Monday, February 21, 2011

Feeling a little more even keel:)

I just want to say thank you to the people that took the time to comment on my blog, and to my friends that approached me with concern. I'm usually pretty much a rock when it comes to stress, but with the drama around my IEA team, and then my husband's blow up right here 2 days before my birthday ... I just erupted. I contemplated deleting the below blog post, but you know what ... I don't think I will.

I know I'm not perfect. Actually TALKED (instead of yelled) at the husband today, and his "issue" is the fact that he didn't HEAR me because he was preoccupied when I mentioned the event earlier in the day, and me spending a whole $42 for a tank of gas when we're only a month away from a *huge* vacation. I knew he probably wouldn't have been a big fan of me driving that far *just* to do "something for nothing", and when he didn't protest, I jumped the gun and e-mailed the lady that I was available. He claims today that he doesn't remember the conversation at ALL. Whatever. I'm not going down there, so the issue is put to bed for now. ANYWAY!

My jump school on Friday was AWESOME:) My friend Nicole took a sick day, and came waltzing up the barn driveway just as I was finishing up shortening Tiki's mane. I hadn't ridden yet, so I took my sweet time while she got the Sparky pony, and then we went up to ride together. Since I'd planned to jump, I was riding in the Beval bit. Made sure he was in front of my leg, did a couple of circles to soften him up, then trotted into the tall crossrail I'd set. As per usual, I got popped up. I can NOT TROT JUMPS, lol. Thank goodness I'd tied my stirrups. I really hadn't jumped a whole bunch lately, especially not at home.

I had a simple exercise set up; a tall crossrail dead center, and more towards the bottom of the ring. 2 inside singles almost even with the crossrail. One was 2', the other was 2'6. Had a 3' vertical on the left hand long side more towards the top of the ring, and a low outside line of a little cavaletti stack jump, 4 strides to the cabinet.

Trotted the tall crossrail until I quit getting left behind. Finally did the "course". Trot x, left hand loop to the 2'6 vert, trot x, right hand loop to 2' vert, canter the 3' vert, then canter the line in a 5. Tiki man likes to build in his courses, which is why I have made the move to the Beval bit. It has just a slight gag action to it, which is PLENTY to get him back to me with just a simple half halt. My first time to the 3', I had my usual butterflies. I sure hope I can get my weenie self up to Novice level. I see the 3', and I just am always like, "yikes! it looks so big!" I'm worse when I haven't DONE it in awhile. And I haven't jumped 3' since the horse trial, at LEAST. Didn't ride that much in November, gave him December off, then January and now February have been bringing him back up to his normal work load, and getting back into the IEA shows.

The silly muffin soothed all my fears though, and jumped the 3' vert BEAUTIFULLY. Soft, rocked back, gave it enough room, but not TOO much. Then totally ran through the line in a lovely 4 1/2 strides, lol. Did the course again, and definitely appreciated the Beval bit when I had to bring him back to a trot right off that super short turn from the 2'6 vert to the x. Cantered up to the 3'vert, saw NOTHING, sat absolutely still, and he sat down and added a step. Rode the line GREAT, said "WHOA" over the cabinet, half halted in the line, and put in a beautiful 5 this time. He just felt great, love my boy.

Will do a nice dressage school tomorrow, and may just treat myself to a lesson with Susan on Wednesday. Thursday will be probably nothing since I have to hold horses for farrier, then Friday I ship over for our IEA Regionals on Saturday. I may try to hack in the field on Friday before heading over to Rising Fawn. Depends on whether or not I'm lazy, lol.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Frustrating levels are at an all time high

You know, I don't normally do this sort of thing here, but my husband could care less about my life, and DEFINITELY doesn't read this blog, so I feel pretty free to vent my frustrations.

My husband is NOT a horsey husband, in the LEAST. I have no clue WHY in the world he "allowed" me to go to Maryland 2 years ago and get my horse. I have NO idea why in the world he "allows" me to do ANYTHING with him at all. I shouldn't be sad or upset by this. He was like that almost 15 years ago when I married him. Back then, it was almost a form of jealousy. He wanted us to be TOGETHER all the time. To his credit, I did step away from the horses for a few years, and experience some new things I had never done. But, as they always do, the horses pulled me back in, and I basically dropped out of college to teach lessons full time.

Nowadays, it's just old habit for him to lay a massive guilt trip on me about doing ANYTHING fun with my horse. Unless I'm being paid for it (and sometimes, even when I AM being paid for it), he acts like I am the worst wife in the world for (in this case) wanting to spend $42 on a tank of gas to drive 172 miles one way to volunteer for one day at the Pine Top horse trials. Yes, I'd be gone all day. But it wouldn't cost me food, and I would get a xc schooling credit to use for later. But THEN, THAT'S when I would go back, and spend some ridiculous amount of money ($374???) to haul my horse down there to redeem my schooling credit.

We don't really DO anything together any more. I work myself to the BONE 6 days a week, he works hard 5 days a week, when he's done with work, he's not doing ANYTHING. Not washing clothes, not unloading the dishwasher, not painting the front door, not anything. So, even if I HAVE a Sunday OFF (like today), he doesn't even CHECK with me to find out if I'd like to do anything. Go on a picnic, go to lunch, go to the movies ... no, he decided, ON HIS OWN, to take the truck half an hour away to have the rotors turned. So, I headed off on MY own to go hiking at our local mountain (ironically called Pine Top Mountain). If we DO spend time together on a Sunday, we literally sit on the couch ALL DAY LONG watching some form of tv. I have a MASSIVE headache right now from sitting in front of the computer/tv for 6+ hours. How is that DOING anything together?

Today, I looked him right in the eye and asked how he felt about me volunteering on Sunday. I said, yes, I'm working on Saturday, but I would like to volunteer Sunday at Pine Top. I said I wasn't exactly sure where it was, but I thought it was a "couple of hours" south. He looked at me blankly, said nothing, then went back to talking about our vacation in a month. OK, fine. I supposed that meant he didn't care if I did it, which DOES happen every now and then.

Well, now I mentioned that Pine Top is actually 3 hours away according to Mapquest, and he went BALLISTIC. Said I had NO business going down there, my car was UNSAFE to drive down there (but I CAN drive an hour back and forth to work 5 days a week?), and that if I tried to do so, he would take the battery out of my car.

Is this normal? I am so frustrated and angry, which is why I have vented on here, which as y'all know, I DON'T do. I had to e-mail the lady back and apologize and say that something has come up already, and maybe I could do it next time. I have been SO stressed, and have been working SO hard lately, I was really excited to head down there and jump judge for the Advanced XC. 3 hour drive and all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

First sweat/bath of the winter:)

Alrighty. I have absolutely ENJOYED this week! It has been low 60's to low 70's everyday, with LOTS of sunshine:) It killed me to give Muffin Mon and Tues off, but I just had to since he worked so hard Sat and Sunday.

Wednesday I did trot sets for the first time in a LONG time. I did my usual timing; 8 minutes of trot, 2 minutes of canter each way. I want to up that to 10 minutes of trot, 4 minutes of canter, but I have to get him back on a good work schedule first! He started out as usual; a little quick, a little giraffe like. Settled into a super rhythm, and rode it out. At the canter, he felt AMAZING, as usual! Strong, forward, and eager! To the left, the trot felt even better than it had to the right, but the canter was a little bit um, heavy:) He really arched his neck, laid on my hands, and trucked along. I half halted pretty hard to get him to lift up, and he did ... beautifully. He worked up a GOOD sweat, so I gave him his first bath since before the horse trial in October.

Today, I rode in the dressage tack. I'll be DARNED if my boy didn't feel like a REAL dressage horse. Holy Cow. Light, responsive, forward, bendy, steady to the contact. I did a couple of trot spirals, and it felt amazing. Worked transitions, and he nailed the trot/canter as well as walk/canter transitions. I asked for the upward transitions ONLY down the longsides, and he didn't miss a lead at all. Finished up by trotting through low cavalettis. I had to go through probably 5 times tracking right before he really stayed consistent through them; head steady, neck round, NOT knocking the rails. Went through only once left, and he nailed it beautifully, so I quit there. He had a small sweat today, but it was a little cooler. SUCH a nice ride, put me in an amazing mood:)

Want to jump tomorrow; we'll see how much time I give myself to get a little course set up!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I'm not sure I even knew what exhausted is ...

Words cannot express the level of gratefulness I have to be DONE with this weekend! Wow. So, for my IEA team, our team has to host a horseshow. I am not good at asking for help. So what did I do? I planned the whole dang show myself. I could NOT have done it without the help of my friend, Becca. She totally pulled me out of my funk, and helped me pull it together in a BIG way.

Last year, we co-hosted with the Milton Eagles, which is the OTHER team I coached this year. They did a TON of the work last year, so it wasn't that hard to do. This year, it was 100% on us (me). So, I begged a mom to help me out by agreeing to be the show secretary (the HARDEST job), and organized entries for the 2 weeks leading up to the show.

(why is this prose important? Well, it's explaining why the ONLY thing I have done with my horse all week is longe him once, and walk hills bareback and with his winter blanket on)

Friday, I had to clean stalls, longe Muffin, pack trailer, hook up trailer, clean out car, meet an hour and a half away with my secretaries, hold a team meeting, set the course, set up all the tables/etc for the show, hit up Wal Mart for a bunch of essentials for the show, and set up my horse grid. For anyone not involved with IEA, setting up a horse grid involves wading through the entries to figure out what horses teams are providing. We then have to go by their descriptions to determine where to place them so that none are working too hard, and each class has a horse for every rider, plus 2 alternates. It is like a jigsaw puzzle ... with either too many pieces, or not enough pieces!!! In my case, it was not enough pieces since my show was full of a bunch of scragglers.

Finished up with that at 2:00 in the morning. Headed up to bed so that I could awaken at 3:30 to get to the barn, get Star out of her pasture, feed her and Muffin, wrap them, brush them, remove blankets, add coolers, pack their barn stuff in the trailer, fill the hay nets, tie them up, hay ALL the other horses that were in, load Star and Tiki, and get on the road. I had wanted to leave by 5; got out by 5:15, not too bad!

Seeing as how y'all don't want EVERY detail about my day, I will get to the horse part. Tiki was REALLY fresh. We flatted inside, and he did just OK. He didn't get scratched, but he was definitely not quiet. Had to school the jumps in the afternoon after the ring thawed, and he seemed better. Jumped better than he flatted, and we finished up around 3:30. I made it home about 9, fell asleep on the couch, had to take my shower around 11:45, then fell into bed for another early start of 4:00. Tiki was MINE today, and he warmed up/showed GREAT! One kid that I SAW got a first on the flat, and another got a 2nd over fences. My team qualified for Regionals today, so we're off to our finals in 2 weeks. They will actually be at the same farm; Rising Fawn. It has been a long, stressful weekend. Some day, I will relay the rest of this sordid story, but for now, this is it:)

Hope to ride Tiki a little more often this week now that I am no longer buried with this show stuff. I am SO proud of him. He was a ROCK STAR!!!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fun in the ... almost sun!

Well, pulled the new trailer for the first time today! Thank GOODNESS I hooked it up last night; not only did the spare tire need air, but David had left the truck BONE DRY:( AGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! Is my husband NOT aware of the fact that gas stations in Cartersville are NOT open at 5:30 in the morning on a Sunday?? So anyway, filled up the truck, put air in the spare, checked the other 3, then half an hour later pulled back in the driveway.

Star and Tiki loaded up perfect; both of them filthy, haha. Nicole the awesome met me at the barn at o dark thirty to help load her horse/stuff even though she TOTALLY doesn't have to:) The boy was VERY fresh in the smallish covered arena. I didn't get to ride him the last 3 days, so considering that he was quite good. Jumped the course, and I was pleasantly surprised. He didn't look at ANYTHING. Guess he's growing up! I did simple changes, and worked on waiting and staying slow. He did feel a little heavy at times; his IEA bit is NOT his favorite. It works, but it's definitely not perfect for him. He felt great on his first course since Dec. 5th:)

One of my Patchwork kids got him for 2'6. She got a 3rd:) She managed to land EVERY lead, wow! I need to work on that a little more because obviously it's possible!

Trailer pulls like a ROCK! Nice and straight, no squeaking, no swaying, no bouncing ... GREAT purchase:) It was cool enough this morning that I hauled in wool sheets, and warm enough this afternoon that we hauled home naked and with the dutch doors open:)

Got my 6th tattoo yesterday ... a tiki mask! It is SO cool; I really LOVE IT!!!! It is super sore and still swollen today. Cleaning stalls tomorrow won't help it, but I've gottta do what I've gotta do. Probably will look to do a lesson with Janet in the next 2 weeks; she wants to see him now that he's had his hocks done. Joyce says Tiki has been feeling so good, that he is a real BAD boy out in the pasture. Sorry Joyce!

Pics are from today, taken my the dad of one of my Milton team girls. The tiki tattoo is NOT even glorified in this cell phone pic; it wraps about half way up my arm on both sides, and it's impossible to show that in a 2D photo.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Is it Spring yet?

Sigh. It is again freezing, raining, and generally miserable. I was dealing with some issues going on with my equestrian team, so spent about 3 hours on the phone, which robbed me of the opportunity to ride yesterday:( Oh well. So, didn't get to ride yesterday, and it looks like nothing will be going on today either. It rained all night, and it's still raining right now.

Tuesday, I rode in my cc saddle again. I set up 3 cavs 9' apart right down the center of the ring on the lowest setting. Also set 2 poles on each diagonal to practice schooling lead changes over. I love how the plan changes according to what the horse needs. The wind was pretty brutal, but we were able to put that aside, and ride through it. He was still feeling like he wanted to bend, he was coming strongly into the bridle, and he trotted well through the cavs. It was nice that when I cantered into them, he was more willing to wait and get the close one. He did sort of fall into his habit of wanting to rush through the cavs and get really heavy and forward through them. I circled around, half halted, breathed, and just kept going through both directions until finally at the end, he went through quietly and nice. Quit with that. I'd rather go with the simple, and get it right, then try to cram too much into one ride and be all over the place. OH! And I was riding him with the dressage whip, so he wasn't such a slug:)

Wednesday, it was bone chilling cold, but the ring was finally GOOD because it was nice and wet. I put on the dressage tack, quarter sheet, and put on the spurs for the first time, and got to it. He hadn't gone out the night before, so he felt a little cranky. Like he WANTED to be fresh a little bit, but was put out at being out in the cold. He also was seriously sucking back and not wanting to come into the bridle, so I used my spurs liberally to get him in front on my leg. Did a bunch of circles and reverse across diagonals, and he slowly started to come up through the back, and actually got a little *heavy* on my hands. Worked on some half halts to get him lighter, and he finally felt like he was settling in. Did some w/c/t/c/w/t/c etc. transitions, and he has improved IMMENSLY on those. Now, we can go from walk to canter with only one or two trot steps, and can canter from the trot without that disorganized scramble.

Had absolutely NO lead issues, have had NO cross canter issues since the hocks. Actually DID school lead changes today, lol, since I ignored the cavalettis. He did GREAT from left to right, since he likes to land his right lead off a jump. Had some trouble changing right to left because he doesn't land the left lead very often off a jump or pole. He can GET his changes, but we speed up, lean in, and change late usually. I was working on getting them STRAIGHT, SLOW, and in a good spot BEFORE the corner. He had started to lean and pull HARD, and was getting generally anxious and disorganized, so I stopped for a second and patted him. Flexed him into my knee both ways because he'd locked up his jaw and stiffened up. Got his brain back again, and came one more time into the right to left pole. I tried to be textbook. Sit up, compress his stride, move him over with left leg, bend him left, hips to the right at the exact moment over the pole, and he got it clean! Woo Hoo! I then stayed organized, circled and balanced, did the SAME thing at the left to right pole, he nailed it, so I quit.

Had wanted to do hills yesterday, but sometimes life interferes with riding. So, he will get 3 days off, then an IEA show on Sunday. I will probably do hills on Monday instead of giving him the day off since we've gotten a little off schedule. Love my boy, he is the equine light of my life!!!