Saturday, August 22, 2015

Roaches and Half Pass

A few weeks ago, the mares moved to a bigger, grassier, woodsier pasture.  After the first week, I found an enormous tick in Dee's forelock, which made a weepy gross mess in her forelock.  No biggie, I picked it out.  By my next visit, those crusty, weepy spots were ALL up in the rest of her mane.  I spent awhile trying to pick the crust out, but eventually just gave up, grabbed a pair of clippers, and roached her mane.  It will grow back, and she really enjoyed the currying I gave her mane afterwards.  I then applied equip-spot and we haven't had issues since.  I actually think she looks cute with it short.

In other, much more exciting news, Dee did her first few steps of half-pass today!  Very proud of my girl, mostly because she's become so rideable in the last year.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What difference a year makes

I can't believe it's been over a year since I touched this last, but I guess it makes sense, it has been a crazy time in my life.  Between finishing (and graduating) law school and then studying for and taking the bar exam, I didn't see much of Dee from March-July.  At the beginning of August, we moved from Knoxville to Greeneville, TN (well, Dee is in Bulls Gap) so that I could start a new job.  The rest of 2014 was a blur of adjusting to my new job and trying to bring Dee back into work.  The amazing part?  She became a totally different creature at the new place.  Just completely relaxed and happy to work. 
Now, I am gearing up for another move, which will have me in Nashville and Dee in Franklin.  I am incredibly excited for this new adventure, and I think I have managed to find a great trainer to ride with so that Dee and I might FINALLY get our act together and make it to some dressage shows! 

Such a good girl
And domesticated enough to let a 7 year old who has no horse experience lead her!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Here be Dragons

A few days ago, the elastic stirrup fell off of my left half chap.  No big deal, I thought.  Today, the shoelace of my left paddock boot broke in half as I tried to tighten it.  Ok, I'll just wear my field boots today, then, I thought.  The zipper of my right boot is broken, apparently.  Well, at least they are field boots.  Ten minutes later, I had the lace removed from the offending field boot and set about putting it into the paddock boot.  Oh yeah, and my favorite breaches are starting to get worn through.  Needless to say, after all the things that went wrong, I didn't have high hopes for my lesson today. 

When we started, it felt more like I was riding an untamed, vengeful dragon than a mare who is, despite what she would have people believe, actually broke.  

I think this is what she imagines herself as, sometimes.
When, approximately 10 minutes into the lesson, she responded to my "go forward now" demand by belligerently launching herself into the air like the ground was suddenly made of lava, J suggested that the lunge line might be a good idea.  I agreed.  On went the side reins, and Dee proceeded to be a complete turd for the next 15 minutes or so.  Finally, she started to listen and behave, and after probably a half hour (maybe more) on the lunge doing transitions and being reminded that she was not a dragon, I got back on.  Lo and behold, I had a real live horse under me again, and after a few minutes J even commented that she was quite lovely.  So, success! (?)  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

On Tension

Dee and I moved to a new barn last week.  It's a great little place with only a few horses and a low-key atmosphere.  The horses basically live outside, only coming in for terrible weather and meals, and get 24/7 access to hay, inside and outside.  It also has a dressage arena to die for, with beautiful footing.  It's also about 20 minutes closer to me, so now I only have to drive 20 minutes each way instead of 40.  I'm thrilled, and I used our move as an excuse to get my butt in gear and start riding again.
Dee has not been ridden in about 3 months.  She has been working pretty consistently on the lunge, but for her that doesn't really count towards good behavior under saddle.  Our first couple of rides, I just walked around, thinking I should give her a chance to get used to having a rider again.

 On Friday, we trotted for the first time.  She was pretty good for the first few minutes, but definitely tense and on the verge of exploding the whole time.  So I gave her a break, then picked up the trot again, which went terribly.  She was 100% distracted, even more tense, and acting like a total jerk, taking every opportunity to spook and balk.  I got a few circles of halfway decent work and quit, because I was frustrated and figured it would keep getting worse.  I told myself that I should have just quit after the first few minutes of trot because she couldn't handle more of a workload yet.

Yesterday she was equally atrocious... wound tighter than a drum, taking every opportunity to spook her way out of working and just generally having no brain between her ears.  I was discouraged.  I felt like I couldn't ride and she was some sort of lost cause for me.  I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.  Why was I suddenly unable to ride her through the naughties?  Have I completely lost my nerve?

The answer to those questions, I think, is that I was being a wuss.  I think part of me is worried about another freak accident, and it was translating into me anticipating the spook, which in turn created more tension and more spooking.  I could feel myself riding backwards and being stupid, but I wasn't stopping the behavior, I was just quitting.  "Ok, you are being bad, I'll just stop asking."

Then I read this great blog post on tension and it was the wake-up call/pep talk that I think I needed.  Dee doesn't need to be coddled, she needs to be worked.  I knew this deep down, but it was helpful to read it, so that I couldn't talk myself out of it.  Do I think it's fair to ask her to canter around forever until she relaxes?  No.  I don't want her to go lame, and she is not fit enough/strong enough for that, I don't think, and canter seems to be harder for her in general.  Do I think it's fair to make her work her butt off at the trot until she releases some of that tension?  You bet.  So that's what we did today.

We did not achieve total relaxation, but we did achieve some relaxation, and maintained that relaxation continuously for about ten minutes.  Of course at that point she had been trotting for almost a half an hour, and given that neither of us has been riding for awhile, I thought it best to quit.  We actually went for longer than I wanted to, but she took almost 20 minutes to wind down to where she ended up, and I didn't want to quit until she started loosening up and getting down to business.  By 30 minutes, however, my lower back muscles were throwing in the towel and telling me that they were sore and not willing to keep working.  I figured better to quit while she was working pretty well and I was still able to ride really positively.  When we went back to walk, she actually went around on the buckle and gave me a few sighs, then stood with a droopy lip in the cross-ties back at the barn.  Did I finally tire miss thang out?  Maybe a little!  The conclusion I ultimately drew, though, was that I was expecting way too much of her yesterday.  She has no reason to be calm and collected unless I give her a reason to be by riding well and making her work.  She has been out of work for 3 months!  I'd be a little bonkers, too, if I was her!  I think we will get back to where we were i the fall as long as I stop being stupid.

She says "Why you gotta make me do things?"

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Fuzzy Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day, From Dee
My four-legged valentine got half of an organic apple, and she was thrilled.  I wish all gift-giving was that easy!

She looks like she's cuddling, but she's really trying to eat my jacket.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Losing the next few days...

Dee's thoughts on the upcoming stow storm:

She says that now, but when she [hopefully] gets chucked outside in it, I imagine she will dramatically be like:

and then..

How the B/O and other owners react:

Why I won't be driving anywhere for the next few days... It would go something like this:

So, stay warm, Dee!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Southern Snow!

Found on Facebook... This is roughly one block from my apartment.  Total driving fail.  This seems to happen a lot when it snows in Knoxville, which is why I stay off the roads.
Needless to say, I did not make it out to the barn today.  Luckily, the lovely E, who is a fellow law-student and boarder, was up at the barn with her truck at 9AM to meet the vet, who was going to give Dee and her boy Patrone their spring shots.  I was going to have to go up this afternoon, and after looking at the weather, I texted and asked her if she would be kind enough to check Dee's rugs and give her some lovin' from me.

I did get to go up yesterday, though.  It was pretty cold, so Dee just toodled around on the lunge a little bit, trotting poles and stretching her legs.  All in all a good day for her.  Love my girl.

"OMNOMNOMNOM These leaves are delicious!"