Friday, May 27, 2011


Not a great week around these parts.

Before the awfulness though, some pictures from our few days in the UP late last week.

Beautiful pair of swans on Lake Michigan at Ludington Park in Escanaba. That was a ridiculously gorgeous day.

View of Fortune Lake at Crystal Falls, where we spent a couple of days at my Mother in Law's cottage.

Kyle's aunt who lives just outside Escanaba is a vet, and is all kinds of awesome because she cleaned Lebowski's teeth and pulled a tooth of his that had broken off and had the nerve exposed. She rocks. After he had the procedure, we took him and Sam to Fortune Lake where he stayed in various states of wetness/dampness until we left. Dog needs a pair of gills since he loves the water so much more than land. HE had a magnificent time.

Sam had an amazing time as well, but he's a land-lubber, and never got more than his paws wet. His favorite part of the trip were the car rides-LOVE-slept like a baby for almost 7 hours straight each way.

I came back on Saturday and Kyle's stayed up there to continue remodeling his mom's cottage.

Then, yesterday, Kyle's brother Pauly passed away very unexpectedly. He collapsed at home early in the morning-no one knows exactly what happened yet. He struggled with a number of health issues but was so, so young. I hope he is at peace now, wherever he is.

So, I'm off to the UP again tomorrow for the service. My poor, sweet husband-I had to break the news to him, as he's in remote Crystal Falls with hit or miss cell phone service-it was one of the worst things I've ever had to do. I feel so helpless because I can't be there for him physically right now, but that's why I'm going tomorrow, and the service is Sunday. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers, if that's your thing-everyone is still reeling I think.

Anyway, yesterday after I heard the news and talked to Kyle, I took the day off of work and found myself driving to the barn through tears. If I could never ride Miles again, he would still be invaluable to me as my own personal sanity saver. Feeling horribly depressed, sad, panicked, anxious, bored, happy, elated? Going out to the barn to care for my favorite Thoroughbred is always, always the right thing to do.

He's such a sweet boy-as soon as he saw me he came racing down the hill, whinnying and kicking up mud. It's been cold and wet here, so I just brought him inside and fed him a warm beet pulp/alfalfa cube/chopped apple mash, his very favorite. I scraped, brushed, sprayed and wiped down every inch of him and made him shine. I talked to him and he allowed me to hold his giant, beautiful head and kiss his perfect little imp-y ears. I also took a few pictures because it's been far too long.

I'll never get tired of looking into his liquid brown eyes.

His perfect profile, as he surveys the pastures that hold his favorite horses at the barn-LaShore, Cody and Lady. He LOVES having his best girls right next door again, and I'm happy to say he's been nothing but a perfect gentleman about it.

The softest, velvety-est, most kissable schnoz ever there was, nose-goo, long hairy whiskers and all.

He was extra sweet and cute yesterday...he just knows when I'm down. "See mom, THIS is how you smilez!" Yes, bubs...something like that;) I'll get there soon.

I'll be back after this next trip. I haven't even told you all about our new, very own bitless bridle and how awesome it is!! Have a lovely Memorial day weekend and enjoy the heck out of your loved ones and your horses.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cheating, A Bit

I don't have anything new or interesting to write on the pony training front...My husband, the dawgs and I had a lovely vacation up North. I missed my pony terribly (5 days! What will I do when I have to spend a whole week away from him!?), but we had productive, if very brief rides on Sunday and today (thanks mosquitoes!).

New Vocations posted on Facebook that they're looking for success stories about their adopted OTTBs to publish in their summer newsletter, so of COURSE I submitted ours immediately (I may or may not have had the willpower to wait until we got home to submit said story). While Miles and I have not won any ribbons or even competed for them, I could not be prouder of him and where we are than if we had.

Really, I just want people to know how exceptional these horses are, and I want owning an OTTB to be a "status symbol" of sorts, the way Warmbloods are now in the English world; even more-so because those that buy or adopt an OTTB truly save a life. When was the last time you saw a Dutch Warmblood at a livestock auction? Also, I personally think my breed of choice has more charisma, athleticism and personality in one hoof than many breeds have in their whole bodies. Hey, it's my blog, I can say ridiculous things like that:) I experience this everyday with my own horse and the other OTTB at my barn, as well as others I've had the pleasure to meet and know in person. Not to mention the dozens of blogs I read that highlight the pure awesomeness of Thoroughbreds, whether they are pasture puffs charming everyone around them, or walking their owners down a dirt road and through fields and woods, or competing at 3 day events. I also think it's actually happening; New Vocations posted on their Facebook page the other day that, for the very first time, they have empty stalls and are adopting horses faster than they are coming in. Whoo Hoo!!!

Anyway, without further ado, below is my submission, and I included the black and white picture to the right of Miles and me after the dressage clinic. I know it's not good, and it's pretty sappy, but I believe every word of it. I'll let you know if we get published-if nothing else, the lovely Dot Morgan, Executive Director of New Vocations, did reply to my email and thanked me for providing such a great home for Masarin (I like to think of this as Miles superhero name). I replied that I could only thank her for the opportunity to own such an amazing animal. I've never been so grateful for anything in my life.
I adopted Masarin (now Miles) from New Vocations in September of 2009, and he has been nothing but a joy to train and work with since then. He has been game for anything and forgiving of my mistakes, all while maintaining that "Joie de Vivre" I saw the day I met him. We have worked on everything from basic dressage to trail riding, and now jumping very small cross-rails, and he has risen to every challenge I've put in front of him. All throughout his training, he has never once offered a buck or rear under saddle, and his spooks are few and far between. I love how he is busting stereotypes about OTTBs left and right; not only is he sweet, calm, and a gentleman, but I ride him in a bit-less bridle and he is barefoot (he has wonderful feet!). Miles is truly my "heart horse", beautiful and willing and goofy all at once. He always comes to greet me at the gate, ready to see what we might be doing that day, and he makes every ride special.
Two of the best days of the year for me came this Spring, first when we rode in a dressage clinic and then a couple of weeks ago when we cantered our first cross-rail. He is only 10 years old, and I can't wait to see where we go next. Miles is a wonderful advocate for OTTBs, and I'll always be grateful to New Vocations for this amazing horse!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Break

I have this week off of work (first time since last September-it doesn't seem like that long when I write it, but so much has happened at work and elsewhere...let's just say this is very much needed). Naturally, I wanted to spend as much time as possible at the barn before we leave for the beautiful Upper Peninsula tomorrow.

Whoops, too bad this last weekend was so frigging cold that the barn owner emailed everyone and told us there were shivering, miserable horses at the barn, and could we please come out and blanket the horses on pasture board if needed? Sweet Judy than called me in the morning and told me not to panic, that Miles was in the shelter and NOT one of the shivering masses, but would not come down to eat his breakfast. Because she is all kinds of awesome, she brought the hay to him and LaShore, and prevented me from panicking since I slept in and walked the dogs without checking my messages. ANYWAY, I went out to the barn, of course, but riding was out of the question. Thanks Michigan!

Yesterday was windy but otherwise gorgeous, so I went out to the barn all a-quiver about getting back in the saddle-this despite the fact that I was slightly hungover from seeing the best rock and roll front-man of all time (that would be Mr. Greg Dulli) in his band The Twilight Singers the night before. Apparently the alcohol sucked out all my sense out as well, because I totally forgot I had taken my boots out of my "barn bag" over the weekend, and was wearing only these half tennis shoes/half mule things that are basically just ugly and not practical for anything. They are SO worthless that they got sucked off in the mud in the grazing pasture, forcing me to walk out to retrieve my horse IN MY FRIGGING SOCKS. Winning.

Today, finally, my ass met the saddle! It was cold and windy, and he was Up Up Up, but very forward and obedient once he stopped looking at everything. We worked on transitions and canter on both leads (mostly successfully, which I call good considering all his time off). It was a lovely, short ride, and he did everything I asked. I smooched on him profusely and told him how much I was going to miss him for the next few days. Then he left a big goober in my hair. Ahhh, love.

Afterward, I had a massage (begone, defective sciatica!!), and got my hair cut and colored (dark red and blond highlights). Tomorrow we leave with the dogs for hopefully a couple of days of R and R by the lake.

See you soon! Kiss your ponies for me. Beware of goobers.

New Hairs! Sans Goobers (mostly).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Well, It's Only Natural

Have to write about the bad and the good, right? There's been a lot of good lately...a lot.

We didn't have a horrible ride today. Just off. My sciatic nerve is flaring again (yes, apparently I'm a 70 year old woman). I have an appointment for a massage next week (which fixed the problem for months last time), but until then it makes brisk walking, standing too long, and riding anything above a walk very painful sometimes. So, that's fun.

Today the weather was great, but humid, cloudy on and off, and with the threat of storms-basically, Silly Pony Weather. There was lots of activity at the barn and that didn't help. Mr. Miles first spooked at a child in a swing, then at a pole on the ground, then got distracted by girlie horses grazing in his sight-basically any excuse he could think of to be ADHD. I admit, my tolerance for his antics was very small, due to my being 70 years old with back pain. We had trouble with the right lead (again), though we did get it eventually. We ended the ride with a lovely canter to the left.

After our ride, as if to put a point on his state of mind, he spooked at a frigging BIRD as I was leading him out to graze. He hasn't spooked on the lead since...I don't even know. It's been that long.

The bright spots-he is sound, and sane, even when he's being a ninny. If my back wasn't being such an a-hole, I think I would have actually found his silliness funny instead of annoying. It was an out of character day for him, which is of course a plus. Finally, I was never once worried, or scared, or tense. Even when he's in a mood, I trust him not to do anything TOO stupid. Really, his spooks were tiny and never came close to unseating me. THAT is progress. Most of it is how much we've grown to trust each other, but truly I think a lot of it is going bitless. I can't punish his mouth, however unintentional it might be, when he scoots sideways or forwards, or both in some cases.

Reading all this, I'm actually really pissed at myself for getting annoyed with my sweet boy, who may be having an off day (as was I), but was still safe and sweet. He shoved his head into me after I dismounted as he is wont to do when he's trying to charm me-not for scritches, although those are always welcome, but just to stand for a moment.

My mom asked how our ride was tonight, and I told her he was spooky and distracted, not a bad ride but not worth blogging about or anything. I was wrong. And I can't wait until we can do it again.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Who Has 4 Hooves, 2 Thumbs, and Canters Crossrails Undersaddle?

Miles and Me!

(Yous Guys...she's about to bragz about me again. I TOLDZ her not to...)

Yes, while cantering an 18" (truthfully, it was probably smaller) cross rail is not a big deal to lots of people, it is to me, since it's our very first time! In the same ride today, we caught each of our leads successfully, used the entire outdoor arena, rode our corners, executed transitions...I just had that feeling from him-you know the one? Where you can do anything you want with your horse....walk down the trail, gallop across a field...or canter over a couple of jumps. So we did. And lo, it was awesome.

Of course, we started off trotting the tiny jump. The first time? He literally trotted right up to it and then proceeded to walk over it, and he was trotting VERY briskly . Suffice it to say, I remembered my base of support after that-it was actually the best reminder he could have given me. I honestly think he was just surprised to see the obstacle, since we didn't lunge over it or walk over it first. After that, though? Aces.

Both canter jumps were taken in stride, straight and true. I have no idea how my equitation was, but I know he looked great. No weaving, no speeding up or slowing down. Just a perfect hunter canter, with the fence taken as any other stride. I love him.