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Popping the Cherry

I did it. I fell off Cruze last night. And it pissed me the hell off. I haven’t departed from my horse since fall of 2016. I never expected to come off Cruze or at least not while walking.

I suppose I could hide this story and carry on like all is rainbows and sunshine, but that wouldn’t be very real and what is the point of having a blog if I’m just going to lie?

So what happened? I’ve been bringing him back into working three days a week and his last ride was Saturday which went pretty well. I rode him out in the big pasture at the walk mostly but did a few trot sets up the big hill in the back. He asked to canter a couple of times and I got nervous and tense. Don’t worry, I admonished myself telling myself that Cruze is not Gem and I need to “give him permission to do what I am asking” as Trainer puts it.

Last night I was determined to loosen up, trust and let go. If I asked to trot and he cantered instead, my plan was to relax, realize he isn’t going anywhere and ask him to come back to the trot, praise him and carry on.

Ha! Hahahahahahha.

Staring out into the grassy abyss

He started off cranky. He wasn’t in pain as I had watched him canter up to the gate no issues for dinner. He just had no interest in working and instead wanted to yell for his friends back in the barn. That is getting old fast. I mounted in the arena and we headed out to the pasture just like on Saturday.

And just like on Saturday he started off sticky, yelling and getting pissy. Unlike on Saturday he also started coiling his body and snaking his head from side to side while squealing not for his friends but at me in warning. My heart rate shot through the roof but I was determined to stay relaxed and move him forward.

I managed one lap around the perimeter without him doing anything terrifying and decided to work in the one corner that was flatter than the rest mostly to break up the monotony of doing the larger laps. I got started on a serpentine concentrating hard on using my outside aids to turn and keeping my lines straight. We were walking. He knew what I wanted. I was riding just about as perfectly as I can manage at the moment. And he had zero interest in that plan. He began to slow and while I should have kicked him forward back in front of my leg, instead he slowed even more, reared up, landed, bucked and gave me enough time to think quite clearly “this is going to suck” as I launched over his head and landed in a heap in the grass. He stood still and looked at me.

 

I got up and had a full on tear filled melt down as he stood still and watched me. All I wanted was to purchase a horse that did the basics and was able to be ridden both in and out of the arena without doing stupid stuff like this.

I was pissed at him and I was pissed at myself. Here I purchased this horse who honestly is just about the opposite of everything the seller told me (he doesn’t crib, he could care less about other horses, he just goes along quietly with whatever you ask) and now I’m on the ground when all I wanted was to fucking walk in a pasture he knows well and maybe I should just sell him once his feet are good enough to slap shoes on and….

A deep breath later I moved him over to the downhill side, tightened my girth a notch and put my foot in the stirrup. I hadn’t yelled at him, smacked him or made note of the behavior in any negative way.

Then, as I went to mount, he swung that obnoxious head of his around and tried to bite me. I lost it and smacked that big spotted muzzle hard. No biting. Ever. Personality is one thing. Being an asshole is another all together and it has been near on two months of me politely correcting his biting habit with no progress. He looked like he got the idea after that (I was wrong about that by the way).

I got on and was pissed. I forced myself to remain relaxed and allow him to do what I asked but when I asked I meant it and he had to do it now. Not when he decided to. NOW.

You see, while I have many flaws when it comes to riding, being passive is the worst. It is odd because I am a very assertive person until it comes to horses and then I’m a meek mealworm that lightly suggests things and worries I’ll break the horse and they will hate me forever if I get firm. Ridiculous really and it drives Trainer batty.

Not so sassy at the end

When I got back on I meant business and he knew it right away. When I asked for walk, if he trotted he got sat on his butt and made to walk. When I asked to trot, the same thing happened. We managed to finish the serpentine but he was still being sticky and trying to coil up so I marched his butt to the arena where we proceeded to work at the trot in all directions and shapes for a straight 30 minutes until he stopped rooting, breaking to the walk or canter and ignoring my leg.

After that we went back to the pasture for a lap around at the walk wherein I did not allow him to break to the trot under any circumstances. Once that was accomplished we were done. The ride ended up being twice as long and a lot more work than I planned, but he needed the attitude adjustment.

img_3060
Hard to see but he had sweat running down his legs. Not my intention, but homeboy doesn’t get to decide he doesn’t want to play the “take an easy stroll in the grass” game. 

He was sweaty and quiet and stood like and angel to be stripped of his tack. Until I went to take his boot off and he whipped his mouth around to bite my butt. He was pretty shocked when this didn’t reward him with a light tap and a “no bite” from me as it did the other 100 times he has done that and instead his face smacked into the heel of my boot as I brought my foot up when he whipped his head around. Guess who didn’t try that again?

Horses are horses and not every ride is going to be great. I’m a bit miffed that it was this bad and that the horse who was sold as completely beginner safe, no bad habits, easy going etc… has a nasty rear and buck when he decides he doesn’t agree with the work plan. That will get him sold on fast if it isn’t nipped in the bud quickly as I won’t tolerate that. Some bad habits I will but not that.

But… I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and a very long lead rope to hang himself with. I’ve had him for 7 weeks of which 4 he has sat due to being crippled. Of the other 3 I have taken one lesson on the flat and gone xc schooling once. The other times are me riding alone. Only last week did he return to a three day a week work load and this was the second time working in the pasture. I was trying very hard to focus on straight lines and properly asking for bend and I was doing my best to be free with my seat and reins to not restrict him from doing what I asked but I was still being gentle, passive and mealy.

Once I got back on and became firm, direct and took no prisoners in doing what I was telling him to do while still being free with my seat and praising him when he did it right, he went on to do the thing with a lot less attitude. Not perfect but the sass was tucked back away and while I was still pissed in general the ride returned to baseline enjoyable.

We will see. I still like him and I want it to work out. One bad ride doesn’t ruin an entire relationship but it does raise some flags and is something to watch. Unfortunately I can’t ride again until Friday (Wyatt has a swim lesson tonight, I have a lesson on Wonder Pony Wednesday and a work dinner meeting Thursday) so we will see what happens then. A major criteria for me was a horse who could handle chunks of time off without becoming unrideable but…yeah…we will see how it goes.

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Returning to Goals

Boards, horse shopping and then Sir Gimpy all combined to put goal writing on the back burner for the last quarter.

Need to make more time for fun with my loves

Unfortunately life has also lost balance for me and when that happens I tend to go into survival mode, put my head down, and just get through it except…well this time there isn’t really an “it” to get through. Its just life stuff that has no end in sight. Work, being a mom, working around the farm…its called living and being an adult yet somehow the last few months have been unnecessarily stressful and really no fun whatsoever.

Having goals for not only my riding, but my life in general has really helped in the past to bring my life back into a better balance. I don’t hate my life. The busy, sometimes hectic life of running a business, being a surgeon, raising the kiddo and living on my dream farm while still trying to sneak in riding is doable as long as I don’t let any one of those things over shadow the others for too long of a time. Letting goals slip by, or just plain not having any, allows the lines to get fuzzy and I end up feeling overwhelmed and not satisfied. So…long story short…it is high time to get some goals written down for the third quarter.

Horses
~ Gem and Pete: Keep them healthy, happy and feeling good. Both are now officially retired (I need to do a retirement post for Gem) and their only job in life is to eat the grass so I don’t have to mow as much.

Still looking amazing at 20 years old

~Cruze: Ugh, my big orange man needs some work.
Stay the course with his hooves. I find myself a little itchy to throw some glue on shoes on and get to really ride, but I know in the long run that isn’t what is best for him.
– Ride 3 days a week. Consistency is the key to all things, so I need to work hard at getting him out. I rode in the big pasture this past weekend and it went pretty ok. I’d like to continue working him on the soft, plush grass for most of the rides but still use the arena for more concentrated work. Maybe a 2 out:1 arena ratio.
– Buy him a new bit and girth. Gem always hated the girth I used with her jump saddle and it appears that Cruze does too. He takes a 48″ and I personally hate fleece so I need to do a little experimenting. As for bits, he needs a 5 1/4″ bit as the 5″ he is going in seems a tad small. I have zero clue what to put him in, but thankfully Trainer has a ton of options I can try out.
– Buy him some stall toys. His wood chewing is driving me crazy. He used to play with his water bucket, but I got tired of the sloshing mess, so he lost water bucket privileges. You;d think being outside all but 30 minutes a day would stave off any excess energy or boredom, but nope. I think hanging some stall toys up might save my wood door and his teeth.
-Work on his herd bound issues. This one caught me a bit off guard. Gem is so above everyone else that she could care less where any other horse is at any time. Cruze though screams and screams for his friends who never answer his call. He is a ton better in the arena generally only letting out a very quiet squeal at the beginning. When I took him out in the pasture he was a hot mess for the first 10 minutes. This was the case when we went xc schooling as well and I think it will just take time and a lot of miles getting out there to rid him of it.
– Go to a hunter pace.  The pace season begins at the end of August and it is my most favorite thing ever. Since we aren’t jumping at the moment, I’d like to set my sights on the paces for the fall and winter instead. As long as he is reasonably sound and comfortable by then, that is.

He enjoyed being out once he realized he wasn’t going to die. One thing Gemmie taught me was that relationships take a long time to build up and I am being patient as Cruze learns he can look to me for support when he gets nervous. 

Farm
There is so much to do, but my head has slowly come around to the fact that farm work is never finished and I need to give myself a little break here. We have lived here for 6 months now and I absolutely adore it. It was pretty run down when we got it, so there is a lot of stuff to do.

~ Finish the wash rack. This is nearly completed and would have been had Dusty not broken his hand in early May which killed off all of May and June for heavy farm work. The siding needs put back on, fittings for the hose added and then cross ties and it should be fully functional.
~Move the tack room.  Right now I am using the original tack room which is large, centrally located and without a door or ceiling which means everything is coated in a rather thick layer of dirt. Ugh. I hates it. The office is towards the front of the barn where my cross ties are currently located and has not only a lovely door, but also a ceiling. It is filthy and full of old junk the last owners left behind but lacks holes in the floor so that is a win. I want to move my current tack room to the office which should take a solid weekend of cleaning and moving things but will be better in the end.
~Get an estimate for tree removal. That big magnolia tree has to go along with four beautiful crepe myrtle trees that are right on top of the darn house. Not sure we have the money to actually get rid of them this quarter, but I’d like to at least get someone out so I know what I am budgeting for.

This does not suck

Family
This is a big time for the family. Wyatt starts KINDERGARTEN. How on earth did that happen?! How do I have an almost 6 year old???

~ Make one last day trip. Summer has flown by as it always does which isn’t helped by the fact that school starts in August down here. We made it to the beach in June and I had hoped to do a day trip once a month, but with family visiting the end of this month it doesn’t seem likely to happen in July. That leaves one weekend open in August and it will either be back to the beach or up to TN to Dollywood.
~Navigate my way through starting school. I have zero idea what all sending him to school entails. I registered him and signed him up for the after school program (yay to saving over $100 a week in day care costs!!) but beyond that I a clueless.
~Continue to cook.  I was doing so well at cooking an actual real dinner most nights before summer started and I got hot. I don’t like cooking in the summer and my appetite takes a nose dive anyway. It is expensive to eat out and eating chicken nuggets for dinner isn’t very healthy, so I need to get back on track with the cooking thing.

This kid owns my heart

Me
Last on the list, but I have learned that if I don’t pay any attention to myself nobody else will and then everything suffers for it.

~Ride 3 days a week. Sanity is key to not losing my crap on everyone.
~Lesson 2 times a month.  Lessons are my life blood. I’d lesson three times a week if I could afford it, but I can’t. Twice a month is a good balance for time and money and I still feel like I learn and improve each time.
~ No sugar.  I gave up sugar (not in an insane “I now make m own sugar free kethcup sort of way”) back in February and that lasted through my vacation in early May when I threw it out the window and then never returned to it. During those months I felt great. No highs and lows in my energy levels, no cravings and as a side I lost 5 pounds. I need to return to this.
~ Give myself a break  I’m type A. Not hard to believe having gone through medical school, surgical residency and starting my own practice. Its a good thing and has helped me through life, but it is also overwhelming and I find myself being very harsh on myself when everything doesn’t get done all the time. I’m doing the best I can and I need to learn how to let things go as “good enough” for the moment.

More smiles, less stress

Lots of good things to work on this quarter and hopefully by writing them down I can find some focus, better balance and go back to enjoying this one time ride we call life.

2018 Volunteer Challenge

Quarter 2 Winner!

Wow!! The second quarter showed a big jump in not only total hours volunteered, but in the number of individual participants which isn’t too surprising since a lot of the country isn’t thawed out yet by the end of the first quarter. I’m very happy to see the numbers go up though!!!

Just some quick business stuff to attend to. While anything to do with horse showing is greatly appreciated by all who are involved, for this competition I am only counting those hours spent during a show helping to run that show. This means things like scoring, running, driving the golf cart, jump crew, scribe etc… For the scope of this competition duties performed outside of the show itself, such as prize lists and board meetings, are not counted. It doesn’t mean those are not appreciated, but that isn’t the focus of this competition. Keep giving back though!!!

Also please when you give me your hours list the job you performed and the venue. I’m trying to collect data and it is really hard when all I get is “2 hours!”. Thanks!!

Tiniest baby catfish 

Quarter 2 saw a total of 123.5 hours donated by 11 people!!! Congrats to all of you for ditching the saddle time and getting out there helping!!!

Here is the breakdown of those who participated this quarter:

Emma: 34 hours
Bette: 23 hours
Sarah O: 18 hours
Amy: 16 hours
Emily: 9 hours
Nadia: 6.5 hours
KC, Olivia and David: 4 hours each
Carly: 3 hours
Amanda: 2 hours

That means that EMMA is the second quarter winner with 34 total hours spent on the ground at shows. Congrats Emma!!!

So I must admit selecting prizes for you was a bit tricky. You already won a candle and the Road ID, so I needed to find something that you didn’t already have but was worthwhile and around $50. It took a while, which is why this post is delayed, but I finally came up with something that I hope you will like.

But you’ll have to wait until it shows up at your door!! I have a bit of work to do in ordering it yet so be patient with me. I hope the wait will be worth it.

A certain someone got all tacked up last night for the first time in weeks. I sure did miss riding the big orange guy.

For everyone else, don’t stop now. We are only halfway through the year and a lot of places are slowing down for the summer. July will be another random drawing, so anyone who volunteers for at least 1 hour this month will be entered to win a $20 gift. The hours keep totaling up for the year end awards, so even if you haven’t been able to get out yet you still have plenty of time to rack up hours and win. In case you have forgotten the grand prize is an embroidered cooler with a reserve champion getting a leather halter. So…get your butt in gear and get out there!!!!

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Would Your Horse Survive A Zombie Apocalypse?

So…during my horse search the Hubs made the comment that a lot of the horses we looked at or found online would not survive a zombie apocalypse. Now to be fair the maintenance they required was to keep them in top performance shape and the injections, special shoes etc…would cease once they retired. But not all horses fell into that category. Thin coats making winter hard, horses with feet so awful they wouldn’t be able to roam for food, allergies, heaves etc etc.

It got me thinking. How would mine stand up?

Gemmie

Within a month she’d be the Queen. Ha! Seriously though, she’d do just fine. She might even prefer a world with no humans. Getting into the details though. Every farrier who has ever seen her is amazed at her perfect feet. She self trims better than any farrier work I’ve come across and can easily handle the most severe terrain without an issue. She has never had an abscess and has never taken an off step.

So very itchy

Her coat is also pretty darn perfect. Thick and yak like in the winter and slick in the summer. Even in this near 100F summer she barely sweats but not in a scary way. She was bred for the desert.

She is aloof and independent enough to not require humans on the regular and smart enough to stay far away from any hunting zombie pack. Plus, she stays fat on air so calories wouldn’t be an issue. If the world fell apart tomorrow, I could rest easy knowing my best mare would be just fine.

 Getting her latest trim

Pete

The old man would do ok with some tweaking. His feet are not near as good as Gem’s but I believe they’d stand up to the roaming life just fine. He may get some bruising or cracks from time to time but he is extremely stoic and would walk through it.

Like Gem, he gets and stays fat on air so the no grain, hunt for grass and edible leaves lifestyle would be just fine for him. The roaming miles would do his old joints some good too. Thankfully he is sound as can be and doesn’t require any supplements.

I caught Pete and Cruze playing the other day after dinner. I didn’t grab my phone until after the running around and rearing hi jinks were done and they were down to lazy bitey face. Pete instigates it more than Cruze, but Cruze is always up for play time. 

 

As for those vicious zombies, Pete is scared of me in a raincoat after almost 9 years with us so I’d bet he’d stay far far away.

His issue would be the heat. His nose cracks and bleeds in the sun if he doesn’t have desitin slathered but that’s limited to the summer and while uncomfortable isn’t life threatening. His biggest issue would be water. He melts in the summer and drinks 1/3rd of the massive water tub each day. He’d either need to wander up north or park by a large lake or river. Water sources attract predators though and while he is big and bold he is also old.

His summer spot is parked right by the water tank

I’d say as long as he had a constant water source and shade or would wander up north into the mountains more that he would probably survive just fine for a good long while.

Cruze

First, I finally found a spelling I like. Not important here but thought I’d mention it.

Cruze is an interesting one and I’d give him maybe a month. Why? He is such a big baby. He is addicted to human attention so I’d worry he’d see the zombies and run over looking for a good scratch only to get eaten.

Sorry big guy, but it’s true.

Who me? Never!

Outside of that, I’m not so sure he has the self preservation instincts to survive the human free world. His feet should grow out well enough to support him. Heck this weekend we switched them to the fields across the driveway because I got tired of mowing all that grass without them ever touching it. He galloped like mad and jumped the big ditch in the woods without issue. His feet are fine. Not perfect, but fine enough and will only continue to improve from here.

I haven’t had him in the winter but he seems to be ok right now. No massive bug reactions though he came in with hives all down his left hip a few weeks ago. They were gone by morning so he must have rolled in either a thistle or maybe even on a fire ant hill. I would not put that past him.

He is holding his own on a high quality ration balancer and the grass buffet though he isn’t getting fat like the other two. I’d worry he’d need more roughage to keep weight on than the other two. We will see how he manages in the cold both coat quality and weight wise.

Mentally though. I just don’t see him lasting beyond a month. He’d be the one I’d worry about the most surving on his own. I just don’t see it happening.

All these summer storms are leaving us with gorgeous rainbows over the pasture. If you squint you can see the tiny specks of the three horses out grazing. 

So what about you all? Would your horse(s) survive a zombie apocalypse? Why or why not?