Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oxygen!  Sweet, manure-and-fly-spray-scented oxygen!  That was JUST what I needed. 

Yesterday was a lonnnnng day of work.  It was Saturday, but disappointingly, motherhood knows no weekend.  (And in some respects, neither does teacherhood.)  It was filled with laundry and dog grooming and boy wrangling and science notebook grading (oof)--by 4pm, I was cooked.  I was expecting to need to take at least one boy to the barn with me as hubby has been very busy and stressed as well, but he encouraged me to go and have some alone time to recharge at the barn.  Giddily, I thanked him and changed into my breeches, and with some double and triple checking that he was okay with our rambunctious brood, I bolted out the door.

Ah, but when I got to the barn, all the rings were locked--there was a show at the facility the next day, and the freshly dragged rings needed to be kept pristine for them.  No matter.  It just means there will be no boring arena drills or lunging.  Maybe...maybe we should try the Western saddle and a bit of a minitrail ride, mmm?  (I really had an amazing time--hang on, that part comes after the playtime pics.)

But, Tril (and Firefly, for that matter) needed some turnout--well, on the property it was, then.  

He is seriously the most photogenic, show-off of a horse I've ever encountered.  I suppose that's to counter what a ridiculous unselfaware klutz he is.  But ain't he purty here?

I didn't notice his hip or back bothering him too much, but it's most noticeable when he's being asked to use himself and, in particular, on the lungeline. (STILL waiting for a call back to schedule the chiro appointment for him after 3 phone calls...ugh.  That's another story for another blog.)  So, perhaps turnout and a trail ride really was better for him, anyway, at least for this day.

Fly even got her lazy furry butt moving.

Tril does seem to drag that left hind further out behind him...hmm.  Perhaps there is some evidence of the hip/back bothering him after all.

Little red furball seriously turned it on here because she knows I don't like her in the back (where she gorges on others' spilled feed), so she was hauling to get away from big bad ol' me.

Poor Firefly just can't keep up--she had the same problem with Ana.  She learned how to cheat instead--cutting corners to "win" the race to the other end of the ring.  Firefly may not be doing higher math anytime soon, but she understands basic geometry.

And then, suddenly, Tril just stopped and looked at me.  "All done!"  Done it is, then.  Time to tack you up.

I decided to try him in my Western saddle for the first time.  I've heard they can be better for sore backs, and besides, we're not going to be doing arena drills and patterns--why not?  So, I took it down and removed the dusty saddle cover and brought it out.  Tril definitely gave it a nostrilful, but he wasn't too concerned.

One thing I noticed right away was how much taller he is than Ana when I put that thing on him.  I believe they are only about 3" apart in height, but geez, it felt quite a bit more than that.  Apparently my eye is used to seeing that saddle at a certain height, and was thrown off even by the few inches.  Funny, that.

As I was fiddling with the various straps and such, I was confused by an extra stirrup strap--then smiled and said out loud, "Ah, the buddy stir..." And realization interrupted me into silence.  The buddy stirrups were still on the saddle from the last time I ever tacked up Ana--my then-5yro son was the last to ride her.  Deep sigh.  Take them off, move on.  Dust the many white hairs still stubbornly clinging to the saddle pad, despite the washing.  Acknowledge and recognize the grief, and get on your horse.

...and get going on down the trail.

I chose to take him down the beginning of one of the few real trails in the area, as opposed to the loop around the property.  I realized I trusted him enough that he wouldn't do anything stupid, and that he was confident enough not to be afraid leaving the grounds.

So we made a right and paralleled the wash, and we walked a trail Ana and I made many trips down.  We didn't go far--I didn't want to push it--but I did want to test him.  Ana was such an insecure thing; she hated going on the trail alone.  She would be nervous to genuinely frightened unless she was following the butt of another horse.  This path Tril and I rode holds many memories of a jigging, anxious mare who wanted nothing more than to just wheel around and bolt for the security of home.  It's where we had many, many lessons of  breathing, relaxing, listening, trusting.  There was comfort in repeating that lesson with my new boy--who is so very different.

He walked alertly, head up, ears up, taking everything in.  He wasn't afraid, but curious, looking at everything with a cocked ear or turned head.  But forward he went. 

Until...the tree stump.  (Ominous, Halloween-appropriate music here.)

This is the first time I have seen Tril look at something and want to just spin on his heels and head the opposite direction.  It is an odd looking stump, encircled with peculiar wooden-hairy-like things, that could I suppose appear to be a crouching predator if you're, uh, half blind and a prey animal.

"No, Tril.  You don't have to go forward, but you can't go backward.  You can stand and look at it, but I won't push you."  Lessons from Ana.  

He stood, he snorted, he dropped his head low and looked with ears pricked so far forward they nearly touched.  Pause a few seconds, squeeze, forward he'd go a few steps, whoa, repeat.  In what would have taken an absolute bare minimum of 15min with Ana, Tril was up at the stump, nuzzling it curiously, within five.  

"Go ahead, Tril.  Touch it.  It's just a stump.  I promise, it won't jump up at you."  I let him drop his head its full length to the ground to explore, holding on to the rein at the buckle with one hand while sitting back to maintain my balance.  I've seen him explore odd items in the arena--he likes to study them closely like this, touch them, mouth them, sniff them.  

Then, he was over it and ready to move on.

We only went about another 20 feet or so down the trail; I realized I had no idea if he would jig in anxiety going home (and with Ana, the rides home were often double to quadruple the length of the ride out, as I would NOT permit her to dance home--she had to walk, dammit), so best turn around.  As we did, I said out loud, "Now, you're not going to be a jigger, are you?"  Then I realized...probably not a word I want to ever be overheard saying, heh.  Doesn't sound, um, right.  Chuckling to myself, I said, "I aren't going to jig, are you?"

No, he did not.  He walked with a very big forward step, but he wasn't dancing or overly anxious.  In the future, I may ask him to slow down, but I was happy he was walking and had done such a good job--I let him be.  

I was impressed that once we got back on the familiar property surrounding the arenas, he was in no hurry to veer home.  Seriously, Mr. Blueblood Showhorse is going to be a fine trail horse--he likes exploring the world outside carefully manicured rings.  When we got back, I wanted to get pictures of him in his Western saddle:

Gah, he is so stinkin' cute!

Problem with the photos, though, is that Tril--good boy that he is--just wanted to follow me, and wouldn't stand so that I could get a picture of him from the side.  

I got a few affectionate extreme close-ups instead, heh.  He just wanted to nuzzle me here.

I managed this one when we got back on the property--he was distracted watching a truck and trailer set up dressage arenas in the main ring for the show the next day.  

It was a fantastic first trail ride, even if you could barely call it that.  He was so good.  I can't wait to show him the hills, the trails, the creeks, the world beyond fences.  But that will wait for another day.

I untacked him and brushed the residual white hairs from Ana off his back, and smiled.  

Her legacy carries on.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sometimes I feel like horses are just jigsaw puzzles.  With no edge pieces.  Or cover image to refer to.  That you have to solve while blindfolded.

I'm trying to figure out what is hurting Tril, but I'm not certain.  I've narrowed it down to, uh, his back half.

I show up to clean his stall, and the footing looks like this:
WTH?  Is he dragging a sled?  

Nope.  He's dragging a foot.  Frickin' fricky frick.

Now, is he dragging it because his hips are bad?  His back?  His hocks?  Hell if I know.  It's something, uh, back there.

I studied him on the lunge the other day, and he's not using his hind legs much if he can help it.  It does seem worse on his left lead, which makes sense as that is his left hind pictured above.  He crossfires more on that lead, stumbles more behind on that lead, and is less willing to use himself going that direction.

So I call the chiro again to be a bug in their ear (it can take a few to finally schedule him, but he's so good, it's worth it--at least for now).  And then I fret.

Maybe it's my saddle fit.  I have a riser pad on it because that's what they used at Cal Poly on him--but maybe mine digs into his back just the wrong way.

Maybe I shouldn't ride him until he is seen by the chiro.  I don't want him to associate riding with pain.

Maybe I should ride him but have him do things like simply walking over poles.

Maybe I should just get over myself and ride.  Well...except for that part where I'm still healing and don't want to reinjure my barely healing ankle (they told me it would be 8-12mos, and at 6mos in, I do NOT want to fuck it up now).   All I need is for a pissed sore horse to unseat me.

Oh, and why the hell does he keep rubbing the hell out of his hocks?  How does he get hock sores like that in a stall that isn't bedded with aquarium gravel?  Maybe that's what's hurting him.

Oh oh oh, and how the hell did he do this to himself in the first place, and how can I keep the big brown goofball from doing it again?  Is it from his over-exuberant playful nature?  Did I purchase the Johnny Knoxville of the equine world?   (A jackass is an equine, after all...)

Frickin' horses.


Don't mind me!  I'm just going to follow the little red head around and do her bidding because She Is Queen.

Damn straight.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I needed the barn today.  It was the kind of day that leaves me exhausted, but not the catatonic lethargy typical at the end of a work-week.  More the kind that makes you want to curl up in a bed of warm puppies. Worse, I realized it wasn't the barn I was aching for--it was Ana.

The day started with both of my sons up and wildly arguing at 5:35am.  One knocked over his full cereal bowl--twice--and the other had a supreme overly emotional meltdown over absolutely nothing (he is often crazy overtired by the end of a school week, and more or less is a PMSing 14yro girl by Friday).  Typically, I take T to his preschool while hubby takes the elder boy to his elementary school, but hubby had a morning meeting and I needed to drop off both boys on my way to work.  I barely got out of the driveway before the younger was screaming "Helicopter! Helicopter! Helicopter!" while he swung his balloon animal (left in the truck) around, and the elder was yelling at younger that he couldn't hear the (also loud) Kid's Place radio station.  This is when Mommy barked.  Loudly.  Angrily.  They boys changed their behavior, but Mommy was still growling in grumpy discontent after they were dropped off.

Then, while waiting to make a left turn at a red light, a car two lanes over from me hit a kid on a bike.

It appears the driver was making a right at the red light, looked left to check traffic as she started to turn, and the kid came from her right and was knocked over.  The driver did what they should--she stopped immediately and got out--and it seemed the kid was more or less okay.  She couldn't have been going more than 5mph and more or less knocked the bike over, bending the front wheel.  He was sitting up and being comforted when my light turned green.

Then I just wanted to go hug my crazy, cereal-spilling, helicopter-screaming, pseudo-PMSing kids.

But, I had Other People's Kids to tend to (oh, and educate) today.  Obviously I can't detail much, but suffice it to say every year, I hear stories of heartbreak and pain.  A sweet child who is unusually polite and considerate for their age was in tears when they spoke to me privately, sharing a story of pain and fear interfering with their ability to concentrate on their schoolwork at home.  Later, I struggled trying to find help (and learning the heartbreaking extent of my limitations) for another child whose home life is...well...bad.  Very, very bad.  

Then, the bell rang, and I found myself aching for my horses.

No, my horse.  

I realized, as I was walking through the parking lot, I didn't want to go ride Tril.  I wanted Ana.  This was the kind of day where I'd hop on her bareback, do some walk-trot in the arena, then explore the local trails together.  Typing this, I can still feel her beneath me--her breath, her muscles, her winter fluff.  I needed her.  I missed her; I missed us. Our synergy, our connection, our partnership.

Instead, I have a back-sore boy whom I don't trust enough to ride bareback yet (certainly not while my ankle is healing).  I found myself disconnected as I groomed and tacked him up, because while I needed saddle time, the kind of ride I was going to have with him is not what I was wanting.

Lunging him, I noted his back end was still sore.  Hey, at least this Perpetual Newbie can see it now.  He was dragging his hind legs, hesitant to use them, and stumbling behind.  He also crossfired at the canter on his left lead for a few strides, after counter-cantering following a stumble.  I called the chiro two days ago and they were going to get back to me when they better knew when his schedule was going to bring him out my way, but watching Tril move, I am feeling a bit more urgency.

Seeing how he was feeling, I didn't want to ask much under saddle--not that I can do much, anyway.  He hasn't been exercised since Monday, so despite being lunged first, he was strong and more interested in playing and less interested in listening.  And, after just a few minutes, my ankle was screaming it was tired and weak and NOT up to the fun we had last weekend.  At the pinnacle of my frustration, I looked up while attempting to do figure-8s and saw my husband pulling up with both boys in tow.

And then, and only then, did things start to change.

Hubby put T on his shoulders and brought him up to the fence so I could lean over and kiss him from the saddle. I decided to end the weak arena work we were doing, exited, and decided to take Tril on a loop around the property instead.  At first he was strong, anxious, distracted, but then I directed him to walking over logs (something the chiro had recommended at his adjustment in June) and instantly I had him on a loose rein.  He practically started steering himself over the logs--"Ooh, can we walk over this one now?"

Then, while we started the loop on the private road around the entire equestrian facility, a rooster stepped out and started walking in front of his.  Tril dropped his head, his ears as far forward as he could put them, and started to follow the rooster's every step.  A slight veer left, a slight veer right--Tril was fascinated, watching his every step, then I swear disappointed when the game ended and the rooster ducked into a bush. 

When I brought him back, elder son put Firefly in the main ring for turn out, then I untacked Tril so he could join her.  We decided to have dinner at the barn, and hubby took younger to get something from a local drive through while elder son stayed with me and we just enjoyed our horses and barn life.  It was...well...come see.

Firefly, typical of her, completely ignored us.  But Tril just wanted to hang out with me.  Here, he saw me at the fence taking pictures and was walking up for some affection.

Trotting over to say hello (he made a sharp left turn) upon seeing me again.

Eldest was THRILLED to find this huge roly-poly.  He kept her (we assumed her, as females are larger) for a while.

Tril, wanting to be wherever I am in his typical fashion; Firefly, coming up behind to boss him around in her typical fashion; and older son, studying a creature unearthed in barn life exploration, in his typical fashion.

 This time at the barn enabled me to better enjoy and appreciate my husband and sons and exhale the rest of the day away.  

The day ended, and my tired heart, aching for the dainty grey Arabian mare and shut off to this beefier male version of her breed when I arrived this afternoon, creaked open just enough to let a little light and love in. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

This is what it's like to be an equestrian and a mom and a full time teacher.

I picked T up today after school, eager to see how he's doing on his first day back after his Weekend Of Excruciating Penile/Toenail Pain (I hear they're opening at Coachella).  He was my priority today, but always I'm trying to plan ahead and find the time I can squeeze in for a little barn time.  I figured, the horses were out for more than 2 hours each on Friday and Saturday, so it's okay if they get non-riding exercise in turnout or lunging or whatever today.  I need to take T to the pediatrician for a follow-up Tuesday, so I won't be able to ride or really spend time then, but Wednesday--maybe Wednesday!

Then I see this.

Fuck me.

Now, 98 might not seem that hot (especially when it was 1-0-fucking-8 two weeks ago today), but the barn property is an OVEN and is typically significantly hotter than recorded temperatures.

When I was 13, I would having riding lessons in 20 degree weather, my fingers painfully frozen in the rein-clutched position and the snot freezing in my sinuses, and my mother then drove my horse-happy little ass (I miss having a little ass) over to Dairy Queen where I'd blissfully order and then scarf down a Blizzard.  (I miss having a metabolism that let me eat Blizzards.)

When I was 16, I rode in a horse show with rain clouds looming ominously and thunder growling menacingly, the sheets of rain waiting until I was in my equitation class to completely soak me and my grumpy thoroughbred lesson horse.  I didn't care--I rode and I won ribbons.

Hell, when I was 35, I rode in a show in 106 degree weather, and kept my wool huntcoat on (and won a few classes, thankyouverymuch).

Fuck that.  I'm 39, not 13 or 16 or even 35, and I want to enjoy riding my horse without having to wring out my bra later.

So, yeah, I won't be riding Wednesday.  Weekend looks good, though.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sweet crap, yesterday was...something.

I tell my students that I am their teacher, but I am also a mother, a daughter, and a wife.  This is to explain sometimes why Mrs. B has to leave early because her toddler is throwing up, or why I need to be out to care for my husband after knee surgery, or why I'm exhausted one morning because the 6yro had nightmares all night.  Sometimes, it's hard to be an equestrian (or anything else) when those other roles take center stage.

This brings me back to yesterday.  Oof.  Our poor toddler.  He's going to be three in December, so he's at that age where he's mobile, curious, vocal, opinionated, completely lacking self awareness, and only cognizant of rudimentary cause and effect phenomenon.  A few days before, he had seen a funky Halloween nik-nak that I can't adequately describe or categorize--a dense plastic shadowbox-like scene (minus the box), I guess, of ghouls making some sort of nightmarish dinner with appropriate gross-out names on the menu--on the mantle. (I won it in a costume contest at work the year I was big pregnant with him--I had a chef outfit on labeled "Bun in the Oven Bakery.")  It was one second of "What's this?" followed a half second later by it falling and breaking into a dozen pieces on the floor, followed a millisecond later by T breaking down into sobs before completely losing it.  Now, T is my stoic one, and he isn't one to cry for long (ironically enough, as he was my colicky baby), so when his screams hit banshee pitch (seriously, banshee pitch), you know something is genuinely, seriously wrong.  That weird nik-nak must have landed corner-first on his big toenail, which was almost instantly turning dark purple from pooling blood.  Good times.

Purple toe goodness (badness?).  This was immediately after it happened--it was much more of a swollen, puffy rainbow a few days later.

The offending, uh, thing (and the pieces that came off of it) with a pencil for scale.  Yeah, I'm not exactly heartbroken to lose it.

Well, by Saturday, the nail was many colors and was beginning to swell at the cuticle (ew), so I decided to be The Overly Worried Mom and take him to urgent care just in case.  While we were in the waiting room, T was happily playing with the (grungy, beat up, likely alternately layered in viruses and bacteria) bead rollercoaster then suddenly stopped, started crying "My penis!" before doubling over in painful sobs. WTF? Again, he's my stoic one, so something was definitely wrong.  At least he had good timing.  Turns out he has a very painful yeast infection in verrrrrrry delicate territory. (I'm guessing related to his holding it ALL DAY at daycare for a few weeks--changing him to the class with his older friends, who had just graduated up, seemed to solve that problem.)  Now, on top of THAT fiasco, involving him wearing a plastic pee-catcher bag and trying to encourage him to pee when he's screaming bloody murder from a single drop--he had to get his toe x-rayed (fine, as I expected), then get it cauterized with a big hot fountain-pen-looking-needle thing to drain the pooling blood causing the massive swelling.  (Incidentally, that was both fascinating and completely disgusting.  Those two typically are synonymous to me.)

Yeah, fun day for everyone.  Nothing worse than your child is horrific pain and not being able to do a damn thing beyond hold them.  But he was a trooper, got his red lollipop, and then while running errands Mommy bought him a Thomas the Train Trackmaster set.  He won't connect the one thing with the other, but I sure felt better getting something that made him happy after watching him endure a wide variety of painful pokings and proddings...especially since now every diaper change is a banshee shriekfest because we have to apply medication to horrifyingly painful looking tender places.  Oof. 

Hubby surprised me and offered drop me off at the barn in the afternoon while he took both boys (God help him) to a local old car celebration thingy called Thunderfest.  Thunder THUNDER THUNDER!  Sounds appropriate enough for the all-male portion of the household.  Anyway--I get to ride my horse?  Two days in a row?  

Yeah, I did, but it was evident from the moment I took him out of the stall, Tril wasn't having a great day either.  His back seemed a bit sore--long story, but there seems to be an old injury to his back and/or hips that makes him do things like stumble behind on the lungeline (nonhorsey folk, that's where the horse is on a long rope going in circles around you), or--and here's my new equestrian vocabulary word of the week--"crossfiring."  This is apparently when a horse is cantering and the front legs are on one lead, and the back legs are on another, which I noticed him doing the day before (for just a few strides; it was correctable).  Horses--ever the education.

Now, Tril is an easygoing guy, and isn't remotely aggressive.  He, like T, is very honest and will only complain when he damn well has reason.  He did NOT like me even putting the girth on him (I noticed some spasm in that area behind his elbow--just a little twitchy, but he didn't react if I was slow and light with my touch).  Tightening it wasn't too bad on one side, though, so I carried on with tacking him up. I walked around the front of him to tighten the girth on his left side, and either he was not paying attention, or he has vision problems, or something, because he was COMPLETELY caught off guard when I touched him in the area just behind his elbow.  I only lightly touched him, but he jumped out of his skin and cow-kicked out at me (yikes) as he went sideways.  What the FUCK, Tril?!  It's just me!  Out of instinct, I swung the reins of the bridle I was carrying at his butt as he kicked out, but realized later that he was more complaining than anything--he didn't reach me or come within two feet of me, though he could have.  It was more his own "What the FUCK?!" reaction.  After that, he just sort of stood there and snorted, and I stood in my place trying to analyze what the hell had just happened.  My conclusion is that area was spasmy-sore, and by not touching him higher up first, it spooked him.  Still...chill the fuck out.  Mama is a mama and has priorities above dealing with your twitchy ass.  

The ride itself wasn't too bad; he didn't seem lame, but he was uneven.  He was less happy to do his job that day, so I called it quits early, making mental notes that he is due for both the farrier and equine chiropractor (hush up, it works, and there's no placebo effect in horses!).  Still, the whole thing just didn't feel right--not bad, just not right--and so, bleh.

It's always nice, though, to end with a pleasant walk along the private road and visit the neighbors (ha!  Neigh-bors).

I turned my attention to our mini Firefly before hubby returned with two overtired and overexcited boys that we took home, attempted to bathe (difficult with all of T's owies), and put to bed past their bedtimes.  Then we went to bed well before ours.


Friday, October 12, 2012

I rode my horse today!  Geez, that used to be as noteworthy as "I took a shower today!" But, my life is now the property of my two sons, and they are often stingy in sharing it with others.

It was one of those days when the final school bell rang, despite knowing hubby was willing to watch the boys so I could ride, I was oozing around in my Friday lethargy wanting to pour myself onto the couch rather than prop myself up in the saddle.  Riding is work.  I was against work at that moment.  I arrived at the barn half-hoping the arenas were too wet from yesterday's rain for riding--seriously, Laura, what the hell?

But then I took him out, tacked him up, lunged him, and putzed around the main ring.

It was our best ride ever.

It wasn't much of a ride, knowing what he's capable of and knowing what I'm capable of when I'm riding sound (I'm still healing from a moment of supreme stupid--but that's another post for another day), but we are getting each other. That synergy is what I have so missed since losing Ana.  My ankle is finally healed enough that I'm less worried and distracted by it (for the first time, it didn't really hurt during the ride! now after, um...), and more focused on my equitation and communication with Tril.  I'm learning what he likes and doesn't like, what he responds to, and what stunts he tries to pull to get out of work.  He's learning I may be crooked and imbalanced and out of shape, but I still have strong opinions, some riding savvy, and am On To Him.  He gave a solid spook at something under saddle today, and it was much like with Ana (though, as with all comparisons of their action, much bigger): redirect, circle, wiggle the rein, back to work, and he's over it.

He's also learning that his reward for a good arena ride is a mini-trail ride, something he had never experienced before I bought him back in April.  He'd always, always, been ridden in an arena.  This idea of exploring beyond carefully maintained footing and fences fascinates him, and he is already showing signs of being a far better treil horse than Ana.  He is unafraid, confident, and curious, whereas Ana was always anxious and a tad fearful.  She learned to like trail rides, but was always happy to be back home.  She was my arena princess.  Tril is my world conquerer.

Still, I've been realizing I've been hesitant to bond with Tril because my heart is still healing from losing Ana. I poured my heart into her, basking in the wonder and joy of My First Horse. And she poured herself right back in to me.  "Just a horse," yet she was my therapist and my comfort through some of the most heart-ripping, frightening times in my life.  I wept into her neck as I dealt with the grief of losing my grandmother, then my other grandmother, then my father.  I broke down in sobs into her mane as I dealt with crippling back pain before each of two back surgeries.  She was my partner.  She was, ridiculously enough, my friend, as much as a non-human can be.

I have not allowed myself to love Tril just yet.  He's just a horse I own and ride; he is not my partner.  But in the last few rides, I'm noticing little things where we are connecting, in and out of the saddle.  Today, he nuzzled me while we were at the hitching post, resting his head in my arms. After the ride, he put his muzzle in my hands and relaxed.  And when I finished the post-ride grooming session, I couldn't help but kiss him on his deliciously soft nose. My heart is hesitant and fearful after the heartbreak of Ana's sudden loss, but it's cracking open just a fraction after each ride. He, meanwhile, is much less cautious.

I am becoming more than a person to him, and he is becoming more than a horse to me.

(Now for some ibuprofen...)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I could watch this 33 second video of Trilogy "playing" with my sons a thousand times, and it would never get old.  Never.

Moments when I'm exhausted and exasperated and wishing I could just ride my damn horse but can't because I have to watch both kids/it's 107 degrees/it's raining/I'm sick/one of the boys is sick/hubby has to work late/I have to work late, I will look at this and remember there is more to the joy of owning a horse than riding them.  Much more.

Trilogy is a blue-blooded Arabian.  He is a Nationals-quality (read: best of the best of his breed) and it shows.  Ana was a very nice Arab, but Tril has been my education in just how different two members of the same breed can be.  He. Can.  MOVE.  Ho-lee-CRAP, can he move.  The only reason I am able to own a horse of his quality is Lumpy McTwitch has ugly splints on both of his front legs and his knees (more specifically, his upper suspensories) can't take the workload that getting a Nationals-quality horse ready for Nationals requires.  He was often sore, and after a few years, the decimal place in his sellable value gets moved a few times to the left.

Having a horse of that quality, I feel obligated.  I can't just let him sit!  I can't just do the trail!  I can't just work him on the ground!  I can't just putz around walk-trotting in an arena!  I need to Learn How To Ride A Class A Arabian! I need to take lessons with an Arabian show trainer! I need to get him in the showring!  He needs to reach that full potential!  AAAAHHH!

No.  He's a horse.  He's my horse. He's a goofy, sweet, curious, friendly, twitchy, lumpy horse.  He plays with jump poles, turns on sprinklers, pops "unpoppable" Jolly Balls, drags mounting blocks inadvertantly left in an arena around, and rips off splint boots not sufficiently doused in some sort of foul-tasting deterrent.

His is a horse, not a vehicle of achievement.  Relax, putz around on him when time allows and enjoy him, let him enjoy himself, let the boys enjoy life at the barn, and celebrate the wonder of owning a horse, no matter what color his blood may be.

And watch the video again.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I consider myself fairly internet-savvy, and I have always been perhaps-too prolific at writing about myself, but yet...this is my first blog.  Or really, first attempt at a blog.  Be gentle with me.

I bought my first horse in 2002, and nearly instantly was drowning in a world of information, opinions, complications, and impossible scenarios.  No matter how much I learned, there was always (is always) more in a sort of mockingly wicked inverse relationship.  Despite the knowledge and skills I gained, I remained keeeeeenly aware that, in essence, I still did not know shit.  I am the Perpetual Newbie.

I dove into equestrian message boards, vomiting my questions and dilemmas and stories all over their boards with embarrassing abandon, and stunningly was not met with eye-rolling contempt but rather warm encouragement and creative assistance (even from thousands of miles away).  Ana, my sweet, insecure, kind, weenie of an Arabian mare was my ambassador as I stepped into the horse world.  Over the years, I shared many stories (that were, really, blog posts) on the message boards, and developed many friendships via that dainty whited out grey (with a fondness for green spots) mare.  As if that weren't enough, some of our adventures were shared in Horse Illustrated, Arabian Horse World, and Equus.  Yeah.  She got me talking--er, writing--and for some reason, she made people want to read about it.

Then she developed an insidious disease that forced this Noob to learn yet another excruciating lesson: when it was time to end the pain.  She broke my heart.  Broke it.  Just a freakin' horse, an animal, a beast of burden, but That.  SUCKED.  And now, a year and a day to when I lost her, I still choke up thinking about her.  Just a damn horse, I tell myself.  (My father was an engineer, a scientist by nature--can you tell?  My ingrained reasoning and scientific apathy is frequently at polite, rational, logical war with my messy intuitive emotional side.)

I bought a new horse in April 2012 and new adventures in "What the fuck is going on NOW?" have begun.  Join me as I explore what Ana has taught me and gain some confidence that maybe I'm not as much the lost newbie as I thought I was.  Yeah, I knew better than to break four horse safety rules and nearly shatter my ankle (and bust up my knee) within 2 weeks of buying him, so I guess knowing better is a step up.  (Might help to act on that knowledge, I've learned.)