Sunday, February 27, 2011

Myler Fail

Yeah, it's official. Miles does not want any metal in his mouth (or rubber or plastic, tried those once upon a time, too) ever.

It's almost a relief, because now I can give up. Yes, I know there are other bits out there (my god there are thousands of different bits), but I feel like we've tried enough where I can say I fought the good fight. The latest was the Myler Level 3 Ported D Snaffle with Hooks, which I put on him this week, just in the barn. He HATED it. Gaping mouth, twisty-neck, the whole deal-and he was just standing there. Fair's fair, though, and I thought since it's been so long since he's worn any bit at all (at least 5 months) I would try it in the arena as well.

So, today, lunging to the left, I was cautiously optimistic. There was some mouth gaping, but he seemed more...playful and curious about the bit than uncomfortable. To the right, however, the gaping became GAPING, and his neck literally looked like it was a separate animal from the rest of him. I took a shot in the dark and got on him, since he was acting funny but not stupid or dangerous. No no no, he said. Poor boy just couldn't concentrate on anything but the metal in his mouth. He tried to do what I asked (basically we just walked and trotted around the outside of the arena-no circles, and I kept the reins very long so there was minimal contact), but he was getting stressed out and after 10 minutes I said eff this business. I swapped the bit for his good ol' padded hackamore, climbed back on, and after some initial tense trot and a little side step (hey, did I mention the snow was sliding off the roof of the arena and crashing to the ground during all this?) he was back to my golden boy.

I don't want to go through that again. He's made his feelings quite clear, and I actually feel bad for even asking him to try this One Last Maybe Majik Bit. Now, at least we can get on with experimenting with various bit-less options, which I think will be way more fun:)

Also, if anyone is looking for a 5.5" Myler Ported Barrel Dee with Hooks, Level 3, I've got it listed on Tack Trader for 85 bucks negotiable, free shipping, or a possible trade for a bit-less bridle. I might even give the special Miles On Miles Reader Discount if you ask:) In fact, I definitely will. Happy Sunday everyone~

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Back To Regularly Scheduled Programming....

Thanks for everyone's comments in the last week or so. Still don't know the outcome of my job, and won't for a month (VERY optimistic) to several months, which is frustrating as well. Nevertheless, onward and upward and all that! I don't want to talk about our depressing financial realities right now.

Let us talk about my sweet pony boy. I've been able to ride only once a week for the last month, which is so not good. Sickness (my own), weather (Snow is now a 4 letter word..I'm just done), and a general lack of giving-a-shit are to blame. With March knocking at the door, however, and the clinic at the end of the month-which I'm doing despite economic anxieties-that all has to change.

So, goals! I hear people sometimes set them, and even achieve them occasionally! Here are mine for the next month:

1) Ride at least 2 times a week, preferably of course 3 or even 4 (crazy talk!)...Miles should work (lunge or ride) 3, preferably 4 days a week. If I have a light riding week I need to do something more physically demanding than walking the dogs, although in ALL THIS FRIGGING SNOW some days that's definitely an aerobic workout. I've got the balance ball (with an exercise booklet...turns out it's good for more than just sitting!), I've got this workout for equestrians DVD I've never used, I've got a pilates DVD...I have the means, is what I'm saying. Time to use them.

2) When I DO ride, I need to have a goal for us, based on our previous ride. For instance, this weekend, Miles continued to be obsessed with the damn door leading in and out of the indoor arena. I know this is fairly common, but I need to address it, rather than just riding in 3/4ths of the arena like I did on Sunday. He's funny-he's not trying to be bad, he's just so INTERESTED in what's out there (there's a big expanse of field you can see, which is a view he never gets otherwise). Of course, he also wants to see if anyone is coming in to join us:) The giraffe neck, along with a total break in concentration, not to mention the tense body and potential for spooking thing is getting old, though. I'm going to lunge him in that corner (I lunge him for a few minutes before every ride anyway), and once I'm on him do lots of leg-yielding in that area to get his attention on something else and get him supple and bending. I can't worry about every little frigging spook, either. If he does, so what? I can handle it.
I know I should just shut the damn door already, but that feels like cheating.

3) During each ride, I need to build up my strength as well. I've already told Miles that I would really appreciate it if he could pack me around and be the Prettiest Lesson Pony Ever for 10 to 15 minutes each ride at the trot, so I can focus on my position and experiment with sitting trot and trot without stirrups. During this time I'm not going to worry about Miles at all, so long as he's going where I ask him to. So far he's been really great at being my Thoroughbred Packer. Who knew?

4) I need to work more on picking up our right lead. I've been riding so inconsistently that I've just been avoiding it altogether. I still lunge him on that lead, but I haven't had the will to work on it under saddle. To the left, he's been great, though, again, because we're just not working much at all, I'm not doing a ton of canter work, period.
Miles is a fantastic horse. There's no reason not to work more on this, particularly as we both get stronger. So what if we pick up the wrong lead sometimes initially? I need to get back to at least trying. Also, that' s partly what the clinic is for, to help us with that issue.
It also may not even BE much of an issue. He's looked amazing on the lunge, and has no problems at all picking up both leads correctly then. Considering how little I've been working him, that's pretty rad. He's also felt pretty amazing under saddle, somehow.

5) Finally, after a week or two of consistent work, try the Myler bit. I finally ordered a super cheap bridle from Valley Vet for the hackamore, so I can put the bit on my nicer padded bridle. Now, we may very well switch back if Miles still decides he hates hates hates it, but I have to try. Our initial ride with the bit is also going to be very easy-peasy, with little contact or demands from either of us. It's been so very long since he's had any metal in his mouth, I'm interested to see what his reaction will be. Bonus goal-if we have time to try the bitless Dr. Cook bridle that a fellow boarder has offered to loan us for a ride or two. I'd like to use something besides a hackamore for the clinic, if at all possible. Miles has always been great about letting me know how comfortable and happy he is (or is not) in his work, so I hope it will be easy to read him when using new equipment as well.

So that's my list for March. Not there? Work over cross rails. I'd love to pop over a couple, maybe, perhaps, but we'll have all spring and summer for such fun. I'd also like to get some rides in outside in the snow, which we STILL haven't done much of-though I'm not going to feel bad about that as the footing has been horrible.

We need to go back to basics right now, and getting ready for this clinic at the end of March is the perfect reason. It's not exciting work, (not to mention a snooze-fest of a read, my apologies) but I'm still looking forward to it:)

Here, have a gratuitous photo of Miles walking in the snow on a beautiful day. The only thing that's missing is me on his back.

If you've read this far, thanks for indulging me. What about you? What are your goals for the coming month?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

So, Horses Poop Money, Right?

Oh, wait, no, they EAT it. That's why they call them hay-burners. Some may be more productive than others, but they are all hay-burners when it comes down to it.

Sorry. I'm having a little pity party over here. My husband has been laid off. Today I found out the Governor of Michigan wants to eliminate my organization. It still has to go through the Legislature, but...I'm kind of freaking out right now.

It will be ok. It will be ok. It will be ok.


God, this State really is the pits. I can't even defend it anymore. My husband and I are both educated people, who have worked our entire lives...yet one of us is collecting unemployment, and I may be joining him.

Sorry, I'm just going to whine for one night. I'm just so....aggravated. My organization is State funded, yes, but it is PITTANCE compared to the tax loopholes that still exist for corporations. I work with, and help, the poorest of the poor, who have illnesses and disabilities you wouldn't wish on your worst enemies. We're damn good at what we do, and we save the State millions of dollars because the people we serve don't end up in nursing homes.

Whew. Anyway. Not a great day. Miles is pretty amazing, but I don't think we're ready to take our act on the road for dollar bills:) Still, he can earn his keep just by being there for me while we navigate this...depressing financial time in our lives. I've already promised him he won't suffer for it. If he wants to lend an ear, though, or just be a good boy for the next few weeks, I sure could use it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Rambling and Belated Valentine to my OTTB

Oh, everyone else is doing it, so why not? It's obvious I can't shut up about my horse at this point.

Y'all know I love my Miles, right? I've blabbered on and on about him in numerous posts already. Still, thanks to the Literary Horse and Valentine's Day, I've got yet another reason to do so...and really, I'll take any excuse I can get, let's face it.

First, let me say, I was one of the last horse people on Earth to finally watch the movie Secretariat this weekend. I was reluctant to watch it in the theater because I knew I would be a big blubbery mess spouting big blubbery tears all over those around me. So, I chose to watch it in my home, where the only witnesses would be my husband and our furry family.

Loved the movie, like everyone else. It was a little too Disney-like, but I expected that. Diane Lane was great-she sure liked to deliver mini-speeches, but she was great. The racing shots were amazing...the best I've seen yet. It was so cool watching the Belmont, when I knew what was going to happen, and my sweet husband (who also really liked the movie) was clueless. I could only say to him...just wait. Then we went to the Internet (because we are nerds) and watched the actual race from 1973. Just awesome.

Oh, hey...Valentine to my horse, right? I brought up the movie for a reason. As much as I loved it, and it tried to capture what we love about really didn't touch the reality of it. You know what? No movie can. Every time they would zoom into Secretariat's face (as gorgeous as all the horses that played him were) to show how...I don't know...wise he was, or how much heart he had, or how he understood what someone was saying to him...I couldn't see it. The horses were pretty, but they weren't conveying anything to least not what I see in my horse, or what ANY of us see in our own. The Secretariat horses can only show so much, I suppose...I'd love to see Tyra Banks tell one of them to "smile with their eyes", for example:)

Still, one of the things I love so much about Miles is I know exactly where I stand with him. If he's looking at me, I swear I know exactly where his head is these days. Part of that is being together for a year and 4 months, but it's also just Miles-he has no pretense, no coyness-he plays no games. I can't tell you how refreshing that is, when I deal with human beings at my job with all kinds of issues and conflicts, and I have to sometimes sort out what's what. None of that with My Boy.

Also, I can't lie...I love the fact that I own an ex-racehorse. It's cool to tell people (well, non-horse people, who ohhh and ahhh and don't know all the other fun stuff that comes with an ex-racer) yeah, but I also love that Miles has athleticism and endurance and speed bred into him over generations and generations. After I adopted him, I went to Equibase and paid whatever their monthly fee is to be able to see my horse, my sweet Miles, as Masarin-a racing machine who came from last place to beat 5 other horses by 8 lengths at Golden Gate Fields. Of course I would love him the same if he had never raced, or had never won a race. Still, I don't think his love of work with me is unrelated to his award as Co-Champion Miler in Chile (whatever that is). He is GAME, this horse. So game.

We had a rocky start, I've said more than once here. Looking back, it was 100% without a doubt my own fault and ignorance. Miles needed time, space, and security...and when we finally were ready to start working together, he needed leadership. I thought I was giving him that, but really, I was disappointed that he was taking so long to settle in...that he wasn't the same horse at ALL that I saw at New Vocations...that he seemed to be a stud without balls that was only interested in other horses, yet couldn't be trusted to be turned out with geldings or mares...on and on. In reality, I placed lots of totally unrealistic expectations on an OTTB I had little background information on...the fact that I lost Ebony a month previous was certainly not helping.

Because he is amazing, Miles forgave me my impatience, and once he felt secure in his turnout/stall situation, I could almost see him exhale, turn to me, and say, "OK, this place is safe. You're kind of clueless, but you mean well, and I'm willing to give you a shot. Now what should we do?"

I can't express in words how happy and grateful I am that this amazing animal continues to give me the benefit of the doubt as we navigate our lives together. I've blabbered on and on about him on this blog before (yeah, pretty sure I should have subtitled it "An Ode to My Horse". I still might;). Still, that's what Valentine's Day is for, right?

I still miss Chamie, and I wish I would have held on to her, and appreciated her for the perfect first horse she was. I miss Ebony, and I will always, always be grateful for her teachings, and for the bond we had...I get really sad when I think about where we could be now. These girls will always be my Valentines, forever.

Miles, however, has my heart now, and he will be with me as long as he and I are on this Earth.

Good thing he seems to like his owners a little melodramatic and fruity. Happy Valentine's Day (belated), my sweet sweet boy. I wouldn't trade you for all the Secretariats in the world.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ugh. Also, Grrr.

Cold. So cold. I'm not even going to post the temps and wind chills, as they are not fit for (wo)man or beast.

So, thank goodness we had a great weekend of riding, because I refuse to sit in the freezing cold saddle seat of death in this ridiculousness.

Oh, the cherry on top? The fricking automatic waterers at the barn weren't working yesterday-some were frozen, others (like Miles) weren't filling back up with water. Gah, Blarg, F%#k, etc. I really do love the waterers-the water is so lovely and clean and cool in the summer, ice-free in the Winter (of course, when it's working, ha ha). The design, with a plastic disk on top of the water that the horses have to push down to get a drink, is great for horses like Miles that are curious and like using their mouths for all things anyway. However, the down side is when they aren't working, it's very, very dangerous unless it's noticed right away. This is the first time the waterer in Miles' pasture has had an issue, but it's just one more thing to worry about. Of course, the barn help is bringing water buckets out to the pastures until they're fixed. In this weather, though, they freeze so damn fast. It sounds like they had the repair folks out today thank gawd. Hopefully all is well now.

Alright, enough whining. The good news? We're getting mirrors on one side of the indoor arena, Hooray!! I've never ridden with mirrors, and I'm really looking forward to observing my airplane toes and awesome lower leg that never stops moving while I'm posting! Seriously though, it's a great improvement.

That's all for now...tomorrow I'll be going out to the barn, mostly to stand very close to my horse and steal his body heat while he eats. Everyone wins! :)

Neglekted Pohnies too gud to drink frum bukkits nao. Make majik water box wurk again plz k thx.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

It's Amazing What 2 Rides Will Do For Your Outlook

For reals. After having so much time off, Miles the Wonder Pony gave me 2 great rides in a row this weekend. I don't really have much to add to that...we cantered (and cantered well) and trotted cross poles. Miles still doesn't see much reason to actually break into a canter after the cross rail, but we'll get there. I did lunge him at the canter over the jump and he had no issue what-so-ever. Today we also worked, for the very first time, with another boarder who was jumping as well. Miles was a little rattled at first but quickly settled in-he really hasn't been exposed to other horses working at the canter and jumping right next to him. Wonder Pony...what can I say?

Here, have a boring (but cute at the end) video of Miles and LaShore moseying down to great me at the gate. I was hoping to get one of his whinnying/galloping greetings, but considering all the snow we've had this is actually much safer. Turn your sound down so as not to get aurally assaulted by my ridiculous voice.

I think the horse apples in the pasture are a nice touch. Happy Sunday Everyone!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow...Yeah, That's All I've Got

Snow. 19 inches, to be precise. Also? Cold. Zero degrees, ridiculous wind chills.

Suffice it to say, I'm just trying to keep Miles fed (well, supplemented-his barn does a fine job of the basics. He's the best weight he's ever been, and I love it), blanketed, and un-injured this week. Hopefully the training/riding will pick up again this weekend. Or maybe the writing bug will hit and I'll be able to form interesting sentences and communicate somewhat coherently on one of the number of topics swimming through my head.

For now, though? I've got nothing. Survival mode is the best way I can describe my brain's MO lately. I will say I have just loved reading everyone's blogs. You all are amazing, and way more motivated and dedicated to the equine sport than I am currently. I can't wait to see what we're all up to when the weather is more suitable for human and beast to be working in:)

So keep it up~I'll get there, I promise. For now, though, this one is keeping me sane, as per usual. He says What's Up, Everyone. Or, you know, Neigh.

Momz not so tawkie lately, but she can't ignorz dis face.

Also, shout out to the awesome Natalie at Retired Racehorse Today for linking to my "I'm Not A Thoroughbred Person" post. She rocks at riding ON the track thoroughbreds, not to mention the off-track variety, her writing is superb and I love her new bloggy format. Even if you don't ride a TB I'll bet you anything you'll love her blog. Go visit her and make her famous so she can write a book and continue to promote the hell out of our beloved OTTBs. She's good people.