Thursday, April 22, 2021

Fear

Wednesday was lesson day, typically my favorite day of the week. However, Wednesday was windy. Not a slight breeze or a gentle blowing. There were gusts. Very, very strong gusts. If I hadn’t had a lesson scheduled I wouldn’t have ridden. In fact, I very nearly canceled my lesson at least half a dozen times leading up to it. 

I had a knot in my stomach as I tacked up. I kept asking Eeyore to please be good. I had images of bolting, bucking and general nonsense due to the high gusts and cooler temperatures. 

Instead of craziness I got a perfectly well behaved Eeyore. We warmed up briefly at large in the arena and then got down to work on the 20 m circle. Trainer is killing me with sitting trot work at the moment. It’s getting a lot better but I still have difficulty controlling all my body parts to make sure I sit properly while still ensuring Eeyore is round and bending. It’s a big work in progress. 

Not wild and not crazy
After that we worked on a pretty technical four jump course with lots of tight turns and changes in direction. Eeyore was amazing and even swapped all his leads over the jumps. Don’t ask me how because I for sure have zero idea how to ask for a change. Good thing he pays attention to where we are headed. 


After that we went out to the big field to do trot sets up the hill. Now through this Eeyore wasn’t perfect. He decided after the second trip through the jump course to buck between the third and fourth fence and he tried it again out in the field. I’m working really really hard at changing my reaction from curling into the fetal position to leg on make him work. 

When we were done I realized that I had had no reason to be so darn scared all day. Eeyore was a good boy and even when he wasn’t I’ve learned how to ride him through it. I even asked to ride Hamilton because I had felt something funny the last ride and wanted to know what I was doing wrong (spoiler: nothing, he is mysteriously lame).

Anyway...fear. 

Look at his floppy lower lip. (Yes, I know my cross ties are hooked up to different parts of his halter. If I put the right one down by his nose he cribs on it while I tack him up. He doesn't crib on the left one and won't crib on the right when attached higher.)

Truly I had no reason to be so worked up. Sure, as I was inside making a sandwich I had my door nearly ripped off the hinges by the wind. Sure things were being blown all over. But one thing about Eeyore, love him or hate him, is that he is ALWAYS EEYORE. Everywhere. Any time. All the time. At home. At an away lesson. At a show. Out on trail. Out xc schooling. He is always the same horse. Which...is good and bad you know? I mean, I know what I am getting no matter the situation. But that something is....well...Eeyore. LOL!!

So why the fear knotting my stomach all day long? Why the sweaty palms as I tightened his girth? Why the hesitation to swing a leg over my giant golden retriever of a horse?

I wish I knew. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A Slew of Updates Part 3: The Farm

 Life has been super busy around the farm. A wet yet mild temperature winter meant plenty of time and ability to get projects completed. 

The tack room was finished last fall and I’m pretty sure I already spammed you all with those pictures already. 


Next up was the feed room. Like all things on this property the moment we started this project we quickly learned we were in for more than we planned. Or not we. Hubby did all the work with no help from me in this one. 

The floor was rotted more than he thought and collapsed when he went to empty the room so first up was building a new floor. Thankfully it already had a door and while it doesn’t have a ceiling I don’t care so much in this room as I did the tack room. 


New floor and feed bin. He mostly followed the plans put out by DIY Horseownership with some modifications for our room/use.

Once he got a new floor put in, he power washed the room and then built the feed bin. 

Since we generally only use two bins, he made the top a 2/3rds split

He is still working on a custom cabinet to house the excess, unopened feed bags but other than that it’s basically done. 

Complete with a nice shelf on the inside and three bins to hold feed. Right now we only have the far right holding Tribute Essential K for Gem, Pete and Eeyore and the center holding Triple Crown Complete for Hamilton


Unfortunately the wash rack broke this winter and is now torn apart and unusable. It’s plumbing and he hates plumbing so it’s stalled out. Hoping he gets back to it soon as I’m itching to do my full day spa spring baths. 


Womp

The pastures also got some work this spring. We missed the typical seeding date last fall (should seed in August and September) because the temperatures were still in the upper 90s and it was dry enough that nothing would have grown. With a mild winter and a nice spring we decided to give it a shot and laid down 400lbs of grass seed between the very back and the upper most pastures. 


New farm tool: it aerates, drops seed in the hole, the covers the hole back up. Perfect for over seeding already mature pastures.

The pastures don't need to be overly lush since half the herd are fat already, but I also don't want the weeds to take over and end up with no pasture on a few years, so we are trying to manage them now. 


The arena came out of winter looking the best it has yet. The footing is feeling really good right now too. Dusty got me a new fence to go around the arena for Christmas and we are still waiting delivery of the materials. It may come. Some day. The company assures us it will anyway. In the meantime, we demolished all but the top rail and are working now on clearing all the brush overgrowth. We never wanted to touch it before since I think the fence stayed upright only because the vines and brush were propping it up. I don't mind if it falls over once the new one arrives. 
 


On the home front, the project I started last July finally got finished - mostly. 


The front left is the patio we laid down during COVID quarantine from work now with porch furniture, fire pit and plants. 

Two strawberry plants hanging from above. Wyatt already picked two strawberries 

The front right became a new raised flower and veggie garden using metal water troughs that I spray painted desert rose and then filled. The rocks surrounding them are a beautiful white and peach mix. The only thing remaining is to get a small rock wall or picket fence built around it. I can't decide what I want and how tall, so it will remain without for now. 



Wyatt had control over one of the flower containers and did a really great job and then we shared the rest
Some we filled with plants

It has been really nice watching everything grow and spending the evenings weeding and watering. 

Trainer gave me some starter potato plants and they are starting to come up nicely


This spring is the first time I really feel like the work we are putting in to this place is showing. All the other work has been moving fence lines, repairing the roof, laying down cement etc... Not fun stuff and nothing noticeable.




Now it feels like we are making a positive impact and I am loving it. Not sure what the next big project is. I'd like to get the front completed with a fence around the garden portion, receive and put in the new arena fence and then who knows. Maybe a relaxing summer? 

Friday, April 9, 2021

A Slew of Updates Part 2: Hamilton


As I watched Trainer AB take Hamilton over his first jump this week it hit me that this will be the fanciest, most athletic horse I will likely ever have the good fortune to sit on.  He is such a cool horse I wish everyone who has ever followed along with me could come meet him - words are hard to use to describe him. 

It also then dawned on me that he is likely wasted living out in my pasture and being ridden a couple times a week. It is unlikely that I'll ever campaign him or if I do it won't be anywhere close to what he could do. If I make it to BN I'll be lucky. Of course, then I watched him napping in the late evening sunshine and realized that Hamilton could give two craps about running around an upper level event. "Wasted potential" is a purely human sentiment that he knows nothing about. 

What does Hamilton know about? Napping. Playing with Eeyore and Pete in the pasture, being over the moon in love with Gem, tolerating my existence, and teaching me all the things under saddle. 

It is always time for a nap. Also note - I snagged a great deal on a BC Wexford in Hamilton's size and it fits him beautifully. 

I've taken advantage of having Trainer AB in my life by having her ride him most lesson days. Some days I will hop on after her and some days I ride him the entire time, but mostly she works him to establish a good base. He is....interesting for me to ride. I've had a hard time articulating it but after last week I finally put my finger on the issue. 

Hamilton is a good boy. He has never offered to rear, bolt, buck, spook, spin, drop a shoulder or refuse to do anything. He is also a big thinker. You can see his gears turning when faced with something new. When Trainer introduced the small cross rail he happily went forward with ears pricked and while he neared you could se him deciding exactly where to put his feet. He placed them exactly where he wanted and popped over cantering away no issue. Trainer was grinning from ear to ear. He is such a cool dude. 

My biggest learning curve with him is his canter which lets be honest is my worst gait anyway. Eeyore requires a LOT of seat, a slight leaning back posture and super tight core to lift his front end up and keep his feet moving. When I did that on Hamilton I felt like I was about to fly off the back of him and he got real pissy (marked by a slight pinning of the ears). I asked to have the ride on him the next lesson to address this and figure out my issue and it turns out I need to be slightly forward with him with a quieter seat. Once I did that things went way better.


Out of new pics so you get a very happy and dirty Fluffzilla

I’m hoping to build more confidence on him and start going over small cross rails myself. I’m still not 100% comfortable in him. He is a much different ride than anything I’ve ever sat on with a super narrow build that makes me feel like I’ll tip off his side and large, floaty gaits. Hopefully more time will help me settle better.




Monday, April 5, 2021

A Slew of Updates Part 1: Eeyore

Never fear the Big Orange Butthead is still around and being his goofy, loveable, slightly obnoxious self. 

Coming out of winter, other than the multiple lost shoes, he is feeling the best yet. Trainer remarks weekly on his movement and his improved willingness to try which isn’t inherent to his nature. Eeyore loves the attention that comes with being worked, but he loathes actual hard work. His go to has always been to try to speed his way out of the hard stuff but after a major Come to Jesus lesson mid February, he has come around. 


Always creeping on me. If I'm anywhere outside/near him I can always feel his eyes on me.


It’s hard to put into writing the shift that has come about over the winter. Weekly lessons have been a game changer for me. Eeyore is still Eeyore and always will be. He is big, goofy, opinionated and loud about it. He wears his heart on his sleeve and demands that the world knows exactly how he is feeling at any given moment. 

It has taken me a long time to grow the lady set needed to ride him through things and tell him that while he is allowed to have feelings, he needs to express them in a much more tolerable manner. After a few hard lessons in late January/early February I finally learned to put my leg on through his bucks and make him work. Add onto that figuring out how to be more proactive versus reactive, and I felt a seismic shift in our relationship. 

Trainer AB is working us hard both on the flat and over fences. The flatwork is focused on lifting the front end, having a better connection front to back and developing more hind end push. We are also working on snappier up transitions and more balanced downs. No more flopping onto the forehand in the down or taking multiple strides to get into a good working trot or canter. His trot to canter transition is really shaping up and becoming fun to ride. I’m working really hard in the canter to lift his front end. It takes a lot of seat and core and I’m exhausted after a short period but it is coming along. 

Eeyore finally found himself a grooming buddy in Hamilton. It melted my heart to see this 


Over fences has been super eye opening too. We are back to our fighting height of 2’3” and are now making things more technical. My favorite was a figure 8 exercise over two verticals set 4 strides apart. It made a super tight turn coming off a central ground pole which required very precise turns that left little room to pick at him once I presented him to the fence. It highlighted a lot of our flaws and was just plain fun to do. 

I’m also slowly working on getting him better in the big field at home. It’s a shame to miss out on such a nice space for conditioning work with multiple hills to work up and down. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can walk him around it to cool down after a ride. Trotting is still a work in progress but I hope to eventually be able to canter out there. Some day. 

While he pushes to get out every morning to the pasture, he tries to hide from me when it is time to go out in Fat Camp with Gem. He'd rather stay inside thank you very much.

No show plans for the year. I may end up entering something last minute but right now all my funds are going to lessons which I enjoy more anyway. I hope to go back out cross country schooling some time this spring but we will see. 

Other than that it’s just life around the farm for Eeyore. He is back in Fat Camp as the grass grows and isn’t too happy about it. He plays with Pete and Hamilton all day long when everyone is out together but is stuck with no fun Gem at night. He can’t be out in the rich grass that much and nearly killed himself over his muzzle last spring so Fat Camp it is and he just has to deal. It is funny to see him sulking when Gem shuts his antics down.