Sunday, August 9, 2009

Horses, dogs, know, the usual.

I've been going to the pond a lot lately. Larry had to go to town to get some things one afternoon, so I took Abby and Jack down to Jack's Pond. They played in the water while I sat on the overturned boat and dangled my feet in the water. I was in the process of putting my boots back on when I looked up. There were three "creatures" swimming toward me. At first I only saw one, and I took it as Abby still swimming around. I noticed the other two and realized that Abby and Jack were over at Abby's Pond, splashing around and making the frogs jump from their hiding places in the grass. Then, I thought the animals were snapping turtles, but I decided that the heads were definitely mammalian--and that I'd see shells. I assumed they were beavers, but their heads were too narrow to be a beaver. I also didn't think they were muskrats for the same reason. I decided that the animals had to be otters. After that point, I felt like I was having one of those weird, almost transcendental moments where I wasn't sure that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. It felt like I was hallucinating or something. After a few moments of watching the animals swim toward me, they turned around and started swimming away from me. It was awesome.
The next day, I went out on the holey boat to see if there were any otters swimming in the pond again. I didn't see any, but I got soaking wet because I still haven't repaired the two huge leaks. I enjoyed the water and paddled around for a while.
On the day after that, I didn't plan to go to the barn. I've been having a really rough time with my hip, back, and knees, and I thought it would just be best to stay home and rest. Sure enough, Larry called me while I was eating dinner and asked me if I was coming. I told him that I didn't think I'd be able to and he understood, but he told me that Dylan and Shelby were there for a lesson and they were asking him why I wasn't there. I was upset that I wouldn't see them, so I took some more pain medicine and drove to the barn.
I was obviously limping, which concerned the kids' mother. I assured her that I'd be able to lead Shelby during her lesson, however, and that I was glad to do it. I'm really glad that I came. It hurt when I jogged beside Tina, but Shelby had a great time trotting and I didn't mind too much. Shelby showed Larry her skills at doing around-the-worlds, and even I was impressed. She's very good at them. Larry rode Tina after Shelby was finished riding, and I took the kids and the dogs down to the pond for a boat ride.
I told the kids about the otters. They thought that was very exciting, but we didn't see any otters. I took Shelby and Dylan out on the boat for a long ride. Once again, I got soaked. Most of the water pooled on my side of the boat because I weigh more than the kids. My seat got wet, which made my butt wet, which was rather unpleasant. The seat was wet because Abby insisted on jumping in the boat with us--once again, she needed me to haul her into the boat. I decided to stand in the boat and row back to our landing, hoping that the kids would sit still and Abby wouldn't decide to leap out of the boat, causing me to fall in the scummy water. Fortunately, I didn't get THAT wet.
Shelby also said that I'm a "good friend." We were gathering dirt to make a pretend fire, and I thought that was really sweet of her to say that. Little kids are so great.
After the kids left the barn, I turned on the floodlights and worked some showmanship with Stella. We only did a little bit of trotting, but we did lots of work on other things. I got Stella to do lots of bending. We also worked on setting up until she was doing it on her own whenever we halted. Sometimes, if we practice a whole lot, she'll start doing that. She's great :) We worked on pivoting, which eventually turned out to be pretty decent. I guess I ought to do whatever I can manage. Getting out and doing something positive, like playing with the kids and animals, is better than sitting at home and feeling like I'm too messed up to do anything.
I've been having some good rides on Stella since the arena dried out again. The first night back was okay. She was her quirky little "oh-I-forgot-how-to-do-that" self, as she usually is after a long stint of no work. She didn't do anything too bad, but she was a little spooky in one corner one time around, she insisted on trying to eat grass that was growing up from the pasture (which is right alongside the arena), and she decided that it was okay to ignore my canter cues for a couple of strides.
I also rode her the night before last. She was still a little "off," but she was improving. She wanted to rush a little and still wanted to take her sweet time to move into a canter. The one naughty thing she did was crow-hopping. Stella really felt like she wanted to have a nice hand-gallop. Since we were alone in the arena, I asked her to move into a canter and then got her to extend and quicken her pace. I stuck in a full seat until she really got going, and then I moved into a light half-seat. As soon as I rose from the saddle, she threw her head down and gave me two little crow-hops. They didn't jostle me, but I settled back into a full seat and gradually brought her back into a regular canter. I had a difficult time riding the right lead, so I thought working without stirrups might help. It didn't help, but it was still a good exercise. Our only problem was when Stella and I rode deep into a corner and Stella lost her footing. She stumbled a little and the sudden movement was really painful for me. It hurt all the way up my back and all through my pelvis. I only rode for a little while after that.
I spent a lot of time at the barn today. I cleaned stalls this morning and rinsed off all of the horses because they were sweating in the heat. They enjoyed their baths. I also took Abby to McDonalds. My sister fed her french fries and part of her chicken sandwich. The woman who was working at the drive-thru thought it was strange to see the little dog sitting in the passenger seat with my sister and eying the bags of food with the intent of snatching anything left unguarded. Abby was certainly ready to lap up Larry's strawberry milkshake--if only she'd been able to pop the top off! When we got back to the barn, I gave the dogs some of my Apple Dippers. They enjoyed the caramel. Jack enjoyed it so much that he put his tongue in my caramel sauce and got a mixture of drool and sticky sauce all over my breeches. I also gave one of the apple slices to Stella. By the time I was finished distributing the apples to hungry canine and equine mouths, I only got one or two slices. So it goes.
I took Abby out to Gregg's Place for a while, too. This time, I didn't let myself get disoriented :) She was very happy to go exploring with me. When we got back, Abby was covered in little green sticky-burrs, while I seem to have wandered into a nest of seed ticks. I took Abby and Jack down to the pond, where they splashed in the water and I tried to get the ticks off of me before I could get bitten. I laid down on the overturned boat and lowered my arms into the water, scrubbing violently. Suddenly, Jack and Abby leaped onto the boat and jumped into the water. I seriously thought that I was going to slip and fall into the water because of the way the boat shook. I carefully hooked my foot over the taut rope that was tied between a tree and the boat. That prevented any more near-mishaps, and the dogs continued to roughhouse in the shallow water. I got all of the ticks off, I think. Hopefully I got all the ticks off.
I rode Stella after the horses had their dinner and after it cooled down enough. Mindy came over to help Larry with Curly Sue. I had an excellent ride on Stella. My right lead canter was still a little funny, but I've also been in a lot of pain lately. I assume that it's difficult for me to ride the right lead because I'm out of alignment again. I'm going to the chiropractor tomorrow, however, so hopefully that will be fixed soon. Stella got another quick rinse before I gave her a cookie and turned her out in the pasture for the night.

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