Sunday, December 31, 2006

Over the Water and Through the Woods

Out on the Trail Again

I took Toby out first today. I thought I'd check to see just how bad the trail around the little lake in the back was. It was.

This is a restored sand mine. The State of New Jersey took a lot of time and effort to change the big hole the mining company had left into a neat little natural lake. At one time, there was a nice pathway all around it. Over time, the mini-bikes and ATV's have rutted it up to the point that there are numerous places where the water just settles into big swampy mud puddles. It is near to the swamp proper, so the land does not drain well to start off with, but at one time, except for a patch in the back, the trail was nice enough that I could trot.

No more. Picking your way along trying to find some good footing in the water, or trying to avoid the water for better footing takes total concentration and a careful walk. Toby is wonderful about it all and will go willingly through the water if need be. But we had to be cautious since it was hard to tell how good the ground was under us. It might be OK again in the summer if we have a good dry spell, but for now, I think it's far too much of a challenge for Tucker and I'm not too keen on taking Chance there either.

When I got back, Chance and Tucker were playing tag in the arena, behaving like a couple very silly cl0wns. I looked down at Tucker's feet and sure enough, he had pulled a front shoe. I found it a few feet away, lying in the sand.

Perfect. The last day of the year, and, since rain is predicted for New Year's Day, my last chance to ride him out on the trail with some dry footing and he had to lose a shoe. I guess I should have ridden him first instead of Toby.

So, I saddled up Chance and once more he eagerly headed out for adventure. This time, I took him down the trail to the lake but instead headed up along the ridge. We had to pass the horse-eating monster gray rock, but Chance never gave it a second look. Quite a contrast to both Toby and Tucker who are totally convinced the boulder has jaws and is going to jump out to get them.
Once again, Chance proved himself a super trail horse.

I told him when we got back that he was already a "trailmonger," and soon he would be a "trailmeister." What a gem of a horse he is.

So far, all looks to be in line for a really good New Year. Here's hoping all who read, and all who visit, and everyone who never sees this blog find 2007 to be prosperous and full of joy.

Happy New Year to All!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

On the Lines

Ringwork for a Change, or a Chance

I long lined everyone this afternoon.

Chance didn't particularly like the lines' insistence that he keep his head down, but he only threw two totally mini-tantrums. Nothing to even discuss. Once he figured out that he needed to work that way, he was just fine. I must admit, he is a nice mover in all three gaits and tends to stay nice and forward. He really is a honey.

He has put on some weight and is starting to look better fed. I'm still not sure how much he is going to grow and develop, but only time will tell. What is fun is that when I call him he comes right to me, even if he knows we are going to work. I guess the difficult start he had in life and all of Lauranne's loving care when he was a newborn has convinced him that humans are really OK. He is definitely one of the friendliest horses I've ever met.

Tucker was lazy as usual, requiring a bit of persuasion that "forward" was the best way to go. I had some really nice work from him until the turret on the new surcingle broke. That limited some of my more refined rein aids. But, to Tuck's credit, he didn't take advantage. The biggest problem I had was trying to keep him from overbending to the bit and getting too low in the process. I will have to work that out because when he is correct and up, he looks great!

Toby was, as usual, virtually perfect on the lines. Years ago, he told my animal communicator that he like to long line because he could see me. He never takes a wrong step. In fact, he was so good, I changed the rig to a direct rein instead of a "vee" connection on the surcingle because he was to quick to come round on the bit. I don't ask him to carry himself in an upper level frame much since he has retired from competition. No more FEI for him. He's quite happy doing the lower level carriage. And yet, if I want to, I can do any one of the upper level exercises with a minimum of effort if I ever want to play. Tempi changes are a cinch for him and all the lateral work is just as easy.

Guess I can use Toby to remind me of what I need to do as I move Tucker up the levels--and maybe even Chance, my happy little trail horse.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Rockabye, Babies

Why Outside?

I just got home from a vegetable shopping trip to the farmer's market, and found the "kids" of the herd bedded down in the paddock on the old hay.

This is not the first night I've found them snoozing out there. However all three stalls are nicely bedded in clean straw for Christmas. You'd think that would be the preferable bedroom. But no, they have to nap outside. The temperature is still pretty moderate, 46 degrees or so. I guess being outside is just more fun--kind of like camping.

Chance is a trail junkie! Nick came over to do some work today, so I set him to unloading my 54 bales of hay while I did some barn work. The Boys were out in the pasture. After a bit, they saw me at work and decided to investigate. When I finished and set Nick on another task, I took Tucker out for a hack on the same trail where we'd met the ATV yesterday. When I got back, Chance was at the gate, hanging over it with a longing expression on his face. I took Tucker in and Chance stayed at the gate, staring out into the woods. I unsaddled Tucker and called the kid in. It wasn't until I told him that, yes, we too could go out on the trail that he decided to come to me.

Once more, he proved himself a star. This time we even trotted a bit on the way out. He was definitely eager to go and totally disappointed when I turned into the first woods trail--the one he's been on before. I guess he was looking for adventure. Once we were in the woods he kept looking for new places to go. I think I will have to take him out to the tree farm sooner than later. At this rate we'll never get any ring work done, but I'd rather have him happy than trained. He's still a kid and deserves to have some fun in his life. Plenty of time to learn how to do that "dressage stuff."

As for Tucker, we had a milestone on the trail when I finally tried jumping one of the fallen trees across the trail. It was more of a "trot over" than a jump, but he was both quiet and bold about it. Later, we explored a bit, mostly because, like Chance, he wanted to investigate the path ahead. I had a bit more time for him, so we went up the lane that used to go to my grandmother's house--now bulldozed after falling down--then turned around and came back. If it weren't so darn wet, I'd love to see how he'd be about going around the lake, but I have a feeling the footing is under water. I'm not keen about riding anybody on that kind of terrain.

I gave Toby the day off. He made an evil face at the sight of a bridle, and practically smiled when I walked away with it.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

How to Ruin a Lovely Hack

ATV in the Woods

Oh, well, it had to happen sooner or later.

My luck with Tucker ran out this evening. We were having a lovely hack through the woods after a nice school in the ring. As I was in the last curve before the little trail heading home, I saw headlights out in the area near the lake. Sure enough it was someone on an ATV (all terrain vehicle) and, unfortunately, they were headed our way. I trotted Tucker down the path to the little trail and turned off, but we weren't fast enough. The ATV bore down on the road we'd just left and Tucker started to get riled up. I could feel his back start to hump and since I know I cannot sit more than one buck, I dismounted as fast as my cricketly knees would allow. He bounced just a little as the ATV went by, and then settled down in my hand. I had to lead him home--a short walk, but surrender nonetheless. With him, it's better safe than sorry.

He was a little silly in the ring because my cousins next door were setting up a target to shoot at with their air rifles--another annoying distraction. But Tucker does not focus entirely on his work, so their activity set him into a couple spooks. I was nearly done by then anyhow, having worked for a bit on collecting and extending both the trot and canter on either rein, so their presence encouraged me to go out on my hack a bit sooner rather than later. Had the timing been different, I might have met the ATV in a spot where we wouldn't have been able to escape.

ATV's are illegal in the State Park, but that doesn't stop them. Signs are posted all over and there is a stiff fine as well as confiscation of the vehicle if they are caught. Trouble is, there is usually no one to catch them. They have ruined some of the trails and, in the summer, often ride around the lake in the back eroding its banks. It's just one more frustration to quiet rides.

On the other hand, I took Chance out again on the longish trail, all the way to the back of the Park. He was amazed to see the field on the other side and had a good time. So good that I'm not sure he really wanted to go home again. He is the first horse I've ever ridden who actually goes slower once he knows he's headed back. We met a guy with a pickup truck--also illegal out there as there are no motorized vehicles allowed--and Chance behaved well. Usually, when Toby and even PJ met such "out of place in the woods" things, it was a bit of an adventure. For Chance it was an interested shrug of the shoulders. Cool. I think he's going to be fun guy to just get on and go whereever I want to go!

I took Toby out to the Christmas tree farm and had a nice little trot on the dirt road out there. It was still sunny then and everything was just glowing. There are still quite a few trees left, and I hope they will grow nicely this summer. Alan, the farmer who runs the farm, works hard and deserves a good crop. He also leases the land to me I use for my pasture. The surrounding farmland, now part of the State Park, used to belong to his grandfather and has been farmed by his family since about 1900. It's great to see farming pass down from one generation to the next as it's a dying "art" here in New Jersey--the Garden State.

Ah, well tomorrow I have to go get hay in the morning. Perhaps if I ride when I get back I won't run into any distractions.

At least the ATV's won't have their headlights on. *sigh*

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Another Day, Another Trail Ride

And Some Schooling

I rode all three Boys again today.

I worked Tucker in the ring for about a half hour. Even without my spurs, he was pretty well forward. I think my aids are a bit more refined and subtle when I do have the spurs on, but he was willing to go without too much effort on my part.

I did the shoulder-in, ten meter circle, haunches in on both reins several times, suppling him up and he became pretty solidly round in a more elevated frame. I still need some "eyes" on the ground to give me a better evaluation, but he felt good nonetheless. If I ever set up the acrylic mirrors I have materials for, I will be able to see how we look, but for now, I need to rely on "feel." I also did a fair bit of canter/counter canter on each rein, finding him more likely to break on the right lead if I wasn't careful to keep my driving aids on. Then I experimented with a few canter/walk/canter transitions. Overall, he was far better at them than the last time I tried them about two weeks ago. Interesting. It must be as much an intellectual exercise as a physical one since he remembered the principles even though he is no fitter than he was then. I finished up his school with a hack through the woods to cool off--over 40 degrees f again--warm for December. He was angelic.

I decided to test out Chance in the field to see if his calm, but interested attitude on the trail was a fluke. I must say, I am impressed with his quiet eagerness. I think he really enjoys the adventure. I still don't feel totally capable of steering him, but he never feels out of control, so it's no big deal. We went out onto the farm field road, circled around a bit in the cornfield, then looped back onto the road to head home. All of about 15-20 minutes, but out in the open. He was an absolute star.

On the way back, I let him have a mouthful of green grass at the edge of the field. That was amusing, because he couldn't manage to chew it with the bit in his mouth. All the way home he walked like a drunken sailor, totally focused on the grass instead of where he was going.

That left just enough time to take Toby out for a short trail ride. He tried to duck away when I showed him the bridle, but once he was saddled, he headed right for the gate and we had a nice forward ride. One little spook at something lying beside the trail marred what was nearly perfect, but that's Toby.

All in all, another good day in the saddle. I think I'm getting spoiled.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Into the Woods and Out Again

Trailing on a Winter's Day

I took all three Boys out for trail rides. With all the rain, my arena is very wet, and since I haven't been riding, I just wanted to have some fun. Besides, once Chance saw me take Toby out, he was hanging over the gate to the woods, with a longing expression on his face.

Toby and I went out to the back to check on the flooding. There is still water in the trees, but it is slowing receding. The Turnpike runoff may still be causing some problems, but without the warehouse water pouring in, the situation is so much better. It's still sad to see land that was once dry now part of a swamp. The once lovely trail along the power lines is ruined. It may dry out this summer, but now I wouldn't risk riding through.

They are going to widen the Turnpike again and under the new enviromental laws, we may be able to force them to take care of all their runoff instead of dumping it into the State parklands. I still have to write up a letter to send them, but I did speak up to the engineers at a Turnpike information meeting. I do miss riding back there as it offered a nice option for a good little ride with a place to do some galloping if I wanted to.

Tucker was just a little uncertain when we started out, but he settled into a good walk as we went along. Again, I only stayed out for a short ride, but it was fun nonetheless. I was a little worried because when I had gone out with Toby I met a young couple along the trail. who were on their own adventure. They were on a treasure hunt using a GPS unit. I have to look this up, but apparently, there are web sites where people set up the hunts. They go out an plant treasures somewhere and others have to navigate their way to find them with the GPS. The couple was heading for one more treasure in the very direction I was going to be riding Tucker. I'm not sure how he would have reacted to seeing or hearing them tramping about in the forest, but luckily, I didn't have to find out. Now, of course, I wonder if they did find the last hidden treasure before dark.

Chance was feisty and showed a bit of temper as we began our ride. I had to open the close the gate from the saddle. His skill at this is still limited since he doesn't back well and also doesn't yet have a clue about going sideways. Getting out to the trail was no problem, but when I tried to turn back to refasten the gate behind us, he wanted none of it. He was totally determined that we were going OUT on the trail, not back. He was tossing his head and plowing against the rein, putting on quite a show of refusing to do what I wanted him to do. For good or ill, compared to Tucker's tantrums, this one was totally non-intimidating. He doesn't throw himself around and he doesn't feel at all as if he would buck or rear. I just gave him a minute to think about it, walked him on a bit to a wider place and pulled him back around to the gate. Silly boy.

He is a gem on the trail, and had I wanted to, I think I could have taken a new route with no problem. But, it was getting a little dark, so I stuck to the short path. If it's nice tomorrow, I may try another trail with him. I am a bit limited, but I can stay out for an hour if I go around the fields. I'm not into really long rides anyhow and generally use the trail as either a reward or just a way for all of us to relax for a day's work.

I am really happy to be able to hack out all three by themselves. I think in the long run, Chance is going to be the best of the group out of the ring. He is already showing an lust for adventure and seems to pretty sensible about it. If so, he will be the perfect horse for me! I need one I can just have fun with whenever I want.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Up To My Neck In Christmas

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

What a pain in the neck having a pain in the neck is. I got adjusted on Friday and Saturday. I felt fine until late on Christmas Eve, while I was in church. Christmas morning, today, I woke up with neck problems again. I am now wearing my neck brace and it seems to be helping.

Christmas dinner is at 4, so I don't know if I have time left to do anything with the Boys...again. I was planning on riding early but just couldn't manage as I was sure a headache was coming on.

I don't think they mind too much, but I do know both Tucker and Chance do enjoy the adventure of being ridden. Toby is a bit harder to read. He seems to enjoy our outings, but he often plays hard to catch.

I found a new farmers' market not to far away and bought the lovliest carrots with lush green tops. The ones I got at the supermarket were pathetic compared to them and the good ones were half the price! At any rate, the Boys are being treated for the holiday with sweet carrots and delicious apples. I already got them their orange sheets as the long lasting presents, but I they they enjoy the temporal reward of sugar on their tongues. The way they dive into the treats is quite something.

We can learn a lot from horses. Their world is full of simple pleasures and simple solutions. They are clear about expressing their feelings and somehow manage to work out all their conflicts directly and honestly. I often wonder how much better off we all would be if we could face the world ourselves with their perspective.

May we all find Christmas in our hearts to last the whole year through!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Better Late Than Never

In the Saddle

Finally, I managed to ride. My neck was OK, but not perfect. I am going to need an adjustment again today, but the riding had nothing to do with it.

Tucker was a good boy. I finally feel as if he is a normal horse as far as the riding goes. I feel confident getting on him even after a layoff and I can count on him to do the basics with no fuss and bother.

Challenging him is another matter and he will always be a bit annoyed with that. Last night it was asking for a proper reinback. He will step back, but not more than two strides before he either stops or tosses his head. I was a bit more insistent this time, but careful as well. Reinbacks can be very dangerous as one of the most common evasions is rearing. The rider needs to be cautious about both rein pressure and insisting the horse keep its head down.

Fortuntate, Tucker is quick to let me know when he is upset or ready to blow up about something so I managed to keep the exercise low key. Besides, he'd already tried some walk pirouettes for me, so perfecting the backing was not an essential success for the ride.

I rode Chance for a bit as well with the goal of getting him to keep his head down and his back a bit round. He picked it up at the walk pretty quickly. The trot was another matter, but quite amusing. He is such a quiet guy that his biggest evasion is to just slow down and eventually stop. So, to say it was a stop and go process is pretty accurate. However, we did get approximately two circles in either direction in a bit of a frame.

They were approximate circles for sure. Chance has a tendancy to fall into his inside shoulder, particularly on the left rein. My mistake is dropping my seat to the outside trying to push him over so that my inside leg gets shorter. While a lot of body English will take him over to the outside that way, it is far more effective long term for me to drop my knee on the inside and push him over from my inside seat bone.

Bless Lockie Richards for teaching me that one. He always had a way of making what seemed like a difficult problem into an easy fix. I probably have hundreds of skills in my training bag of tricks I learned from him. He was a master horseman, trainer, teacher, and above all, a true gentleman.

What is lovely now it that I have three horses I can pop on to ride any time I want to. While Tucker is a bit less reliable on the trails, it's a pleasure to just mount up and know I'll accomplish something during each and every ride--and, if I don't want to accomplish anything except have a wonderful time, I can do that too!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Back in the Groove--Maybe

Work and an Unhappy Morning

I lunged Tucker and Chance last night at about 10 PM. I do have lights in the ring, and having the horses home does have its benefits.

I'd done some Christmas shopping after school and I got my hair cut, so by the time I got home it was dark. Then I had to wait an hour after I fed the Boys before I could do anything. So, I ate my own supper as time ticked by.

Tucker was great, with none of his bucking nonsense. He had started to pick up that habit on the lunge and would break away from me to gallop off with the line trailing. I am hoping he has decided to give up on that one.

Chance was a little angel. He lunged nice and forward in both directions for a good stretch. He did take the wrong lead several times on the right, but it was easy to correct. I guess, like most horses I've known, he is "left hoofed," and just is more comfortable on the left lead. He actually looked quite comfortable going on the right, so I don't see it as a big issue. Since he's not yet ready to canter under saddle anyhow, I'm not at all worried.

Toby gave me a scare this morning. He was pawing a bit in the stall, then he went out to roll before he finished his breakfast. Then he lay down in his stall, and later went out to the pasture and lay down again. Colic.

I called the vet, and called school to tell them I wasn't going to be in in the morning.

The vet got here in about 40 minutes. Sure enough, she found a big gas bubble in his intestines. We decided to be extra careful, the vet gave him a small dose of banimine and then we tried to tube him with mineral oil.

That did not go over well.

Toby is generally a star for the vets. Tubing was apparently over the line. AS Dr. Perez tried to insert the tube in his nose, he get more and more angry. I knew, even with the twitch I couldn't hold him and he had backer her into a corner. I've also seen him strike with his front hoofs when he gets really mad about something, so with discretion the better part of valor, we decided to stop.

Dr. Perez gave him a sedative. In a minute or so, Toby's head was nearly on the ground. Even then he resisted the tube, actually refusing to swallow it. Somehow, with me braced under his chin to hold his head up, the doctor managed to get the tube down into his stomach and administer the drench.

I watched him for about 45 minutes after she left and he seemed to be feeling much better, so I headed off for school.

Believe me, there will be no errands after work today as I will head straight home to be sure my Boy is OK.

The last time this happened was right before a major snowstorm struck. It can't be the weather this time as it's clear and sunny today.

Here's hoping all is well.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Superstition Abounds

The weather was gorgeous today and yesterday and I still didn't get in the saddle.

Yesterday, Nick came to work so I did some other chores while I directed him in moving some fill around. I let him drive the tractor, so he was in 7th heaven. Boys and machines are a magical combination.

Today, I have another excuse. My church held its Vespers service at 4PM and I sing in the choir. About ten years ago, I took a trail ride on Vespers day and had a bad fall, breaking my wrist. Since then I superstitiously treat Vespers Sunday as a jinxed day for riding. I am always extra cautious.

Today, since we had to be back at church at 3 PM, after getting out of the morning service at 11:30. I had to make a quick run to the supermarket for some supplies for the choir party after the Vespers service, so by the time I got home, I didn't have all the time I needed to work the Boys. I opted for another day off instead of rushing around trying to get something done.

I made my two dishes for the party, did a little barn work, a little house work, and before I knew it I had to feed the horses and go back to the church.

It was a lovely service with a little too heavy program of instrumental (bell choir, brass choir, youth band) and not enough singing (our choir only did three pieces out of at least 16 performances) but the Christmas story was as rich as ever. This year was just reading of the scripture followed by related musical pieces. We sang, Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming, En Natus Est Emmanuel, and One Bright Star.

The party after was, as usual, a fun affair, with good conversation more than a few laughs, and good food. Gotta love a holiday that consistently brings all those benefits!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Still Not in the Saddle

Wasting the Weather...

...but it just seems every day brings something new to do.

Yesterday, I was back at the chiropractor. My neck is getting better, but it just keeps going out. It's something I do when I am asleep. I'll get adjusted after school and then I am going to try wearing the neck brace/collar tonight to see if that does the trick.

I am going to dinner tonight with the friends who mounted a political campaign for Mayor of my town. We worked so much togther that we formed a bond of sorts. And, we are planning to make some more political waves in the next election. In the meantime, the candidate suggested we all get together for the holidays. So we've picked a nice restaurant and plan on having a good time.

The bummer about being busy is that the weather has been scandalously perfect fo riding. 50-60 degrees f., just enough rain to keep the footing soft but not muddy, and no appreciable wind. I had to take the Boys' sheets off for the day both yesterday and today.

I keep hoping the lightweight sheets from Chick's will come, but so far, no luck. The current orange sheets are just too heavy when the temps are so high.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Temporary Surrender

Here's the house at night. Not too bad, eh?

...To the Holidays by a Neck

I went to the chiropractor Monday, then the doctor for metabolic testing on Tuesday with another chiropractic tune up.

Am am metabolically unbalanced again, but not so much. A slight adjustment in my supplements should set things right. It may explain why my adjustments weren't holding. Or, I may be fighting off some kind of bug. Or, it's the weather. Either way, it should sort itself out in a day or so.

In the meantime, I haven't ridden. I don't think the Boys care. They are just hanging out in the sunshine or the rain....since that's what it did today. They also "supervised" the hanging of the Christmas decorations on the barn. I have an overhang by the door--the end of the run-in shed on the east side of the barn. I put up a green garland with lights. Then I went to add the star and found it wouldn't light. Luckily, I had purchased a string of white, LED mini lights, so i replaced the star's malfunctioning lights with them and voila! I now have a truly white star above the barn. Cool.

I did the house decorations last night and did the house fence tonight. I have to decide what to do with the rest of the LED frosty white lights I bought. I am thinking of using them on the fence. Of course, by the time I decide, Christmas will be here. *LOL*

No pressure to ride as apparently Chris will not be down again until Spring. I'm not sure what exactly is going on, but I'm sure I'll find out. All I got was an e-mail from Stacie who apparently spoke to him.

No problem for me. This time of year it's really hard to keep a regular riding schedule anyhow. As long as the Boys are happy, they can play, frolic, and eat. And I can just sit by and watch.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Slight Glitch in the Progress

Shadow Monsters in the Forest

I rode everyone out in the woods yesterday. Lovely weather and a nice day slightly shortened by a bunch of errands after church gave me at least two hours of riding time.

Trying to ride three horses in two hours is an interesting chore, especially since in-between mounts the unridden beasts went back out to the far side of the pasture. So each capture required a hike.

Toby and I went out first. About 30 yards into the ride, he stopped, threw up his head and stared worriedly off into the farther woods. I caught a glimpse of a leaping shadow which I presume was a deer. Deer are very dangerous to horses, you know. *VBWG* We call them "fangtails" around here because the real danger is that they run away, their little white tails pointing straight up looking ever so much like a shark's tooth. Thus, they are a they run in terror from the big horses. Don't ask me. Toby tries to go the other way when the deer are going another way altogether.

Fortunately, the shadow disappeared and we were able to have a safe ride.

Chance, all innocent and eager, was delighted to go out for his ride. He trotted a few times in his enthusiasm, but when I chirpped to him he came right back. Good thing. Without confirmed steering, I wasn't too keen on trotting amongst the trees.

Third ride out was Tucker. I opted for taking the trail from the opposite direction because I had spied a white paper plate in the trees, lying just so the sun shone on it. A shining white blob in the treeline, very visible is exactly the kind of thing that makes Tucker silly, so I decided to have it at his back on the way home.


We were over halfway through the ride when the leaves rustled up ahead and, from Tucker's head up "uh oh!!" reaction, I have to suspect the shadow deer was back again. I am no fool. Meeting a deer on Toby is bad enough, but to see one from Tucker's back would be to not be on Tucker's back for long. I nudged him a bit forward, patted his neck, got a stride or two more, then another balk, one of those head shakes of his and I decided to circle back. So we headed back down the trail we'd come on.

While I am a little disappointed, I am also content that I never pushed for a dangerous battle and, by circling off onto another little side trail to make the reverse, I made the choice of going back, not Tucker. This way, I never made an issue of his balk and just pretended we were heading where I wanted to anyhow.

Having been dumped off from one of his bucks, I can tell you, I do not want to repeat the experience too many times. It's far better for me to find a way to avoid the explosions. Since he was angelic for the rest of the ride, I will still give him good marks. He's not the perfect trail horse, that's for sure, but as they say, "He'll do in a pinch."

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Day to Play

Chris didn't come today. Karen's horse is still not quite up to par after being lame and Michelle isn't quite up to riding at the moment. That left too few of us for it to be worth the trip.

Fine by me as my day was growing more confusing as it went on. I spent the good part of it wondering whether or not the repairman was coming to fix my gas fireplace--again. So I cleaned up a bit only to find a credit card bill I had neglected to pay on time because I was having the neck and migraine problems. I sorted that out, fortunately, and began to do a bit of cleaning---far more neglected than the credit card bill. Then, Nick, the young man I've hired to do some work called to let me know he would be over in about an hour.

So, I was stuck at home. Waiting for something to happen.

Nick called again to tell me he was lost. He's still not familiar with the roads around here. A bit later, I called the gas company to find out if the repairman was really coming--which he wasn't--and then finally made it outside to do horsey things.

Nick's arrival circumvented riding for a time as I had to supervise him into beginning the job of leveling at least one stall and resetting the rubber mats. Over time, the stalls had developed sunken places. I had to get him his tools, try to find a pair of gloves that fit him--never did--and then help get the stall stripped.

Finally, with the day waning fast, I saddled up Chance--who kept trying to "help" Nick, and give him a short ride. Still no luck on getting him to drop his head, but that will come with time and patience. I think I need to long line him a bit more.

Tucker was waiting for me when I got back into the barn. So I saddled him up. Whatever was on his mind I'll never know because when I put my leg on, he balked. When I pushed some more with a totally loose rein, he reared up a bit and still wouldn't go. So, I turned him around and offe he went on the left rein. He was still off and on a bit crabby but did some most obedient work overall.

I am just a little concerned that his hind feet may not be completely comfortable. I had his hind shoes pulled with the last shoeing, hoping for a bit better traction on the ice and snow--should we have any. He may not be quite solid on them. The ground has been frozen for at least two nights now and with all the hoofprints left in the mud hardened into bumps, it might have given him some discomfort. I'll keep an eye on him.

The temperatures are going up again this week. Hopefully I'll get some good rides in.

Friday, December 08, 2006


It's Happened Again

The week before my trainer is supposed to come down to give lessons, and I end up flattened with a migraine, preceded by several days of a miserably sore neck and meetings I needed to attend.

So, guess what! Tucker hasn't been worked since Tuesday when I long lined him, and Chance hasn't been worked since Sunday.

I don't really worry too much about either one, however. Chance is a quiet fellow and doesn't have enough training to show off. As for Tucker, he has more than once proven he is quite a solid ride after some time off. He's pretty fit, so he won't get worn out, and I am sure he will do all he is asked. It's nice to feel confident about it all for a change.

Then again, Chris, my trainer, is coming to my house, if plans work out as anticipated. (It will all depend on how many of his other students can ride since at least two horses have been laid up for at least a month with injuries.) It is hunting season, and if the deer hunters are out and about, that may distract Mr. Easily Amused Tucker. (Does that spell MEAT?) Chris drives down from Massachusetts, some 5 hours, to train us, so it's not worth his while unless he has a full schedule. Here's hoping as I am not sure the weather will hold for another shot at lessons at my house until Spring. This is the only way he can teach me on Tucker and Chance and give Kelly, the young rider from the farm across the woods a lesson as well.

In the meantime, the heavier weight orange sheets were much appreciated last night as the mini snowstorm blew in. Who knew? It was cold enough for winter blankets this morning, but the sun seemed to be warming things up again, so the sheets stayed on. I keep hoping the other set of lightweight orange ones will show up soon. They would be perfect over a blanket.

Don't know if Iwill ride today either. It all depends on whether or not the winds have died down. I can't tell much from my tiny windows here at school, but the tree branches still seem to be dancing.

Just my luck.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Orange Sheets

But Not All Flourescent

Well, one set of orange sheets came yesterday. They are of good quality and lined, so they have a bit of weight to them, much like a Warlock.

Toby and Chance are now sporting them for hunting season. Tucker, though, is still dressed in the lighter weight sheet I ordered from Chick's Saddlery. It is a brilliant flourscent orange, much brighter and much more visible than the other Boys' coats. It is a lightweight, unlined waterproof sheet and I must say, I am very impressed with its quality, appearance and price.

Hopefully, I will be getting the two others I ordered as well because if ever there was a safety sheet for hunting season, this one is it. I can put another sheet or blanket under it for added warmth if I need to, and if the weather is warmer, as this season seems to be, it is still suitable. If Chick's doesn't get the orange ones in this week, they may send me pink ones instead. While the herd won't match, I don't think any hunter will mistake one of my Boys for a deer dressed in these colors.

Monday is the off riding day and I was back at the chiropractor in the morning. Then, after school, I had a young man drop by who is going to do some work around my little farm. I need some good strong muscle power to do some floor leveling under my very heavy rubber mats. I also have some muddy spots that need fill and a fence to repair.

Nick seems enthusiastic. His dad, whom I met at the chiropractor, wanted him to do some good hard work somewhere, so hopefully, I will be able to get a few of the chores done that are just too heavy for me to handle.

The weather seems to be holding. My trainer, Chris Warner, should be coming down from Massachusetts here to New Jersey on Saturday. I am hoping we can have a lesson at my house. That way, Chris can see Chance and we can work him a little. Kelly, the young rider can also hack her horse over to take a lesson as well. She teachers little ones in the mornings and can't afford to lose the income to take a morning lesson with Chris. Usually, we trailer over to a farm with an indoor about 20 minutes away. If the weather is nice, we can use my ring, save the trailering and solve the problem of how to do three horses since my trailer only carries two.

Addition from Tuesday, December 5

I long lined Tucker and he was a doll. He really is a beautiful horse and I think he is finally maturing metally to match his physical presence.

I put the heavier orange sheet on him too because it is much colder than anticipated. Now everyone matches. Cute little bundle of carrot-like horses.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Two Days in the Saddle

In and Out of the Arena

My neck still isn't right, but at least the headache part is gone, so I was up to riding again.

Not Friday, though. By the time I got home the rain and wind were already starting, so I just gave up and let Mother Nature have her fun.

But it didn't rain too much, so the footing in my riding ring was great. I rode Chance first and challenged him with a much longer session of trot. Little by little, the steering is getting better and he is offering to drop his head now and then. Obviously, his tempo is far from steady, varying from very forward to slo-mo, but in general, I was able to keep him trotting.

I totally confused Tucker by asking him to start off with his head up. He just stood there, his feet planted to the ground. He closed in on a tantrum and reared a little, but I put him into a tiny circle and finally got him going. As an experiment it was a failure. Once I stretche him down and pushed him on, I could elevate him with far more success. He still tries to stop on his forehand, but I am more and more able to correct that.

I worked Toby in the ring as well. I just ride him in an easy training level frame now, but it's so much fun being able to do flying changes whenever and wherever I want. He is a blast. What a great horse to learn from.

Sunday, the day before deer hunting season, allowed me to ride out into the woods again. I took all three of the Boys on the same 20-25 minute trail. Everyone was perfect, although I have to remember to steer Chance a bit more than the more seasoned fellows or else he kind of wanders off the track. He really acted as if he was having a good time. What a sweetie.

I have ordered flourescent orange sheets for everyone. Tucker's arrived on Friday. I had an older small one for Chance, so he is in orange, and Toby, for now is in red while we await the United Parcel Service delivery. Equiteric notified me they shipped on Friday, so with luck Toby will be in safety orange in a day or so. I always worry during the deer hunting season.

I must admit, Tucker stood out like a lightbulb in the pasture when I saw him as I came home from church. The orange is absolutely electric. I'll have to try to get a picture when the whole gang is similarly dressed.