Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sorry, no catchy title today!

Feeling a little tired tonight, so no cool creative title. Didn't ride Friday, but I did put on the surcingle and longe with the sidereins. That's hard, too. He gets behind the bit, keeps his head up, and takes a short little shuffle trot step. When I crack the whip and step into him, he just picks up the canter. I know part of the problem is the fact that the footing still feels really soft, and he can't get a good grip, but a consistent pace is a REAL challenge for us.

Sooo, tracking left he almost looked a little off. I wonder if the farrier cut it a little close on the shoes this time. That would explain the misbehavior on Thursday. He's getting the whole weekend off because I had to go South to look at horse today, and will be at an IEA show tomorrow. I'm shaking in my boots right now; I have to jump our schoolie around a 2'6 course tomorrow in front of PEOPLE!! EEEKKKK! Yeah, I USED to do it. 13 YEARS ago, lol. Feeling a little more self-conscious these days. Also, I have a short, stubby leg and said schoolie is a 15.3 hand QH tank. That's lazy. I can't school him in my spurs because I don't let the kids show him in spurs, so I have to make him hack around, then jump the assigned course without embarassing myself. I can DO it!!! My team will win tomorrow, AND I will school the boys and not feel like an idiot!!! Wish me luck;)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Darn :(

Well, if previous days have been "two step forward" days, today was definitely a "one step back day". It's so weird, who knows what causes the "bad" days when the "good" ones have been so plentiful! It was a little chilly, but not horribly. I used the same equipment I used Tuesday, and I even longed him today! It seems as though every time I have lofty goals for the day (I set up a little crossrail today to try him over), he shoots them down.

The only piece of equipment I left off today was the ear bonnet. Obviously, the ear bonnet really helped that spookiness. Every time a vehicle drove by, he would buck. We couldn't find any bend, any consistency of pace, or any impulsion. I kept dropping back to the walk, and he was better at the walk. Would go back to trot, and just more and more counter bent/rushing/not really spooking, but also not quiet pace.

I said the heck with it, and hopped over the crossrail anyway. He was good. I think the little, simple jumps will be good for us; I do worry about the big, spooky brush box/gate type jumps. Oh well, I'll stress about those when we're ready to jump them! Didn't canter on the flat; only cantered after he landed off the jump. No cross canter, no bucks. I'll take my victories where I can get them, but I did end the ride a little disappointed. Maybe tomorrow will be better!

Good days are abundant!

Rode Tiki Tuesday. Didn't longe first, and used my new gear! I'm actually thinking he needs less bit than the french link D-ring I have him in, so I'm looking to get him a plastic double jointed "Happy Mouth" bit, which is actually apple flavored! I don't know; it almost seems like he just doesn't need much in his mouth. Heck, we were FLYING up that hill Saturday, and with just a drop of my seat and a light tug on the reins, he came right back to me. Thinking of new possible saddles to try for him; there's someone at the barn that has a few different saddles she's going to let me try on him, so I can find one that's the PERFECT fit.

So, we went to our usual pasture, and I mounted up without the safety net of the longe line. I was wearing FULL SEAT breeches, and let me tell you, those are God's gift to riders!! I've never worn them because they were given to me by a man, and they just never fit me very well. I've lost enough weight that they do fit now, but they still don't fit GREAT because they're not women's breeches. However ... they lock you into the saddle like nothing I've ever felt in my LIFE!!:)

Anyway, warmed up at a walk, and he was perfect. Asked for some leg yields, and he gave them to me easily and on the first try. Walked some spirals, and he was quite good. Up to the trot, and he was so quiet that I felt like I needed my spurs. I think when I used them before, it was HOT, and his tummy hurt. He's been more forward the last month or so because his tummy DOESN'T hurt, and it's been so cold and windy. He was quiet I think because he's just starting to get with the program. Worked on really riding into my hand, and trying to imagine his back coming up and strengthening. Did some nice figure 8's, working on really bending through the turn, straightening through the direction change, then bending in the new direction. Finally, he was starting to feel as though he could hold himself through the turn and not lean and waterski around it. Walked, asked for left lead canter, and it was GOOD! He's getting more and more prompt with his walk to canter transition, and I didn't have to crank on my outside rein while he cantered totally sideways, which has ALWAYS been our thing. He actually felt UNDER me, and straight. Cantered a big circle, then halted and backed to get his hind end underneath him. Asked for right lead, no. Asked again, no. Halted, backed, asked, no. Trotted to straight away, REALLY pushed his hind end with my left leg, and he got it. Again, he was so STRAIGHT! I cantered through a corner, and walked before he swapped behind. At that point, I dropped my reins and stirrups to let him know how good he was, and he was DONE! Very good ride, he felt wonderful.

Oh! How could I have forgotten? When we were trotting our figure 8's, I dropped my stirrups so I could more effectively ask for the correct bends. This was the first time I've ridden him without stirrups, and IS a big deal for me, because I've done way more teaching than riding the last 6 years (since my son was born). So, overall a super day for both of us! Now I just hope today is just as good.:)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I FINALLY understand the meaning of "flat out" gallop. :)

Got to go on a trail ride yesterday. I'm going to tell the story like I told it to a friend of mine. :)

So, arrived at the barn and hurried out to the pasture to get Tiki. He saw me coming and was like, "Oh please, not AGAIN!" The peppermint almost didn't work, but his desire for sugar overcame his desire to run away. I caught him with the lead rope around his neck, put the halter on, and took him into the barn where I tied him up to groom him. I debated my tack choices as I brushed him; the usual stuff, or my 'trial stuff' (a figure 8 nose band and running martingale; neither of which I've ever used on him). Luckily, common sense prevailed, and I used his 'usual' stuff since I had no idea where we were going.

Decided against longeing him. So, I got on a nice, fresh horse with the biggest group we've ridden with yet (6 horses), and decided it would be super smart to trot over and hop over the little rail road tie before heading out. I LAUGHED when he cantered in to it with this lovely little snorting collected canter. We then proceeded to jig up to the top of the hill. Sat still through a few weird little spook jumps, I have NO idea what those were about. Jigged out the gate, down the road, and into the woods. Upon entering the woods, he decided a little buck would be in order. I growled at him to cut it out, and rubbed his neck in the hopes that he would settle down. Was walking down the big hill dodging tree branches heading into the trails where he decided to JUMP the little log instead of stepping over like a smart horse. Hey, we'd just jumped a few minutes ago, he was just doing what he thought was the right thing to do. Leaped over a few more twigs and tree brances lying across the trail before he finally decided that was more effort than just walking over it. The front of the group took off at a rapid, working trot, and we once again practiced our lovely little collected canter, complete with a wild sounding Thoroughbred snort every stride.;)

All was well until we once again arrived at the dreaded WATER PUDDLE. Once again, the group crossed and walked away, and once again we stopped dead like a statue. This time I was smart, and had brought my crop, so I brought it down pretty hard a few times behind my leg. Think that worked? Uh, no. We stopped and stood stock still for a minute with me kicking, growling, patting, begging, and generally looking like an idiot. I brought the crop behind my leg again, but this time did several small, encouraging smacks behind the leg, and stopped the SECOND he took a step forward. One of the ladies with us shouted at me to take my time, the others could just WAIT. I slipped him the reins completely when he stuck his nose down to take a gander at the water. I could feel him shore up his courage to go across. He was aimed RIGHT at a huge tree branch. "Please don't kill me!" were the final words I uttered before he LEAPT into the puddle and galloped through before jolting to a stop and narrowly missing planting his head up Star's butt. I praised, patted, and cooed over him as everyone continued on their merry way.

It was interesting! He is definitely a prissy boy. It was fairly muddy, and at some places on the trail, he felt like a gaited horse picking his way through the mud. We had a few little minor looksies, but no more bucks or other mis behaviors. Trotted at 100 mph a few times, his little legs pumping like pistons, but it was ok. Made our loop and got back to the puddle, and I had to HOLD HIM BACK this time from just charging on through. He was like, "LOOK MA! I'm BRAVE!!", and once again galloped through the water, splashing me, himself, and the horse in FRONT of him, lol. Threre were no crazy mountains this time, just a nice fairly flat trail with lots of mud. We made it back to the barn in about an hour or so. We'd started out at 3:30, so didn't have a ton of time anyway. So, once we got back into the back pasture, heading down to the barn, Joyce (the bo) offered up the back 15 acres to go ride in for a bit. I took her up on it because I'd never been back there.

Of course, there were boys in a pickup truck loading wood for the bonfire, and the neighbors at the top of the hill were target practicing with a cannon. The 2 ladies that like to RUN were somewhere in the vicinity of behind me, running, and I figured it would be a good idea to trot around the pasture. Well, we did, with a little cross canter added on the end. Came back down to the walk, trotted some more, rode fairly near the cannon fire, decided that was a bad idea and headed back over to a nice, inviting hill that was just begging for a little gallop ...

I thought my gallop across the pasture had been fast. I thought my little schoolies galloping up the "galloping hill" at PWF were fast. I thought riding my 4 wheeler in 5th gear was fast. No, it wasn't. When you're galloping on a RACEHORSE at full speed, his back is totally FLAT, and you don't feel his legs pumping under you at all. It was like flying. We got close to the top, and I lowered my seat into the saddle, said "whoa", and put gentle pressure on the reins. He came RIGHT back to me, no problem. He snorted his happiness, breathed out a big breath, and nosed the reins out of my hands. I made him walk to cool out, and WALKED up that same hill so he wouldn't get it in his little pea brain that we would GALLOP every time up a hill.

Bottom line, I'm thanking God for this crazy, impulsive decision I made to go get this horse. No, he's not perfect ... however, I'm thinking he is perfect for ME. I pray he stays sound for many more years, and we are able to continue growing and learning together. So far, I'm really enjoying the journey!!! :):)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yay, another good day!

Well, 2 in a row! After I finished the barn today, I went to get the booger out of the pasture. He tried to run off, so I had to chase after him a little before he decided the peppermint was worth being caught.:) Grabbed him and took him in to groom. I hate it that he still looks skinny. He's getting plenty of food, all the hay he can possibly eat, alfalfa cubes, and oil. I've tried him on beet pulp before, and he wouldn't eat it. Vet said he could use around 100 more lbs.

I've decided to try a new piece of equipment on him; a flash noseband. I've checked the fit of his bit, and it fits perfectly; no teeth banging or anything going on. I think it's just one of those habits he picked up and was never corrected on. Anyway, seems like a decent tool. Helped keep his mouth closed. Not sure it changed the workings of the bit at all, but it seemed to keep the head shaking to a minimum. Longed him again today, and was dead quiet. Picture this. A longe whip, longe line, aluminum step ladder, and my horse. A pasture with 3 mares, and another pasture where we can finally ride. Makes for an interesting walk to our "area".

Today was the first time I've ever warmed up fully in 2-point. Walked all the way around the pasture, then picked up a trot, and trotted a few big circles. He didn't get fast, woo hoo! Moved to the posting trot, and continued from yesterday, working lots of inside leg/outside rein. Lots of big circles, some halt transitions, and worked the canter transition. I didn't spend a lot of time actually cantering; just the transitions. Actually, they're pretty good. At the walk, he wants to trot into it, but from the trot, he's pretty good.

Very consistent trot today; it was fabulous. He is just SO good when ridden back to back days. I feel like we've done a little bit of backsliding since being at the new farm due to weather, and the real lack of a flat surface to ride on. We were cantering poles at the old barn, and right now, I'm just celebrating a canter without bucking. It's to be expected I guess, two steps forward and one step back. But he was great today, and I'm hoping to trail ride with the ladies tomorrow!:)

Have I mentioned lately that I love my pony?

The palomino in this picture is 45 years old. Yup, 45. I would be perfectly happy if Tiki lived to 45; the mare only looks about 25. Amazing, really. She's the oldest horse I've ever known personally. Sweet Rose was Tiki's babysitter back when he didn't know how to behave around other horses, didn't know how to graze, and just stood in the pasture and shook. It was her gentle guidance that helped him learn how to relax and be a HORSE. Oh, don't worry. She's fine. I just read this paragraph and realized it sort of sounds like a eulogy or something, but it's not.

So, due to mitigating circumstances, I have not ridden since Tuesday a week and 2 days ago. Today (Thursday), I was bound and determined to ride. I waited around until around noon to let it warm up as MUCH as possible, then drove out to the barn. He was out with his girls, and I had to lure him over with a peppermint as usual. I went to Atlanta Saddlery and got some new brushes for him, so I used those for the first time. One of them was hard enough that I will not usually use it; only when he's super dirty. The other is so soft, it is literally just a dust rag type brush. Upon tacking him, I led him down to the front pasture to ride. I had the longe line and whip with me because I was certain there would be some buckies.

I was right! Both directions, he leapt hugely in the air while simultaneously kicking out with all 4 feet. Very impressive! The galloped around a bit, and when he stopped, we reversed. Same thing, except the right lead gallop was done mostly either on the wrong lead, or at the cross canter. I really want him to get a chiro adjustment, but I seriously doubt one would come all the way out to our little barn in the boonies, and I don't yet have a trailer to haul him out to one myself. There is a girl that can do a massage on him, but I honestly don't think he would enjoy it; he is SO touchy and sensitive. She ran a finger down his side one day, and nearly earned herself a kick. Hopefully, circumstances will work out, and I will be able to get a trailer before too long.

Anyway, the interesting thing is even when he is hot as a firecracker, and GALLOPING around on the end of the longe, he does NOT drag me around. I barely even feel the pressure on the line ... it's very weird. Even when he's 4 feet above the ground, he's still not yanking on me at all. Anyway, once he settled down and stopped of his own accord, I took the line off, and hopped on. I walked down to the level end of the pasture in 2 point, then worked on some leg yields. He's really being extremely receptive to moving off my leg. I focused on maintaining a super soft hand, and pushed him with my inside leg into my outside rein. I'm resisting the urge to "see saw", since that does produce quick results, and instead, I'm working on feeling his back come up, his neck soften at the poll becaue he's accepting the contact of the bit, and his hind end be adjustable.

I won't lie. It's hard. The "level" end of the pasture is still very uneven. There's a good bit of rocks, the distraction of the road 10 feet away, and semi-soft and mushy footing still because of the freezing weather and tons of rain. I've never enjoyed riding in fields, and I still finish up sore and tired. The good news is I am so much more stable. He's tripping, drifting, and rushing, yet I'm still able to stay tall and soft and get him back under control. Today, he was GREAT. He was moving off my legs, doing baby leg yields, and filling my outside rein. At the trot, it was one of the most consistent ryhthms we've ever had. He wanted to speed up a LITTLE bit, but not bad at all. In fact, after about 25 minutes, I was having to kick him and use my hand behind my leg. NOW would have been the time to be wearing spurs, lol. I worked him in some figure 8's, concentrating super hard on pushing into my outside rein, and barely touching the inside rein. Once he felt balanced and straight, I asked for the right lead. He held it for about 5 strides, then swapped behind. I experimented with asking on a circle, and circling right only encourages the left lead. Worked left for a few minutes, actually cantering a circle. He fell apart a little bit because I was pushing it. Wanted to finish to the right, on a strong note, so as SOON as he got the right lead, I cantered until I heard the tail swish, then stopped before he could swap. We walked both ways around the pasture on the buckle and with no stirrups. He was an angel.

Cooled him out and put him back out with his girls. I love my pony! I plan to ride again tomorrow:)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A non-Tiki horsey update

Soooo, as y'all know, I rode the boy Tuesday. Cleaned stalls Wednesday and planned to ride Thursday, but I forgot the saddle at the barn, and plus had a ton of stuff to do before leaving for Statesboro Friday ... and not to mention the fact that the temps barely made it out of the 30's Thursday, so it was ok. Cleaned stalls Friday, and it was about 22 degrees; COLD!!! Glad I've held off on that trace clip.:)

So, in lieu of updating how my horse has stood around the pasture for a week, I'll update my professional horsey life! I started a farm IEA team this year. I WAS the coach for a high school team, but there was a lot of drama, so I let them go on their merry way and formed a team of kids with circumstances that I controlled.

The IEA is the Interschoolastic Equestrian Association, and was formed to give middle and high school kids that don't necessarily own their own horses the opportunity to show for an affordable price. The format is similar to that of college equestrian teams. We unfortunately got started late in the season, so are sort of scrambling here at the end of the season to get qualified for our regional finals. So far, we have 9 points, and we need 12, and there's 3 possible shows left. The problem for us is I only have 1 rider in 2 different divisions, so if they're not there, we get no points for that division. I KNOW the team will be bigger next year, and we'll get started way earlier than this year, but I still want us to at LEAST make the Regional finals, and hopefully the Zone finals. Once we get to Zones, it's only natural that we should make it all the way to Nationals, of course!!

The middle school is qualified. We needed 1 point as of yesterday, and finished 3rd, so we earned ourselves 4 points, thus qualifying. To top things off, the girls WON the show today, so we added an additional 7 points on to our total, but that sadly means nothing. It doesn't matter if you have 12 pts or 40 pts, once you get to Regionals everything resets to zero. So, I have 2 chances left to get my girls qualified (the high schoolers). I know we'll do it. I really enjoy the IEA shows because that's MY thing. My fabulous boss is away at the "A" shows with her fancy shmancy hunters, and I'm coaching my kids on someone else's school horses. I like it that way!:) So, I shall leave with another silly picture of the Tiki pony and hope I get to ride him ... soon!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Woo Hoo!

Wow. Today was a good day. I got up, took Kody to school, went to the gym, went to the grocery store, went home, got to the barn, rode my boy, and made it home by 1:00. I'll then be leaving again and heading to the barn to teach.

Tacked him up, went to our usual pasture, longed him (total dead head!) and hopped on. We spent lots of time learning how to leg yield, walked squares, and flexed to both sides. Did a bunch of walk/trot transitions/halts/loose rein exercises. Finally picked up a little cantact, and trotted lots of circles. He's finally circling without falling in and popping any shoulders. He was relaxed, trotted GREAT, and not a single head toss today. He feels so much better with his little ear net on because it muffles the sound of the cars whizzing by mere feet away. He's finally getting with the program, and working well in our little corner of the pasture.

Asked for the left lead canter, and he gave it right away, but did get a little bit bucky. He really likes to switch out behind, so I think he's just a little weak in the hind end, and could probably use a visit from the chiropractor. Reversed, asked for the right lead, got it RIGHT away, and stopped. His leads have been inconsistent. When I FIRST started riding him, he favored the right lead and had a tough time with the left. Now, he seems to favor the left, and struggles with the right. Interesting. Today, though, he got both leads on the first try, so I didn't push my luck and let him stop on a good note. Very good day!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Got lucky!:)

Yup, got lucky today! I hurried home, and got to the barn before the rain arrived. I lured him with a peppermint, knocked the dirt off, and took him out to the BIG back pasture, where there were no horses today. Began by walking up the huge hill to the top of the pasture. Trotted around, working on consistent pace. No bucking; he was definitely a little fresh. His feet get to moving so fast, it's just this frantic speed. I concentrate on breathing, half halting, and slowing the rhythm down. He was decent for being in a COMPLETELY different spot, cars were wizzing by, and he was looking at everything.

Made our way down the hill back to the front of the pasture, then I hacked BACK to the top. Trotted a few more relaxed laps, went back down, then back up again. Yup, we were butt training today with the hills!:) Turned and followed the fence line down the hill towards the bo's additional 15 acres. What did we find? But a big railroad tie type log lying in a nice flat area. You guessed it! I asked him to step over it first, and he protested a little, but walked over without too much fuss. I then got up in 2 point, grabbed mane, trotted, and he gave me a perfect little hop over and landed in the canter. Of course I had to do it again, and he was perfect! Continued following the fence line, and came across the little river made by all the rain runoff flowing down the hill to the little pond. Yeah, we had to walk through it. I asked, he backed up. Asked again, he backed and snorted. Asked again, and he walked over/through it. I sang his praises, patted his neck, and told him how mjuch I loved him. Walked down to the pond where the little river narrowed into a tiny little ditch. I walked up to it, got in 2 point and grabbed mane, gave him a kick, and he leapt over. What a good boy! I let him be done with that and then rewarded him with a little mane pulling. Total sarcasm; the boy HATES having his mane pulled. It really does work better when he's warm, though, so I pulled it just a LITTLE, plyed him with 6 or 7 peppermints, then put him in his stall so he could have dinner. Good day today. The only advantage to not having a ring is having to be creative about where/how you ride. At least it's good for de-spooking! Hopefully I can ride Monday now.:)

Friday, January 9, 2009

No rain!

It finally quit raining enough for the pasture to dry out for a bit, so I hopped on Tiki today. Haven't ridden him since Sunday (today is Friday); longed him first, and was happy to see some leaping and bucking. It was funny ... he expended more energy on the longe today than he EVER has. Got himself all sweaty before I even hopped on. I may ride again tomorrow before the rain comes back if I can get away from Patchwork quick enough.

After the longe, I got on, and we just walked. We did circles, leg yields, and bends. I asked for the trot finally, and really concentrated on just posting a steady rhythm. Threw in some halts, some walk transitions, some flexing, and he was just overall MUCH better than last time. Cantered both leads, then stopped. Finished up with a walk lap each way, and he even went through a water puddle!!! I was so happy; I think he's brave once he's done something. He can be a mule when he's scared or doesn't understand, but he's not dumb or stupid. Can't wait to go trail riding again; cold is supposed to come back next week, darn!:( Maybe I'll get lucky and catch a ride tomorrow. Till next time the weather cooperates!!!:)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What a super duper awesome day!!!

Brag, brag, brag! My boy was awesome today!!! I'd been dying to go to the barn and ride since our last bad ride, but the weather has NOT cooperated. I'd planned to ride both Thursday and Friday to prepare for the anticipated trail ride of Today, but we went to Tennessee on Thursday, and it rained ALL day Friday. Rained most of yesterday as well. Anyway, went out the barn with the knowledge that it may rain, and the anticipated big group of people riding did not happen, so I was afraid the ride would be scrapped. Fortunately, it was a go, so I groomed Tiki, tacked him up, and led him down to our usual pasture to spin around on the longe line for a few minutes. He was a total dead head. The saddle I borrowed definitely fit him much better; I still used my big felt pad because the saddle was a teeny bit wide on his naked back, but he looked great on the longe.

Got on, and got one of the ladies to take a pic of us, and then we headed out! It was me, the BO Joyce, and a girl named Kyle on her big gelding, Gelder. We left the pasture, crossed the road, and entered the 1000 acres of pulpwood forest we'd planned to ride in. He was good; starting to understand this whole walking in the woods with other horses thing. Then came the big water puddle you couldn't go around. EEEKK!! Joyce and Kyle tried to walk off to encourage Tiki to want to go with them, but he really doesn't care about staying with the other horses so much. I kicked, smacked, kicked, broke off a little stick, used the stick, all to no avail. Joyce crossed back over and got the rein. Chico's steady eddy personality allowed him to drag us through the water, and all was right with the world again. We met up with some nearby neighbors at a crossroads in the woods, then deeper into the woods we went. There really wasn't any sort of smooth, defined trail. We walked through, but it was around stumps, over rocks and sticks, and dodging lots of tree branches. Then came the hill. The steep, tree covered, stick covered hill. I could NOT believe they were planning on going up that thing. I wish I'd gotten pictures. It was crazy to even think about going up that hill. Well, I grabbed mane, closed my eyes, and by golly, Tiki and I made it up that hill in one piece. We made it up, wandered around a bit, dilly dalleyed about which way to go, got it figured out, and made our way back to the barn. This time, Tiki went through the water all by himself, without a beating or a pony.

We're coming along. We have our bad days, sure, but the good ones like today totally make up for the not so good ones. Can't wait to go again!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Reflections on 2008

So, it would be great to actually be posting about the great ride I had today, but seeing as how it was raining ... again, that was not to be, unfortunately. So, thought I'd just reflect on 2008 as a horsey year for me, and how I plan to move forward in 2009. It all began pretty much the same way; sitting in front of the tv and moaning about how stupid people are to go stand around in 15 degree weather just to watch the stupid peach drop. I mean, whoop-de-do. Then I head to the barn and teach the kids in town that don't mind riding in the 15 degree weather, and politely turn down all the offers of coffee/hot chocolate since they do tend to just go right through me.:)

The weather improves, I hop on the schoolies a bit, dream about my own horse, go to some horseshows, and try to learn some new, fun exercises to keep my kids fresh and excited about horses. I got a new tattoo having nothing to do with horses, went on a cruise over spring break, and got the crazy idea in my head to go to Maryland to pick up a free horse.

So ... I did what any sane adult with a kid and a life would do; traded in my old 225K miles truck that was paid off on a new, shiny model with payments and the ability to haul a trailer, borrowed my boss's trailer, and hit the road! All for a horse I'd seen one picture of, and knew absolutely NOTHING about. Now, here's the kicker. I've been offered free horses before. A few fairly nice ones, a few dogs, and a few only a mother would love. All others I'd turned down and not really thought about again. This particular one, though, I stumbled across as a post on the COTH bulletin board, and obsessed over for 2 weeks before calling the trainer and deciding to go get him. We haven't been through that much yet; in fact, I've only ridden him in an actual ring twice in his little life, and have jumped maybe 8 times total. I haven't ridden him more than twice in a week in the entire 4 months I've had him, and it makes me sad that he acts like a HORSE and not like a lovey dovey dog. It's like that goofy comedy where I go out to his pasture and expect him to come galloping over only to lay his head on my shoulder and nicker softly in my ear. What actually happens is I bribe him over with a peppermint, and he stands still long enough to let me run my hand up his neck, then he takes off to go bury his head in the roundbale. I go over to the roundbale to love on him, he looks sideways at me, then takes off to the opposite end of the pasture to go graze. And I oughta mention that when he first came to me, he had NO idea at all how to graze. None. In fact, his mane sticks up now because his face is always buried in the grass or the hay. It's sort of funny. 2008 went out with our last disastrous ride, where he thought his new job was to be a bucking horse. Blech.

So, for 2009 I do have a few horsey goals. I want the arena to get FINISHED so I can ride a minimum of 4 days a week. I realize without a roof this may be difficult, but I at least want the intentions to be there. I want to buy a trailer so I can take him to PWF once a month or so, and do some solo trail rides, hacks through the lanes, and schooling over a course of jumps once he's ready. I'd like to get him going around 2'6 or so. I'd love it if we could get a lead change, and I'd like to be able to go with the ladies at the barn and ride on the trails for a couple of hours without fearing for my life. I'd like him to learn what a relaxed, supple trot is like, and for the canter to be straight and soft, not counterbent and hell bent for leather. I want to audit at least one clinic so I can continue to freshen up my eye, and would like to qualify for zone finals with my IEA team and maybe go to Nationals this year as a top 3 team at Zones. Fortunately, I've got a year to accomplish all that!