Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pony Club Shame

I'm a master of cleaning out stuff.  Because I have moved every year since I was 16 (no, not military, I just moved out of my parents house and kept moving every year), I have become a pro at traveling light.  I'm not one for holding on to things for sentimentality.  When you're lugging boxes up three flights of stairs every year, you start paring down pretty quickly.  Especially because as the years went on, the help dwindled.  I've now lived in the same place for four years but I still have the itch to move about once a year, so I go through stuff and get rid of things by the bag full.  The one thing I have not been able to part with has been my horse books.  I'm a bit of a collector.  My library ranges from 'True Horsemanship Through Feel' by natural horsemanship trainer Bill Dorrance to "Hunter Seat Equitation" by George Morris.  I have books on riding, books on training, books on dressage, jumping, Western Pleasure and even a Pat Parelli book.

So, while I was looking through my books for the umpteenth time, I came across this gem.  At one point, I had all three books but somewhere along the way I loaned out my C Level book.  So, I have the D level and the B/HA/A level book.  I cracked open the D level book and started reading.  And, oh my, I have a lot to learn if I want to be a D level pony clubber!

I thought it would be fun to check out the tests required to move up the levels in pony club.  I mean, what a great way to make sure I am well rounded in my education (or at least in my english riding education, right?)    So I'm skimming the tests.  To Pass a D-1 test, you must be able to ride at a walk and trot safely in an enclosed arena, without a leadline.  Okay, I've got that covered.  So, I can at least hold my own with the six year old Pony Club kids.

So, moving on to the next level D-2.  Level Requirements are to be able to mount and dismount independently, shorten and lengthen reins at walk and halt, perform balance and suppling exercises....okay, there was one that I'm not sure Tessa would go for.  The old Around the World exercise, where you spin yourself around in the saddle.  I'm not sure my life is worth the risk of being backwards when she changed her mind about things. But mostly I've got that covered.

Then there was the Riding Over Fences portion.  You must be able to ride a simple stadium jumping course of four to five obstacles, not to exceed 18 inches.  Hmmmm.  I better schedule a lesson over some crossrails soon if I want to keep up with D-2 level Pony Clubbers.

And finally, the Riding in the Open section.  Yes, the section that I fail miserably.  You must be able to ride safely in a group at the walk and trot, ride with control, up and down hills, at the walk and trot and jump simple natural obstacles, not to exceed 18 inches.

Now, I get that Pony Club is developing eventers, but even if you took the jumping out of it these are skills I don't have.  My horse has been on one trail ride and it wasn't me riding her.  I've only ever ridden her in the indoor arena.  In circles.  And circles.  And circles.

Well, not anymore.  We often joke about me needing a plan for everything.  And now I've been shamed into action by the fact that at the LOWEST LEVEL of Pony Club, they can go out and ride in the open. Yes, I know, these kids are often on the ancient, bomb proof pony but I'm not so sure I have an excuse anymore.  I was at the Halloween party and if you look at those pictures, it was me and a bunch of kids.  All the other grown ups who dressed up didn't get on and I overheard more than one person saying "My horse would freak out with those decorations.  I'm not going in there."  But I did.  I didn't make excuses.  I just got my shaky legs thrown over my horse and got on and rode.

So yesterday, after our usual circles in the arena, I took my pony outside and led her over to a railroad tie that I used as a mounting block.  Was I scared?  Yup.  But I want to pass my D-2 level Pony Club test and I have to be able to ride outside.  Our barn property is fully fenced, so if I lost control we were still enclosed but with all the distractions of outside, including a very feisty and fresh yearling bucking and galloping while we rode by.  We circled the barn at a walk on a mostly loose rein.  I reminded myself to breathe.  I waved at my astonished trainer, grinning so wide it almost hurt.  I circled the barn again and found a relatively even soft spot and trotted.  It was only five steps, but I can now say that I've walked and trotted outside.  And lived to tell the tale.

And suddenly, a year of lessons and frustrations and second guessing later, I've got it.  This is my horse.  This is my partner.  And together we're gonna go places and do things.  Because we can.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Awesomeness of Me

Sometimes I surprise even myself.  It all started yesterday, at the barn's Halloween party.  It was a cold, blustery and rainy night (it was a dark and stormy night....oooooooh) and the barn was bustling with activity.  The kind of activity that can terrify ponies.  Costumes were being thrown around, the sound of glitter spray cans being shaken reverberated down the aisles.  Some horses were restless, pacing in their stalls.  I pulled Tessa out of her stall, away from her dinner.  This elicited pinned ears, a wrinkled muzzle and a half hearted attempt to walk to the other side of her stall, followed by a deep, dejected sigh as I slipped the halter on.  She made one last grab for a mouthful of hay and followed me into the aisle way.

She hadn't been ridden in two days, so I took her in to the arena to see if she needed to blow off steam.  I'm glad I did because the arena had been decorated.  You'd think cobwebs wouldn't be that scary to horses who live in barns, but our barn is pretty clean and Tessa had not seen cobwebs *that* big.  Where the mounting block was had been transformed with hay bales, pumpkins and corn stalks.  The other mounting block had giant cobwebs and corn stalks on it as well.  This left one mounting block.  The one in the (cue scary music) GOAT OF DEATH corner.

Fairy wings AND polo wraps?  Oh, poor pony.

You can the spooky pumpkins in the corner.  

My daughter as Tinkerbell, meeting the fairy pony.

Fancy costume!

This horse was Pepe Le Pew.  If you've ever seen Pepe Le Pew and then watched this horse canter when he's hyped up, it would all make sense.

Look at me!  In a line up!  Later, there were more horses and we had to squish closer. Tessa wanted to say hi to everybody.

But at this moment, the mounting block situation was the least of my concern.  I didn't buy a 14.3 hand horse for nothing, after all.  Mounting from the ground was not an issue for us.  Our issue at the moment was Tessa and the cobwebs.  She snorted.  She froze.  She walked backwards.  I tried to walk her by them, but she scooted sideways with loud snorting.  I wasn't worried.  Instead, it was kind of hilarious.  I felt bad for how scared she was of them, but she was so genuinely  worried that it elicited more of an 'awww, you poor baby' feeling from me.  I ended up putting her on a lunge line and just having her trot around until she started to relax.  It really only took about five minutes when she realized that she was going to have to work if she wouldn't walk by the items.  I got her to the point where she would walk by them, but with her head still watching.  Just in case that pumpkin suddenly grew legs and jumped out at her. 

I know this is super blurry, but my husband didn't get a good shot and this was the best costume. This is the Swedish Chef and her horse dressed up as a Swedish Meatball.  Since he's a Swedish Warmblood this was a pretty awesome costume.
The awesome moment came later.  The awesome moment came after putting pink polo wraps on all four legs and having her randomly kick out because they felt so weird on her (this was only the second or third time she'd ever worn them).  The awesome moment came after spraying her tail neon pink and trying to attach giant fairy wings to her saddle (didn't work, finally gave up because they kept flopping backwards and tickling her).  The awesome moment came when I went into the arena, filled with scary props and now also filled with ten other horses in costumes, some with billowing sheets, some with wings and some with crowns, and I got on my horse.  In the GOAT OF DEATH corner, no less.  Oh yes, I got on using the mounting block by the goat.  And then I rode my pony around a spooky arena with a whole bunch of other horses.  And then we all lined up, which my pony had never done.  She was disappointed to find out that lining up right next to another horse did not involve touching noses and saying hello.  She was probably wondering how come I didn't want her to talk to anybody.  She just loves to be social and was so excited to hang out with all the other horses.

I didn't do anything besides walk, but I walked without a death grip on my oh crap strap.  I walked on a loose rein.  We just ambled around in an arena full of ponies and pumpkins and scary, flapping cobwebs.  And I wasn't scared....mostly.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pony Eating Monsters and Eating Dirt

I rode yesterday and have reason to be extra proud.  The barn was empty and dark and cold.  The temperature had dropped another 10 degrees.  We're in the kind of weather that makes us want to spend days indoors.  It's not just cold, it's wet and cold.  Currently it's raining and 42 degrees.  And since I've got a sore throat from fighting off the latest elementary school bug that my child brought home, I've cancelled my lesson for tonight.  It's a good night for sitting by the fire drinking Throat Coat tea.

But yesterday I bundled up (though not enough as the barn was WAY colder than I expected) and headed out to see the pony.  After a small scuffle with her new pasture mate, a three year old warmblood mare who is just a mite pushy, I pulled Tessa out.  She either had laid down or rolled at some point because one side of her face was muddy and crusty.  She came trotting over from the far side of the pasture to see me.  I know that they say horses like being outdoors no matter what the weather, but I swear I have a hothouse flower pony.  A little mud and she's running towards me and her halter with enthusiasm.

So, the reason why I'm extra proud is that Tessa was pretty hyped up.  There was one other person riding so I wasn't able to let her blow off steam in the indoor.  I tacked her up and was going to ride her through it but then I noticed the moving truck.  Bad timing for us.  The people who are moving in to the apartment overlooking the arena were moving furniture in.  Tessa got one look at the pony eating monster Man With Chair Over His Head and decided that the goat corner wasn't so scary after all.

After a few minutes of lungeing, I put on my big girl panties and got on.  We had forward.  Unless we were headed towards the moving truck.  Some guys were helping with the moving and kept running and jumping out of the truck.  Between that and the furniture moving around, Tessa was forward.  Or at least she was forward when we were heading *away* from that truck.  Usually at a high rate of speed and following a snort and spin maneuver.  I gave up trying to work through it and just did a lot of twenty meter circles on the opposite end of the arena.  We had some gorgeous transitions and only one sullen (but giant) buck before going into canter.  All in all, a good ride.

I was chatting to someone later on about horse and riding and we were talking about falling off.  I ride at an eventer barn and I'm not sure if it's the eventing attitude or if this is true of everyone but at our barn they say things like "You WILL come off and eat dirt, it's just a matter of time."  or "You're not a real ride until you come off."   It got me to thinking.  I'm not old, but I sure as hell am not young anymore.  At 40, my bones don't bounce the way they used to.  I remember falling off pretty regularly when I rode camp horses at age 14 and it wasn't a big deal.  But when I started riding in my twenties, I only had three falls and they were not good or easy.  Fall number one just hurt a lot and left me off riding for a few weeks.  Fall number two hurt a lot worse and left me off riding for a few months.  Fall number three hurt like a son of a bitch and left me off work for three months, off riding for ten years and with permanent damage to my hips and back.  So, when I say I'm afraid of falling off that's an understatement.

Falling off consumes me.  Because it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.  When am I going to fall off?  Will I die this time?  Will it be because I've gotten bucked off?  Spooked off?  Will my foot get hung up in the stirrup?  Will I get dragged?  The scenarios are many and varied.  But is this true?  Is it statistically probably that I will fall off?  Even if I am careful?  Cautious?  I know there's always the chance you'll fall off, much like every time you get in a car there's a chance you'll get in an accident.  But nobody makes you feel like less of a driver if you've been in an accident and certainly folks don't go around harping on how it's only a matter of time before you have an accident.  So, is it true?  Should I just steel myself for the reality that I'm gonna fall off?  'Cause at this age I'm not sure if that's okay.  Not sure at all.......

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's All In (or on) My Head

Last night our barn had a Helmet Party.  Sort of like a Tupperware party, but with helmets.  Folks brought their current helmets and had them evaluated and then were invited to check out the range of helmets the Pegasus rep had brought with her.  I forgot my camera, so I didn't get pictures of this awesome event.  Which is a shame because they had some helmets that the rep called 'one offs' that were really cool.  One of them came in a beige faux leather and was gorgeous!  Sadly, my tiny little pea head didn't fit into any of the cool helmets.

I tried on every helmet they had, from the bottom of the line to the top.  The top end of the Pegasus Helmets are their George Morris helmets.  They have leather interior and leather straps and are lovely and fancy schmancy.  And they didn't fit my head (phew, dodged a bullet right there!).  My head turned out to need a 7 Slim Oval.  My only concern with my new helmet is that when I tried it on last night, it had some slippage in the back.

I have been on a whole foods only diet for the last three weeks and have had no dairy, alcohol, soy or bread.  I've been taking a ton of supplements to try and help me with my allergies, including lots and lots of fish oil capsules.  The downside to this is obvious.  I miss having bread, cheese and wine.  Who wouldn't?  The upside?  Shiny, shiny, shiny hair.  This is why people recommend Omega 3 fatty acids for horses and dogs with dull coats.  I really need to get Tessa on this program, cause my hair is shiny and slick every day.  So shiny and slick that my helmet kept slipping in back!

I purchased the helmet anyway, because even if it's not exactly perfect, it won't fall off my head and choke me to death like my old helmet would if I ever actually came off.

Fancy new helmet!!  With an un-fancy price tag of only $110!!
I went to the barn today, sans shower as usual, and put on my new helmet.  Much better.  A little extra hair grease was just the ticket.

I had a great ride on the pony today.  Since she had been such a pill the last time I rode her, I wanted to make sure she understood two things.  One - When I ask for forward I want forward.  Right.  Now.  If you sass me, I will sass your adorable pony butt right back.  Two - When we walk on a loose rein, it's just a walk break.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  When I put leg back on, I need you to refer to Rule Number One.  Forward.  Now.

So mostly I rode on a loose-ish rein, and sometimes I even rode with the reins in one hand.  This was about forward, no matter what I was doing up there.  I asked, she sassed.  I demanded, she sassed.  I said "Oh, honey, that's three times and now you get a time out.".  Oh wait, we're not talking about my six year old daughter are we?  Right, six year old pony.  Mostly the same deal.  I gave her the business end of the spur and we got on with it.

Then we did lots of transitions.  Walk, trot, canter, trot, canter, trot, canter, walk.  Loose rein walk.  Then back to work.  Canter, trot, walk.  Canter, canter, canter.  Walk on loose rein.

By the end of our ride I was able to lightly squeeze with my calves and we were off.  I was light and she was forward and we made it around most of the arena without spooking.

Then I went and washed her tail.  And after washing her tail for the third time since last week, I went the other side where our farrier was shoeing some horses and said thanks to him for showing me a different way of doing things.  All of these things add up to me getting more and more comfortable with my horse and closer to my goal of being able to do anything I want to with my horse without being afraid.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The B*tch is Back

Just in case you didn't know, the title is an Elton John song.  It just seemed so appropriate for my Monday night lesson recap.

The first part of the lesson was some fairly lovely work.  We're really focusing on me staying relaxed and pushing Tessa into a solid contact and feel.  Tonight's lesson was a bit more challenging because it was dark, rainy and windy.  There are two open ends on either side of our arena, which means that when it gets dark and someone is walking past or a gust of wind blows the leaves around outside, the horses can spook.  I mostly avoided going to one end of the arena because whenever we got there, I lost Tessa completely.  This is something that I feel like is a huge hole in our training and I get frustrated that it doesn't get addressed more.

We'll be trotting along in a nice frame and I'll feel her start to slow down.  I'll push her forward, but in the next step her head has come up, ears forward, head turned to look to the outside.  I tried REALLY hard not to yank on the reins at that point, but I've completely lost her.  I put a leg on and get nothing.  I put a spur on and get nothing.  I jab her HARD with the spur and she swishes her tail at me, but her head stays cranked to the outside.  So I use my inside rein.  And it's ugly.  I'm dragging her nose around using brute strength, while kicking her with my inside leg.  This happens EVERY SINGLE TIME, which means that I'm doing something wrong.  I don't know if it's that I'm tensing my body or what, but it gets old having to resort to bully tactics every time.  Again, I recognize that I'm missing something but I don't know what it is.  These are the kinds of things that I would love to work with someone like Mark Rashid or Buck Brannaman on.  Because I'm pretty sure they don't need to bully their horses into not spooking.  No, I'm damn sure they don't.  There's a Buck clinic in my area in November, but it's on my wedding anniversary weekend that I have already rescheduled once for a different horse activity so I won't be able to make it.

The other major thing of note was that after our walk break, she decided to throw a tantrum.  She does this EVERY TIME.  Do you see a theme here?  I do.  It's called ARGH WE HAVE NO PROGRESS in these departments.  Yes, yes.  I exaggerate.  But she threw a tantrum when I asked her to trot forward and then to canter.  She kicked out every time I put leg on her.  My trainer's answer to this is that I need to get after her for throwing a hissy fit.  And I know that she's probably right, but again there's that part of me that thinks there's a different answer.  But what is it?  I'm not a softie who doesn't want to hurt the poor little pony.  I mainly don't punish her because I still have a residue of fear left over and when she gets super kicky and bucky like that and she pins her ears and grunts at me, I'm kind of intimidated!  And of course, smart pony knows that.

I will also say that it's very likely she's going into heat.  Her pasture buddy is in a serious heat and it's the right time of year for that last heat.  But still, I'm tired of arguing.  I'm tired of wondering if I'm going to have to suck it up and ride through a temper tantrum.  I'm having an "I want a gelding" moment and maybe a horse who's a little less smart.  Don't worry, I'm not seriously contemplating selling her.  I just need to find the answers that work for both of us so she can stop pestering me with the question on a regular basis.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Trainers Come in Many Forms

Like the form of a shoer, for example.  I've just started using this farrier since the person who used to trim my horses feet is no longer at our barn and doesn't have time to come out and trim.  He's super friendly and outgoing and helped me out (again) with Tessa and the wash rack.

I started out in the scary wash rack, feeling overly confident.  We were a hot mess of wiggling, walking over me, bending, rolling her eyes at me etc.  I could hear Joe on the other side of the barn, singing along with the radio he constantly blares while he works on the horses.  So I picked up my shampoo and led the pony to the other side.

I got her in the wash rack.  This one is wider and brighter and overall nicer and easier to use.  Then she started her walk forward business.  I tried to pull her back using the leadrope.  She flipped her head upside down and bulged her neck out.  Then she turned her head.  I went back and forth trying to balance holding the hose, working the leadrope, pushing her back.  Joe came over and asked if he could show me something.  I said sure and handed him the leadrope.

He didn't use the leadrope.  He simply gave my pony the hairy eyeball, a small tug on a the crossties and she took a stiff step back.  Her head was still up, her neck still bulging, but he praised her loudly.

"Good girl!"  he patted her roughly on her belly.  The same belly that she swishes her tail when I brush her with a soft brush on.  She didn't move.  He kept patting her.  It wasn't gentle or soft or thoughtful. It was definitive and in her space.  He kept repeating himself in his big, booming voice.  "Good girl."

She stepped forward and he calmly reached up and gave a tug on the crossties.  She stepped back and he patted her more.  "Good girl!!"  He was enthusiastic with his patting and his praise.

She stepped forward one more time and he gently tugged.  Her head went up , her eyes rolled back and he tugged again.  Her neck bulged and I cringed, waiting for the blow up.  He reached up and made eye contact, his eyes telling her that he wasn't asking her a question, he was demanding an answer.  She stepped back, she lowered her head, she sighed.  She licked and chewed.

From there, he took the hose and went back and rinsed her tail.  She didn't move a foot.  She simply kept her head slightly turned while she watched him.  He praised her effusively.  Then he patted her some more.  He turned the operation over to me and I made a point of not backing down.  Of making eye contact with her.  He reminded me that when she was nervous and then I got quiet, she knew something wasn't right.  He said to give her lots of "Good girls" when she was good and to be business like when she wasn't being good.  To be definitive about my space and where I was and what I was doing with her.  My pony sighed and relaxed and didn't move so much as an ear while I washed her tail.  She did, however, keep one eye on me.  I returned the favor by checking in with her as well.  She just wanted a leader and I wasn't doing the job.

We then went to the scarier wash rack.  She was a hot mess again.  So Joe stepped in and moved her around.  He pointed out that when she moves into my space, I move out.  Or I try to stand my ground (which resulted in my foot getting stepped on today.  I'm grateful for small ponies with bare feet on days like today) and she pushes me anyway.  He went in and asked her to move.  Move here.  Move there.  Move backwards.  Move forwards.  Then he started scratching under her belly.  Her tail swished and flipped and her ears swiveled and pinned and swiveled.

"She doesn't have to like what I'm doing, she just has to accept it.  She has to know you're not always gonna ask her permission to do stuff.  That sometimes you're just gonna do it and she's just gotta accept it."

She didn't try to kick him, she was just agitated.  He just continued to scratch and pat and boom "Good Girl"s whenever she stopped sassing him.  She kept her eye on him the whole time and licked and chewed on a regular basis.

I'm enjoying learning from Joe.  It's different energy with a man and he's got a loud, masculine personality.  You can tell he loves horses and I've never seen him lose his temper, even when dealing with snotty warmblood youngsters who haven't yet learned their manners.  I'm remembering that being a leader to a horse is a lot like being a parent.  You want your kids to love and respect you, but you're not best friends.  Sometimes you ask them to do things and sometimes they just have to do what you tell them to.  Just 'cause.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Reminder

Last night's group lesson started off strong.  Our walk was forward, our trot was forward and our contact was consistent.  I spent the first half of the lesson being mostly ignored while my trainer focused on the other two horses, one of which she made the comment "He's just not feeling very ride-able tonight, is he?".  Ha!  Yes, my horse has those nights too.

We worked on keeping my legs loose and pushing my heels down and my feet into the irons when I did the 'sit' portion of the rising trot.  Tessa and I were in tune.  We then went from our forward trot to our canter on the left.  It was a bit strung out and whenever I tried to half half, we fell into a trot, but we're both learning about half halting effectively in the canter.  I just put her right back to canter and we tried again.

We then had a short walk break after one of the horses, a giant bay gelding, got spooked by a rattling feed cart outside.  Tonight was the first night that our lesson was in the dark and the outside of the arena made some of the horses nervous.  Poor Oxford didn't just spook when he heard the ghostly death rattle of the feed cart, he turned around with a look like a terrified puppy on his face and bolted for the other end.  Horses scattered and jumped.  All of them except Tessa, who was so focused on what we were doing that she didn't even bat an eyelash.  Good girl!

We changed reins and focused on going to the right.  She was forward again and lovely.  Then I asked for right lead canter.  Boom!  Pow!  Tessa reminded me that we haven't completely come over the hill for attitude.  I asked her to move off my leg and she kicked out and slowed down.  I used my spur.  More kicking.  More ear pinning.  Wrong lead.  No lead.  Kicking.  Bucking.  Head tossing.

I'm proud to say that fifteen minutes later, I finally got my nerve up and growled at her when she bucked.  We got the correct lead and then had a lovely (albeit a bit rushed) canter and I was even able to half halt a bit.

Laura is going to ride Tessa some more and see if she can figure it out.  I will not be surprised if she comes back and says 'Your pony is fine.  It's you.'  I have a plan for a boot camp to work on me in the coming months.  It might be time to put that plan into action.

In the meantime, I'm going to remember to stay strong when my pony tests my limits.  One of these days I will get past the just riding through it, into letting her know that her behavior is unacceptable.  One of these days....

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Down for the Count

I am currently in bed with a terrible version of a cold that I picked up.  I had a sinus headache for three days that I thought might kill me.  I can't take sudafed because it makes my heart race, which then leads to anxiety, which then leads to a panic attack.  Ugh.  I pick sinus headache over panic attack!  But I used steam, ibuprofen, eucalyptus and basically moaned and groaned my way through the last two days.  My headache has receded today but I"m left feeling all noodle limbed and light headed.

I had started to feel crummy on Friday, but since I had not had a lesson in three weeks I was determined to ride.  So I sucked it up and dragged my weary bones to the barn.  I warned my trainer that I might pass out mid ride and I hopped on.

The first thing we worked on was letting go with my legs.  Asking her to move forward and then letting my legs rest loosely on her sides.  If she didn't move forward, give a sharp clear aid and then let it go.  Ask once nicely and then follow up with a demand, not another request.  Then we worked on keeping my outside rein solidly connected while I gently moved the bit with my inside rein.  As soon as she pushed her nose into the contact, I kept my hands still and praised her.  We had some lovely, lovely walk.

We moved into the trot working on the same principles.  From there we moved into the canter, where going to the right we have had problems with her picking up the correct lead.  I focused on keeping my body loose (easy since I was huffing and puffing and light headed) and keeping her nose tilted to the inside no matter what.  I didn't realize how much she would pull her head to the outside when going to the right, especially after a failed attempt.

We had some of our most lovely moments at the canter and the following trot.  It was nice to have a private lesson to focus on our problems.  And though I was exhausted at the end of it (and subsequently stuck in bed for the rest of the weekend), it felt like we passed another mile stone in our training.

After our lesson, I took Tessa to the wash rack on the other side of the barn.  It's bigger, better lit and the shoer was working over there so there were other horses around.  She stood like a champ in the wash rack and though she sucked her butt up, she let me wash her tail out with no fuss.  Our shoer is really great with horses and showed me some tricks to help her relax.  We hoooked her lead rope on to her halter and I held it while I worked on her tail.  If she tried to walk forward and move around, I just wiggled the lead rope and moved her feet back to where I wanted them.  Within a minute, Tessa sighed and licked and chewed and resigned herself to tail washing.  I'm excited to try some of the same tricks in the scary wash rack.....when I'm feeling better.

Today is supposed to be the last week of gorgeous sunny weather.  We have had more than our fair share of fantastic fall weather, so I'm grateful we got what we did. In the meantime, I'm drinking lots of tea and hot soup and eating spicy Thai Food to get this sinus thing kicked as fast as possible.  Now, back to bed.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Tail End

Tessa's tail gets trimmed regularly, sometimes a little too short as is the style in eventing.  She's still rubbing out the top, though less though since I started using MTG on it regularly.  Even though she's the cleanest gray pony in the world, her white tail does get a bit yellow after a while.  She also does not have a super thick long tail.  I know some of this is breeding, but it got me thinking about tails.

I've boarded at a lot of different barns.  I've seen tails in bags, tails in vet wrap, tails in braids and tails in knots.  But you know what?  I've never seen a tail in anything at a dressage barn.  Why is this?  Dressage people don't use fake tails and most of the horses I've seen have lovely thick tails.  Do they just wash them every day?  Why do dressage people not use tail things?  Are they the only ones?

Anyways, what do you think?  And what's your favorite way of getting a nice, thick tail without it causing upset to the pony or the rider.  Right now our weather is warm and the flies are on their last ditch effort to irritate all of us, so I wouldn't want to put her tail completely up in something.  I also wouldn't want to do a braid, because the last time I did that she used it like a bullwhip over her rump and it smacked me in the head.  There's the real reason I wear a helmet.  To avoid my pony killing me with her tail weapon.  Ha!

I have my child's Back To School cold this week so I have signed the pony up for a refresher course with the trainer this week.  Laura said she needed to remind her about moving into the outside rein.  Since I'm not riding, I cleaned out my tack trunk, washed my brushes and brought home my pads to throw in the washer.  Which I should do now before my husband comes home and sees the grossness I'm putting in our washer.  Any saddle pad washing tips you have would be much appreciated also!

Hope you all have a great week.  I'm slowly starting to catch up on my reading again so I can't wait to see what y'all have been up to this last month!