Thursday, December 30, 2010

Leaping Lizards! Miles Style

OK, not really, but Miles and I did jump our first jumps together:) You know I had to post about that, however briefly.

Well, technically, there wasn't much jumping. We trotted a cross rail twice...I know, I know, we're crazy like that! Haha. I didn't get the canter depart after the jump I wanted, but the cross rail was teeny tiny, and my real goal was getting him straight to the obstacle (relatively successful), maintain forward motion, and get us both on the other side. Leaving the rails up without major rubs was an added bonus. Also, it helps to know he can jump properly, since I've seen him do it on the lunge; I thought he was trotting pretty forward, though he certainly has more engine than what I asked for. I was also trying to focus super hard on my position-weight in heels, good base of support, proper release, all that important stuff, since I haven't done this in awhile. All in all, I'll call it good, especially considering all the time off we've both had, and the fact that he felt a on our flat work.

It's weird, because we were in the high 30's today, so I thought he would be feeling good. He lunged really well, but just felt odd from time to time under saddle. Not all the time, mind you, or even most, just the occasional wrong step here or refusal to bend there.

Ah well, we have 2 more days to sort everything out. We're also building our foundation for (very low) jumping, and in that I say yes, we did well. Thanks bubs!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


That's what the last 2 weeks have been. There has been limited available brain space for blogging pursuits, unfortunately, and I'm behind on reading my favorites. Hey? How is everyone?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday. We took a trip up to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a few days to visit Kyle's family, and as soon as we came back down-state it was back to work. Fortunately, I have one more day and then I'm off again for 3 glorious days, in which we have no plans and I'm keeping it that way, so help me God. Just me and my husband and our little furry family, with lots and lots of pony time. Bliss.

Was Santa good to you and your ponies? He was very good to Miles and me. One of my favorite gifts was a balance ball chair, with the theory being that I can strengthen my core (abs and back) during some of those 8 hours I spend on my tush at work. I can't wait to try it!

Miles also got himself this Myler bit, which I hope he will like. Plenty of room for that fleshy tongue of his, and it's gotten good reviews from folks with OTTBs and other horses who have bitting issues. I'm not going to try it right away, but I'm super interested to see how he likes it, especially after we've gone for months in a hackamore. Worst case scenario is that he hates it and we sell it-everyone wants Myler bits on Ebay, thank goodness.

Finally, Miles got these:

WhooHooo! I'm quite geeked. OK, it's just one set (2 blocks) but it's a start. Yesterday, for the first time, I lunged him over a cross rail. He was a superstar, and once going forward he had no problem making the effort to actually jump and canter away. I think he surprised himself the first time-he shook his head and practically sashayed away from the jump. Most importantly, he was happy and forward and brave, never wanting to look, stop or swerve. He's just so game. Finally, he even left all the poles up, suddenly turning into Mr. Careful.

I really wanted to ride, but I had so much to do yesterday (including mucking out a very neglected-by me-outdoor shed, blech) and Miles had many days off while we were gone. Still, it beat the hell out of a normal lunge or groundwork session, that's for sure. I can't wait to pop over a few obstacles in the saddle this weekend, hopefully *crosses fingers*.

I'm very horrible in my No-Horsey-Holiday-Picture-Taking-Let-Alone-Posting; another thing I hope to remedy this weekend as we look forward to 2011. 2010 kinda sucked the big one, in a myriad of ways I don't mind saying. Still, it was a real breakthrough year for my Super Steed and me. I think we built a great foundation for our partnership, and I can't wait to see where we go from here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In Treatment-Equine Edition

Thank you, again, everyone, for your sweet comments and emails. Every single one was lovely. There is still something...not quite right about day to day life without the dog I've had since I was 19 years old, but it's getting there. A new normal and all that.

Anyway. Tonight I rode Miles for the first time in a week. A year ago that was par for the course, but there's usually a reason if I don't get on him at least 3 times a week these days.

I've still been going out to the barn, though. I know you all know how amazing horses are for healing after something rocks your life. This is the altering thing I've faced with Miles though. Tough times? We've done them, and he helped me then, too. There's something incredibly healing about Barn Time, though. I think it messes with the space-time continuum or something. Anyway, here's what it does for me.

It's been great the last few days to just go out to the barn, warm water in a gallon jug in tow. Mix up magikal beet pulp/alfalfa mash. Go out to the pasture where Miles (and usually LaShore) is waiting, ears up, nickering softly. The last couple of days chores at the barn were done early, and Miles had his nose deep in 2nd cutting hay-and he STILL walked over to me when I opened the gate. Sweet boy. I'm sure it has nothing to do with what comes next...

I bring him in and he slurps down his mash, some days with more gusto than others. I pull his blanket off and do our grooming ritual. I love the difference between his slick coat beneath the blanket and his fuzzy, teddy bear fur on his neck. I laugh when he takes breaks from his mash to sniff my hand for something yummier, or to snorfle my hair, leaving a big wet goober trail behind.

This ritual is better than medication, meditation, yoga, or just about any kind of therapy I can think of. I don't exist in my head when I'm at the barn. I'm very much in the moment. Even when doing something that comes automatically, like picking out his feet, I swear my mind is either calm and blank or thinking about that hoof-is it clean and smelling good? Was that crack there last week? I should probably do his thrush treatment just in case since it's been awhile....on and on. It may sound monotonous, but it's not. There is something wonderful about caring for a horse that lets you block out everything else without even trying. There is no world outside the barn. Let's put it this way-it's literally the only place I go without my cell phone, unless of course I want to take grainy pictures or video.

So, it's been nice just existing in peace with my pony. Last night I lunged him and tonight I rode. He's been great-a little ouchy yesterday after his recent trim, but much better with his Cavallo boots on tonight. He takes awhile to warm up still, but we ended the ride with him moving forward and relaxed, happy that a little mare came to join him for a lesson in the big scary nighttime indoor (daytime indoor is apparently completely safe).

A little birdie told me that we will be getting a couple plastic Block-type standards for ground poles to continue our quest to be Best Cross Rail Jumpers Ever. Until then, I'm happy to just Be, in the one place I'm able, with my favorite Furry Thoroughbred Goober.

If he was smart he would start charging me by the hour. I think the least I can do is bake him some of his favorite horse cookies for Christmas, to thank him for his services.

Professur Milez sayz ur tyme is up.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


That's one of the first nicknames Mojo ever had, bestowed upon her by my husband. So many others followed-Mojo Pin, Bones, Marilyn (for Marilyn Manson, thanks to her freaky blue eye), JoJo...

Now she is gone.

It was too much-her arthritis was worsening seemingly by the day, no matter how many drugs/supplements we threw at it. The cold was so very hard on her. As soon as we took her off the prednisone, tumors began appearing around her neck, and last week, she would often cough and was having trouble swallowing anything but the cooked chicken I made for her. Thursday night she woke me up many times with her cough. Friday morning she would only eat if I hand fed her. Kyle and I took her and the Goldens for a final walk, and then we took her to the vet in the afternoon.

She slipped away so peacefully. She was ready, just laying her head down and going to sleep. Of course, that's when I lost it; my dog was dying, and I was doing it to her. I howled like a banshee, but by then she was gone. It was the hardest thing I've ever done.

I know it was for the best, of course, I'm not delusional. Still, I miss her so, so much. She is in a place that I don't know. Is it even a place? I'm not with her. I can't keep her safe.

The Goldens know something is amiss. As I type, Lebowski is laying on the deck, looking out towards the backyard, looking for...something, I think. He rarely leaves my side.

Anyway, everyone has been wonderful, especially Kyle. I'm not posting this for sympathy comments, though of course I love hearing from anyone who reads me. I just wanted to write something for her, to acknowledge that she existed, lived, and was so, so loved.

Goodnight, Jones. Life will go on without you, yes, but it will not be the same. You were special. You were my girl.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When It's Literally 5 Degrees Outside...

...with a windchill of -11...

...and it's Monday morning (or Tuesday; let's face it, both days suck!) at 6:30 am, dark as hell outside and you're the ONLY being in the house that has to drag herself out of bed. Not even the cats are harassing you with their usual calls for Fancy Feast Fake Meat breakfast. The dogs don't even notice you're up and of course the husband is still snoring away in a warm bed with fresh, clean, wonderful flannel sheets you put on the night before...

...and your ancient dog finally tells you under no uncertain terms she can't go for these walks with you and the young Goldens anymore, at least in this weather (and you worry maybe never). No matter how slow you walk for her, she sits down, unable to go any farther and looks at you with a face that breaks your heart...

...and you coax the ancient dog (plus 2 overly energetic and confused Goldens) home, yelling at the still sleeping husband who works from home (and to whom you make a daily effort not to hold this fact against him) to walk the boys when he gets up as you climb into a freezing cold truck to navigate moron drivers and ice patches on the expressway during rush hour...

...and you spend 8 plus hours navigating the quirks of a ridiculous office software program, all while getting pissy emails from various parties and talking to even pissier people on the phone, who are usually irritated about things you have less than zero control over...

...and you drag your ass home, repeat the frigid Walk of Death (this time with only the 2 Goldens), racked with guilt the whole time that the ancient dog is left at home...

...and you get BACK into the cold truck to repeat the moron drivers/ice and snow patch avoidance game...

All to get a dose of this
It makes everything (everything) worth it.

...and you return home, kiss your husband, romp with the Goldens in the back yard while the ancient dog watches, wagging her tail and occassionally barking, and then you come back inside to hunker down with your beloved under a blanket with some hot tea (ahem, or something stronger), and you smile, because it's been a good day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Best Laid Plans And All That

We've had just a wee bit of snow around here. You know, like 6 inches or so. Sigh.

It is beautiful, yes it is. Still, what a pain. I couldn't get to the barn yesterday, as it was just coming down in sheets (Thank you Universe for awesome barn peeps that fix my boy's blanket and feed him his beet pulp!!). It was so frigging cold this morning that my poor old dog could barely walk. It's going to be in the single digits tonight, so no riding again. Sigh Sigh Sigh....

I was so excited for last Saturday's ride. It was in the mid 30's and Miles had his Good Boy Brain installed. I dragged out a bunch of standards and poles and started warming him up...he was lovely. I think the slightly warmer weather definitely helped him move forward and freely.

Unfortunately, boarding my horse means sharing the facilities (and my inner 2 year old starts whining "but I don't wanna shaaaare!!!"). Just as our warm up was done a big young horse starts lunging on one side of the arena. A big, young horse that likes to kick the walls and run amok and buck and fart at random times, scaring the crap out of ME, let along my Thoroughbred....Miles was very, very good, all things considered, but I could tell his nerves were getting worn (and so were mine). The good news is he can spook in place, hooray! When someone else came in to walk their little Arab, I called it quits...there was no way I would have enough room to work him over poles or the cross rail I set up. Oh well.

That will teach me to set any kind of riding goal in a Michigan winter:) At this point, with the snow and the freaking cold nights we're in store for, the only goal I'm going to set is to make sure I ride at least a couple times a week. We will do what we can until Spring.

I think it's only 97 days away.....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Barbie's Dream House

My friend JB is doing some Internet meme, and one of the things she has to do is describe her ideal house. So of course I started thinking...

First of all, I could kinda care less about the house. Sure, something bigger than our tiny 700 square foot house would be super. Something with 2 bathrooms, for sure;) Maybe an old renovated farm house. Then again, especially having a very elderly dog now, I can appreciate something on one main floor, with a big, open floor plan. Either way, give me a wrap around, gigantic porch, definitely. Attached garage would be a nice touch.

Really though, of course I'm thinking property, and barns. I think my ideal farm would have 6 12x14 stalls...not because I ever want 6 horses of my own (yipe), but because it allows room for 1 or 2 (or 3 even) boarders....I would never want to run a "boarding stable", but I've come to know and love some great equestrians and their horses, so if any of these folks needed a barn I would love to have them. Also, let's face it...neither my husband nor most of my friends ride. I'm going to get lonely;)

If not boarders, or even in addition to, I would love to take in the occasional rehab or foster be able to give horses a chance at a life that otherwise may end up who knows where would be amazing. Since we're officially in make-believe land, I'm going to say it's no longer necessary for me to work full-time in office hell, so I'll have all (or most...I'll compromise on something part-time) of the day to devote to the Equine Greater Good. Of course riding my own horses as well. Hey! Speaking of....

Of course Miles is coming with. Also, I shall have an older (between 10 and 16 years or so) Andalusian. Hey, don't judge, I've wanted this forever. Said Andalusian, preferably a gelding, shall be a trail/pleasure horse extraordinaire. Other than that, his only other requirement is that he can be pastured with Miles. Some minor soundness issues are OK...again, I really just want a ridiculously gorgeous trail horse.

If you have 2 horses, what's one more, right? Here's where I'd like to adopt an older horse, or something that needs a good home and is safe and reasonably sound. Said horse should also be able to be pastured with Miles and dream Andalusian. Also, ridiculously, super, I can put my friends and their kids on him/her and go for a ride. No age, breed or height requirements...just a good ol' plug, who can be pulled out of the pasture once every week or two.

No matter how often any of my horses are ridden though, they will all be loved and groomed and fussed over daily. What a great way to spend my days...

So, those are the horses. Can I also have a goat or 2? Maybe a miniature donkey? Yes? Super!

As far as the barn layout, I'm still thinking about that. I'd love to have 3 stalls on each side of the barn aisle that open up into their own large paddock/small pasture, where the horses can come into at night and have the choice to go into their stalls (maybe the stalls could have partitions that could be removed to make them into a shelter?). Then, in the mornings I could open up their small pasture into a large one...large enough to keep them at grass all summer, ideally. This would allow for separate mare/gelding pastures. It would be nice to have a large paddock/small pasture at one end of the barn for new/recovering horses as well. Obviously a tack room, feed area and hay loft would be necessary.

I really like Electro-Braid's safe and looks nice. I admit that I don't know a ton about fencing and the pros and cons of everything out there, though, and I would need to do more research. For sure, no high tensile wire or post and board (horses seem to chew those no matter what, and you spend a ton of time on repairs).
The stalls should all have a window into the aisle of the barn, so the horses can stick their heads out and see the goings on. It really helps those that are laid up on stall rest I think.

Still in la-la land? Great! Then I would also like an indoor and outdoor riding arena, natch. I would love to have shade trees in the outdoor as well.

Don't forget lots of outdoor riding and trails...maybe some natural jumps. I think that about does it! Sooooo not much to ask, right? :)

Anyway, there it is. Actually, no matter what the actual facility looks like, what I mostly fantasize about is what day to day life would be like with my own farm. Waking up at 7 and walking down to the barn with the dogs, coffee cup in hand. Seeing Miles EVERY day, and hearing him neigh as I approach. Scooping grain and supplements, filling water troughs and throwing hay. Even picking poop...I honestly would love it all.

Yes. Give me a view like this every day, over an ocean or a golf course or whatever, any day of the week.

Can I have Ebony back (far right) on my dream farm too?

Miles said he want LaShore to come too, please.

What about you guys? Is having your horse at home (if you don't already) a dream of yours? What does your farm look like?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What Is It With Ponies?

Miles is completely obsessed with a 3 year old Paso Fino at our barn. I don't know exactly how tall he is, but he's definitely under 14.3 hands and very petite...also extremely adorable. He's got this ridiculously full mane and forelock which just adds to his charm.

The first week he was at the barn Miles was a naughty boy every time he caught sight of the cute Paso. Whinnying, head in the air silliness ensued. Thankfully, he's adjusted; still, even today he continues to be fascinated by him. The Paso and his owner came into the indoor as we were working, and Miles was all arched neck, prancy trot, and practically begging me to let him go over to sniff the tiny equine. Honestly, I cannot imagine the inappropriateness that would ensue if Miles was actually allowed to make contact...I'm thinking it would not be pleasant for tiny Paso:) Then again, maybe all Miles wants to do is follow him around and stare adoringly, who knows? I'm not super eager to test the odds, though.

Aside from that excitement (and it really wasn't all that exciting-Miles settled down and we had a really nice ride today), there's not much happening. I'm still working him over poles-it's been busy at the barn lately so I haven't been able to drag out the jump standards and poles like I've wanted to. If I don't get them for Christmas, I'm planning on buying these or these, which will beat lugging around those heavy wood standards any day. Another boarder at the barn jumps with her horse, and we're going to try to set up a time to do some cavaletti exercises together some day soon. I'm really looking forward to that! She's also got a Dr. Cook's bridle she said I could try anytime I wanted:) I board with some awesome peeps.

Miles has been lovely, especially considering the cold snap we've had in the last week. He is taking longer to warm up, but usually by the end of our ride he's moving forward and freely. He's not been unruly or fresh because of the colder weather, which I appreciate. He's such a good thoroughbred...just a joy to be around, and to ride. It's feeling good to make real progress with him.

This week, and actually this whole month is going to be crazy with holiday business...I haven't even started shopping, so I have to change that soon. My husband and I have been down to one car for awhile now, but it's making getting out to the barn lately that much more challenging.

It's a good thing I have such a great reason to go.

Miles models his Schnieder's heavyweight turnout. He particularly likes this shade of blue. He told me so.