Bits and Trains

I was stalking this trainer on Facebook. He’s got a healthy sense of humor. Ha!

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January Clinic

Yesterday morning, the sun peeking out from behind a light cloud cover, and the tree limbs were coated in a soft white down of winter. The snow was pristine white, the kind that hurts your eyes to look at. It was… picturesque.

Snowy Road

So I bundled up in layers, grabbed my stuff for the clinic, and headed off to the barn.  The moment I reached the main road (my road is rarely plowed), I knew the clinic was a no-go.   A layer of snow still covered the main roads, the two tracks of tires on either side had exposed the ice beneath the snow.  Traffic on the 55mph road was creeping along at a stately 35mph.

As I was driving to the barn, my trainer called to say it was a no-go. She wasn’t sure she could even get the trailer out from behind the piles of snow that had been pushed in front of it. I’m half-way to the barn and I’m trying to find a safe place to turn around at. I was white-knuckling it already, and I just wanted to go home. So I turn down a lesser used road to find a spot to turn around at. Of course, a jerk is snugged up tight to my bumper as I’m sliding around the corner.  I start creeping down this twisty, hilly road,  and Mr. Jerk can’t back off.  I told myself it was okay.. there’s a church up the road a bit, and I’ll pull in there to turn around. I get closer but can’t see their driveway. Closer still, no driveway. No driveway. There’s NO DRIVEWAY!  There’s so much snow I have no idea what’s a driveway and what’s lawn. It’s alright, I’ll just turn around at the next driveway… same deal. Does NO ONE shovel driveways anymore?!?

At this point, I am half way to the barn. So I figure, screw it. We’re pushing on!!  Past the three crosses that mark where other people have died on this road. The fresh cross they put up a month ago when a lady slammed into a tree. Mr. Jerk was still stuck to my bumper.

Anyway… I made it to the barn safely and since the arena ground is still frozen in uneven lumps, I decided we’d go for a trail ride instead. 🙂  And what a perfect day for a trail ride. It was gorgeous! Everything was a perfect fluffy white of untouched snow. The sun was peeking out behind light clouds.  It was beautiful.

I tacked up Ava and we headed out behind the barn. I couldn’t even see the two track path that ran the length of the gelding pasture. We stuck close to the fence line where I knew there weren’t any holes to step in.  The geldings came wandering over to watch as we walked past.  Ava started to hesitate as we passed the geldings, and I let her stop for a bit and look around a bit. At that point, Ava decided we were going home, that this was just a crazy endeavor and she was sure I was just mistaken in asking her to do this. I pulled her back around and nudged her forward again. Ava veered around like a drunken sailor for a few yards, stopped, and I swear you could hear her thinking, “Nope, that’s it, we’re going home!”. And she grabbed the bit, swung her body around and started sedately walking back to the barn. Nothing fast about any of this, just very clearly stating that there was hay back at the barn and that’s where she was going.

So I swung her back away from the barn, nudged again, and gave her her head. She plodded on for another couple of yards, stopped abruptly, stood there a moment, and then tried to turn back toward the barn again. I nudged again, and she gave me this “Seriously Lady?” look and lurchingly continued down the path in the direction I wanted.

We passed the horse eating dark brown pile of old hay they tossed out behind the pastures with Ava giving it the hairy eyeball and snorting at it. She was calmly walking down the path, staring at the frozen marsh next to us when she spotted the HORSE EATING WEED! She looked right at it, jumped straight up, landed in exactly the same spot, and then just kept walking like nothing had happened. Ha!

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Ava staring at the Marsh

Anyway, it was a wonderful trail ride. Ava seemed to really enjoy it after we were passed the gelding pasture. Her little ears were up and forward, and she was looking around at everything like it was the coolest thing in the whole world. She didn’t shy, or spoke, at anything after the weed incident… well, she did look at the rusty 5 gallon drum pretty hard, but she didn’t spoke at it. And considering she hasn’t been ridden in a week, I thought that was pretty good!

So I’m a little sad we didn’t get to ride in the clinic, but I had a blast yesterday. The only problem was my feet were blocks of ice by the time we got back to the barn. Other than that though, I love trail riding in the snow! I especially love when your horse is all fluffy with winter coat. There’s nothing better in the whole world!

More pics:

Facing the gelding pasture.

Facing the gelding pasture.

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Back home watching the other horses get frisky

Back home watching the other horses get frisky

I love my horse!

We’re All Going to Die! Or, Clinic in January

I was offered a chance to ride in a clinic with a trainer who’s ranked 12th in the Nation and 47th in the world. And I get to ride in it for HALF the price!

Happy dance.happy-dance

It’s 7:00 am, and it’s been snowing non-stop for almost 5 days now. The roads are icy, the plow trucks can’t keep up, and the temps are too low for the salt to work.IMG_5102

Single digit temps.IMG_5092

And…

I’ve only ridden once in the past 6 days.shocked

I don’t know if we’re even still going. My trainer, Bernadette, is going to decide around 9 this morning. We’re supposed to be there by 11 am. I’m nervous anyway… I’m nervous because Ava doesn’t load that well, and I don’t know if she’s ever been hauled with another horse. I know she thoroughly enjoys kicking other horses that get too close to her.

I’m nervous I’m going to embarrass my trainer if we do go. I’m not exactly the projection of affluence.

I’m more like…

redneck

than this…

RichDressagePeople

Sorry Dad! Too soon?

Anyway, we’ll see. I’ll update ya on whether we go or not.  Wish me luck!

Roux

I’ve been riding a green broke half-Arab, named Roux, who I think is just awesome. Currently her owner is away at college (Hi Maggie!) and I secretly hope she leaves Roux at the barn the rest of the winter. 😉 Ok… That’s not so secret now that I wrote it.

Last night I rode Roux. At first the mare is tense and wants to jog. I was worried about her bolting so I had a shorter rein on her. I really concentrated on feeling relaxed, loosing my muscles, breathing deeply and evenly while we walked. After a couple minutes, Roux settled down really nicely.

We then proceeded to trot, which is kind of awkward on this mare. She’s so green she just doesn’t know… When you initially ask for the trot she gives one big strike off, then comes to a grinding halt, then jumps forward again. It is impossible to look graceful during all this. And even once the trot gets going, randomly she’ll have such a loss of momentum that it tosses you forward. It’s like going from 60 mph to 10 mph in the blink of an eye.

So, we’re trotting, and I’m trying to just establish some kind of rhythm in the trot. I’ve got a fist full of mane to help with my balance, and i’m trying to keep a light, but steady contact with her mouth. At one point, I feel the mare grab the bit and start to bunch up like she’s going to bolt. Obviously my first reaction is pull. She pulls harder, speeds up. I’m starting to freak out. Horse is starting to freak out. And then it struck me. What if I just relax? So I did. I posted really slow, loosened my death grip on the reins, and let the breath I was holding out. It worked! It totally worked!! Horse came right back, matched my posting, and let go of the bit. It was awesome!

We played with regulating her tempo with my posting for a while and then quit for the night. All the while I’m counting out loud “Oooonnnneee, Twwwoooo, Oooonnnneee, twwwwooooo.”

I felt stupid. But eh, it worked.

What a fun horse to ride! It reminds me of Vic when he was a green bean.

The Scene

I’ve had a horrible past few weeks. My company had massive layoffs (thankfully I still have a job), and it scared the bejesus outta me.

Then my barn raised board.

My husband started school and books were far more expensive then we had budgeted for. Plus, our fuel costs skyrocketed!

And to top it off, I’ve had extremely complex, fried my little brain out, projects (with short deadlines) the past 2 months.

Anyway… Last night I get to the barn and see the barn owner start to bring in the mares for dinner. I rush to the bathroom, change into riding clothes, and race back to help bring in horses. By this point there are two mares left in the pasture (Ava and her buddy). Normally the buddy rules over Ava. The buddy pushes Ava off the hay, off the waterer, whatever. Both mares are at the gait and the buddy is closest so I snap the lead on her. At this point Ava gives me this “Oh no you didn’t!” look, and starts pushing her way to the gate. I start swinging the end of the lead at Ava, but every time I do the busy horse gets scared and backs up. I suddenly see Ava give this look of “I’M GOING FOR IT!!!” and plows into buddy horse, ripping the lead from my hand. At this point, the gate is wide open, and Ava’s trotting off toward the barn. I grab the lead rope still attached to the buddy (who hasn’t moved a single foot), give buddy a pat and walk her back to her stall.

I get inside and the barn owner tells me Ava went right to her stall and started eating, and the barn owner just had to close the stall door behind her.

Whew!

Doh!!

After I get the buddy secure in her stall the barn owner says, “You don’t have to help bring in the other horses.” Frankly, I took that as a “please stop ‘helping’!!!”.

Just one of those nights! 🙂