Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summer, Take II

It's the end of August, and somehow my brain thinks summer is just starting. I suspect said brain is going to be disappointed in the near future when I have to start wearing layer upon layer of clothing to comfortably go outside, and riding is once again done in a large, frigid building.

On the bright side, life is starting to feel more normal again. The puppy is now 14 weeks old. She's at least mostly settled in. Also, Brian's student, K, went through a fairly terrible experience purchasing her first horse. The horse turned out to be massively lame. Many vet visits determined the problems (there were several) were well-established and possibly not fixable. This lead to the difficultly of working out what to do with the horse, who will likely never be rideable. Then, when all that was done, K was right back at square one in terms of horse shopping. However, she pushed ahead. A couple weeks ago we went with her to see some horses, and her new gelding arrived on Wednesday. I think he's going to work out well. We're helping a little with the two of them getting to know each other, and that has helped us regain some momentum when it comes to the barn. I rode him when we first went with K to see him, and again on Saturday, just to check him out before K climbed on. He's a pretty darn good guy. After I got off and K got on, I had a nice easy ride on Steen.

And today, finally, I rode Piper for the first time in longer than I care to admit. The good news is, she was awesome. The last several times I've been out in the pasture she has hurried up to me with this, "Pick me! Pick me!" look on her face. She seemed quite happy when I put the halter on her. During tacking and grooming, she was 100% chilled out at the hitching post. We started groundwork and she was fabulous. Her little trouble spot where the flag sometimes gets her bothered wasn't triggering any reaction at all, and while I know I'm anthropomorphising and that's bad, I swear she was happy to be back to work. She gained some nice weight during her time off. She felt solid and balanced beneath me when I got on.

We kept the ride slow and worked a lot on reantiquating ourselves with the basics. It was windy and the herds were all wound up for some reason, so there was some calling and galloping and craziness nearby. Piper looked from time to time, but none of this ever affected her energy. I kept having to remind myself, "This is a very green horse. She's just had over a month off. She's doing great, but don't push it."

So we rode for about 50 minutes and rattled through all sorts of exercises. One thing that's kind of nice is it's been long enough since I rode her that I can't totally remember where exactly we were struggling or where I thought we were excelling. I was able to approach the ride from a totally fresh place of zero expectations (which is how I should approach every ride, really, but I don't always succeed at doing that) and see what she had to offer.

Horseback Hours YTD: 89:335

Thursday, August 20, 2015


I can't believe it's already late August. It's been such a strange year. Life has been a bit bumpier than usual, personally and professionally and mundanely. We've had loss in the family, I've had persistent hardware, software, and ISP issues, and we've had our fair share of random problems like sewage backing up in the basement and the furnace inexplicably leaking water. I feel like every week I'm telling myself, "Things will settle down soon. Soon, we'll get X, Y, and Z taken care of. And then we'll be able to get back into our usual rhythm."

I realize, of course, that my life is very, very good if the things I'm having to deal with are (for the most part) so banal. I know people who are currently facing genuine tragedy or failing health. I count myself lucky in the grand scheme of things. Nevertheless, I can't help but feel like most of 2015 has slipped by unnoticed, particularly as far as the horses are concerned.

A mud covered puppy having a ball with two of my parents' dogs.

Last week we got back from a couple of weeks on the road. We took the puppy and headed for Arizona, stopping off in Texas both ways to spend a little time with Brian's parents. It was a nice trip, and a great opportunity to get Esti exposed to new people and places, different dogs, and spending long hours in the car. She was fantastically well behaved for the majority of the trip. I think she learned a lot of important lessons. Hopefully she'll be a more well-rounded dog for all she encountered. She sure is growing fast.

Esti - 13 weeks old

But between the puppy, life in general, and the travels, we've not had much time for the horses. We've been out to check on them a few times, and of course we know they're watched over when we're gone. For a while my student asked me to ride her horse twice a week, which I happily agreed to before realizing we were going to get a puppy. This meant I went multiple weeks during which I'd make regular trips to the barn but not ride any of my own horses.

However, last weekend I swung on Steen for the first time in six (!) weeks, and the first thing we did was walk some very nice no-handed figure-eights. We had a nice ride, followed by another one the next day.

K with our herd

Hopefully with the coming of fall (my favorite riding season), we can hit our stride and build up some momentum again.

Horseback Hours YTD: 87:45

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