing done. Would make my day.

But I'd best get my butt in bed. I got rivets to buy at the crack of dawn!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tag. You're out.

And the lameness monster hath tagged Mr. Moon down and out for the count.

And now, for the story of the destruction...

Of course, I was really, really looking forward to our Wednesday ride. The jumps were still up, H might be able to join me over them once and I was still on cloud nine after hearing the girls say my little pony wasn't against jumping.

It therefore, should be no surprise that as I pulled into the yard and H was standing beside the wash rack with my horse that I would bound out of my car, huge smile on my face. I was THRILLED to see her and ecstatic about our chance to ride.

 What we SHOULD have been jumping bareback last night...

I continued to bound across the gravel towards them, noting offhandedly that her horse was wandering the ring and that she was hosing Moon's legs. I greeted her cheerfully, my mind assuring me that she must not like dirty legs on horses or something. I mean, why else would one hose a horse's leg?

...perhaps, because of THIS:

A hot, swollen, ugly mess.

Yes, as H gently broke the news of Moon's injury to me, that giant smile faded away and I realized that my hamster must run a little slow. Or be dead. Because it became GLARINGLY obvious that Moon was injured and she was treating him. Not prepping for some jumping.


My following reaction stunned me a little. I expected myself to panic and go into hysterics. I mean, it was an ugly wound. But I also knew that if there was something more that could be done or that was urgent, H would have addressed it already. So instead, this was simply, what it was. Bring on the cold hosing.

Our best guess is that he kicked out and scraped it. Along a fence, the boards in the run-in? Who knows. We'll probably never know, barring for finding a chunk of skin flapping in the summer breeze. Regardless, the wound needed no sutures, it was already drying (clearly not must have happened over night perhaps? Early in the morning? Who knows with horses). So I slathered on the Dermagel, put copious amounts of SWAT around it and sent him back out into the field.


The leg, as you can see, is very puffy. Swollen and hot. And stiff. He walks normally, but is head bobbing at a trot. No surprise there.

PUFFY. : (

This morning I went out at the crack of dawn, fed the ponies and then cold hosed Mr. Moon again. Slathered on more DermaGel, SWAT and then applied SoreNoMore liniment and poultice on the leg. It looks like a children's horrible finger painting job. But hopefully, it does the trick.

Artistic Leg Painting - DermaGel, SWAT, Sore No More Liniment

I suspect, this will take awhile to heal and go down. I'm hoping and hopeful that he'll recover fully, as it appears to be superficial and not deep into any tissues. Hopefully the swelling goes down, we avoid infection and in a couple weeks, he's back to normal.

Unfortunately, there is time we'll have to wait out. Swelling takes time. Will we still make the August Gymkhana? Not likely on Mr. Moon. And my weightloss plans, my trail rides with E, jumping with H...all on hold. The only thing that keeps me from bawling like an infant is that we've already given up on show season.

Then again, a big part of me, having now owned my own horse for over a year, recognizes lameness as an inevitable part of horse ownership. And you can guarantee that your horse WILL injure itself. It's just a matter of when and how close to a show. : P So unless it's requiring veterinary attention or is debilitating, thank your lucky stars that you'll both bounce back from it, and carry on. With horses, it ALWAYS could've been a whole hell of a lot worse.

It could be a lot least that's what I keep telling myself.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Go Out and Get Busy"

Yesterday seemed to be a day of great life lessons to be learned. I'm not talking about the kind that we should have learned in our early youth, before we discovered we don't bounce and pain hurts like a b*tch.

Rather, yesterday's life lessons were more philosophical, and unfortunately, much more trying to learn. Falling on your face jumping off a swing set is an easy lesson to learn. Instead, reaffirming that some of the most difficult things we do in life, are the most advantageous. And more to that, the mere fact that fear, even when present, is not an indicator of one's weakness, lack of confidence or hesitation. A lesson in self-confidence, and more valuable, a lesson in a lack of self-confidence. Lastly, courage, leadership and in driving where you want to go.

I came home from work yesterday emotionally exhausted. I was seriously drained. Even driving home I had to work hard to concentrate on the road before me. I certainly had no desire to go out to visit Moon never mind ride him, but I had to pick up my dog from H's and had promised to feed. Even getting her email saying she'd found a chance to feed herself, I still needed to get the dog, so I dragged myself from the house and down the road. Struggling to stay awake and aware during the drive.

Work had been...exhausting. Purely in an emotional way. I had an incredibly difficult conversation with my boss. One of those ones where you stand-up, say "Hey, over here! I do one hell of a good job. Lemme prove it.", and begin directing your career and your life.

Let me tell you, that as an introvert, who is not a conversationalist on a good day, never mind when confronting one's boss, it's a trying thing at best. Thankfully the whole thing went better then I imagined (he is a reasonable person), and I walked away with a hideous glimpse into my own personal being. That sounds stupid, but what I'm trying to illustrate is that I suddenly became horribly aware that I'm incapable of making an argument about myself without first identifying that I could very well be wrong. I also discovered that sometimes we can say things, without fully explaining what we're thinking, and it leads to a different message. And sometimes, we don't even realize what we really mean.

You see, awhile back I told my boss I didn't want to manage people. That's pretty much what I said. When he asked me about that statement, I, without pausing to think of my response, informed him that I don't think a 27 year old female can manage. Probably a distinctly sexist and age-ist thing to say, and here I was, saying it about myself. Very quickly I went on to explain that I believe up-managing (managing people older than yourself), along with managing your past peers, never goes well.

I distinctly recall him smirking and informing me how very wrong I am. I felt compelled to stick out my tongue and roll my probably would have helped my case!

Needless to say, I found myself rethinking my route in life when I left his office. Sitting at my desk, trying to figure out where I want to go and how to best get there. Which is a struggle, when like me, you're ridiculously motivated by EVERYTHING. Can't one do everything??!

The entire conversation left me drained, but acutely conscious of the fact I had found the nerve to have that talk in the first place, and it was a success. Nothing like feeling like maybe, just maybe you can do what you imagine.

Which leads us to the barn.

Drained, I found my pony at the FURTHEST reaches of the field. AND covered in mud. Head to toe. Mud balls on his mane. I hopped onto him bareback anyway (a little scrambling required) and rode back to the arena. I really do love our little rides.

The barn was empty, so I set up a small x-rail grid (3 jumps, one stride between) and figured I'd do some jumping. It took me a good 40 minutes to get him clean...and by the time I was ready to throw the saddle on him, we had a small audience. Another rider and her mom, H, an old friend S, and their friend from out of Province. Plus little M and N to cheer us on.

And my heart began pounding in my chest...

Self-confidence in the tanker. Uh...ride? With audience?

You'd think I'd never shown before. : P

I had opted at the last minute to ride bareback, since I really, really feel like it does wonders for my jumping position. And I'm hoping if I train it well enough bareback, it'll be better when I put a saddle on. Probably not true, but one can hope.

So there I was, just trotting around, or rather, bouncing around the ring, with a group of spectators. And of course, they wanted to see some jumping. That WAS why I was out there...

I confirmed with the other rider that she had her cell phone pre-dialed to 911, and then headed for the grid.

...smoking my crotch on Moon's wither as we went through.


The out of province guest seemed to have quite the jumping competence, as she marched in, strided off my jumps and reset them to appropriate distances. S lent a hand as part of the jump crew.

Through again.

And he deeked out of the last one.

And again. Same deeking.

Guest (to shorten the name of the out-of-provincer) noted that Mr. Moon was jumping a little shorter strided because of me being bareback and wasn't getting to a place to feel comfortable going over the last jump. So she shortened the last jump distance, reminded me to have some impulsion, and then sent me through again.

And we did it!

And again.

And again.

Until she suggested we up the middle rail to a 2' vertical so he actually jumped.

And we went again.

And again.

All bareback.

While they may have been humoring me, but my heart swelled when they told me that Moon had a lovely little tuck-up in the front over his jumps, and was really enjoying it. From his little head down happy corner after he finished, to his head tossing heading in, they thought Mr. Moon was enjoying his jumping.

And I wasn't smashing him in the face or wither either.

<Insert happy dance here>

I'll say it again and again, I LOVE knowing my horse is enjoying an activity. I can honestly say, we probably wouldn't do much jumping if he hated it. But knowing that he's actually enjoying himself, makes me sooo excited to do it some more. All I ever want is a willing and happy horse.

And it was extra awesome when they commented on how willingly he went through our narrow little jumps (maybe 6' wide), a testament to the fact he enjoys it.

Never thought I'd be jumping 2'. Never thought I'd be jumping it bareback. With Moon. You know what? Here was a life lesson on trying things, even if they seem scarey or intimidating. Even if you're not sure if you'll succeed and scared to fail in front of an audience. That sometimes, with the right help and encouragement, you can really make great progress in the things that scare you. And being scared isn't a bad thing. It's not something to keep you from trying. It's something to overcome. Something that keeps you safe.

But sometimes, going beyond the safe, trying what you're scared to try, but so desperately want to give a go at, really, really does work out.

In your career. In your riding. In your life.

Let me tell you, I drove home recharged, full of energy and ready to take on the world. 

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. 
- Dale Carnegie 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The limpy, the gimpy, the stiff and the sore.

I truly wish yesterday's ride was everything I had envisioned. It seems for me, that the more I envision perfection, the less it appears. Likely, because I have a stiff bracey horse, and I, am a stiff bracey rider. The more something doesn't go my way, the more unmoving I become in my pursuit of having it exactly my way. Guess what? My horse is equally unmovable.

In laziness, I fed the horses first to bring them in from the furthest reaches of the back field, noting that my pony is once again chubby. *sigh* It's true.

After they ate, I took Moon in, ran a brush over him, noticed he had a girth gal because I wasn't using the fleece girth cover in this sweaty weather, and then tacked him up. Girth cover included.

Out into the ring, lots of warming up. Today would be all about dressage and flexibility and contact.

Lalala. He's going well. Still stiff to the right compared to the left, but he starts to clue in. We do an amazing like 5 m circle at trot and I'm floored at just how bendy he really can be. Life is merry, he's leg yielding well, really responsive to my leg aids, work a bit on that half-pass, more circling, ever circling. Up and down transitions through walk and trot. Little walk breaks here and there because it's 31 degrees out.

Then I think, hmmmm...let's work on shoulder-in.

And hell breaks loose.

He's drifting off the wall, so I'm trying to leg yield him back and then request shoulder-in again, and the more we work on it, the stiffer we both seem to get. So after a couple failed attempts, I accept that more work will be needed in the long run, and go back to our suppling exercises...

Except, now I have stiff horse. And we proceed to butt heads. He rushes when I apply leg aids, lifts his head on his upwards, refuses anything resembling inside bend...Constantly falls back to walk from trot without my permission and I finally lose it and boot him one to the rib when I KNOW nothing I'm doing is saying slow down, other then him refusing to bend. And he surges off, curls his lips into the evil rabbit face and we proceed to move around stiffly, like a geriatric couple.

I become more frustrated, tell myself to get over it, I knew this happens when we work on new moves he doesn't understand and finally opt to just school some canter.

I'm certain he's getting the wrong leads, so I'm still frustrated, and for some reason it feels like he's throwing his WHOLE hind end into the canter. I mean, from trot, it's this JARRING movement from his hind end, making it hard to be anything resembling soft and swaying during the following strides. Even better, on one of our early counter-canter circles, he loses his footing as the arena is really dry since it hasn't rained since...Noah's time...and his hind feet slide out from under him on the corner. He manages to catch himself before going down, but it's not pleasant for either of us. From then on, anytime he feels like the footing isn't so great, he automatically comes to a walk. Not even any transitions to trot in there. So then I'm kicking him back into trot, he's surging forward, we fight through another wrong canter lead, and so forth.


Finally I just throw dressage to the wind, and ride him around for some neck reining. And he gives me some lovely trot, head fairly low, reins drooping, around this way and that in the arena. I mean, I could actually reasonably steer him with neck reins, legs and seat. I suspect, legs and seat have more to do with it (wow!), but it was really pleasing. And we even did a couple canter transitions with no rein contact. Okay, so dressage stunk, but there's still some good in there.

We did the gate on horseback, both opening and closing (can't do it without dropping the gate unfortunately), and then went for a little sprint up the road with my dog.

Which should have been a nice adventure, except the dog ran down the middle of the gravel and a 1/2 mile later was limping. And sliced the pads on her paws wide open. And was bleeding everywhere. *sigh*

She limped home, I washed them out, left her bleeding on the back seat of the car, and put the pony away. Right after noticing that despite the girth cover, Moon had two raw girth gals on either side of him. FRIG.

So I had a gimpy, limping, bleeding dog, and a gimpy, raw, ouchy horse. Is it no wonder that the whole ride was stiff and I was frustrated?

Add to that, my back has been sore (probably from lots of riding), my butt hurts a TON from all the riding that it's painful to even sit down in the saddle until it goes numb, I somehow managed to bruise my heal which makes it painful if I step wrong and in general, I feel age starting to creep up on me. Tonight, I'm just gonna hack lightly up the road with a friend, video a lesson for another and that's IT. The dog is still limping everywhere, and I just want to go home and bemoan how awful the ultimate horse week is finishing up. : P

And of course, I probably now need to ride saddleless for the next week so those gals can heal.

Friggen' hell.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ultimate Horse Week.

I have to say, that I feel like I'm having the ultimate horse week.

Which seems perfect considering the weekend celebration of the Interlake Riding Club, to mark its 50 years as a club.

Now, where to start...

I bragged fully about our bareback jumping last week, so let us roll right on into Saturday. Saturday was the start of the IRC's 50th weekend, and the BF and I headed out to Teulon to assist. We directed traffic in the morning (wow, can people be grumpy!) and then hopped aboard the horse-drawn wagon to ride in the parade ourselves. We had brought our lovely dog along, and with the rest of the executive members, rolled through town waving at the spectators. It was a blast. We had something like 40 mounted riders following along too, and a fair number of floats. It was awesome, especially for a little town like Teulon.

After the parade, we had a bit of a break where things go chaotic as I helped out with the gymkhana entries. LOTS of transcribing all the participant lists! Thankfully, it all ran smoothly and while initially we were a little nervous that there wouldn't be many participants, the finally tally was over 20 people per class! Wow.

So I settled under the shade of the big announcers tower with the BF and one of the club's original members, and the three of us chatted horses while I snapped a handful (over 500 actually) of pictures of the competitors. Which was a blast. It's amazing what technology can do for us. In the past, photographers had MAD skills, and knew how to perfectly capture their subject. Today, thanks to digital images, inexpensive equipment and a multitude of advances, just about anyone (myself included) can take a "professional" photograph. No skills required. I've worked hard since buying the camera at Christmas to improve a touch beyond "Auto-Mode", and now shoot in "Professional" mode, which allows me to mess with some settings. My personal love is a very vivid and brightly colored photograph, and I think the shots from the weekend captured it well. More impressive, was the number of folks asking for permission to steal the pictures for their own facebook pages, printing and blogs! I even had someone step out of my way because as he said "You're clearly the professional photographer". Ha. Don't be intimidated by my big lens kid. ; )

The gymkhana was a lot of fun, and then the BF and I toured around to look at the different horse trailers for a bit. The field was chalk full of every make, style and model. We're talking big semi-pulled rigs for the chariot horses, beautiful Sundowners in their glorious white aluminium beauty, long stock trailers in every color, or little tiny two-horse trailers so reminiscent of my own. The BF was just a *bit* too encouraging of me selling my lovely little Blair trailer to buy a fancier trailer. No joke, his statement was "Get something with a change room and lots of tack space...then you can get a bunch of stuff out of the house". We actually REALLY liked one with tons of extra space (slat load to boot) that happened to be for sale. Unfortunately, the $7500 price tag on it was a bit over my head. And really, I do love my little Blair.

We finished the evening by manning the entrance gate to the infield. The chariot racers were going to be running on the track, and the gate had to be closed or else they'd run right off the track and head for home. DANGEROUS. We ran into a few problems as people wanted to leave, and we had to stop them because it was a danger to the racers. Thankfully, with a little explaining and then WATCHING the chariots fly by, they seemed to be more understanding. : P

The chariot racing was incredible. I must say, I would LOVE to try that just once in my life. The pure speed of the thing, the majestic nature of those two horses running with their driver standing behind was incredible. Just once, just once...

We returned home very late on Saturday, and I was sunburned and happy. I love, love horses. A tiny part of me wished I had hauled Mr. Moon out with me, but the dog had a wonderful day and I knew in my heart that Moon and I weren't ready yet for this event. Not yet.

Sunday morning I was revved to get on my horse. I want to school some of these gymkhana events! We had noticed that a lot of the horses were mostly scared of the strange objects used for the events like tires, flour-lines in the sand, pylons, barrels...So my goal now is to start getting Moon used to these objects at home, so it'll be easier when we actually compete. The tires come off my car this coming weekend (it was hilarious that the old tires they used in the events had more tread then my own tires...), and the BF didn't consider me crazy for wanting to bring them home with me. I'm gonna use them to practice at the barn! He's also going to try to get his hands on a couple of big barrels from work, so we can practice with those too!

When I got out to the barn, I noticed that H had moved the horses into the FAR back paddock since they had munched the grass down too low in their old paddock. After hiking all the way out to Moon, I was not wanting to walk all the way back. Plus, I didn't know where he'd lost his fly mask...

Thanks to H's lesson on mounting bareback, I tied the other end of the lead to the side of Moon's halter and leapt aboard. And then trotted him around the field in his halter to scope out his mask. Which I couldn't find. So I trotted him back to the front field. Bareback and haltered. AMAZING. And sooo much easier!

I had borrowed a friend's western saddle way back when for our last show when we were gonna do trail class. Unfortunately (I'm still bummed), we didn't have a chance to change tack, so I never got to ride him western. I've been meaning to return the saddle, and finally loaded it into my car on Sunday...and thought maybe I'd sneak in a quick ride with it before the return. I know, I know. We're dressage riders. But maybe...

Well, Moon look sooo cute in the western tack. What was even more funny, was that it's his cousin's tack (literally, the horses are related), and they look identical! I present to you, the matching Scooter and Moon:

I rode Moon a bit in the arena in the western gear, which was really interesting. I haven't ever had him in a shanked bit, and wasn't sure how he'd go in it. I was impressed by his neck reining and ability to transition smoothly from walk to trot. I could even sit the trot for a good while before he'd hollow and I'd start to bounce. So we ran a couple of pylons pretending to be barrel racing. It was fun and he's pretty quick, but doesn't have those tight barrel turns down.

Finally, I thought I'd just skip up the trail briefly. We walked and trotted up the road, and then when we got to a nice wide, flat ditch, I opened him up. VROOOM!

He surged forward, and caught by the feeling of it, I galloped him a full mile. Up hill.

He was blowing when we stopped, so we turned around to head home. He still wanted to run though. So we galloped the return mile too. : )

I went total cowboy on the way back, encouraging him forward, couple kicks with my boots and we surged forward. He transitioned to that full-on racing gear and the wind whipped tears to my eyes. Heaven my friends, absolute heaven.

We eventually made it back to the barn, I hosed him off, placed the saddle back in my car, and drank three bottles of water. HOT.

I will say, again and again, Moon looks FANTASTIC in western gear. I seriously, seriously, seriously, want to mess around with a little western. I really just have total riding ADHD! (western, jumping, dressage...oye!).

Sunday I also spent some time lacquering the boards for the trailer doors, which is a process. Takes a LONG time!

Monday morning came, I lacquered the last of the boards before jumping in my car and heading to the barn to meet E for a trail ride. Once again, it was a blast. She's just awesome to ride with. We did a ton of trotting, finally got to canter together through an open field side-by-side, rode over and under and up a bridge for the combined driving events, looked at the cross country jumps (okay, they're terrifying up close! Granted, they were for the Pan-Am games, so well above anything I'd ever manage), and then actually wandered through the Folk Festival's campground on our way back home. Which meant a bunch of high-hippies were all "OOOOhh! Horse!" : P The horses were awesome about the experience though, calmly walking beside golf carts, cars, campers and a ton of people carrying all kinds of camping paraphernalia.

The whole ride was an EXCELLENT conditioning experience for the horses. I keep maintaining that I don't want to muzzle Moon, which means I need to keep riding him like this. Lots of exercise, especially since he's in the new grassy field. Tubby pony...

He probably did 15 miles or more over the weekend, and still happily cantered anywhere I asked. Love him.

When I got home, I hammered all of the wood panelling into the trailer doors, which fit perfectly! Then I carried them outside and the BF helped me install them back on the trailer. Beautiful. Though H reminded me in the evening that they'll be less pretty when the horses poop on them. : P

I spent HOURS on Monday hand polishing the aluminium trim, which had old paint on it and general corrosion. So it didn't shine anymore. Lots and lots of scotch pads, wire brushing and dremelling and FINALLY it was all polished. I then started riveting the trim back onto the trailer, though ran out of rivets towards the end (though all the trim is up). I measured for the BF to make me a couple of aluminium plates for the front floor as well as the back doors, and then tested out the new tail lights. Which PERFECTLY fit in the old holes! Yippee!

Needless to say, I'm bouncing off the walls. The pony trailer is making steady progress. I'm hoping to start installing the tack room components this week, and caulk the whole thing.

Even better? The local Horse Council announced it will be doing a gymkhana for Horse Week!!!! Which last year was a free event at the park that's like 2 miles from H's place! And I've no plans for that weekend! So I'm planning on taking Moon for the fun of it. : ) And a couple girls from the barn were thinking of giving it a go too! Yippee! So we still might get a competition or two in!

Yes, yes it is certainly a horse-filled week for me. And tonight I'm going out to do some dressage work with Moon and feed the ponies. Wednesday I'm filming a friend's lesson, might do a quick school and trail ride with Moon, and then Thursday I'm out again!! Probably a jump ride, feed ponies and then Moon gets the WHOLE weekend off! He'll have earned it!!

MMMmmmmm...wonderful pony week.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm a Chicken (amongst other things)

Out to the barn again yesterday, revelling in the fact that it was the third straight day of riding this week for Mr. Moon. FINALLY. I can honestly say, there is something MAGICAL that occurs when one rides their horse with some consistency. If I ride Moon once a week, I have to spend most of the ride returning to the point we left our last ride. Which essentially means, week after week, I'm making no forward progress. I'm standing still. On the other hand, if I ride him twice a week, we make a little progress, not a whole lot, but enough that I don't feel like we're stuck in knee deep mud, or worse yet, a batch of quick sand, rapidly swallowing up all of our training and competency.

Now, there is nothing, not near anything, that compares to three or more rides in a single week. I've been so lucky to ride Moon up to 6 days in a single 7 day period, and I can honestly say that rainbow sprouted from his hind quarters, diamonds dazzled in his eyes and leprechauns leapt from the arena rails. It's true. Now that being said, 6 days a week is certainly a stretch for any "regular" joe, who must work an intolerable number of hours (typically the hours that are daylight, warm, cool, not raining, bug-free...). That being said, 3 days a week SHOULD be manageable for someone like me, who prioritizes riding their horse over laundry, grocery shopping, non-horse friends and television reruns. I do apologize to my non-horse friends if they happen to read this. I adore you, you're awesome, I DO show up to birthday parties and shindigs, but let's face it, four legs are better then two.

So having 3 days on horseback, in a row none the less, is stellar. My pony suddenly makes good forward progress and I can actually divide my attention between disciplines and activities. Instead of just trotting around doing flexion, I can actually do a day of dressage, a day on the trails, and a day...JUMPING!

And NOT have a horse with half a head and four front feet.

So I swapped over the stirrup leathers, shortened them and hopped aboard. I'd set up my favorite gymnastic grid at the moment, on the rail where run-outs can only happen in one direction. While this gives me less space overall, I save the number of poles that I have to use as wings and I can focus more on my own screw-ups instead of trying to direct my horse through the grid.

Our x-rail to Oxer combo! Not bad...

I had it set up initially pretty "easy". Low x-rail to an 18" vertical, ground poles on all of them, single trot pole before the x-rail.

No biggie.

Moon transitioned REALLY smoothly into trot (he used to get rushy the instant my stirrup leathers went up) and I headed for the jump...


Well, I am AWFUL for anticipating the jump. What's mildly amusing (not that I laugh or find it funny), is that I can FEEL myself anticipating, feel myself rising before him and trying to jump FOR him, and yet am helpless to stop it. It's literally like watching a car wreck where you SEE that someone is going to crash, you brace yourself for it, and just WAIT for the mass casualties. Seriously, that's me in true jumping form.

I'm way ahead of him over that little x-rail and wind up on his neck when we land. I mean, like legs are way out behind me and I could have been taking a nap there up on his body, since there's no way a human would ever be dumb enough to try to ride, let alone jump, in that position.

Now, fortunately or unfortunately (I haven't decided which yet), my horse is a rather honest and brave fellow. Or so I claim. In reality, he probably realizes there's a crazed lunatic clinging to his neck, plastered across his back and not even touching the reins, and the best choice is to try and get the h*ll away from them. So despite me literally laying ATOP him, Mr. Moon jumps the 18" vertical.


While the whole thing is embarrassing, I WILL say that a little piece of me (the dumb piece) was a little proud that despite my horrible position, I didn't fall off. No, I literally jumped him from my napping position, didn't haul on his face (I wasn't even steering!) and we didn't knock the rail.

I gathered myself back up and we tried again. Things got progressively better as we went, though I still anticipated every time. It's just soooo hard to let him go to it!

After a few rounds, I changed the back vertical over to an oxer. Nothing impressive, just 18" at the front, 2' at the back and maybe 18" of spread. Off we went.

We survived, no rails down, but I knew it still wasn't pretty. I also was noticing that I was almost standing UP in the stirrups, instead of going in two-point. Hmmmm...

"I see London, I see France, I see Daylight below your underpants!"
Anyone else think I'm a little high above the saddle??!

At least I can notice my failings, right?? Ignorance however, would be bliss.

Coming through again, I had a crazy idea. What if I stopped using the reins?? I was too concerned about bashing him in the mouth, that I couldn't focus on my riding position during the jump. So as we came down the long side towards the jumps, I loosened off my reins and just held the buckle end to keep them from accidentally flipping over his head during the jump. While I WANTED to ride with my arms out to the sides like a bird or a plane (or superman...), I hadn't worked out in my head how one does this without risking those reins from flying over the horse's head and causing some sort of catastrophic event. Better to keep a few fingers on the end of them...

My gut was telling me that Moon would try to deek out to the side, since I wasn't steering him, I was a terrible jumper who spent most of my time on his neck, and let's face it, he's a 13 year old stock horse meant for chasing cows or something, who spent his whole life ambling down trails when he wasn't getting podgy. There's ZERO reason I can think of in that little head of his why he WOULD jump, especially when there was no pilot up there.

Up and over and up and over my little pony went. I didn't shorten those reins until we were on the other side and he was making the corner.


With zero steering, my sweet boy went right through the gymnastic line.

And I was finally able to work on my position!

We did that a lot more. Over and over. I'm not going to say I ever got "good" at jumping or improved my position a ton, but I felt a lot more solid and confident over the jumps. I suppose for me, being someone without a ton of jumping experience, riding a horse with minimal jumping experience, this is the important bit. Just getting comfortable. Keeping the jumps low enough that chaos won't occur, and learning what works.

Thankfully, I got some video that I could use to evaluate myself afterwards. Unfortunately, I didn't have a good angle to tell if my legs were slipping back. What I DO know, is that when I thought I was standing, I WAS (holy, that's a lot of daylight between crotch and saddle!) and apparently, I DO think I'm a chicken and jump with a full set of wings : P Seriously. Anyone wanna tell me to get my elbows in? What is this, flight school? Could I flap my way over these jumps? Not likely. The only comforting thing is that I do the same thing when nervous on flat work. Huh. Character defect.

"It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's SuperSand!"

Slowly, I upped the height until the front x-rail changed into a 2'3" vertical, and the back oxer was 2'. My heart thumped royally in my chest, and I had one of those "flash moments" where I could envision myself flying off Moon and landing over a rail, snapping myself in half.

Yeah...I've got some mental problems...don't ask me about the horrible visions I get when I load up the horse trailer... : P

I bit my lip, urged Moon forward and prayed just a little. And flapped my arms for good luck...


And over.

Yup. 2'3", from a trot.

Followed by 1 stride to an oxer.

Not saying it was perfect, but I didn't fly off his back, didn't ride it on his neck, and didn't bash him in the face. And none of the poles came down. It probably didn't even look half bad.

Now, you amazing Eventers, and 4' jumpers and impeccable 3' hunters can look at that and roll your eyes. It's cool. But I haven't jumped that high in 2 years, never on a green jumping horse, and NEVER on Mr. Moon. "Regulation" height. REAL jumping height. Eventing height?? No. But 4" off...(and you know, solid...wider...scarier...faster...). Needless to say, I was practically bouncing in my saddle, smacking Moon happily in his neck and telling him he's the most awesome pony in the world. Ever. Forever.

I knew he was getting tired (did I mention that his transitions were still smooth!), so I dropped all the jumps down to x-rails, and turned my oxer into a 1 stride to x-rail. So now I had 3 x-rails, all 1-canter stride apart. They weren't super high, but I thought it would be a nice easy way to finish the ride. Yes, 2'3" is an awesome height, but I never want Moon to feel overwhelmed. That's how I was screwing things up in January, jumping him too high, no gymnastics, no ground rail, no trot pole. And he got scared and backed off. I don't want that. He's a solid horse and I want to build him up. Teach him to love this, not just tolerate it. So the three x-rail combo was perfect.

We jumped that x-rail combo twice and then H came over for a little ride with me! It was AWESOME to have her back in the ring with me. I know it can be tough when you've got two little ones at home, a farm to care for, and a busy life, but pardon my selfishness when I say it's great to have her back in the ring with me!

I swear she brings out the crazy in me...

We talked about jumping without stirrups while she was tacking up. I was gonna ditch my stirrups and do the line without them. She just looked at me and said "Do it without the saddle."

It was said like she could have been suggesting I turn out a light. Or change the station on the radio. Not something as intimidating and terrifying as jumping without the saving grace of my saddle and stirrups. I mean, I could make the mental leap to ditch the stirrups. But the saddle? On my bouncy horse? Did I mention he's got a nice solid, defined wither?? And that we don't jump?

...I'm probably gonna have to stop claiming he doesn't jump soon...

I looked at her, asked her if she was prepared to either run home to call 911 or perform CPR on my helpless body, and then loosened my girth. Since she was more then willing to scrape my debris and limbs from the sand arena, I figured "What the hell?! It's not like you can die twice!".

It is obvious to you, by this point, that I didn't die in the adventure. Largely because I AM typing this, so either I'm a ghost with nothing better to do then haunt the world through obscenely long and pointless blog posts, or I'm still alive. Granted, modern technology means I could be typing this with a plastic stick clenched between my teeth from a lumpy hospital bed flanked by a multitude of machines, but we can assume that this post would "likely" (though it's not guaranteed) be a little more sombre and depressing if that was the case.

No, I can tell you that we bounced up to that 3 x-rail gymnastic grid, and bounced right on over. I can't recall which of my many runs over it were successful and which weren't, but I can certainly tell you that IMPULSION is a critical part of jumping. I guess THIS is why the eventers of the world don't jog slowly up to those big solids and then say "Okay Pony, jump". Really dumb move. Of course, I was soooo concerned about staining the sand in H's arena with my bodily fluids (which really could have been any number of colors depending on how this bareback jumping played out...), I couldn't even think about using impulsion. Though by the fifth or so time through, and getting tired of hoping off to fix the knocked poles and then scrambling back onto him like an idiot, I started giving him a bit more encouragement coming into it. And it REALLY helped.

We made it all the way through the grid a couple of times, with no poles knocked. And not once did we become separated. To be honest, I didn't even feel like I was NEARLY as bad at jumping ahead of my horse as I did under saddle. Huh.

I.was.thrilled. In about an hour, we had jumped 2'3", we had jumped an oxer and we had jumped bareback. The entire time, I didn't fall of once, and Moon only ran out ONCE on me, when I set up that last vertical in the 3-jump grid and was staring at it wondering if we had enough space to turn after the landing. Apparently my thoughts translated clearly into his head, because he very neatly trotted around the standard the first time. I mean, I couldn't blame him. After I had a second look at it, I was sure we'd be fine and he jumped cleanly through. Go figure.

Without reins, with reins. With saddle, without saddle. Mr. Moon was SOLID. He never once put the brakes on, shied to the side or did anything rude or dangerous. THIS is what learning to jump should be like. What's crazy, is that Mr. Moon is not experienced. He should, by every right, be prone to ducking out, slamming on the brakes and shying. But he doesn't. Sometimes he'll hit a jump, pull down the rails or be a little lazy and sorta smash into it, but he never really avoids it. Like a solid old lesson horse that no one jumps very high, but they jump safely. I seriously, seriously, seriously, love this horse.

I also had a moment of insanity (encouraged by H) where I wanted to try jumping onto his back. He was bareback, I was tired of leading him to the mounting block, and it looked SOOO cool in videos! In my stupidity (I mean seriously folks, THIS is why he's the right horse for me. I'm ridiculously stupid at times and would likely be dead with any other horse...actually, I'd be too scared to even try and not have any fun with any other horse, but that's not the point), I ran towards him standing there and tried to jump and throw a leg over his back.

What I managed, instead of looking like a sexy cowgirl, was to throw my knee up into his hip bone, smashing it solidly while running smack into his check with mine.

Moon moved two steps away from me and looked at me like I was in fact, an idiot.

Yup, that's me.

H, in her wisdom (you know, for someone who actually encourages others to leap on their horse), explained to me that you stand at their shoulder, grab some hair and leap from there, throwing your heel over their hind end. She's got experience and isn't dead, so I thought I'd try it her way. My way sure didn't work.

...Sexy cowgirl? Nope. Mounted clutz? Yes.

I got that leg over his hind end, and with a lot of scrambling managed to pull the rest of my body over. Of course, Mr. Moon thought it appropriate to put his head down to help the procedure, and I had to spend most of the time looking down at the solid ground. I tried it a couple times over the course of the evening, and never got any better. In the end, Moon actually wandered away towards the jumps and I finally bailed before he decided it was a good idea to jump the gymnastic line with me clinging to the side of him.

...granted, that's not much different from my usual jumping form.

I sure hope I can get out riding again real soon. I've never in my life had sooo much fun with a horse, doing absolutely everything and absolutely nothing. I wonder if we'd make it to the Olympics if I could ride 6 days a week...I wonder if I'd SURVIVE riding 6 days a week...

I don't have any bareback pics, but I think in this one, it's clear Mr. Moon isn't completely against jumping...that's a reasonably willing face, no??