Wednesday, September 05, 2007

of wine, martinis, bones, and the ex-con

H & I were on vaca last week. We did not ‘go away’ as such; however, we banned the work cell phones, home-to-work computer access, and attempted as much of a getaway as we could muster considering we were still at home.

Relaxing is hard work.

The first couple of days, which we eventually referred to as “Detox”, we fought and argued and were basically just pissed off at each other for any and every reason imaginable. The rest of the week loomed before us, dismal and silent…Gah! Luckily, we remembered to play nice and things looked up just in time!!

We went to the beach and observed the home-schoolers and retirees as they went about their daily lives…those lives quite mysterious to those of us who head for the office during the week instead of making sand castles, chasing seagulls, chatting under a bright umbrella, and eating from coolers full of goodies. H & I tried our best to fit in but our tuna sandwiches, grapes, and mini bottles of Pino Grigio did not make us feel in with the In Crowd. Next time I am packing gin.

We also took the train to Chicago for a day. H wanted to go to the Field Museum…since I remembered this museum as just a bunch of bones and things from those high school field trips, I was none too excited to experience it once again. With H. Who reads ALL of the little info plaques and likes to see EVERY exhibit. My but how easily she is swayed with the promise of a martini along Michigan Ave…
I confess, The Field Museum is a tad more interesting than it was when I was 16 and the martinis, of course, were fabulous; however, the most interesting part of our Chicago jaunt was on the train ride home. Seats were few so H & I had to separate. I ended up sitting with…I don’t know if it was a he or a she…a person who had just been let out of prison and was on his/her way to the NW Indiana countryside to live with his/her grandmother to, and I quote, “Start back on the right track, man.” I asked what he/she planned to do for work and fun. As the train sped along towards the life of freedom, I found out he/she had a certificate that certifed him/her to change oil, had received a GED while in prison, and had read the bible a lot so things were really looking up. I heartily agreed these attributes would certainly be assets in the Indiana countryside...I try not to be bitter, is my sick, sarcastic humor that makes me truely evil at times while I am outwardly very normal. During the course of the ride, we discussed the additional life and job possibilities one might have should he/she to look into cutting the hair, rethinking the wardrobe, and removing the facial tattoos. Don’t say I never use that Sociology/Communication Arts Degree…my quest to save the world never ends...

Much like my love for a cool martini after a day of observing bones.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

2 Decades of Bliss (...and a Chalupa to go)

H & I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last month. A milestone. 20 years, ye gads! Where the hell did the time go? We are hardly the types who plan elaborate cruises or exotic vacations for occasions such as this; however a gal can hope for maybe a fragrant bouquet of flowers or a sweet box of truffles. H called me at work, terribly excited and eager…”I just dropped off your present!”, he said. I was kind of like, “Huh? Wha?”. Diamonds? Flowers? Romantic weekend getaway? Nope. For our anniversary, H went to the bank and put a rather sizeable principle payment on our mortgage. Ya, I know…tres romantic! Bet you are jealous. While a principle payment is a wise and responsible move, I was perhaps a tad bit disappointed. Meh.

Presenting good cover for my bummed-outed-ness, I suggested we make reservations for dinner at one of the more upscale restaurants in the area. I figured at least I could drown my somewhat dashed romantic dreams in a $10 glass or two of wine. Reservations in place, H informed me that a client of his had asked us over for an afternoon boat ride on the lake where they live. The lake is surrounded by mostly upscale homes. H has been working on a humongous addition to their house since last fall. These people have a pontoon boat and they wanted to take us around to see the homes from the lake. I somewhat reluctantly agreed, not terribly eager to spend an afternoon with folks I hardly know, looking at houses with clients of H’s so it meant I had mind my manners and my 4-letter words; however, I knew H was sort of obligated to go, you know, customer service and all. Besides, the fine dining afterwards would be well-deserved by that time!

Soooo, we changed our dinner reservations to 7:30, found our sea legs and boarded the merry pontoon, manners in tact. In anticipation of our *dinner*, I did not eat much during the day. The people were very gracious and had a bit of wine and some snacky bits, which was all quite generous and pleasant. Being in Sales, I can talk the talk with the best of them…so we chatted and, well, we looked at houses. What began, however, as a quick zip around the lake, became a nearly 6-hour tour of duty. Apparently, H & I are the most fun these folks have seen in quite some time. Who knew we could generate such conversation and merry pleasantry! We putted along around the lake and finally docked for a potty break around 6:45. While onshore, I ducked into the bathroom to cancel our reservations. (I had whispered to H, “Fuck it, we are so stuck here!”) We just couldn’t seem to get out of going BACK out for another ride “to see the lake at dusk!” Meanwhile, trying to refrain from stuffing my face with all of the munchies and sipping wine on my empty stomach had me slightly intoxicated as we headed back out to sea. Another putt-putt around the lake and we finally tied ‘er up to the dock at 9:30 pm. Pleasant enough? Yes. 20-years-romantic and worthy of replacing the gift of a principle payment on the mortgage? Hmmmmmm.

To top off this elaborate celebration of our 2 decades together, H and I drove through Taco Bell and headed home.

Fine dining indeed. Here’s to another glorious 20…!!

Monday, August 06, 2007

George is not a Genuine Draft

Snippet from last week's riding lesson...

TrainerCheryl: Some folks like a more heavy contact with the reins; however, I prefer a bit lighter contact.

WTC: Like how much?

TrainerCheryl: Oh, it should feel kind of like you are holding 2 empty beer bottles...not much more than that.

WTC: Hmmm...I wouldn't know how that feels...I always try to have a full bottle on hand in case I finish the one I am drinking.

TrainerCheryl: **Sigh**

Friday, July 13, 2007

Just fitting in!

I have been tooling around town in *Mah Chruuuuck* this week, trying to get used to it. It is comfy and fun, especially when I can embarass H in our uber-uptight neighborhood by driving up to the house while waving and shouting to him in my sleeveless shirt with my bra straps halfway down my arms.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

And I now refer to H as John Boy...

When I became a full-fledged horse-owner, I *mentioned* to H that it was probably just a matter of time before I got a truck to, you know, complete the scenario. Of course, H was well aware I had wanted a truck for quite some time. He knew I wanted a truck when we bought our first car together, a Dodge Colt. He knew I preferred the cute Ford Ranger when we traded the Colt for a Mercury Topaz (a 4-door because we needed a “family-type car” even tho we did not have kids, gah!). For a couple of years, H figured he pacified me by agreeing to a succession of GMC Jimmys…I guess the Jimmys made up for the Topaz by not contributing to what seemed to me was our careening rapidly towards a Buick 4-door sedan before age 40. While we were driving the second Jimmy, the ‘Crossover SUV’ was developed. I firmly believe the Crossover was formed specifically with H in mind, as he could have his *Family Car*, I could have my *Truck*, and there would finally be world peace. Thus, we purchased The Crossover, a Mitsubishi Outlander.

I still wanted a truck.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of ours bought a new car. Much to my delight, he was getting rid of his rather worn and torn 1997 GMC Sonoma for the attractive price of $500! A tweak here (new tie rods, new brakes, and a new set of tires), and a tweak there (a new door latch and a reinforcement of the seat), and SCORE!!, I have morphed into Mary Ellen Walton for less than $2,000.

I call it “Mah Chruuuck”, and even though I ride English, I told H I'd like to to outfit the back window with one of those humongous “Cowgirl UP” decals and perhaps even one of these bad boys, so I can drive H completely nuts.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Now for some International, Faith-Based riding

The barn where I ride has a fairly nice indoor arena. Someone was kind enough at one point to hook up a small stereo system so you can listen to the radio while you ride. It is quite nice to be able to tune out distracting noises, especially during this month of legal fireworks and loud motorcycles. Normally, the barn radio is set to the local Country station…definitely not my favorite, but noise to drown out noise nonetheless; however, might I say the past couple of rides have provided us some interesting musical offerings.

Now, I will preface this by saying that my taste in music is fairly wide…I guess I would be considered a fan of Classic Rock; however, I can tolerate the occasional sappy pop tune or oldie. Of course, being married to H means I have gone Country my fair share of the time as well. I will further preface this by saying that George’s music tastes probably run closer to Hard Rock or Heavy Metal. He is a Head Banger, Big Hair kind of horse for sure. A healthy dose of Led Zeppelin or Def Leppard with a bit of Bon Jovi or Poison thrown in and he is a happy boy.

Last week, I flipped on the radio when I arrived at the barn. I did not pay attention to the dial; however, I figured it was set, as usual, to Country. We were all set to kick up our heels for a barn-raisin good time; but as George and I began to walk around, I realized we were riding to the Spanish station that is very close on the dial to the Country setting. I was already in the saddle and warming up so I told George to Cowboy Up and deal with the fact that we were about to have an exhilarating workout to La Bamba, La Vida Loca, and several Menards advertisements in Spanish. He was not humored in the least.

Yesterday, much to George’s dismay and my evil and sarcastically sick humor, I discovered mid-ride that the local Country station plays Christian Country on Sundays. Although, I do not attend Church regularly, I was raised Catholic, went to a Catholic College, married an Irish Catholic...I have had my fair share of religious experiences, including but not limited to a college prof who spoke in tongues and a roommate who was a Litergical Dancer. (We regularly drove her to drink by referring to it as Lethargical Dancing.) I am not a heathen by any means, but trotting serpentines to ‘Our God is an Awesome God’ just cracked me up no end. It was such a hoot! George, on the other hand, did not find this at all funny. He kept shaking his head as if he were mimicking his Heavy Metal heroes and completely shunning the musical ministry that glowed thru the dust of the arena.

I am thinking this week we’ll try Polka Music.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Morning traffic

Yep, the commute this morning was rather hectic...
Happy hump day from the land of corn.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Moving forward...somewhat

George and I had a lesson yesterday afternoon. Although TrainerCheryl complimented us on our much improved and very forward trot, I was disappointed in my canter work or, quite frankly, lack thereof.

My name is Walktrotcanter and I am afraid to canter. Yep, let’s just put it out there.

I. am. Afraid. Big. Chicken.

We can be going along in a fine groove and I will think, “Gee, perhaps I will try the canter”…with visions of the wind on my face and my hair flying in the breeze as we zip right along. The problem is not that my hair is not long enough and I wear a helmet so it wouldn’t fly in the breeze even if I COULD get a nice canter going; the problem is that when I cue George, all hell breaks loose in my body and I end up flopping about like a noodle in the saddle, all legs and elbows. George then says to himself, “WTF?? What is she DOING up there??”, and decides whatever it is I am doing, he had better slow down.

And off we trot.

Cantering has always been a bit of an issue with me, I don’t know why. I think it is because I feel like all of the sudden everything is MOVINGVERYFASTANDHOWCANISTAYWITHTHISSPEEDINGHORSE. Of course, when I watch someone canter while I am standing on the ground, it does not look at all like the blur of speed I seem to feel when I am riding. I agree with TrainerCheryl in that I just need to do it and do it and do it and my comfort and coordination will come. I also agree with TrainerCheryl in that George is not going to take off in a bucking rampage so he is a good horse as far as learning. I just need to do it. And learn it. And not be afraid.

In other, more exciting,news, George has moved to a different stall at the barn. This move is somewhat of a *promotion* for us, as we are now only steps away from the tack room. This is the *elite* section of stalls that the long-term boarders normally call home. (We are in the IN Crowd! We are POPULAR!!) Now, instead of hauling our saddle and bridle and assorted miscellaneous items down the loooooooong corridor of the barn with several trips back and forth because I usually forget something, I am only steps from my tack locker. Now, George will also be tacked-up faster thus allowing for optimum riding time. I am more thrilled about this than George is, of course; so to make him happy I told him we would go to Target and get some furnishings for his new penthouse apartment. Maybe a cool chair and some tab top curtains so he fits in with the popular rich kids next to him.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Flicka? Where have you been?

Yeah so it has been about a million years since I last posted…I have become Lamoid Blogger. It isn’t that I don’t have *material* for a daily post, I just don’t have *time*. Enough with the excuses, move on.

We last left off with The Move of George to New Barn. Fortunately, he is quite thrilled with his new digs. His spot in the barn is next to a sweet sorrel mare named Lilly and a bay gelding named Kris so he has friends to kick back with and drink beer.

Because of continuing problems with our own getting-used-to-each-other, I put him into 30 days of training with a very nice woman who I met thru some fellow boarders at the barn. What we found out is that George was *a bit* spoiled with his former owner and when I put the kabash on some of his behavior, he became very anxious and was acting out. It was not that he was being mean, he was just confused. I was nearly at my wits end by the time he started BootCamp with Cheryl, The Trainer. The last straw was when he tried to lay down and roll WITH MY $$$$SADDLE$$$$ ON HIS BACK. At that point, I cared a heck of a lot more about my saddle than I did about him. It was pretty much the ultimate Fu** You from him and I felt like I had failed at the one thing I had wanted for years more than anything else, my own horse. Where was My Friend Flicka? Where was The Black Stallion? Hidalgo?? How come my horse hates me??? Uggh, it was really awful and frustrating and sad and humiliating.

Once he started BootCamp, he threw several tantrums with the trainer. I was kind of happy to see it wasn’t just with me that he became a spoiled brat; he did it with her when she asked him to do things, too. After a couple of sessions, he finally started to figure out that everything is ok and there is no need to stomp and pout…we can have fun even if things are not on his terms. All things Horse have been going much better in the last few weeks, much to my delight. He is not an easy horse and he definitely has an opinion, but he and I are working together with a bit more harmony and a lot less crying. I was able to work out regular lessons with the trainer so we can continue to progress. I don’t think H minds that we don’t go out to eat much and we seem to have all generic labels in the cupboard as long as I am not a frustrated sobbing mess from not being able to enjoy my horse. After all, our hobbies are supposed to be fun, right?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Riding On!

After much discussion, thought, and knashing of teeth, I have made the executive decision to move George to New Barn! It seems that whenever I am faced with these life-altering (ya right!) decisions in my life...say, to change jobs, go back to school, get married, or buy a Starbuck's coffee other than Sumatra, I shift into HyperAnxietyMode. I mull and muse until I am completely bonkers and H refuses to discuss the matter with me anymore. I then pronounce my Final Decision, wherein I have relief for about 2 seconds before I find that the original problem that led to The Anxiety goes away and I wonder why I was deciding to change anyway. Get it? Ya, I don't either.
For instance, I made The Big Barn Decision '07, let my current barn owner know, and cried with BarnFriendEmily about how we will miss each other. Then, true to form, I had 2 excellent rides on George and thoroughly enjoyed several evenings at the barn with Emily and a few other boarders...where was all of this a few weeks ago when I was miserable and ready to chuck the riding thing altogether??? Argh.

Anyway, despite the fact that Old Barn is now a place of fun, great company, and riding enjoyment, I am still moving forward with the move. I think in the grande scheme of things, I will be better off at New Barn. The indoor arena is larger and the footing is well-kept so I will be able to work with George on a more regular basis in a bigger place. There is also a very large outdoor arena and some trails so we can vary our riding and he can play Ranch Horse at times. Old Barn is more geared to trail riding and while that would be fun this summer, my riding goals lean more towards improving my Dressage riding. I can't possibly reach my ultimate goal of being a True Dressage Queen if I am trailing riding. Hrumph!

So, there it is! I am a little nervous about the whole *meet new people* phase; however, I am excited to get out and ride and learn about all things George. Moving Day is tomorrow so today I get to gather my gear and help George say goodbye to his pasture pals. We'll pass out apples to all of his buddies and make sure they have his forwarding address so they can write to him at his new boot camp.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

...and a heated tack room!

I am in a bit of a conundrum at the moment regarding where to house George. The farm where I have kept him the past few months is very close to my house; however, I am finding more and more that I am just not cut out for the *self-serve-type* barn arrangement. Yes, it is very handy to live only 5 minutes away. No, it is not very handy to have to do my own turnout, feeding, and stall cleaning.

Thru a friend, I found a barn about 15-20 minutes away that currently has some openings. The price for board is $100 more than I am currently paying. I am figuring that what I am now spending on buying my own grain and stall shavings, in addition to the time I am spending would probably even out as far as cost. Yesterday, I drove to the place to take a look. It is very nice with a very large indoor arena. I could actually just arrive, tack up, and stall cleaning, venturing out to the pasture of 10-12 horses to fight to get George inside! Honestly, it seemed a mecca compared to what I am doing now.

The drawback thusfar seems to be that H is kind of skeptical about the change. I think he likes the folks at the barn and, in fact, we have had some fun outings with them. Perhaps he is afraid, as I am, that our new little social circle will go away. I so much enjoy little Emily and the new foals and the mini horses...I would miss all of that as well. It is a bit like deciding to change hairdressers!!! Oh, the stress! The jist of it, tho, is that I really want to enjoy my horse and improve my riding...and it has not been easy to do that. At times I spend so much time with the cleaning and such that there has not been enough time or energy to ride.

Am I getting to be a spoiled dressage queen? Yipes.

I guess in the past few months I have decided what I need as far as the barn where I board. Despite H's skepticism, I am leaning towards making the change. H is going with me today to take another look at the maybe he will see what I am talking about.

Just had to write down my thoughts...stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'll take a George, with a slice of lime...

As new as my horse is to me, (4 mos this weekend!) I can honestly say that one of my favorite things about him is how he just stands and listens and gives me those big brown eyes when the cold and the grey and the long winter get me feeling a little blue. Lately old George has been the stiff martini I have needed. I think I am really beginning to like the old fella.

I lost a good friend a few months ago. Actually, one of my best friends. I met Pam about 16 years ago when we worked together. She and I immediately of those friendships where you just hit it off and love the heck out of each other from day one. She was a super wife, a great mother, and a true friend. She was a peach...and probably one of the funniest people I have ever had the opportunity to meet. Although we went on to different jobs and moved about our lives during the years after we met, we were always able to pick right up and laugh and have a drink anytime. We had great fun. Pam died of lung cancer in October. She never smoked and did everything as healthy wealthy and wise as the rest of was one of those terribly unfair deaths that make you shake your head and wonder what the hell just happened.

I miss Pam an awful lot.

As corny as it sounds, I find that during those quiet moments in the barn when I am brushing my horse and just concentrating on the silky reddish color of his coat and the calming brown color of his eyes, I know I am getting the best therapy ever.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

All creatures great and small

I am back online! We have been without power for the entire day...geez, light and heat are great!!
Anyway, the mare finally had her baby...Snowy Eyed JoAnn arrived early Thursday morning! She is a healthy, bouncy, Buckskin Filly. We are all in love with her! We call her the Blizzard Baby due to the fact that her impending arrival included various weather conditions that made all of us anxious. How sweet she first experience with a newborn. She is so soft and is hard not to stand and watch her for hours.
Some pics...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My Friend

So the weather finally broke(!!!) to an amazing 40 degrees (give or take a few, who cares) since Sunday. What is a girl to do??? I mean, a girl who is nervous about how her new and yet-to-be figured-out horse will act after the cold weather layoff yet is wanting with hopeful desperation (is there such a thing?) to get to know her wacky new horse and, well, you know...RIDE!!??? Ya, this girl. The one who hates that she is afraid but yet is a bit afraid. That would be me.

I headed to the most knowledgeable and available person I know: BarnFriendEmily. Emily was as excited to ride as I. Thus, I asked Emily to *help* me. *Help* to a 14-yr old horse-crazy girl means she totally showed me what to do by lunging all of the bucks and piss and vinegar out of old George and by then taking him for a test ride so we knew he "was gonna be ok". *Help* means she, with her 14 yr old confidence, gave ME the confidence to hop on and ride and do absolutely fine. *Help* means she will never know how much she helped me.

Emily and I rode our horses last evening. The weather was warm (for here, that is!). We talked and trotted and did a few transitions just to let our guys know we are in for some work...but not so much work that we are frustrated or scared or fruit-loopy.

And the *guys* seemed to enjoy getting back to business. They behaved like perfect gentlemen, much to our delight.

Finally, I enjoyed my George. We had fun and relaxed. Isn't that what this is all about?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Out of the mouths of babes

I am sitting here in the Sitting Room...just waiting for the TWO to THREE inches of snow to finish falling so I can head out to clear the driveway. I have to admit, it is pretty and sort of Christmas-y; however, aside from the feverish flu I seem to be fighting I think I also have a bad case of Cabin Fever. I. Want. To. Ride. My. Horse.

Yesterday I talked BarnFriendEmily. Emily is 14 and quite refreshing in that she is one of those teens who is polite, sweet, helpful, and wears jeans that actually fit. Emily is also horse crazy...I just love her to bits. Her parents just purchased for her the horse she has been leasing from the owner of the barn where we board. When she called to tell me he was going to be hers "forever and ever!", she was in tears she was so thrilled. No ipods or cellphones for her dammit, she just wanted a horse. My kind of kid.

Anyway, when we talked yesterday I expressed to Emily how frustrated I am about not being able to work with George. I told her I am a bit nervous about just hopping on him after nearly a month off and how am I going to know if he is going to remember everything, blah, blah, blah. I went on and on, raving like a lunatic about my fears and frustrations. Emily just listened for a few moments and then said, bless her 14 yr old heart, "Oh, it's no big deal! Last year I took the whole winter off...don't worry, you will be right back on track for summer after just a couple of weeks."

At that moment, I realized how frigging old I am. When exactly is it that we get to a point in our lives where we feel like we are running so short on time? When, if we aren't exactly on schedule, everything will fall apart, never to be fixed! To Emily, this cold snowy weather biz is just a small glitch. An inconvenience, but nothing that will stop us from picking up right where we left off once the weather breaks. All will be fine and we will be riding again in due time. There is plenty of time for everything and no need for worry.

I guess the more I thought about what Emily said, the more I realized I must dig out my Inner Teen when I get stressed about all things George. Then, when the time comes, I may actually just sit back and enjoy the ride instead of analyzing every teensy glitch.

Meanwhile, it looks like the dog has the hang of it...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

...and then it snowed some more

Another day off work due to snow! This is like getting a free weekend...except for the work of digging out, that is. I did finally make it out to the barn this morning. (Still no baby...Mother Nature must be holding off due to weather!) George was outside. I sat in my car for a few minutes, just watching all of the horses play in the snow. They are so beautiful...I just can't get enough of watching them.

I am using this time to get a little plan together so once the weather breaks, George and I will be able to have some fun. This break is good in a way because George is doing much better as far as fitting in with his pasture buddies. He was bucking and running around with all the rest of the snowbunnies today. His barn manners are getting much better as a result...I think he was just frustrated because he had no friends! His nipping has stopped and he stands nicely for me when I groom him. YEA!!

Once this weather breaks, we will do some groundwork and hopefully a bit of riding. The riding part makes me a bit nervous (see previous post) but we'll just take our time and do things at our own pace.

(Happy Valentines Day!!)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

As the snow flies...

I have been home all day...big blizzard conditions closed our office. It is nice to have a day off to get things know, all of those things I keep putting off because, well, I tend to spend a few hours at the barn. Now I am being held hostage...the plow has not been by yet and I doubt my little car is fit to hurdle thru the snow drift at the end of the drive.

The weather has been challenging my horse-ownership skills the past few weeks. After a lovely December, we were plunged into sub-zero temps and now we are covered in snow. Yes, I board George at a barn with an indoor arena; however, I have not been able to ride in nearly 3 weeks! The owner of the barn, who is new to the whole boarding/indoor arena thing, watered the arena footing to keep the dust down. Unfortunately, it is all now frozen...therefore, a bit dicey for walk/trot/cantering. Further, I am a little nervous about just hopping on George after several weeks of not working him. I don't know him all that well...what if he is a fruitloop??
Ah, fear. My new faithful companion! I don't know if it is the cold or the dark winter evenings or my being in the midst of not really *knowing* George yet...but whatever it is, I have been more nervous about riding him and sometimes even working with him lately. It is so frustrating! I don't WANT to be nervous. I want to be relaxed and enjoying the whole process. How does one get to that point with a new horse? I have been doing bits of groundwork with him whenever possible. He is getting a lot better with paying attention to what we are doing and his biting has just about stopped. Looking back at how he was a month or so ago, I know we are making progress. I guess I need to focus on the small progressions and not expect to have an Olympic partnership right off the bat. Certainly, once we can get on a more regular riding schedule I will become more confident with him. Here's to hoping Spring springs soon!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

At least the poop is easy to scoop!

We are in the midst of a deep freeze here. I think the high for tomorrow is something like 0 with wind chills of -35. I drove to the barn today to check on George. All of the horses were inside, including a mare that is due to give birth at any time. The barn owner has not ever had a baby born this early in the year...nor has he had one due in this kind of cold! He bought the mare already bred and he didn't know she was due so early in the year. He is going nuts trying to figure out a way to keep the baby warm. Mama is doing fine so far...we are all hoping she has a healthy, hearty little one!

I have a light blanket on George. He has somewhat of a coat, but not as thick as is probably needed for being outside. I only have a lightweight turnout blanket so he is going to have to muttle through. There are so many theories on blanketing I am not sure what to do...and I hate to go out and spend $150 on one of those poly-filled ones if he doesn't really need it. Poor George. He has a mom that is so cheap. He is never going to be Homecoming King with a mom like that. Since the weather is not supposed to break until late next week, I am hoping he will get to go out at least for a couple of hours a day...I think everyone else is hoping the same for their horses. George will be a fruitloop if he is in for more than a couple of I found out earlier in the week when he did his rodeo thing while I was leading him to the arena. I am not sure I would feel too confident going thru that again so if he doesn't get out tomorrow I am going to have to ask someone to help me turn him out in the arena.

Meanwhile, I cleaned his stall, told him to please be patient, and prayed that his water doesn't freeze. Brrrrrr.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

...and then we practiced our musical freestyle

Yesterday I braved the cold and went to the barn after work. I actually have to go every day after work to feed George. My barn is kind of a self-service place…you get a stall but you clean it yourself and buy your own shavings. If your horse needs grain, you must feed him yourself. It is good in the sense that it MAKES you get out there and spend time with your horse. Especially if your horse is, say, high maintenance. Ahem.

Anyway, yesterday George was kept inside all day because the temps were in the teens and he does not have much of a winter coat. I had actually found a quilted winter coat to put on him so he can go out in this weather so my plan was to fit the coat in addition to giving him a good run in the indoor arena. Good plan!

As so often is the case, my plan did not go as planned. As I was leading George to the arena, he got very excited about the prospect of running. So excited in fact, he began hopping and bucking while still on the lead rope. After a few Hey!’s and Woah!’s, I was able to get his halter off and set him free. As this is the first time any horse, much less my own halter-trained horse, has done this while I have been leading, I was rather startled and, quite frankly, afraid. I hollered for a fellow boarder, Ned, who just happened to have stopped by the barn to feed his horse. As Ned came to my rescue, I did what every good horseperson does. I started to cry.

How is it that I can want something so bad (a horse of my very own) and be so afraid and un-confident at times (like when said horse is leaping up and down at the end of his lead rope)? It is a maddening addiction, I have decided.

In my constant effort to scrutinize and dissect what exactly happened, I know that George was just being a horse. A horse that had been inside on a brisk, bright day with no buddies to play with and no friends to run with. Ok. Logical enough. George is also still getting used to his herd and the whole pecking order that presents so he is acting out as a result of his confusion and frustration as to where he is. Ok. Logical enough. It is ok to be afraid at times during the learning curve…that’s how you learn. RescueSquadNed assured me last evening that I am doing everything right. I am mixing groundwork with my riding, I am giving George days off, I am correcting his behavior when needed. George is a tough cookie and soon enough he will settle into this barn and environment and new rider thing. I have to be patient and consistent and ask for help when I need it and that is ok.

What I don’t need to do is fall apart when things don’t go quite as planned. Don’t be so damned emotional. Easier said than done…we’ll see what this evening brings.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

His ears were burning

George must have known I was going to post about him. Either his ears were burning or he has high-speed internet in his stall. Whatever it was, he was a perfect angel yesterday. The nippy, pushy, un-listening horse I had all week had been replaced with a sweetnaturedbrushmeifyouwantIwilllistentoyourlegandstandverystillfortheclippers Quarter Horse. Things that make you say Hmmmmm.

I was at the barn all alone with him. It was so wonderful to relax and brush him and talk with of those days where you get sucked into the *Barn Vortex* and you don't realize 3 hours have passed and you haven't yet grocery shopped or done laundry.

But you spent time with your very own horse.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Horsekeeping 101

Ok, so it's been 2 months with George. How is it going, you ask? Have we bonded with a sensual woman/horse relationship as one would see in those Practical Horseman Magazine? Are we schooling flying changes, extended trot, and piaffe well on our way to USDF competitions?


Not really.

It hasn't been all bad, of course, but I am learning George slowly. Slower than I had hoped, I guess. In our defense, let's just say that buying a horse at the onset of winter in the Midwest is probably not the best timing as far as really being able to spend time with and get-to-know each other. It is either freezing, raining, snowing, or all three at the same time. Oh ya, and dark. Ok, I will stop complaining. George is a rather tough nut to crack, I am finding. We are making big progress; however, he is not a horse that gives freely. I am having to work for every little progression. In the long run, it will be good for us. Really good. I must remember that when I get frustrated and feel alone in doing it. What is the problem, you ask? Hmmmm...let's make a list:

1) George was, with his former owner, allowed to be mouthy. No, he doesn't let loose a string of obscenities or backtalk! Well then again, maybe that's what it is. He just always needs to have something in his it my jacket, the leadrope, the brush, whatever is handy for him to grab. It makes him very nippy, which makes grooming and doing things with him quite difficult at times. At one point, he grabbed the boob of a woman at the barn who stopped to pet him. Ouch. Although I did not expect to have to groom my horse with a crop in-hand, it has come to that at times.

2) George refuses to bend. I am working with a trainer (the Trainer from Chicago! - see previous post) who agrees I am going to have to work for every inch I get from him. I'll admit, I was riding some pretty sweet horses at my old barn where I took lessons. Sweet in the sense that they were trained 2nd or 3rd level and knew to listen to my leg even when it wasn't the most educated or experienced leg. George's reaction, for the most part, is "Leg?"..."What leg?". So we turn like a board.

3) George is a pansy. He hates mud, rain, snow, cold, hard surfaces, work, and probably me. He gets his ass kicked on a regular basis by the other horses he is turned-out with. It is such a disappointment! Unfortunately, the barn where I board (the only one I can afford around here!) has a large pasture with probably 8 other horses. When I drive up in the afternoon, ALL of the other horses are usually eating hay from the big hayrack in the field. Except George. 90% of the time, George is standing off by himself or waiting by the gate for me to let him in. If he tries to venture near the hay, all of the ears go flat and a few kicks fly and he moves away. I had his shoes pulled for the winter on the advice of the previous owner. His feet are very sensitive so I have to ride in Easy Boots...otherwise he is all ouchie. I was going to re-shoe him but winter is over in a month or I'll just keep Easy-Booting him til March. Argh.

I would say these 3 issues are the most challenging/upsetting to me at this point. I would also say they are probably all related as far as his attitude. If he is not getting to eat outside he is unhappy and hungry so he will try to bite me when I am grooming get the picture. The folks at the barn are nice enough; however, they have all had their horses forever and don't seem to understand the struggle I am having. I do not need to be told to "Just get after him" for the biting. I KNOW that and I AM getting after him! I was used to, at the old barn, a bit more comradarie (sp?) and a bit less judgement. However, the old barn where I took lessons for years and felt so comfortable and made so much progress as far as learning horses is I am here at this barn which is very close to home and very affordable. And I am trying to make do. And I am trying to get to know my horse. And I am trying to have fun with all of it even when I am cold and frustrated and grooming my pansy-assed horse while holding a dressage whip to fend off his playful nipping and mouthing.

It's going well.