Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Move Over Moon.

I know I don't blog as much as I used to. I guess life has been more busy, but less busy with horses.

I've been teaching a couple kids to ride Moon and it's a blast. Almost the highlight of my week, and I love it.

We've also been fencing like crazy. This weekend I got all the posts augered and most of them set, aside from the corner braces. And the middle wires hung. I am over the moon! Seriously, this is the coolest thing ever (and I just got married lol).

I did a lot of research into our fencing, and I have to be honest, I chose one that was affordable. I don't ride crazy, so I don't need to fence crazy in either. I'm not too worried about not having solid fencing on the property. Two sides are flanked by trees, one is partially flanked by large tyndall stone. The rest....is more pasture and there's no one back there. I own a short QH who would probably stay behind a rope fence if I wanted.

So I chose to do wood posts and high tensile wire. I wanted to electrify the top wire to keep any horses from venturing out, and after getting it built, have decided that I'm going to wire it up to electrify the bottom wire too if wanted/needed.

My posts are sunk so they're 48" tall, with three wires spaced 20" from ground, 12" from that and 12" from that. For a total height of 44".

One of the biggest lessons I learned reading so much about HT wire fencing, is that the elasticity of the HT wire is what makes it such wonderful fencing. When an animal runs into a HT fence (talking non-electrified), the wire stretches out with the animal because the wire is very ductile. That means that it has a lot of stretch without being brittle. So the wire stretches out when the animal runs into it, but instead of breaking and letting the animal through, it acts like a spring and rebounds back into its original state...meaning it pushes the animal right back into the yard like a giant rubber band!

Now one of the things I've never liked about HT wire, is that it "breaks easily". Or so I always thought. An animal runs into it, and if it's not shocked into behaving, they snap the wire and are loose. Hmmmm....

My research led me to some great university ag extension work, that showed the recommended post spacing is 40 to 50 feet.

Where I live, most people install posts much the way we did for barbed wire; something like a post every 10-15 feet.

That's a HUGE difference.

The larger spacing however, is accompanied by keeping the wire TAUGHT. A few hundred foot pounds.

The research taught me two things here. When the posts are too close together and the wire run over too short of a distance, it loses its ability to spring. With just 15' between posts there's only 15' of wire to stretch, which means it gets over stretched REALLY quick. And then snaps. Likewise, if your fence is run over a very short distance (under 200') it will lose some of its ability to stretch and retract, so you should consider adding springs at the end of the line to add a little more "give".

The other issue is that folks don't keep the wires tight enough. And in-line strainer, which winds excess wire around itself, is used to maintain this high level of tension. You want enough tension to keep the wire nice and taught, which keep them from touching, and keeping them from touching is what allows you to have your posts further apart without sag.

So that's the magic combo. Wide fence spacing allows you fence to stretch, and tight wire allows your fence to not sag.

We opted to go with 50' spacing, with H braces on the corners and any changes of direction. The middle wire is stapled to the fence, and the top and bottom will be on plastic insulators. The corner wires will be held on by ceramic donut insulators.

I bought 2 ground rods to start, though I'm not sure how well they'll ground in our soil. We set one corner post outside the fenceline, and our solar energizer will be mounted to it. This keeps the horses from being able to destroy it or the wires.

Our gates for the moment, will just be wire gates with plastic handles. I want to connect them, so that when you open a gate, the gate is no longer electrified.

Someday in the future, we'll swap all the gates over to steel tube.

I originally calculated that to manage our pasture, we need 3 paddocks for grazing, and one sacrificial paddock for when the ground is super sloppy and saturated. The sacrificial paddock would contain the shelter, the water trough and be the location of all of the feeding. I wanted to include a small feed/tack room off the side of the shelter as well.

My first plan was to make two pastures accessible off the sacrifice paddock (I think that needs a new name), and then divide one in half and when in there, the horse wouldn't have any access to the shelter.

But then I was looking at hauling water way out there, and no shelter, and it seemed like a huge pain.

So this weekend, I realized I could divide it up into wedges, with a gate to each wedge leading out of the sacrifice paddock! And I just needed to open whatever gate the horse was grazing. No moving anything.

The downfall of this, is that at the back of the pasture, the fence line narrows a lot, so the horses only have about 50' of fenceline along the back....which I know can be an issue with crowding when horses don't get along. Force a horse into a corner and you have fencing coming down.

But I honestly do not plan on ever having more then 2 horses. We just can't sustain it on our property. And with the ability to do fenceline greetings, I think it won't be that big of an issue anyway. I sure beats not having the ability to easily rotate pastures.

I left gate access out of the paddock areas. One at the back and I need to make a nice exit out of the side by our new larger garden.

We left a good 20' gap between the fence line and the property line. And I want to plant some raspberry bushes and trees along that gap. Also, since someday years from now someone could decide to subdivide that neighboring properties, I really like the idea that there will be no horse-to-horse contact, there's a good barrier between our yard and whatever is built back there, and we can still drive the fenceline without opening gates.

I think it will be lovely. We also have about 75' at the back of the property unfenced. There's a large dugout there that we used for fill around the house, that never fills with water because the bedrock is show shallow.

So I was looking at all of this yesterday, and I know what I want.

It's the perfect cross country course!!!

The circuit can run along the edge of the rock piles over a couple of stone jumps, down through the dug out and out of it, back along the side of the fence over a couple bush jumps. Then into the woods over some log jumps before wrapping back to the trail. It's a beautiful setup. And a great circuit!

So that's the plan! I want to add goat paddocks in our bush next year too, but it's not as urgent so I'm not too worried about it. I'm just really happy to see our fencing go up and be ready for Moon to move home in the spring :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Time for Change.

Moon and I are still around. Three weeks ago I married the amazing G, we had finished overhauling our entire yard to get it ready for our backyard wedding, a busy summer of growing grass and making roads and mowing. Lots of mowing.

The last three years have been insane. We built a house. We got engaged, perfected our yard, got married.

The last three weeks??

I've done nothing. I went pony camping with the girls and rode 40 miles in 3 days. Moon outdid himself. We took jumping lessons over the summer and I learned just how game and determined a pony he is. I shot a recurve bow off his back at a trot, without any issues.

He's been teaching the little girls to ride in my spare time. He's taught a four year old, a five year old and a twelve year old. And he loves it.

He's dappled like crazy.

It's time though.

After all these years, all the hard work and long hours and wearing myself to exhaustion on our property and our life, it's finally time.

This weekend, we're hooking the auger up to the tractor.

And we're drilling holes for fence posts.

Because it's time Moon comes home.

I wish I could bring him home over the winter, but we don't have any shelter, and I'll be lucky to get the fencing up in time, and we don't have any way to heat the water. But the goal, the dream, no, the REALITY, is that this April or May, he comes home.

I can't describe to you how I feel about it.

There was a time when I first got Moon, which is 5 years ago this Christmas, that I couldn't imagine actually having him at home. I wanted it, but the reality of it just wasn't real. I didn't know enough about horses, I still felt so green, so fresh, so raw.

Now after 5 years...he's like an extension of my being. I know what to feed him, how much to feed him, when to feed him. I make decision on his grain and supplements. I'm self assured when it comes to his vet care and his injuries and treating him. I'm beyond confident riding him. I take it all in stride. I feel like I know every bit of him.

And I'm ready to bring him home.

Not just to have him in my backyard. But to be able to ride like he's in my backyard. To be the sole decision maker in his life. The one who brings him supper every day. The one who sees him sleeping. Who decides when and if he'll be blanketed.

I suppose it's the last step, the final stage, of having Moon has my truest of true heart horse. Where I am his everything, and he is my everything.


I can't describe what this weekend was like for me. Moon and I move as one. We think as one. It sounds ridiculous and I think I'm turning into one of those nutters, with their crystals and voodoo and trances and things.

It's not that.

His body. His reactions. His movements. They're so familiar in me, that they are instinctive in me. His personality is so perfectly tuned to mine, that our reactions are so similar. We love the same things, that when we are doing what we love, the rest of the world falls away and we have no other focus. I see what he sees, he feels what I feel.

It's hard to describe trusting a horse this much. 10 years ago, I had my skull cracked open by a horse, and I never felt the same around them. I was scared. And while I fell in love with two horses over the years that followed, it was Moon who changed my riding.

I don't have a desire to ride any other horses, because I can't ride them the way I ride Moon. I ride him without using my head, the one, rare time in a day that that happens. My thoughts drain away, and I simply move.

I need to bring him home. Our world is a tangled knot and it's time to untangle ourselves.


This is what I'm wanting to build for a shelter, except I'd really like to section some of it off, or build a lean-to, that has space for Moon's food, tack and buckets.

I have a bunch of materials already kicking around, and I'm getting a couple of poles from Hil that are hopefully tall enough to make work. I'm thinking I'll use them for the front of the shed, and then maybe a couple of 4x4 poles for the back of the shed. Add in the plywood we already have and 2x4s, and hopefully we'll be alright! We even have some shingles left over too that might work for us...And tyvek!! Wonder if I could get some cheap siding online...

Then comes the fencing. We're going to enlarge the garden a LOT, and that should mean a lot more produce next fall. I want to leave space for a proper manure pile that we can rotate as well.

The fencing plan is to do 50' spacing of high tensile wire, with a combination of wood and t-posts. I'd like to build a small sacrificial paddock around the run-in shelter, with some of the bush fenced in as well. Then make two large paddocks for grass, with one of them divisible temporarily to help with getting a good rotation in.

For now, I think Moon will be watered by bucket, since we could probably hang two in the morning and two at night and be okay.

HOPEFULLY we won't have too much problem augering through the silt and can get those posts in really easy. That would rock. I'm going to be over the moon if we're able to get all the fencing installed before winter! Even if we have to wait until spring to work on the run-in shelter.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

End of Summer Plans

I can't help but be a planner, and I'm always prepping for the future.

One big thing on my list, on my list since I was 5 years old and in love with horses, is to have my horse at home.

I got older and wiser, and while I no longer want to board Moon 24-7-365 at home, I really would love to have him at home for the summers, to enjoy our sunny pasture where he's a 5 minute walk after work and reach that huge dream for me. And then share the work of the summer with my girlfriends and enjoy the good life of trail riding away the winter blues.

My life until this point, has been 100% house. Get the house built. The house is now built, and pretty much finished.

Our backyard...just need to put some parging on the bottom of the house...
...and wait for spring to finish green-ing everything up!

The next goal is wedding. 100% get married. Fix up the yard for our wedding. Fair enough. From now until September, that's like 90% of where all of my energy goes.

But what about September 6th, when that wedding is all over, our yard is pretty well fabulous, our house is 90% finished and ???

And what??

I've got a couple months before winter hits, and I need a project. A big project.

We won't be ready to build a garage for at least a couple years. 2017 maybe?? I need a small scale project that can eat up my time, that matters, but doesn't cost a lot of money (because getting married is expensive).

What does that mean to me?? It means I want to build my pasture and paddocks :)

The start of our "road" to the back field, as we add fill and gravel to transition it from a bumpy dirt path to a nice drive in my car :)

I know that we have about 3-4 acres of pasture space, and I know for sure that I want to rotationally graze it. I spent 4 years in university and countless dollars wasted on a degree in Agriculture. That's right. I have a bachelor's degree in agriculture and I don't do any farming. I don't even work with animals anymore. Some people would shrug, "Meh, you never work in your chosen field." and point out that I have a good job that I love and pays the bills.

But the thing is...

...I REALLY love farming. I love it. I'm passionate about it. Agriculture isn't just some missed career path. It's me missing out on something that I LOVE. Feed formulations, plant density calculations, rotational grazing, stocking rates....these are things I truly love doing, and I don't get to. And as a career, probably never will.

For that reason, more than just being 5 at heart and really wanting my pony in my backyard, I want to have a farm. I really, really, really want to have a farm. It doesn't need to be a commercial farm or even a hobby farm that sells some odds and ends to the public. I just want...

I just want a little self-sufficiency like my parents had when I was a kid. I want enough space to have a garden that feeds our family over the winter, space to hunt a few prairie chickens, eventually raise some poultry for meat and maybe eggs, keep my horse, and at some point, I really, really, want a few goats. I don't care if we kill them all every fall so we don't have to over-winter them, I just know that I really, really want to raise livestock for meat production. I want to trim hooves again, and assess my stocking rates, and fix fences, and walk them checking for gaps. I love raising livestock.

That's what I want. I want a miniature, self-sustaining little homestead. Just enough to keep me occupied.

Our pasture in the late fall; just trees and grass. 

I love the idea of no overwintering because it means if we want a family vacation, we can take one in the winter. And go somewhere warm.

Okay, so here I am, and I know a few things for sure about our farm:

1) I want to keep my horse on pasture
2) I want to eventually be set up for a small herd of goats (we're talking 3 maybe 4 max)

I know that goats are great for our place because they love brush. Contrary to what a lot of people think, goats are not grazers. They don't love a big grassy pasture (okay, the new well-bred high producing goats do, but I'm talking your homesteading goat). They love brush. They love poison ivy and sticks and all the debris that grows under the trees.

We have a LOT of that. And we spend A LOT of time clearing it by hand, which sucks.

On the other end of it, we have 5 acres of grassy pasture.

My dream, is to build a small horse shelter, that would fit 2 horses, and have it tucked right at the edge of the wood and the pasture. Fence in the pasture area, so that we have 1 sacrifice pasture for when it's rainy, 3 pastures for grazing rotationally, and then a space that's open for our garden (which I'd like to slowly enlarge over time as our family grows).

I'd like the run-in shelter to be split in half, so that half of it is on the wooded side, and can used for our goats. And then I'd like to fence in 3-5 acres of woods for our goats, into two paddocks. Just let them go to town. With a small herd of goats and those smaller sized plots, we could easily see a nice reduction in our underbrush, without (if my research is correct) loosing so much that it's not regrowing. And that means we get a good number of these buggers in our freezer for the winter too. Most sheep raised for eating will dress at about 50% of their live weight, and say slaughtered somewhere at the 100 lb mark (based on how long we're able to raise them). A healthy market goat could get to 80 lbs in 3 months, and we'd probably have a few more months then that with them, though our forage quality is less than a hay and grain diet of a feeder operation.

Pasture early this spring...after the road was improved enough to drive my (dirty) car down it!

So even with a small herd of just 2 goats to start, raised to about 80 lbs, That's 80 lbs of meat at the end of the summer. Considering the cost of buying a whether (castrated male) is about $100 at birth and we're not paying much to feed them (add in some dewormers and such), that's about $3 a pound for the meat. That's awesome.

It of course didn't take much convincing to get my G on board with this goat plan. I think he knows how much I love farming, and since it also benefits our family, he's fully behind it.

At the moment, that's our plans. If we can start getting some fencing up this fall after our wedding, in the spring we should have a month or two to finish up and build a run-in. I'm waiting to hear back from our local lumber yard on my "dream" run-in shelter:

Enough space if we divide the run-in in half, to have goats on one side, and horses on the other. Horse. Horse. G reminds me that I've only got Moon ;) I'm okay with that. Until he's ready for retirement lol.

And that's our farm plan :) I wouldn't mind adding the chicken tractor to the goat pasture as well as the horse pasture depending on the season. Again, I don't want to really be housing chickens over the winter, but I'd like to have some to add to our freezer every fall.

So for us, something like 3 chickens, 2 goats and a horse. That's a fine little farm to me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The later years.

Sometimes it's weird thinking about Moon getting older. He turns 16 this week. SIXTEEN! That's incredible. It's like the years are flying by, and I can't help but wonder where we're headed and how many more he has in him.

He's by no means an old horse. At 16, he's finally at a good solid age where he's dependable and predictable. He still has energy and spunk, but he's also happy and relaxed and pretty damn easy to ride. He hasn't lost his fitness or stamina, but he's headed towards old age.

I think a lot lately about his future. I love my Moon and he is my heart horse. I will have him forever and a day. This is not a horse that will ever be sold, that I can promise you.

My life is ever changing though. I watch so many bloggers here get married and move forward on all of those "married life" things, and I know that they are putting their horses to pasture for a few years, or selling them to homes that can keep working them, or they've part-leased them out knowing that they just don't have the time to dedicate anymore.

It makes me unbelievably conscious of Moon's future, and makes me take time to think about what I want for him.

I know that there may be a stint where I'm not able to ride him nearly as much as I can now, and I don't want him forgotten. For me, that's where teaching the kids to ride comes in. I love doing it and I love that it means I still get to work with Moon and teach him something. If in two years all we're doing is teaching kid's lessons, I'm happy with that. The kids will be 8 and 7 by then, and that's a good age to start being more independent in your riding. If this stage lasts 4 years, that's okay. Moon will be 22, and he will have a few kids who adore him and are probably (hopefully?) riding him a fair bit. Which means that Moon can retire into the service of these young charges. He can happily be a little pony club mount, he can teach my own children to ride, and he can just enjoy his old age as a little school pack pony. That makes me so happy to think about. I don't think he would be happy being ignored, and I want his retirement to be easy on him. This seems like a wonderful choice.

And by those years, I will be ready to perhaps start my next horse. Something that Moon can pony out and teach to behave. And then I can slowly transition to the next mount (which won't come close to being my Moonpie), and ease the transition for all of us.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Munchkins and Mayhem.

Talk about a busy couple of days!

Let's start out with Friday. The great jumping lesson!

I started out the morning over the moon, and by the end of the working day, was a crabby irritable mess. I just was in a funk, and there was no getting out of it. To make it better, it appears no one actually reads my messages and our lesson was pushed back an hour (not the coach's fault).

Made it to the barn, got Moon-pie ready. No biggie. Met Coach mm as we'll call her and started working with Mr. Moon.

For first lessons, you never really expect anything spectacular. The coach is just meeting the horse and rider combination for the first time, and getting a feel for what they know and how they work together.

We did some warming up, and worked on getting Moon to loosen and bend. Then we did some canter circles, which was the FIRST real time we did serious canter work together. After almost a year with coach W, we had just started on canter, and it was no more than a couple of transitions and that was it.

I was nervous, but to the left, for his left lead, he was on the money. Beautiful circle and I think we rode it well enough.

To the right? Counter canter the WHOLE FRICKEN TIME. We tried a dozen or so way to no avail. He ALWAYS picked up the wrong lead, no matter what we did.

So Coach mm asked if Moon knew flying lead changes. "Um...no. Not that I know of anyway". I sure as hell didn't train them, and I know the owner before me sure didn't.

"Try giving him a little kick with your outside leg," she says.

I was almost rolling my eyes in my head. Come on. This is Moon. The horse came with next to no knowledge, and I've not ridden a ton of horses that do flying lead changes on command.

But I kicked anyway. Nothing.




"Once more."

<eye roll> whatever. <kick>


Yes folks. It happened.


Isn't this something a horse needs to be trained to do?? Cause he did it. He literally did it, and almost like he *knew* what was being asked but was a little rusty at it.

Moon knows flying lead changes?!


That just blew my mind. If that was all we got out of the lesson, I would be over the moon. My horse can do flying lead changes. Okay, so he doesn't pick up the right lead. Let's ignore that. He can change on the fly!!!

We moved on after that, learning rhythm in our riding. Coach mm put out ground poles, and we trotted over them trying to keep the same pace as we went along. It went great :)

Then she gave us a little x-rail and we popped over it. Moon was a touch rushy at times, or trying to sneak around the rails, but he finished up nice and solid and happy. His pacing became consistent and I learned to keep a nice solid leg on him without asking for anything.

We finished with the x-rail a few more times, and she assured me that my top fear of smashing him in the mouth was not happening. :) That made me happy :)

We didn't do a ton of jumping, but for a first lesson I was thrilled that we got to pop over even a cross-rail. And the fact that Moon, despite having a new horse in his herd, was well behaved and just listening to me so well. I love that.

Little x-rail to get us going!

I'm super excited for the next time we get to ride and do more jumping. He's a solid little pony and I love that about him.

We also did the whole lesson with an audience of strangers, plus S2. I sometimes forget it's now an extroverted barn and some days there will be 3 or 4 people I don't know hanging out. In the very least, I'm quite happy to know that I really don't even notice people once I start riding. The whole world drops away, and the only people I can think about is the coach and my horse. The end. Afterwards, sure, I'm wondering and thinking about what they all thought, but during my lesson, I'm in the zone. It's pretty useful.

Post lesson we watched H go around with Tiny Tim, and then it was an evening. Man was I hot and sore and ready for a rest!

On a positive, the coach was quite surprised that Mr. Moon wasn't huffing after all of our work. The reality is that while he doesn't have a ton of arena time lately and maybe I don't ride a whole ton, we've worked pretty hard to stay reasonably fit, and I'd almost say he's close to his fitness level from our showing year. And that's awesome to me.

Trademark evil rabbit face...


Saturday the farrier came by for a trim, and I praised her on the fact that Moon can gallop a gravel road and still be sound the next day. Jumping no issues, and even on Sunday after his trim he was still nice and sound for me. I'm thrilled.

Saturday afternoon was BUSY, but it's kind of horse related. With our wedding coming in September, we want to finish our "path" to our back field, so that it's actually a rode. The length is almost 1/3rd of a mile, so we can't afford to haul gravel. Instead, we've been using the silt and small rocks from the build to fill in the low spots and smooth the path out. After 8 hours of work on Saturday, while not "perfect", the "path" was now smooth enough that I could drive my car slowly down it!!! :D

What does this have to do with horses??

The long term plan.

See, if I can drive my car out back, I can certainly get a horse trailer out back. I can get fencing for Mr. Moon and be able to drive to the paddocks. I can haul hay. I can get back there when it's been raining without getting stuck!! It's the start of making our farm!! :D

I'm not sure where I drum the energy up from, but Sunday morning after breakfast I took my almost 6-year old niece out to the barn with me to meet Mr. Moon. She was excited to meet a horse and I thought it would be wonderful for us to have something to share. As I've said before, I wish I had an aunt who loved horses as a kid, so I want to be that aunt to my kidlings too.

I also had another lesson with little C later that afternoon, and it was neat to...observe, different children.

So my niece D, she's a talker and told me all about everything on the drive. Horses and cows and bunny rabbits. When we got to the barn I gave her some directions and rules and we went into the garage where we store all of our horse stuff.

"Ewww. It stinks in here," she informed me.


"Doesn't it smell like horses?? This is all our tack. It smells like horses and horse food and leather!"

She gave me "the look" and walked back out the door. Okay, okay. So not everyone falls in love with the smell of poo.

We brought Moon back to the front and she eagerly helped groom him and get him ready. Unlike C she wasn't as focused on learning all the specifics of horses and horse ownership and care. She is one of those kids that is trying to engage in everything around her all at once. A butterfly over there, why does it smell like that (that's horse paddocks after a long winter), is that fence electric, how long would it shock me for, why is that horse laying down, can we groom him, where's my helmet, can we got to mcdonalds for lunch, where is the city from here, are there cows, how far are we from home, how old will you be in ten years, wow you are old, do you work here, how come that woman is over there, do you have a quad, can I come to your house, does the horse live there, can we call him draculara, what if he was pink, can we paint him pink, is that a big truck, does he eat marshmellows...

Seriously. I put him on her and she was ready to brush him. She brushed him and she was ready to feed him. We fed him and she wanted to walk him. We walked him and she wanted to ride him again. And then groom him. And then paint him pink.

Thankfully, I am a creature of obsessive structure, and so while I will entertain and answer a few thousand questions, the horse is still only brought up once, he gets a grooming before and after his ride, and once we're off, we're off. Perhaps one of the awesome things horses teach us, is the benefit of routine. Just settle and perform the activities one at a time. In order.

It's probably totally not appropriate of me, but I'm curious to see how "the disease" affects each of these girls (D and C). They are only about 14 months apart in age which makes it really neat because they would have been exposed to horses at about the same time. Neither child really has done much more than sit on the odd pony for pony rides. Neither of them were raised in the country, though both have spent time outside the city. Neither has horsey parents either, though I think both their moms would have ridden horses if given the opportunity. :)

After D had done a bunch of work steering and such, I hopped on behind her and we did some trotting. I really wanted to give the girls a chance to trot, but I was worried about starting it on the lead rope BECAUSE I know it's incredibly bouncy. It doesn't take much to bounce right out of the saddle, which I don't want these kids doing! They don't even have stirrups!

On a whim, I decided that I would simply ride double with them. I know H and I had swapped horses on horseback before and Moon didn't care at all. I also knew that with the reins in my hand I was confident I could control Moon, and I know that I can ride bareback and won't fall off myself.

Of course, Moon did not care *at all*. We trotted around, and D was bouncing along, but with my arms on either side of her, I was able to make sure she stayed on the saddle. It worked great and I think she really enjoyed it. I think I also really enjoyed it, because it was a great way to experience riding with a little kid :) It allows me to maintain a ton of control but still bring on those fast speeds :)

And holy, do kids like faster speeds once they get a taste for them lol.

After our ride, I put Moon away and we cleaned up. I took D home to her parents, and she told me all about the pony she wants, who would be white and named Angel and she would paint her pink too. And she would be sized for D, not so big as Moon, and a girl of course.

Because a female small pony is *not* going to be a total cow kiddo ;) Now to watch her start hounding her parents about getting a pony lol.


I managed a quick 15 minute break at home before going back to the barn for C's lesson. I set up a cute little obstacle course for her, and since they were running late, I even managed to go for a ride on Moon myself. Surprise, one more horse had been added to the paddock, but they were all behaving and Moon was a good boy going up the road. Heck, he was so good I didn't even realize that another horse had been added to his herd until later that afternoon! Plus, the winds were pretty strong and still he was super well behaved. I am just so thrilled with him lately.

We worked on some more trot poles until C arrived, and then she worked hard brushing him and making him super shiny. That kid could spend an hour just running a brush over him <3 I asked her if she thought he smelled and she leaned up against him inhaling deeply, "Mmmmmm....he smells good and warm." ;)

When he was shiny, we picked out his hooves and we tacked him up. She did the obstacle course and REALLY is starting to rock steering. I mean, I was impressed. I put less and less effort into leading him, and told her to spend more and more effort telling him to go where she wanted. It was super interesting to see Moon like "Okay...I want to follow S...but...I'm definitely being told to go the other way. I'm gonna listen...unless she asks kinda weakly, and then I'll just stop confused."

And he did. She did weave pylons and I showed her turn on the forehand, and we even did walk poles without any problem. I was so proud of her. She was super contentious about not crashing into anything and already asking me about when she gets to start jumping ;)

The *only* thing I had to make sure we were careful about was going fast. I taught her to bump him with her legs and....she fell in love with the fact that he would go faster when she did. I don't think she fully appreciated what I meant by the fact he'd keep going faster and faster and that she could fall off :P

I know eventually both kids will hit pay dirt, and I just hope that I'm convincing enough to get them back on :P

She also did some egg-and-spoon work, which was a valiant effort. Plus she was now able to stick both of her arms out like an airplane and like a helicopter, she reached up his mane with either hand and also back behind her. One big thing I kept having to remind her of, was to stretch her legs nice and long and loose, because I don't want her learning a bad position. Or gripping. Which I found both kids were kinda prone to doing.

I think I might do the dollar bill game next time ;)

We also finished with doubling-up for some trotting. She giggled whenever we did, and it was a lot of fun.

After we finished, she brushed him *like crazy* until he shone. She was so happy :) We fed him some food, and she made sure he was okay. She even asked if he was hurt from stepping on one of the ground poles earlier ;)

Then her and H's daughter M met again, and the two kids helped me walk Moon back to the pasture. That was like one of those moments that made my heart explode with pure happiness. Like pure happiness.

And then the two of them ran off playing together, and did so for another half hour. :) These are my two little flower girls, so it's special to me that they get along so well <3

H and C's parents had cleaned up the arena obstacles, so we were all done. I was super thrilled with the ride, and super thrilled with C's progress. Best was when she found a poop scoop that was small enough for her and started cleaning every piece of mud or poop off the driveway lol. THAT is a kid I want on my grooming team!! :D

I got home and fell fast asleep. Seriously. I LOVE these kids and I LOVE teaching them and it is the highlight of my day. I'm thrilled with how happy Moon seems to be doing it, and I love that I've seen him every day since last Wednesday. That's awesome to me :) But man oh man, is it ever exhausting!!!

We'll see how this summer will go! I know that I want a jump lesson every other Friday, and I hope to teach the kids most Sundays :) I don't mind that it means a little less weekend and little less work done for the wedding; I'm coming to see that these are the moments and relationships that will last far longer than one day.
My niece with Moon...I think they've both fallen asleep...

Friday, May 1, 2015

Christmas in May

Today is like Christmas in May.

Because I have a lesson. On a horse. My own horse. And it's jumping.

Mr. Moon, looking fabulous in the spring <3

Okay, let's be realistic. My jumping lesson today is likely to just be me going around the ring in a crappy version of 2-point, pretending to do long releases over poles on the ground. For an hour.

There likely will not be any actual jumps to speak of. I'll probably have a horrible cramp in my side from trying to pretend that I have core strength still. Moon will run about with his evil rabbit face the whole time and the coach will say "You're too hard with your hands" or something.

But that's okay. It's still like Christmas to me, even if there's no pony under the tree like I'd been begging Santa for year after year.

Life, to me anyway, is about big goals and the slow movement towards them.

I have been watching show jumping on CBC since I was a little girl. Even before we got the TV guide and I had to watch the end of the show jumping just to catch when the next one would be on. Placing my video tape in the VCR to record the jumping on a Saturday afternoon, and pretending in the yard that I was a pony jumping too.

I always thought "Someday, I'll jump a horse".

When I finally got riding lessons, I was so excited. "I'll jump soon!" I thought. I remember sitting in the viewing area because my dad was always late (probably because he knew how much I loved watching the other lessons), and asking mom's when their daughters started jumping.

That's how I learned NEVER ask a mother when her daughter started doing something. Apparently this question is rude, and will be answered with a rude snarl and "My daughter had an injury that set her back", or "We really didn't have the time to dedicate" or "The instructor really doesn't like her or she'd be further along". Something indicating her daughter would be at the Olympics by now if only given a chance.

From those rides, I eventually made it far enough to start doing little x-rails. And then on to a different barn that started me jumping actual jumps, in something that resembled a course. That was awesome. I can still remember the Arab Twi that I rode. I remember that it was spring when we started jumping, and the instructor told us that once the outdoor dried up, we'd get to spend the summer jumping outside. I was over the moon...

Until I realized that I wouldn't be there in the summer. I never got to ride in the summer, because I had a summer job, or vacation or my parents didn't want to drive me. We had other things to do.

I didn't jump again for a long time, until I started with Betty-Ann. She actually taught me to jump a horse, and we trained up one of her guys. That was awesome, but again, never really course work.

I did some solo jumping at H's when we moved there, and two shows. We did awful at both of them.

And that was the end of that.

I still to this day dream of riding a real course and pushing ourselves through it. I wonder how high Moon could jump, and if he actually loves it? Is it possible with help I could be a decent little jumper too? It's always felt like something I shouldn't be doing, and I was doing it anyway. "Jumping isn't something you do alone," my instructors have told me for years. "You need perfect flatwork before you can jump," I was told countless times. Every forum chastises you if you haven't had 15 years of solid flat work before you take your horse over a fence, and you better be able to survive George Morris' critique if you hope to have any acceptance in the jumping world.

So to this day, I'm still a very...self-defeating jumper. I just don't have much belief in us, despite the fact that I really enjoy it, I've done a 3' course and Moon has done at least 2'6"without either of us dying. We've even jumped bareback multiple times without me coming unglued.

But somehow, I still have a lack of faith.

And that's okay. Tonight we will start working towards being confident jumpers. My ultimate goal, would be to do a cross-country course by the time I'm 50 or so. And that seems pretty obtainable to me :)


In other news, the new horse Tiny Tim was moved into the paddock with Moon and Company, and they have all gotten along really well. Moon and Tim had a few discussions over who gets to keep the chick, but it was all pomp and circumstance.

I think they will wind up being good friends. Tim is the most laid back 6-year old horse I've ever met, and Moon seems to like that just fine. 

Moon is still looking pretty fit despite the easy winter he had. I seriously feel like he's learning to use the big ol'neck of his better. I was over the moon when we were able to ride around the arena beautifully despite the new mixing of horses, and even went on a lovely gallop down the side of the road.

Yes, we galloped down the side of the road.

Well, the first time more like the grassy ditch until he almost fell in a big hole. Nice Moon.

But we galloped down gravel. I REALLY think the farrier we've been using for the last 3 years has done wonderful things for him, and I believe he has harder, tougher feet than ever before. We'll know today how he's doing...

Other than that, our rides have been great. We got another ring ride in yesterday that was awesome, just really working on getting him to use his back and bend. I'm proud of him. I feel like he doesn't go around with his head in the sky anymore, and even though he'll probably always evil rabbit face, he isn't twisting his neck and head all funny on me anymore. Just a nice solid ride, and his trot as a result is totally sit-able. I mean, I can sit the whole way around the ring without any issue, which I love. I suck at posting.

So here's my boy post-ride yesterday. I love him. He does everything from pack 4-year olds around to gallop to hopefully jump. That's what I love in a good horse.

Moon, April 30th, 2015

What I love more is comparing him to the Moon I got, when he was a tubby little thing...

Moon, March 22, 2012
Moon, May 2012

Gotta love this face! April 2015
Color change since May 2012...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jump it!!

So Moon and I are heading to our first JUMPING LESSON! Yes, it's still 3 days away. YES, I know. I'm 30 and OVER THE MOON (ha) about taking jumping lessons. This is something I've wanted to do for YEARS. Like since I was a little girl. I always thought I'd just study hard in my lessons, and progress from the dressage stuff over to the jumping.

I remember my really lame (looking back) lessons over cross rails. I remember that didn't last long before I wasn't in lessons again. New barn, more flat lessons. Couple of cross rails, maybe a tiny vertical. New barn. More flat lessons.

The first time I *really* jumped was at Misty River Ranch. I'm not sure why, but I had been placed in a group that wasn't my regular group for some reason. I normally rode with the "Adult Woman" riders, a random mix of 40-60 year old ladies who enjoyed Wednesday night lessons. I was an anomaly, but I always was at lessons. I was either too old for the kids, or too young for the adults. The riders my age were in these groups that they'd been riding in for years, and all far better riders than I. Welcome to my plight.

So for some strange reason, maybe it was a makeup lesson come to think of it....I was in this group of riders close in age to me (like 16 when I was 25) and they were having an outdoor lesson in the jumping ring. I was OVER THE MOON (ha), but also pretty damn sure I wasn't actually going to jump with these people. They'd probably make me ride beside them or something.

To my surprise, the coach told me to ride the course just like everyone else. A couple riders before me went and then it was my turn.

There was no skill here. It was like "Okay, just mimic everyone else and get through this without dying".

I remember faintly that the coach had lectured me on a few things...for certain, flying lead changes.

Wait. I have NEVER learned to do a flying lead change. EVER. How the hell I would be able to not only do multiple flying lead changes, but do them as I come over 3' jumps?

Did I mention they had 3' jumps out??

Oh yeah.

Surprisingly, I didn't die. I didn't fall off. I actually made it through the whole course, and I'm not even sure we took more than a single rail down.

That being said, I KNOW the coach was yelling at me about straight lines when coming off jumps. Apparently I would land and head straight to the next jump. Whoops :P

That ride still sticks with me to this day. Not that it was the best ride of my life, but it was the highest I had ever jumped a full course. And I made it through.

Now the following spring I met Moon, and sometime during that summer I started him over jumps. By the time we moved to Coach W's, we were popping over some slightly higher verticals, and I remember at least one spill over there.

At Hil's place the spring after, we kept trying to jump. I remember a few more tumbles, but never anything bad. Moon had never refused or balked or bolted on me. It was simply that I get ahead or behind the movement and wind up falling off of him as my balance is off.

But we managed to get in two jumping classes in our lives together. One fun show at a local barn where we didn't do particularly well, but we survived. I think we jumped the course 2 or 3 times. And then once at a show at Pine Ridge Equine Park, where Moon was terrified of the flower boxes under the jumps. Poor old man.

Again, I just felt like while Moon is a willing little jumper, my form is HORRIBLE and needs work. I need to learn distances and take-offs, and all the technical things that make a rider a good jumper. Who knows how high Mr. Moon can get if he has some decent riding on his back??

Monday, April 27, 2015

NextGen Riding

Spring has finally sprung, and with it, the horse bug returns in full force. For me, it's almost like I need to get a good injection right at this time of the year, and it will carry me through until the fall.

While Moon and I have hit the trails a fair number of times, we finally rode in the ring last Thursday night. I was in love. No, our riding isn't spectacular and neither of us is anywhere near the calibre we were when we showed 4 years ago. But there's something else...

Our bond. He is my main man, my heart horse, the love of my life (Sorry G, you're in there too ;) ). Just puttering around the ring, I was overwhelmed by how much I love being on board this guy.

Then Sunday morning.

I had my first riding lesson. My first?! My first one as a teacher, not a student.

My sweet (pretty much) niece and her parents came out for her first riding lesson. C is adorable and has been interested in horses since she was little. I'm not sure why or how, but I've always done everything I can as an aunt to encourage the behavior. For her 4th birthday last October, I gave her a child-sized grooming box with tiny curry combs and hoof picks, and promised her that we would go riding in the spring.

All winter long she made sure her momma never forgot that I had promised she could ride Moon. When she was at our place, she would sit in the aussie saddle in our living room, strap on an old velvet helmet we had and pretend to ride around. She loved it.

So when the weather warmed up and Moon was still a gentleman, I told her mom it was time. Let's see if this little girl had the bug.

It's a bizzare thing the horse-disease. It's really hard to get a great diagnosis until you've hit your teenage years, when you have to make the choice between boys and makeup, and being dirty at the barn riding a steed. But in your youth, there's this passion for my little pony and pointing at the horses you drive by, and making  up wonderful little imaginative stories in your head about all the ponies you will someday ride.

I have no trouble at all thinking back to my horse obsessions myself. I had a beautiful buckskin gelding (in my dreams) named Victory Gallop. I called him just Vic. Every morning he would run alongside the school bus jumping over the ditches and culverts. I could dream the movement of his legs and the gentle tuck of his body when he jumped. I could see him gallop and trot and he was so alive in my mind. He lived in our back woodshed, and I'd feed him hay and carrots all the time. I always took the same book out of the library, a little primer for children on the basics of english riding. I knew at just 5 that I wanted to ride English.

I used to make up stories that I took lessons and my parents rented me a pony and I was learning to jump. All these other wonderful stories. I knew it wasn't right, but my imagination had a hold on me. More than anything, I wanted to ride.

I still remember my first lead line ride around the little pond at Falcon Beach Ranch. It all stuck. My best friend's horse in first grade and being led around there. It all sticks in my mind, stronger than so many other memories from my childhood.

That's the horse-disease.

So now that I own my own horse, and that Moon happens to be a good little citizen, I wanted more than anything, to give these little kids in my life the opportunity to fill their love for horses too. I can't imagine how over the moon I would have been if my parents had a friend who gave me little lessons. Bliss.

Why not do these for the kids I love?

When C pulled up with her parents, I was probably just as anxious and nervous and excited as she was!! Not that I was really worried about anything...other than if she was going to be terrified of Moon, and if I was going to be a good teacher, and how the hell do you entertain a 4-year old for an hour, and what if she didn't want to even touch him, and what if he did something "normal" that she got scared of, and what if her parents think I'm crazy...

Yeah, no worries at all :P

So off we went to get Moon, and I had her tell me which one he was. I spent a LOT of time on Saturday thinking about what makes horses interesting. What keeps kids interested? How do we talk to kids? How do they learn?

It's really easy to think "Well, they're kids, so there's not much we can teach them". Or conversely, to try to teach them too much and give them total sensory overload. Children also do not like a lot of repetition that is obvious. But a lot of repetition helps tremendously in their learning.

They like to be challenged. They have an awesome capacity for remembering things. And the more you can instill good behaviors or patterns now, the stronger they will be in the future.

I also know, that you can't go in with expectations. She might not want to touch him. She might not want to ride him. She might change her mind part way through. It's all okay. Be flexible.

I love asking the kids to tell me which horse is Moon, because for 1. It gets them thinking about the colors and appearances of the different horses. But it also, I believe, makes them start to connect with the horse they are riding. "That horse is mine." I'm not comfortable putting a kid out in a field with 5 horses, ranging all the way up to a 16hh part-draft. So I happily move around pointing at different horses asking which is the right one.

Once I lead the horse safely out of the paddock and have the gates closed and the horse facing the right way, I asked C to come to me to help lead Moon. While she's small and I'm not comfortable with her walking beside Moon and his huge heavy feet, I do want her to learn about leading a horse. In 4 years, I very well expect her to be out there bringing him in solo. ;) Yes, I like to daydream still. The pictures are different, but I still love what I see <3

I handed C the end of the leadrope and told her not to wrap it around her hand. I explained how the horse could take off, and you could see her thinking about how to carry it properly. I then went back to some early lead-line lessons my old coach had taught me. When you lead a horse, teach them to read your body cues and not only your words. Learn slightly forward as you walk off, and say "Walk". Lean slightly back and say "Whoa" when you stop. C understood this no problem, and as we made our way to the tie-post, she worked on having Moon stop and start on her command.

We then tied him up, and while I don't expect her to be tying ropes (can she even do shoelaces yet?!), I did show her the emergency release knot and how you can pull the rope to let the horse free. She understood that no problem too.

She only seemed to hesitate initially when he was out of the paddock (he's so big!) and then when it was first time to walk up and touch him. I get it. They are HUGE when you're that tiny. Just huge. And I respect that any kid is smart enough to respect the size of a horse. Props to that.

We groomed, and as we groomed I told her about the different parts of the horse and the names of the brushes. We talked about how to use the brushes and different things about how horses think or move.

We implemented the "WALK REALLY FAR BEHIND HIS BUTT" rule. A must for everyone. Until you can touch the butt of your horse from the ground and your face isn't at hoof-kicking level, you walk the length of the horse AWAY from the horse, before you walk behind him.

We got her a step-stool, and she brushed and brushed and brushed.

THIS is a huge thing to me that I believe is a determinant of the horse-disease. It's not just a love of riding. It's a love of HORSES. At this moment, C is infected and I hope we're able to keep her from being cured ;)

We finished cleaning him, and I held his hooves up while she cleaned them (with help from me, because it takes a lot of muscle to get that packed in dirt out of there!).

I showed her his saddle and we took the stirrups off. We're starting her in an english saddle, because...because I love english? Because Pony Club is english? Because she asked me when she can jump?? Probably because I don't own a western saddle and I also don't want her to hang onto the horn for the rest of her life.

No stirrups? Because I didn't make smaller holes in mine, but also because I really want her to think about having long legs and sitting correctly. I read a book when I was...12 maybe...and it spoke about how young children, 4-7, naturally sit correctly on a horse in a saddle *provided* there are no stirrups. If you add stirrups, instantly the child will adopt a "chair" position and use the stirrups to help with their balance instead of using their seat and legs.


That stuck with me. So I REALLY want C to learn to balance herself and move with the horse. I want her to understand that we can ride based on feel and body movement, not the use of our stirrups. She's 4. She can have an INCREDIBLE form with 3 years of solid no stirrup work, without ever knowing the HORRORS of riding without stirrups. She'll thank me when she's winning equitation and sticks to her saddle like glue when she's galloping the fields. Trust me ;) Plus, the kid will have INCREDIBLE core strength.

We tacked up, and when I could, I had her help me do up buckles. I also asked her to hold the saddle, because I know it's REALLY heavy and awkward and there's something in saying "Okay, that's hard right now, but in a couple years, you're going to be able to put that on yourself. And then you can ride alone. Okay?" Right there, she has this goal to work towards, and she's excited to keep working on it.

For reins, I didn't want her to have any real contact with Moon's mouth, but I also disagree about not giving kids reins. I think that we don't learn to drive a car without the steering wheel and gas pedal at the same time.  There is HUGE motor development in having to steering and balance at the same time, and while tricky for a 4-year old, something she'll work on.

So I found my *cutest* pair of clip on gaming reins (which happened to be purple and rainbow) and let her use those. OMG, she was over the moon with how pretty these reins were lol. Gawd kids are cute.

We clipped the reins onto Moon's halter and he was good to go. On went her helmet, and her dad tossed her up in the saddle. I think she had a moment of "OMG I'm so high up!" when she landed....but like a little trooper, I think her passion for ponies far outweighed those fears.

I led her slowly into the arena, and she was saying to me "Slowly. Go slowly". So we did.

You know what I love? I love watching kids progress. And I love watching them overcome their moment of fear for something they love and want to do. I love that.

THIS is why I believe children should be started in the saddle when they are old enough to be safe, but still young enough to be adventurous. Still "bouncable". I'm not saying that C will be in a position where she needs to bounce for a number of years yet, but the more time you have in the saddle at a younger age, the stronger your position and the sooner you get to the activities that are more adventurous.

Take jumping. I'm starting Jumping Lessons on Moon this summer. I DO NOT BOUNCE. Those years are past. I am going to progress slowly through jump lessons and probably be hesitant. It will take me a long time to get certain things, and if I fall off, it's going to be harder for me to get going again.

But when I took jump lessons at 20, I actually willingly did some pretty stupid things. I jumped a 3' with no training because the substitute coach didn't know I didn't jump that high. I'd never in a million years take that opportunity now. If I was 15? I'd have jumped it before I had a coach. And if I was 12? I'd probably be sneaking a few jumps in when I thought no one was looking, and when I fell off, I'd pretend nothing hurt. And then do it again. ;)

Capitalize on that. The best riders I know started when they were young enough to take chances to learn the things that make you a good rider.

Anyway, C and I were off into the ring, and I explained steering to her. And around and around the ring we went. When she was comfortable enough to not hold Moon's mane or the little pommel hollow, I asked her to reach forward and touch Moon's mane. I asked her to stick her arms out like an airplane, and while at first she said "No, I can't!!" by the end of our lesson she had one arm out to her side and was even spinning it like a helicopter. I bet her that she couldn't ride with her eyes closed...and she instantly closed them to prove me wrong.

I like challenges for kids. I love how they want to show you that they can do what you think they can't. I sped up Moon's walk and she got nervous and asked for slower. So I went REALLY slow. SO SLOW. "Okay faster!" she said and we tried all the speeds within the walk, from slow to fast steps. She asked me why it was bouncy and I explained how that's his feet swinging out as he walked and she could feel his body moving. "Right, left, right, left" I said, pointing at which foot was swinging out. "Can you feel that?"

When she seemed to forget to steer (and yes, it took a lot to try to see if she was steering or not, since A. Moon was really just listening to me, and B. She doesn't have a lot of the strength to turn his big ol'head), I let them walk right up to the arena fence. Moon stopped. "You crashed Moon into the fence!!!" I exclaimed to C, as she looked all surprised!! "I didn't steer!!" she said, and quickly turned Moon. "Good thing he stopped!" she said, "Would he go right through the fence?!" Lol. Oh kids. No sweetheart, he wouldn't. But I still want you to think about steering because once you're cantering around this ring and not steering, you WILL jump clear over it ;)

She asked when she could jump, and her dad instantly jumped in that it would be many many years and she has to learn to ride first. Lol. Oh dads. ;)

I told her about ribbons (all she wants is a purple one anyway), and we had a great time.

Finally I knew she was getting tired, so we went out of the ring for a quick little "trail ride". Just let her weave between the trees in the yard out to the horses at the back and then returned to the tie post.

I could tell that half of her was poop'd ("I think Moon is tired") and half of her would have ridden forever ("Can we go around *just* once more?!"). That's what I love, and they say the best thing you can do is leave them wanting more.

So down she came, we untacked Moon, she groomed him again (WALK FAR BEHIND HIM! ;) ), and then I showed her his food and let her give him a treat out of her hand (she giggled). The cutest was when Moon smacked his head on his feed bucket and she was almost in tears because she thought he had hurt his head. Hehe. Poor ol'Moon.

When she gave him the last of his brushing, Moon's eyes closed into blissful napping. He was just sooo happy to have this little girl running her little purple brush over him. When she stopped, he'd look over at her like "Um, excuse me??".

We led Moon back to the field together and then I put him away. She was a little sad about leaving her grooming kit at the barn, but that's okay. I know the feeling. I used to take the cover off my helmet and "sniff" pony all evening after my lessons. You can't help it.

I told her what a great job she did, and she told me that she had practiced at daycare. OMG, I love her.

Off they went when the grooming area was cleaning up, and I have to say, honestly, I had an AMAZING time. Like amazing. I know that it's probably weird to love teaching that much, but I love teaching kids that much. Especially when they're so willing and excited to do it. She loved it.

I really can't wait to teach her again. I'm already working on fun activities, such as "Egg and Spoon" and taking her over poles on the ground and little obstacle courses. I have every intention of giving her a wholesome variety of activities to do all summer long! And then in the winter, I REALLY want to give her a little purple ribbon for passing her first "level" of horseback riding. Imaginary levels, but I think kids like to progress and they love ribbons. She'll probably be lead line all summer (I dream of her in the Olympics next year lol), and that's such a good way for her to really develop awesome balance and positioning. The key for me is going to be to keep it interesting and different enough every time that she's enjoying herself!

:D We'll see how this goes!!

And next Sunday? I'm taking my true niece out to meet Moon for the first time! Eeek! Who knows what this will be like!

Friday, January 30, 2015


I'm feeling like 90% pointless in my world of ponies these days.

I'm not sure if anyone else has felt this, but despite loving the hell out of Moon, enjoying his company, having a blast on trail rides with my friends, I just...

I feel pointless.



While I think getting the kids on ponies this summer will be awesome and a huge part of a new experience I'm looking for, in the mean time...I really just have zero desire to ride for anything more than social reasons.

Our chances of competing again in Moon's life are...slim. Like him and I? I'd give it 95% that we won't. I'm hopeful, dreamy really, that maybe one of the kids would take him to a show or two, but it's not likely to be anything more challenging then what we're already doing.

I'd love to do some more jumping and see if we can actually get some courses under our belt, just for fun. But it's winter here, it's cold and icy and a considering I fell on my arse yesterday because of the conditions, I'm thinking that's a good 3 or 4 months away from now.

Last week H and I took Moon and another horse out on the trails. It was about 10 pm when we left the barn into the freshly snow covered trails. We rode into the park, cantered through the woods bareback in a halter, by only moon light.

Not to sound full of myself, but we've probably mastered enough "trail riding" challenges to make the riding challenge here almost nil. Even when Moon spooks at the other horse's fart.

I mean, he's a horse I can gallop bareback in almost no tack, as fast as his legs can carry him, along a huge field in an area we've never been before with his herd calling in the background and...

It's awesome, but it's not hard.

The problem with me, is that I am 100% goal oriented. And I have no goal. Hell, I can't even dream up a realistic goal.

Just one chick puttering around on a horse.

Ugh. What the hell are we supposed to be doing out there now?!

What am I supposed to be doing?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Heart Sharing

So here's a question horse blogger friends...

Horse Sharing. Good or bad?

Moon has been an awesome horse. These last couple of weeks, despite the cold temperatures, we've done a ton of trail riding, and if there's one thing I can see, it's that he's a happy, easy going, rideable horse.

I think back to when I first got him, and he's always been a really easy going horse. He's not complicated. I love every moment that I get to ride him, but like most of us, life is ever changing.

Moon and I have gotten to have some truly amazing moments together, from blue ribbons to swimming to galloping across the open country. He is a streadfast partner, and will be turning 16 this year. It makes me think a lot about something...

5 year old me would have *loved* to ride a horse. But riding is expensive. My parents just couldn't invest that kind of money into a hobby, and as we all know, it's even more expensive to compete, lease a horse and be able to truly trail ride. And pony club requires a mount, and that's not cheap. And as an adult, I was lucky enough to catch ride so many great horses, which shaped me into a skilled rider, as well as making me appreciate each and every one that I got to ride.

All of this makes me almost...desperate(?) to share the experience. Desperate? Anxious? Eager? Something. I can't even describe it. It's like realizing you have something so precious and wanting to share it with as many people as you can.

I sincerely hope to start giving my two nieces beginner lessons. They'll be 5 and 6 this year and that's old enough to start becoming comfortable around horses and sitting up on their backs learning to steer and communicate with them. Not only do I get to share something so amazing with them that I love and am passionate about (and maybe instill or foster the same thing in them), but it's a new and fresh challenge for me. With a horse that really, has already done so much with me, we need something new.

The other thing, is that feeling that it's time to "Pay it back" when it comes to adults/teenagers riding. I learned so much, and was so lucky to be able to free lease and catch ride so many great horses, that I feel like the time has come to return that favor to the next round. It's hard for me to share him, and yet at the same time, I feel fortunate to have something to share.

I think it's something Moon and I both need. Our relationship is so strong, that I don't fear losing him or something changing. I believe that between the nieces, and the right adult rider, I can give him new experiences and challenges, as well as grow both of us. And in the long term, he could potentially have a wonderful retirement career with the kids, or a nice easy hacker.

I want to share what I have. Knowledge and training and lessons and pony.

But is it too hard when it's your heart horse, or just another exciting chapter in the book?? :)