Danger Noodles and Mouse Sized Spiders

I was going to tell you about all our adventures in the last blog post, but it seemed too long. So I broke it into two posts.

I’ve been feeling a lot more confident in Joy’s ability to handle new things this year. I’ve been trying to take her out on the trails by herself more often.

We’ve finally conquered walking past the poop bog. That used to send us careening backward at full speed into ditches and trees. Now she simply gives it the stink eye while nervously walking past.

Yesterday we wandered out to the other side of the field to check out a freshly mowed path. Joy walked on a fairly loose rein the entire time. 

We were on our way back when the branch laying in the path ahead of us started slithering away. 

I’m terrible with identifying snakes. My default is avoidance whenever possible.

I halted Joy with the intent that we’d wait until the snake moved off the path.  I don’t think she even saw the snake.  Some leaf way ahead of us was beyond scary though,  and she was certain we needed to flee immediately. 

A couple of tense moments.  Snake was finally off the path.  Joy and I continued down the path and it was as if nothing had happened. 

I got back to the barn and started cleaning stalls.  I was sweeping up some loose hay in the corner when a small critter the size of a mouse scooted away and buried itself under some other hay. I figured Id shoo it out of the stall.   I moved the pile and this massive spider ran out and stopped next to the stall wall  staring at me.  

I go into attack mode! 

“No spider will allowed to live in my pony’s stall!! ”

I stabbed it with the bristols of the broom as hard as I can. 

I lift the broom,  expecting to see a wounded or dead spider,  but the dang thing had grabbed on to the bristols and was valiantly crawling his way up towards me. 

We lock eyes… 

I see I’m out matched,  so I hurl broom with spider out of the stall door and into the pasture. 

Shit. 

I needed the broom still… 
 

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The case of the dastardly turkeys

Joy’s been about as well behaved as a red head with a napoleon complex can be, so I decided to ride her out to the field behind the pastures for a change of scenery.

Wouldn’t you know it, not ten feet down the path that leads to the back field and there’s a massive turkey and her brood of chicks milling about in the path.

Joy comes to a screeching halt when she see’s them. I was praying the turkey didn’t decide to go flapping her wings and scaring Joy into insanity.

We had a few tense turkey-pony stand off moments…

No one was going to make the first move, so I let out a war cry, booted Joy toward the turkey gang, and we chased them into the woods.

RAWRRR

It must’ve boosted Joy’s moral, because she seemed to relax after that.

We walked down the rest of the trail, and over to the path through the field. I wanted to try trotting Joy down the straight away that runs past the back of my pasture. It went well the first time. We trotted past our pasture and to the end of the straight away where I asked her to walk and then turn around. I didn’t want to trot “toward home” yet, so we walked back toward the pasture. As soon as we were half way past my pasture again, I asked for the trot. Joy trotted, then cantered. I freaked out a bit… then realized Joy wasn’t being out of control so we cantered the rest of the way down that stretch of path. When we reached the end, I asked her to walk. No issues. Whew!

However, after that point I only had two choices of gait: walk or canter. No trot. haha

So we cantered around for a while.

It was a BLAST!! That little pony is so much fun to ride!!

We wrapped it up after a while and headed back toward home.

We were casually strolling down one of the paths through some pine tree’s when those dastardly turkeys came out behind the tree’s with spears!

Joy sprung into action and  valiantly chased the evil turkeys off!

Yay!

Joy’s such a trooper. The crap she has to put up with, with me as her owner… hahaha

All in all, a successful, and massively fun, outing by ourselves. I was very proud of my little warrior pony.

 

No Stirrups November,  or Too Lazy to Use a Saddle

It’s suddenly November,  it’s beautiful out,  I have no time,  and I have a bareback pad.  

The perfect excuse for not using a saddle fell into my lap…   No Stirrup November! 

Nearly everyday I hop on either Ava or Joy using the bareback pad.  Not both.  My thighs can’t last through 2 rides a day.  I can barely walk after one ride.  

First day,  I hop on Ava after not riding for 2 weeks (work got in the way).  A crazy deer and amped up horse had me desperately clinging to mane as we jumped/bolted down a steep hill.  I have no idea how I stayed on.  It was close,  one more hop and I would’ve been a goner.  

Next day i ride Joy AFTER I lunged her.  No canter work.  We’re working on 1/4 walk pirouttes.  Just playing around.  I have to get the left shoulder under her to be able to stand her up right. Once straighter she is a dream to ride. I pushed my hands out in front,  she met them,  and we flowed.  It was sweet for a moment. A moment here,  a moment there.  Most of the inbetween is crap still.  Did a few steps of bastardized half steps.  She’s learning not to get so stressed when pressured. 

Following day,  ride Ava.  Every other day.  Tried to walk past scary deer encounter spot (with bareback pad,  no saddle)  and Ava is AMPED!!  Scared me.  We made it past,  but I haven’t gone that route since then.  ‘Cause I’m a chicken.  

Joy ride following day.  No expectations,  just testing straightness,  half halts,  go forward off light aid.  She’s so incredibly easy to sit the trot on. She spoils me. 
Ava is so horrifyingly bouncy.  I can sit it with some modicum of elegance for about 10 strides.  After that I’m grabbing mane and begging Ava to walk before I fall off.  If I get her super straight and connected,  then her trot smooths out.  It is still an ab workout from hell.  When her head jerks up and her back hollows,  its like riding a jack hammer.  It hurts! 

Take Ava out to back field for ride with bareback pad.  Trotting down the path like a boss! Walking toward the big hill and Ava’s head shoots up and she slams the breaks on.  Sometimes a short looky-loo and she’ll get over it.  Nope.  She spins to go the opposite direction.  I pull her back.  She zigs left,  zags right.  I push her forward.  I’m starting to get scared,  so i sing… loud and completely off key,  with made up nonsense.  But,  she settled and we made it to the top of the hill without any histrionics!  Yay! 

I hope the deer hunters are entertained. 

Every ride in the bareback pad,  and I can barely walk afterward.  Legs like jello.  I don’t feel stronger yet.  I really need to do no stirrups with saddle. It would be far more beneficially,  but…  I have to put my riding pants on and saddling takes at least a whole 5 minutes. 😉 

I’m so lazy! 

Jessie injured herself while I was away for work.  She’s such a good old gal.  I wanted to make sure she ate the antibotic laced grain fully every meal,  so she got to hang out in the middle of the barn and eat.  She’d finish and calmly walk back into her stall.  Love this mare! 


Midway through November and the temps are starting to dip into freezing at night.  It’s not as warm during the day.  

I don’t want winter to come!  

Ava and I did some walk half-pass. We haven’t attempted that in 2 years.   I also realized if i just pretend to put my legs on (but don’t touch her)  and put my weight where it needs to be,  she automatically takes whatever shape I was going for (i.e. Haunches in).  She’s definitely a less is more horse.  Less leg,  less rein,  and she becomes more responsive. I always forget and have to relearn this every week or two,  but then i use it on Joy afterward and we always make progress when I employ the less is more approach. Why I keep forgetting this is beyond me…

I hope your No Stirrups November is going well!  Leave me a comment with your experience,  or goals,  for this month! 

#NoStirrupsNovember

Mishmash of Things

I got a new bit for Joy. I’ve only ridden her once in it, and all we did was walk. I didn’t notice a huge difference. I was hoping she’d find it significantly more comfortable, and therefore have a quieter mouth… but she chomped it as much as the other.

This requires more study. I’ll report back on results as they come.

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This spot in the yard used to scare the bejesus out of Joy at this time last year. She would turn into a horse shaped kite every time. Now, meh… Clover!

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Successfully loading on multiple occasions, while staying calm. Yay!

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Ava is weirdly shiny for a horse that hasn’t been bathed in 2 years. Wish the rest of my horses looked this shiny. Joy eats the exact same diet, and although she’s shiny, she’s not blind you shiny like Ava is. Must be a Friesian thing…

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(She’s wet in this pic.) I think she’s looking much fitter and healthier this spring.

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Our trail rides have been fun. This is our cool down lane. I drop the reins and do rider exercises through here (arms over head, to the sides, hit my hand on a passing tree, lift arms back up, back to the side and rotate 90 degree’s before I hit a hand on the next tree, etc).

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Mr. Stumpy has a hard life of sleeping, eating, and terrorizing feet.

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We have kittens again. This one is my fav. He’s the sole survivor of his litter (dead beat mom). Hubby had to sequester mom and kitten in a room to get her to finally nurse him. Now he’s a healthy, nearly weaned, biting machine.

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He has a hard life.

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Spiders…. I killed this giant beast today.

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This is really how big he was.

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I had so much fun on Ava tonight. We hand galloped through the field. Then I sat up, Ava collected under me, and we did this perfect 10m circle around our riding buddy. I probably broke Ava doing that. Tomorrow I’ll go out, and Ava will be 3 legged, hobbling around.. her left hind laying somewhere out in the pasture.

She’s been going like a top though. I haven’t asked anything of her but forward in straight lines while connected. She’s getting fitter. She doesn’t feel off to me.  Occasionally a bobble on the front end, but the back end feels even to me. She willingly, and easily picks up either canter lead and it feels even (whereas before she would balk at picking up the left, and once in it she felt like there wasn’t any strength there).

I should get her re-tested by the vet, but man, it was over $800 last time.  Even after that, they never did definitively find the problem. It was a diagnoses based on elimination. I hate those diagnosis’. There’s nothing to verify if the base issue is healed completely. I can’t just have them xray “the spot” and give me a verdict, because nothing ever showed up to begin with.

I’ll keep slowly upping her work load. If she even hints at having an issue with that stifle, I’ll back off. My fall back plan for Ava now is Xtreme Trail Riding! All she really has to do is walk over, around, through stuff. I think she can handle that.

Spring Excitement

Yesterday, I was leading Ava, and the footing was uneven so my whole upper body went rigid in an attempt to stabilize myself. The second my upper body went stiff, Ava reared, wide eyed, throwing her head around.

I had to consciously relax my body and pretend I was a wet noodle before she would quietly walk next to me again.

Horses… way to perceptive.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I have finally started riding again after nearly 4 months off.

I am floppy.

I’m amazed at how much Joy has retained training wise. It’s all still there. She’s still a bit out of shape, but the buttons are there.

Last Sunday was the first time I’ve been on Joy’s back since Dec 26th. That Sunday I lunged her first. I hopped on expecting the worst! The only time Joy bounced around a little was when the cats decided to jump on top of the metal pile and make it crash and clang next to us. Joy gave a short hop, but that was it.

Next day, I hopped on Joy without lunging first. She was a doll. We w/t/c around. Even got the correct lead both ways.
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Yesterday, we did a bit of short trot/canter work. Got both leads again. Would’ve gotten the right one with bend on strike off, but I messed it up… I was impressed she offered it. That lead is always going to be tough for her.

We have absolutely no balance in the canter. I can only hope that the quality improves as balance improves. I think it will, but the other half of me is like “What did I get myself in to?!?!”

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Funny thing yesterday, after we got done with the arena work, we went for a short trail ride (by ourselves). Joy hasn’t been out since maybe early Nov. It’s been a long while.  We get 10 feet from the barn and there’s a dark patch of dirt we have to walk over. Joy gets one foot on it, brakes hard, and starts back-peddling manically. I could not convince her to walk over it, so I finally hopped off and had to show her it was just dirt. She very cautiously followed me over it. Rest of the trail ride went smoothly. We didn’t go far, she was hyped, but sane.  Coming back, we have to cross the black dirt again… Joy takes a sniff, and walks over it like it’s nothing. Yay!

Ava had a tough winter:

  • She had two boughts of laminitis,
  • her feet look horrible,
  • she got a nasty case of thrush that no over the counter medication was killing,
  • vet diagnosed her as IR (insulin resistant).

On the plus side:

  • She’s lost a lot of weight,
  • she’s sound again,
  • thrush is nearly knocked out,
  • she does not have cushings,
  • vet says IR can be managed without medication at this point,
  • she’s back to her old bossy self again

I forgot how much fun Ava is to ride.  Joy feels like a race car, Ava is a muscle car.  I started riding Ava in the pasture since the previous time I rode her she tried to toss me off. We walk/trotted a couple of small laps around the pasture, then headed outside for a short walk loop around the back field.

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Ava March 2016.jpg

 

I haven’t seen any detrimental effects from riding Ava. Hoping it stays that way.

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Third Trail Ride on Joy

Well… I took the Joy-meister out with the neighbors on another trail ride last night. I’m really loving this BB pad. Very comfy.

Before the trail ride, I worked her in the side yard for a bit. I’ve been doing a little work on getting her to bend her body around my left leg. She’s got that club foot on the left fore and travels with her bum to the left constantly. I work on it a little bit every time I ride, but I find it so frustrating that I can only work on it for a short bit (otherwise I get grabby and kicky. eek).  I finally found the key to getting the bend on a circle with Joy is to shove her entire butt to the right. It’s not pretty, but after I do that she can bend around the leg for a few strides before that bum comes slamming left again. We actually got like two or three strides of something resembling good bend on a circle yesterday. I was so thrilled I called it quits on the work, and we rode over to the neighbors house to meet up for the trail ride.

The awesome part… we rode, by ourselves, all the way over to the neighbors house again. She still balks at the sandy spot with the hole off to the side, but she walked past it when asked (gave it the hairy eye-ball the entire way past).

After meeting up with the neighbors, we circled the field and then went through the woods. Joy was kind of funny. She wanted to sniff the path for the first 10 minutes of the ride. There were some low hanging branches, and I had to duck over Joy’s shoulders to get under them… but there was no neck there to lean against. Just air. Joy had her nose on the ground like a hound dog, sniffing her way down the path.

About a quarter of the way into the ride, Joy realized that the other horses were doing drive by grazing’s, so Joy had to try to emulate them. Except, every time she’d try to grab at a leaf or stalk she mistimed it and ended up nipping at air, or grabbing a part of a plant that wasn’t going to be easily bitten off.  It seemed to frustrate her to no end that she couldn’t get all the edibles the other horses seemed to get.

We came out the other side of the woods into a large field. There were turkeys, but Joy never saw them (thankfully). Once we’re in the field, Joy was really striding out. She passed the lead horse and just kept walking like she knew where she was going. We lead the group for probably a good 400 yards before Joy saw a downed tree and stopped dead in her tracks. The great thing.. all Joy did was stop and stare at it. And once the other horse passed it, Joy didn’t give it a second glance.

Then we had to walk past a big white semi-trailer parked alongside the field. Again, Joy never gave it a second glance.

The only time we had an issue the entire ride was on a section where we had to go around a fallen tree and immediately down a steep decline. The lead horse was more sure footed and was able to navigate the tight spot much quicker than Joy could. By the time I had Joy around the fallen tree the lead horse was half way down the steep hill. At that point, Joy decided we were going to recreate the scene from The Man From Snowy River.

https://youtu.be/if9p1TnDvRY?t=32s

I immediately panicked. Death grip on the reins.

Joy’s giving me the “Let go of my face, lady!” reaction.

Half way down the hill I remembered that leaning over your horse’s neck in the fetal position was bad.

I sit up and back, and release my death grip.

Joy stops trying to hurl herself down the hill.

We get to the bottom of the hill and meet up with the rest of the group. Joy lets out a “Whew!” kind of breath, and proceeds to amble on like nothing happened.

Oh, I almost forgot. On the way home the group wants to canter down this straight stretch. I haven’t cantered Joy much (maybe three times), but she trots fast so I figured we could keep up just fine at the trot. So off they go….

Joy and I are trotting along, and she’s getting fast and faster. And then we’re cantering. Again, I freak and death grip the reins. Joy is now practically cantering in place. It dawns on me that this isn’t good either so I let go of her face, and Joy proceeds to canter happily down the trail after her friends. I’m still freaking out and trying to bring her back to a trot. I don’t know what I was freaking out about.  The mare has never once offered to do anything stupid under saddle. Not once. But there I was, all “OMG, I’M GOING TO DIE!”.

Haha.

We’re still cantering along when suddenly we come to an abrupt, and very ungraceful, halt at the horse eating stone.
Nearly tossed me over her head.

We went the rest of the ride on a loose rein.  Joy was totally digging the outing. Ears perked, calmly looking around at everything, body relaxed.

She’s going to be an awesome trail horse.

 

Do you want to go Riding?

Joy and I took our first trail ride together last week. I was very, very nervous. I still don’t have a saddle that fits Joy (lack of money), so I was riding her in the bareback pad.  I’m not confident in my stick-ability even with a saddle, let alone without a saddle. I didn’t know what to expect from Joy. And I’m not confident that if she decided to bolt that I could stop her (or stay on).

She did freaking amazing! I went with my neighbors on their two geldings. At one point we passed a house where the husband was mowing and their dog was ferociously barking. Joy didn’t care. She was very intrigued by the scene, but wasn’t scared.

FirstTrailRide

 

We walked around the outside of the field behind the houses, and then through a grove of pine tree’s. The only time Joy spooked was when the lead gelding spooked, but she came right back and proceeded on like nothing happened. We even led for a very short bit.

I was so proud of her!

That was a week ago. Today I jumped on her for the first time in a week, and rode her in the side yard for a bit. Then I rode her over to the neighbors house alone to see if the neighbor wanted to go trail riding tonight. Joy was a little trooper. I’ve only hand walked Joy down this path three or four times, and every time I get to the edge of our property she gets really nervous and balks about going over the sandy spot that separates my property from the neighbors. Today, I was riding her, and she balked at the sandy spot. It was at that moment a cat crashed through the brushes next to us and scared the crap out of Joy – who jumped sideways and then stood stone still.

I was sitting there wondering how I was still on the pony, just catching my breath a moment, when Joy decided that she really wanted to walk over to the neighbors house. It was like she made up her mind that we were heading over there, and she marched off over the sandy area like she was on a mission.

She walked past the scary dark hole, the really weird looking manure pile, the metal hay rack, etc. Not one issue the entire ride over.  All by ourselves!!

Once we got to the neighbors barn I walked her around (I was trying to get my neighbor to come outside). She didn’t care about the horse trailer, wagon, or anything else… she just wanted to see her new boyfriend (who she is madly in love with).

I finally tracked down my neighbor, who I then bombarded with “Let’s go trail riding!!!!”

I feel like Anna on Frozen.

“Do you wanna go riding?
Come on, lets ride the trails!
I never see you anymore
saddle up your horse
ride the trails with me”

hehe

She said she’d go with me later tonight…  I probably drive that poor woman nuts.

The only problem came when I tried to get Joy to leave. She wouldn’t. I had to get off and lead her home because no amount of kicking was getting her to budge from her new man.

smh.

Mares….

Anyway… the neighbors horses ran, bucking and jumping, next to us as I led Joy home and Joy didn’t care. Once I got home, I jumped back on and rode her around the side yard for a short bit just to re-solidify that putting my leg on means forward.

I’m not sure she’s convinced that “leg on” means forward. She still thinks she has a say in that.

Now I’m waiting until it’s time to meet up with the neighbors to trail ride….

I can’t believe how lucky I am to have a pony like Joy. She makes everything so easy.