Friday, October 26, 2012

Oh, Hey! Hi! How's It Going?

Ugh, I am a blogger fail.  Seriously, I can't believe the last time I updated this space was in JULY.  Fail Fail FAIL, all on me.

All my fail makes chubby 3-legged kitteh fall down, go night-night.

One of the major reasons for my fail is because I was working a job that was literally sucking the life and creativity out of me until about 3 weeks ago.  It's hard to have anything left when it's all you can do to get through 8 to 10 hours every day.  In some ways, it was an extremely rewarding position-I had a role in making a program strong and robust and everything I envisioned for it.  In (many) other ways, it was incredibly sad to see those efforts be all for naught.  Anyway. Long story short, I applied for and got a position with our local food bank 3 weeks ago, and I LOOOOVE it so far-seriously, since I was laid off a year ago, it finally feels like I'm doing what I want again.

Lo, I know that you don't care about my career:)  You want to hear more about him!

And maybe her, my sweet Senior Chamie.

Just because I haven't been writing doesn't mean I don't have anything to write about (er, maybe that's debatable).  This summer and fall I haven't ridden nearly as much as I need or want to-yet every time I do I have I ask myself why I'm not riding all the frigging time.  Miles turned 12 on October 16th, and he's truly in his prime-he is the best kind of horse.  The one who you can ride after he hasn't felt a saddle in 2 weeks and not need to lunge or anything-he is that horse. 

Last night, we took a trail ride in 40 mph gusts of winds and he was up, yes-only because he was SO happy when I pointed him at the trail instead of the arena.  To be clear, Miles' "up" these days is a shake of the head and sometimes a cute little passage-he just loves to explore.  I could FEEL his disappointment when the trail turned to take us back to the barn-he wanted to keep going!  I told Amanda, our trail buddy with her super mare Cody, that I will never get that beautiful, forward, bouncy walk in the arena. That is Miles' Dora the Explorer walk-if I had a trailer (and any kind of stamina of my own) I swear he would be the best endurance horse of them all.  What can't an OTTB do?

Lo, he is a handsome chub, is he not?  I sure do like him fleshy.

That's all for now-I have to save some content if I want to write more than once a frigging quarter.  I'll leave you with the happiest Golden face ever.

Feels good to be back!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mobile Confidence Course!

This weekend, Miles and I participated in a Mobile Confidence Course clinic.  It was so much fun! 

Yes, it was about 90 degrees that day, but I'm so, so glad we did it, despite the low level heat exhaustion I and the other 7 participants were suffering by the end of the 4 hours.  Kim and her partner set up about 12 different obstacles in the indoor and outdoor arenas-passing through giant flags, pool noodles and brush, walking over bridges, mattresses, rubber duckies, cut-up pieces of hose, crushed plastic bottles, working with giant balls and tarps, walking under wind-socks and various other colorful man-made materials, and of course crossing water.

Miles made them all his b&#*h.  Seriously, not to brag, but he was so, so amazing.  I love this horse, trust we have a good relationship, and I thought we would do well, but I had no idea just HOW brave and curious my boy is.  We did every obstacle multiple times, except walking on the pedestal.  I didn't wrap his front legs and he kept banging them against it, thinking I wanted him to walk over it  (which makes sense considering the jump work we've done) and I just didn't want him to hurt himself.  He was trying hard to please and was in no way scared of it, and other people had similar issues with their horses so I don't feel too bad about that.

I hope we are able to get Kim to come back and do an advanced class.  ALL the horses were superstars, and everyone was pleased with their horses and happy-tired by the end.  Miles was the only TB in a sea of Quarter Horses, Tennessee Walkers, Morgans and crosses thereof.  He trusted me throughout the day, both on the ground and under-saddle, and did himself and his breed proud.  I couldn't be happier with how the day turned out.  What I loved most was that he was engaged and happy the whole time-even when he snorted at something or scooted through an obstacle, he looked to me to tell him it was ok and lead him back through.  The few times he didn't go through/over something the first time, he never stopped being engaged and trying to solve the problem.  Damn, he would make a great cross-country horse:)

It's true.

REALLY wish I had pictures, but you can see on the MCC website what a lot of the course looks like.  If you live in the MI/OH area I HIGHLY recommend this clinic.  Kim and her partner Niki were amazing teachers and advocate a great gentle-leader approach to work working with horses.  No force is involved at all-being assertive when necessary is encouraged, but it's all about creating a positive experience for the horses and rewarding the slightest try.  It's amazing what our horses will give us when we whisper instead of scream.  I'm not ashamed to say Miles charmed the pants off both of them, especially Niki-she told me she has a 32 year old OTTB at home, and said that TBs get a bad-rap when it comes to participating in these clinics, where everyone assumes they will be "spooky".  I pray I'm lucky enough to have Miles for another 20-plus years, since I can't imagine my life without him.  I have a better horse than I thought, and I thought he was pretty damn awesome before:)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

If You're Looking For Original Content

Ha Ha, jokes on you!  Still, I had to link to this post from News from Aspen Meadows -  she posted a lovely poem from a fellow OTTB enthusiast.  Really great writing.

Miles and Chamie are melting in 95 degree temps but want me to say "What's Up" for them.  They are doing spectacularly for the most part.  I've just been taking super-chill rides in the fields and on the trails with my best boy.  It's been a very nice summer so far.

Hope to have something worth writing about (ahem, universe, no catastrophes please) soon.  The most exciting thing around these parts lately is the fact that I've finally found a fly mask Miles can't remove in an hour.  Unless you're Dave Barry, it's hard to make that stuff fun to read.  I am no Dave Barry.  Kisses to your ponies!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wherein We Take To The Trails

Wednesday I took both my kids out on the trails for the first time this year, and it was also the first time ever for Chamie since we have been reunited, although we used to trail ride all the time back in the day.  I rode Miles, and my friend and fellow boarder Amanda rode Chamie.

It was a spectacular first outing.  I hadn't ridden Miles in a week, and Chamie hadn't been ridden in over a month.  The weather was perfect, and the horses were both lovely, with only a few shenanigans (all Miles, and tiny at that-a kick at a bug here, a throw of the head and a dance there).  We trekked along for about a half hour.  Longer would have been nice, but Chamie got sore at the end:(  She was an eager beaver the whole ride, keeping up with Miles and stepping out just fine, with no prodding from Amanda.  By the end of the ride, though, she was gimpy on her left front, with some minor swelling.  We both felt really awful, but after buting that night she has been ok.  The swelling is still there, and though it is minor, I no like.  Boo.

I'm going to get the vet on the horn soon and ask about his recommendations for her.  I don't expect her to be a regular riding horse, but I would love her to be able to do a trail ride every week or two (especially now that we know how great she is).  Will injections help?  Another supplement (doubtful, but you never know)?  A bute regiment?  Maybe nothing will make her trail sound.  That would suck, but it would be ok.  She is loving her life at pasture with Miles and Bliss, which is what is most important.  Today she asserted her boss mare self with Bliss while I was scratching her ears in the pasture, keeping Bliss at a distance with her evil mare face.  Not going to lie, it was cute, even if a wee inappropriate.  Her personality has really started to shine since she's been out in a big field with her little herd-I think her defenses have finally come down and she has relaxed into her new life.

I know my old girl is happy.  Now I want her to be as comfortable as possible as well, being able to walk as much of the 100 plus acres we have access to as she can.  It was obvious to me she loved it-no balking, no jigging when turning home, just walking next to Miles, turning her head this way and that, with a soft expression of interest and confidence.  It sucks when they get old:(

Chamie says to take your "old" label and shove it.

After the trail ride, Amanda took a couple of pictures of Miles and me-he was a wee put out that I actually made him work-I told him a jump of this size is hardly work.

Why yes, that would be an OTTB shirt from Laz's mom, why do you ask?

All in all, more of the same-can't complain.

Miles loves the fellas too-here he is with Blue, our resident yearling Paint.  Those two would be 
T R O U B L E if they ever took on the town together.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Has Excuses

My posting has been...sporadic, to say the least.  This is because on March 2, my grandmother passed away after suffering another stroke while she was in assisted living.  She had such a hard was neither unexpected, nor a relief.  Anyway, she is at peace.

So, we had a graveside service, and a memorial service.  Also, we're moving into her house.  It's like, twice the size of our current house, with a beautiful yard for the dogs (she always took great pride in her yard).  I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to be able to live in this house that was a second home to me growing up.

But, it's work.  Oy, is it a lot of work.  My grandma saved everything, as her generation was wont to do, and as my husband has the same habit, there is a TON of stuff to sort, sell, recycle, and throw out.  It's a huge project.  Not to mention, we have to get our house ready to sell *cue whimpering*.

All this to say, blogging is like, 20th in importance on my to-do list (although I TOTALLY love seeing how my readership is down every time I log on.  Thanks Blogger!  Awesome feature.).  It will not always be so, but right now I just don't have the time or the inspiration, frankly.

I have been riding, and out to the barn at least 3 to 4 times a week.  Not enough, but it's been keeping me sane.  I've had some amazing rides on Miles, and Chamie is doing so, so well.  She turned 27 on Cinco de Mayo, can you believe it?!  I can't.  She's got some grey, but she looks AMAZING.  Totally shiny and fat (but not too fat!).  She's also so, so happy, being out with Miles and Bliss, an Arab mare.  She was so adorable today...after I turned her and Miles out, she stuck around for scratches and pettings, putting herself gently but firmly between Miles and me.  When Miles gave up and sauntered off with Bliss, she stayed with me, for the first time since she came back to me.  Love my old girl.  What a gift to have a second chance with her.

 She looks dynamite in pink.  Also, she is not attached to the coiled mess of rope next to her:)

Miles.  What can I say about him?  He is beyond gorgeous right now, shiny and fat (for him!) and content and calm.  He had a couple days where he reverted to insecure cray-cray TB when a new herd of horses moved into the pasture next to him and His Mares, but he settled after 2 days and is back to the boy I can ride after 2 weeks of no real work without lunging.  Complaints?  I hasn't them.


Miles lurves Derby Day!

I think my readership is tiny enough that I feel comfortable giving out my name, for those that would like to follow our adventures on Facebook-that's really where all my horsey updates are these days.  Search for Sarah Szwejda, and find out how ridiculous I really am:) 

R ownr iz batshit.  Luckie wez out-numburz hur.

PS-I'll Have Another?  I don't care how controversial his trainer is.  I want a triple crown winner in my lifetime already!  Come on pretty red colt!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

...and so have my horses' hormones. There has been some pasture reshuffling at the barn due to horses leaving and grass coming in, and we decided to try Miles and Chamie in the same pasture. You know where this is going, right?

Let's get inappropriate, behbeh.

I wasn't there, but apparently it was consensual and the (3!) encounters were brief. Chamie's heat has since calmed down (oh thank God) and now they are just best buds. Am I a horrible horse owner for keeping them together, knowing it could happen again? Probably. Still, neither are worse for the wear, and of course they are both happy as clams. Chamie had been out with LaShore, and as much as I love that horse he did not love her. He kept biting her little bottom and I felt horrible for her. She has no such marks on her now. I even rode her last weekend and she was moving phenomenally (for Chamie). She called a couple of times but then settled and we did some brief work in both directions. I'm so happy she is ride-able! Chamie, maybe not so much:)

Now, Miles has his own mini-harem, with Chamie and Bliss.

They are sweet.  My horses win at life!

Pasture grass is in and has made Miles a wee fleshy (!).  He and Chamie are now on just a ration balancer and their supplements, along with the occasional beet pulp mash as a treat.  Even this, they eat sparingly and slowly.  It's lovely what full tummies all the time does to horses.

Coggins were pulled and shots were given a couple weeks ago.  Miles is overdue for floating, so this will be done next week (First sedation for my boy since I've had him.  I don't think I can take it!).

Other than that we've just been trucking along - riding outside, but not working on anything particularly exciting (I still love me some cross-rails though).  Maybe we will graduate to a small vertical soon-or a line with set strides!  Ohhhh, the excitement never ends 'round these parts.

I hope others are enjoying your ponies as much as I am.  I love seeing them so content.  Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mush Abounds, You Are Warned

Milez sayz, "Go Michigan State!"

Remember how I used to post about riding and my progress with Miles' training? Yeah, good times:) There HAS been riding, though - not as much as I would like, but I try not to let a week go by without getting on Miles and doing our thing.

Yesterday was especially lovely. He's been so sweet and relaxed lately, but I hadn't ridden him outside yet. I reallllly didn't feel like lunging him, so I looked that sweet boy in his big brown eyes and said, "I trust you." Then I led him over to the mounting block, got on, and we walked outside to the arena.

I had forgotten my crop, but it didn't matter. He was so wonderful with me, responding to a cluck and a nudge from my calves to turn it up a notch. I had him literally on the buckle in our trot warm up - his nose was stretched alllllll the way down, stretch stretch stretch, his back up, rhythmic one two one two pace for 2 full laps around the arena. Glorious.

Canter work...I literally only thought canter and BOOM, there it was, in all its balanced, effortless glory. You know how sometimes your horse gives you that sweet spot, to sit into them instead of on them? Yeah, that. We did a few circles, I took him over a pole on the ground (he left from a long spot when I asked him to), and we called it a day. He's still so wooly and it's so hot I don't want to work him too much just yet. We finished by walking outside the arena, around the trees and in some fields. He was incredible - relaxed and yet interested, forward without a hint of "hot".

The next time someone tells me OTTBs are crazy I'm going to have to try harder than usual to refrain from laughing in their face. At 11 years old, Miles is now literally the perfect horse I would have created if such a thing were possible. I know not every day will be as amazing as yesterday, but I think there will be more and more as our relationship continues to grow. He loves to work and I love that he loves it. He doesn't need lunging most days (honestly, it's more for me than him at this point). He loves the lady ponies but could not be more respectful of them. He likes to play on the lead line occasionally, but it's because he is HAPPY, not because he's being a jerk.

I had a dream the other night that I had to sell him. People kept telling me it's ok, you will find another horse you will love just as much. I woke up with tears in my eyes because no - he is like, The One. There will never be another Miles for me. It scares me to love an animal that much, because we know how fragile they are.

It makes days like yesterday that much more special though, too. I know how lucky I am, blessed, all of it, to have this boy in my life. I hope he knows it. I hope I make him happy too.

Ack with the mush! Ah well, it's been awhile since I've done an ode to Miles post:)

Chamie is also doing great - I don't mean to disappear her. She has been very sweet (especially in heat, arg), but I haven't been working with her much at all, other than doing some walking exercises in the arena. She DOES get lots of love and cookies, and comes into the barn every single time I'm there for a good brush and hoof picking...she gets as much barn time as Miles. I broke down last week and had our farrier put shoes on her fronts and she is SO much more comfortable. Until we do x-rays we won't know what we're dealing with, but she was wearing her feet so unevenly and was SO uncomfortable I'm not going to let my bias for barefoot be responsible for her continued discomfort. She is 26 and deserves the best. She is walking and trotting SO much better now. I hope to bring her out on the trails next week.

I hope you're all having tremendous fun with your horses as well. Happy weirdly, early, bizarrely warm Spring!