Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Half Hunter Princess, Half Bronco Buster. All Awesome.

I haven't done this in a while. I've been quite busy, even though I've gotten a few good chances to ride. I've worked in the back field several times, and I've worked in the pasture for three days in a row. The arena has been nasty, but I think it will be okay to ride in tomorrow.
It felt really good to ride in my English saddle today. I don't think I've been in one since my last lesson at school. Stella usually gets really wild out in the open, so I've been using Larry's old Western saddle. We went riding a while back, before Christmas, because we got tired of working on the roof. It was very fun. 
The day before yesterday was the first time I'd worked in the pasture for a long time. I worked Stella on the longe line for a long time because I thought she might be very silly when I got on her. She was actually very good for me. She was also good for me yesterday. We didn't ride very long yesterday because it was late by the time I actually got on Stella. Today was the greatest, though.
Larry brought Mindy over so that we could ride. Mindy and I rode Chester in the pasture, which was a lot of fun. I love riding him. He's one of the best, calmest horses I've been lucky enough to ride. He's also Mac's younger brother, so I feel especially close to him. I see him do little things that Mac used to do, and it makes me both very happy (because a little part of Mac is still alive) and very sad (because Mac himself is not here). It's amazing that he's a two-year-old stallion. Mindy and I swear that we'll be able to take him to AQHA World one day :) 
After we worked Chester, we worked Tatiana. I worked Tatiana on the longe line and Mindy rode her. I figured that I would "save my hip" for Stella, as Mindy wanted us to jump today. 
The four of us (Larry, Mindy, my sister, and me) went to Subway for lunch. We ate on the porch with Abby, and then we had oranges. Mindy told me that two guys in line at Subway were checking me out before I walked in. That made me laugh. Maybe they had some sort of equestrian fetish. Hehehe.
I helped my sister get on Sissy after we ate. Now she's allowed to ride with her walking boot on, so she rode around a little with one stirrup. I'm glad she's riding again. After I walked around with her a bit, I brought Stella out and schooled her on the flat a little bit. She was very, very calm. We did plenty of trotting and cantering around before Larry got off the roof and came to help us jump. I led Stella over the jump the first time. I decided that I wouldn't ride the crossrail on her back unless I was sure she would agree to go over it. I'm at the point where I just can't fight anymore. It hurts too much. She was very agreeable about it, and she actually seemed really excited. I got back on her, walked over the jump once, and then trotted her over a few times. She got really excited about the whole thing, and I think she was really enjoying herself. One time, we approached at a trot, but Stella wanted to canter. I asked her to canter it because cantering is easier on both of us. She jumped it beautifully, or at least it felt beautiful. She didn't want to stop after the jump and let out a few small bucks, I guess because she was just so excited. I almost fell off, shouted something rather inappropriate, and then started laughing. She bucked a few more times after the jump, but I forced her to lift her head and quit being so silly. It really hurt my hip, even though I prepared before my ride by taking a pain pill. Mindy jumped Stella a few times. Mindy also wrapped her scarf around Stella's neck, which I took a picture of. Stella liked the scarf, even though she was a little scared of it at first. 
I cleaned a lot of stalls and fed the horses tonight, so I also feel very productive :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Epic Fails and Other Tales

I should've made an entry yesterday, but I didn't. I get to type a long one tonight, which is okay with me :) 
Yesterday, Larry and I rode up to the therapeutic riding center to take BJ back. Abby was absolutely crazy in the truck, and we threatened to throw her in the "living quarters" of the trailer. To be honest with you, she'd probably have been in the best part of the entire truck and trailer. Larry bought a normal four-horse trailer with a decent gooseneck and storage area, and he basically turned it into a living quarters trailer. He has a fridge, a microwave, cabinets, cedar paneling and flooring, custom trunks, a lamp and nightlight, and a big comfy mattress (I speak from experience--all those naps and nights in the back of the trailer have been wonderful.) with lots of pillows and blankets. It's really amazing, and he did it all himself. I digress, as usual. 
I got to see Nancy again and watch a few of the instructors and volunteers school the horses. Larry also schooled BJ, which was nice to watch. Abby was crazy out in the arena and barn because so many people were excited about petting her. It was fun, even though it was really cold out. 
I also helped Larry with the barn after we got back from our little trip. We cleaned lots of stalls and fed the horses. We also learned just how retarded Stella is. Stella and Sydney live in a separate barn (They aren't bad, they just happen to be the two who live in the "extra" stalls which can convert to a foaling stall if we need that sort of thing.), and they both have double doors instead of sliding doors. I opened Stella's bottom door while the top door was closed and locked. I left it open so that I could bring a wheelbarrow up to the door and pick her stall. Stella noticed the opening, put her head down, and proceeded to try to walk under the door. She approached at a good Stella walk, bumped her withers on the top door, threw her head up, backed up, thrashed around, almost fell, and then regained her composure as if she were saying, "I knew that door was there. I was just testing it." I laughed at her a lot, even though I had been very scared that she was going to fall.
I went to the barn again tonight and had a pretty good time. I cleaned some more stalls, estimated Stella's weight with a height/weight tape (She's about 950 lbs.), and... Aggh. I fail epically at pushing wheelbarrows up the ramp and into the manure spreader. I've got the bruises to prove it. I had a fairly heavy wheelbarrow full of wet sawdust and manure, but I managed to push it all the way up the ramp. Then, the stupid old wheelbarrow started tipping over. I slipped a bit when I tried to keep it from toppling off the edge of the ramp, fell down the ramp onto my butt, and the wheelbarrow came down with me. I thought I was either going to get hit in the face with the wheelbarrow, which would have hurt, or have the whole thing flip on me, which would have been pretty gross. I survived, though, and Larry happened to miss the whole thing :) 
That wasn't my first time falling down the ramp, either. That thing is dangerous... 
After we finished up in the barn, we went inside. I had some hot chocolate while Larry and Jean drank coffee, and then we made some more horse cookies. Larry is hysterical in the kitchen, in case I haven't already said that. 
I'll end this with two inspirational Larry quotes:
"There ain't no such thing as try!"
"There ain't no such thing as can't!" 
That's what he always yells at me when he either tells me to do something and I say that I'll try or that I can't do it. There is nothing less than success at Larry's barn! 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Good Like Larry's Homemade Horse Treats :)

My break has started out pretty good. I've gotten to spend a lot of time at the barn already, which is great. I spent pretty much all day there today, which made me very happy. 
Larry and Jean made homemade horse cookies last night. They're delicious--lots of molasses, carrots, apples, oats, and peppermint pieces, with a little sugar, flour, and canola oil to make them cookie-like. Stella loves them, and all of the other horses do too. It was really funny watching Larry and Jean working in the kitchen. Larry was putting dollops of cookie "dough" on the sheet while Jean made them round and spread them apart. She fussed at Larry because there were six cookie dollops on the first row and only five on the others. They were having so much fun together. 
Today, I went to the barn early this morning to help Larry and to ride. Larry asked me if I'd help him with the roof of the house. Because I'm afraid of heights and because I know nothing about putting shingles on a roof, he said I could pick up the old pieces of shingles off the ground and put them on a trailer. It wasn't too bad except that I was constantly worried about stepping on the square nails that were standing point-up and waiting for me to place my foot carelessly on top of them. I didn't step on any of them, which I was very happy about. I got a lot of work done, so Larry made me a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. He fed me horse cookies and an orange for dessert. Then, we went out to the barn to give the horses some treats and to ride. 
I worked Stella on the longe line for a while because I knew we were taking the horses to the back field. She was downright lazy in the arena, but I knew she was going to go absolutely mad in the back field. I put Larry's work saddle on her and we rode down the path to the back field.
The back field is a rather uncomfortable place for me to ride. I don't know if I've written about this or not, but Mac's grave is in the back field. There's something about riding beside his grave that upsets me, as if he can still (or even would, if he could) care that I'm riding Stella now. Add the fact that Stella goes crazy when she works in the open, and there's a huge mess of ping-pong balls spilled everywhere and no one capable of picking them up. 
When Stella "makes bad decisions," which I sometimes say as a little euphemism, I joke that the bucket of ping-pong balls in her head got tipped over and the balls started bouncing around everywhere :) 
She wasn't too bad, though. She gets better each time we go out, usually. We trotted with a lot more control than I've ever had in the open, and she actually halted from a canter without having her head hauled around to my knee. It was kind of fun, too. Larry and I switched horses for a while, so I rode Sissy. I didn't like the stirrups on the new saddle that Larry was using, so I rode without them. Sissy and I jogged around for a while and did a few serpentines. She's a very nice horse to ride. She spooked when we were walking back to the barn because Abby ran up behind us. Stella spooked after that because Sissy spooked. That's Stella for you...
My back and hip were really hurting. I took a pain pill after I finished with the shingles and before I even brought Stella in from the pasture. The "maximum dose" didn't help me AT ALL, but I didn't take any more for several reasons, one of which was that I had to drive later and I'm not supposed to have any if I'm going to be behind the wheel. I was in a lot of pain and it sucked, but I'm not hurting so much now. I have another doctor's appointment on Wednesday, and he's finally going to check my hip. 
After our ride, Larry and I took care of our horses, cleaned the barn, fed the horses, and finished everything up for the night. I had to go home, but Larry said that he would take me with him to the therapeutic riding center tomorrow. BJ has to go back home.
We'll see how that goes. I'm so happy I got to spend the whole day at the barn with Larry.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Ride on the Blessed Beast

I got to ride Stella this weekend, even though it was terribly cold and she was energetic from her long break from work. 
I went to the barn on Friday to clean some stalls and brush the horses. I helped brush Chester and then got Stella so that I could give her a very thorough grooming. I picked her feet, curried her, combed her mane and tail, brushed her face, brushed her body, rubbed her body, straightened her mane (I made sure her forelock was in the middle of her forehead and brought all of her funky mane to one side.), and put some ointment on a wound. She also got some peppermints, which she loves. 
On Saturday, I actually rode. I brushed Stella and put her on the longe line for a while. She's in season, she hadn't worked in ages, and it was cold. All of that together should have meant that Stella would be a lit firecracker between my thighs. She was a very good girl, though. She moved so wonderfully off my leg and worked so beautifully, even though she kept on asking me to let her go faster. I cued her into a trot, and it felt amazing. She got a little crazy after a while. I had a bottle of my pain pills in my pocket, and it was rattling every time I rose to the trot. I decided to take off my jacket; I wasn't that cold, and Stella did calm down a little bit after I put my jacket over the fence rail. A few times, Stella actually broke into a canter when I applied my leg at the trot. She was having a great time, and she was just begging to canter. I finally let her canter, and she really put everything she had into it. She was never out of control or behaving badly by any means. She just gave me a very powerful, energetic canter. It was truly amazing. I even allowed her to hand-gallop a little. It was somewhat difficult for me to two-point because I was using Larry's saddle and the horn kept getting in my way. It was okay, though. We had a blast. Stella was extremely responsive. As soon as I sat down in the saddle, she slowed to a normal canter, and deepening my seat and slightly squeezing the reins halted her. 
I'm happy that she was happy to make me happy :) I miss her so much when I'm at school, and I miss riding her all the time. I can't believe that I hated her when I first started to ride her. 
I think I've already written about Mac once or twice in this blog, but I'll tell the story again. Mac was euthanized about a year and a half ago. I had been working with him in the same way that I work with Stella now--he was really Larry's horse, but he was mine on his papers and I was his main caretaker and the only person who ever really rode him. He developed some kind of neurological disease and kept falling, but we thought he was going to get better. I didn't really expect to ride him again, but I didn't expect him to die. He was in the prime of life; he was about to turn 10. 
I never wanted to go back to the barn. I just wanted to give up on riding, and basically living. Larry eventually "forced" me to come back to the barn (To this day, I assert that he MADE me come back, even though I really think there was tiny little part of me left that wanted to go back and try to rebuild my life.) and got me to ride another person's horse at Mindy's house. I made excuses--I didn't have a helmet, my hip hurt, everything--so that I wouldn't have to ride the horse, but I eventually mounted up in a gigantic, borrowed helmet and rode the horse without stirrups around the ring. I cried the entire time. Mindy tried to get me to smile every time I passed her, but I couldn't. I just cried harder. 
Then, I went to our barn for the first time after Mac died, and I cried again. Mac's stall was empty, and I couldn't go in there for a long time. I couldn't walk on or face that side of the barn for a while either. I started riding Stella, and she gave me a whole lot of crap. She basically did the stuff that she does when she's nervous--spooking, bolting, wheeling around, throwing her head into the air. I spent a long time just angry with her. I hated her. I didn't want to deal with her. I wanted to go home and never ride again. I don't know what happened. I guess I realized that Mac wasn't coming back and that I was going to have to work with Stella from then on. I actually felt, for a while, that Mac's death was a sick joke and that he'd be in his stall the next time I went out to the barn and we'd all have a good laugh about how cute he was when he was lying in the stall and eating his hay while lying on a pillow of saddle blankets. I didn't want to love Stella because I didn't want her to be able to "replace" Mac, so maybe being angry with her was my screwed-up way of protecting myself. 
I thought I might share that before I say the next thing. Yesterday night, however, I was playing with Stella in the crossties and brushing her face. I looked into her eyes, and I swear I was brought to tears out of my love for her. It was a beautiful moment. I love her so much. 
I'm tearing up now.
Today I also went to the barn. I cleaned a stall and then played with Stella in her stall for a while. She loves gloves, so she played with my gloves for a while. She also played with my jacket and its zipper. Then she nipped me, so she had to get slapped on the shoulder. She got over it, though, and we played some more. I petted her a lot and scratched her neck, and I said goodbye to her before I had to leave. 
I can't wait until I get to see her again on Friday :) I'll have a whole month to play with her.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fun and goodbyes.

Today was the last riding class of the semester. It was a whole lot of fun, even though it was really sad too. 
We spent the day playing games. I rode Bugsy AGAIN, but it was okay because we weren't jumping. I also took a pain pill before I left, so I'm not in too much pain right now. Bugsy was actually really great for me. 
The first game was a race involving those red Solo cups (See, they're good for all sorts of games!) and chunks of rubber arena footing. We had to race across the ring, pick up a single piece of footing, race back, put it in the cup, and get as many pieces of footing in the cup as we could in tw0 and a half minutes. I had three in my cup before Bugsy nosed the cup over, and then I got two more after. It was a whole lot of fun. 
The next game was "musical blankets." Teresa set out a bunch of old saddle pads on the ground on the inside track of the ring, and we had to trot along the outside track while music was playing. When the music stopped, we had to get some part of at least one hoof on a blanket. It was really fun, even though I was the third one out. I sat sidesaddle in the middle for a while, which was fun. Bugsy wasn't as cooperative with the leg over his head as Stella usually is, which surprised me. 
The final game was a relay race. It was the chestnuts versus the paints/bays. I was on the chestnut team, and I was the third person to go each time. Each person had a different task to complete while crossing the ring to pass off the crop. The first rider (Heather) had to ride a sitting trot, the second rider had to ride any gait without stirrups (Shannon cantered.), the third rider had to ride any gait in two-point (Moire cantered.), and I had to ride any gait without stirrups (I cantered.). We lost both times, but it was so much fun. 
I like gymkhana games. They remind me of why I ride.
After the lesson, we untacked, ate some wonderful peanut-butter-chocolate brownies (courtesy of Shannon), and talked in a circle outside of the barn. I'm going to miss everyone so much. Some people are moving up to Intermediate like me, but I don't think anyone else is in the class that I signed up for. Some people are staying in Hi-Elementary. 
I was thinking about joining the team next semester, but after hearing tales of the brutal social hierarchy, I'm not so sure. I hate, and always will hate, excessive competition and rude people. 
NOM NOM NOM, Shannon made some bangin' brownies :) 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Epic, but in a different sense of the word.

I rode Bugsy again today, for the last jumping lesson of the semester. Today was not a good lesson at all, but I made the best of it. 
I started out with no stirrups on my saddle, so I had to snitch a pair from another saddle. That problem was solved quickly and without a whole lot of fuss. If we hadn't been jumping, I would've just worked without them. 
Jumping today sucked. I took a pain pill before I went to the barn in hopes that I would be able to avoid any hip pain. Hahahaha. Yeah. My hip started to hurt a little when we cantered. I decided I was going to ride properly, no matter what. I sat in the saddle and refused to two-point my canter, even if I couldn't finish the ride. Well, that didn't kill me...
Our first jump was bad. Bugsy approached the jump really well. He trotted straight to it, happy as any little pony could be, came to a near-stop, and proceeded to jump the fence. It wasn't comfortable for me, I lost a stirrup, and I jabbed the poor pony in the mouth because I seriously didn't think he could make the jump from a standstill and wasn't ready to take the fence. 
Then, we had to do the first jump again and a line. The whole line, evidently. I thought we were supposed to circumvent the crossrail in the line and go straight for the second vertical in the line. It was really difficult to maneuver, but I managed it quite well--and then Teresa told me I was supposed to take the whole line. I wondered why the turn was so difficult X_x
Then, we did the first jump, the WHOLE line, and another vertical that was out there somewhere. The first jump and the line were nothing special. I took the first jump with one hand because the other hand was using a crop to smack some Bugsy butt. That was no big deal. I don't rely on my hands at all, and it was actually kind of fun. I've always wanted to take a jump with my arms outstretched, like I'm flying. Maybe I'll do that in the future, once I get Stella jumping and my hip fixed :) The fourth jump, the hay bale vertical, was a disaster, though.
Have you ever seen someone fall off at a horse show? It was like that, kind of. Everyone was lined up on the rail next to the jump. Something funky happened with the jump, Bugsy took the jump and went one way, and I started going another way. Everyone was like "Ohhhh!" and "Ahhh!" and "Gasp!" I definitely thought I was falling off for a few seconds, but then I remembered that I am the master of "nice saves" :D I'd lost my near stirrup, but I threw my weight to the off side and managed to land with my butt in the saddle. 
However, not all was good. I was spared a mouthful of dirt at the cost of being able to walk. I'd already taken the one pain pill before my ride, but I could barely manage the walk back to the barn. I had to take another one as soon as I got back, which had some extremely pleasant consequences :) First, I was just in pain. Then, there was the euphoria. It was SO nice. Then, there was the drowsiness, which wasn't so nice. The drowsiness lasted until the medicine had almost worn off. My hip wasn't too bad when I could finally feel it again, so I chose not to take another pill. I'll see how I am in the morning.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving break

I went to the barn a few times over break, but I didn't ride even once :( 
I mostly played with Jack and Stella. Larry was off at another Quarter Horse show with Mindy, so I couldn't see either of them or play with Abby. Jack and I went down to the back field, where I talked to Mac for a while and climbed into the treestand again. I also went down to the pond and went out into the woods. I took lots of pictures, and I learned that my camera has a timer. I had a whole lot of fun with that. I was swinging on vines and stuff, and I got a few good pictures. 
I also experimented with the horses in the pasture. I carried the mounting block out into the pasture, sat it down, and stood up on it. All of the horses--Tina, Jessie, Sydney, and Tatiana--came moseying up to me to see what I was doing. Stella was the LAST one to come and see me. Each horse had their own reaction. Jessie was actually really scared. I reached my hand out to her, and she jumped away from me. Tatiana and Sydney came up to me a little bit and were a little wary, but they lost interest and started grazing nearby. Stella finally walked up to me, pushed me once with her nose, played with me a little, and started grazing again. Tina would not leave me alone! She squiggled, she nosed, she looked over every inch of my body, she played with the block and tried to knock it over... That horse is so precious :) Jessie never forgave me for scaring her. I walked over to her and tried to pet her, but she trotted off. It was really fun, and I was really interested in their reactions. 
I think that BJ is weird. He was doing a leg-lift-kick-head-turn-colicky thing, and it scared me to death. Jean had just fed him, and he ate every bite, which REALLY scared me. I got out the stethoscope and listened to his gut, but I didn't hear very much. Then, he pooped and I figured he was just being weird. He was alternating between both back legs, too, so it's not like he was injured or anything.
I wish I could have gone riding this weekend.
Oh, and I got the results of my MRI. The doctor said I have a slight bulge in the disc between L4 and L5, but that it's so close to being normal, that he's going to search for the cause of my pain in my hip joints next. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


As the title suggests, today's ride was EPIC. 
There were only three of us in class today, so we had lots of room to ride. I rode a new pony named Mersea today. He was so adorable, a tiny little bay. I'm in love :) He was so great, and I had so much fun with him. 
We worked a little bit on the flat, and I loved Mersea's gaits. We got a wrong lead cantering once, but I fixed it and everything else was most excellent. I could actually sit his canter, which made me very happy. I hate having to two-point my canter because it's rough and hurts my hip. 
My hip hurts a little now, but it's not so bad. I can walk without pain meds, so I'm okay.
We jumped a combination that was made of four whole jumps. I was so nervous at first. I just kept picturing myself having a bad jump and taking a second jump a single stride later. In fact, that happened to me once, but it wasn't a big deal. 
It was actually really easy for me to do, and I had the greatest time EVER. 
Once, Mersea stopped at the first jump instead of trotting over it. There was a hay bale at the base of the crossrail, and he took the moment of confusion to pick up the entire bale and snitch a mouthful. It was really, really funny. I had to take the hay out of his mouth and a student who was helping Teresa had to put the bale back so that it wouldn't interfere with jumping. 
I had one bad start over the first jump, the crossrail, and I had to jump the second jump with my right foot out of the stirrup and my entire body being off-balance. It was okay, though. I turned Mersea off the line before we came up to the third jump, which was supposed to be two strides from the second jump. 
Ohhhh, man, I can't wait to go home and tell Larry and Stella. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

I can't wait for break.

I didn't do much at the barn this weekend. I did get to see Larry and Mindy before they left for the show. It was a tad bittersweet because I COULD HAVE GONE, but it was nice to get to hug them goodbye and play with Abby a little before they left. 
There's a new horse at the barn. He's a therapeutic riding horse, but he has a problem. He bites the kids. Nancy sent him to Larry so that we could work with him. I personally don't think he's malicious. He hasn't bitten at me at all, and I cleaned his stall, played with him, ran with him in the paddock, everything. I think he's a squiggler, and I think maybe he starts to squiggle the kids and gets so involved that he bites them. It's not okay, but at least he's not plain-out mean. 
Larry said I could ride him, so I guess I'll do that when I go back home. I didn't get a chance to ride this weekend. I basically worked at the barn in all the cold. 
I played with Stella a lot. I was wearing some thick fleecy gloves with a velcro thing on the wrist. Stella played with the velcro and pulled the velcro through the loop, tightening the glove around my wrist until it hurt and I was trying to jerk my hand away from her (which, in reality, made this situation worse). Stella is getting so white. She used to be so pretty and dark, and her mane had just one platinum section surrounded by a deep, charcoal grey. Now, about half of her mane is the platinum color, and the dark part is getting all frosted-looking. I still love her, even though she's grey :)
I can't wait until break so I can ride again.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Special Instructor

I think we had a clinician come to teach us today. She was very nice. 
We haven't had Teresa since she went away to the horse show. One of the girls who works at the barn said that Teresa is sick. I hope she gets better soon.
First thing, the clinician told me to shorten my stirrups. Since we were doing flatwork, I had my stirrups down to my normal, "dressage" length. It's easier for me to ride that way, and it makes me happy. It's a compromise. I told her that I normally ride with a very long stirrup because of my hip (It's true.), but she bumped me up a few holes anyway. 
We worked on the rail most of the time, and we did a whole lot of sitting the trot. I was really unhappy because Archie's trot sucked and my stirrups were too short for me to sit it correctly. I think Archie was the one I came on here and ranted about the other day. He was super cute, but he made me so angry! I know he really can't help how he was trained, and perhaps any physical problems in his body, but I cannot get along with the horse. I can't. 
We also did serpentines over poles. I really enjoyed how she focused on each rider and horse as individuals. She picked out problems that the horses had and told us how we might begin to correct them. She also emphasized bending, collection, rounding, accepting the bit, using the hindquarters--well, she didn't emphasize every one of them, but she did mention all of them throughout the lesson. 
I had a great time. Archie irritated the crap out of me, but I still had a great time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Exhilaration of Jumping

I really, truly experienced the exhilaration of jumping yesterday. It was cold (There were actually little snow flurries!) and John T's bridle and girth were nowhere to be found (I was so late for class.), but I had a great time. We played Red Light, Green Light. The team I was on lost (but it was only by a horse length or so), but it was fun. We also jumped three jumps in a row. First we started by trotting one, then cantering one. Then, we added a third jump into the mix. It was a whole lot of fun. The jumps were pretty big. I think they were two feet high. 
I love John T so much. Something had gotten into him yesterday, though. He was a tad silly, and he really got excited when he realized that we were jumping. He loved it, and I loved it. 
Our jumps felt great, and I wasn't in too much pain at all. 
That's the thing. I go from wondering whether I'll ever ride again to jumping short courses and back again. It's really weird. I'm going to the doctor next Wednesday, so hopefully we'll be able to figure some stuff out. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

And another equally depressing note...

I'm probably not going to the big show this weekend. We've been planning it forever, and nothing's going in my favor. Jean can't go because I think she's got to get her mom from the hospital. My mom can't go because she's got to stay home and take care of my sister. I basically don't have a way to get there, that's all. It sucks. 
I'm probably better off not going, though. I really need to stop riding for a while. 
It's kind of hard, though, when I'm in an actual riding class. I'm sure they would understand. Maybe I should talk to Teresa about just taking it easy for a while. 

Jumping Stella

Today, Larry took Mindy and me all the way to the local showgrounds so that we could ride. He even helped us "steal" the jump standards from the neighbors' yard so that we could practice jumping. I was really grateful that he was willing to do all of that stuff for us, but my hip just didn't want to cooperate. 
It was hurting before I even got on, and it didn't help that Stella was hauling me across the ring while I worked her on the longe line. She kept having little "mare flares," and I had to run with her in order to avoid losing the rope or falling down. 
Riding her was actually pretty good, aside from the fact that I couldn't use my legs. Seriously. When I applied leg aids, everyone knew--I shouted out in pain almost every time. Then, I decided to be stupid and try to get Stella to go over the jumps. 
Larry had to lead us over every one. I couldn't apply my leg, so I couldn't keep her from drifting. And, man, did she drift. She wasn't about to step over the one-foot vertical that we had set up. It was ridiculous. I felt ashamed that I couldn't do something as simple as put my leg on, and I felt frustrated because I can barely live like a normal, dignified human being. I really just wanted to cry. Eventually, Mindy got on Stella and took her over the jumps a few times. 
I envy everyone who lives life without chronic pain. 
I rode Tina for a while when Mindy was on Stella. I was stupid. I rode her over the jumps a few times. She drifted a bit too, which frustrated me even more. I just simply couldn't use my leg correctly. That should have been a sign that I shouldn't have been on the horses, but I'm foolish and hardheaded sometimes when it comes to my own well-being. I had one jump over the small vertical that was wonderful, though. My timing was perfect, and everything felt right for a few seconds. Then, it was back to pain and suffering. Mindy and Larry didn't even see it. 
So, now I'm frustrated, disappointed, upset, angry, and about ready to give it all up. 
I just can't see myself riding much longer at the rate I'm going. The thought brings tears to my eyes, but I just can't do it anymore. I need to see the doctor again, go back for more x-rays, get some stuff shoved back into place, maybe get a brace or something (I shuddered at the first suggestion of a back brace, and I hope I never have to wear one.), and get some more prescription pain relief. 
I can't imagine life without riding. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cold and Wet.

It was so cold and wet on Thursday. I wasn't happy at all because of all the puddles. My old paddock boots had holes in them and my feet were soaked. 
I rode Amber for almost the entire lesson. We did a stirrupless posting trot (I worked with no stirrups because riding with one stirrup screws with my hip.), some cantering, all of that business. I enjoyed riding Amber. I felt sorry that he can't pick up the right lead. I just let him counter-canter around the ring, and it actually felt really good. Then, I got switched to a big chestnut gelding named Aussie. Aussie wasn't thrilled about the idea of having to move, but I got him to go quite nicely. I liked his gaits. I might like to ride him again. 
My hip is really hurting right now. Ibuprofen, rest, and Sombra (Think Hot Ice times ten.) haven't worked for me, and I can barely walk. I want to ride this weekend, though.
Elizabeth has been jumping Stella over some small jumps since I've been gone, and I really want to give her a try :) Larry said he might take us down to the showgrounds to ride. That would be a ton of fun. We'll have to see what the next few days bring.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm sorry I'm so lazy.

I'm so lazy. And I started a new, general type of blog, so I'm forced to divide my precious type time between the two. 
Okay. So, on Thursday I started out on Bugsy. I don't have an issue with Bugsy. Bugsy's a cute little guy, and riding him is okay. It's fun to canter him because I have to pretend like we're galloping and ride him like a jockey so that he'll just barely canter. Then, I had to ride Archie, or Archer, I don't know which. He was a tall bay gelding, and I didn't like riding him. He was resistant and too speedy, and he wouldn't respond to simple half-halts and such. I had to circle him a lot to slow him down. We were cantering poles, and I didn't feel comfortable doing that. He kept rushing and nearly fell flat on his face, so I forced him to work in a fairly small circle to work on getting him to slow and respond. I was not happy.
Today I rode Skeeter again. It wasn't a great jumping day, and I kind of hurt my hip again, but it was okay. I like Skeeter. He's pretty cool. He jumps like a pogo stick, though. 
Oooooh, and Skeeter was lying down when I came to his stall. I straddled him bareback and patted his neck to encourage him to get up, but he wouldn't do it ("You idiot, you're sitting on me. Of course I'm not getting up."). I eventually coaxed him into standing so that I could brush him and tack him up. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Whee, another good jumping lesson!

I think I really fixed my problem. 
I jumped just fine today. I rode a cute grey mare pony named Annie. She was so sweet. I put a pink halter on her, which was very cute too. I really, really liked riding her. 
She was lazy on the flat, but she had an excellent time jumping. She really livened up and started taking the fences like all of the larger horses. She was so good for me. 
I'm really, really happy that I learned what was causing me so many problems. I wasn't bringing my heels up--I was being dragged forward by the horse. My first jump of the day was absolutely effortless. It was absolutely breathtaking. Teresa also spent a part of our lesson riding. She was jumping a horse over a massive in-and-out. Now, watching her was breathtaking. 
Ah, such a good day. Laura took lots of pictures. I look really funny in most of them, but that's okay :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Sobering Reminder

Today was certainly exciting, but not in a way that we enjoyed. 
We went to the barn today, and Mindy and I rode the "children." I started out on Tatiana and then went to Chester. Tatiana was okay, and so was Chester. Mindy and I kept talking about how we think Chester is going to be good enough for the AQHA World Show. Wouldn't that be awesome? ;) 
Later, Mindy and Elizabeth were riding in the pasture. I had Stella in the crossties, about to tack her up so that I could ride too. My sister went out to ride Tina with Elizabeth and Mindy. While I was brushing Stella, I saw a chestnut blur gallop past the open barn doors. I dropped the brush and forgot all about Stella, because Tina was running like mad through the barnyard. She was freaking out and I couldn't catch her. The shock came when I noticed that the reins weren't dragging on the ground--they were gathered on her neck as if my sister had been about to mount her. Mindy caught Tina and I ran over to my sister, who was lying on the ground and clutching her ankle. Evidently, Tina spooked as my sister was getting on, which sent my sister to the ground where Tina ran over her. The only contact that Tina's hooves made with my sister was on her helmet, but the ankle was seriously screwed up. I told my sister to lie down while Mindy unlaced her boot to relieve the already swollen ankle. We fetched ice packs from the freezer in the barn to bring with us, and somehow we managed to get my sister into a wheelbarrow to take her to the porch. David helped us carry her up the steps and put her on the couch, where we elevated her leg and called my dad. Larry stayed behind and put the horses safely in their stalls before coming up to the porch. Jean fetched a pair of David's old crutches, and we gently removed my sister's boot. We had to help her to my car, where I rushed her to the hospital. 
We found out that she broke it, so I had to call Larry and tell him. 
The really freaky part is that, about ten seconds before I heard anything or saw Tina gallop past the doors, I was thinking about broken bones and about how horrible it would be if someone fell off and got hurt. 
Stella was a really good girl during the whole thing. She stood calmly in the crossties until I came back inside to get an icepack, and she was okay with the fact that I tossed her into a stall and locked her up with no logical explanation whatsoever. I would've come back to give her a pat, but...well, you know. 
My sister was doing well when I left. She gets out of school for a few days, so she's really happy about that.  She also got some awesome pain meds. She was just chilling on the couch, watching TV. I hope she gets better soon. 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Three Days of Adventure

This was actually a pretty good week for me overall. 
Tuesday was possibly the best ride over fences that I've ever had. I rode a big chestnut gelding named Skeeter. He was kind of lazy on the flat, but he became very excited once we started jumping. We started with a crossrail, and ended up jumping four jumps total. I didn't lose my stirrups at all, and I figured something out. In an effort to avoid the "unforgivable sin" of catching the horse in the mouth, I've been sliding my hands up way too far--seriously, three-fourths of the way up the horse's neck. That, in turn, is dragging me forward on the landing. As soon as I figured that out, I started giving less release, still didn't catch the horse's mouth, and didn't get thrown forward over the jump. I didn't like Skeeter's canter, but I cantered him over a few of the jumps. He tried really hard for me, and I enjoyed riding him.
I rode another new horse on Thursday. His name was Amber, the poor thing. He was a small chestnut gelding, and he was so soft and fuzzy. I loved petting him. He didn't like it when I touched his ears. I enjoyed riding Amber as well, even though he had a medical problem where he couldn't take the right lead. We just counter-cantered one way, that's all :) We had to switch halfway through the lesson, though, and I rode Dutch again. I had to do a pattern on Dutch, which the whole class judged. I ended up being placed third in the class. I think it really depended on what horse everyone had. Some of the horses simply won't canter when asked. Some simply won't stop. Dutch didn't want to stop at the gate when I asked him to, and we went several strides too far. Oh well. I think I rode the pattern well, even though Dutch didn't cooperate at the halt.
Today was awesome, plain and simple. 
I went to the barn and Larry made us rake leaves and walnuts in the yard for a really long time. It wasn't bad, really. It was a gorgeous day, and I really hate stepping on those walnuts. After we finished the section near the house, Larry ordered pizza for us and we ate lunch on the porch. I normally don't eat dairy products, so I'm not feeling very good right now, but it was still fun. Then, we went out to ride and play with the horses. We did a lot of fun stuff while we rode today. My sister, Elizabeth, and I did a "turtle race," where the slowest horse won. My sister and Sissy won; Sissy was the only western pleasure horse in the bunch, so of course she was the slowest :) We also had a few real races at the trot. Stella and I won the race once or twice. We also took turns cantering around the ring with no reins. Stella was very good when we did that. I used my reins to cue her, placed them on her neck, spread my arms like I was flying, and had a lovely canter. She really didn't even need reins to stop. I just used my seat a little and gave her a little "whoa." I also rode sidesaddle for a little bit, but I only did it at a walk. I thought about riding bareback, but I decided that wouldn't be a good idea. Stella just isn't a comfortable bareback horse. Her withers are just too bony. Maybe I'll invest in a bareback pad or something. After our ride, Stella and I did a little showmanship, hands-free. I let her go and she walked beside me. I clucked and started jogging, so she trotted beside me. I turned, so she turned. I halted, so she halted. It was really cool.
What Stella did during her bath was NOT cool, though. I was trying to get her onto the black mats, and she decided to rear up. She went up and over, got up, and trotted away. She let me catch her on the other side of the barn, but she was muddy and really needed a bath after that incident. She hates the mats, as you can tell. 
Oh, yeah, and we went on an adventure before we had our pizza. We went into the woods and had a lot of fun swinging on vines. There was one that we held onto and could swing, and there was another that was suspended between two trees that we could sit and swing on. Then, we found a place that was full of a lot of old junk. There were a lot of interesting things. We had so much fun today. Mindy is supposed to come over tomorrow, so we'll have even more fun before I have to go to school.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Last Local Show of the Year

The last local show of the year was this weekend. I was so excited, especially because I had plans to enter the costume contest, which I know I've detailed in other posts. Stella and I had a really great show.
We started out in showmanship, which I normally suck at. I was also the only English person in the class (Usually, everyone there does it in western attire, but I almost always do it English, and occasionally another person pops up and does it English too.). The pattern wasn't that hard, really. It was...er, set up, walk to the second cone in a straight line, turn and trot a half-circle around the third cone, halt, 360-turn, walk to the judge, set up. I know that's difficult to understand (at least for me) without a drawing, but it was kind of a right-angle pattern. Yeah. 
The sand was super deep and I could hardly get Stella to trot.  It was a decent pattern, though, and I was very happy with our go. We actually got 3rd in the class, which was amazing. I'm one of the youngest in that class (It's 13 and up, but I still think I was the youngest one, as Mindy didn't even do showmanship.), and there's some amazing competition in showmanship at this particular show. Stella and I both looked kind of nasty too.  My boots still hadn't been cleaned from State, my coat had grey hairs and dust all over it, my glove has a huge hole on the thumb, Stella's forelock looked ugly and crinkled (I just banded instead of braiding.), and I didn't even put hoof black on Stella's hooves. Oh well. I think the judge just likes Stella a whole lot.  This is the third time in a row that this judge has judged us at local shows.
We had a great time in the costume class. I had to change clothes immediately after showmanship--khaki pants, tennis shoes, t-shirt, hunt coat.  I had to take out my hair thing and put my hair into some funny kind of bun. Stella had to get a cloth "bandage" duct-taped to her butt, and I had to get her gown on her. I was going to give myself a little stubble with some face paint that I had, but it didn't work out very well and I ended up washing it off at the spigot near the mini ring. Of course, I had to have my cane and stethoscope too. Then, Stella and I went down to the ring for the class. 
A group of small children came up to me and said "Oh, it's a doctor and a patient!" I didn't bother correcting them or anyone else who simply said that I was a doctor. One woman, however, saw us as I was practicing with my cane. She had a really sudden look of excitement on her face, and I'm assuming that she was the only person who actually got it without an explanation. She made me really happy :)
In the class, I realized that I was definitely the oldest one, aside from leaders and sidewalkers. There were some really adorable costumes. Our vet's husband put devil horns and red garland on their horse and dressed their young daughter in an angel costume. The husband rode the horse with the daughter in front of him, and it was so cute. There was also a little girl with a palomino mini pony.  She wrapped his tail in tan vetwrap with tan faux fur at the end of the tail and as a lion's mane on the pony. The girl was dressed like Dorothy and was even carrying a small dog. It was absolutely adorable! There was also a bookworm and librarian, a bumblebee and flower, a native American and paint pony (That was Ellie, from our 4-H. She rode for the rest of the day with warpaint on her pony. It was cute.), a headless horseman, a snowstorm and a kid in a winter jacket, and some other cute costumes. 
I ended up taking out my prescription bottle during the class and sharing some dinner mints with Stella. I ate some, too. Stella thought they were great and wouldn't stop nosing me for them. 
Ultimately, I don't think the judge got why I was carrying a cane. She knew I was a doctor, but she didn't know that I was House. That's terribly sad, don't you think? I had fun, though, and Stella certainly had fun eating all my "Vicodin." And a tip for anyone who might want to carry a cane while leading a horse: practice, practice, practice.  I assumed that it would be easy to stay on the same leg while leading Stella, but I kept switching for some reason.  I can do it perfectly when I'm walking alone, but it didn't work well while I was with her.  I really, really had to focus on keeping with my right leg. We got honorable mention in this class, so they gave me a 6th place ribbon.
After the costume class, I had to rush even more to get ready for riding. Our first class was the Hunter Go-As-You-Please. Stella was really calm in this class, but I chose to trot instead of canter. She's better at behaving when we trot. We came out of that class with first. 
Hunter Equitation wasn't so good. Stella behaved herself, but...well, they did keyhole in the ring before the pleasure division. They left the chalk ring on the ground and it scared Stella. While we were schooling, I actually rode Stella through the opening and into the keyhole ring, but she absolutely refused to cross over the chalk line. I laughed at her and had to bring her out through the opening. In the equitation class, I inadvertently tried to canter her through the chalk lines. She came to a screeching halt, did a dirty duck-and-turn, and cantered toward the center of the ring. My butt stayed in the saddle, but my upper body got way left behind and I got kind of uncentered. It was right in front of the judge, too. Oh well. I doubt I would've placed in that class anyway. It looked like she was placing the forward-seat riders, especially since Mindy didn't place either. 
Hunter Under Saddle, in my opinion, wasn't a very good class. I didn't think it was a good ride for me at all, but Stella was well-behaved. We got 2nd place in this class. 
I had a whole lot of fun, and I was really sad when I had to leave Stella behind. I could only go to the show if Larry agreed to take care of Stella and take her home for me. I always miss the horses and everyone at the barn when I'm not there. 
Pre-Turkey is the next show, but Angie, our vet, hinted that she might be able to take Stella and me to a clinic that weekend. She said that it was all about learning to control the body and that it was especially helpful for people like me. I don't know what I'll do. My mom told me that Larry already heard about it and thinks that it'd be a good idea, but I really want to do both. I could always go to the Turkey circuit show, if Larry decides to go. I wouldn't mind skipping the usual torment of Thanksgiving (Yeah, I'm a vegetarian. Get over it, people.) for a horse show. I guess I'll figure it out.

Trail Ride!!!

For our flatwork lesson on Thursday, we went on a trail ride in the woods.  It was so much fun! I got to ride a cute, fat, fuzzy grey pony named Popsicle.  She had a nasty habit of biting at me, but otherwise we had no problems.  She was a nice ride, although she was mostly interested in doing exactly what the other horses were doing. We schooled in a completely different ring than we've ever been in before while we waited for Teresa to get her horse ready. Then, we set off to the pasture, where we went onto a trail.  
I mostly rode one-handed with slack reins. I thought that it would be better to let Popsicle have her head at all times, as I didn't know just how hardcore the trail was going to be. It was actually a great trail. There were some good water crossings, steep banks, logs in the path, and nice views. We saw some deer at one point on the ride. We also trotted on some of the straight, flat paths. I decided to stay in two point while we trotted instead of posting, just because it was easier to stay away from the awful branches. 
I haven't been on an actual trail ride since shortly after Mac died, so it was very nice. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WHOA. It's on time today!

For once, I'm writing about a lesson the day I had it! Yeah, blows my mind too.
Today I rode good old John T again. I was so happy. He's really a fun ride, and he's so sweet. 
We did a little flatwork and then started to jump. It took me forever to get my stirrups straight, but eventually I got them evened out. 
I don't know if I'll ever be good at jumping. I doubt I'll be able to do it long enough to find out, really. Today I didn't hurt myself, but I sure did suck.
My first set of jumps was okay. By okay, I mean I didn't plant my face into John T's neck or the sand. The class took the first set at a trot. I lost my stirrup after both of the jumps. I guess my heel is going up on the landing rather than over the jump. Each time I lose a stirrup, it doesn't affect me too much. I'm not jabbing the horse in the mouth when it happens. I'm not grabbing with my knees in an ignorant attempt to stay on. I'm not falling when it happens, and my position doesn't change (My leg is very happy because it gets to lengthen to where it belongs, but I digress, as usual.). It's just annoying as anything. 
Things worked out better at the canter. I only lost my stirrup once, and that was OVER the jump. I think I might've thrown my weight again, but I'm not sure. 
I felt really sad while we were jumping today. Teresa told me I had the option of cantering the second set. By that, she either meant "You suck, so you can trot if you want." or "I feel sorry for you and don't want you to hurt yourself because you're a gimp." I can't think of another explanation. The former hurts because... Well, I'd rather not suck. I know we all have an inherent "suckiness" when we start jumping, but I don't feel so bad that I'm behind the rest of my class. The latter hurts because I can do anything I want, regardless of my limping, pain, and whatnot. Sure, I have to limit myself sometimes, but I'd rather die than quit living. Sure, I hurt myself when I ride sometimes. Everyone hurts themselves when they ride sometimes. Riding isn't one of the most dangerous sports in the world because it's possible to break a nail. If I were more familiar with Teresa, I might be able to figure out exactly what she meant. Alas, I do not. Therefore, I'll just have to let it go. 
I want to go home and see Stella. Please, weekend, come quickly.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thursday's Lesson, Weekend, Costume Update

Yep. I'm slacking off again.
So, Thursday was what I'd call a pretty bad ride. I started out on Red, a big chestnut gelding. I LOVED his saddle (It was like a dressage saddle; I might have to work out a trade with Hazelwild, haha.), and he was a comfy ride. Then, we had to switch horses, and I rode a little bay horse named Emmy. She was SO cute, but her gaits were atrocious. We had to ride a pattern (rising trot to the corner, halt, left lead canter, circle, sitting trot, two-point trot, halt), and her canter was the absolute worst part. I can sit almost any trot, but I had to ride in a half-seat when I cantered. I couldn't even keep the horse going. I couldn't stand it. I sat her trot with some difficulty, but I made it through the pattern without too much trouble. After the pattern, we worked on the rail some more. When we cantered, Emmy tripped once, almost went down, recovered herself, and almost went down again. I had an awful flashback to my last ride on Mac, and then a pain shot through my hip. We stopped, walked over to Teresa, and ended our lesson right there. I walked around without stirrups for a while, crossed either leg over Emmy's withers to stretch, and tried to fix myself. Teresa asked me how I hurt my hip. Honestly, I don't know what I did. I told her that it was a combination of a few nasty falls, weakness, and many other factors. I wish I knew, though.
The combination of the flashback and the pain made for a terrible day. I wasn't scared that she was going to fall, really. I mean, I didn't want her to fall. I was just really concerned that I might have to relive my final moments on Mac's back. 
I worked at the barn and rode this weekend. The arena was a mess, but I had an excellent ride in there anyway. Stella was wonderful, and I was really using the "tree-grows-up-and-roots-grow-down" technique. I could just feel how strong, relaxed, and centered I was. Stella felt absolutely amazing. Then, we went out into the back field. As always, I rode over to Mac's grave to talk to him for a while. Then, Stella and I walked around. We trotted a little, too. She started to whinny at the horses in the pasture and get antsy, so we we didn't work too long. 
Our costume for the show this weekend is going well. My mom was able to obtain a hospital gown that actually fits Stella. Yes, it was designed for a human being :D Stella isn't a really big horse, but she's not small... I've also painted a t-shirt with the House logo on it, and I think it looks really good. I'm so excited about this weekend. I've wanted to do the costume contest since before Mac died. I was going to do a whole skeleton horse thing. 
I have to go do some Latin before tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll try to write an entry the day I ride for once. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Last Thursday's Lesson (And Fall Break)

I guess I'll update about LAST Thursday's lesson. I'm so lazy.
I started out on Barney. I actually got him to move quite well, despite his mulish tendencies. I held a crop, but I only used it when we cantered. Barney's a jerk when it comes to cantering, so I got up into a two-point like I wanted him to hand-gallop. He actually gave me a little more than a lope, but still less than a canter. 
Then, we switched horses. I switched with Laura. She had Merlin. I was really happy that I got Merlin, but I was kind of sad that I "took" Merlin from Laura. She likes Merlin almost as much as I do. After we switched, we had to ride a pattern. It was a posting trot to halfway down the long side of the ring, a sitting trot to the end, a left lead canter and canter circle on the far short side, a transition to the posting trot down the quarterline, and a halt at the group. I think my go was really good, but Teresa didn't say anything about it. I wasn't happy about that. She commented on everyone else's ride, but she didn't say a thing about mine :( Oh well. 
This weekend was fall break. I spent a whole lot of time riding. I rode Stella twice. The first ride would have been excellent, but I hurt my hip riding Tatiana right before. I had to two-point the canter because it hurt to sit it. I could barely sit or post the trot, and it even hurt to walk. I had to get off. 
I was going to ride Mr. Bizzle, the stallion that Larry is training, but Larry said that I ought to "save my hip to ride Stella." I had a good ride on Stella, but, once again, I hurt my hip. This time, it was a downward transition from the canter to the halt. I was not happy, but I kept riding for a while. 
I also rode Tatiana again on another day. Tatiana is going to be so amazing. She has a lovely trot. I can't wait until she's ready to canter! 
I also tried Stella's hospital gown on her. Her legs won't go through the armholes no matter what, but it fits her perfectly otherwise. I might just leave the armholes or pin them rather than cutting and sewing. I don't want to ruin the hospital gown, and I definitely don't want it to look like a regular old sheet, which is really what it reminds me of. I played veterinarian with my mom's crappy stethoscope (It works well enough for vet play, but it's not good enough for real stuff.) and practiced finding the heart of horses (which didn't work because of the quality of the stethoscope, I'm assuming. I tested respiration, hydration, and capillary refill instead.), dogs (which worked the best, except they were wiggly and kept on trying to lick my face while I was counting heartbeats), and cats (which was extremely difficult because Bob wouldn't stop purring). I was very sad because I'll never get to be a vet. Why? I love animals "too much." That's the same reason I'll never get to be a doctor. That's the same reason I'll never get to be a biologist or an ethologist. I love animals too much. 
Ah, but I digress. Being bitter won't change anyone's mind. 
I was also very sad this weekend because of my hip. It has really been hurting me lately. It's decided to hurt in one of the muscles in the front where the joint is. I'm limping again, and it's terrible. I had to dismount on the off side the other day because it hurt so bad. I'm afraid that one day I'll need help to walk, and worse, that riding will be out of the question. I imagined myself getting a leg up to lie over Stella's bare back because that was the only "riding" I could do. It nearly brought tears to my eyes.
Oh, and now for something completely different.
I just got back from the most dysfunctional study group I have ever been to. You're probably wondering why I'm talking about the screwy people in my Chemistry class when this is a blog about HORSES, but it relates :) One of the girls in there takes a riding class too. She rode Merlin the other day, or maybe it was today. Either way, she said that he fell while she was riding him. It sent a shiver down my spine. The last time my favorite horse fell, he died a month later. I hope Merlin is okay.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Like I Promised... (Detailing My Weekend and My Plan)

I said that I'd write about my weekend with Stella in a separate post, so here it is.
I rode Stella once over the weekend. It was a wonderful ride. I was so glad to have my stirrups at the correct length (At school, they want my stirrups jacked up even when I'm doing flatwork. It screws with my equitation and causes me a lot of hip and knee pain.), and I was especially glad to ride a "blessed beast" like my Stellaphone. Honestly, I've been spoiled by her. It's difficult to find a horse that moves quite like Stella. Her gaits are absolutely amazing, and I'm finally starting to appreciate them a little more. 
We had a wonderful ride together. She's so soft, so perfectly responsive, so willing and happy... Oh, I could go on for days about how I love to ride Stella! 
I did part of an around-the-world on Stella before letting myself slide off the off side. Stella looked at me as if she were saying, "Mom, mom! Why you riding me sideways? No, mom! That's backwards! Mom, that's sideways! Mom, mom, where'd you go?" She was fine, though; she didn't spook at all, even though I didn't expect her to. She also did some really nice leg yields to the left and right. I was really proud of her. 
Stella and I also had a little play session with the measuring cane. I was taking a break in the lounge when I saw it hanging from the cabinet, and I had a great idea. I picked it up, ran out to Stella's stall waving the cane over my head, and went inside. Stella was really interested in the cane, and she kept trying to pick it up in her mouth and hold it. I rubbed it on her sides, tapped her legs, balanced it on her back, touched her belly, rubbed her face, put the handle on her poll, and finally dropped it on the ground. She only snorted when I dropped the cane, and she didn't care about anything else. I was so happy! 
There's a costume contest at an upcoming horse show. I'm going to dress up like Dr. House, and Stella's going to be my patient :) I'm so excited.
We've already got a cane. I figure that I can wear my hunt coat as a dress jacket. I'm thinking about making a t-shirt with the show's title or a quote. I haven't decided yet whether I should wear jeans or khaki pants. I'll probably watch a few episodes and see which is more frequent. I can go to Wal-Mart and get some face paint this weekend, because I'm going to need some facial hair. I also need to experiment with my hair so I can tie it back in the best way possible. My mom has a stethoscope. Would it be inappropriate to bring an old prescription bottle filled with dinner mints and share "Vicodin" with my horse in a class full of little kids? Maybe, but sometimes it's fun to push boundaries ;) 
For Stella, I went to a thrift store and bought some old bedsheets for two dollars. I also bought a tan piece of cloth that I can cut into a bandage shape and somehow attach to her rump. My mom said that she'll try to order the largest human hospital gown they sell. I guess we'll see if that fits her. It'd be really nice if I didn't have to sew too much. Hospital gowns aren't that expensive, either. 
I can't wait to go home this weekend. 
Oh, yeah, and I practiced with the cane this weekend. I also practiced leading Stella on the off side. Dr. House carries his cane in his right hand, even though his right leg is the one that's messed up. In order to be realistic, I've got to lead Stella with one hand on the wrong side. A bonus is that my "normal" limp is on the right side, so I don't have to practice that too much :D I can just pass on the ibuprofen the morning before the show.
Like I said, I can't wait. Come on, fall break!

Big Update

Yeah, once again, I've waited to do this until I've almost got four lessons to write about. Nice.
Hmm. I guess I should get started.
Last Tuesday, I rode a grey horse named Merlin. Laura had told me that she hoped I would get Merlin and that I would like him. I was really surprised when I actually did get him right after. We jumped and had a good lesson. Once, I caught him in the mouth because I got a little left behind. I felt so terrible. Hurting a horse's mouth is an unforgivable sin to me. I spent the rest of the lesson patting his shoulder and apologizing to him. 
Merlin was wonderful. I took a picture of him after my lesson because he's now my favorite school horse :) 
On Thursday, we worked on the flat, as usual. I rode a chestnut horse named Blaze. Remember back when I had my makeup lesson and I wrote about how I was glad no one had been around when I was mounting Jasmine? Ughhh. Well, Blaze decided that he wanted to give me a hard time as well. I had to dismount in order to adjust my stirrups, because he was moving THAT much. When I tried to remount, Blaze walked off and started walking into the crowd of other horses. My breeches are meant for an extra tall person, so they're a little long in the crotch on me. I absolutely could not bring my leg over the saddle, and Blaze was just walking around wherever he pleased. I was lying on his back, turning him in a sharp circle with one rein, and trying to get him to stop. He was so hardheaded. Of course, I was laughing quite a bit, which didn't help my struggle. Eventually I made it up there, but not before I made a spectacle of myself. Oh well. It made me laugh. 
After the initial battle, Blaze and I got along just fine. He had an exceptionally smooth jog, which was lovely to sit. We did some work with one stirrup (Yeah, one. I thought it was a little messed up and it really hurt my hip, so I ended up dropping both stirrups behind Teresa's back. Hahaha. I'm sneaky.), and then Teresa couldn't get me to pick them back up. Call me a masochist, but I love stirrupless work. All we did after the stirrupless work was walk around and cool out, so I figured she wouldn't care. 
I had a great weekend with Stella, but I think I'll make a post right after this one to elaborate on that.
This Tuesday, I rode a big chestnut named Dutch. He had the most unusual markings--a black patch on his hindquarters and a black patch on the side of one of his cannon bones. I don't think I liked riding Dutch very much. I think a lot of it had to do with the saddle. It wasn't very comfortable, and it definitely didn't fit me properly. Dutch also cantered funny. I hated his canter so much that I two-pointed it. It felt like he was either cross-cantering or limpy-loping, or perhaps a combination of the two. It didn't help that my hip was hurting terribly. I was not pleased when I realized that it was Tuesday, our jumping day. 
We jumped some jumps, and Dutch took a lot of steering. Teresa warned me about it, but he ducked out the first time anyway. The second try was good. We got over on the first try of our second jump, but I lost my stirrup again and fell forward. Since it was the same stirrup as last time, I'm thinking I threw my weight to the left side again. It was all good, but I couldn't sit Dutch's canter very well and I really wanted my stirrup back. I wanted to try it again, but the lesson was over with. That's too bad, I guess. 
I wonder which horse I'll ride tomorrow.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Make-Up

I had to go to a make-up lesson today at 11:30. It was a pretty fun lesson, and I learned a few important things.
They were using the extra horse that they'd originally reserved for me, so I had to wait around and have them bring me a pony in from the pasture. The pony was absolutely adorable ("a little fox," as the instructor later described her), and her name was Jasmine. She looked like a nice chestnut at first, but I noticed what looked like a very faint dorsal stripe while I was grooming her. Hm. She was quite sweet, even though she pinned her ears and nosed at me while I did her girth. 
I was the first person to finish tacking up, so I walked Jasmine down to the indoor arena and waited for someone to give me some instruction. A woman came out into the ring and told me to go ahead and mount. She disappeared for a while, and I'm so glad she did. 
Jasmine didn't want me to mount her. She would take a step or two away from the mounting block (She was definitely short enough for me to mount her without a block, but I always try to use one for the sake of my hip.) and refused to back up when I asked her to move back to it. I put the block aside and attempted to mount without one. Jasmine, once again, walked off, and then the saddle slipped. I could've sworn the girth was tight enough, as I'd just adjusted it for the second time. I made it to the ground just barely on my feet, and then I had to tack up all over again while fighting with Jasmine to make her hold still. I eventually got on, though.  I would've been terribly embarrassed if anyone had been watching me :) 
We worked at a walk and trot on the flat for a while, and the teacher even asked us to drop our stirrups at the walk. I was so happy. Then, she asked us to do a posting trot over a single pole. That was easy enough. She made a little crossrail after everyone had been over the pole twice, and then we jumped the crossrail twice each. That was also easy, so I was happy. Then, I realized that we were going to jump some really big jumps. They honestly weren't very big, but they weren't crossrails; they were the biggest jumps I've ever jumped. 
First, we had to cross the arena and jump two jumps in a row. They were far apart, but they were big for me. To add to everything, Jasmine got really excited when she realized we were jumping. The first two weren't so bad. They felt HUGE when Jasmine jumped them, but everything was okay. I just grabbed mane, gave her all the release she needed, and tried to keep myself balanced. The second time around, we did three jumps. We had to do the second jump from the first go, then canter around and turn to another jump, and then go diagonally, make a tiny turn in the line, and go over the third and final jump. 
That was an absolute disaster for me. On the first jump, I don't know what happened. I got popped up, which hurt my hip really bad, and I had to circle Jasmine after it to collect myself and get her back under control. She got really excited before and after that first jump. The instructor happened to be standing behind us when we jumped the second jump. The second jump was even worse than the last. We took the jump and I felt myself shift my weight onto my left stirrup. My right foot came straight out of the stirrup as Jasmine began the jump. Then, of course, she took off after the jump. I had to fight her to get her to stop because I definitely wasn't taking the third jump with only one stirrup. The instructor told me exactly what I'd done and said she thought I was going to fall for sure. I was certainly happy that I hadn't, and then I remembered my terrible lean. Miss Janet was the first one to tell me about it during one of our lessons, and today I realized just how imperative it is that I correct it. I finally got to the third jump, and it turned out to be rather uneventful in comparison to the other two. 
By the way, my name is Ann. Heh, yeah, that's what the instructor called me throughout the lesson :) I didn't catch her name either, so it's okay. 
I would write about my weekend with Stella, but, like the final jump, it was rather uneventful. I cleaned stalls, played with Stella, brushed Stella, and did some horse photography. Oh, yeah, and I also ate figs. 
I get to jump again tomorrow! That's exciting. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tuesday and Thursday Lessons on Cotton and Ozzie

This week, I got to ride two bay paint geldings.  The first one was a horse named Cotton. He was fun to ride. We rode in the outdoor ring for the first time, which was kind of exciting. We also jumped, which was equally as exciting. I really didn't like cantering Cotton because he would just...stop. We would be cantering along, and then he'd break into a jarring trot, regardless of how much I used my legs. Laura rode him before, and she told me that he did it with her too. We worked on the flat for a while, even though I couldn't hear a word that Teresa was saying to us.  I barely heard her ask us to canter, and then I didn't hear that she wanted us to canter in two-point. Jumping was great. We trotted the jump once and cantered it a few times after.  Once, Cotton broke into a trot about 15 feet before the jump, and I didn't want to fight with him straight to the jump. I made him circle and then brought him back into line. We had some very nice jumps, or at least they felt nice. 
Today I rode a pony named Ozzie. I walked up to his stall and started telling him that he was just too cute--because he was :) He pinned his ears and wrinkled his nose just like Mac used to do, and I couldn't help but laugh at him. When I was grooming and tacking him up, though, I wasn't laughing. I ducked under his neck while he was tied and I heard a little pop. It sounded like I'd bumped his chin and made him pop his lips, so I dismissed it. I was cautious, though, and I later realized that the little bugger was making serious attempts at biting me. I slapped him one time really hard and he didn't do it again. He was actually really good for me after that. He snapped and sneered as I did up his girth, but I glared at him and he didn't reach around after me. 
Riding him was quite nice. He had pony gaits, but his canter was still lovely to ride. His trot was fine, except when he saw other horses cantering and wanted to canter with them. I think I was having a pretty bad day. I lost my left stirrup while asking him to canter the first time, but I just cantered on without it. I also got my right foot jammed into the stirrup once while cantering, but that time I stopped and fixed it. I definitely don't want my feet to be THAT secure in the stirrups. I seriously thought I was going to lose my balance and just slip off a couple of times. I hated the saddle. It was way too small for me, and the seat was really shallow. We played a follow-the-leader game where we walked and trotted around the ring, maintaining one horse length between horses, switching directions, and changing line order. It was different.
I can't wait to go home and see Stella and everyone at the barn. 

Monday, September 22, 2008

Last Tuesday's Ride and...STATE!!!!!

I didn't get around to writing about last Tuesday's ride before I left for State, so I guess I'll write about it now. I rode Laura's favorite horse, Hope. I think she was a bay, but I truthfully don't remember. That's really, really sad. Hope was really slow and I had to urge her on in order to get her to trot and canter. Beth taught us on Tuesday and we did a lot of jumping. It was so much fun. We jumped two jumps in a row, which I've never done. Of course, there were a lot of strides between the jumps, but it was still awesome. One of the jumps that I did felt absolutely amazing. I even cantered to the second jump, which made it feel so nice. I thought I was going to fall off one time, though. I think my heels came up, or, rather, just didn't sink down. I'm used to working with a dressage-type leg, but now I'm at jumping-intensive boot camp and I have to learn that the heels get shoved down more. I guess I'll figure it out a little better once I've hit the ground a time or two because of it.
Ah, but that lesson was a while ago. I've got to talk about State! Yeah, so I left school on Wednesday afternoon so I could get ready to leave early on Thursday. When we got to the showgrounds, I had to get ready for showmanship that evening. I turned in my project book and then started to braid Stella's mane and tail. Stella also had to be clipped, which was an ordeal. She's fine with clipping as long as we don't touch her mule ears. We had to have two people hold her--one with a twitch (I don't necessarily like seeing them used, but I don't like seeing horses and humans hurt and killed.)--and one person clipping her. Stella ended up stepping on my foot, and all I remember was shoving her and then yelling "Get her off! Get her off!" because I thought she was going to break my entire foot or the ankle itself. I couldn't do very much because she had stepped on the foot that was farthest from her and I couldn't turn around.  I thought something was broken because I couldn't put weight on it for almost ten minutes, and then I thought my big toenail was going to come off because my big toe was covered in blood. Everything's okay now, though, and I just have some places on my foot where the skin got scraped and/or ripped off. 
Sorry if you thought that was disgusting. Hahaha. 
Showmanship went really well. Stella wouldn't go into the chute without exploding, so I requested to wait until I could go straight through without waiting around other horses. She still got upset, but no one else was around to get hurt. I got her to calm down once we were in the arena, and then we executed a decent pattern. I was really expecting a red ribbon, but the ring steward handed me a blue. Hunter showmanship at State really is a lot easier than Western, as there are less hunter people who've been taught how to do it. Lucky for me, I have a trainer who specializes in all of that fun Western stuff and thinks I ride in a "wussy" saddle :) I had to memorize the callback pattern after I got out of the ring, so I led Stella around with the book in my hand. Larry held her for me while I practiced the pattern on foot (I look like an idiot, but it helps a whole lot.) and then we practiced a few key parts of the pattern. Our callback pattern was actually pretty good. I overshot a cone by a foot or so because we were backing and I lost track of where it was; it was totally my fault. Stella also didn't want to come directly into a trot from a halt. We took a few extra strides, but it was all okay.  All in all, I was very pleased. Stella even started to fall asleep while we were in the lineup. She fidgeted a little when people started to clap, but she was very good. I got 11th place, so I didn't get a ribbon. I was still happy, though. 
Friday's schooling session was amazing. I tacked Stella up in Larry's old Western saddle and worked her in one of the outdoor rings. We did a lot of bending and leg yielding. Her trot was amazing. Her canter was brilliant. She was so soft and rounded, she accepted the bit, and her stride was long and slow. I felt centered, relaxed, and focused. I couldn't believe it, and Larry said that it was awesome. 
I had my first go of pleasure on Friday. We had an excellent ride, but, once again, we got the wrong lead both ways of the ring. I caught it immediately both times, but the judge saw it at least one way. I don't know why she got the wrong lead. I asked correctly and she got the right lead every time while we were schooling. It was a great ride, though, so I was happy with her. 
One of my schooling sessions was a disaster. Some idiot came flying out of the bushes on a bike and scared over half of the horses who were working in the ring. Both of my seatbones were on one side of the saddle at one point, so I have no idea how I stayed on.  I saw the kid and tried to keep Stella focused, but when he came out of the bush, Stella just gave a massive leap and I tried to follow her. I got her to calm down after a while, and then we started to work again. I heard a little thud and some mad hoofbeats, so I looked and saw that someone's saddle had slipped and their horse was running madly around the ring. Stella usually freaks out when people fall off and their horses run around, so I halted her and hoped the horse wouldn't come near us. Sure enough, the horse came running toward us, and I started cussing and trying to get it to run away from us. The horse kept running straight for us. I hoped that the horse would run out at the last second, but I turned around and relaxed my body just seconds before the stupid horse galloped right into Stella's hind end.  Stella, being a good-natured creature, didn't kick or even pin her ears. She just stood there and was very nervous and surprised. It took me a long time to calm her down again. People kept riding up on her, and Stella would get nervous and pin her ears.  I felt so sorry for her. I'm realizing how alike we are. I used to be terrified when people would drive behind me after I got into my second rear-end crash. 
Equitation was a blast, though. I felt so good, and Stella was excellent. The only catch was that the judge favored the two-point-cantering, butt-poking, crappy English riders over those who ride correctly. Yeah, we're supposed to be able to take a jump should one pop up in front of us, but as long as there's enough distance for the horse to make it, there's enough distance for me to get up in a two-point. Larry thought it was a great ride, and I personally think I would have placed high in the class if the 4-H trend wasn't to ride in an excessively forward seat. I was happy. I was especially proud of Stella. When we were working, a girl fell off right in front of us. Stella spooked and whipped around, but I got her under control and got her to calm down. The horse ran to the other side of the ring and everything was good. Stella also had a problem the first time we cantered because another rider rudely cantered--or should I say hand-galloped, perhaps bolted?--up behind us and barely made it past without running into us.  Stella rightfully spooked and became upset, but I calmed her down and she went along fine after it.
Mindy and I stayed in the trailer on Friday night. Our friend John, whom we met at Southern Regionals a few years ago, came all the way from South Carolina to watch us at the show. We went to the hotel to take a shower and then we went to the barn to play with the horses. Mindy wanted to school Gemini in the trail arena before her class the next morning, so we went to get her saddle from the tack room. We ran into a little problem when we realized it was locked. Mindy decided that she wasn't going to ride, but John said that he would get it. We stood and watched as he climbed on a tack trunk, climbed on the stall bar, and hauled himself up and over the top into the tack stall. Mindy and I started to laugh when we wondered how he was going to get the saddle out. He told us to throw a lead rope over, which he brought under the swell of the saddle and clipped onto itself.  We held it while he struggled to climb back up and out of the tack stall. I wish I'd had my camera, because it was very impressive! Mindy did get her saddle and rode for a few minutes. A show official made her get off because the EMTs had left for the night; I wanted to let the show official know just how hard we'd worked to get the saddle, but I understand the rule. We messed around with Leo's stable management card ("Remove bot eggs. Horse needs water. Clean stall. You suck." Sigh. The joy that a simple practical joke can bring...) and then got Abby from the trailer and played on the hill. I almost fell down the hill because Abby jumped on my back while I was sitting down. It was so much fun. Eventually John had to go back to his tent, so Mindy and I went into the trailer and got ready for bed. We brought Abby up into the gooseneck with us and gave her a spot between us. It was so nice and warm in the trailer. We hadn't realized just how cold it had been outside, and we were especially cold from sitting in the wet grass on the hill.
On Saturday, I had my final class, second go pleasure. I schooled Stella in the arena where the class was going to be held, and she was perfect. I rode her around a lot, and we had fun. I gave her a Gatorade, and we had to play tug-of-war so that I could get the bottle out of her mouth. I don't regret teaching her how to drink out of a bottle :) When it was time for the class, Stella freaked out in the chute again.  Larry led me into the ring and Stella was calm again.  She was actually being very good. I thought the class was much too large for the arena, but I figured everything would be okay. When we were asked to canter, Stella exploded. I don't know what caused it, but she simply exploded. I had to use her neck to help me balance because she was going absolutely insane. She wasn't bucking, but she was throwing herself around, backing, turning, and whatever else she could. After that, the judge called to split the class. Stella went well the second way, but the damage was done.  The judge selected a few numbers to be excused, and we were one of them. The crowd applauded and cheered loudly for us, which caused Stella to explode again.  I reined her in and sent her out of the ring, where she exploded again in the chute.  A woman who was stupidly standing in the center of the chute with the horses saw Stella getting upset and started to shield her face and scream. Of course that didn't help, so Stella's explosion carried on into the schooling ring that the chute led into. I schooled Stella for a few more minutes before I got off and took her back to the barn. I untacked Stella, groomed her, gave her some hay, and picked her stall. I was really upset about what had happened. See, I really wanted to go to Southern Regionals this year, and I actually thought I could make it this year. The best laid plans don't always work out, though. I was upset that I had no clue why Stella exploded in the middle of the class like that. Larry walked with me to the coliseum and talked to me. He asked me if I was disappointed, and I told him that I was. He said that he was disappointed for me, and that my time would come someday. Then, he jokingly said that he could sell Stella and buy another horse for me to ride. He kind of wants me to start doing Western again, but he promised me a long time ago that he'd never again sell a horse from under me. I don't know. I always seem to feel a lot better when I talk to Larry. We went shopping in the coliseum for a birthday gift for Jean.
On Saturday evening, we went out to dinner at Ruby Tuesday. As usual, I had a terrible time finding something to eat, so I opted for a plain baked potato and unlimited trips to the salad bar. I made a gorgeous salad and ate every bite of it, and then I topped my potato with items from the salad bar and made a gorgeous baked potato. Guess what. I ate every bite of that too :) We came back and watched drill team performances. There was one that I really liked that was done to some very awesome techno.
On Sunday, I played with Stella and Abby for most of the day. Stella insisted on eating my cookies and picking up and dumping out the muck bucket when I was cleaning her stall. I was a total rebel as I walked around the showgrounds with Abby. The show officials discriminate on the basis of species, and Abby wasn't supposed to be there at all. But she walked around with me, played with little kids, came into the barn, sat in the tack stall with me, and even came into the bathroom with me. She hated that. I had to tie her to the hand rail. 
This year was excellent. I can't wait until next year! And I can't wait until I get to ride tomorrow, either. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Huge Post (Because I've slacked off over the past week.)

Yeah, I've been doing a lot of stuff this week other than typing blog posts. For example, I was waking up early in the morning so that I could watch episodes of House online; they absolutely will not work unless I do it early in the morning. I've also been working on my project books for State, as I'll be leaving this Wednesday for the biggest horse show of the year. And, of course, I've been laboring over Chemistry and Latin work. 
I rode a chestnut pony named Bugsy on Tuesday last week. He was very cute and very fun to ride. I liked his trot and canter, and he was very polite. On Thursday, I...actually...rode...a horse! His name was Magic, and he was a very large bay gelding. I loved riding him. His gaits were pleasant, and I enjoyed being on a horse for once. I also liked the saddle that I was using a whole lot. We even jumped! Teresa set out a small crossrail for those who had previous jumping experience, and I was the second person to go. My first jump sucked (I have almost no upper body strength, and I kind of fell forward onto his neck.), but they got better. I haven't jumped in a while, and, even then, it was just tiny crossrails on Stella. 
The only downside to Thursday's ride was the pain. My hip has been bothering me for the past week or so, and riding on Thursday seemed to aggravate it. I remember riding a canter-trot transition that was particularly painful. After the lesson was over, I dropped my stirrups, tipped my head back, and nearly cried from the pain. Teresa obviously never saw the papers that I filled out during the orientation meeting, because I specifically noted my hip and back issues and the fact that they've kept me from riding in the past. She asked me if I'm nervous about jumping, and I had to explain to her how I was feeling. She was quite understanding about the whole thing. 
My hip is actually hurting right now. 
I went to a show this weekend too. It was a western show, so I planned to go and just school Stella, maybe do a bit of showmanship with her. When we got there, however, I decided I was going to try riding in a go-as-you-please class for a bit of fun. I just wore my paddock boots, jeans, one of the show shirts that I loaned to my sister, and my schooling helmet in the classes, and I used one of the extra saddles that Larry put in the trailer. I rode Stella just like I would if I had been in an English class, except I sat the trot instead of posting. I kept plenty of contact, trotted, cantered, rode with both hands (She was in the same snaffle she normally works in, but on a western bridle. The only problem was that she's 6, and the cutoff age for snaffle bits is 5.), the works. Of course I didn't place in that class, but she went along perfectly. She was calm, focused, and just...oh, I had to go in pleasure and equitation after that class! 
Pleasure was okay. Stella stayed calm, just like in the previous class. We got the wrong lead BOTH ways of the ring, though. I have no idea why. It was probably my fault, especially since she was behaving herself. Sometimes she gets worked up when I'm riding and, no matter how well I cue her, she'll take off on whatever lead she feels like. But I really think something was off with me. After the pleasure class, the judge stopped me and asked me how old Stella is. I told her the truth, but I also told her that we were just in the class for schooling purposes and that we're normally an English pair. She said that it was fine, and that Stella was a very nice mover. She was the same judge who judged at the last show--the one who said that Stella needed to round up and collect. I guess she recognized us. She asked me how old Stella is at the last show too. 
Equitation went very well. I didn't expect much in the way of ribbons, mostly because I had to sit a full-out trot while everyone else was sitting a comfy little jog :) Stella behaved herself for our third and final class, and I was so proud of her. The judge asked us to drop our stirrups at the jog. I got so excited because I love stirrupless work. Call me a masochist, but it's true! I came out of that class in 5th place, which was pretty good in my opinion. It was a pretty big class. 
All in all, I was very pleased with the show. I hadn't been there in a very long time. It was actually where I had my first horse show, and where Squeeky fell over with me at that first horse show. Err, yeah. He had a little tantrum and ended up toppling over sideways onto my leg. It was actually one of my least painful falls, maybe my least painful. Haha, but I digress. 
I rode after we left the show as well. Larry and I worked Chester for a while, which was a lot of fun. Chester reminds me so much of Mac; it almost makes me cry sometimes when I'm riding him. Today I rode Stella and Tatiana. Stella was very good. We did lots of stirrupless work, and I have the bruises on my knees to prove it. I was so happy with her. I almost did a bit of bareback riding, but I've learned my lesson about pushing my luck when things are going just THAT good. Tatiana was frustrating. It was my first time riding her without Larry holding on to her in some fashion, and I'm not quite sure she understood everything I was asking her to do. It took a lot to make her turn and move. We trotted a little bit, which was a whole lot of fun. 
I had a good weekend, and I am so ready for State. 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

When the World is "Mud-Luscious" and "Puddle-Wonderful"...

The hurricane completely ruined my riding plans this weekend, but I did get to go home and play with Stella. Larry was off at a big Quarter Horse show, so I didn't get to see him. Jean was there, though. 
Stella did not enjoy all of the wind and rain on Friday. She tends to, er, freak out whenever it rains. I think it's mostly from the rain hitting the roof, but perhaps there's something else that she doesn't like that I don't pick up on. After the rain, however, I turned her out in the muddy arena so that she could trot around a bit and so I could safely clean her stall. I took lots of pictures of her because I happened to have my camera with me. There are also a few pictures of my poor paddock boots completely engulfed in mud and Jack frolicking in the puddles with a stick that he found, but they're mostly of Stella. I also brushed Stella after I finished her stall, and then we had a wonderful de-spooking session with the purple duster. 
Stella got upset when I was dusting the cobwebs all the way across the barn, but when I finished with our de-spooking session, she thought of it as a funny-looking, purple treat dispenser. I started out by offering a treat to her, but only if she would bring her nose a few inches from the duster. I made her go closer until she was touching it and wiggling her lips over it, and then I started to rub it on her back and poke her with it. I touched her with it until she stopped twitching, and then I immediately removed it. I started to stroke her with it and touch it to random parts of her body. She was perfectly fine with the duster when I was all finished, so I offered her a final treat and ended our session. 
On Saturday, I went to the barn for a while too. I basically did the same thing, but with more stall mucking and less de-spooking and photography. It was still fun, though. 
Today, I went to the barn for an hour or so, just to say goodbye to Stella. I put her out in the muddy arena, cleaned her stall, watered the horses, and went to bring her back inside. She rolled right in the biggest mud puddle out there; her entire right side was caked. I waited as long as I could for her to dry and then curried the dried mud off. Hopefully a kind soul will see her tonight and finish the job for me :) 
I went out to Jack's Pond to see how everything fared during the hurricane. Our boat was fine, but I saw two big black snakes. The first one really startled me. I was walking through some stuff and then I heard rustling leaves as the snake slithered away. I saw his entire body, and I'd guess he was nearly three feet long. I left that area and went over to the little tree that's fallen into the pond. A frog jumped into the pond and another snake slithered into the tall grass. I still can't decide whether it looked more like a brown tail or a black tail. Either way, both of the snakes could have been poisonous or nonpoisonous. Oh well, I didn't get bitten, so it's all good. I'll have to be more careful when I'm down there from now on. 
I'm excited about riding again on Tuesday. I need to do homework before then, though. I guess I'll do it tomorrow, as it's nearly midnight now.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday Lesson on Barney

I got to ride another pony today, but he was super-cute. His name was Barney, and he almost looked like a fat little Icelandic pony. Laura suggested that to me, and I definitely agree. 
I know I complained about the saddle being too small on Tuesday, but today's saddle was at least a size 17. It was hard, but it didn't bother me. I liked the fact that the seat was deeper than the last saddle I rode in, and I actually appreciated the saddle being too big. The one thing I was scared about, though, was the width of my stirrup irons. I almost didn't get on, and, looking back now, I probably should've gone back for different leathers. They were only slightly wider than my boot, which is EXTREMELY dangerous. I normally drop my stirrups if I think I'm falling off, but I think I probably would have been dragged had something gone wrong... 
Of course, Barney didn't do anything that would have caused me to fall, let alone become unseated at all. (Uh, there was one thing, but I'll talk about that later.) I hopped on and walked him around the ring. He really didn't want to stand for mounting, but I jumped on anyway and made him walk in a really tight circle until he decided to wait for me. When he halted, we sat for a minute before I asked him to walk off. I made an assumption that Barney was going to want to go, go, go. Oh, man, I was so wrong. 
As we walked, I found myself having to urge him on to keep him at a snail's pace. He also liked cutting corners, which I quickly taught him not to do. Teresa asked us to go into a posting trot, and I found it extremely difficult to rise with him. I thought my shoulders felt a little rounded, but Teresa never mentioned it to me. We did a sitting trot, which was very easy to do on Barney. Eventually I had to get a crop. Barney was making a joke of me, and he just needed a tap or two behind my leg before he went along properly. We also did a trot while in two-point, and I thought it felt pretty good. I think my back is flattening out, which is excellent. We did a posting trot over the poles a couple of times, and as I passed, Teresa said "Oh, wow, Barney actually went through." I'm not quite sure what she meant by that, because later she said that "Barney loves jumping." 
Trying to get Barney to canter was ridiculous. Teresa divided us into two groups for cantering, and I was in the first group. I set Barney up, asked for the canter, and got...a very crazy trot. I tried again with the crop behind my leg and eventually got him back into the trot. At home, if Stella doesn't take an upward transition in a reasonable amount of time, I stop her and try again. Therefore, that's exactly what I kept on doing. I did eventually get him to canter, but it was on the wrong lead and I pulled him back just as Teresa decided to switch groups. 
The other lead was a little better. I asked Teresa, and evidently she wants me to keep going in the terrible trot until he decides he ought to canter. I would be told to get off the horse if I did that at home, but I'll do things their way at this barn. Instead of kicking Barney into the canter, I whopped his little butt a few times and got him to do a little bit of the canter. He actually got the right lead, which earned him a pat. I also liked how he didn't use his head for balance nearly as much as the other two ponies that I've been on at this barn. 
When we went back into the trot, Barney and I had to pass a jump that was near the rail. Because "Barney loves jumping," he thought he might try to jump over the jump instead of passing it. I pushed him back on the rail, but it was a tad too little, too late. My knee hit the standard and knocked the pole down; I almost thought I was going to take the entire standard out--that, or get pulled off (But, really, how could I manage that? Pants/boot getting caught aside.). It hurt a lot, and the pain was magnified because it was the knee that was already hurting for some reason. I do applaud Barney for not spooking, which is exactly what would have happened with Stella. Stella finally realizes that the stationary standards aren't going to bite or trap her, but I don't think she understands that the poles and standards can move without the world coming to an end. Barney tried to go through the poles once right before the lesson was over, but I made him stay on the rail and stay away from the standard.
I think I've decided that I prefer silly horses to remarkably lethargic ones.