Thursday, August 30, 2012

Deathbed and other fun topics...

So I really didn't fall off the blogging wagon; I've been on my deathbed.  Or at least what I consider my deathbed.  First and most importantly, I'm never sick.  Never.  All those bugs other wimpy people catch, not me.  Every once in a while a cold will storm the walls but never a stomach bug.  Never.  Well, I can no longer say never.  Not only was I sick when I came back from PA but I was so sick on Monday, I really started to worry I'd somehow contracted E. coli even though I don't eat red meat (and yes I know you can get it from other stuff!).  Tuesday was better but I still didn't feel like eating anything or drinking anything for that matter.  And anyone who knows me, knows there's not much that comes between me and food.  By Wednesday, I was pretty much back to normal.  Good thing too as I had a lesson with Carolyn on Wednesday afternoon.  Convenient, huh?

So not much to say other than it was another typical, awesome Carolyn lesson.  I can never really put my finger on what is so awesome about each lesson but somehow I leave feeling like I can totally conquer the dressage world.  Charlie was really good when we got to the farm (he's only been there once before in early July) and settled right down, making tacking up easier (he doesn't tie...sigh).  He was a little silly when I got on but settled down fairly quickly.  We worked on lots of the same stuff (repetition is very good for me!) and Carolyn helped me with leg yielding to keep him on the rail and push him deeper in the corners.  Basically, when going down the long side, I have a tough time keeping him on the rail - he kind of drifts in and doesn't listen to my leg, gets strung out, etc.  Carolyn told me I need to help Charlie understand he's supposed to stay on the rail by thinking leg yield and ensuring I half-halt so he knows I want him to go sideways instead of forward.  Novel concept, right?  Once she said that, I felt kind of stupid because it's commonsense and I know this stuff but I guess that's why she gets the money and not me... It's the same idea to get him deeper in the corner - inside leg pushes him over while the outside rein asks him to stay the same speed.  I only lasted for about 30 minutes - it was hot and really humid (thanks Isaac) and I was still a little dehydrated from my whole deathbed thing so we called it quits.  She'll be back in the area next week so I get to see her two weeks in a row - making up for my break to PA!

So I don't usually rant but this topic really irritates me.  I've mentioned before that Charlie cribs as in a wind sucker, not a wood chewer.  There is a difference, promise!  It doesn't consume his life - he's kind of like a casual smoker, you know, the one who smokes when they get up, after meals, and before bed. He primarily does it around feeding time and it is completely controlled by a collar.  He came with this folks and he makes up for this bad habit in NUMEROUS other AWESOME behaviors.  Now to the part that annoys me.  I read/hear folks talk about how cribbers "just don't get enough turnout, don't have enough food in front of them, have ulcers, etc."  Basically, if I took better care of him, he wouldn't crib (same deal with rain rot -if you groomed him better, he wouldn't get it.  Well, he gets groomed/bathed daily and still gets rain rot).  Newsflash for all those folks who have never owned a cribber but seem to know exactly how to cure the habit - Charlie typically lives out 24/7 with another horse on either a 6 acre field or a 3 acre field filled with lots of grass.  When he is in, he has endless hay - I have never found him without some hay left in his hay net (and remember, I take almost complete care of him).  Oh, and he's been treated for ulcers.  Every horse is different and no horse is truly perfect.  Everyone has something they won't tolerate that to others, is not a big deal.  Bottom line - don't judge, especially if you have never had to deal with the trait you seem to think you know everything about.  Novel concept in the horse industry I know... Ok, done now!  Sorry!

I rode today - it was so humid, I thought I was going melt away to nothing.  It was really gross out even though it was only about 75 degrees out.  Charlie was really good and at the end, I took my stirrups off and practiced lots of sitting trot and some canter sans stirrups.  Posting was a bit tough in my dressage saddle so I think I'll save that for my jump saddle.  Fitness plan is coming, along with the riding schedule - I got thrown off track with the illness.

He just wanted his bath - not some silly girl taking his picture...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pain is weakness leaving the body...

...or at least that's what my drill instructor always told us.  Two weeks off has been tough on the pretty non-existent fitness level.  Although, I think in some ways it's good - I now realize how out of shape I really am. :(  Truth hurts.  So begins the fitness challenge.  I had already planned on creating a calendar of sorts so I would have a riding plan - now I'm just going to tack on some fitness work to said calendar.  I need some cardio as well so we'll see what I come up with.  I'm pretty motivated for any number of reasons but the bottom-line is I want to ride better and in order to do that, I need to be fitter...a lot fitter.

So yesterday was another flat day.  Charlie was good as usual.  I spent some time stirrup-less which was painful.  It's kind of like the "gift" that keeps on giving because I'm sore today and I'm sure it will be worse tomorrow.  The no-stirrup work really highlighted how weak my right side is.  I typically drop the inside stirrup (it's harder for some reason) and going to the left was ok but going to the right was nearly impossible.  So I now know why Charlie falls in going to the right...

Today was flatting again and SuperDad was kind enough to come video.  It was a bit depressing to watch but a good motivator.  Charlie looks pretty good but would look better if my leg were stronger.  I can really see how much more he has to give if I can push him up through his back.  As Janna always says, Charlie will do pleasant all day long, it's up to me to make him brilliant.

The farm owners are logging and Charlie thought it would be a good idea to go investigate - not kidding.  He was literally on the buckle and turned away from home to go pick through the fallen tress. Silly pony!

Playing peek-a-boo.

Enjoying some alfalfa.  I'm playing with his diet once again and want to see if he can handle a hay with a higher alfalfa content.  I bought a bale of alfalfa and am giving him a flake/day to see how he does before I commit to buying a 900 lb bale that is a 50/50 mix.

So this is kind of gross but have you ever seen a horse with ear wax?  Well, Charlie has some and he's not a fan of me coming near his ears with scissors...

This is going to be my workout buddy except she much prefers this to working out.  She's going to help me get "legged-up" but once I start running she'll have to stay behind.  After running for about 1/2 mile, she poops out and will literally lie down in the middle of the road.

Won't be able to ride tomorrow between class and my clinical orientation (in the ER!!! Yay!), I don't think I'll have time.  Lesson on Friday which should be fun.

Monday, August 20, 2012


So after playing some serious plane tag on Friday afternoon, I made it home by about 10PM and proceeded to spend the night horribly ill.  Fun times.  But I awoke feeling 100% better - yay!

I dragged SuperMom (who fed the wonder pony for me since I slept in and she thought I might still be under the weather - SuperMom is indeed very super!) out to the barn about 11AM to assess her handiwork.  And I must say, she did a fabulous job with the wonder pony aka "the Hothouse Flower."  He's shiny, fat, and very happy.  It's pretty funny - whenever Mom talks about Charlie, she gets this silly grin on her face and says "he likes me!"  She took care of Fuzzy for me when I moved away from home and he wasn't always easy to deal with.  So while Charlie might require a little extra attention because he's so sensitive, he's super easy to take care of and terribly sweet.  She's a fan.

Charlie looking like the picture of health!  So shiny!  Thanks SuperMom!!!

So backing up a little bit, I was able to make it back over to Cherie's on Thursday evening (night before I flew home) and got to ride Prince who is seriously one of the cutest horses ever.  He just has this impish look to him and will probably be a perpetual 4 yr old (even though he's already turned 5).  On top of being cute, he's a superstar under saddle.  Cherie was nice enough to let me ride him this winter when I went to visit her in Southern Pines and the difference between now and then is quite simply amazing.  He's always been very good behavior-wise, but now, he's so much more educated.  I rode him a bit on the flat and hopped over a few little jumps - he was perfect!  Didn't even care about swinging leg (which in my defense was partially due to riding in jeans and stirrups that were waaaay too long as didn't realize I was going to jumping anything) - just kept on trucking.  Compared to Charlie, he's like riding a little sports car while Charlie is kind of like a luxury sedan.  After fooling around on Prince, I got to watch Cherie jump Justin (the quarter horse stallion who is gearing up for his Grand Prix debut!).  All in all, a very fun night!

Prince!  This winter in Southern Pines - he's even cuter now...

I've ridden for the last 3 days (new record, right? Hehe!) and you'd think I hadn't been gone for the last 16 days.  Charlie has been foot perfect - no shenanigans, no "I don't remember how to do what you're asking", no nothing other than perfect pony.  We've been having an ongoing discussion about going forward off the leg and I felt like the discussions we had on Saturday and Sunday were very productive. He seemed to understand I was using a tap of the dressage whip because he wasn't going forward off my leg.  We only have to have one conversation (and it is truly a conversation, not a fight - no fireworks involved) per ride and he's pretty good for the rest of the ride.  I just need to remember to bring my whip with me every time I get on - I've been getting on without and then have to go back and get it.

Saturday was a flat day and Sunday we jumped a bit.  We did the clock exercise and Charlie is so stinking smart.  Once around the "clock", and he knows what the deal is without me really steering.  He figures out the striding and keeps trucking.  How did I get so lucky?

Today was a hack around the neighborhood and he was very good - no spooking at the dogs who came tearing down the driveways, barking like crazy at him.  He is a bit footsore behind and I might have to have a conversation with Bruce about putting hind shoes on him but we'll see if he toughens up in the next couple of weeks.

Looking extra cute with his nose painted in zinc oxide.  

Just because he looks so good, finally!

School starts tomorrow - last semester!  Yay!  Going to try to get to Janna's for a jumping lesson on Friday and *maybe* (finger are crossed!) XC schooling at Pine Top on Monday.  Poor Charlie's not going to know what hit him.  I'm holding off on entering the show until I get my clinical schedule but if I get my way, I'm thinking a move up to Novice might just be in our very near future....we'll see....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quick update courtesy of SuperMom

SuperMom has been taking care of Charlie while I've been gone and I left her with very strict instructions.  Because she's SuperMom, she's been following them to the letter rather than telling me I'm a neurotic, over-protective horse owner.  And because she's super, she's been sending me photos of the pony while I've been gone.  Without further ado, for your viewing pleasure...

Eating after a bath - Charlie's favorite activity post-bath.

Basking in the sun.  Mom says the weather has been pretty nice since I've been gone...figures.

Not great quality but...enjoying some time out during the day - apparently it's been consistently under 85 during the so Charlie's been spending the days out which I know he appreciates.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

On vacation...kind of...

So I know I've once again been lack since my last update but life got a little out of control.  I'm currently out of town and have been since 2 Aug - this was a planned trip but since I love to procrastinate, I left all the getting ready to the last possible minute.  SuperMom is taking care of Charlie with some help from Nadine (BO) and superDad.  She calls him my mighty steed (that makes me giggle!) and says that he's been foot perfect since I've been gone.  Good pony!

I did ride a few more times before I left but nothing serious.  I think I need to enter something to reboot the motivation.  I'm contemplating an event for the last weekend in September in Tryon... Charlie and I made the trek to Aiken on the Tuesday before I left for some new kicks.  Bruce really likes how his feet look and wants to go 8 weeks before he sees him again.  We'll see if he can go that long without his toes becoming trip hazards.


View from Charlie the morning I left - not a great picture I know but I was riding bareback!  I wish someone had been there to video me getting on him.  All I had to stand on was the chair I usually use to get on but with no stirrup, it was a little low to the ground.  I had no idea how he would react so I tried draping myself over him to see if he cared (which he didn't) but I'm not sure it was really effective because I wasn't high enough for him to really feel any weight - it was more like I was leaning against his side than anything else.  Finally I bit the bullet and launched myself, superman style onto his back and proceeded to claw my way up by grabbing his flank on the opposite side.  Now, you might be thinking my green, chestnut, ex-racehorse got a little bit nervous with my antics but you would wrong.  Not only wrong, but dead wrong.  He stood there, stock-still except to look back at me to say, "would you get on already?  I've been standing here for 5 minutes while you've been fooling around."  After I got myself situated, we took a leisurely stroll around the property and he was a perfect gentleman although he is a bit uncomfortable to sit on - maybe I need to invest in a bareback pad...

So for my trip (which is Navy related), I spent the first three days in DC attending a conference which was horribly boring.  Then I hopped on another plane and came to PA - I've been here a week now and leave on Friday.  Now the last time I came here, I came home with Charlie.  This time, I'm coming home with some stuff for Charlie.  Yesterday was spent driving all over eastern PA - first to the Dover store in DE (which was having a tent sale) and then to a huge used tack store in PA near where my friend Cherie lives.  I didn't find much at Dover; just some bell boots, blue electrical tape, and elastic leg thingys for blankets (his are all stretched out).  They had some really good deals but nothing really jumped out at me.  Onto the used place where I made out like a bandit (at least that's how I felt!).  I found some side reins for $15 and a Rambo blue fleece striped blanket that looks like it's never been used for $80.  I've wanted both of these items forever!  I also picked up a high-tech wicking show shirt, some brushes, and a lead rope - all of which were new.  Ironically, the point of this whole trip was to save money.  Oh well, easy come, easy go.


Random house on the drive from Dover to the used tack store - google maps took all over the backroads.  I love the architecture in this area.  All the houses seemed to have this kind of eclectic style and most are built at least partly of stone.


Random barn on the same drive as the previous picture.  Tons of these as well.  I so want one!  They've had a decent amount of rain - everything is green.  So, so pretty.

I spent today going to Gettysburg.  I'd been there about 20 yrs ago and don't remember the museum being as nice as it is.  It was very interesting to see and definitely a little sad when you think about how many people died and conditions they died in.  The area is wonderfully preserved as a living memorial and below are a few pictures from drive through the battlefields.  Highly recommend a visit if you happen to be in the area.

This doesn't really do them justice, but the mountains you see in the distance are the Blue Ridge and they are absolutely gorgeous.  The day was so pretty and clear so view was out of this world.  Lots of hills in this neck of the woods.

I get home on Friday but I'm hoping to sneak in a visit to Cherie's on Thursday afternoon.  I really wish I'd been able to bring Charlie with me but maybe I can make that happen next year.  I definitely miss my pony and my puppy!