Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Great Ride Today!

Despite the dark clouds looming, I made plans to meet a friend for an easy condition ride with Maggie this afternoon. After getting what felt like a good start last weekend, and looking at the weather forecast for the coming three days, I was determined to get atleast something in before Sunday. The morning was beautiful but I was stuck working. By the time I was ready to go, I wasn't sure what kind of weather we would end up riding in. I hesitated when I went to hook up the trailer, but ony for a moment. (damn the torpedos....full speed ahead)As I drove south, theweather changed from sun, to wind, to gropple, to rain , to just clouds. Luckily, the clouds held off releasing their heavy burden.

It wasn't a very long ride but we had several little climbs to make our way up. The footing was a bit slippery with mud in places . Maggie only got a little bothered for about a 20 minute period during the entire ride when my friends mare starting her "jigging". Maggie eventually started listening to me and I was able to get her walking flat footed again, which is much better than jigging. Anyone else hate that as much as I do? I see alot of endurance riders who allow their horses to do it. I know for me, it's one of those training issues that drives me crazy. It's terribly uncomfortable and wears both the horse and the rider out.

We finished just in time and then the rain let loose, for about 15 minutes.

That short ride will have to hold for a few days.. there is snow in the forecast... again....

Will it EVER end?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A little Levity- Seven Stages of Aging on Horseback

I am sure some of us might be able to relate?? Atleast on some aspects!

The Seven Stages of Aging on Horseback
> Stage 1: Fall off pony. Bounce. Laugh. Climb back on. Repeat.
> Stage 2: Fall off horse. Run after horse, cussing. Climb back on by
> shimmying up horse's neck. Ride until sundown.
> Stage 3: Fall off horse. Use sleeve of shirt to stanch bleeding. Have
> friend help you get back on horse. Take two Advil and apply ice packs when you
> get home. Ride next day.
> State 4: Fall off horse. Refuse advice to call ambulance; drive self to
> urgent care clinic. Entertain nursing staff with tales of previous daredevil
> stunts on horseback. Back to riding before cast comes off.
> Stage 5: Fall off horse. Temporarily forget name of horse and name of
> husband. Flirt shamelessly with paramedics when they arrive. Spend week in
> hospital while titanium pins are screwed in place. Start riding again before
> doctor gives official okay.
> Stage 6: Fall off horse. Fail to see any humor when hunky paramedic says,
> "You again?" Gain firsthand knowledge of advances in medical technology
> thanks to stint in ICU. Convince self that permanent limp isn't that
> noticeable. Promise husband you'll give up riding. One week later purchase older,
> slower, shorter horse.
> Stage 7: Slip off horse. Relieved when artificial joints and implanted
> medical devices seem unaffected. Tell husband that scrapes and bruises are
> due to gardening accident. Pretend you don't see husband roll his eyes and
> mutter as he walks away. Give apple to horse.

> Trust me. Despite a lack of bounce-ability, aging on horseback isn't so
> bad, as long as you know what lies ahead. And as long as you keep your sense
> of humor.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Splendid Days

I just came off two splendid days of riding and I still feeling the euphoria. The weather, for the first time THIS year , was sunny and above 50 degrees. I rode Maggie for 3 hours on Saturday , trying out the new saddle and then 2 more hours on Sunday ( I couldn't help myself!), again in the new saddle. Maggie apparently feels like a rockstar in the saddle. Me? Not so much...I have the beginnings of bruises on the inner thighs but I was willing to sacrifice a little of my own comfort in the name of getting to ride and give Maggie a saddle she could be very comfortable in. The good news is that after riding for 5 hours in the saddle, I think I have the issue figured out. Whether it can be fixed or not remains to be determined. I am working on that with my dealer so more on that in a later post.

***(E.G- if your interested in hearing the details of what I know at this point, I can email you separately since your also having similar issues, just need your email address!)

Today and most of this week, we are back to rain so I am glad I was blessed with two solid days of riding. I have no idea what mileage we covered since I forgot my GPS (too excited to be going out riding I guess!)

MMaggie is feeling very strong and ofcourse , wanting to travel a whole lot faster than I would like her to at this point. We did a lot of walking and a couple of easy hills. I'll admist, I couldn't resist letting her drop into her big Morgan trot for a 1/4 mile. She freally loats in that gait and she loves to travel in it. My guess is as she developes her lungs, muscles and ligaments, this will likely be her most efficeint gait. Last year, she struggled staying in it without breaking into a canter. This year, she seems to have figured it out over the winter all on her own.

Good times ahead ....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Eurolight has Landed!

It arrived today! I ran right out and got it on Maggie, played with the shims and pads and I think (fingers crossed) I got a halfway decent fit for her. I may need to do a little further tweaking but I have to get her a little more sweated up to see what kind of pattern I am getting.

The fit for me however is a little different story.

It's hitting my inner thighs and quite uncomfortable. I don't know if my ass (oops there I go swearing again) is just too frieken big and I am coming too forward in the seat for their version of a 15" saddle (it's usually the right size for me) or the twist is too wide.

I have an email into the dealer I went through so hopefully it's something we can fix. Otherwise I love it!!But I can't ride in it for any length of time the way it is now.

Where the Hell is Spring????

Cover your ears.. I am going to bitch...and swear... a little..

Snowshowers , hail and thunder storms with snow since last weekend. That is what we have been dealing with. It hasn't accumulated to much more than a couple of inches on the valley floors but several feet are reported in the mountain. It's been one snow squall after another for days.

I get it , really, I live in Northwest Montana, I KNOW we can get snow, even the occasional freak storm in June but THIS??? We haven't even hit 60 yet this spring.. nope not once!! In fact we have only had one or two days in the low 50's We even broke a record since 1917 for not hitting 60 degrees by this time of the year.

GLOBAL WARMING?? my ass ... ( I warned you to cover your ears)

So, when Tamara over at IntheNightFarms posted on FB that she was doing sprints in shorts in the sunshine (while I was looking out at my snow and ice covered horses) I posted that I wanted to cry... she gave me some great advice and I think I'll take her advice..

Excuse me while I go build a snow man and proceed to blow it to smitherenes....

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Eagle has Departed..


This has been a long process but apparently when I ordered my saddle, there was a back order on the black leather seats. Just my luck.

It was going to delay things a bit. Fine, I could understand that. I was told they should have it by end of week and ship the following week. That was 3 weeks ago. I expected it to arrive last week while I was out of town, but last Friday, nothing. So Monday I called and after alot of confusion about what saddle was mine and why it was delayed , I was told they would ship Tuesday and I would have a tracking number.

When I still didn't have a tracking number yesterday, yep, you guessed it, I called again, exept I think they stopped answering my calls. I left a message just the same..yes, I was losing my patience..

This morning, a tracking message magically appeared. Kowinkidink?? I think not..

So did they just forget or what? I went through a dealer and she had a harder time than me on getting answers from Specialized or even getting return calls.

I think Specialized needs a little help in the customer service arena is all I have to say!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sustainability.. Diving in Head First

It's been a topic of discussion at the dinner table now for the last several years at our house. For some reason or another, we always came back to the answer of "not this year". Usually it was the extra work involved, the extra chore, the extra time, the extra money out. There just seemed to be more reasons not to. But this year, with the cost of food and inflation now really starting to hit, it seemed , for the first time, to just make good sense..

We have committed to raising some of our own food. Last fall, we built several garden boxes in preparation for this spring. Over the last several days, we have been busy filling those garden boxes with lots of organic compost (thanks horses!), peat moss and topsoil. Neither of us are new to gardening , having both grown up with gardening, but it had been a while for both of us. We spent the winter researching and educating ourselves on how we wanted to do our garden. We now have a plan and I can hardly wait until I can start planting some veggies.

And , since we are doing the vegetable garden, we thought we may as well add a few chickens to the landscape. Following the Primal lifestyle, we consume alot of eggs.... and chicken. So, over the last few weeks we have collected a few Heirloom varieties of pullets, along with a few meat birds that will be , well, you know... We are also going to be acquiring two Welsummer hens and a rooster from a friend who is brooding them, but that will be later this summer. In the meantime, we have 2 Black Australorp, 2 Buff Orpington , 2 Americaunas, 1 Lakenvelder and for now, 6 Cornish cross with a larger order due in the coming weeks.

A few years ago, I didn't want to be bothered with the additional work it will require , especially the start up, to add and maintain a garden and build the chicken coop(70% done at this point), and then keep them healthy.

A few years ago, I didn't feel as good as I do today either. Eating and living a Primal lifestyle has changed my outlook on things.

Sustainable? Absolutely. Raising a little of our own food just makes sense.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Priming the Pump

JB and Maggie both got some much needed attention yesterday. The grooming session left me sneezing and itching with the amount of hair that is being shed from my horses. Holy Hair!

JB and I are started revisiting ground work basics last night. I never get bored with this stuff because it seems that no matter how many times I do it, I always find some other small little thing to fine tune. My favorite thing to do to see how “little” it takes to get a horse to give me the response I am looking for. It’s amazing how little it can take!

With a year of being pampered, spoiled, loved on and being asked nothing of, it appears that JB needs a lot of fine tuning. Last night, a few observations I made and worked on:

-He blocks his right side…that’s to be expected. When I put my self on his right side, he will try to reposition himself to that I am on his left side. Or he will try to block me from coming from his left side to his right side with moving his head into my way as I come around the front of him. He’s very sly about it to…

-He travels stiffly on the end of the line as I ask him to travel around me clockwise. He falls in with the right shoulder.

-He wants to be in my space all the time and is not comfortable being at the end of the line. He wants to keep coming into me. He can’t just stand at the end of the line and be there mentally or physically.

-He wants to lead me instead of me leading him.

I realize I have created a lot of these issues as he has gone through his recovery. I'm okay with that and fully expected it. It’s a small price to pay considering the alternative. He knows this stuff, we just had to grease the gears up a bit. It took some doing but by the end of the session, as we took a walk down the road, he was light as feather on the end of the lead, watching my cues with intense concentration and getting ready for my direction. If I slowed my paced, he slowed his, if I stopped, he stopped at my side. He did several alternating turns on his haunches and forehand without any trouble or resistance. The blocking of his right side still needs some work, but that will come in time.. he’s protecting that side… we'll work through it.

I think the mental stimulation will be good for him. He seems to be longing for a purpose, a job. Purely by mistake, I have started working on some trick training with JB. He seems to have taken a liking to having me call him in from the pasture, he comes galloping up to me, stopping only a millisecond from crashing into me, I pet him , then I send him off, he goes galloping away, I call him again, repeat, repeat. It was the funniest thing when he just did it out of the blue and it was definitely his idea. Now I just have to figure out how to get him to do it on command!

I have only dabbled into trick training in the past and only know very little about it. I have great respect for those that do it successfully because it requires a huge amount of time and commitment and trusting relationship between handler and horse.

With Maggie, I also spent a few minutes revisiting groundwork basics before I hopped into the saddle. My session with her ended up being mostly walking. She would have liked to have gone faster but I knew if I asked for any trotting it would have just turned into a fight. Instead, I spent about 45 minutes working on circles and lateral work to keep her brain engaged on the task at hand instead of getting out away from me. Maggie, being a Morgan, has a natural tendency to get High headed so I spend a lot of time working her long and low. She’s still learning.

All in all, It felt damn good to climb back in the saddle and actually accomplish something with a horse again.

I will be traveling next week and will lose another week of training but it's early in the season and there is rain rain rain in the forecast...