Saturday, September 11, 2010

It is what it is

I have been neglecting coming on here. I am so sorry. We have been doing a lot of stuff around the house and with Corrie here I have not be doing as much with her. Isn't that always the way. Anyway I wanted to share a little parable I heard recently about how we look at situations in life as we go through them.

A rancher had a nice place with a few hundred acres and 4 nice horses. One day his neighbor stopped by and commented on how nice his horses were.

"It is what it is, for good or for bad," replied the rancher.

A few days later a big storm hit and knocked out part of the corral fence. The 4 horses ran away. The neighbor again stopped by.

"Too bad about your horses," said the neighbor.
"It is what it is, for good or for bad," replied the rancher.

About a week later the horses returned and with them were four more mustangs.

"Wow those are some nice looking horse, how lucky you are that you have 8 fine horses instead of just 4," The neighbor commented.
"It is was it is, for good or for bad," The rancher said.

With the extra horses, though, came extra work. The neighbor had to help out.

"Man there is a lot of extra work now," said the neighbor. "We can't go on nice long trail rides anymore."
"It is what it is, for good or for bad," came the expected response of the rancher.

The neighbor's son needed a job, so the rancher hired him instead.

"Wow this is great!" said the neighbor. "My son is gaining so much experienced from training those mustangs and making a name for himself."
"It is was it is, for good or for bad," The rancher said.

Okay this story could go on and on. The version I heard and a few more things happen in it but I think you get the idea.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Weight Loss Wednesday: Accountability

I have been slacking in the weight loss area. First it got hot and was hard to exercise, and then I was always out at the barn and working with Corrie, and of course work picked up and I was doing a lot there. So ya know, things fall by the way side.

Unfortunately in this area of my life "things" are always popping up. I think I posted once before about Jillian Micheal book, in it she talks about three people you need to make changes in your life. One of which is an accountability partner. Just someone you are responsible to talk to to make sure that you are on track. I have not had anyone like that in my life for weight loss. So I found someone. So things should start getting back on track. It is really helpful to have that push from someone else. Knowing that I actually do have to tell another person if I screw up also helps.

I do have an accountability partner on the horse front, Sensei. On that note, I got a little lecture from Sensei when he came out for my lesson because I have not been working Corrie at home. Ya know I did do ground work for a few days and I rode her once. She has not even been here a week, but I was at the barn faithfully every day working her. Now I am slacking because she is here. I need to clean the barn and fix the fence and the ever popular, well I'll do work with her later. So I am going to be making more of an effort to work with Corrie too. If not I'll disappoint Sensei and he give me that disappointed father look. I really hate that look.

So if you are struggling to make a change in your life, my advice is to find that accountability partner. It can be a friend, trainer, partner, someone who is struggling with the same issues or not. Just find someone that you have to report to if you start to slack. Someone you can trust, someone that can give you that look or added guilt for not meeting your goals. It helps, it really does.

Pictures of the harness tomorrow, I was running late . . . more disappoint Sensei looks. So I didn't get them today.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mind Been Else Where . . .

Well Corrie is settling in really nice.

I did take her for a ride the other day, just around a paddock and she was really good. She seemed to be short striding a bit but I am not sure if that was in my imagination, the terrain, or if she really was. She has not been on bute for the last few days as she seems to be doing really really well. I hate to bute just to do it.

I have been doing my ground work with her and with the other ponies here and there. Yesterday was the first day that I didn't really do anything with her. I am going to try really hard to not make that a habit. It was so easy when she was at Sensei's because I had to make an effort to go out and see her so I always made sure I did something. Now that she is home it is easy to do the slacking thing. Yesterday I was just emotionally tired.

Tomorrow Sensei will be coming out for a lesson and we are going to drive. Yippy! I will have to get pictures of the whole set up; Corrie in her harness and with the wagon. Sensei, as part of the trade, gave me a harness that he had laying around. Trust me it has just been laying around and it took me about 6 hours to clean the whole thing up. It was a mess. Well it turns out that it is a very nice looking harness and is all brass.

Now for those of you who drive you know how nice all the brass looks, and why so many people don't go the brass route. Brass is a pain to take care of. It needs to be shined. I use Brasso. It smells like ammonia and has to be highly toxic, but if you have brass it is what you need. So I love my harness, but it is going to be a pain to take care of.

Anyway, I'll have pictures and an update on the lesson tomorrow.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Corrie out with the herd


Corrie was really cute today. I thought she would be totally trying to be alpha mare. Instead she is acting like the new kid at school. If I got out to the pasture she is right there with me. Otherwise she looks a little lost. I think she wants to make friends, especially with Ike and Rocky ( she is in heat). It will be interesting to see how she fits into the herd.

I want Corrie to become comfortable with the pasture areas as that is where I will ride and drive her at first. I already did some ground work out there with her and she was fairly focused. She looked around, but mainly stayed with her attention on me.

Then she went out with Ike, Sophie, and Madison.

But she has to wear a grazing muzzle and the flies are awful so she wears a fly mask too. Looks like she is into bondage or something doesn't it?

She had a good roll.

And looks at how much weight she has lost! Looks pretty good huh?!

Pretty good second day I'd say.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Too Excited . . . Corrie is home

"To many, the words love, hope, and dreams are synonymous with horses."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

I got up at 4 am this morning. I just could not sleep. You would think this was my first horse and I was getting her new today! I am just so excited to have Corrie home.

Corrie is truly a special little horse. I felt an instant bond to her the first time I drove her. It is amazing just how you can click or not with a horse. Kinsey never felt like my horse. From the moment I wrote out the check for her I felt like I bought her for someone else, and maybe I did. But even before I wrote a check I knew Corrie was my horse. Never during the time that I was trying her out did I feel she belonged to anyone but me.

Now she is on my property. She is getting along with the minis. Well minus Rocky, stallion ya know. I keep him separate, but they see each other over the fence. She is not as found of Sophie, but Corrie used to be kept with young jack colts to teach them some manners. Apparently she was enthusiastic about her job, too enthusiastic. So she does not like donkeys, but I am hoping that she will warm up Sophie. Madison is still alpha mare so far. Kind of funny that little Madison tells big ol' Corrie to get out of the way.

Sensei gave me a mini ground lesson before he left. Corrie was very up, more up than I think I have ever seen her actually. Her feet definately were not hurting her at all. At one point she leapt and pulled away from me. I was a bit shocked, she has never done anything like that before. The girl has some spirit after all.

Now she is just chilling out. I wanted to do more with her today, but as soon as I got home from work the the thunder started. Damn it! Tomorrow a bath!

Picture to come soon.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Corrie is coming home!

During the past few weeks I have been mentally preparing for Corrie to come home. I have also been trying a few more things at the barn. I wanted to iron out few more things before I could not just call out and have Sensei come running to help.

*I rode her in the pasture by herself, while everyone else went back in after group riding activity. I passed with flying colors, she sucked.

*Took her for a quick drive down the road which ended with Sensei trying to grab the reins for the first time ever. So we had to work through that and I am not planning on driving outside my pasture until we are totally comfortable with that.

*I took her for another drive a few days later and both of us did much better. Still going to wait to drive her outside the pasture here.

Those last few test, particularly keeping her in the pasture as the rest of the people I was with went in really gave me a lot of confidence. Corrie really wanted to spin and take off for the barn. Although she never got above a trot the intent to run off was there. I handled it and was not afraid. Woo Hoo for me!

Last thing we need to do before she comes come is get her feet taken care of. Corrie doesn't have her shoes on yet, well actually now she might. She is getting them on tonight. Tomorrow Sensei is going to watch her and see how she is. Just to make sure that she is adjusting to her shoes fine. He also happens to be her farrier. Then Friday morning she is coming home! Yippy!!!

Good bye round pen, indoor arena, and on site trainer/ farrier. Hello trails, instant access, and riding and driving as much as I want. I think it is a good trade off this time of the year. When the snow flies she will go back to Sensei's. In winter "indoor area" kicks "instant access" butt. Besides the trail by my house is tended by a snowmobile club and it is closed to everyone else when the trail is covered in snow. Right now, she will be here so I can enjoy her as much as I want.

Counting the hours.

How to tie a rope halter.

I thought I knew how to tie a rope halter until I tied it in front Sensei.
I thought I would share what I learned.

There is a right and a wrong why to tie a rope halter. The wrong way and the halter will loosen as we work, right way it doesn't. I know that I often had to tighten my rope halter when I was doing ground work, this way I don't.

Bring the end though the loop and bring it up tightly.
This is actually a little lose on Corrie, but taking pictures while tying is difficult. This next picture shows the the right way to tie. We are going to tie our knot ON the loop. See how I have brought the part I am going to tie below the where the end comes through the loop

Here I have just made the knot tight. I hope that this is easy to see. I guess I should have done one wrong so you could see that too. The key is that the knot is on the loop, below where the tie come through the loop. That is what holds the loop tight.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Insulin Resistance and Horses

Corrie has been doing a better job on her weight loss program than I have. Maybe I need to have someone lock me in a dry lot and control how much food I got. Okay maybe not but it is sure working for her. Like in humans there are several reason why it is important to keep horses fit and trim. Health issues pop up more readily in unfit animals. Insulin resistance, or Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), is a one of them and is comparable to type II diabetes in humans.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the of Islets of Langerhans. I just wanted to type Islets of Langerhans. Makes me think of a series of little islands near the pancreas, but I digress. Simply put, the purpose of insulin is to help break down carbohydrates (sugar and starches), fats and proteins and get it out of the blood system. When the horse has eaten a lot of carbohydrates the body need to produce more insulin. On the other hand when working the body produces less.

The problem happens when the horse's cells become less sensitive to the effects of insulin. The pancreas in turn produces more insulin than is needed. The body just doesn't seem to know how many carbohydrates are in the body. So what, right? Well that in turn leads to bad things like reduced body weight due to losing muscle mass, fatty deposits over the tail head, behind the shoulder or over the loins, cresty neck, and the worst of all, chronic laminitis. It is that last one that often pushes people to see their vet's help. My worry over Corrie's recent lameness issues is what prompted me to think twice about this condition.

When I talked to my vet about having Corrie tested, he assured me that they could do that, but he was not positive that it was necessary. Plus every thing I have found says that is not the most reliable test. Horse should be tested more than once due to normal fluctuations. After we found that she did not have laminitis it seems that she probably is not insulin resistant. He suggested that I just feed Corrie as if she were insulin resistant since she already as so many precursors already. She

Feeding a EMS horse is not really all that tricky, especially with all the information out there now. Most important in feeding a EMS horse is to keep sugars and starches to a minimum. This means no lush pasture. No sugary treats like apples or carrots. Feeding grassy hay and having it tested for sugars. Soaking the have for 30 -60 minutes is also an option to get rid of extra sugars in the hay. Adding supplements can help too. There are supplements out there now jut for the EMS horse. Often they contain such things as cinnamon, fenugreek, and magnesium.
These are the most basic of guidelines.

In almost every article I read about EMS horses, exercises was always listed too. Exercise helps reduce the amount of insulin in the body, as well as helps keep the horse at a good weight. Riding, driving, lunging, ponying, even hand walking help the EMS horse, as long as she is not laminitic. For the Laminitic horse, one should consult with their vet for an exercise program that won't aggravate their conditions.

This as been a very very basic overview of EMS. I have over simplified some parts just to get the basic gist down. Also, I have not brought up Cushings, but it is closely related to EMS. My intent was just to give basic overview. I listed some more articles below that you can visit for more information.

Balanced Equine Nutrition
Need to sign in to The Horse:
No Sugarcoating: Diagnosing and Managing the Insulin-Resistant Horse
GetSmart Series: Managing Insulin Resistance

Obesity and Cushing's Disease

Monday, August 16, 2010

Corrie has heart but no soul . .

. . Er sole.

For the past two week we have been battling lameness issues that come and go. Bute for a few days and we're good to go, only to be lame a day later. I have been able to ride her lightly, bare back or walking around the field. We even managed to go for a short drive. Then she started getting really bad.

The thing was that there was no heat, no obvious cause, no wound, and she didn't exhibit any classic symptoms of anything. She seemed to be lame in the right front and then in the left front. Her hooves were cool with no pulse. Joints were cool to the touch and it always just seemed to be a hoof problem. She stood stretched out, not like an abscess was coming with her weight shifted back. But not like a typical laminitic stance either.

So she was really bad this morning and I finally had it. I called out the vet. After watching her go he was as puzzled as I was. She was not reacting very much to the hoof tester, although he did note that her feet were really flat. She is trimmed well but just the structure of her hoof is very flat soled. We numbed her right heel to see if she would move off sound. Nope, then she just because lame in the left. We both really could not believe it was laminitsis, but being a fat Haffie mare, it was still a chance. So it was time to pull out the old x ray machine.

Well not old. I can not believe how technology has changed how our horses are diagnosed. With a few machines, a lap top, and wires going every where we had images of Corrie's hooves right away.

Should I leave this as a cliff hanger?

Naw, I won't. Corrie's coffin bone looks like it is right where it should be, maybe a little rotation, but he would not even concider her laminitic. What he did note is that she has very little sole. She should have 1 cm of sole under her coffin bone. On the left front she has .8 cm and on the other she has .4! No wonder the poor dear is so tenderfooted!

I was so relieved though. The fix is shoes with pad. Now I prefere barefoot horses, as does my vet, but really of all the things that could have been wrong and the expense of the treatments, I will take 6 mos of shoes with pads. So once I get that done she should be as right as rain again.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Win a book from Linda Benson's blog.

I love my books! I have way to many of them, but when a contest to win a book come up I am right on it. Linda Benson has such contest at her blog right now. You win TWO books! So check it out!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Finding a Tutor

I love art. I dabble in drawing myself. I love to look at fine works of art of horses and dogs. If you notice my blog roll I have one blog I follow called “Epona Studios.” Deborah O’Sullivan has done some very lovely works of horses in general and dessage horses in particular. Just beautiful.

Today she had a guest blogger who talked about finding an art tutor. So much of it rings true for finding a teacher/ trainer/ tutor/ mentor of anything I wanted to share a link to that blog. I make no secret that finding my trainer has been key to me getting over so many issues. I also know that my attitude has played a key role in my willingness to get over myself at times. Corrie, of course, has been a great steady partner to me too.

Some of points I really appreciated that Charles Sluga brought up in looking for a trainer are the ones that really push the student to be her own person and find her own style. Also the points that show that the trainer is her own person and does not just follow the steps of another. There has to mutual respect between a tutor and a student. and no egos. All very good points.

On the flip side, I think we often put a lot on our trainers and forget that we too have a role to play. The first thing Charles Sluga points out is that the student needs to work hard. I know I can be a slacker sometimes, waiting to be pushed. Yet I do go out and work with my horse everyday. I think a lot of trainers would be surprised to see “ask questions.” So many trainers I know are really intimidated if their students start asking too many questions, yet we really need to.

When I got to the point that the student should not “be only interested in the final result.” I had to chuckle. How many students have their eyes on a prize that is way off in the future when they should be happy with the small victories that they made today. It’s okay, you can raise you hand, mine is already up.

Go take a look, it is a really well written insightful post.

Monday, August 9, 2010

“Grab life by the reins.” ~Anonymous

. . . and some times a bit of mane too.

I will get back to IR in a bit right now I just have so share something.

I did something I never thought I would do again. I rode bareback in a halter.


I went out to the barn today and Corrie seems a bit sluggish today, I thought about not riding but Sensei said I really should do something because she needs the exercise. I hemmed and hawed until he suggested I ride bareback with a halter. Then I slammed on the brakes and came up with a dozen excuses. I think I got played in the next few moments, because all of a sudden I am walking to the arena with only a halter and lead. . . oh and in the halter was Corrie, of course.

After crawling up the pipe fence, I slid on and was holding on to the mane as tight as I could. Corrie just walked around. I had only the lead, I didn’t have it tied up like a set of reins, so steering was a bit of a challenge. I would flip the lead over her head, but I was a bit terrified of doing this so she just kind of did more of what she wanted than what I wanted. As I got more comfortable I actually started holding her mane less and less. Sensei would look over the arena gate from time to time; mostly to tell me to breath. I keep forgetting to do that.

I NEVER thought I would be able to feel a horse like that again. Just feel the muscles moving. Feel the rolling and the movement of her back. Feel the heat and even the sweat. I remembered all these feels again. I was so happy! There is something so special about the feeling of riding without a saddle.

Sensei came back in and warned me that he was going to be running some horses up to the barn and so I hopped off while he did that. Before I hopped back on, I tied the lead like a rein. When I went to get back on, I had to crawl up a panel fence again. Corrie normally is really good about this but she swung her butt out and started to back, I yelled at her to stop. Sensei peeked over the arena gate door when he heard me.

“You’re pulling on her.”

I was thinking: “She started it!” Instead of saying that, I tried to figure out something else, but I am on top of the fence and trying to not let go. I am trying to figure out how to not pull, not let go of the lead, and not fall off the fence. That was a lot of figuring for a few moments time!

“You’re still pulling on her.”

I made a few adjustments. I stopped pulling, she stopped pulling. Amazing! Yes, I knew that would happen.

“Now what are you going to do?”

I am still on the fence, one hand on the lead. Corrie is no where near me. “Are you going to tell me or do I have to figure it out?”

“I would prefer you figure it out.”

Like I didn’t know that answer was coming. Sensei never stops teaching: be it a student or a horse. I mean it, from the time he slips a halter on the horse he is training all the way up to the barn. Likewise, if he thinks I should be leading, haltering, standing next to my horse in a different manner, I hear about it. And I better have a good reason for what I am doing. Sensei told me in my last lesson, “I don’t care if you do it right or wrong as long as you can confidently tell me why your doing what you are doing.” So as Corrie was standing several feet from me with her butt swung out away from me, I sat there a moment trying to figure out what Sensei would do.

I could have solved this problem easily, but I am trying to learn how to not only solve the problem at hand but train the horse as to what is expected in the future. We sorted things out and I slipped on again with a few instructions about what I did right and wrong. I really like that. Feedback is so important to learning.

Sensei brought out a haffie he has in for training after I assured him I would be fine. I learn so much from just watching him, and I was still just walking around anyway. I am amazed at not only how well he works with the horse, but at the same time he is working with me. I asked him at one point, as he was working the gelding closer to me that I would have preferred, if what he was doing was for the gelding’s benefit or mine.

“Both, and breath.” Typical.

By now I have let go of the mane almost completely. I am able to steer pretty well. I walked around for about an hour. My inner thighs are starting to sting too. What a great feeling! I really didn’t want to get off but I had something to do that I couldn’t blow off, trust me, I really wanted to.

I can not believe I rode bareback today. I honestly can not believe it even now. Well, then I get and walk across the room and my muscles remind me. What a day! What a great ride! Some days are just like that!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Labor of Love

“But a horse is a labor of love as well as a responsibility, an aesthetic as well as a dynamic pleasure, something to contemplate as well as ride.”
~Sarah Montague

As I lay in bed in the morning and I try to get a few more moments of rest a cacophony of barnyard noises erupt just outside my window. Bleating of goats, quacking of ducks, crowing of rooster, and the unignorable bray of a donkey. All urging me to get up and start the day.

When most people are nursing a hot cup of coffee and fixing some breakfast, I am outside filling troughs, opening gates, hauling hay, and doling out feed to chickens. Horses and goats need hay, and as I haul it, I have two chickens and a duck following me looking for some feed. Holding back is a hen with her five little chicks, all just trying to stay out of the way. The back drop of this morning song is the goats wanting their fair share too. Soon I will have Corrie here which will complicate things even more.

Thanks for all the tips and suggestions everyone. I know that dealing with an Insulin Resistant horse can be difficult and until I get a vet out here I am just going to assume that she is IR. She has been getting a mere handful of grain with her supplements, but I am going to switch to a soaked hay cube mixture. Her vitamins are pelleted, but the joint supplement is a powder, which is actually why I went with sweet feed in the first place, so it would stick. At the time I was not even thinking IR, just fat. I know that I will be trying different things with Corrie and will have to add even more labor to my schedule, but in the end it is all worth it.

At the end of the day, I listen to a whinny from Rocky as I throw hay over the fence. Daphne, my duck, quacking and following me around. Zoe will be bounding around the yard after her yellow ball. Goats excited to see me no matter what time a day, and horses of all sizes running around the pasture. I would not trade places with anyone in a beautiful high rise apartment in down town Chicago what have their horses boarded at a posh facility, because at the end of the day when I have had a beautiful drive behind my beloved Corrie, eaten fresh eggs from my own chickens, and finally washed up with soap make from my own goat’s milk, I know that it it really is a labor of love.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fat is the best color

“You sometimes hear the old saying, ‘Fat is the best color.’ This means, of course, that fat covers a multitude of conformation faults and therefore looks good~ especially to the less discerning horseman.”
~Eleanor F. Prince and Gaydell M. Collier

I have never heard of this saying before (again it come from my new book: The Gigantic Book of Horse Wisdom) but it sure fits my fat little pony. Not that I agree with it. I hate a fat horse, I really do. On the Henneke Body Score I would like to see horses between a 4 and 5. Some like to see horses up to 6 and really that is probably the best for Corrie, but is a bit fat for my tastes.

When I say Corrie is fat, I mean fat. She is at least a 8 if not a 9 on the the Henneke Body Score. She does not even hold it well, she looks to have swallowed a box; typical of a brood mare. Corrie is an air fern, as some would call her. The worst I have ever seen actually.

I am a bit worried about her. She is on a grass pasture, well eaten down pasture. I also give her 1 cup of sweet feed with vitamin and joint supplements. That is not enough to make her fat. Plus she gets worked everyday. Not hard, but at least 30 to 60 minutes of walking and trotting. That has made no difference in her weight. None of the other horses are as fat as Corrie, even though she is the only one worked every day. We pulled her off of the pasture and put her on dry lot. When she comes here she will be on dry lot and a few hours of pasture with a muzzle.

While looking into this problem I have been doing a lot of reading about thyroid dysfunction. If you subscribe to The Horse (which is free) you can get this article on thyroid dysfunction. Summed up it says that it is really difficult to diagnosis a thyroid problem in horses and that it is really rare anway. It goes on to say that there are a lot of reasons that a horse could be having symptons that look like a thyroid dysfunction and that treating a horse for a thyroid problem when it does not have one could have the opposite effect we are looking for. Great.

This is another great article on feeding the fat horse. Again subscribe to The Horse. This article goes on about fat mares in particlar. It puts everything in persepective. Ponies were designed by nature to untilize feed very effectively. One thing that this article mentions is that just limiting the feed can often back fire. Horses need to graze, they are built to eat, but ponies need to eat really low quality feed. They even suggest feeding some straw. Never even thought of straw as a feed but now that I have Corrie I might add a little to her diet. I also want to get a few small mesh hay nets.

So many horse are overweight, I really take Corries weight seriously. Hopefully we can get this under control soon.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Black Horse Chapter Closed

“We all want everything to be wonderful. Every woman wants to sit upon a horse dressed in bells and go riding off through the boundless green and sensual forest.
~Clarissa Estes

Abby is gone. This makes me sad.

The quote at the top of the post, which I found in a big huge book of horse quotes I just bought, seems to really fit the situations with Abby. I had been told by almost everyone how beautiful she was. She was gorgeous! I even had perfect strangers tell me that women buy horses like Abby for romantic reasons. This might very well be true. The few ride I had on Abby made me think of brave knights riding off to fight dragons.

Although I did develop a good relationship with Abby, there was always a little romance dancing in the back of my mind. Big beautiful black mare with a flowing mane and a high stepping gait. I could watch and marvel at her for hours.

Abby is now with a nice family that Sensei knows. She is going to have a job and be used for what she was bred to do, drive. The wife, of course, just thinks she is beautiful and fell in love with her. She is still in the area too. Although Sensei is knows where she is, I don’t.

It is all for the best. That chapter has closed. A new exciting one is starting. Corrie will be coming home soon.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A partner

Everyone’s perfect mount is different. Some really love the challenge of a hot horse. Others like a needy horse to nurture. Still others like a calm and submissive partner. There are really countless personalities that fit everyone’s needs. There are so many horses out there, but it is so difficult to choose that perfect horse for ourselves, or indeed, to know what that perfect mount for us is.

In the past few days I have been lamenting the loss of Abby. Sensei is sending her to a friend of his for awhile. I have finally started really realizing that she is not mine anymore. Although Sensei has offered her back to me on numerous occasions, he won’t even entertain the idea of me riding her, at least not on his property. Says he has no desire to see a wreck. While he can not stop me from riding her on my property, I know can read between the lines. I know in my head it would be a bad thing.

Yet when I have been comparing Abby to Corrie, I really like Abby’s spirit. I like that she is a little more hot. I like her movement and style. She is very bonded to me, follows me around like a dog. Yet she is a lot of horse. I mean an OTTB can be a lot of horse, but they are half the size of Abby. Now Abby is not red hot, but she is very opinionated.

There are two basic kinds of draft horses. Your typical mellow “farm bred” horses. These are the draft horses that people like to ride. These are the horses you see working the fields of Amish country. They are very laid back and what many people think of when they think of a draft temperament. Then there are the “hitch bred” horses. Hitch horses are hotter. Ever go to the fair and watch the big fancy 6 horse hitches? Those are the high-stepping fancy draft horses. They are anything but mellow. Abby is “hitch bred” I believe. She has longer legs and more of an “up” attitude. Well half hitch bred, but she really got that temperament.

I have found myself in the past few days, turning away from Corrie and wanting to hold on to Abby with everything I have. She is a big, beautiful, and powerful. Corrie is, well Corrie. Short and dumpy old brood mare. Corrie is not flashy. Corrie is safe.

See how boring that even sounds? She is safe, if I lose my balance she slows. If I drop my stirrups she stops. If I feel nervous she takes over and does what she thinks is best, often involves stopping. Corrie is not always easy to ride, I will admit that. She gets ideas in her head and that is what is going to happen. I really need to step up to the bat and make her get on the ball, but still she is safe.

When I nag Corrie she put up with it, but Abby, well Abby will trot off in her own direction. I keep being told that if I ride Abby and let her do what she wants, everything will be fine, but if I choose to make her do what I want- I’ll have a fight. I know that is true.

Guess what I really need. Safe. I would love to ride my hot sensitive Abby, but what I need is calm, sensible, safe Corrie. In a year? Maybe I could ride Abby. Yet, in a year I could become an even better rider and driver and really pull out Corrie’s potential. The trade off is difficult sometimes to consider.

My choice is to have Corrie. It is my choice. I could have Abby, but the cost to me is too high. Others, they choose that difficult horse. They choose to fight their fear by conquering a more difficult horse. Who is right? Nobody. It is all a choice. We all have to deal with what our horses dish out. We all have to deal with the limitations of our horses. What we each, as individuals choose to deal with is so personal. As long as our horse is meeting our needs and we are meeting theirs, then it is all good.

I love my safe, dependable, stubborn Corrie. I miss Abby.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I had a fun time riding today. I tried an experiment. Sensei is all about doing less, getting horses to work off of a feel. He does not get English riding at all, too much contact. Trust me we go round and round about this, but I have decided to just give in and do it his way. Good learning experience.

So today I decided to try to ride with no contact at all, just all off of leg. It was really interesting. I made my reins as lose as possible and then held on to the horn of the saddle to keep myself from cheating. Just just my legs. Now I have to admit that we did fairly well, but not perfect. I did a figure eight around two barrels, and even managed to weave some cones.

I did learn where her sticky spots were. Actually just going around the rail was the hardest part! Certain areas of the arena pull her into the center where as other push her to the wall. For some reason she is really pulled by barrels. Maybe I should do barrels with her. . . .Okay that would be a site, the poky little pony doing barrels.

After that I tried the same thing, but would just lightly lift up on the side where I wanted to make a correction. Still no contact, well okay, in my book no contact but in Sensei’s book if you touch the reins, it is contact, so I guess it depends on who you talk to. She was actually responding really well to the lightest touch.

I was a little tickled that I was riding around with no contact, steering my horse with only my legs, where as I few months ago if I did not have a death grip on the reins I would feel out of control. It really is amazing. I keep thinking, and where will I be in another 6 months?

I then tried something else that is difficult for us. Trotting around the arena, I mean all the way around without breaking. Poky little pony likes to break if she thinks she can get away with it. This is where I have a HUGE issue. I am not consistent. That would be in the saddle, in harness, or in real life. I told you, horses show you what your issues are, be it in the barn or not. I tend to get side tracked and want to do something else. So I made sure that we made it all the way around, at a trot. That took us quite a bit of time, but I did it.

Over all it was a great riding session. I was pretty proud of what we got done.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Honest vs Honorable

Lisa from Laughing Orca Ranch left a really heart wrenching reply to my last post. Check out her story of the bucking horse.

I think she brought up a really good point. Not all horses are honorable. I know that horses can tell who their rider is, they seem to even be able to tell when they have a filly or colt on their back. They know kids and novices. Some are really nasty with kids, while others will babysit. Who doesn't know a pony that would take off as soon as look at you when they had a kid on their back.

When Sensei was working with Kinsey and she was being such a witch I said in her defense, "She is just a horse." He replied, "She has choices." He has repeated this with other horses too. That a horse has choices about how they handle situations was really a bit of a mind bend for me. I never really thought about that before, but they do! A horse can chose her attitude same as a human. She can chose to be snotty or peaceable. Oh sure we will blame how they were trained or treated. Yet, to point out Lisa again, her mare is a perfect example, a horse can chose to be forgiving and work with humans. (I hope she doesn't me me using Apache as an example)

Apache reared with her last owner and has had some other issues। She never did any of that with Lisa। Apache was ridden in a Tom Thumb and her teeth where bad. Lisa fixed those as soon as she could, but even before all the fixes Apache had been wonderful with Lisa. Since the issues have been fixed, Apache as been as good as gold and better. Could this mare have decided that she was not going to trust humans? Sure. She could have turned sour and taken to all kinds of horrible vices. Again, I से,

Another horse I know is as close to saintly as a gelding can be. He is a great horse, and my first rides on him he was as careful as he could be. I mean this horse was serious about not taking a wrong step with me. To the point that he looked lame walking because he was just going so slow and deliberate. Yet I saw this exact same horse being ridden by his former owner. You have never seen such a turn around. Saintly ol' boy was down right snotty. He even tried to bite his former owner on the leg as she was riding. It was actually quite funny!

I read a number of blogs and bulletin boards. I read about lots of people's relationships with their horses. Some I just want to shout, "why are you still with this horse?" Honestly some of us let our horses treat us so badly and yet we would never tolerate this from another human.

I'll admit it, I have boundary issues. Again, Corrie points these weakness out. So does Abby actually, which is why Sensei says she is such a bad match for me. I can't keep her away from me, I want her near. This is a recipe for disaster with a horse as large as Abby. With Corrie, I can work on it. Yet both Abby and Corrie are honorable horses. Neither has ever tried to hurt me.

Abby will let me stand next to her and hang all over her, she stands quietly and carefully. Today I was just grooming her, (I know I know I should just stay away). She had gunk all over her back leg. I was working really hard to get it all off. The flies were bad and bothering her but she never lifted a hoof in defense when I was near. I would try to be sensitive to this and back off too. I also sprayed her. Although at one point something startled her. Now I was standing wrapped around her hind leg trying to clean it all up. Abby spooked in place, never putting me in harms way. She easily could have kicked out but didn't. She will, from time to time take advantage if she really wants to.

To point, I found a horse that will not take advantage of me to the point that either of us will get hurt. Corrie will let me know that I am blurring boundry lines, but she does not straight out take advantage of me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Corrie! Corrie! Corrie!

That is what Madison and the rest of minis are thinking right about now. Every post is about Corrie! Corrie! Corrie! They insist that they are important too!

I have to agree. Although I am not doing a whole lot with them right now.

So this post is about the minis.

The minis are in seventh heaven right now without a "big" sister around. They have way more grass than they can possibly eat, just looks at them!

Even Rocky who is always a skinny mini:

They honestly are enjoying their new little band. Madison and Sophie, Ike and Rocky. Perfectly matched up. Not chased around, well Madison chases Sophie, but then they are back to grazing together again. I think Madison is really liking being able to be boss mare. Like it while you can kid!

Unfortunately I am not driving Ike because I have no shafts for my cart. Sugar Rock Farm cashed my check for a new pair of shafts, but now won't respond to phone calls or e mails. So I am out the money for the shafts and I can't use my cart. Sort of annoys me, but they are located in AL so I can not really just run over there and demand a refund. Anyway.

I have been doing working to get the pasture ready for, er, well just in better shape. :) Last fall I had plans to split to pasture into some smaller pastures and put in the T posts in. Then I broke my wrist, and then it was winter, finally they all knew where the posts were so I didn't bother to take them down. I was still planning on putting the electric tape up but, well plans change. I plan on doing my first several drives out there with, er, well just out there. It is enclosed and a fairly safe placed to drive and ride too. So with all the rain softening up the ground I was able to pull the last of the posts up. I would also like to put the goats out there some so I have been putting up that snow fencing that has wooden slates on the three rail part of the pasture so the goaties can't escape. Also there are some trees that needed to be trimmed so I don't hit my head on them while riding or driving. I have been very thankful for the cooler temperature to start on this work. Still not done, but good start.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Horses don't lie

They don't, just as honest as the day is long, as long as the truth is about us. Oh yeah, ever try to hide something from a horse, you can't. A horse knows when you are happy, scared, serious, and lazy. And they will take will show anyone around. Corrie tells Sensei much more than I do. It is rather annoying actually, to be tattled on by your own horse.

With my accident I now say that I spooked, so Abby spooked. She knew I was nervous and since she is a horse that looks to her rider to help her through things, she new something was up and spooked. I could tell it in her too. She was looking for the sound of the motorcycle in the distance. I remember just thinking: "please don't spook, please don't spook." She did.

I have to laugh when I think about riding a few horses after my fall: CJ, Bill, Drew, Corrie. The first ride on all of them was just awful. They barely moved, just walking as slowly as they could. CJ actually looked like he was afraid to take a step, but he did. One after another. I had such a hard time getting Bill to move forward, and Corrie almost went in reverse.

As a kid I had Hope. She was the best horse ever, and I was so much more confident then. When I went out to ride her she would get very up. She would have a little spring to her step and be ready for anything. Yet if I put a friend on her who knew nothing, she was as gentle as a lamb. I had a friend who would ride her when I was away at college. He would call me and tell me about how he took her out in halter and lead rope. I don't know why she didn't kill him, but she never took a misstep with him.

Corrie is showing some of my personal short comings right now. It is rather funny to have a horse tell you, "nope I am not going to do that, your not confident enough yet." Which is what she did today when I tried to get her to canter. She was going to trot as fast as she could, I could not bump her that final step up into the canter. Corrie was right. I'll wait a little more. She has also been showing me, where my personal weaknesses are.

As we are working with our horses, it is not a bad thing to take as step back and think about what the horse is trying to tell us. What are they trying to tell us about ourselves? What do we need to work on. Sure our horses barge past us when we lead them in from the pasture. Do we let others run over us too? When someone else handles our horse, how do they act differently? What does that say about them? About us? Maybe our horse become much more tense when we take the lead. Are we having difficulty letting the difficulties of the day go?

I have tried to hide for most of my life. I try to blend into the background and just go unnoticed. Corrie is actually calling me on this. She tells on me, I have a hard time bringing my energy up. I try, but she will totally match me. So if I let my energy drop she totally drops too. As we were doing ground work last week, I could barely get her to move. She totally matches my energy as I work with her. It was very frustrating. That is telling me something about myself. I need to learn to be more confident and not hide in the corner.

Later I went to Target to shop and I was working on walking around with energy. It was hard to keep it up so long. I walked down an aisle and a woman totally looked up as I approach, almost jerked her head up. I was rather surprised because so many people just ignore me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fearless Driving

Oh yeah, I love driving now. I feel so much more confident driving. Sensei is hoping I actually do get a little fear, because now I don't feel scared. I may be nervous from time to time, but I'm pretty sure I can handle it. So opposite of riding, where I am still working up the nerve to do stuff that I have done 1000's of times.

Which, when you think about it, is kind of funny. I have driven 13 times with Sensei, twice on my own with Corrie and maybe 5 times with Ike, my mini. I have had 1000's of rides though. So it would make more sense for me to be more fearful of driving, but it was those few episodes of fear in riding that really give me pause.

Silly right? I mean I should totally be so much more fearful of going for a drive. I think the difference is I have not had a really bad driving accident. I hope that I never do. My worst fear is falling off. I REALLY don't want to fall again and that is a bad fear to have when riding. Driving? I don't have that fear. Corrie has spooked, she tried to run off with me the other day when I was on my own, but I controlled it. She got a little spooky later on with the neighbors moving stuff. Again, I knew how to handle it. Sensei was out there working another horse and his only comment was that I should have held Corrie a little longer. Of all the time that he is telling me to use less rein, for once he actually thought I needed to keep contact longer.

Yet that lack of fear is really helping with my fear of riding. Funny how that works. I have been driving and ground driven Corrie out in the big dry lot and finally I rode her out there. That was such a big deal. If I had not been driving I don't think that I would be half as far along as we are. As I gain confidence in one area, it crosses over to other parts.

Actually everything works together. I ride, drive, ground riding, and do ground work. All four of them work to make Corrie a better horse. Sensei is a big believer in ground work. I have at least on lesson in ground driving a month. Not exactly my favorite, I admit, but when I can tell Corrie to stand, walk out of the arena to my car, come back, and she is still in the same place, that is impressive. Point and she moves. It is nice to have a well trained horse. My job is to not mess her up, which is why I do the ground work lessons.

Guess what I am doing tomorrow.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fresh air is so nice.

Yup I rode outside.

I had a mini lesson with Sensei last Monday. He just watched me and gave me some tips. Corrie was still looking out the window and being a bit spooky. After doing ground works and ground driving I realized I was doing something under saddle, because she was fine the other times. A little tweak here and a little tweak there, thanks to Sensei's advice, and Corrie and I are doing much better. Inside is going so well. There are barrels, poles, and cones littering the indoor. I have been using all of them to our advantage and it has been added some variety to our workouts. We have been practicing all sorts of maneuvers. Weaving through the cones, around the barrels, through the poles. She is really responsive to leg.

On Saturday I had thoughts of going outside but Sensei was giving another client a driving lesson out there so I didn't. I didn't know how she would react and I want to tackle one new thing at a time. Sunday Corrie was really calm and responsive so I decided to take her out there after we rode inside. I really felt confident that I had control of her.

I was not as nervous as I thought I would be, although confident would not be a word I used to describe myself either. When I get nervous Corrie's head drops to her knees and she barely walks. Nice quality to have in a horse that is being ridden by a nervous person. She is steerable and has brakes, but not as responsive. That was okay. I was able to pick her up a little by the end. It was also hot and she has been already ridden for a normal amount of time. So I am sure the fat girl was a little on the tired side.

Corrie is just such a steady horse, not perfect. I keep saying that she spooks, but she really is not all that spooky. I think that might be more of me getting in her way. She is a bit of a butt head sometimes. Very much a brood mare, her default is to do as little as possible. Sensei keeps tell me that she is just enough of a challenge for me. I think what he means is that she is not about to do anything stupid, but that she has issues that I can safely work through with her, like being lazy and pig headed.

On the healing side, I find that I don't have to mentally prepare myself as much. I think about what I want to do, but not in such detail. I am using visualization, but not as formally. I think with this conquest I was thinking about it while I was driving. I do believe that now my skills are really dictating what I feel comfortable with. As soon as I gained control of Corrie's feet, I felt ready to take the next step. I don't have that control outside yet so we will just ride around the outdie area for awhile.

I do find it interesting to think back. I have not even owned Corrie a month, although I have been riding her for about a month. I have not been back to riding for more that a few months. It really boggles my mind. Although I think that driving has really helped a lot . Just a little food for thought.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Abby. . . I miss you

Abby is still at Sensei's. She has made some friends her size. In particular that little haffie mare next to her. No that is not Corrie. She had a fling with the perchie clyde on the end too. Unfortunately she does not have a good influence on those guys and they are getting hard to catch and is very bonded to the haffie.

I admit that I still just adore her. I love to watch her in the field. Sensei drove her the other day and I just wanted to climb up with him. She was not the best, but she has been driven before. She was so beautiful in harness. I just watched her going around.

I do occasionally go out to that field and pet her. Tell her that everything is going to be okay and she is going to find a great home. When I do that I am in awe of how big she is. So much different than Corrie. She is just huge. She knows it too and is just a bit pushy about it. Not meanly pushy, but still pushy.

She had someone come to look at her last weekend. She was on her best behavior, I'm told. Rode really well for a guy Sensei has do some riding work. Then the buyer's trainer didn't want to get on. Why? Who knows but probably just because she is so huge. She is such a big girl!

I am so sad to not have Abby anymore. I really want to bring her home, but she is not going to do anything here but eat a lot. Even though she pulls at my heartstrings, sometimes it is better to let the past go. I could not be doing all that I am if I still had her. I just have to remember that this is the best thing for the both of us.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I failed. . . .

It was a test: Can I hitch up on my own. Sensei gave me a D-. All in fun but still I failed at hitching. Oh it was bad. I knew what to do first, but I grabbed the tugs before I put the shafts in. I get so nervous when someone is watching me I get especially nervous if I know that they are looking at every little thing I am doing, which Sensei was. Well of course he was and with good reason, the last thing he wants is for me to bring Corrie home, hitch her up and have wreck.

So I can harness and get her in the shafts fine, but Sensei has always done the actually putting to with me. He also does a few things that I don't normally do. Oh he has explained everything and has told me over and over again why we do it in this order and what to do, but ,again,I got nervous. So I don't get to hitch up on my own yet. I am slightly frustrated by this because I knew how to hitch up the horse and messed it up. I hate not doing things right, it frustrates me to no end. I try to remember what I tell my students when they don't do so well on an assignment: what we have learned is that we need to practice this skill more. No biggie. Sensei will watch me a few more times, I'll do it right and I'll have learned better habits.

Luckily for me I have a rock solid horse and trainer. I can screw up pretty badly and Corrie will just stand there. I mean I have done some things and been so thankful that my horse is so well trained and has such a good mind. She just reminds me every day why buying her was the right choice. I have also learned that buying a horse based on who trained it can be a wise decision too. Also I have a trainer that is experienced enough and concerned enough about safety that he he is always ahead of the game. He stopped me before I screwed up too bad. He always questions me about what my plan "B" is.

Last year I signed up to learn sign language. On the first day the teacher told us that it is harder for adults to learn a new skill like a language because they are so much more afraid of being embarrassed by doing something wrong. That is me to a "t". Not to mention that that personal problem I discovered makes me even more on edge about doing the right thing. Pleasing people is a real issue with me.

I'm good though. All is okay. It was a learning experience, hurt my ego a bit but that will heal with time. Riding to day was great. She is getting to be such a little super star. Besides Hope, this is the best horse I have ever owned.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Little Wagon

Here is my wagon. You'll notice that the pictures have a bit of an ethereal look, it was so hot and humid that the camera lens was fogging up.

Yes it is actually a wagon. Sensei has a thing about two wheeled vehicles. He doesn't like them for various safety reasons. I have one for my minis and I know that a lot of people are happy with theirs, but that wasn't really an option for Corrie and I. A nice old 4 wheeled carriage is just out of the question due to expense. Besides this is a sturdy little wagon I can drive in field and on the road.

This little wagon is nice and light weight, plus it is a very comfortable ride for my mother, who I really want to take for drives. Those front seats are really comfortable. There is a bench seat in back, so we could take 3 other people along for a drive. Under the seats is nice little tool box, don't have anything in it yet, but it is there. It even has lights. It has brakes, again another controversy in the driving world, but Sensei likes them for safety reasons. Brakes don't stop a horse, they stop the vehicle. Just like anything, it is knowing how to use them that is important. Right now I still don't so I don't use them except when the wagon is parked.

Even Zoe is liking my new wagon! The mounting block that I got to get on Abby works great for all of the dogs to get in the wagon. It also works well for my mom too. That first step is a bit tall, but over all the wagon is a nice size. I might train Madison and get another pony her size and they could pull this wagon too, if I got a pole that it.

Oh you may notice something is missing from my wagon. Have you? My poor little wagon has no shafts right now. Oh it does, but my fat little Corrie is being difficult to fit. Sensei is going to give me the shafts after we find which ones will fit her short fat little body. I'll get them before I bring Corrie home, which maybe awhile. That is another story.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Driving lesson #13: Solo!

Yup I got to go solo for a little while! Just a bit while Sensei helped get a horse off the trailer and settled in. Still I was driving my horse by myself for the first time! AND I get to drive her solo when I want between lessons. Of course this is with a few stipulations, after all I have to use his wagon, as mine is at home, and his harness and all that. Still I am really excited! Of course after he told me this I managed to some how flip the end of one of the line out of the wagon, not a good thing. Luckily I hung on to the part in my hand, but it was still rather funny~ in a scary sort of way. *edited to add that normally I sit on the ends of the line. Never know when you are going to drop and line.*

I have not been blogging as much as I would like for several reasons. I have been actually out doing stuff, like everyone else. Also I have been dealing with some personal issues. Some major ones actually but I am on the right track now. Help is a good thing to ask for. So hopefully I will be on more now. With pictures I don't know, having a few computer problems.

The thing with lessons are they are so insightful for me right now. Many of the problems that I have with Corrie are just a microcosm of issues in my other life. One thing, Sensei tells me, work on one thing at a time. When working on "a" don't worry about "b". We will have to go back and work with "b" but I can't do everything at once. Sometimes if "b" crops up I might have to stop "a" and deal with "b" first. I tend to want to do it all now.

Being consistent, so hard for me. From the moment I put her halter on in the field until I let Corrie go after our time together. Sensei often refers to his training program as boot camp for horses. He also trains all the way up to the gate. Why miss training opportunities.Just being consistent on what I am asking from her. If there is one thing that Sensei is trying so hard to drill into my head, sometimes it is really thick, it is this. If she is not leading well, she is not going to drive or ride well. Issues don't disappear just because I climb on her back or pick up the lines.

Of course this is just a few issues, but I see how they work in my daily life too. Just as Sensei says, doing ground work helps with riding and driving, drive helps with riding, etc. And lessons help with the rest of my life.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Corrie's Quirks

I have to admit I like a quirky horse. I do! One that has personality and attitude.

Corrie gets an A+ on both accounts.

Corrie's quirks:

1) She does stallion smile whenever I spray her with fly spray. I have NO idea what is up with that. She must not like the smell or something. Almost every time I spray her she does a stallion smile. She sometimes does this when working her too. I am really confused then. One day I thought maybe she is just baring her teeth. . .just kidding I know she isn't but I have never seen a horse that smiles so much.

2) When bitten by a fly on the butt she bucks. Now this is not a rip roaring heels flying buck. No her butt just lifts up. Again, just strange to watch. She got on of those huge black horse flies on her while I was hand grazing her today and all of a sudden she started bucking. Just lifting her butt up. I thought maybe she had a fly in her udders, being a brood mare she has large floppy udders. Then I noticed one of those huge black horse flies on her butt. She let me smack it off.

3) "Aren't I cute!" Really she sticks her head over the stall door doing her best: I am a cute pony, now let me out dammit! So adorable. I just have to kiss that little pink nose!

4) Garbage picker. My horse love to go through the garbage, I am pretty sure that she thinks that something good must be in there. If I don't watch her she inches her way to the garbage and starts sorting through it. We'll just say she is environmentally conscience and is looking for recyclables. Don't really believe it though.

5) Typical mare, I am only going to do this much. She is so funny with that. I am only going to step up with two feet, but the other two aren't moving. Ever seen a fat, parked out haffie? TOO funny.

6) She likes to stop and take care of business when walking up from the field. I kind of like this part. She just stops, does what she needs to and then we go.

I think I could go on and on. But can't we all? Isn't that what makes us love these creatures? So what is your favorite quirk?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Driving lesson #12: With my new wagon

I drove in my new wagon Wednesday; I have actually driven the wagon before but now it is mine. It is the cutest little wagon with nice bucket seats in the front and a wooden bench seat in the back. I wish I had charged batteries in my camera. I need to get some picture of Corrie driving it. My goal is to do some trail driving with it this fall. My mom can actually get in it too and I think she would really love to drive; she used to ride when she was a kid.

Corrie was very "up," shall we say, today. I guess proving that she can be if she want to be. She did not like a car that was driving rather scarily down the road. She was having trouble focusing on what was in front of her, and has some difficulties keeping herself at a walk for a bit. Actually all that is pretty normal for her. She is such a sightseer.

Apparently she does not like polka music either. Can't really blame her, not one of my favorites either. Actually it just goes back to noise that she can't see the source for. Someone was playing loud music, polka of all things, behind a row of trees. That was scary on so many levels, I have to agree with her on that one.

I am getting ready to bring her home, maybe next month. My driving lessons are really important so that I feel comfortable driving her around my little part of the world. In fact she is not coming here until I get the okay to drive her alone. I will probably do a few solos there and then bring her here. I don't know if I will ride her when I get her home, but I will definitely drive.

Riding might have to be put on hold, at that point, until late fall early winter when I take her back. That will depend a large part on how this month goes. I have so many more issues in the saddle then in harness. Oh well.

I promise to get pictures soon.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oh that's right, Riding takes work!

For years I have been daydreaming about what it would be like to just be riding again. I had visions of trotting down the trail with orange and yellow leaves falling on the path in our wake. I imagined doing circle and serpentines while being at one with my horse. Saddling up and mounting without a care in the world. I guess I just didn't think about the fact that is was not just a matter of getting on and going, there are still things that make me nervous. I still have demons. And I have no balance, it is rather embarrassing actually. I fight both with Corrie, my body, and my mind.

I feel really pulled in two directions right now. Tides run one way one day and the next they sway the other. One is my love of dressage. I just love everything about it. On the other hand is a very safe ride. That is basically what I should be doing now. Sensei is totally the right trainer for that. What I need vs what I want. Fantasy vs reality.

Dressage just makes so much sense to me. It is what I read about and study. I love it. I love the connectedness to the horse. The beauty. Helping them to be better balanced and in sync with their rider. Now I am talking about backyard dressage, not moving up the levels type of dressage. Although I would love that too. I love the training of dressage, the nuances of it. Studying every movement of the horse and how to enhance it.

Yet here I am. Forward is not my friend right now. Damn it. I want to move out but I am so conflicted about it. I get remained of that all the time. I don't really want to my horse to move out, even though I do. Damn it! Damn it!! I used to gallop up hills. I quit a trainer as a teen because I was told I couldn't gallop my horse anymore. Screw that! I galloped Hope all the time and was not going to give that up. What the hell has happened to me!


I think I am just going to have to say, okay. Ride. Just ride. Don't worry about if your horse looks like a damn western pleasure horse (puke). Just follow what Sensei says and get on and ride. That sucks. Not about Sensei, he really is awesome. I just want to ride dressage and I just can't. Not right now. I can just ride. Honestly I have have so many things going well for me. A great horse, a great trainer, and drive to just do it! Getting upset about a disciple at this point just seems silly. Corrie can be driven, ridden, and we are getting rather handy in our ground work too. I have not even had her a month, it might be that I am a tad bit impatient.

Tomorrow I get to drive. Yippy!

What? What was that?!

Today was beautiful. Gale force winds kept the blazing heat from the sun at a simmer. Ya know what the wind does right, it makes things make more noise. Things rattle and whip. Normally quiet things snap, crackle, and yes, sometime even pop!

I brought Corrie in from the field. I stall her while I feed her a little bit of grain to got with her supplement. For a private barn, there was a lot of commotion going on today. So I ended up talking, brushing, spraying, picking, and over all making her look spiffy for much longer than I expected. She also got to practice standing patiently, one of her fortes. Finally when everyone cleared out, I was able to do some ground work. The tarps snapped, horses whinnied, and what not clattered ( I am really into lists today!) so we worked on this and that until we calmed a bit.

Finally I rode. Not our best ride. She was sluggish today. She did get a spiffy new bridle and saddle pad. I will have to share later. She has earned herself a new nickname, Bump, as in bump on a log. Seems to fit her well. Maybe we need to go more western pleasure.

Anyway, then I decided to take her outside for a little hand hand grazing. She was very alert outside. *warning another list* The corn leaves were high fiving each other for their excellent grown, wind through the power wires was humming star spangled tunes, cars heading for bbq's and parades sped past. Corrie was really looking at were all the sounds were coming from.

I know that when driving she is always interested in lawn mowers. We have never figured out why because if they are close to her, she doesn't mind them. When we are driving in the field across from the church were they often mow during my lesson, she is always looking at them then. I finally realized today that she is more sensitive to noise.

This became even more apparent when the neighbors, who love to watch the horses and love to pet Corrie were out. I took Corrie over to be fawned over and she was eating it up. She stood under two flags which flapped over her and she didn't mind, but all of a sudden she would hear something and start. Just a little jump in place. Scared the neighbors, not enough to really respect her, but ya know. She was actually really good for them.

Just something to file away for future reference and to be aware of.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Stills~ Framed

Sunday Stills this week is about taking pictures where the subject has been framed by its surroundings.

Here we have some flowers from a past challenge.

Corrie framed by the door of the stall.

This is Karma. She is a shelter dog that I take to an assisted living facility for pet therapy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I Finally Got Mad!

Oh that may sound bad, but it was actually a very good thing to happen. Okay maybe not mad, but peevbed!

I rode Corrie on Thursday and she is getting more fit. She is thinning down a bit, getting a bit more muscle. We are starting to understand each other. Not quite there yet, but we are learning. Corrie is not sure that I mean what I say. I am not sure I mean what I say.

I think she also is a bit bored of the indoor and gets spooky just to liven things up. As we were riding around, after we did our ground work, she was still looky out the window. Then a bird landed on a blue barrel. I had a moment of "oh no", then she scooted, almost out from under me. I almost lost my stirrup and came off. But I didn't. (yeah me!) Then I had a few moment of "Should I just get off?" and then it hit me. She has enough energy to spook, but trotting forward is too difficult. Eff that!

I brought my energy way up, and asked for a forward trot and away we went. I was amazed that she was being so forward with out a battle. She would try to stop and I pushed her on. My mind filled with thing to do. We started making halt trot transition, at every halt we would so some flexing and then trot off to do it again. Darn mare can be darn sensitive when she wants to be!

I have been trying to figure out how to get her more forward with out bring out a whip. It is not that I don't believe is a good smack if it is well time and deserved, but like I said last time, I am not good at the "command" part under saddle. So finding out that just bring my energy way up makes Corrie step out is very encouraging.

So what is energy?

I have heard some pretty interesting responses to that question. Some think it is some new agey or natural horsemanship type of voodoo. Really it isn't. I want you to think about sitting in a chair. Your relaxing and just reading blogs. Basically you are at a very low energy level. You think to yourself, I really need to get up. But your energy is so low. So you sit there and work up a little energy to get up. Then you stand. That feeling you got just before you got up is "energy." If the phone rings and you jump up, that is a lot of energy. Does that explain energy a little better?

Corrie actually responds to my energy fairly well. Especially on downward transitions. That is how she was trained: if your relaxed, she is relaxed. Unfortunately I tend to be pretty low energy when I work with her. Another thing I need to work on.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ground work Lessons 1&2

As I mentioned yesterday, I am learning to improve the rider I am now. That rider is not all that right now unfortunately. I am wanting to ask more of Corrie and yet at the same time still not really confident enough if push comes to shove.

So I got a shove, from Sensei, to do more ground work. I have been avoiding ground work because, well, I finally got back in the saddle. I want to ride. Unfortunately I still have issues in the saddle. So while I want to do more, it is really hard. Not that I am not riding, I am. It is just that I tend to find myself nagging. I am not confident enough to get to "command," if "suggest" and "ask" don't work. That is a huge issue. This is where a trainer comes in handy. I could very easily make Corrie even more dull, so Sensei really wants me to do a lot of work on the ground.

Suggest, ask, command: this is a common Ray Huntism. First you "suggest" what you would like a horse do to do, for example move their front over to the left. The "suggest" is just what ever cue you give to that behavior. I raise my energy and left hand. If the horse doesn't respond to a "suggest" we move the "ask." I raise my right hand, which hold the other end of the rope. "Ask" is sort of like telling the horse, if you don't follow the "suggest," I am going to have to "command" you. If the horse still does not heed your warning, you have to "command." In my example that is twirl the rope a few time and finally smack in the butt. The horse should have no choice at that point. The idea is that we always return to a "suggest." We want horses to move off the suggestion. Ever watch Ray Hunt, he is the most harmonious horse person I have ever seen. The alternative is to nag. Right now, in the saddle I nag, and I hate that and don't think it is very kind.

"If you can't do it on the ground, you shouldn't be asking for it in the saddle." Sensei has a point, not just in general but also specifically for me. I am as more assertive on the ground, not as assertive as he would like me to be, but I am much more able to get to "command" than in the saddle. Especially with a mare like Corrie. As much as I adore her, she will do as little as possible and try to push (or pull) her weight around, typical mare attitude.

My other issue is not taking my time. I like to just do it. I want to move. Sensei asks me to have Corrie side pass. So I jump into it. He puts the brakes on; tells me to stop, regroup, and think about what I want. Make sure I am ready to ask, finally ask. I am learning to just chill. It is SO hard. Sensei is so zen sometimes that it drive me crazy. I do tend to want to do, he tends to wait and then do. Although he is all about setting the horse and I up to succeed so really it is all for the good.

So that is a basic summary of the past two lesson. I am hoping that next week we can drive again. I have to practice ground work, of course, but I think I have enough to practice now.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Be the Rider You Can be Today

Kate at A Year With Horses has a great post yesterday: Ride the Horse You Have Today.

It made me think about where I was at today. I went out to ride Corrie. Sensei was letting the other horses out, which ran beside the indoor. I knew he was doing this and was prepared . The horses ran and we heard them. Corrie was on high alert, but I was able to keep her under control. I admit I was a bit rattled, but I did NOT get off.

As I read Kate's post I thought about that moment. Not only did I have to ride the horse I had, but I had to be the rider I was in that moment. In the past I may have reacted differently. Working Corrie more assertively and although been aware of what was going on, kept Corrie on track. Yesterday, I couldn't do that as well. I modified our work to where I felt I could comfortably keep Corrie under control. I did. We rode on the side of the arena away from the window so we would not see the horses, I keep her focus on me as much as I could. I did not handle it perfectly, I did not handle it as well as I did in my youth, but I handled it.

Years ago I had better balance and more control of myself. I am not that rider anymore. Some rides I honestly get very frustrated that my body does not do what I asked it to do. At those times I have to remember to be the rider I now. Accepting where I am now and moving forward from there. Comparing myself to what I was does not help me to be a better rider now. Being happy with the accomplishments I am making and having my sights set on new goals does help me.

Just like Kate says in her post, although you should go in with a plan, be prepared to alter than plan. Even if your horse is having a really good day we need to take into account our own emotional state. Yesterday I was very stressed, I wanted to just bum around on Corrie. Corrie made it knows that she has other plans and we adjusted, worked through that and then just bummed a bit. Sometimes getting out to the barn I myself feeling very confident. After checking in with my horse to see where she is, I might choose that day to challenge myself.

In a partnership we need to look at the needs of both partners. In some partnerships the the rider is strong enough to just look at the needs of the horse. Other relationships, the rider's need have a lot of focus too. Normally this is a beginner/ rerider, someone like myself that has issues to work through, or someone that has physical limitations. In these cases you need a special horse to pick up the slack. No matter though, we need to be the rider can can be for the horse we are riding today.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Same ol, Same ol

I really don't know what to blog about. Life, in it's normal cyclical way, seems to be getting more complex. So much of it is personal crap that you really wouldn't care that much about, personal insecurities that pop up from time to time.

We reap what we sow. I hope that I am sowing beautiful wild flowers, but sometimes those flowers turn out to be weeds. Although sometimes it is just about how you look at it. I am hoping for the best.

Corrie is making progress, but she would make more progress if I were a better rider. I admit that it is frustrating sometimes to sit up there and wonder why legs and arms won't work the way they should. Then a few moments later I look down and Corrie is doing exactly what I what, a beautiful little bend around a circle, nicely moving away from my leg. Sometimes wonder if she is just throwing me a bone, 'cause then she is back to trying her best to be a peanut rolling western pleasure horse.

We started doing ground work, it really is a great non threating way to establish a bond with a horse. She learns my body language and I learn hers. Done well, good ground work almost looks like a dance. Right now Corrie and I look like we are at middle school dance just trying to not step on each others toes. Time and patience and soon we will be ready for Dancing with the Stars!

I have other things that are stressing me out, don't we all. So many things seem up in the air at the moment. I have a feeling that tomorrow will looks a whole lot better.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Stills~ History

Sunday Stills this week is to take a walk into the past, at least 60 years past. A month or so ago I went to a trail drive. You may remember that. On my way how home I stopped and took some pictures of a historical marker. You can read about it here, I am not sure if the sign is 60 years old or not, but the stone one below is. If you click on the sign you will get a bigger picture, easier to read.Here is another marker of the event. A sad moment in history for Wisconsin.
I love these brown signs. They are all over Wisconsin marking historical happening. When ever we see one we stop and read them.

Friday, June 25, 2010

One important step: Find a trainer

*WARNING* This is a long post.
In Jillian Micheal's book on weight loss she says that you need a support base of: a partner in crime, a mentor, and a fan. Same can apply to any behavioral change your trying to make. This post is about the mentor. It has been something I have wanted to blog about for awhile. I think that getting a trainer is the second most important thing I did to start the journey of getting over fear, yet it took me forever to do it. The first was to change my mindset to be more positive. After that I think finding a trainer I could work with has been priceless. It may be costing me a pretty penny, but I am riding again.

Sensei was not the first trainer I tried though.

I did find one great trainer a few years ago, but she had some issues of her own to deal with. So while it was great in lessons the rest of the time it was like dealing with a time bomb. She did teach me so much about getting a better seat. She also gave me lot of back handed complements. Like telling me that while other people would say I was too heavy to ride, she would work with me because she though I rode well. Or that I shouldn't worry about my large calves because that was the way I was and even though most people want thin calves, I would never have them but that was okay. Well I never was upset about the size of my calves until after that conversation. I stayed with her for as long as I could because she knew her stuff about biomechanics and was helping in that area so much. Finally it was too much though.

I left her just after I bought Abby. I actually would have never bought Abby if I had known I would lose my trainer. At that point though, I sort of thought I was well on my way and could handle Abby on my own. Besides she had ingrained it in my head that I was so heavy no other trainer would work with me. I was terrified of looking for another one. FYI I am what they call painfully shy.

So with the idea that nobody would work with me on their horse and having no way get my horse to someone or a place to have someone work with me at my place I was stalled for a few years.

During that time I was searching for someone to teach me to drive. I could not find anyone. I would ask around, talk to people who did drive, and nobody in my area taught driving. Or at least that is what I thought. Now just before I bought Kinsey I had gone to look at a very short and ornery Haflinger. I also did a little research about the breed. Wading through the mire of information on the net, I found Sensei. I did not call him then. *kicks self in butt*

Getting the boat load of trouble called Kinsey, I had about given up the idea of riding all together. Horses will be part of my life though, and I wanted to give driving another chance. So finally I did something smart. I called Sensei. Shyness almost won over and if I were not so desperate it really may have won, but I picked up the phone and called.

For driving lesson mind you, nothing else. I was NOT going to take riding lesson from a western guy even if he would let me ride his little horses, something that I highly doubted anyway. Well you know the rest of the story from there. I started driving and then starting sitting on a horse. Finally riding, now I have Corrie. Just goes to show that you can definitely get help from outside your chosen discipline.

If it were not for Sensei I would not be so happy riding again. I would be sitting with two horses I could not do anything with and missing out on riding for yet another summer. Getting a trainer was pivotal.

For the past three years I have been wanting to ride. I have been making little attempts at riding. I have been working, sort of, with my horses. Nothing came to pass because I needed that outside pair of eyes to help me get to my goal. Okay another true confession, I have ADD.

Look a pretty little pony:


I get distracted by this idea and the next. I forget where I am going and end up at the start again. I have done this over and over again. That is one HUGE help that Sensei has given me. When I go out to the barn with some crazy idea, he takes me by the shoulders and turns me back to the goal.

Oh yeah a big pretty pony that I can ride and drive. I remember where I am going now.

That is something that a good trainer should be able to do. Help you find your goals and then stick to the path that takes you there. Weekly I would hear questions about getting my shafts for my cart, ground driving Ike, selling Abby and Kinsey, and other things I had to do to get on the right path for me.

Some of those decisions were really hard to make, like selling Kinsey and Abby. It about tore my heart. I really needed that objective person to help me move on from that point where I had horses that I could not use and were not suited for me at all to finding them good homes so that I could move on to a horse that is much more suited for me. It really has been very liberating.

Not any trainer could have or would helped me through all that. Not every trainer is suited to every student. I told you about one nightmare trainer that was actually good at training, but not as general person. Several years before her I hired a British guy who scammed me out of a lot of money. He seemed knowledgeable about horses in the beginning, but later said some odd things. I would blame odd information on that the fact that he was British. He is actually partly to blame for my fear. Those are the only two trainers I tried to have help me but they really put a bad taste in my mouth about getting help. That doesn't mean though that their aren't great trainers out that that still would not have been right for me. Keep looking until you do find one that you can work with.

So I understand how hard it is to find a good trainer. It isn't easy. I was so gun shy before Sensei. I did not even trust Sensei for a few months. Driving he was knowledge about, but I was not so sure about the riding part. Turns out that he is incredibly knowledge about about horse and people. My first few ground driving lessons were pretty easy stuff. Once we got out in the cart, I think he knew that I just needed to be working with the horse to work through my fear. We did a lot of talking, joking, and teasing. Probably because I was so tense. It was over time that I started to trust him and the horse. So give yourself a few lesson to get to know each other.

It is vitally important to trust your trainer. If you don't feel you can trust him, find one that you can. Especially if you are overcoming fear. You are hiring this person to help you work though some truly scary emotions. A lesson for a person overcoming a fear is very different than a learning to ride/drive lesson. Sensei did not push anything on me, unlike a normal lesson where a good trainer should be pushing you. Or maybe I should say that he was much more subtle about it. He is always waiting for me to make the first move, yet at the same time introducing me to new situations. I was nervous at times but trusted he wouldn't put me in a situation I couldn't handle.

As I get more confident he pushes more, but again that is how it should be. He puts little challenges out there for me. Both to work through on my own with Corrie and in lessons. He still realizes I have issues though. Now that I am feeling more confident, it does not mean that I don't still have fear. I think he realizes that more than I do, he has worked with a lot of people with fear issues. I sometimes think I can go out and do try something new and he will tell me to wait a bit more. Or more often shake his head when I tell him what I did and then tell me to wait a bit.

Trainers are there to be objective and sometime give you a reality check. You need to trust this person. And they need to be knowledgeable enough to be worthy of that trust, again, especially if you have fear issues.

Oh but don't think that I am saying you shouldn't question this person. I think Sensei would be very disappointed in me if I didn't question him to some extent. I want to know why. I don't just assume that he knows what he is talking about, likewise he asks me to explain why I do what I do. I think it is a huge red flag when a trainer doesn't like to be questioned or can't tell you why they are doing something. I am getting better about asking question if I don't understand.

And this maybe one reason that I really like Sensei. He does question me about what I do. Everything I do and rarely excepts an answer of "I don't know." At least not without a follow up lecture as to why it should or should not be done. If I can justify myself, even if it is different than how he does it, it's all good. I am sure that there are some that that would drive them batty.

Which is why you need to find a trainer that works for you. One that you can get along with. Your trainer maybe completely different than mine, but as long as she is knowledgeable, trustworthy, objective, and someone you can work with to meet your goals your on the right path. Just try to find someone and don't give up if the first one doesn't work.

I really wanted to share this because in my journey finding the right trainer has been vital to my success and will continue to be. I did not realize how important that one choice was going to be. Sensei is still going to be there through a whole lot more with me. Getting so I can drive Corrie on my own, bringing her home and driving her around here, going for a trail ride, cantering, and building a good solid relationship with Corrie so that I am not fearful to do all the above things. I know that my journey is far from over but I have a mentor for this journey.