Thursday, March 12, 2015

All The Feels

The opening line of any post is always the hardest for me because I gave up caring about "essay" format after college.

I also dont know where to begin usually because I tend to not write after every ride. Also, all the things have occurred in the last two days and I'm just so full of emotion/statements/feels at the moment.

I made  pact with myself to work the B on the 3 sunny days this week, no matter how the day went or how I felt (which is REALLY tired lately). I have a 45 minute commute everyday, and thankfully DLS has given me a little bit of additional daylight to work with, but I still always feel like I'm perpetually scrambling to do all the things at the barn before dark, and then come inside and eat and  prep for the next work day and collapse into bed. The do list is getting longer and longer and its giving me a headache. How do people do this shit for their ENTIRE LIVES with HUMAN CHILDREN to worry about too. Props to all the moms out there that work and ride. You are my hero's.

I digress.

So while I'm restricted to the road for now, I was determined to get some lateral work, transitions and stretchiness under us.

I fully anticipated bad behavior and some wild antics, so I tacked up with pretty low expectations. & added a grab strap.

It should be noted that my horses are the most disgusting creatures alive. I don't understand why they in particular insist on covering themselves FULLY from head to toe, everyday, in a lovely mud paste that rarely dries and is impossible to get off.

So that was fun and he still looked pretty disgusting after 30 minutes.

You should see his hind end.
And yes, those are horse blankets on my giant roundbales. Sidenote, NEVER order, pay for and get roudnd bales delivered sight unseen, without asking how big they are. Assumptions make for giant problems. Literally. They weigh 1000lbs each and I have no way of moving them. My previous bales weighed about 400 and were half that height and I could easily roll them myself (CROSSFIT). SOOO yeah, now theyre just sitting my yard....with blankets on them to *hopefully* protect them from the torrential rains we're having.

I digress AGAIN.

So he was muddy. Very muddy. Also fresh. Extremely fresh. But I anticipated it and came in hot with a plan.

Plan did not work.

Bacardi horses should be equipped with seatbelts because several times on our first ride I literally thought I was going to die. I'm not sure why I wasn't more concerned about my safety, but I was more upset that my horse was broken.

That look is dangerous
Not exaggerating ...he.was.the.worst.

Multiply any shit he gave me over the winter, before break, by like 13 and thats the Bacardi I got straight out of the gate Wednesday. Think back to the lunging pics in my last post. Yeah.

Frustrated, depressed & crushed did not even come close to the emotions I was feeling.

Why was my horse acting this way on a continuous basis. I understand normal horse jitters coming off a long break, but seriously? He was literally impossible. I couldn't touch him with my hand or he would rear. If I didn't touch him though he would try to bolt. If I tried to give him other things to do, like lateral work, he would bolt. So you see the cycle here? Bolt, rear, bolt rear, jig, bolt, rear. I dont use the word "bolt" lightly either. So I was stuck on a jigging, bolty, rearing horse and didn't know what to do. It seemed to get worse when he was within eyesight of the barn so there I was thinking, "great, now he's barn sour too". Did not help that Lilly was tearing around like a maniac screaming her head off.


I was at a total loss. I gave up mentally. Done. So done.

And then he bolted. Like actually full tilt, not stopping him, gallop, on a paved road. Then began to buck. Really hard.

You know how your mind blanks because you're so terrified that you might actually die any second that instinct kicks in?

Yeah, well I executed the most powerful one-rein stop of my life without it even registering in my frontal lobe. And after about 30 spins, the red nugget stopped. I patted him.

And then he proceeded to bolt again.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Only took 3 times of some firm handed, one-rein stops and its like something clicked in his brain and he was like, "Oh. I'm supposed to listen to the human on my back."

After that very intense & horrifying 7 minute time-span we had the most ridiculously good ride. It was a totally different horse. Stretchy trot, calm walk, brilliant transitions, lateral work (HOLY SHIT I COULD TOUCH HIS SIDES) and no spooking, bolting or rearing.

I almost cried.

All my worries, fears, anxiety and second-guessing about this horse dissolved. All I felt was relief.

And then I felt so so so so stupid. I had been so worried about hurting my sensitive lil baby that it never occurred to me to be firm and assert myself with him. I stressed about every single thing that physically could be wrong with him. I questioned my ability as a rider. I questioned my sanity.

He did, and was, controlling & completely ignoring me. Thats no way to form a partnership. Why would he respect me? I'd let him control everything from the beginning of his bad behavior, through coddling him. Who knew I just needed to say I'M THE BOSS MARE!

Day 1 success
I came back today with a renewed vigor & love for this horse. It had been there all along, just shrouded with doubt and fear.

I was apprehensive about his lesson sticking with him today, but he blew me away form the get-go. I had a soft, calm and responsive horse under me for once.

We had one minor spooking/bucking episode that was mitigated with a well placed, swift one-rein stop. Even the amount of times he spins around until he halts decreased dramatically (think like from 30 to 3). It seemed he had remembered what we covered yesterday. PRAISE 8LB 5OZ BABY JESUS.

Babyface gave me some extraordinary stretch work along with more lateral work and soft transitions for the remainder of the ride. I tried to keep it relatively short as a reward. No sense in drilling him.

Horrible angle of said stretchy work
Words cannot describe my happiness and relief. Riding had always been my escape. My ONE thing I that was always there for me, regardless of the other shit going down in my life. The ONE constant I could always count on making me happy. The ONE place in my life I felt confident, regardless of my successes or failures in the show ring or the issues I was having with any horse. It still was there and I still loved it more than anything in the world. It was (and still is) as natural as breathing for me. It was not only  frustrating and no longer fun for me, but taking a break did a number on my psyche. I know almost all of you know where I am coming from here regarding horses/riding/barn time.

So with all of that being said, the baby is getting the next 2-3 days off (thanks, rain) to mull over the lessons we've learned the past few days and I'm going to soak in a hot bath for the next 24 hours because my riding muscles are screaming.
All the feels.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hot Mess Express, TOOT TOOT

I don't know what got into me yesterday. A wild, burning notion perhaps?

I was like, "its warm, I also have an hour and a half, and also a perfectly good horse sitting in a pasture and I'm also stone cold bored out of my skull....LETS WORK THE BABY. YAS, LETS DO THAT"

"This can't go badly at all after basically 8 weeks off" and consistently terrible rides before that...

"No, not at all. We will just do some walking exercises, maybe some basic W/T transitions and directional changes. YAS BASIC GROUNDWORK THINGS LETS DO DIS"

I figured I would tack him up in his lunging gear, put a bridle on, but lunge with a halter over top so as not to pull on his mouth if the he gave me antics. I also planned on only possibly connecting the sidereins towards the end of our session. I was confident that even if he pulled his old tricks I could keep him on point with lots of direction changes and transitions and being very very calm in my mannerisms.

Looking like the essence of calm
As soon as we got out to the field I realized we would be swimming, and the mud was bordeline questionable. OK, so, ABSOLUTELY NO TROTTING. Just direction changes and giving with the nose, etc etc etc.


Yeah, no. 

The very instant I asked for the first direction change  after a few walking circles, Bacardi was SO offended he instantly everted to his old 'spooking-bucking-kicking-for-absolutely-no-reason' fuck you sort of behavior.
So I just sat there, dumbfounded on what to do, while simultaneously panicking that he would pop a tendon romping around like like Captain Insano (dont worry, his legs are cool and tight today).

I tried stopping him with some firm half halts and stepping in front of his line of fire (attempting to "cut him off"), but that just pissed him off more, so I kind of gave up and let him wheel around like a twirl-a-whirl on hooves while I gazed on in a half-amused, very disapproving fashion.


Really working those lower neck muscles
Personal favorite

I continued to ask him to "whoah walk" about a 100 times, and lightly half-halted on the rope...but to no avail.

And so he continued...

So wow. Very horse. Many flexible. Much athlete. 

...For about 20 minutes.

That wasn't the end of it though. My special red nugget had had enough of his dumb human and her commands pleas to behave like a normal horse and literally stopped dead in his mad galloping tracks, looked me in the eye, and promptly dumped  his ass in the mud.

O yeah get in there all deep like B, I really wanted to spend my evening cleaning tack.

5 stars for all around coverage

At this point  I was just dying with laughter. If you haven't seen the video I posted on Insta and FB you really should because you can actually hear him quivering with happiness in his roll. Jerk! HAHA.

After ALLL that, he finally settled into a trot tranter, which still wasn't what I wanted, but it wasn't as wild and unmanageable as before. Which was....good?

Pic not in chrono order
Then finally (praise jesus) he walked and gave me a few perfectly calm direction changes. 

At this point I was like, "okay, baby steps, HOUSTON WE HAVE A WALK" and brought him back to the barn without ever trying sidereins or anything else.
Note horse is still clean. I did not get any video of him actually calmly walking or trotting with his muddy self (this was before his shenanigans began, but still a good example for picture's sake)

Essentially I let my horse run around and be a fuck boy for 30 minutes and got 2 minutes of semi-OK things out of him. Something I NEVER thought I would be okay with/do, but hey, we all change right? End on a good note and hope for the best next time?

At least he had a good ole time. Not sure how we will progress from here considering our "riding field" is LITERALLY a pond. No, really, its going to be impossible for weeks now. I guess we will get really good at hyper hacking down the road!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Not Sure if Happy or Sad

It seems that winter is finally receding and spring has turned the corner.


With this though, I am not positive that I'm as excited as I should be.

I think I'm happy I might be able to crawl out of the pit of despair that is subzero temps and non-riding anguish (its been like 8 weeks or some shit), but at the same time I am DREADING the mud that follows a forecast like this

Holy 60*
At first I was like ...

And then I was like....

And then I remembered I live in a godforesaken state with no goddamn arena (first world probs) and my soul dies a little more when I realized my only riding space is an open drainage field that essentially is a pond March-May.

And then....

Because whats the point of having goals and dreams anyways right

Theres only so much road work I can do with a half cray, underworked, hot, OTTB before it gets repitive and a little dangerous. Only so much appreciating that I have a horse, petting said horse, feeding said horse, looking at said muddy horse in field, cleaning said horses' stall, spending all my money on said horse, before I go clinically insane.

 He needs to be lunged. He needs to be schooled. He needs to be RIDDEN. INEEDTORIDE.


I DO NOT know how I did this as a child/highschooler.

Don't you just wish sometimes you could go back in time and bitchslap the ungratefullness out of your college aged self?

I had an arena for 4 years and half the time only stressed about shit that doesn't even matter now. BUT I COULD RIDE AT LEAST.

Can't now, and its literally my only "happy place/release".

I fed the horses the evening and about drowned in mud 4 inches deep. I kid you not, its already everywhere and it hasn't even rained yet. EVERYWHERE.

I think It really it almost worse than snow and ice and -bajillion degrees. It is.

So while DST is like a national equestrian holiday and I should be ecstatic I now have 2 hours of sunlight after work instead of one...but I'm like...but, mud.

I still cant ride.

So I think its even worse.

Literally, not figuratively, cannot wait utill May.

Until then, I guess B and I will continue to morph into fat sacks of lumpy potatoes.