Thursday, December 20, 2012

Walking in a Winter Wonderland...

Well, maybe not walking, per se... But winter is here! Again. 
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...
I hear we should be expecting between 4-8 inches up here in the UP before Saturday, which - I won't lie- I might be a fan of. It's been so mild here that I was secretly hoping for a white(r) Christmas. I mean, if only to show the family how rough I have it up here, right? I can't have everyone thinking that I have it super easy up here.   Because, really, I dont... Well, maybe not super easy. Is life with animals ever easy? 
And just glancing ahead a few days (how is it only a few days until Christmas!!!), it looks like I may have some 'real' winter weather for while the family is in town. 
And don't try to tell me that 15 degrees isn't a 'real winter'. Just because it could be worse, doesn't mean that it's not cold! 

Anyway, I had two good rides today (so far... maybe I'll be able to sneak in a ride on RC before drill team tonight). Delight and I have been working through this 'no you can't always spook in the corners' phase. It's not a fun phase. 
After having nearly a week off, Delight has decided she'd really rather not work as hard as I would like, thank-you-very-much. Which, to be honest, is going to be a no-go with me. I mean, this is suppposed to be my more advanced pony, surely I can walk, trot, and canter around the rail....
No? Damn. 
She gave one spectacular buck-twist-leap-style spook that left me hanging off the right side of the pony and a wicked bruise on my left inner thigh from clinging to the pommel. But I didn't eat dirt! Hah! I'll call it a win... for now. 
Four days of hard work later, she was a gem. We are still having an issue where she wants to bulge against the left leg and swing her haunches in at the trot and canter to the left... but by the end of the ride she' tracking straight and obediently. Whew. 
So what made the difference? Court gave me a hint from years of riding the Bucktard: teach them to spook up into a half-halt rather than sideways. And it worked quite well! I even managed to get some good sitting trot work where she stayed with me even through her 'scary corner'. 

Sweaty Pony rocking the mohawk...
I will add that her roached mane has grown out. It is now easily 5-6" and makes her look like she's got some metabolic disorder. It's not a good look. There's one part of me that wants to roach it all off again, just to make it neat... Then there's the rational part of me that tells me to be patient, it'll grow out eventually. 
I know, I know....
It just looks so BAD.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Little Pre-Winter Vay-Cay

This week I've been bad... Seriously, prepare yourself. This is serious.

I haven't ridden at all this week!
"Say it isn't so!"

Ok, that's not entirely true. I rode one horse today (and he was amazing). I've been finishing up my year end projects at work... And kind of sleeping in, taking the poodles on walks, cleaning my house.
I know, bad Alison. But it felt so good.

Come on, you know you're impressed by my Christmas spirit
And the best news? I really miss riding! I feel the need to get back up on that pony and really school! Maybe I did need a break, after all....

I haven't gone horse-free all week (I could never quit cold turkey), I have given my lessons and run my drill team.... Which is always an experience.
Now, don't getme wrong, I really do like all of my lesson kids. Really. But sometimes they say things that make me stop and go "What? Where the He... heck did you get that from?"
Yesterday's drill team started with one of those moments. I was walking from my truck to the warm room, right past where the gaggle of preteens were tacking up their horses when I heard:

"Alison said to NEVER do that. It'll make your horse LAME", said in the 'o-m-g you're such and idiot' tone of exasperation that I've been trying to squish like a bug in my lesson students.

What, you may ask, was this horrid thing that was lurking around the corner attempting to cripple little girl's horses?

Mismatching polo wraps.

Oy vey. Now, I'm a little guilty. One of my students decided she was going to start a new trend by using one light and one dark polo on her horse's back legs (woof boots on front, of course). I gently (or so I thought) discouraged this trend during our lessons together as one light and one dark leg tends to give the illusion that the dark leg is short striding at the trot. Evidently, my explanation was not as clear as I thought.
So I cleared up that little misunderstanding, then headed to the warm room to eat my Taco Bell (dinner of champions, I don't care what they say), while thinking to myself that at least I got tonight's conflict out of the way early.

I try to let the girls warm up on their own since there are a variety of horses in drill team and not all of them would benefit from the same warm up. Sounds like a sound idea- develop a little bit more horsemanship and personal accountability while riding with your friends in a group... Fun, right? Suuuuure....

I started the 'official' warm up a few minutes later when I saw that no real riding was taking place - kids were laughing and meandering about aimlessly. Our official warm up is to line up in single file, keeping one horse length between each rider, and ride the figures that I call out - figure eight, serpentine, diagonal, pairs, etc. Usually this works pretty well; in engages the brain of both horse and child. Usually.

Yesterday, one horse spooked in the corner. Which spread to the rest of the group, leading to four spooking horses and riders scattering throughout the arena as they tried to trot in a circle around the arena. I thought I was watching my perfect record of no-falls-during-drill-team getting broken. And I don't even get paid for this....

Fortunately, no one fell off.

Unfortunately (of them), I then proceeded to warm up the group. And it would seem that my idea of a warm up in much harder than the kid's. I had five tired sweaty horses after thirty minutes of really riding a warm up at the walk/trot/and canter in a group on accurate figures. I only had one kid choose to opt out when I put the "ride through it or get off" ultimatum to the group (which means that I'm quite proud of the other tree who stuck it out and rode through it)... And by then end of our hour, we ran through our Christmas drill three times perfectly (minus one rider). So proud of my kids. Now we'll have to see if they can keep it together for their parents on Saturday.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

In the Horse world...

You do not choose your day off... your day off chooses you!

After recently receiving the advice that I need to take a day off now and then from the barn (pshaw, I said)... I took a day off from the barn. It was not refreshing, rejuvenating or anything with a positive connotation.

Actually, I took a day off from life as a whole.
Ask not what this flu can do for you...
But what you can do for this flu!
It was terrible. I caught the flu, bad enough that I stayed away from the barn (and work) on Monday. I went through two whole seasons of Psych (but I think I actually watched less than half an episode). I slept on my chaise and moaned to my poodles.

Tempi was less than sympathetic. I woke up four episodes later, to the theme of Psych playing over and over and over and over on the menu screen (I know, You know, i'm not telling the truth....), with no fewer than six tennis balls pushed under and around my sleeping self.

How did she even find six tennis balls?

Tuesday I went to work, but gave the horses yet another day off.
Wednesday I manned up, so to speak, and went out for a ride. Then I wimped out and took RC out first... because he's the least complicated ride out there.
Oh come on. Like you've never wished for an easy ride...
The I rode Delight, who was surprisingly good. And again today, Delight shocked me with how wonderful she was. Maybe half a week off was just what she needed?

Know what I need?
More tea....