Friday, January 30, 2015

Licorice Has a Good Day in the Mud

Licorice thoroughly enjoyed not being blanketed.  I got some pictures of my husband trying to find a patch of clean hair to scratch him.

I should have taken a picture of myself after grooming him.  It reminded me of this cartoon from Thelwell.

With the weather forecast being mild for the rest of the week, I switched Licorice to a sheet I had purchased last year.  I'm not thrilled with the fit, but at least it will cut down on my grooming time.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A January Summer

It's freakishly warm here.  So warm, I pulled Licorice's blanket yesterday and left it off him last night.  This morning it was 48 degrees when I woke up!  In January!  And it's expected to get warmer today and tomorrow.  We may even hit 60 degrees tomorrow.

Remember two days ago when it was cold and rainy?  I went out and worked Licorice anyway.  I didn't end up riding, but I lunged him and he was a good boy.  I took a picture to prove it.  Doesn't he look miserable?  My saddle pad was still soaking yesterday, it was pouring the entire time!

I'm excited to spend some time at the barn today and tomorrow while it's warm out.  Though I know it's a lost cause, maybe I'll even try to get some of the mud off his ears and out of his tail.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Winter Motivation

It doesn't get super cold here in the winter usually.  Temperatures are mild and not too bad, especially if you wear layers.  And it's not that I mind the rain now that I don't have a covered arena.  My lack of motivation to go out to the barn is because it's dark and grey out and there won't be anyone else out there to ride with.  Waaaaaaahhh.  So lonely!!!!

At least I'm narrowing down what I want in a boarding situation, right?

Licorice had yesterday off and he got shots yesterday.  Today, I don't plan on riding but I will get him out and lunge him lightly.  I probably won't even saddle him in case he's sore.  I know some horses get sore more than others, but since we're just back to work I don't want to take a chance.

My ride on Wednesday was another good ride.  Licorice continues to not want to move forward if I have ANY contact on the reins and will kick at the leg/whip if I push the issue.  That's the kind of thing that I want to address in a lesson, so I'm making sure to just keep things mellow for right now.  I still struggle with the difference between a horse giving you a pain response and a horse giving you an "I'd rather not cause that's kinda hard" response.

Licorice did have a big spook on Wednesday and bolted.  For four strides.  Then we went back to trot and went back to work, despite my heart threatening to bounce right out of my chest.  Our trot was much more forward after that.

Licorice's main and tail are dusty gray now with all the mud.  Giant puffs of dust cloud around him whenever I'm grooming him.  I miss having a wash rack.  I REALLY miss having a wash rack.  There's a hose here, but nowhere to tie the horse up to and even though it has been plenty mild enough to wash a tail, Licorice doesn't think it's a good idea.  He's fine with a wash rack and tail washing, but to expect him to stand there in the middle of the driveway and let me hose off his tail?  Too much, Mom!  Too much!  On a regular basis there are usually cars parked there so it makes it hard to do training for that also.

Alright, I'm totally putting off going out to the barn by writing more.  I'm leaving now.  Seriously.  Right now.  Headed out the door.  I'll even take a picture today to prove I was there!  Here's a blurry shot from my ride on Wednesday.  Though that isn't blur that is making his mane grey.  Sadly, that's the mud.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Perfect Spring Day in January

Today was gorgeous (still is actually).  Mild weather, lots of sunshine.  Very strange for January, but I'll take it!

I went out to see Licorice today.  It was quiet around the barn and the horses were enjoying naps in patches of sunshine.  I brought my tack to Licorice's pen rather than to the cross ties and he relaxed while I groomed him.  I will try to take a picture of his ears the next time I am there.  They are so mud encrusted that I'm not sure I will EVER get them clean.  He's not a huge fan of getting his ears handled and they're so fluffy and filthy that it would be a project in itself.

I lunged him both directions and though he didn't bring his head down the way I would have liked, he was mellow and there were no spooks.  Since we're back to riding, I hopped on for the cool down and did a few laps at the walk.  I worked on trying to change his walk by just changing myself and my body.  I was mildly successful at getting him to halt off my body, but I think mostly because we're both pretty comfortable stopping.  Getting his walk to get bigger?  Not so successful.  But it was fun to work on it.

We did a few laps of trot on a loose rein and I will continue to increase the time trotting every week.  I'm taking it slow not only for Licorice's back, but also because I'm experimenting and don't want to fall back into bad habits.  I'm gauging our progress not by the speed we're going, but how we both feel at the end of a ride.

At the end of this ride, Licorice and I walked down the road a bit.  I chose to walk next to him because I was alone, rather than riding him.  Also because there isn't a place for me to mount outside of the arena and I don't want to tax his back by mounting from the ground.  Especially since we just got back to work!

All in all, our entire interaction was happy, mellow and full of good stuff.

And thanks for the help on Western saddles!  And don't worry, I didn't mean I was going to stop taking lessons or training.  Lessons are my favorite thing in the world!   Seriously, if I could take lessons every day I totally would.

 I mean that I'm going to stop relying on someone else to solve it.  A great example is if my horse is being spooky, I will not hand him over to someone else.  I will work through it all the way. I've been letting us both off the hook a little too much lately and it has made us worse partners instead of better.  I hope that explains it better!  I will continue to learn and grow from people with more experience than I have, but I no longer want them to hold me up or even hold my hand.  Independence, here I come!

Also, so sorry for the lack of pictures.  I keep forgetting to pull out my cell phone and snap a photo of us!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Things I Am Learning

Oooh, this learning curve is a steep one.  And though I'm still at the part of the curve where my cart is chugging up the tracks of the steep hill, I think I can maybe see the top and am looking forward to the whoosh of the wind as we fly down the other side.

Things I have learned from my new experience moving barns:

1.  I miss people.  All the people.  All the horses.  I like to have some room to ride, but I don't like to be completely alone.  

2.  Licorice misses having more horses around.  He has never been more insecure than he is now.  We ride by ourselves every time and neither one of us likes it much.  I don't mind riding in the arena alone, but I like it when I know there's someone nearby.

3.  I love riding outside.  I don't mind riding in rain.  The weather here is wet, but not nasty cold most of the time.

4.  I really want a Western Saddle but have no idea how to fit one and the videos on the internet don't  help me much.  I also want one that puts my leg in a good position.  I'm a little obsessed with Western Riding right now.

5.  I don't know how to tell if a horse is sound.  This is really frustrating because currently I have someone telling me that she thinks my horse may never be able to be ridden much because he has deep unsoundness issues.  The last vet lameness exam was three months ago and they didn't find anything scary, just some minor stiffness in the right hind which we injected.  X-rays were inconclusive.  Licorice does have a back leg that locks up occasionally, shitty conformation and some age related stiffness.  I need to find a starting place without tearing him apart.  I'm worried that we will get too detailed.  You know, like when you go to the chiropractor and he tells you that one leg is shorter than the other and your shoulders are twisted and your head isn't on straight.  This is all absolutely true, but still I manage to survive and even thrive.  I think we all have some issues.  On the other hand, I don't want to ask my horse to do things he physically cannot do.

6.  I need to do this myself.  This whole thing.  I've really been looking for someone else to guide me through this experience and give me courage and knowledge.  Instead, I need to be the one who steps up and makes mistakes.  I need to ride, even if I'm afraid.  And if that means I ride at the walk for a minute, that's okay.  I can push myself every day a tiny bit farther.  But there's no replacing experience.  I have been involved with horses for a solid ten years and am an avid learner.  Somehow, I have let my anxiousness and fear get in the way of that.  I am now making choices to do it myself, even if it means I fail.  The only way for Licorice and I to develop better trust in each other, is to start doing it without supervision, without help, without guidance.  

Some people need lessons and programs.  I LOVE lessons and programs.  But there comes a time where you have to just let yourself BE and that's where I'm at.  I want to just let myself BE.  And when I am solid about where I'm at, I'll know what I want to do with my horse.  I just have to be willing to take that step.  And so I am.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Licorice got his saddle adjusted again yesterday and today I FINALLY got to swing a leg over.  He's not showing any troubles, so now it's just the slow climb upward back to fitness.  It was so great to finally ride again!  Maybe I'll have more interesting things to post now that I'm back in the saddle.

Of course, I'm still on my internal journey, but it's the sort of thing that lends itself better to a conversation than a blog post so I just haven't been posting much.  But horses have been on my mind lately.  In fact, it's taking up an incredible amount of my space right now so it should be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

Happy Trails everyone!!