Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Well ... it has come to this ...

I told my trainer today that Corrie was for sale.

I got a job in Chicago. I will be taking up residence this week and starting my new job next week. I am really excited about my job, but not making as much as I had hoped. It doesn't make sense to try and keep Corrie knowing that I will see her 4 times a month for the next several months, and that we can not really afford it.

I am not giving up riding though. At least that is not the plan. I will start looking for a place to just take lessons down there. I know that for most places I will need to loose a little more weight for them to even let me ride, so I guess that is my next goal.

These past two weeks and been filled with sorrow and excitement. When one chapter ends, another starts and new adventures start. I hate the thought of losing Corrie, I really do. Yet I can not help being excited to starting a life with M.

I will still keep this blog going because I plan on still having horses in my life some way.
I am also starting a new blog Country Girl in Chicago. You all are invited to check out that blog as well!

Well ... short on words today. Too much going through my mind.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Blink of an Eye

My heart is still aching for the loss of Madison, Ike, and Sophie. Rocky is still calling for his friends. Rocky and Madison were born a month apart on the same farm. They both traveled to me together when they were 4/5 months old. They have never been apart for 9 years. But that is how life goes. In a blink of an eye things can change.

I found this quote in the past few days:

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ~Kahlil Gibran

I realized that I am sad because those three did bring me such delight.

No more watching Rocky and Ike play fight. Oh yes, miniature stay much more playful that big horses. Ike and Rocky would chance each other, rear up and and bite at each other and then take off for the chase again. Madison and Sophie would join in on the racing all around the pasture. That is all over now.

Madison was very much a mama's girl and would often come running up to me if I were in the pasture. In fact all of them were very much pocket ponies. Ike would wait until I have him a scratch on his butt before he would go out to pasture or when he came in from the pasture. Sophie was always waiting for her ears to be itched.

It is all of those little things that I think I miss the most: Listening to the call each other or for Sophie's bray or watching them graze in the pasture. Playing with them or taking photos of them or grooming them for photos, I miss those things.

On the farm it just seems like something is missing, a huge something is missing. I can not even begin to telling what a hole in the place those little guys left, not to mention the hole in my heart. But if I had never had them, so many delightful moments would never have happened.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Severe wind, a neighbor's tree

an electric fence and ponies are free

car, crash, they fail to flee

one, two, three


Rest In Peace

Fike's Angel Fire

Madison Avenue

and Sophie

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Love Changes Things

Love is a pain in the ass.

I know, I know ... blue birds and rainbows, that is what love is supposed to be. Never really bought into that type of thing. I never really meant to fall in love.

M changed that, the jerk. No, I am totally kidding. I adore M. I adore him so much. It was nice at first, we would get together every week and that was fun. But then I fell more in love with him. He lives in Illinois and it takes a bit of time to get down there. Once a week I make the trip down to see him. I love that time, but the next day I head back up to Wisconsin. It is getting harder and harder to come back up every week.

I just found the best horse for me. I love her to death and she is the exact right horse for me. Then I find a man I can say the same things about. Unfortanately he lives in a large city in Illinois, and when I say large I mean big. Bigger than Madison, Wisconsin. Bigger than Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Care to take a guess? Yes, Chicago. I am not talking about a suburb of Chicago, I am talking about the great city.

See the problem here? Chicago is known for a lot of things. Beautiful buildings, culture, art, food, music. I mean there are a lot of nice things about Chicago. Wide open spaces suitable for horses is not one of them. I don't think they have been too keen on farm animals since Mrs. O' Leary's cow almost took out the whole city with one kick. Who cares if it really wasn't the cow's fault, she is still blamed.

So I sit here pondering my next move and what to do with Corrie. Where will I keep her? Will it be worth it to keep her in a suburb? How often will I be able to go a see her?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Exercise Excuses

I have gained weight. A lot! But as I write this, I proud to say I just got back from a 30 minute bike ride.

I am the excuse queen when it comes to exercise. It is too hot. I am tired. I missed the class I wanted to attend. It is too cold. I can't find the remote for the Wii. Do I need to go on?

Over the last several months I have a role model for exercising. I don't know if he knows he has been a role model for me but I have been watching his attitude towards daily exercise. That person is M, my special man friend. He has been a wonderful role model for exercising.

This guy runs outside almost everyday. When it was cold, he ran. When the side walks were covered in snow, he ran. When it was rainy, he ran. When there was a heat advisory, he ran. Okay for that one I told him he was stupid and he agreed. But he doesn't use the excuse that the weather is not perfect, he just does it. Even when he is busy and ends up running a night he still goes. I might be down for a visit, but I know he is probably going to pop out to go to the gym. It is important to him and he makes it a priority. Now when I am relucant to go and workout I do think about how he never allows an excuse to keep him from exercise.

I have to stay that for as important as execise is to him, he never pressures me. He is fine if I lose some weight and he is fine if I gain some weight. He wants me to be healthy, but he accepts me the way I am. That has made it so much easier for me to just observe him and learn.

Now, when I start to think it is too hot or too cold or too late or .... I think about how M would not use that as an excuse. I am not as good as he is, but I am getting better.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Going it Alone and Being Safe

There comes times we all have to ride alone. Although for some the idea of riding alone fills them with dread, I am not one of them. I am quite happy to take off for a nice ride with just myself and my horse, but, I try to do it safely. Last week's ride I have several safety minded choices to make.

My plans were to ride outside for the first time in awhile. Yet the weather was a bit worrisome. I was starting to change my mind as a few water droplets hit my windshield. I am not a big worrier when it come to weather, but a few years ago there was a boy killed in Wisconsin from lightening. He was coming in from the fields when the sky got dark and there was thunder. Apparently you don't need rain, if there is thunder there is lightening. So please be careful if you hear thunder while riding. Today, just a few droplet of water though, so I still was not sure.

When I pulled up to the barn, decidedly absent was both Sensei's truck and his trailer. Sensei often hauls for people or may have taken his granddaughter on a trail ride. Normally this is not a cause for concern because he will be back, but this time I remembered he and his wife were going to pick up a wagon and would be gone for the weekend.

Now I started thinking. Nobody was at my house and knew that I was at the barn. Sensei would have someone coming over, but who knows when they would come. This is a private barn, only a few boarders that don't come out often. I did have my cell phone, but we all know that people can be knocked out cold from an accident with a horse. So I did what I think everyone should do in my situation, I called a friend. I called my boyfriend, M. He is in Chicago, he knows nothing about horses, but I gave him my location, the local police department, and told him I would call him in no more than two hours.

So simple, but if anything had happened to me and I could not call for myself, I knew that M would. I did not think anything would have but, come on people we are dealing with horses here. ANYTHING can happen! Just walking out into a field of horses, one could
run into you, knock you down and leave you unconscious. These like that happen.

As I explain to M that I would call him in a few hours I went to get Corrie. Sensei says a few sayings. One is that when you are with your horse, you are training. Training does not start in the barn, or when you put your foot in the stirrup. It starts when you walk out to the pasture. He believes in taking full advantage of every moment he has with a horse, including walking to the barn. So he would probably not have liked that I was on the phone and not paying attention to Corrie, but I was and atleast now someone knew I was riding.

Sensei has another saying, listen to what your horse is telling you. Doesn't matter if you are alone or not, listen to what your horse is telling you. Our horses will tell us if they are having an off day. They will tell us if they are ready to do something new. They will tell us if they are going to behave if we ride in that new bit or try to go bare back.

On the way back to the barn Corrie was her normal self, although I was still talking to M. There is bit of a routine that we follow to get into the barn. There is a pipe gate, and the not 4 feet further is the door, which is summer is usually left open. So as I open the gate for Corrie, I have to ask her to step half way through the door and whoa while I close the gate behind her. I never have to let go of her and she knows the routine very well. But apparently not today. She didn't whoa, although M heard me loud and clear as I shouted it into the phone. I finished with M and did a little training with Corrie.

Already Corry is telling me that she is not up to riding outside. So I canceled those plans. Grooming was not much better. So I decided that riding was out the window too. Corrie was telling me what she needed to work on. She needed a little reminder in her ground manners.

How often do we say to ourselves that we have plans of what we want to do and we are going to do it. We don't care if our horses are being dinks, we are going to do ride on the trail/ ride bare back/ whatever anyway. I know I'm guilty of it. I was not listening to Abby when I fell off of her. I am learning that it is so important to do just that though.

I did continue to work Corrie. We worked through some groud work issues. I have to tell you, I was annoyed at first that she was acting like she didn't have a clue about what I was asking her to do. But even though she was brilliant a few days ago, that day, she was not responding the way I expected to her and all I could do was work with the horse that was in front of me. Most importantly, I had safe enjoyable time with Corrie because I was safe about it.

So my three safety tips for the day are
1) Pay attention to the weather and heed weather warnings.
2) Make sure someone knows you are working with your horse.
3) Listen to your horse and take into concideration what they are able to do or not do on any given day.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

Yes, I have been absent from the blogger scene, even worse I have been absent from the barn.

When I most needed my pony I wouldn't go out. WHY? Well this is really embarrassing from the queen of "think positive" but I just was feeling so negative. I kept making excess, which Sensei informed me were not good enough. At first they were actually reasonable, I think. I would want to get lunch after working out at the YMCA or it was raining and I knew my horse would be wet. Those didn't really fly with Sensei either. Then it was just embarrassment that I had gone a whole month without seeing my horse. I got depressed about it and I felt down. Honestly not just about that but about other things in my life too. I let things spiral.

Looking back I feel really silly. I know that going for a ride would have boosted my mood and given me better out look just because I would be engaging in something I enjoy. Well, I am back out at the barn again. I am getting razzed from Sensei but I deserve it, and it is all good natured.

Emotions really can take us for a ride unless we decide to take control. It is not enough to want to go and ride, because I really did want to. It requires action. Sometimes when I get down I just don't want to be active. I want to hide. That is where good support comes in . . . and I don't mean in a bra (although in riding that is important too!) I have a few good friends that are really good about kicking my butt when I am down and telling me to get up and get moving again.

Really! They don't sit there and stroke my ego. They tell me to get off my ass and start doing things to make changes in my life that I want. It is nice to sit around and have pity parties from time to time, but I value those friends of mine that just don't fall for it. They tell me like is and push me to action. Thanks Guys!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A good horse

No, not ... "is never a bad color." Although that is true too. Although I, myself, have a stunningly colored horse (blonds always have more fun) there are good horses that come in plain packages. But that is not what this post is about.

It is about a very flash pinto gelding that Sensei had. He was a nice horse. Perfect mind, willing attitude, and an all around good guy. His 6 year old grand daughter took this paint out on the trails and was running circles around everyone. Brave as anything, both horse and child, they ran past havesters in the field. I am not talking about people but big, noisy, farm machinery. Ol' Paint never blinked an eye at them. Nor did he balk about leaving the company of the other horses.

No horse is perfect and Ol' Paint wasn't either. He did a kind of wobble thing when first mounted. Particularly by adults, like my trainer. Never seemed in pain, never balked at being mounted, but still it was puzzling. After countless appointments with chiropractors and vet specialist nothing particular was found wrong. Nobody could pin point the problem. Ol' Paint was basically used lightly as a trail horse anyway and did that job very well.

Sensei, who buys and sell horses, found an ad for someone looking for a nice all around mount for a pre teen girl. He thought that Ol' Paint might just be the ticket for them. He called them up and arrangements were made for a showing. They fell in love with him, like everyone does. Ol' Paint was as steady as he always was. And they bought him with a one week grace period. If they didn't still want him after a week they could bring him back. After a vet check, their vet could not pin point the exact problem but did find some evidence of a former injury.

Good to his word, Sensei said he could pick up the horse if they didn't want him now. "Oh No," the woman exclaimed, "this horse is wonderful. Anyone can ride him. He is a barn favorite. We wouldn't part with him for anything."

My last post was on attitude. This is yet another horse that exemplifies the importance of having a good attitude. Even though he was slightly off, and nobody can say for sure how long he will stay sound, he has a home because he has such a good mind.

I think that it is often an under valued trait when picking out horses today, yet I believe it was much more valued in times gone by. I know my trainer has bought more than one horse with that one consideration that the horse was willing partner. I read stories of people's problems with their horses and some of the time it just seems they have an unwilling partner. When I think back to Rebels Hope, she was a stinker! But she was a willing partner and although not the best trained horse and I didn't always do the best when working with her, she was a willing horse. She would take little kids for rides and never take a step wrong. I could put anyone on her and not worry. Corrie is much the same way. They have good attitudes and good minds. They are good horses.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Attitude is Everything

SmartPak sends out more than just catalogs. They also send out a guide for horse care. This guide has little articles in it, most include why adding supplements to your horses feed is important, but sometimes they are just good common sense. In the winter 2011 issue there is an interesting article on attitude, "Attitude Do's and Don't". Read my blog for very long and you know how important attitude is to me. Attitude is everything!
The main points of the article are:
*Do focus on the ride, Don't focus on the result.
*Do challenge yourself, Don't get discouraged.
*Do plan ahead, Don't worry if things change.

Nothing Earth shattering there really. Sometimes hard to follow for sure, but most certainly doable.

On Monday I had to put these in to practice. Corrie was not her nice calm self. It was the "other" mare. I am not sure what to call Corrie's alter ego, but she most certainly has one. Oh yeah, that face looks it can give you tooth decay, but she can be spooky when she wants to be. Corrie has been under saddle for about 2 years now, and honestly she was broke to saddle and then more miles were put on her to drive, so her riding experience is rather limited. She has always been an outdoor horse for the most part too. Noises on the roof or outside the arena are scary. On Monday it was water dripping off the roof, normally Corrie is not that sensitive, but on Monday she was.

She started out just being a tad spooky, but it built up. That end of the arena was off limit according to Corrie. She made that point very clear by backing all the way across the arena, ignoring my leg the whole time. I love that completely out of control feeling, don't you? That feeling when your horse is not listening to anything you have to say. Yeah that is how the ride started out. After getting a little compliance from Corrie, I hopped off.

Let me take a moment here to just talk about my feelings. I was not scared. At least not scared of coming off. That thought did go through my mind and I was a little nervous about that but honestly not shaking in my boots like I would have been a year ago. I was more nervous that I would create a bigger problem. I knew that this was a very important moment in my relationship with Corrie. I would either be teaching her how to get out of work or reinforcing that we have a partnership and need to work through these problems together. That is why I hopped off and called Sensei.

I asked Sensei to come out to the barn; I love having my trainer on site! After being called on no brainer things, such as, why are you still riding in a rope halter when you know that your horse is having issues. Oops. He just said those things that I know but help to have someone call me on. Like relax, which I did as soon as he was in the arena; or at least relaxed some. The problem with getting nervous is that my brain stops functioning as well as it should. I forget some basic things like breathing. Or that it is important to focus on what you want not what you don't want.

Riding around the arena I was called on that right away. Sensei pointed out that both Corrie and I were riding around waiting for an explosion to occur. We, and by "we" I mean "I," needed to just ride her through our fear. I am the leader and she needs me to tell her that it is okay by just riding her like I expect her to respond like she normally does. Of course that sounds all sunshine and rainbows, which we know is not always the case.

The second thing Sensei reminded me to do is to have a "plan B." What would I do if she did spook. In this case, as I was riding her in figure 8's around the I would pick up on the side rein. NOT pull back with both which would she would, or could, just run through if she was really scared. Plan B would change as I moved around, not the actual plan, just which rein I would use. Having a plan helped me to relax also. I knew what I would do if my plan to just keep her moving and working normally failed.

The ride ended with her working nicely off my leg at the end of the arena that made her nervous. She was responding like I would expect her to, nothing that would an observer would point out as being a stellar ride. But the ride ended with a calm rider and a calm horse, working together and listening to each other. That was a good ride.

Monday, February 7, 2011


We are about to have another cold snap. I wanted to get out to see Corrie before that happened. When it is really cold I just don't want to be out in it. If it hard for me to breath, I figure it really isn't all that great for Corrie to try and breath harder either. So before that snap came, I managed to get a little ground work and spend some time riding her, bare back again.

As I have my pony time, I like to think. I was was not working on anything difficult, but I was having a difficult time walking around a barrel. The barrel was in a corner and I would push her into the corner and around the barrel. Once through the corner and pasted the barrel, she would want to drift to the side again. I had to work really hard to keep her on a line. We did several other line across the arena too. Always a having to ride every stride. Aways her wanting to drift and needed support.

My mind wandered back to Hope. How I would just think about where I wanted to go and that is where we would go. I had owned Hope for several years and we had been through a lot together. It is a was not that way in the beginning. My first ride on Hope left me in the middle of a field with my left stirrup as she ran back to the barn. It looks a lot of time, a lot of fall, a lot of fights, and just general discussions, before we were able to reach the point that we were just comfortable being with each other.

When I first had Corrie enter my life, about a year ago actually, she was just a horse I used in lessons. When she became mine there was such a feeling of joy. The new part of a relationship where all things seem possible. I had grand ideas of driving her around my neighborhood and up and down the trails. I had a lot to over come but I had my new pony and that was going to make all things possible. It's the the most wonderful part of a relationship, isn't it? When it is all still so new. I decided I don't think so.

It is like planing a seed in the spring. The thought of how that plant is going to grow and give us tomatoes in a few months. All a gardener thinks of as she waters and tends that little seed is what it is going to be. Then come the weeding, which really rather sucks. The work that goes into the tending of that plant over shadows the thoughts of the ripe tomato that will make the most perfect salad complete. Sometimes the gardener may wonder if it is all worth it. Then one day the signs of fruit appear. The little tomatoes and again we are excited of the prospect of the fruits of our labor. Then the day comes and we pick the most perfect tomato, and it tastes so good. Of course so much can go wrong between the planting of the seed and the final harvest of the fruit.

Reflecting on new relationships vs. old ones, remembering Hope, I realized how valuable the old relationships are. We can't just jump to the old comfortable partnership though. We must go through all the work. We must make that connection to our partner, fall off a few times, deal with the disappointments of dreams changing or even redefining our goals wot match our abilities. It is all part of growing together and to reach that point were we are just comfortable.

Corrie and I are in that work part now. We are learning about each other. We are finding out what makes each other tick, and although sometimes that is fun, sometimes it is not. But the work is worth it in the end. So although I had to keep after her, in my mind I was thinking ahead to the time when we will just be old friends.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Years Resolutions

Okay so it is not the first of the year, but it is close enough. Closer to the front of the year than the back right?

Anyway, I had an awesome year last year. Going from being terrified to ride to riding my own pony bare back in a halter and lead. I also got out on the trail and actually had some pretty big spooks, ones that almost dismounted me actually. But we handled them and it didn't stop me from riding. Also learned to drive, a solid beginner, but still I am a driver. In fact there is only one goal that I did not meet last year, canter. It was not for lack of trying either. We almost got there but then had those lameness issues.

So for the new year I have some more practical goals.
1) Ride at least 3 times a week. For Corrie and for me. She is going to be 12 this year. For her own health I need to keep her moving. I also need to keep riding her. I love to ride as you all know but it is the getting out there and doing it sometimes, especially when it is blustery outside and I am trying to accomplish other things in my life. Even still this is an important goal to me.

2) That damn canter. Oh yeah, 2011 is the year to canter. I am going to do this barring any physical issues on Corrie's apart. There is no reason that I should not be back to cantering again.

3) Get that balance back baby! Okay, so this should before the canter phase but I really want to work on my balance. I have lost a lot of balance over the years but I want it back damn it! Riding Corrie bare back is one way, using a halter is my way of being kind to mouth. I am not know to use the reins for balance at all, but even still, don't want to start jerking on her poor mouth. Am also taking classes at the YMCA. These are helping a lot with my balance and general core strength. So this is more a feel and hard to define as a goal, but I think I will see improvements as they are made.

4) Rhythm. Some where over the years my rhythm has suffered too. Not just in keeping it but damn if I can get my correct diagonal without looking. How embarrassing it that at this stage of the game! I have noticed riding that I don't have that natural flow the way I used to with the gaits, the ones that comes from being in complete sync with the horse. Another one that will be hard to define, but I think once I can start keeping a track of the foot falls and maintaining a steady rhythm I will count this one as a complete. Or at least it will be time to set a new goal for rhythm.

5) Drive independently in my own space. Meaning in my own yard or in my little area around home. I want to harness and drive Corrie on my own. I had difficulties with this last year. I could do it at Sensai's but after a good spook that left me a little shaken in my skills I got nervous and didn't want to try.

6) Go on a group trail ride. I will have to bum a ride with someone but I hope that I can find some local people to go on a trail ride with and head out with them at least once this summer.

7) Not really a goal for me or for Corrie, but I would really like to get my city slicker friend up on Corrie. Why? because I want to share this thing that is so important to me with him. It is a totally selfish goal, but I hope I can pull it off.

Not sure these are the best goals this year. Little vague for my liking and so I might tweak them over the next few weeks. Still a good place to start, like seeing her at least three times a week. Of course the next time I have scheduled to see her is tomorrow morning and we are expecting a blizzard tonight. Guess I am just going to have see how that goes. If I can get out of the drive way though I will be at the barn!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Oh is there any better way to ride than bareback?

I am not sure that there is. Especially on a cold day, when the warm of the horse's body radiates to keep yours warm as well. I love it. And with a haffie, I have a built in hand warmer. Just slip those cold hands under her thick double mane. Corrie is also blessed with a thick winter coat, a coat that only a true pony can grow. She holds in the heat so well, never have to worry about her getting chilled and she can keep me warm too.

Except for my feet. There is that moment when the ride is over and I just sit there and think about slipping off. Knowing that my cold cold feet are going to smart when they hit the ground. That is the time to just grin and bare it. It is also the time I am so thankful for my rock of a mare, who just stands there while I decided to slip off.

I admit that I have been bad about riding. Seems we have had more cold days that tolerable ones. Today was a tolerable day and so I slipped on over to see my girl. I am getting lazy as I am getting brave. I didn't want a saddle, and if I don't have a saddle why mess with a bridle. Warming the bit, naw, rope halter it is.

Besides my balance is still not what it should be. And although there is no better way to get your balance back than to ride around bareback I am trying my best to keep her sensitive to the aides. I wobble a bit here and there. Corrie is tolerate and sweet natured, I don't want to ruin her mouth by pulling on it so a halter works fine. We practiced walking around and moving off of leg pressure, which is hard to do as I am trying to keep my balance and not use her sides to do it. She is pretty sensitive all things considered and would really hate to teach her to ignore my leg.

It was a short ride. I am working out at the Y too. My legs are getting stronger but at the same time they are still sore. My inner thighs were launching a complaint almost from the on set. Still I was on my pony and we had a good ride.

To think just a year ago I was afraid to even sit on a horse. My the things that can change in a year!

I have award. I'll share that next time. Also need to set my goals for this year.

Thanks for all the support

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm Still HERE

Oh I am SO sorry to all my reader for leaving you for SO long. And So long is really an understatement isn't it!

My life has had some amazing changes take place in it. I found someone to help me out of a rut and he really did. In the process I have been out living life. Something that I had not been doing for a long time.

I am so happy to report to you that Corrie and I are going strong. She is back at Sensai's for the winter. He has an indoor after all. That has been a blessing, although I must confess I have not been riding as much as I would like.

I have joined the YMCA to get some much needed exercise and gain strength. I have not been doing too hot on the weight loss front, but getting healthier is going really well.

Another draw on my time is a special someone. Special someone does not really close, although we do get together once a week. I am smitten I admit it! He has met Corrie and dubbed her Emo Horse. LOL. He was very upset that we forgot to bring her an apple or a carrot and we discovered that she does not like tic tacs.

This is just a short note to let you all know that I am alive and well. I will write a longer post soon. Promise!