Posts Tagged ‘joys’

Awesome Day :-)

Today’s Tip: There’s always a reason for a problem. Take the time to figure it, out and the problem may actually be fixed, not just masked.

Today was a great day.

People say things like this all the time. Other people. Not me. Not to say that good things don’t happen to me, but it’s not often that I look back and just feel everything went my way for a whole day. I’m a fan!

It was a gray, cloudy Monday, but I can get over that. I walked into the office this morning to the smell of freshly toasted homemade English muffins. Great smell!

I got our work email working again after almost two weeks without it working at all. Though the problem’s not entirely fixed, it’s functional and it’s a huge load off my shoulders.

I got a work project done more or less on time when it has been a week or more late every month for the last several months.

Then I got home! As I said, it was kind of dreary, but it was nice enough to spend some quality time outside. I finally got the Christmas wreath and tree into the compost pile. The wreath had been sitting, turning fried and brown for months and I just never got around to it! The tree, a real one, got stuck in a snowbank after Christmas. It was too dry (and too Christmasy!) to leave in the house long after Christmas, but it was still pretty great. For a while it looked quite nice in its snowbank, but lately the snowbank has run off to the river, but the tree, in all its brown and crispy glory, was left laying in the mud. Those things just make me feel great!

I also am starting to figure out Pretty’s problems. I’m actually embarrassed and ashamed to admit the biggest one. The other day I mentioned that she wasn’t right and there were a number of possible physical explanations. Teeth was one of them. Last night I noticed she had whole oats in her manure. That’s not like her. I’m pretty sure her teeth are not right. The part that makes me ashamed is that I have owned her for three years and never had her teeth checked. I never asked, but assumed they had been when she had her spring vet appointment. Then I just forgot to have them checked the last two years. Today I semi-confirmed my suspicion. We went for a short ride, but just bareback and with some clip-on reins attached to a rope halter. She had a little bit of head tossing, but it seemed like it was related to the, “What is this strange get-up she’s riding me in?” than pain. She just didn’t know how to react to it as well as her bridle. Not a bad lesson!

Another one of Pretty’s problems, I think, is that her gait is messed up because she’s trying to prance through the puddles! I think she’s afraid if she steps normally she’ll get too wet, so she’s short stepping and messing up her gait. It’s silly, but it’s not worth worrying about! Just another reason to hope the mud dries up – but not too dry – soon 🙂

I’m also about to sit down to a “real” dinner – meatloaf, sweet potatoes, and green beans – for the first time in a while. It may be almost 10 p.m. by the time I eat, but I cooked, my husband’s home for dinner, and I actually accomplished something besides deleting something from the DVR today!

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Pretty/Ugly

Today’s Tip: Do your best to determine the source of the behavior rather than simply try to correct it.

I should have known that today wasn’t destined for the greatness I had hoped when it started with being awakened by a phone call from my boss. I don’t get calls at home for work related things often, so it’s not something I expect, nor do I mind much since it doesn’t happen often. Turned out it was a question about email. We’ve been down now for 12 days thanks to changing web hosts and moving our Google Apps account. HUGE headache, we’re totally at a loss for solving it…yadayadayada… (BTW if you know someone on Google Apps support please let me know.)

Anyway, it was a glorious day out. Sunshine. Moderately warm temps preceded by below-freezing temps at night (I like that, it seems to temper the melting/muck a little and I can keep my horses out since I don’t like them standing in muck 24/7). I also had more energy than I have on a Saturday in a while.

After breakfast, the dog and I went for a walk. She was thrilled. And muddy. I tried to decompress from work stress.

Then it was pony time! This weekend its Pretty’s extreme makeover weekend. We didn’t get too far today (that’s planned for tomorrow), but I did get the terrible tangles out of her mane and brushed her up a little. She still looks like a woolly mammoth in a manure swamp, but we’ll get there…eventually. They’ll probably all be inside tomorrow since it’s supposed to rain (40’s & rain don’t mix), so she’ll get deep-cleaned and body clipped then!

Once she was de-scuzified, we went for a ride. I was so excited because all the snow and ice is gone from the road and it’s no longer sloppy-mucky. We were going to go down the road and just have a lovely afternoon. We did some groundwork in the driveway and some stretches. That’s real progress for me! I kind of lack patience for that kind of stuff…it’s a problem. With the saddle pad I’m using right now, it’s supposed to warm up a little before you can fully tighten the girth (some gel stuff that has to conform), so it’s a good way to “force” myself to do it. Then we got on and she stood well. It was going to be a good ride.

It wasn’t. We got halfway down the driveway and she spun and kind of cantered/rocked/bucked back to the end of the driveway by the barn. This went on for about 20 minutes. And I hated it all the more because I wasn’t really sure of the cause. Pretty does have an attitude. If she doesn’t want to, she doesn’t. However, I did find some white hairs all along one side where a saddle panel would be, so something didn’t fit her well last year. I don’t THINK it was the saddle I was using, but it could have been or it could have aggravated something that was already sore. The bridle I had on her doesn’t fit her all that well, but I thought I adjusted everything so that it wouldn’t pinch her poor little ears. And I tucked her abnormally fluffy forelock out of the way (she doesn’t like it hitting her ears). I have only ridden her on gravel this year and been lax about picking feet (they’re always muddy…eeeewww!), so she could have had sore feet. I also mean to have the vet check teeth in a couple of weeks, so she could have a problem in there. I have no reason to rule out any kind of pain.

The general rule of thumb is to check all physical possibilities before blaming the horse. I do plan to work to rule things out. However, the fact still remains that I believe she was acting out of attitude. Evee, she’s my drama queen. She’ll convince you she has a broken leg and she’ll be legitimately acting out of pain. Over-acting, but she really does hurt. If Pretty hurt, she was just using it as an excuse to get out of what she didn’t want to do, not the instinctive reaction of pain. I’m fairly certain of this partly from a “vibe” (which isn’t a good indicator, but I believe it!) and because if we were near the barn, she didn’t react the same way. She was still kind of agitated, but not acting like a crazy horse.

We did spend about 40 minutes riding. This was not the kind of behavior she could be put away on, even if it was pain. But I did my best to minimize what I asked of her so as to not cause more pain (if that was a player in this game of rodeo horse).

My dreams of a casual spring ride down the road were trampled in the slushy snow drift that remains on the side of the driveway, but we still accomplished a goal for the day. The goal was to just get out the driveway without stopping and freaking out, turn on my terms, and return at a relatively relaxed walk. We did that and we called it a day. Here’s hoping the next ride has nothing to do with today’s attitude…

Spring and All It’s Glory

Today’s Tip: Look for the silver lining, even in the muck!

I’ve fully committed to spring now. Today was beautiful. Sunny. 42ish degrees. And mucky. I’m really not a fan of this time of spring other than that I look forward to “real” spring, which doesn’t come until mid to late spring.

I FINALLY got on a horse again. A work project completely hijacked my life for most of the last 3-4 weeks. Normally I have a great job that doesn’t require 24/7 devotion, so I didn’t mind it too much this time, but I did miss the rest of my life.

Come on Mom! Can't we PLEASE go for a walk today?

After getting home from work and a 10 minute stint on the couch decompressing, it was time to get out and enjoy the day and the extra sunshine this whole daylight savings time thing gives us. The dog and I went for a walk because she hasn’t gotten on a good walk really since last fall. Then we hurried home for some pony time.

 

I was running out of daylight, so I did the easy way out and jumped on bareback and just went up and down the driveway. If I could have gone down the road, the saddle would have come out, but I get a little nervous about the time of day when the sun is low and blinds anyone driving west.

Pretty was still being goofy, like she was a few weeks ago. She’s a pretty level-headed horse, but she can still doubt that my ideas about where to go are good ideas. So we spent a lot of time forward and back, up and down the driveway. I took the opportunity to work on our leg pressure cues. She came to me with what I call “point and go” training. Leg pressure, other than “go,” go was pretty foreign to her. It’s a driveway, so not a lot of room for wide turns, so we did a lot of turns on the haunches. Now before you think this is a great idea and try it yourself, don’t forget that they go much better when you’re turning toward “home” (or in this case, friends). So we would sometimes only turn 90 degrees and then turn back. Sometimes we’d turn back away after turning toward home. She obviously didn’t get it as well as it seemed when we’d turn around at the end of the driveway, but she’s getting it. I believe that even those times where it’s mostly her idea, the leg cue will register in her brain. Next time she feels it, she’ll remember she was rewarded for turning. Sure, it’s nice if it’s just my idea, but she’ll catch on, no matter whose idea it was in the beginning.

I’m looking for the silver lining in the muck that this is what causes spring plants to come, and of course it means the snow is disappearing. I also noticed the silver lining in Pretty being goofy – it “forces” me to spend some time on the basics, which is what we should be doing!

Spring Is Coming!

Today’s Tip: Distance isn’t everything. Lessons in patience can be good for both horse and rider.

Want to hear something funny? The week when I actually started spending time with the horses was the week I totally failed at blog life! I wish I could say it was because I’ve been riding miles and miles, but it’s just been general craziness.

I DID however, have some great pony-time. Last Sunday – the 13th, so over a week ago – was the day spring hit. It was 55* when I left where I was visiting for the weekend. It was glorious. The entire 3 hour drive home I was just itching to get outside. I finally got home, changed into Muck boots and barn clothes and got my ride on! Pretty and I went for a quick jaunt down the road. We only got about 1/4 a mile down the road. The road, though melting, was a mix of mush and slick. We also headed out with a bit of an attitude on our hands. It was great exercise for both of us in patience.

Our plan for the day, since it wasn’t destined to be a ride for distance, the plan was to work on calmly walking away from the barn and calmly walking back. We went until we were nearly to the safe part of the road (before we reached a corner that was snowpacked and icy) and then a little farther until we were walking calmly and without any apparent indication of spinning around to head home. Then we’d stop, wait, turn, stop, wait, and proceed forward. As soon as we’d start getting antsy, we’d turn around and try it all over again. We started with counting to 5 at our “waits” and then moved up to 10 or more if I felt she was standing but not really patient. Every time she’d start to paw, look over her shoulder, dance, or do anything else that suggested impatience, we’d start all over again. It was tedious, but kind of calming because we could just stand and enjoy the sunshine.

And then there was the mailbox. I wasn’t sure if my husband had gotten the mail the day before, so I thought, “Why not check it?” Isn’t that why they put mailboxes in trail classes? We walked right up near it, but heaven forbid we actually get withing reach of it. Granted, there are low hanging branches that her ears were kind of tangled in, but she didn’t seem to care. She also wasn’t afraid of the mailbox. She somehow just didn’t get that the leg pressure meant move closer so she did the opposite and/or just moved wherever she could to express her annoyance. At one point I wondered, “Do you get the appropriate points in the trail class if the horse is the one who opens and closes the mailbox?” Not 2 seconds later, she opened it! It was an accident of course, but a humorous tension breaker nonetheless. The fight was far from over. It took 10-15 minutes to get the stupid thing shut! After much patience, little requests, reminders (when away from the mailbox) of what leg pressure meant, and a lot of sitting and thinking, we finally got it shut and called it a night.

Other spring activities have included attempting to remind the fjords that sometimes they have a job to do and starting to tackle the mounds of manure that built up over the winter. And then yesterday came. We had our (hopefully only) spring blizzard yesterday and today, so we’re back to deep winter again for another week or so.

The hope, though, is that we have had a taste of spring. We have been reminded that it does, in fact, arrive. It will be here soon!

Do You Have This Much Fun?

Today’s Tip: Enjoy every moment you have on a horse! Not hard to explain, but if you need more, read on.

Last night was another night of RideAbility classes. Therapeutic riding can be a little difficult because some of the students can’t communicate in the same way most people can. Last night, though, I got to watch five students, all with different cognitive skills, experience the joy of riding. These riders have all been riding for a number of years, so it’s not new. Sometimes that makes it kind of fun because most of them know a little about riding and are getting better every year.

One of the things I observed last night, though, was how much fun they were having! We got to trot last night. We don’t do it every week or with every student or class, but we did last night and they all love it! I wish we could have a whole pasture full of gaited horses so they could all experience different feelings of movement, but even different trots give us some different opportunities.

When was the last time you laughed when you got to go faster? When was the last time you clapped your hands because you loved riding so much? When was the last time you thought, “This was fun!” rather than “That transition could have been better?”

One of my faults is that I tend to use the phrase “have to” too often. I have to ride to get ready for a show, I have to groom my horses because they’re dirty, I have to get this horse cantering or she never will. It’s a beautiful spring, we have beautiful horses, stop the complaining and enjoy it!!!

Hit the Road!

Today’s Tip: It’s easy to take our horses for granted, even sometimes resent the work that goes into them, when we seem them every day. We should learn to appreciate every moment with them!

FINALLY! Although the days of this week kind of seemed to go quickly, the hours dragged on and on. I love a lot of the conferences I go to, but I miss home too. The other night I was watching a movie that had a few short horse appearances and the next day the speaker mentioned a building that was built “on an old horse farm.” Even those brief sights or mentions of horses brought some tears to my eyes. I’m just not meant to be shut up in a hotel for a week. There isn’t even any grass outside! Yes, there are some nice beds of tulips and other flowers, but there isn’t a lot of grass on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.

As I post this I’m getting ready to jump back in the car for the drive home. I have a friend who would love to have me stop and visit on the way back. Hopefully I’ll go past at a decent time and be able to do that, but part of me just wants to hurry home. I have horses that need my attention, a dog I have to apologize to for leaving for a week, and a husband who might like to see me too. I’m still holding out hope that some day we might be able to teleport from place to place, but until then I’ll just have to find a way to entertain myself on these long drives!

The Intersection of Work and Equine

Daily Tip: A reliable hay source is invaluable for a horse owner’s sanity and a horse’s digestive health. Read on to find out how thankful I am for mine!

I’m a last minute person. Always have been, probably always will be. The latest last minute effort was to acquire more hay. Think ahead so I can plan to make a hay run on the weekend? Nah…

So despite being tired, despite the rain, despite the fact that my husband couldn’t come help; despite being stuck at work almost an hour later than expected – I drove 45 minutes from work, over an hour from home, to load up a measly 42 bales of hay (less than my usual 50 because of the rain).

Given the inopportune drive I had to make, I had to plan at least a day ahead and I had to take the truck and trailer to work. I always wonder what people think when I drive a horse trailer into town and up the hill to where I work. My coworkers seem to get a chuckle out of it.

Despite a dreary day and my lack of interest in the task ahead, I did have a moment that made me remember why I was doing what I was doing and give me the motivation to jump in the truck and drive.

That moment was when I took my bag of dirty, muddy barn clothes to the bathroom to change before I left work. Normally I look like any other office worker when I’m at work. I don’t wear barn boots or come with stray horse hairs on my clothes…well, not many! As I stood in that bathroom and pulled on my sweatshirt, I inhaled the aroma that would wrinkle the noses of most in the building but was like heaven for my nose. You know what I mean – that smell of horse and dirt. I’ve actually missed it for the last couple of weeks because everything just reeks of mud. Now in this vinegar-scrubbed bathroom my nose transported me back to the barn and the reasons I drive over an hour to get my horses the best hay I can find.

Dressed to deal with hay, mud, and rain, I was ready to go load up with hay. As I drove down, hefted the bales into the trailer, and drove home through the rain, fog, and disappearing light of day, I was thankful for that hay. Finding a hay source when I took sole responsibility for such decisions was probably my biggest fear. Thanks to a recommendation, I have found a guy with great hay, a reasonable (and consistent) price, and a dependable supply. I am thankful I can trust my hay not to be moldy or dusty and that I don’t have to look around for a new supplier every time I run out of hay. Especially since I only get a small amount at a time, changing hay every time could put stress on my horses’ digestive systems that I’d rather they didn’t have. I’m also thankful that it’s someone elses responsibility if it rains, if the tractor breaks down, or if haying interferes with other plans. Given the option between a reliable hay source or maintaining the control over my own hay, I’ll take the outside source every time!

Moral of the story – we’re horse people, we love smelly sweatshirts, and we do what we have to, including forcing our horsey life on our non-horsey work life, all for the health and happiness of our horses!