Monday, March 25, 2013

Goodbye -or- "Unhappy horses don’t jump THAT!"

There was a snowstorm moving in on Saturday. I waffled about going to the barn, but I decided one last ride in the outdoor before the snow fell would be beneficial to my outlook and to the horses’ training. So, I bundled up and headed out.

I started with the Psycho mare and really focused on *maintaining* canter and STEERING! Then, we ended by jumping her first solid obstacle. Yay! She was only a little naughty. I think she felt the storm coming, because she was quite full of herself.

The Old Man was also feeling good! We had some enthusiastic lengthenings, and he was feeling particularly sound, so I popped him over some fences. He was all over it! We had jumping, we had lead changes… There was a low and very WIDE spread set up…
My mom said, "before or after it fell down?"

I had never asked him to jump anything like that before, but he was so into it, I put him at it.  He never even hesitated!  It was as if he said, “Just sit back and relax, Mom.  I’ve got this!”  So, we jumped another 3 or 4 times before the snow started.  As the flakes fell around us, I moved on to cooling out.  I could tell he was feeling particularly proud of himself.  I’m not sure why the impulse struck me to take pictures, but he was really hamming it up.
....I'm sexy and I know it...
Sunday, I found him like this:
Why do you look drunk!?
I wanted to lead him to the barn so I could further evaluate what was going on with him. He was drooling a little. He took a couple steps for me, but his back end looked strangely wobbly. I thought it was old, cold, stiff joints. I headed up to the barn to grab a whip to encourage him to just walk on through the mud and get moving. I could tell things just were not ok.

When I got back, a minute or two later, he was down. His butt was in the mud and he acted like he couldn’t get his legs under him to get up. With help, I rolled him over as if he were cast. With more leg room and slightly firmer mud, he heaved himself up. My help ran for more help. He looked so unstable! Moments later, he went down again. He just sat down in the mud.

More help arrived. He tried to get up a couple more times, then seized briefly. Moments later, he was gone…

I am so grateful for so many things! From start to finish, it couldn’t have been more than half an hour. When I lost my cool, there were plenty of other people who did the “nothing I could do” for me. They brought me his hair. I am grateful that I could be there, that it was fast. A gentleman to the end, the Old Man left me absolutely no difficult choices to make. Many people have told me that his symptoms are consistent with stroke, heart attack, or other heart failure. He didn’t suffer long. It was almost as if he waited for me.

I didn’t have to decide to retire him. I didn’t have to decide to euthanize him. I just held him. He was my first horse.
Hunter Hack - 2002

Coach looked at the photos I had taken on Saturday.  She said, "Oh, yeah, you definitely have a happy horse there.  Besides, unhappy horses don’t jump THAT!”

the day before...

Old Man, you touched so many hearts and so many lives.  We all miss you already.  Run Free!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Braiding Fairy

It was the first 70+ degree day of the year. In fact, it was the first day above 35 degrees in nearly a month. (Welcome to the Midwest)

This means that the wash rack is in constant use. My horses live in “dry lots”, which translates to “quagmire” this time of year. As I knocked the chunks of mud from my first horse (including her feet), I commented “I see a bath in this horse’s near future.” Another boarder coming in right then with her own horse replied, “I see a bath in my horse’s future, too. Like right now!” Thirty minutes later, she’s still applying shampoo and suds, while I continued to wait for an opportunity to just hose the deep dirt from my horse’s coat. After all, I wanted her to be nearly dry when I turned her out again! I finally gave up waiting. I had brushed her down with a bucket of water and she was drying from that, so I turned her out and got my gelding.

He was in worse need of a bath than the other one. He also has a coat like a woolly mammoth! My plan was to rinse him before I rode and just ride him dry. This way, he would have plenty of time to dry before the sun set and temperatures dropped again.

Upon returning from my hike to trade out horses, the same horse was in the wash bay… I removed the majority of mud from my second horse. With no end to the other horse’s bath in sight, I hooked up a hose outside and merely blasted my horse with plain old cold water until he began to resemble bay instead of chestnut. I scraped the water off. I replaced the hose. I tacked up to ride. And the same horse was still being bathed!!

After my ride (I rode my mammoth about half way dry), I was untacking and commenting that I truly needed a minion who could bathe my horses during the heat of the day when I couldn’t be at the barn due to my 40 hour grind. Little did I know that my words fell upon the ears of the angels.

Last night, I found my old man looking rather chipper as he sported about 10 or 12 long braids down his neck! And his tail was braided, too!!

It turns out that a volunteer minion bathed both horses while I was absent. As soon as I started brushing the old man, it became clear that he was a much cleaner animal. There was mud on the outside, but his coat lies flatter without all the extra dirt and dust crammed down next to his skin.

Thank you, Braiding Fairy, for making my day!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

I Like To Move It - Move It!

Step 1: Get your butt in the saddle.

Step 2: Get fit enough to KEEP your butt in the saddle!

I’ve been riding two horses a night. I genuinely enjoy riding both horses, despite their polar differences. The Old Man, whom I have been riding for 15 years, has always been heavy in the hand and forward. Over the years, I’ve spent miles and hours lightening his forehand, lightening his contact, and honing his responsiveness. He doesn’t get all bent out of shape when things don’t go as he expected or something blows up right next to him.
something over there?  Hay is much more interesting.

He will make a valiant attempt to jump anything I point him at (assuming he actually sees that there is a jump there).  He sees them most of the time…  Until the jumps get small…
Sorry, mom, I almost didn't see it...

He's just a laid-back kind of guy...

Fuzzy Horse Show - February 2013
He just kinda goes with the flow until something fun comes along...

Seriously, mom.  Ribbons?

The Psycho Mare, on the other hand, is incredibly reactive (though not necessarily responsive).  The steering will randomly go out.  Sometimes the brakes will fail.  She is behind the leg almost all the time.  She sucks back behind the bit, and I struggle to get a real connection.  She is incredibly athletic, but oh so unpredictable at times.

There's SOMETHING over there!!

She has boldly free-jumped a gymnastic line ending in a 2’9” oxer without even flinching.  But she wasn’t thrilled about the 2’ cross-rail under saddle…
We spent a day just cantering figures of eight with a dramatically simple change through the trot just to get over the silliness of picking up the canter.

You mean I had to actually work?
The two of them are like night and day.  But I think Psycho Mare is going to be a blast!  You know, once she's broke...

Anyway, by the time I have ridden them both, my core feels like linguini.  Where has my endurance gone?

What do you do away from the barn to keep you fit enough to stay in the saddle?

Monday, March 11, 2013


Three years ago, I decided that I like wild socks. So that's all I've bought since.

Are these fun, or what?

But sometimes, a toe goes out on only one wild sock...   It is always the big toe on my right foot.  I'm not really sure why this keeps happening, but I have noticed the definite trend.

And I really hate to have to throw away a perfectly functional sock.  I mean, the only thing that is wrong with it is that it doesn't have a match, right?
So, when two pairs have one sock go out, a new pair of socks is born!!

Oh, look!  A new pair of wild socks!

It took me a while to get to this solution.  I can thank my husband, as he is a direct cause of this.  He wanted to be helpful, so he paired my socks when putting away our laundry one afternoon.  I wasn't home to supervise, but it sure was nice that he put away my clothes!
He also has a sense of humor and likes to play practical jokes...  So, he deliberately mis-matched my socks!!

I had already embraced my wild socks.  How much more does it take to embrace wildly mis-matched socks?  Yes, I wore those mis-matched socks to work! 

And I loved it!

Oh.  How is this related to eventing?  Well, I wear the socks inside my boots...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Are we there yet?

Again, the time of day comes that I must make the change from this:
love my Wranglers...
Into this:
warm and waterproof!!

I can't wait to see spring proper again...

The mud wants to suck these off of my feet...

Will these socks ever be white again?
I know we need the moisture, but when can I resume riding outside??


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