Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hand Holding and the Magic Feather

Sorry for the lack of posting.  There has also been a distinct lack of riding.  Licorice now has a summer cold, which has him coughing and wheezing.  Our canter is improving rapidly.  Our walk....well, our walk still sucks.  In fact, our rides still start off sluggish and shaky with me doing too much and Licorice doing too little.  It's a work in progress.

I met a woman at the barn where my daughter is taking riding lessons (yes, my child is finally showing some interest in horses!  And yes, she's not riding at my barn yet.) and we were talking about the Oh Crap strap on our saddles.  I jokingly referred to it as my Magic Feather.  In case you haven't seen Dumbo recently, Dumbo was convinced he could fly because he held a Magic Feather in his trunk.  As long as he had that Magic Feather, he was fine.  Then when he dropped the Magic Feather, he thought he could no longer fly.  Thankfully, his little mouse buddy yelled at him that he didn't need the Magic Feather and that he could fly all along.  And so he did.

My Magic Feather is my Oh Crap strap (also known as a bucking strap and other names).  How many times have I needed it to actually stay on?  Zero.  But how many times have I just touched it or put a hand over it...just because.  Lots and lots.  I'm not ready to give up my strap, but it just got me thinking about how my riding isn't nearly as bad as I think it is.  Also, I was explaining to someone about what a chicken I was and she said "Do you ever canter?".  I realized then that what I tell people and how I ride are pretty different.  I walk, trot, canter at every ride and without major fear issues.  Apparently the way I talk about myself is as if I'm too scared to do much besides walk.  Ha!

The other thing on my mind is hand holding.  The barn I'm at is fantastic but they hold my hand a lot.  They schedule vet visits, farrier visits.  They cut back on my pony's food if it's too much and increase it if it's not enough.  Everyone is in the riding program, so there isn't any different disciplines.  If it's hot out, they take off blankets.  Raining?  They put on rain sheets.  If your horse looks funny, they notice right away.  If your horse is being a spaz in turnout, they check on him.  There is always someone there to answer all my questions and if I'm having a hard time with my horse, there's almost always someone there to assist me or offer advice.

So, what I'm wondering is if any of you have been (or are at) a barn like this and if you moved to one where you had to take more responsibility, was it challenging?  When I was in my 20s and had a horse it was easier because I didn't have a husband and a house and a child and everything that comes along with it.  Now that I'm older, I appreciate that I don't have to be involved, but there's a part of me that thinks I'm not growing my relationship with my horse as deeply because there's always someone else who knows better.  It almost feels like I can't make a mistake.  Does that make sense?

I have a whole other post that I would love to get advice on, but the last time I tried to do a private post it totally didn't work.  Sigh.  Internets.  Here are some pictures of Licorice.  His body is changing!  Yeah for muscles!


  1. It was hard when I moved to what I would consider a full service barn to having to call vets, find farriers, make my own choices. Especially since while I was at the full service barn my parents were footing the bill, so if something came up they were the ones calling the shots. When it became all me, I was a little lost at first!

  2. It's up to you how much you know or are involved with your horse's care. Your place sounds wonderful, and I wouldn't want to move from somewhere with what sounds like excellent care and reputation in the pursuit of more challenge or a deeper relationship with your horse.

  3. If it works for you, go with it. We could never afford that so we do it all ourselves and could not handle that kind of situation. Having that support is awesome. It really does take a village.
    And we still have grab straps on the front of our dressage saddles. Better safe than sorry. Glad to hear from you! Hope he feels better soon.

  4. I did the full-service thing with Moon for over a year and it was AWESOME. Then I spent 3 years where I am now, where I'm part of the care giving. My barn owner even asks if I think we should put blankets on, if I think we should change rations, what supplements to add for the other boarders...

    On one hand, it's AWESOME. I know everything about my boy, I could take him home and be 100% caregiver without much worry or stress. I know how to make the decisions related to his care, and that's pretty awesome. He comes to the gate when I feed, the farrier knows my number, I'm the one yelling when he's being a dink in turnout.

    But in the end?? I'm getting to that stage in life (post-20s like you) where it just doesn't add that much to our relationship. I'd rather be riding than measuring feed but I don't always have time for both. Swinging out for the farrier is a pain when it's a rainy day so I'm not doing anything else. Grabbing feed when it's low, thinking about whether or not he should have a blanket, if he should go into pasture turn-out yet...honest, my life doesn't really have the same amount of time to devote to these things, and I'd rather devote my horse time to riding. Sounds horrible selfish and it probably is. But I know that I know how to take care of him if I had to, I know that I know the basics of all of his care, so I'm happy to hand the figurative reins to someone else, so I have more time with the real reins.

  5. Licorice looks awesome!

    Its really up to you about the care you want your horse to have, personally if he is in a good situation where if you are sick, or unable to get to the barn you know he will be taken care of and nothing will be missed I think that is worth quite a bit.