Friday, June 29, 2012

Fear of Commitment

First of all, I am so grateful to all of you for letting me vent and for offering up such good advice.  I re-read everyone's comments two and three times and really thought about things.  Then I read my post again and thought some more.  When I got tired of thinking about it, I got my lazy butt out to the barn.

I pulled my horse out of the pasture and led her toward the arena.  The wind had picked up and the horses were feeling feisty.  Someone came out of the Porta Potty and Tessa startled, splaying all four feet out and snorting.  We made it to the arena where I let her run off some steam since she hadn't been worked yesterday.

I began brushing her.  She was her usual squirrel-y self, swishing her tail if I brushed a sensitive spot and lifting a front foot every time she was uncomfortable.  I was feeling good about selling her.  I didn't want a horse that was squirrel-y.  I brushed her front feet and glanced back at the mud encrusted fetlocks of her back feet.  Shaggy back feet because I was too chicken to get back there with the clippers.

"Nobody is going to buy a horse with shaggy back feet" was my thought as I went back and brushed her back feet thoroughly.  With no fanfare, I put her tail up in a knot and started clipping her back feet.  She napped.  Then I picked through her tail, combing it out.  She stuck her lower lip out and sighed.  I realized I wasn't nervous.  I was hanging around her back end and there were no nerves.

We rode in the jump saddle today to work on our cantering to the right.  Since I was in the jump saddle, I went ahead and put down some poles.  We warmed up, doing our usual push pull where I pushed her with my legs and pulled her with my reins and tapped her with my whip and she ignored me.  Then I just stopped.  I thought about buying a different horse, one who wouldn't fight with me.  I took the personal aspect out and just rode.  Tessa responded to my indifference by just going forward.  Now that we weren't locked in a battle, we were just riding.

We got our canter to the right after only four twenty meter circle fights.  Once she figured out that I was going to ride it in half seat, she wasn't nearly as fussy.  So now I KNOW it was my pinching, shoving, grinding seat that was blocking her.

As I was careening around, huffing and puffing in two point position at the canter, I realized I was doing something off my "Perfect Horse" list.  Remember, I wanted to just go around and work on my two point.  Oh, hey.  Look at that!  Doing it.  So we made lap after lap while I worked on two point.  I was sweating bullets in no time.

We trotted over poles and picked up the canter right afterwards.  Was it pretty?  No.  Was it fun?  Heck yeah!

When the ride was over, I kicked my feet out of my stirrups.  We trotted.  So cross that off the list too.  No stirrup work?  No problem.  I just need to DO it.

At the end of one of the funnest rides yet (uh oh, Mona Sterling who just bought a custom dressage saddle....are you going to end up in the Hunter ring?) I took Tessa to the wash stall to rinse out her tail.  Laura wandered over and asked how our ride was.  I ended up telling her about how I thought I should sell Tessa and get an older horse etc. etc.
She paused and grinned and said "Mona, I'm gonna do some horse trainer psychology right now.  Are you ready for this?"
I didn't answer, just stood next to Tessa who was cocking a leg and sighing deeply.
"You are afraid of commitment."  And with that statement and a good chuckle, she sauntered off.

I turned to my little pony who I've owned just shy of a year.  My horse who has filled out, grown up and gone from an introverted terrified filly into a spicy, smart mare.  My horse who is still a bit insecure but comes in from the pasture to greet me.  My horse who pins her ears when I brush her belly and dances when I hose her legs but who calls for me when I walk away from her.  I gave my funny little Arab sport pony a scratch on her wither and went right back to washing her tail.

I'm taking the mental For Sale sign down.  I'm committing to this horse, this experience.  I'm gonna own this shit and we're gonna DO THIS.  Next up on my list from the 'Perfect Horse'?  Jumping and trail riding.....I'm making a plan, people.  I am making. A. Plan.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's Complicated

I still look at horses for sale.  Most days, it's just a way to kill a little time while I'm talking on the phone or waiting for a document to print out.

For some reason, today was different.  Nothing has changed with us, besides us getting better and better at things (okay, besides that whole right lead canter thing) but today I feel kind of funny.  I was on dreamhorse looking at horses for sale and found this guy:

I have NO idea why I even looked at this much.  I certainly am not in the market for a $9,000 horse.  But I thought he had a cute face and was a reasonably good mover and best of all, rarely spooks and is mellow.  And for some reason that got me thinking about where I'm at and what I want.  And I'm thinking again about what my priorities are for this whole horse thing.

One of my younger sisters is coming back into town today after having been in Scotland for two years.  She used to ride horses in high school (and by ride horses, I mean she was the ApHC Youth World Champion in English Hunt Seat among other titles) and has ridden off and on a bit here and there.  I might be able to convince her to go to the barn today to see Tessa, which will be good since today is a riding day.

This thought may seem off subject but it's relevant.  See, my sister may want to just hang out and NOT go out to the barn and I feel uncomfortable (or something, I'm having a hard time putting my fingers on it) about not riding today.  It means tomorrow I will have to lunge Tessa and see what kind of mood she's in.  It messes with my SCHEDULE.  I'm terrified of messing with the SCHEDULE because it seems like that's what keeps Tessa and I sane.  She needs regular work.  I have to pay someone to ride her when I can't so that she can stay in regular work and not miss more than one day.  Is this working for me?  When I was a single woman, it did work.  Every free moment was spent out at the barn.  But now, I find myself chafing against the responsibility of owning a young, feisty horse.  Tessa needs the consistency, she needs the work.  I enjoy it most of the time when I get out there but I often feel tied to the schedule at all costs.

Would getting a different horse solve this dilemma?  Does it make sense to go try some other horses and see what it feels like or is that wasting everyone's time?  Certainly, if I wanted a $9,000 horse it would require selling the princess and then saving up some more money before buying.

Here are some other random thoughts (I really should have eaten breakfast before doing this post.  Sorry if this is scattered).  With a different horse I could:

-learn to jump right away on a calm, collected horse that just pops over jumps like it's not big deal.  The princess seemed to love jumping but I'm not sure I would be ready to handle a greenie over jumps.  In fact, I know I shouldn't ride a greenie over jumps.

-not be intimidated by my horse.  Not have to worry about bucking and/or sucking back.  Not have to worry about getting my nose smashed by a crazy head toss.  Not have to worry about spooking (I know ALL horses spook sometimes, but Tessa spooks EVERY time)

-Be able to work on my position more, like riding without stirrups or in two point without worrying what my horse is doing.

-Go on a trail ride.  Or just ride around outside the arena because we can.

-Ride bareback.

I know all of these things might be possible with Tessa SOME DAY.  Or they might not.  Green horses are an unknown quantity.  It's equally important to me that Tessa be happy and I wonder if she wouldn't be happier with someone who was more consistent, more confident and able to give her daily interaction and variety.  Something I just can't commit to.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Forward is always the answer

Right now, forward is always the answer for us.  This was driven home yet again last night when after ten minutes of riding, my arms started to feel tired.  I mentioned this to Linda, who quickly reminded me that we needed more forward.  Forward into contact.  Forward into bend.  Forward, forward, forward!

The pony was itching for a fight last night.  She was cranky, fussy, heavy, sluggish, distracted.  After about twenty minutes of fighting her, Linda suggested spurs.  Leila has been using spurs and said that the princess is much less fussy about them then she is about the whip.  This turned out to be true....mostly.

At first I was very hesitant with my leg.  I didn't want to accidentally jab her with the spurs and when I touched her lightly she pinned her ears.  But, she went forward.  Really forward.  And from forward came all sorts of more lovely things like straightness (occasionally...let's not get carried away by visions of us trotting beautiful straight was more like we got one stride of straight for every ten strides of crooked) and lightness.  I worked on lightening up in my shoulders and upper arms so that I created a safe, happy place for her to be in contact.

Our canter departs to the left were amazing.  The spurs meant I could just lightly touch her and she jumped right into them.  Dreamy!  Then we turned to the right.

And lost it.  I said a little thank you prayer for having put on her martingale, because I would have had a broken nose otherwise.  I asked and she flung her head backwards at me, pinned her ears and kicked out.  Again and again and again.  She'd take one step of canter and then fall into the bone jarring on the forehand trot.  Over and over.  We'd regroup and try again.  Ask lighter.  Sit lighter.  Push her forward.  Finally, we got three or four strides of canter and called it good.  It's something I'm doing and we both know it.  She doesn't have this problem with Leila, so it's definitely me and it was awful last night.

The plan is for me to try to sit as light as possible, don't over cue, don't grip with the thighs etc.  Linda suggested I use a jump saddle next time and try cantering to the right in two point.  I didn't tell her that I wasn't sure if I could even *do* two point anymore.  I'm pretty sure she'd just tell me that's my problem and I should deal with it.

So, I'm going to pull out the old jumping books for reminders on good two point position and borrow the terribly uncomfortable but terribly effective Pessoa jump saddle again and I'm going to practice this week.  My two goals are : Forward forward forward forward (always, right?  I should just stick a post it note to my pony that says "Are you going forward?"  Maybe like one of those WWJD bracelets?  I could make a bracelet that says AYGF?  Then I could sell these at horse shows.  I'll bet I'm not the only rider who needs to remember that the way out of naughty pony land is forward!) and goal number two is to ride in two point a lot with a super light seat.

Since it doesn't happen going to the left, I need to figure out what my body is doing when I go to the right.  So I'm also thinking some videotaping is in order this week.  It's a little bit exciting for me to have a problem to solve like this because I love me some problem solving.  I'll just think of this as the CSI of horse problems....minus the dead bodies of course.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Learning to Fly

Or jump.  I got to the barn today with a friend of mine and there were jumps in the arena.  So, with the assistance of a trainer (not my own but someone willing to coach my friend, who is more experienced than I am or at the very least, more brave!) Tessa had her first jumping experience.

Step One:  Take a leisurely walk around the arena to look at the scary jumps.  The standards are especially scary.
 Step Two:  Let's walk over this tiny crossrail together.
 See how I did that, Pony?  Now it's your turn.

 Oooh, this is fun!  Nice and easy jump, lots of pats.  What a good girl!

Step Three:  Now let's trot over them.  My what a big jump you have pony!

Step Four:  Now with a rider.  In a dressage saddle.  With dressage length stirrups.  We didn't think she'd actually get off the ground for a tiny crossrail.  Plus, my saddle is so comfy that the rider swore it was like jumping in a Barca Lounger.

 Step Five:  Lovely Form, if a wee bit overjumped for the size.

Tessa cantered off happily after every jump and even tried to drag her rider over a second crossrail set up in the arena.  They actually had to slam to a halt to avoid it.  Me thinks my pony might like the jumping.

Interesting note:  My pony was bred to be a Sport Horse Arabian for eventing.  She didn't get tall enough and when I bought her they said she wasn't a good fit for jumping.  But it looks to me like maybe it's in her blood anyway.  These were her FIRST jumps.  We kept things simple and jumped it three times and called it good, with lots of petting and praise.  Even though it wasn't me jumping her (I didn't want to catch her in the mouth if she overjumped since I haven't jumped in a bajillion years) I am so proud of my pony.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Stop, Look and Listen Baby

'Stop, look and listen baby.  That's my philosophy.  It's called rubberneckin' baby..."  Elvis Presley sang that song.  I used to be a huge, huge Elvis fan in high school.  I outgrew that phase but I still can sing along with most Elvis songs.

My pony is a rubbernecker.  Which is better than a bolter, but still annoying.  Her new thing is when we get to the scary end of the arena, she tunes out.  I have tried bending her, re-directing her energy, asking for a hindquarter yield.  You name it, I've tried it.  Her answer to all of these when she's distracted is to ignore me, slow down and stop.  She wants to look at what she wants to look at.  I'm trying to stay centered and focused, but sometimes it's hard not to feel like a baby beginner when I'm up there kicking the snot out of her, smacking her with the whip and practically grunting and she's just standing stock still.  I can bend her neck so that her nose is on my boot and she will be rolling an eyeball to look at whatever it is she wanted to look at.

Drastic times call for drastic measures, right?  But what are those drastic measures?  I want to make sure not to repeat mistakes of the past, where she was inadvertently punished for being afraid and stopped wanting to go down there already.  At this point, she's at least being brave enough to stop and look instead of just running the other direction.  However, all the stopping and staring is getting on my nerves.

Keep in mind that the pony is still very insecure.  She was turned out without her buddy the other day because he was at a show.  She was quietly grazing when the foal in the pasture next to her decided to have a quick romp.  Baby and Momma galloped off and Tessa was off like a rocket, off the grass and back to her shelter where she stood on high alert, nostrils distended, ears pricked, puffing madly.  It doesn't take much for her to go into flight mode.  So I don't want to push that button on her.

But, she's six now.  She's been riding circles in the same damn arena for a year and it's high time she be able to go around on the rail of the WHOLE arena without stopping and looking, right?  Or am I setting an unrealistic timeline?  Maybe I should let go of my timeline?

I do know that it would be good for her to expand her horizons.  After an actual trail ride, our arena may not look quite so scary, right?  However, with no access to a trailer it makes it hard.  Okay, that's not completely it.  It's also that I'm not a trail rider, I don't have a saddle I would feel safe in, I'm not confident enough to take her out on trails, we don't have a buddy with an older been there horse and currently all the riders that would be willing to take her on trails are busy showing their horses at horse shows.  What to do.  What to do.

My current plan of attack is to simply distract, distract.  Use ground poles, more complicated exercises.  Yield her down to the scary end instead of trying to trot a straight line.  But I'm also curious what you would do.  I think stopping and letting her look (bravo for being brave enough to stop and look pony!) is going against what I'm asking her, which is to go forward at all times no matter what.

p.s. I love my saddle.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


My blogging has not been great lately.  I've been pretty busy with work, parenting, the pony and working on our boat.  I'm a little bit behind in my reading too.  If I'm not commenting, it doesn't mean I'm not stalking your blog, it just means I don't have time to comment.  Especially with the stupid word verification that they have now.  That adds an extra twenty minutes and twenty cuss words to every time I want to comment.  So, I'm here.  I'm paying attention.  I'm still loving all your blogs and all your ponies.

Another absence is the running martingale all last week.  And she only had one training ride all week.  Which meant that by Sunday, she had learned how to raise her head and try to bash me in the nose while sucking back and scooting out from underneath me.  The joys of trying to do your own training when you really shouldn't.  For about a minute, I felt really crappy.  Then I realized that we have years to figure this out and she's been wearing a running martingale for two months.  So, I'm going to have Leila ride her with no martingale and I will continue to ride in the martingale.  In another month, I will try another week without the martingale and see where we are at.

I have learned something critical in my last two lessons about focus.  Focus on what you want and let everything else go.  I have tendency to change focuses about a hundred times, depending on what Tessa is doing.  The problem with this, is that Tessa has the idea that she's the one that decides what we're going to focus on.  That and she's probably getting confused since I do things like ask for a haunches in and then when she spooks, change to asking for forward and then when she sucks back change to asking for shoulders in and then when she balks change to asking for her to get off my leg.  Poor, confused pony.

So I have two things that I am focusing on.  One big overall goal and then whatever I am working on for that ride.  Last night's ride was another lesson in forward.  We did some haunches in and Linda put down trot poles, but my main goal was forward and anytime anything interfered with forward I had to let it go and get back to forward.  If we had forward, we could work on the haunches but if we lost forward then we went right back to it.

By the way, I love trot poles.  LOVE< LOVE< LOVE trot poles.  I think it's because my brain had to get outside of myself and stop  nit picking.  Just get forward and go over the poles.  I think Tessa liked them to and she did super well.  I want to use poles ALL THE TIME.  They need to write a dressage test that includes trotting over poles.  Who do I need to write to about this?  I mean, c'mon.  There's Western Dressage now, why can't there be Dressage With Poles?

So then there's my big focus and this is the one that I have to always, always keep in the back of my head.  My big focus is to gain confidence.  Someone asked me yesterday what my plan was with my horse and after stuttering and stumbling and shrugging, I finally said "To have confidence in her and have her have confidence in me.  That way we can try anything we want to."  So, anything that makes my confidence worse, goes out the window.  That means, I put the damn martingale back on.  Why?  Because it gives me confidence and I need confidence more than I need to be able to ride without a martingale.  It means I'm going to ask someone to help me to clip her back feet so I can see that she's quiet about it.  It will give me confidence.  It means when I feel the need to lunge her, I will lunge her.  Even if everyone says she's fine.  I will treat my confidence the same way I treat forward.  There's no need to work on confidence all the time, but if there isn't any, then I need to go back until there is.

I don't have any good pony pictures, but I will say that my horse is THE CLEANEST GRAY HORSE ON THE PLANET.  I gave her a full bath on Friday and turned her out WET and she does not have a spot of mud on her.  Weird.  Amazing.  A little freaky.

Here is a picture of the sunset from our marina and our boat at a local public dock on the one day it's been sunny this year.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dirty Girl

Tessa was actually dirty when I went to get her cleaned up before the saddle fitter arrived.  She's the cleanest gray horse I've ever owned so it was funny to see half of her face covered with a large mud splotch. She got a good curry and it all came off thankfully.

Trying to take pictures of the new saddle that show how glorious it is, is futile.  I mean, it just looks like a dressage saddle.  My saddle fitter threw in a free Back on Track pad for us, which is really really nice.  The leather on the seat of the saddle is super cushy but the sides still need to be broken in.  And the billets are stiff too, which makes girthing up fun.  The pony already knows how to blow herself up three sizes.  At one point we were girthing her up and Tessa put her tail straight up in the air.

"What's she doing?", the saddle fitter asked.

"She's sucking in air wherever she can get it" quipped Laila, Tessa's other rider.

Laila has been riding Tessa for me on an as needed basis.  She's a super good rider and really likes Tessa.  She's also much cheaper than a trainer AND she's willing to do things like help clip her back feet and get her used to the wash rack.

Here's my training question of the day.  Tessa gets big giant chunks of disgustingness in her teats.  The last few days she's been going around whipping her tail between her legs or holding it straight up.  She is very polite about letting me clean out her butt and bits under her tail, but when I even get back behind her belly she lifts a leg.  I'm afraid to keep my hand there because she kicks up at her belly.  I worked a bit today on just resting my hand there and if she snapped her leg, I gave her a smack.  She got better, but I was nowhere near her teats.

Laila tried to get some of it out by having our trainer hold up a front leg while she went back and worked.  Even with a front leg up though, Tessa is an athletic girl and does her best to kick out anyway.  So we got some of the stuff out, but not enough.  I really need her to let me get in there on a regular basis and clean it out.  I have to do under her tail every few days or the build up gets nasty, so I can only imagine how her teats must be.  Every time we've cleaned them (only three or four times over this last year) she has had giant chunks come out.

Does anyone have experience with this?  Suggestions on an easier way to do it?  I know that I can (and will) spend every day moving a teeny tiny bit farther in, but I can't wait another year for her to get okay with this.  How do you teach your horses to let you touch them ALL over.  And how do you stay safe?  Tessa is very uncomfortable around her hind end and still gets defensive about it.  I don't want to get kicked.  She's come a long way in the past year.  She used to kick whenever you'd go near her hind legs.  She now will let you brush them and pick them up and only tries to snatch them away occasionally.  So, we have made progress, but I really want to help her discomfort with the stuff that I think is lurking in her nether regions (did I really just say that?  Yes, yes I did. It's like Mommy Bloggers talking about poop.  I can't help it.).  Any insights you guys can give me would be great.  Or stories about mares who had similar problems.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Saddle Saddle Saddle Saddle Saddle...what? Saddle Saddle Saddle Saddle Saddle

My saddle came in!  It gets delivered and fitted Wednesday night.  No more borrowing my trainer's saddle!  No more showing up for a lesson and having to wait until the person using the saddle is done.  No more trying to find shims for my half pad.  I am now the proud owner of a saddle.  Or at least as of Wednesday I will be.  Mostly I'm just dancing around chanting 'Saddle saddle saddle saddle saddle saddle' like a total freak.  But I don't care, 'cause I'll be a freak with a saddle.

In other news, the discussion on my last post was awesome.  I love hearing everyone's thoughts on the whole blogosphere thing!

Also, I only rode once last week due to a rash of people going in the hospital.  First my best friend, then my mom, then my dad.  All for unrelated things.  Everyone is now home and doing fine (fingers crossed) but I spent the last few weeks just trying to hold it together.  Yesterday was the first time I had ridden since last Sunday.  The pony was a star.

Here is a  cute picture of her and her new boyfriend, Prime.  Followed by some even more adorable pictures of the latest baby at the barn and her super sweet mama, Eve.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Expanding Our Minds or Poking Ourselves

I read a lot of blogs.  You can tell by my blog roll, which lists a bunch of them.  Then there are a bunch more that I read that are NOT listed.  I'm always looking for interesting reads.  Lucky for me, I'm an incredibly fast reader (a novel takes me about an hour or two at most), so it's not too much of a time suck and it's usually an enjoyable one.

I have learned so much from fellow bloggers.  From training techniques to stories that give me hope, reading other blogs has definitely expanded my brain.  

But I want to ask a question of all of you.  What do you do when you find a blog or blogs or a forum post and you disagree?  I'm not close minded, but I am opinionated and there have been some times when I haven't been sure what to do.  And sometimes there's blogs that I start reading and  now, every time I read an update I have to sit on my hands not to type something.

I'm going to reassure you that this blog is probably NOT about you.  I know if I was reading this, I would be paranoid that this post was about me and that I had offended someone.  It's not like that and it's most likely not you.  So here's some examples.  They may or may not be actual (in order to protect identities!).

Example One:  Pictures posted of horse wearing ill fitting tack (bit hanging too low, noseband too tight, saddle obviously not fitting.)  Would you say something?  What if someone else had already commented:  Hey, it looks like your bit is a little low and the original blogger responds saying "no, it fits just fine.  My trainer said so."

Example Two:  Rider posts about how amazing they are at jumping and how wonderful their horse is at jumping.  Pictures posted are of a rider who is GOING to fall off unless they go back and get some training and/or a horse who is out of control and over faced,  I'm talking about legs too far forward, hands not releasing, arched backs, roached backs, leaning too far forward or too far backward.  Do you say something?  I know that a picture is just a moment in time, but if EVERY picture of them and their horse jumping (and we're not talking crossrails, we're talking competition 3 foot kind of stuff) shows serious and dangerous equitation flaws, would you say something to them?  I'm not a trainer but equitation isn't just to look pretty.  When it comes to jumping, poor equitation can lead to accidents....  What do you do if they're not working with a trainer?  Or worse yet, they ARE a trainer?  Do you just let it go?  It's not my ass that's gonna hit the dirt, but I hate seeing people get hurt.  And yes, I am a helmet wearing, seatbelt wearing, crosswalk using person, so maybe this is just my neurosis....

Example Three:  Rider writes long eloquent posts about their stallion that they're keeping a stud because he's gentle and my five year old likes him.  

Example Four:  Posts about training techniques that you consider ill advised. I know in some barns (one with a trainer I used to ride with) the way they teach the horses to give to the bit is to tie their head around to the saddle horn and leave them in the stall for up to 6 hours.  I left that trainer and that barn and won't go back, but what about when you see folks doing it on the internet? Do you keep it to yourself?  

I'm curious because on the one hand, I really think there is such a WIDE variety of knowledge and pearls of wisdom often come from the most unlikely places.  And certainly, my journey has not been a straight road.  Is anyone's?  Probably not.  But if someone isn't asking my opinion and the tone of their posts is that they *do* have the right answer, is it worth saying something?  Or should I just stop reading these blogs and let my blood pressure go down.

I hope I struck the right tone with this post.  It's not to say that I sit and read blogs and make judgements about other people.  Nor do I feel snarky about it at all.    It's just how far away from what we consider *right* can we go?  Horses seem not all that far from religion.  It's a hard conversation under ideal circumstances.  I want to have an open mind but I also have a pretty firm idea about what things are okay.    I would have a hard time reading blogs about people who thought it was okay to beat their children or people who posted pictures of themselves driving a car drunk or something.....mainly because I don't think these things are okay and I think they're dangerous.  So maybe I shouldn't be reading blogs of horse people that are doing things that I think are far outside my realm of *right* and ones where I think they are being dangerous......

What do you think?  Is it expanding your mind or is it just poking yourself to read blogs like this? 

And seriously, don't worry.  This is not about you.  YOU, I have probably learned something from.  And the fact that you're willing to participate in this discussion also means it's probably not you.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Such A Sensitive Girl

Wednesday was the last time my pony was ridden by a trainer.  So it's just been me for a few days.  I rode on Friday and then she had Saturday off and then I rode again today.  She was a little testy, so we'll just take it one day at a time.  If I need to, I have a lovely catch rider willing to remind Tessa of her manners for only $15 a ride.  I'm hoping I won't need to take her up on it, but it's nice to have that option.

We hit a huge landmark today.  We cantered all the way around the arena.  It's not that we have trouble keeping cantering (though we do, but we've had some good days and bad days), it's more that we cantered the entire arena, on the wall.  On.  The.  Wall.  It wasn't pretty when we cantered past the goat corner.  The pony contorted herself so that she could keep cantering, but shove her shoulder away from the goat and look at that corner for as long as possible.  Just in case.  But she kept cantering.  And I kept riding.  We had only been riding for about 15 minutes or so but I quit.  Right there.  Long rein.  Lots of pats and we're done.  I want to make sure that Tessa knows how proud I am of her (and of me!) and that not every session is a ride into the ground discipline session.

By far, the funniest part of the day, was when I first arrived.  Our paddocks are divided into two sections.  One is the 'winter' section that they close down for the winter.  In Washington state where it rains all the time, you HAVE to rotate pastures and close them for a few months or you just get mud, mud, mud, dirt, mud , mud, mud.  So we sacrifice the front and it turns to gross mud.  But it's now June and the back is grass!  Glorious, green, grass.  So when I arrived, they had opened part of the taped hot wire and allowed the ponies through to the grass.

Tessa's boyfriend, Prime was happily munching away.  Tessa was standing on the other side of the fence in the mud, looking disappointed.  I called her and she trotted up to me, looking worried.  She was a little amped when I brought her out.  After our ride, I turned her back out.  She paced the taped fence line, again looking worried.  She tossed her head and trotted a few steps.  She looked longingly at the grass on the other side.

Oh!  I laughed when I realized what had happened.  Tessa either has poor eye sight or just doesn't want to mess with the fence because she would not go through the part that was open.  I walked through and called her.  She stepped forward and then gave me the look that said This Lady Is Nuts.  I had a few carrot bits in my pocket and went over and fed her one.  Mmmmmm...carrots.  She came forward.  Step by step, I bribed her through.  The last step, she walked forward and ate a carrot and was halfway through chewing it when she happened to glance down and see that she was now standing in grass.  She almost spit the carrot out trying to get to that grass!  Her head went down and no amount of carrots brought it back up again.  She ate like a starving pony.

The worrywart part of me wants to get her eyes checked to make sure she's not having a hard time seeing.  Since it was just a tape fence and horses see in shadows, I can see how this would prevent her from seeing that it was open.  The other part of me thinks it's adorable and *so* like her to not want to break the boundary once it's been firmly set.  This bodes well for training and is a particularly nice feature to have in a horse, especially if we ever go anywhere.  Either way, she was much happier once she was out on grass and very quickly ate her way over to her boyfriend.  Where they promptly got into a little tizzy and Tessa kicked out at him and huffed off.  Who needs boyfriends when you've got chocolate?.....errrr., I mean grass.  :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Somebody's Got a Boyfriend

Tessa has a new turnout buddy.  This is Prime (Primary Colors).  I'm going to get better pictures of the two lovebirds, but I left my camera at home so all I had was my phone.  Prime is 26 years old (or is it 27?) and belongs to a young girl at the barn.  He used to hang out with another old man, Tex but Tex moved to another barn.  Prime was lonely.  Tessa was lonely.  So the two of them were turned out together.  And now they spend all day mutually grooming each other.  So cute.  I will be watching them closely for signs of too much love though.  So far, it's been a week and they're doing just fine with no problem separating them.

Here are a few pictures of Prime from a dressage show last summer and whoever thinks that 15 is old and ready to be retired needs to think again.  Prime cleaned up!