September 22, 2012

New Chapter

Summer is officially over, well has been for about 3 weeks. When school first started I missed MN more than ever, especially the barn and my barn friends. My equine management class didn't help either. For the class we have to do chores at least twice a week (on AM and one PM), and clean a stall at least three times a week. Lets just say, the chores aren't as fun to do as they were in MN. I remember my friend Katy and I just chatting away and having a blast, but at this new barn I just feel like the workers (which are other students) are just kind of stuck up, especially the ones that have been working there for a while.

On to some good news, I have landed myself another barn job!!! I joined the Dressage Club on campus and talked to the owners of the barn that the club takes lessons at and they were looking for some weekend help, well lucky for me I have Friday-Monday off from school. The barn does shift work so I go to the barn for 8 and start with turnout, and then I proceed to muck stalls and clean until 1. Luckily there are always two workers in the morning shift or I'd be there all day. Even with two workers we didn't get done until about 2, which is fine for me. I am just so glad to be back in a barn setting.

The facilities are great and the barn owners are awesome. They are picky about how things are done, but I am the same way. Don't do a job if you are going to do it half asked. I do get paid and as an extra perk, every 40 hours I work I get a free riding lesson, so I work four days a week, five hours a shift, so that means every other week free riding lesson!

In the future I am hoping to do some extra riding at that barn, but right now I am just content being around horses all the time again, and yes, even cleaning stalls makes me happy!

Thanks for reading :)

August 11, 2012

Quick update.

My car is finally almost 100% fixed! My radiator and 2 gasket heads have been replaced, and now all I have to do is clean the carburetor. When I picked up my car yesterday I was like a little girl at Christmas. It felt great to drive away without any hesitation or any strange popping noises. I have to get a picture of my car up ASAP but for those who don't know, my car is a '79 Buick Regal I got as a coming home gift from MN!

Health wise I am doing much better. I went to a chiropracter this week and my shoulder feels so much better! Surprisingly the pain in my shoulder was resulting from my right hip hurting, which caused me to put my weight into different muscles in my legs, which then made the change in pressure go diagonally up my back to my left shoulder. Dr A is fantastic and he really listened to me, all the other docs thought I was insane when I said my right hip and left shoulder hurt. I go back on the 20th for another appointment to get adjusted again.

Now horse wise, riding has been great!! I have been riding numerous horses and it feels awesome!
My friend Maggie hit the concept right on the head. "Riding different horses is like having a boyfriend and your other friends. You have the other horses (your friends) that you put some energy and emotions into but then you have that ONE horse (your boyfriend) that you put the majority of your time/energy/emotions into. If you spend all your time on one horse, eventually your going to loose the ability to deal with different horses (e.g. if your boyfriend breaks up with you and you haven't spend time with friends during time of the relationship, your friends won't be there)." It was a great analogy.

I have been riding Mel, a 20 year old Morgan who is getting back into shape after being a trail horse for 5+ years, Tia has ridden Mel in one show this year and they took 1st in both their pleasure and equitation shows. Then there is Gigi, a standardbred who was raced but never won anything so she was retrained and became a trail horse also. Now she is getting back into working again, we would like to show her in dressage but we need to make sure she will trot instead of pace all the time (not sure if this possible?) but it's worth a shot! We are working on with her getting forward and less behind your leg. Then there is Sooner, a upper level dressage horse who was bought for a couple's daughter, said daughter got a boyfriend and said horse has been sitting in the pasture since. Sooner is a FANTASTIC horse, she loves to jump, has a ton of energy, and very athletic. She doesn't look in the  best of shape but this horse can go for hours and still want to go for more! She is ALSO getting use to working again, and she loves it. The last horse I have only ridden once and that is Lucy. A quarter horse who is finally able to be ridden after a very bad accident with barbed wire. I'm not sure if I will ride her, because she is very barn bound. We have to ride in the pasture since there is no other place to ride (don't worry the pasture is riding worthy! there are some nice flat areas that are free of pot holes and hazards). I have delt with Mr P in the past about wanting to go back to the barn, but the barn wasn't connected to the arena I rode in, and I trusted that he wouldn't buck too big, with Lucy I am unsure. I will ask my friend Maggie to hop on her (she is an amazing rider and very talanted). We aren't too concerned about working Lucy because she won't ever be able to do heavy riding, but it would be nice to just hop on her and work her lightly without worrying.

So folks that about sums it up. Very uneventful but I love it :)
Thank you for reading!!

August 1, 2012

Summer is almost over!

It's almost depressing that it is August already. I feel like my summer has just flown by. I am still working 40 hours a week, and for the most part I love my job.

The past two weeks I have been riding A LOT and I am loving every moment of it. At this point in time I am riding 5 different horses! Today I rode my friend's horse Star (a Morgan X Welsh Cob cross) who is adorable! I love Morgans to being with but this cross was fantastic, despite her short stature (small enough to be in the pony category). Star has a wonderful personality and it was great riding a smaller horse for once and a horse that tends to be in front of your leg instead of behind.

My lessons have been on hold the past two weeks due to car issues. My car ended up over heating on me on the interstate and I found out I had to have the radiator replaced. I have a guy that is the husband of a friend look at the car, whom I trust after my mechanic quoted me $400 for the whole radiator job (the radiator would cost $150, and take about an hour and a half to replace) I was NOT pleased when I heard this. I also asked said new mechanic to give the engine a great tune up and he found that I needed new gasketts for my engine..which would end up being costly even though the parts were $100, since it is a deep engine job the labor would be longer. So due to lack of car and expenses I have not had lessons for two weeks, but with all the riding I am doing I feel myself getting stronger and having more stamina (OH I have also lost a pound!)

On top of my car problems, I have been having body problems. I thought I had torn my rotator cuff in my shoulder and had arthritis developing in my wrists. But it came out to be just tendonitis in my wrists, and in my shoulder things are rubbing and pinching that shouldn't be rubbing and pinching. Eventually I might need to get cortisone shots for it (yuck!)

On Monday I popped over my first jump ever. Please keep the criticism to yourself haha, it was only a 4 inch cross rail in the center so not high at all, and I just wanted to see how I did. Well, I didn't fall off, and my feet stayed in my stirrups and my heels stayed down!! My two point wasn't the best but that will come with more training!

Well that is just a super quick update, my wrists are starting to hurt from all of the typing, I hope to post more often since the summer is winding down!!

Thank you for reading :)

July 12, 2012

How bad do you want it?

This is a question I ask myself before I ride, when I'm riding, and after I ride. How bad do I want to event? What am I willing to do to succeed?

Today I had a lesson on Griffon, an Irish Draught. It was also in the high 80s today with high humidity. Since the indoor was way to dusty to ride in I rode outside for my lesson.

During my lessons I have been working on strengthening my lower leg and making it solid in order to drive the horse forward. I have my good moments and bad moments, but it is certainly coming along.

Towards the end of my lesson I really started to feel tired, and Griffon felt my energy draining too because he became much harder to stay in the trot, let alone have him still be forward.

Eventually it got to the point where I had to take my feet out of the stirrups to get him into a trot (I know BAD Stasha) but I was so weak and my awesome trainer was shouting at me to get him into the trot "A few more rounds Stasha and we'll call it a day!" so I knew just walking wasn't going to get us anywhere.

I finally had to call it a day when I almost puked from the heat. Yeah, it almost got bad, and I really didn't want to stop but I knew Griffon wouldn't like it if I hurled while I was on top of him (I bet no one has desensitized a horse for THAT). Having to call it a day early made me feel like a quitter, because I know eventers show in this weather and probably in even hotter and more humid weather, and I couldn't even last an hour just trotting around.

Please don't pity me, it's my own fault, if I was riding more than once a week I'd be much farther along in my learning. My trainer, because she is so great, has always told me that I can work for an hour and then ride after, but with me working sometimes past 5, and my car only getting 19 miles to the gallon, the barn being 30-45 minutes away depending on how well my car wants to run, and having a TON of stuff to do at home, I never seem to find the time to make it out at least a second time. I have been looking for people nearby that may have a ridable horse that I can ride just so I can work on me, but no luck so far. I am hoping when school starts up I can still take lessons with my current trainer and ride multiple times a week at the barn on campus.

Until then I'm just going to be thankful for the times that I am able to ride, and I will continue asking myself how bad I want to do this!

Thanks for reading :)

June 15, 2012

Swithed Roles

My Grandmother would have a fit if she found out I blogged about her, but I'm going to do it anyways.
This week I have found that the roles have been switched. All through my six surgeries my Grandmother has been one of the people who took care of me, and did such a wonderful job. On Tuesday Mem had knee replacement surgery and she came home today.

She is doing great, but I have no idea how she was able to take such great care of me when I was going around on crutches, and even hoping around the house on one foot. I can't even watch her walk without picturing her falling down and I worry way to much. I am trying to hide it but I am not doing that good of a job. Instead of breaking down I am constantly asking her if she needs anything. Today she has had an up and down temp which I am pretty sure it is NOT due to an infection, but I don't know how to make her feel better. I know I know I can't make her feel better but I want to.

It is hard seeing one of the strongest people I know using a walker to get around and even just feeling sick. I do not know how parents do this for there kids.

Thanks for reading!

June 7, 2012

Lesson 2

No, it wasn't my 2nd lesson ever, but it certainly felt that way! Since I have been home, I have rode 3 times, and the 2nd time was only for a few minutes so not sure if I can count that. After work I scooted over to the barn and got there earlier than I had planned. Unfortuently the horse that I rode last week, Newman, was being leased out so I can't have my lessons on him, instead I rode River. Sandy warned me that even though River is a super nice boy, if you clank on his teeth he will buck, not a big buck but will buck. Great..so from the start I was paranoid, even though one of my bad habits is giving a horse too much rein. He warmed up and started trotting around and I knew that this was going to be a hard lesson. Unlike most horses, River didn't want to be near the wall at all. Not because of fear, but I think out of being lazy. He cut all the corners and tried cutting the arena in half.

My main things to work on during my lessons has been strength and balance and River required a LOT of inside leg to keep him on the wall and honestly I wasn't able to keep him there most of the time *le sigh*

Eventually Sandy had me ride with just one stirrup. After a few minutes I was super frustrated. I couldn't post without putting too much weight in the stirrup that I did have. I asked Sandy if I could drop both stirrups, and she said sure..well...that wasn't a good idea either.

Already being frustrated I was going around and realized I couldn't post with no stirrups either and my upper inner thighs were hurting from the saddle and I was so out of balance, which just furthered my frustration. We went around a corner and down the long wall, and I felt myself slipping to the side and on the verge of falling off. I feel that if I wasn't so frustrated I would have at least tried to save myself, but instead I just gave up and let myself fall. I certainly paid for that decision. I landed on my hip hard and I'm sure there will be a bruise tomorrow.

I took a few seconds to get up and Sandy was asking if I was okay..and then the tears came >.< they weren't out of pain, they were out of frustration and dignity. I know everyone falls off multiple times if you ride a lot, but it was more because I fell off because I was out of balance. Also I am the kind of person who cries when I'm mad. Some days I wish I could just get angry and swear like everyone else, but no instead I cry. The tears aren't a sign of weakness, they are just a different way of venting how I feel.

So back to the story, due to the tears Sand thought I was hurt, and I was trying to make her understand that I was fine I was just frustrated, I think she eventually believed me and I hoped back on. I had the option of either riding with no stirrups again or practice standing up in my stirrups, I chose to stand.

On a good note, I was able to stand more in balance and for a longer period of time than last lesson. Granted by the end my knee was killing me (not due to the fall) and I was exhausted.

Sandy offered me a proposal I will not refuse. She said that in exchange for doing the evening chores I can ride River or Blue! I am very excited about this, even though it will probably be only riding 1 extra time a week but that is riding 2 times a week instead of 1.

In the mean time, I'm going to be doing a TON of wall squats, calf raises, and crunches to get some of my muscles up to par. If you have any other at home exercises that might be able to help please feel free to share!

Thanks for reading :)

May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

What a great weekend I had! On Saturday my room mate Miranda from Minnesota came to visit me! I knew about the visit, her and her mother were vacationing in Maine and of course she had no choice but to visit me. It was great that she finally met my family and we all had a blast. Lots of memories, laughs, and good times. I'm going to miss her lots!

After they left I raced home, packed, and went up to camp. With my 8-5 Monday-Friday work schedule I won't be able to go camping as much as I want to so with my three day weekend I had to go up. I regret not bringing my tent, but I thought it would still get to the 30s at night in the mountain, but it wasn't. I arrived to the campgrounds and I couldn't help but smile. I breathed in the smell of red pine trees and all my stresses lifted and I felt free.

On Sunday I had planned to go kiyaking with my 'sister' Jordan, but she ended up not feeling well, so instead I went in a canoeing with her grandfather and his girlfriend. It was GREAT and it has really inspired me to do a canoeing trip this summer. Maybe take 3-4 days and just travel a planned route and have someone pick me and who ever goes with me up.

Unfortunately it all ended today but I did come home and cleaned up some brush that my Uncle helped me cut. Now that I'm older I really enjoy doing yard work. Not gardening, but mowing, weed wacking, and just miscellaneous things.

On some horse news, I called my old boss who lives down the road from me, and she is thinking about allowing me to ride 2-4 times a week in exchange of some labor! I really hopes this pulls through because I miss riding multiple times a week.

I really wish there was 30 hours in a day, and that I only worked 8-5, and also only needed a few hours of sleep. I would be able to do so much!

May 13, 2012

Busy Body

For right now, I have a feeling most of my posts will be quick blurps, as a forewarning.
So far I have been out straight and not much down time, which I love!
Friday we sheared roughly 75 alpacas! We started at 8:30 and ended around 8. It was a long day but since it wasn't hot, it was enjoyable. Also on Friday we had another cria, another boy! The shearer (Jay) was so excited because he had never seen a cria being born.

Saturday we sheared another 40 alpacas and I was in charge of giving them their ivomectin shots and giving them an oral dewormer. We started at 2 and ended at 9.

Today is Mother's Day so a big shout out to not just my Mother, Mem, and Aunt but to all the mothers or motherly women out there! Thank you for all you do :)

Tomorrow is my first day at work and I am so excited, and I can't wait to share my experiences.

Thanks for reading :)

May 10, 2012

Fast News

Beware readers the following is going to be super fast and not so descriptive news of up to date things.
1. IM HOME! Flight went awesome!
2. Went to the alpaca farm today, came home, and then went back because we had a baby boy born!! It was scary though because Noelani (the mom) had a torsion which is when the uterus rotates around and the severity can vary. On a 1 to 10 scale, 10 being the worst, Noelani was at a 7. According to the vet and Uncle they had to rotate Noelani 3 times while pressing on her uterus to get it back into correct position. The little boy was exhausted when he was finally born and we had our doubts if he was going to make it. What was worse is that when we tried to stand him up, he had no control over his back legs. But don't worry too much, we believe that during the torsion the blood flow to his lower legs got cut off and resulted in what we would relate to as a leg that fell asleep. Eventually he got his feeling back, was up and eating, and even attempting to run around! We weighed him and he was a porker! 17 lbs (an average baby weighs 15 lbs, and 20 lbs is considered a HUGE baby). I hope to get pictures soon but since i don't have a camera I'm not sure how soon 'soon' is.
3. Shearing day is tomorrow! Super excited hope I am able to get some before and after pictures, but again no promises.

Sorry for being so quick about all of this, I am gulping down supper at 10:19 and going to bed and will be at the farm starting at 7!

Thanks for reading!

May 5, 2012

Bitter Sweet

Having bitter sweet moments stinks to the high heavens.
Sweet
I go home on Tuesday! Not only do I get to go home, but on the 14th I start my internship. Dr. T e mailed me and we discussed how many hours I will be working, and my pay (YUP I am getting paid!). So as it turns out, this gal will be working 40 hours a week either 5 or 6 days a week. When I found this out I was so excited I didn't get to sleep until after midnight. Not only will I be working my butt off as an intern, but at the alpaca farm we have at least 20 more babies to be born (4 are due any day!!). I'm going to be so excited to grab some pictures for everyone to see. I here the newest cria, Monae's Rebel, is to-die-for-cute! Also I cannot wait to start training the babies for the fall show season. We have a ton to teach and I want to approach training a little differently then I have in the past (maybe I can start up an alpaca blog??)

Bitter
I go home on Tuesday...and leave everyone that I have grown so fond of behind. I have said this from early on, but I have made such amazing friends here. I have started packing and it's been hard to finish. My room is bare, and mostly everything except a few clothes that I need have been packed. It seems like yesterday that I moved here.

Lesson
Friday was my last lesson here in MN. I rode Jealousy and it went great! Jealousy is very different then Mr P but it was nice to ride another horse, even though there were times of frustration! I went from Mr P who you pretty much needed to point his nose a little to the inside when on a circle, to a horse that on a circle you need to use your outside rein. My body was so confused! I was getting my outside rein correct, but my inside hand instinctively was trying to pull her nose to the inside, this horse put up with so much! Jealousy has so much more energy than Mr P so at times it felt like she was ignoring me when I would ask her to slow down or go from the canter to trot. It was probably some rider error also haha! Being on another horse brought some tensing moments out in me. Again, not that she was being naught but just all of the energy!

Not only did I have a lesson on Friday, but I had a lesson on Thursday too! Thursday was a group lesson with Katy and it went fantastic! Sadie set up some ground poles which had us shortening our trots in one diagonal, and lengthening it over another. Mr P was such a rock star!! We didn't always accomplish the extending and shortening, but he did try and he made me so proud! We then did some cantering over a ground pole (and YES I did consider it my first jumping experience!)

Lately Mr P has been acting a little off. With other students he has bucked at random moments, and he seems a little more lazy than usual. I feel like he is trying to work, but he just can't. The horses have been out on pasture for about 2-3 weeks now, so I'm really hoping that it isn't founder. They were weaned onto the pasture nicely (starting with half an hour) and are now on pasture from 8-2 on all week days.

Thankfully Katy, Ali, Syd, and I are going to get together on Monday to order pizza and watch a movie (a HORSE movie of course).

So I said good byes to Sadie and Kelly yesterday, and I'll say good bye to the rest of my amazing friends on Monday.

I can handle sweet moments, and I can handle bitter moments, but these bitter sweet ones just drive me crazy.

Thanks for reading :)


EDIT: AGH how could I forget?!?!?! I won a $100 gift certificate to a local tack store that my boss works at, so I went shopping! I got 2 ariat riding shirts, and THIS beauty!

Helmet

I rode it in my lesson and it is WONDERFUL! I needed to buy an SEI certified helmet in order to start eventing.

April 27, 2012

Horse expo

Today was such a blast! I got to hang out with two amazing friends, Steph and Katy and relax at the MN horse expo. It is the first time I have gone to a horse expo because the closest one to me back in Maine is in Massachutes. I also experienced my first rodeo and it was AMAZING! For sure I will be horse tomorrow (pun intended).

So for the good news I have some bad news. I have been so excited for Mom to come over to MN to help me pack and watch me ride. I want so bad to show her all the places I have been and just spend a little mini vacation with her. A couple days ago she told me that she looked over her plane tickets and instead of booking to fly in at 10AM on monday (we would ldeave on tuesday) she booked it for 10PM. Mom is usually really good as bout double checking things before she buys anything but there was an error some where. She went back online to see the prices for tickets and they had gone up to $600, a $400 increase. Mom talked to Delta to see if she could change her flight times, and they said that she could if she paid a $150 fee and that she paid the difference in the flight prices. Excuse my language, but that's bullshit in my mind. So..needless to say she isn't coming. I now need to pack my items myself, get my suitcases to UPS to ship back home, and fly home. I am beyond upset, not at Mom but at the circumstance, I just wanted to show her everything I have been doing for the past 9 months.

I was explaining my situation to Katy on the way back to my apartment and, being the amazing friend she is, came up with an awesome solution. She is willing to tape me giving a tour of the equine center, record a lesson, AND record me showing Mom all of the horses. Ugh it makes me so sad to know that I'm leaving such great people!! It won't be the same, but it's the next best thing.

If anyone has any ideas about how my Mom could still get here without paying an arm and leg, maybe some strings we could pull, that would be so appreciated!

Thanks for reading!

April 25, 2012

4/25 Lesson and Ride

Today I had a great lesson! All last week was rainy but luckily this week has been gorgeous! The horses are apart of a grazing study being done, so Tuesday I did not ride unfortuently.

I got to the barn and cleaned two bridles since I had an hour before my lesson. I love cleaning tack and I worked really hard on Mr P's tack. Sadly now that I only have two weeks left in MN, Mr P is starting to feel like he is my horse. He has come down with a mild case of thrush and I have been the one giving him COW every day. We have also progressed in big strides together. I am so sad to leave this horse.

But back to my lesson:
Today we worked on a lot of cantering. Since I have fixed my leaning back issue at the canter, I now have the problem that I lean too far forward and instead of brushing the saddle, I tend to actually stay off the saddle in an almost two point position. This problem seems to go away once I get relaxed and 'in tune' with Mr P.

Remember the problem I use to have with Mr P about him rushing towards the gate while doing circles away from the gate? Well, that problem is fixed...but now when we do circles near the gate, he rushes AWAY from the gate. If it is not one thing it's another, but it makes riding interesting and never boring.

Mr P made a BIG step in his schooling though. Multiple times during the ride he rounded very nicely and offered to make contact!! When he did reach for contact I gave him more rein, I didn't want to be hanging on his mouth. But Sadie explained to me that him reaching was a good thing and that I just need to stay soft in my elbows when he does so.

Mr P has taught me so much while I have been in MN. It makes me so sad that I will be leaving him, but unfortuently finances trumps horse happiness.

Thanks for reading :)

April 22, 2012

Frustration

I am beyond frustrated right now, and yes I am going to post it on my blog.
I am going to start by stating the obvious, but please bear with me.
I have been working at the equine center since BEFORE the fall semester started. Yep, I was in MN for three days and I then got this job. Slowly since I have worked here my boss has asked me to do numerous management things. At first I was ecstatic, some responsability was exactly what I was striving for, and I wanted to prove that I could be a great employee. First it started out with putting the schedule for feedings on an online calendar. This became a problem right off because students never took me seriously when I would e mail them needing to know what days they were working. Rarely did I get a reply back on the first e mail, and after 5 e mails easily the excuse was always the same "I never got your e mail"...well I would ALWAYS CC my boss and she always got the e mails, so some how I had a hard time believing that.

Fast forward to know...this problem has been on going and I am at my witts end. I am so glad that Saddie is here because people take her seriously. Currently we have numerous employees/volunteers working at the barn, and on some shifts we would have 1-4 people working at one time. At first it was okay, but then we slowly began to realize that they people working the same shifts never communicated. Thus person A would go out to the barn before the other people and feed, and then persons B and C would come at the same time, not knowing person A was there, and feed....you see my problem? It got very noticeble once three horses were on grain. Legend has 1 cup in the morning with his vitamin E supplement, Maddie is now on 2 cups in the AM and PM with vitamin E supplement in the AM, and Rollo is on 6 cups of grain in the AM and PM with vitamin E supplement in the AM. All of a sudden we have gone through 100 lbs of grain...easily 30 lbs over what we should be going through. About a week or so ago Saddie asked me to start thinning out the schedule since people obviously can't do their jobs correctly if there are 3 people on one shift. So I sent out e mails...guess how many responses I got...ZERO!!! Saddie calls me up and asked me if I sent e mails out and I said yes, but like always no one replied.

Saddie wasn't mad at me by any means, she knows this has been an on going problem. I am just so frustrated because one day a horse is going to get sick or colic or SOMETHING and I feel like it's going to be my fault. Is it my fault that no one responds to e mails? I don't know maybe I should write from now on "REPLY OR YOU ARE FIRED!!!!"

I am so glad I only have 2 weeks left of work there. I love working there, but I can't stand the workers. If I was here for more than 2 weeks I would say I'm done. I don't understand why these people think my e mails are jokes and can be ignored and I can't imagine what these people are going to be like when they go out into the real world.....

*still fuming*

April 19, 2012

VIDEO

Yes my readers, I now have a video of me riding, my stories now have a new light.
*BEWARE* I see this video and get embarassed, but I have fixed my leaning back issue (which has given rise to a leaning forward issue, but baby steps)

Video

It is a facebook video so if you cannot view it please tell me :)

This  video was from this Saturday when Katy and I rode.

Thank you so much Katy for being my video crew :)

Here are some pictures, I do not like them but I figure if it gives everyone some good giggles I have done my job!

Far away picture

I think I was in the middle of saying "good boy"...or I just have a super weird face when I ride!

I don't like this image at ALL. My back is arched and my foot is way too far in the stirrup. I have been working on these two big problems for a while and I am making slow but sure progress :)

Hope you all had a good laugh because I sure did :)
Saturday was a great day and I am so glad I finally have some photos to show you guys!

Thanks for reading!

April 17, 2012

Why Do I Love to Ride?

This is a question I love to ask myself often. I guess I love riding because you can never become perfect. There is always room for improvement and no matter how good you are, you can and will make a mistake. I also love the connection you have between horse and human. You might not be best friends, but there is a mutual respect between rider and horse.

Today had to be one of the most satisfying days of riding ever. It started out with going out to the barn after classes to ride. Saddie was already riding Maddie when I got there and it was beautiful out. Secretly I was hoping Saddie and I could go on a trail ride, and she read my mind. "Stasha, want to go for a hack after you warm up?" I don't know why people ask silly questions like that, of COURSE I was up for a hack. I grabbed Mr P, and to say he was dirty would be an understatement. It was caked in mud. I mean sloth some on him and throw him in an oven caked. It has been raining (and we even had some snow flakes) lately and the paddock has been super muddy. I guess he decided to not only roll in the mud, but lie down for some time. It took me what seemed like forever to get the dried mud off of him and I wish I had a camera to prove that I'm not over exaggerating. So after some grooming with extra elbow grease I was able to tack up P and got into the arena to warm up.

Mr P was extra lazy in the warm up but I didn't mind. I just focused on having him respond to my leg ques and I worked on using less rein when asking for turns. Saddie finished up with Maddie and we went outside to explore around the fields around campus. It was great, and Mr P was a rock star. Maddie was in the lead and she ended up not liking a few things, and Mr P kept his cool ears on the whole time. We did some trotting and he was super responsive to my nice half halts. I don't feel very comfortable going at a nice working trot while in the fields, but that is more because of me and not him. There was a time where I gave him a little more rein and opened up my body and he sped right up, I was amazed at how much just opening up my body could make him more relaxed. Again, my fault with not being super comfortable and confident I half halted him back to a nice slow trot. The trail ride was such a sucess!

We got back to the arena and I decided that it was time for Mr P to actually work. I will fast forward to my "little girl at Christmas time" moment. Over the weekend Katy took a video of me riding, more particularly cantering. I watched the video and was astounished about how bad my position was >.< it was embarassing. My main problem was leaning back. So fast forward to today. Trotting around, I thought to myself "don't lean back, don't lean back" asked for the cancer and oh.my.gosh I had it!!! I wasn't bouncing around, it was smooth, it was mind blowing. I went around the arena once, stopped Mr P and legit I kid you not I squeeled!!! Saddie came into the arena a few moments later and the kid came out in me "Saddie, Saddie watch me canter!" HAHA oh I am so easily pleased.

It is moments like that, that really make me love riding!!

Thanks for reading :)

April 15, 2012

Riding Filled Saturday

Yesterday was great. Later in the month I had signed up for a pre-vet clinic/information session that the University held to give some information about their vet program and their pre-reqs for getting into their program. I will admit after the clinic I was thinking "...I'm never going to get into vet school". In order to even make it past the first 'phase' of application review, you have to have a GPA of at least 2.75. Some colleges don't have a minimum GPA requirement but their mean GPA for accepted students is usually close or over a 3.0. I am not the smartest kid on the block when it comes to school. I get Bs. I'm almost as ordinary (hense the blog) college student you will find. I don't study 24/7, maybe thats my problem? But I also don't have a huge social/party life that takes over it, but when push comes to shove I really can put my nose to the grind and get things done.

I had gotten my friend Katy to attend the clinic with me, she is a senior undergrad student. After the clinic we went to the barn for a much needed day of riding. At this point in time the horse that both of us are allowed to ride allone (without Saddie or boss lady) is Mr P. Neither of us had a problem with switching during riding and Mr P really had his day cut out for him.

Oh, almost forgot, there was a pinto clinic going on at the barn. For the first time EVER I got to observe western dressage. Yup you heard me WESTERN DRESSAGE! I guess it is relatively new and I love the idea. So there were a lot of horses around using both the indoor and outdoor arena. It was a beautiful day out, and I'm sure it got to above 70 degrees, so Katy and I rode in the outdoor arena.

We got to the barn and gave Mr P a nice good grooming. He was such a trooper. We didn't bring him in the barn because there were clinic horses using the stalls so we groomed him outdoors. We brought Mr P out of the paddock and groomed him pretty much dropped tied the whole time. Even though there were many new horses coming in and out he stood right still while being groomed. See, I tell you he can be such an angle when he wants to be.

Katy had a bareback pad that she wanted to use after fixing it so we threw it on Mr P to warm up. I don't feel like I'm at the stage where I can trot around bareback, but it will come. Katy and I both took turns walking him around with the bareback pad, and Mr P did a fabulous job. There were other horses in the outdoor and he gave them his friendly ears and didn't pay too much attention to them. We did some really nice circles and he put up a little fight but nothing like in the past and it was nothing a little more outside leg couldn't fix, I really believe he enjoys riding outside more than inside. After he was nice and warmed up Katy put the western saddle on him and taught me how to put on a western saddle and answered some of my silly questions haha. Katy was more than willing to give me a mini lesson about western riding and I was ecstatic, because this was the first time I had ever rode in a western saddle (pony rides don't count in my book). It felt weird but nice at the same time. I feel like the western saddle holds you more in place and it's easier for me to relax. I walked and trotted him and it was great. It took me a while but eventually I got a nice sitting trot and Mr P offered to be nice and low with his topline. I did canter, and I am so glad Katy didnt' get it on tape, because I thought it was horrible haha! I knew I was coming too much out of the saddle. I was able to get a few nice strides where I wasn't so floppy. Then Katy got on and showed me how it was really done. She did such a great job, granted she has been riding western FOREVER, but still it was fun to watch her.

Just to make sure our day was complete, next we put the English saddle on P. I know you must be thinking we tortured this horse but he was so good!!! I couldn't resist doing some work in the English saddle. I got in the saddle and trotted around and I couldn't believe it. Not only were my heels staying down, but my calfs were flexing like they should!! Everytime I posted up, my heels sunk down lower. I was more than ecstatic!! It really gave my legs a good workout. I'm not sure if it is the new stretches, or if it was that I rode in a western saddle, but what ever it was, it worked. Katy got a video of me cantering around in the English saddle, and oh my gosh I didn't realize I leaned back so much >.< that is something I am going to have to work on! I am sure that must be my biggest reason why I flop around in the canter. I almost need someone to always yell at me to lean more forward (and by more forward I mean in comparisson to my position while leaning back).

So overall it was a great day! We rode for 2 hours and P was SUCH A GOOD BOY!!!!!
I couldn't of had a better day :)

Thanks for reading!

April 10, 2012

Progress with horse and rider.

One mindset that I always try to keep is that during riding, when something is going wrong, most of the time it is the riders fault. This is why I have been so frustrated with Mr P when I ride him. But today, we had progress!

For the first time since before winter break I rode Mr P on my own, with no one watching me. I was super excited because I feel like when I'm by myself I can take more time to process things and actually visualize what I am going to do.

Usually during the week riders are allowed in the arena after 9, before 9 they usually have horses inside the arena either doing some therapy work or just giving the horses time to stretch their legs. I had arrived early to work and apparently forgot about this because I had done most of the chorse, groomed Mr P up, and was ready to tack up before 8:30. I checked to see if the arena was being used and it was. I was so excited to ride that this kind of annoyed me because I knew Mr P would get more antsy the longer he stayed in his stall, even though he had plenty of hay and I really didn't want to trun him back out. So I hand walked him for a bit and then tacked him up around 9:05. I got to the arena and it was still being used, which annoyed me even more. The arena wasn't cleared until 9:15.

Finally I got into the arena and walked Mr P around. I could already tell that we were going to have our hands full during this ride. He was ignoring me on the ground and I had to smack him good a few times to get him to halt when I stop and to back up. Needless to say it took me 3X longer than I wanted to actually mount up. Please horse can you just put your brain on?

I walked him around and right off I could tell he was going to be super gate sour. I really wanted to work on a nice long rein especially to warm up, but since he wasn't listening to my leg aids I felt like I had to shorten them up right off. Probably not the best call on my part but I had to do what I thought was correct for the situation. There came one part where I almost called it quits because he was being such a dork face and I didn't feel like I could safely handle the situation. But I got him to at least stop, calmed my self down, and just told myself that I can't hop off it will just reinforce his behavior, so I stayed on and rode through it.

By this time I didn't feel like I could be productive on a long rein so I kept them a little short. I decided that as soon as Mr P put his attention on the gate, I would stop him and wouldn't even let him have a chance to go towards the gate. Did I always suceed? No. Most of the time he was able to get to the other wall of the arena and break at the shoulder before I could stop him, and sometimes I even had to turn him in a circle in the opposite direction to get him going in the correct direction.

Eventually, by the end of the ride, I had Mr P going around in nice 20m circles on a long rein. I was super proud of myself, and of him of course. The next task after we master circles away from the gate is to be able to do serpentines towards the gate on a long rein.

I guess this would be a great time to say that I am not a trainer, and I am not always sure if my ways of tackling situations are right. Trust me, in the back of my mind I am always worried that I'm going to ruin this horse, but I never do things that seem like abuse and if something isn't working I try to switch tactics. I post my stories to share my experiences and also to receive constructive criticism.

Thank you for reading :)

April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter everyone! And for those who don't celebrate Easter, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend with friends and/or family.

This weekend my room mate and I took a spontaneous trip to Wisconsin (where my room mate lives) to celebrate Easter with her family. She wasn't going to go, but ended up feeling bad about not going so we left Saturday and decided we would drive back Monday morning. It is about a three hour ride.

I do have some good news, Mr P is doing much better and all of the horses are going back to work. Since Sadie is still on vacation, my boss, Alli, and I planned to ride on Saturday morning. The agenda was to just have a fun time riding, nothing too serious since the horses had been out of work all week, and Jealousy has been out of work since she coliced, (is coliced a word?) on May 26th. We all groomed our horses and they were all super calm, well except for Maddie who refuses to stand still for more than three seconds because she is afraid something is always going to eat her. Mr P was a delight to groom and I didn't even have to tie him up to groom and tack him. He stood in the middle of his stall, away from his hay I might add, when I asked him so I could tack him up. He was praised like he was the best horse in the world. Some days he really does surprise me. Him being so calm made me very optomisitc about the ride, and I couldn't wait to try some of the things I had learned recently to fix him problem about doing circles in the arena. To fill some readers who may not know in: Mr P does not like to work on the opposite side of the arena that he comes in, and doing circles is almost impossible without slowing from the trot to walk. once he gets into the middle of the ring he just veers his shoulders and body towards the enter gate and ignores all of your cues. It has been a real problem for me, more because it is aggrivating and there is no need of it. So, back to the story. We all tacked up and warmed up in the ring and had all the horses on the buckle. Eventually we started playing follow the leaders and really focused on staying off the rail, which is the best spot to be according to all of the horses. Eventually the boss lady had us all just grab the buckle with one hand and do some neck reining. Mr P yet again took me by surprised by neck reining beautifully without me having to put much leg on him.

After a while I could tell that Mr P had enough and just wanted to go back to the paddock. He started his business of wanting to be by the gate and acted like he knew nothing about neck reining or what my legs were telling him. My boss lady really didn't want us to work the horses, but I told her I really want to work on this problem that he has. So I took up the reins and got him in a nice working and calm trot on the wall. Eventually I tried doing circles and Mr P did the same shenanigians that he always does. Before I had attended the clinic and watched some clinics online, I had always assumed that when Mr P decided that he wanted to go towards the wall, that if I either stopped him or slowed him down in order to get going in the right direction, he would learn that doing this buisness would get him out of work. After these clinics I got a new perspective on my assumption. I learned that slowing your horse down in order to go in the right direction makes the horse actually listen to you, and then you turn them around to said direction, and then pick up the gait that you were working on.

So, when Mr P decided that he was going to break at his shoulder I slowed him down actually right to a halt and then preceided to turn him around and trot off in the right direction. At times, and I am sure many people won't agree with me on this and a part of me thinks that it was just out of my frustration at this point in time, when we were walking in the circle and he would pull the stunt, and if he was ignoring all my aids, I would take my outside foot out of the stirrup and reall make it known that I wanted him to go the other way. I firmly belive that part of the problem is me, I always believe that most problems are the rider, and I know that I tense up when he does this little stunt and it might make him confused about what I am asking, but I also know that he takes full advantage of me tensing up. So I'll fully admit I wacked him in the side with my outside foot when needed. Was it right of me? Maybe not. Did it get the job done? Yeah it did. Eventually we were able to make a few nice circles at the opposite end of the arena and I ended it on a good note.

If people disagree with how I handled the situation, please speak up. Critisize me I don't mind at all, but give me some feed back on what I SHOULD have done better. I don't mind constructive criticism at all. Trust me, if my instructor asks me why something when wrong during a lesson I say that it was my fault, my form was way out of wack, etc, etc. I am usually super hard on myself, so I can take it from others :)

Thanks for reading!

April 4, 2012

Beware, Ranting Time

It has just been one of those weeks. You know the kind, where nothing seems to go right?

Sunday was great, I worked all day.
This week I have four exams, one on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. If I have any good news about this is that I have completed two and so far they are going well.
I just found out that I also have a equine nutrition paper due Thursday. Our exam for that class was Tuesday. HELLO PROFESSOR what happened to you saying that you weren't going to give us home work on the same week as exams? *head desk*

I wasn't able to ride this week. Trainer is taking the week off to sort some things out (which I'm not upset about that it's just kind of the 'add on' to an already stressful week). She gave me the go ahead to ride on my own which I was SO EXCITED about! Then she texts me later that night and said that Mr P can't be ridden, vets orders. He has come down with heaves and they gave him a steroid that makes horses prone to laminitis. Again, I'm not mad that he's sick I feel bad for him and I want him to get better.

With me transfering to UMO I had to pay a $150 confirmation fee (omg colleges come on I'm already going to be paying hand and foot for tuition stop nickle and diming me to death!!!) which made it so that I had to go into my savings account and take out the money that I am saving up to A. buy myself a new/used car and/or B. pay my Mom and Mem back for all the rent and tuition they paid for me this year. On top of that the paycheck I got after spring break was not much beacuse I only worked 2 days out of the four I usually do so my pay check was half.

So today I was suppose to get paid, guess who didn't get paid...ME!! *goes under rock with no plans of coming out*

In order to get paid I need to give my time card to my boss, she has to sign it, and then it has to get delivered to the pay roll person on the other side of campus. Boss lady has always dropped it off for the employees, but all of a sudden now we have to get her to sign it and drop it off ourselves. Boss lady...you are never there when I am...so how do you presume that this is going to work??? So yeah $13 in my checking...which means I have to get money out of my savings AGAIN! I'm never going to get another vehicle or pay off the people I owe...

Sorry for the depressing post..

April 1, 2012

Jumping Clinic

Today I had the great pleasure of working a jumping clinic today hosted by Jane Braddock at the equine center. My day started out by riding my room mate's bike to work (2.5 miles) in order to get there at 8:30 (buses don't start running until 9:30 on Sunday's) but I think this might be my new routine for getting to school since the weather is so nice lately.

So back to the clinic, I was super impressed! There were plenty of funny and breath holding moments, and even though I'm not jumping myself, there were many things said today that I could easily use during my lessons or when I'm riding on my own.

I cannot possibly highlight every rider and horse, but there was this ONE horse that was hysterical! Every time he went over a jump he GRUNTED. It was just too funny and everyone got a kick out of it.

It was so nice to see these riders (from beginner novice all the way to prelim) riding and it was nice to be able to know that some day I will be riding like that! Maybe not a prelim but hopefully at novice or training!!

Thanks for reading :)

March 29, 2012

Trail Ride

I cannot emphasize how much I LOVED my trail ride on Mr P yesterday. It makes me wish even more that I had a camera.

It was a beautiful day, not too hot. Actually I had to wear a coat and to make a mental note to make sure that I grab my gloves. With it being so nice out I decided that I would groom Mr P outside with his buds and since the wind was blowing I was hoping that it might help reduce the amount of horse hair in my mouth, well it didn't work that well haha but I think Mr P enjoyed being outside, so if he was happy I was happy.

After he was groomed I did have to bring him inside to tack him up, but unlike his normal hollar for his friends contstantly while he is inside, he did a half assed hollar (which was ADORABLE) and then settled down. Saddie arrived just as I was finishing tacking up and we were off. She walked besides Mr P while I rode. We did some warm up in the outdoor arena to make sure both Mr P and I were relaxed. I felt so opposite as most people would feel when riding outside, I felt more relaxed being outside and loved the breeze, and Mr P didn't even flick a worried ear.

Saddie planned that we would walk around the fields (the university won't let us ride in the fields but there are good sized roads inbetween all the fields) and we talked about riding outside. What made it different from riding indoors, dangers/obstacles you might run into, how to ride up and down hills. I asked Saddie one of the questions I has always burned in the back of my mind: "What happens if you fall off?" I have watched enough eventing videos to know that the horse usually runs off, but at an even there are plenty of people around to catch your horse, and there is no traffic around. Saddie said that most horses will either run home, or even stop and be like "Hey why are you on the ground?". This made me feel a little comfortable, not that I was afraid of falling off.

Unlike riding indoors, my heels stayed down much better, and I was super relaxed. When we got to a field Saddie had me do some trot work and just told me to go down as far as I wanted to and eventually come back. There was only so far I could go because there was a road, but I went almost all the way to the road. I really wanted to keep going on forever but obviously I couldn't. I turned around and went back. Mr P decided that going back towards Saddie was the time to rush his trot, but I stayed relxed and did some half halts and got him to slow down.

Trail riding is one reason why I can't wait to start eventing. Being outdoors and riding feels so much better than riding indoors. Sure riding indoors gives you security and allows you to do new things without the changing variables of the outdoors, but riding outdoors..just gives you a feeling of freedom.

Thanks for reading!!!

March 28, 2012

Trail Ride

Today I get to go on the second trail ride of my life. Saddie told me that I need to start having more fun while riding so today we are going to go out on the trails and relax and still learn. She knows that I want to go on a trail ride super bad and that eventually I'd love to do a trail ride around campus.

As some may not have known, I lost a family member this week. My Auny Dot (grandmother's sister) to cancer, we lost her on the same day we lost a baby alpaca. My feelings on Sunday were such a rollarcoaster. I am much better now, I miss her and I think of her all the time, but I am able to go throughout the day without crying.

In order to make this trail ride more meaningful to me, I decided (as korny as it sounds) to decidate today's ride to my Aunt Dot, and I will have as much fun as I possibly can in her memory.

Thanks for reading!

March 24, 2012

Colic, Lesson, Cold

I realize I should have posted about this sooner, but this dang cold I have has debated otherwise.

My first week back from spring break couldn't have been more interesting. Since I flew in on Monday I had postponed my lesson for Tuesday morning since I work Tuesday morning's anyways.

On my way to work I was pretty much skipping, I was so happy to be back and the weather was amazing (50s baby!) and I couldn't wait for my lesson. It is always nice to get back into the groove of things. I try to get to work for 8 but with buses sometimes I am a little late (about 8:05 usually) but it's not a huge deal and I have another person, Kim, who works with me anyways so she usually starts chores without me.

I arrived and Kim had already got the hay out to the horses, which means next all we had to do was feed Legend and Rollo. Since my lesson was at 9 and Mr P was a MESS I wasn't to make sure I got him in the barn by 830. As I approached the barn Kim met me and said that Jealousy wasn't eating her hay. This sent up a red flag for me because Jealousy is the pig of the herd, and the weather has been so out of whack lately (MN has been in the 70s during my spring break). I grabbed my cell phone out of my bag to call Sadie and asked Kim to get me a halter. As I approached the pasture Jealousy laid down. I got the halter on Jealousy and tried to get her up (this was my first time having to force a horse to get up and I wasn't quiet sure what to do). I pulled and pulled in front of her, I pulled by her shoulder, I lightly smacked her but, tried twirling the end of the lead rope by her but, nothing. After about 2 minutes of trying I called Sadie and told her we had an issue. She asked if she was rolling and I said no, matter of fact other than her lying down and not eating, she looked normal. I checked her respiration rate and it wasn't fast and she was alert and didn't seem like she was in pain. I wanted to check for gut sounds, but safety wise I wasn't sure if that was okay so I didn't. Sadie told me to try to get her back up and walking and she would be right in. After hanging up with Sadie I did a quick emotional check with myself. Sometimes I panic without knowing that I am panicking. But, I wasn't. I was super calm. I think the only reason for this was because she wasn't rolling and didn't seem like she was in pain. The only worry that went through my head was that if she started rolling how in the world would I stop her? About 10 minutes passed and multiple check in's with Sadie, and I still couldn't get her up. Finally a vet from the hospital came out to help. By this time Jealousy had started looking depressed and sleepy. The vet checked her gums and they were super pale and tacky (dang I forgot to check that!). Sadie arrived a few moments after and we got Jealousy up. She refused to walk and even once she started walking it was super laggy. We went into the hospital and some vets looked at her, and did an ultra sound (I could fill you in more about this process but this post would be forever long). Long story short, they found one small impaction and nothing else and they did some blood tests and would keep her in the CCU with an IV until they heard more.

Fast forward a couple of days. I saw Ali (a first year vet student) how Jealousy was doing. She said that a bug had caused her colic. Being the vet student I am I asked what bug (bugs can cause colic? Learn something new everyday!) They said that they had narrowed it down to two bugs, Clostridium or salmonella. Clostridium is found EVERYWHERE and everyone has some in their bodies. It become a problem when the bad clostridium gets to high. This can be caused by stress, injury, numerous things. Salmonella is VERY bad and very transmissible. So it had the hospital under a scare for a while. Come to find out it was clostridium. As far as I know Jealousy is still in the hospital but is doing great!

For my first colic incident I think I handled it very nicely. Mostly because I didn't panic. A part of me wonders if that is a bad thing. I knew the signs meant colic and that it was serious, so it made me act in an urgent way. But I was doing all I could do and as far as I know I was doing it correctly, which made me not panic. I'm sure if the hospital wasn't RIGHT THERE and she was rolling and thrashing I would have been a little more panicy, but lets not test out that theory xD


My lesson was canceled for that day and I had it on Wednesday. Long story short, it was one of those 1 step forwards 2 steps back type of lesson. Mr P and I know each other very well and he knows how to push my buttons. Heck its WWIII just trying to get him to trot now, but Sadie hopes on him and just brushes her calves on his sides and he does a nice trot *head desk* I know a part of it was that I was sick and this must be one of my platteu moments in my riding. We will see


OH on a couple of side notes 
1. The U offers kickboxing every friday for $8 wish I had found this sooner but I am so going!
2. I applied and got accepted into UMO!
3. UMO offers FREE kickboxing!!! 


Thanks for reading :)

March 16, 2012

A Quickie

Okay all you dirty minds out there I didn't mean it like that...

Just a quick post! Tomorrow I am going to a birthing clinic for alpacas *squeel* very excited and I'm going to get many pictures! Its being held at my Aunt's and Uncle's so I get in free anyways haha!!

ALSO!! We are expecting a cria to be born tomorrow! Falon looked very uncomfortable and I felt bad for the girl :-( she was rolling and just looked like "Get this thing out of me!" I hope to get some pictures of the birth for you guys! Cross your fingers for a BLACK GIRL, but also a healthy baby! Falon tends to have very big babies which can be good and bad. I will also be posting some more photos of the other crias they are getting so big and hopefully I can get a video of them playing (warning it is SO adorable!)

Hope everyone is doing great :)

Thanks for reading!

March 8, 2012

Spring Break!

Tomorrow at 7Am I am getting on a plane and flying home for 10 days. I am so excited for many reasons.

First off I get to see my family, for those who don't know me, family means everything to me!
Secondly I am visiting an eventing barn in my area to talk about possibly taking lessons this summer.
Last but certainly not least, two words, ALPACA BABIES!!! Yup you heard me right! Last night Misty had a baby boy and he was a porker 17lbs and mostly legs. He is a Top Gun baby!
Top Gun
This was taken a few years ago but let me give you a little show history:
3 championships
2 reserve championships
1st place: 14!
He is amazing and we love him dearly. He has two babies on the ground at our farm this year so far and he has more to come! On Valentines day, Valentino was born out of Star, and we believe that Juliana will give birth today! Or tomorrow which would be amazing. Juliana is a maiden so naturally I am a little worried, and after having a still birth already this year my grandmother is being really paranoid about not seeing as much movement from the baby as we should. I don't blame her for being paranoid and I am keeping my fingers crossed.

I hope to get a grip on a camera while I'm home to show you some cute cria pictures!! 

Thanks for reading.

P.S. I'm not bringing my laptop home over break so I won't be posting :)

March 6, 2012

Naughty Pony

Today was not one of my best rides. In fact I felt like I accomplished nothing. The warm up went well. I actually hopped on him bareback since I have only ridden bareback once and he seemed very mellow this morning. I worked on stretching my legs down and wrapping my legs around him, and also doing some walk and halt transitions. Once warmed up I threw the saddle on and did some trot work. From almost the start I knew we were going to have to have a harsh conversation about that it is NOT okay to run for the garage door out when I'm asking for a nice 20 meter circle. When I thought he finally had it through his head I asked for the canter on the circle and again he tried pulling his little stunt which is him crooking his neck towards the door while his head still is looking in the direction I want to go but his body says "NO I'm going to the door!". I am usually not one for kicking a horse, but I resorted to taking my foot out of the stirrup and kicking him. Sadie told me that when he gets like that to stop, get myself recollected, and go in the direction I wanted to go originally. My thinking went to "Won't that teach him that doing this lets him not do work?" But she assured me that it will teach him that bending and doing that stunt won't let him get his way.

I thought I had it, but Sadie asked to get on him because he started right back up after a few more circles. This made my pride hurt. I'm usually not the kind to deny help, but I felt like I was a solid enough rider to deal with a situation like that, but from the progress we weren't making it proved I wasn't. Sadie got him and secretly I was happy to see that he threw the same stunt at her, it just made me feel like it wasn't all my fault. She got him to the point where he didn't fight the circle and I hoped back on him to walk him out. So needless to say I was not happy with my riding this morning and felt like I had accomplished nothing.

Oh well you have your good days and off days.

Thanks for reading.

March 2, 2012

Big -sigh-!

TGIF!!! With this full week that I have had I cannot express how happy I am that it is Friday!

I am proud to say that all my three tests went very well (in my opinion). Today before my Ruminant Nutrition exam I was very nervous and felt like even though I had studied all throughout the week that I wasn't as prepared as I thought I was, but when I took my test it all came to me and I sailed right through it (double checking my answers of course).

After the exam I went to the barn. This weekend, actually Thursday through next Monday, there is a vaulting clinic at the equine center, and let me tell you watching these people vaulting made me wish two things. One that I could try it, and two that I had a camera!

On a completely random note, last night and part of today I started searching for barns in Maine that teach lessons based around eventing. I eventually want to compete in some eventing shows, even if they are just tiny shows I know I am much to old and poor (lets be realistic here) to compete in big time shows. But, I am okay with that! After searching for what seemed like forever, I have e mailed about 5 barns that claim to teach and also show in eventing classes. One has e mailed me back saying that she only teachers children about riding and that I should try e mailing this other barn, that I some how missed in my search. I went online and found that her lessons were $65 an hour..ouch.

I know lessons aren't cheap, and they are invaluable if you have a great instructor, but again looking at reality, I can't afford to drive 40 minutes to a lesson and pay $65 once a week, which is the highest and maybe most promising barn that I have found. Sure I would be happy just to keep learning and 'perfecting', if there is such a concept, my dressage techniques, but I want to go FAST. I now it is such a cliche but I want to gallop on a horse and just fly by everything. I know galloping isn't just about going fast, trust me I do know, but I want that feeling of being able to just go and feel as if the horse and I could keep going forever.

February 29, 2012

School and horses

I did fail to post about how my lesson, actually let me rephrase that, GROUP lesson on Monday went! Well it was great! I got to ride a level 2 dressage horse (Jealousy) which was interesting. Acutally, I rode Mr P for the first half of the lesson, mostly because of what happened this weekend:

Long story short, we had a Pony Club Retreat going on this past weekend. I was called into work on short notice (mostly because I am the only college student that would be up at 7 on a weekend). I went to work with the idea that I would hold Mr P while someone from the Pony Club gave a quick lesson on a horse's skeleton. He was painted on one half of his body, waited for the paint to dry, and off to the arena we went. As soon as the garage door opened I knew this wasn't going to be easy. The Pony Club had 2 vaulting pomels and very colorful mats in the arena, and also some miscellanous things at the far end. Mr P caught sight of the vaulting pomels and just forze! Eyes wide open, ears as straight as can be and just the "Oh my gosh it's going to eat me!" look on his face. I carefully coaxed him forward and tried to get him to walk on the outside of the arena before I asked him to go near the horse eating monsters. Oh did I mention that there was 100+ people in the arena who didn't really bother to be quiet, but hey they are kids I guess.

Finally I was able to get him into the arena, and he is near to have a mental breakdown, but boss lady and vet lady wanted to still try to see if we could do it. Well it got to the point where boss lady didn't think I could handle him and took him from me, and she said that I would handle the tours.

I had 2 groups to give a tour, and each group consisted of 26 people. Overal it was fun though and the kids really enjoyed themselves! After the first tour I got back to the arena and see that Jealousy was in the arena, and not Mr P. I finally got the chance to ask boss lady what was up, and according to her Mr P knocked her down and just lost his mind, so they got Jealousy who did perfect and didn't even give a second look to the vaualting pomels.

So fast forward to the lesson.

Saddie wanted me on Mr P because she had already seen that I can stay on when he decides that the world is out to get him and Syd was on Jealousy. Eventually we switched and I rode Jealousy. This was an interesting experience but a frustrating one. Jealousy is so well trained that if you aren't doing everything perfectly she will just ignore you. I realize this means that the problems we ran into were mostly my fault, but it was still frustrating. To top it off Jealousy had (or has?) gastric ulcers, so you can't kick her and if you do she backs up. To me a horse that is backing up without you asking for it is much more scarier than a bucking horse. When she was backing up ears all pinned I could only imagine her rearing and coming down on top of me. Thankfully, that didn't happen, and I did learn many things that I was able to transfer over to when I ride Mr P.

Unlike last week, it took me about 30 minutes before my calf got tired and decided that it was best for my heel to stay up. I try not to be hard on myself and say I am improving because before it was more like 10 minutes, but I still get frustrated with it. I ordered a elastic band similar to what they use in physical therapy in order to work on strengthening my calves since I don't have stairs.

Thanks for reading!

February 21, 2012

What a week (or two)

These past two weeks have been super hectic, mostly due to work and school so I really didn't get the time to post about how my lesson last week went. It was an interesting lesson based around shapes that could be used to help horse and rider. First Sadie had me tackle 20m circles, which I have done before so it was pretty straight forward. It was great because I can easily fit 3, 20m circles in the arena that I ride in now. Next I tried some 15m circles, which in theory shouldn't be much harder than the 20m but I found myself leaning in more than I should. I went from circles to serpentines which was much more challenging than I would have imagined. Mostly because the arena was so big that instead of doing a 3 loop serpentine I naturally tried doing a 4, but with some more work I learned that staying on the wall (or the loop part of the shape) would allow me to do a correct 3 loop serpentine. With this I was able to comprehend the correct aids to use when Mr P decides that it would be fun to bend into a 'C' shape in order to get closer to the gate that would lead him back to his pasture, hay, and friends.

I cannot remember how my riding went last Tuesday, but I do remember that I didn't fall off, so that is a plus!

Yesterday's lesson went very well and I had a great "ah-ha!" moment!! All the other times that I have posted while trotting I felt like I was doing it wrong, and I knew that I was going a too far forward and really not enough "up". Sadie had me her close contact saddle last week, which really helped my leg position, even though the saddle was a tad too small for me. I also believe that it helped me actually "figure out" posting. On Monday I started to post and it just felt, right. That is the best I can explain it. I didn't feel like I was flailing everywhere and my legs felt good. Mr P still wasn't liking the idea of doing circles at the opposite end of the arena and fought me almost every time we did a cricle, but eventually I learned to anticipate what he was going to do. On top of actually feeling like I was doing things correctly I also got to canter!

I have cantered only a handful of times, and I haven't cantered in...5 months and it was great. I stayed nice and balanced and stayed composed even after Mr P decided to rush towards the gate instead of doing a circle. Me and that boy are going to have a conversation about that.

My riding has improved immensely and it makes me so happy to know that one day I might be jumping, or even better doing a cross country course. There is one factor of my riding that I wish I had improved more by now, but it seems lagging. My right foot/heel/calf. While riding my right foot always falls out of the stirrup or slides too far into the stirrup. I realize that it is because I am not putting enough weight in my heel and that my calf is week. My calf is flexible, even more so than my left, but it still doesn't seem to stay in place and it frustrates me to no end. I realize that the 5 surgeries I have had on my right foot might have some things to do with it but I am bound and determined to fix this. To start I bought a resistance band on ebay to use to stretch more and also to hopefully strengthen my calf.

On a sadder note, a horse at the barn passed away over this weekend. It wasn't one of the horses that I work with, but it was a We Can Ride horse (a program of therapy horses that are used with children with disabilities), his name was Babe and he was 31 years old. He had a colic and due to his age, doing surgery really wasn't an option, so they decided to put him down. He was a sweet horse to the people, but a pain in the butt for the other horses. I always saw him giving the other horses a hard time and acting like a typical boy. It is still so hard to believe that he is gone. So with a sadden heart I say rest in peace Babe, you were a wonderful horse and helped so many children in your life time.

Thank you for reading.

February 16, 2012

Question: Slow moving horse

I have a quick question. Dessi has been coming along training wise, and she is a very intelligent horse, one thing that I have noticed is that when asking her to back up (on the ground) she is so dang slugish! And I am not exaggerating it's -think- bring one foot back, -think- bring the other foot back. What can I do to make her backing up a little faster? I realize that there is a limit about how fast a horse can back up, but we have an arthritic 9 year old who backs up five times faster than Dessi.

Thoughts?

February 12, 2012

Trip to the Equine Center

Last night Miranda (my room-mate) told me that she wanted to see the Equine Center. Miranda has never been around horses except for dropping off some kids that she babysat at riding lessons once in a while. I jumped at the oppertunity to show Miranda what I do and to show off the kids.

Here are some photos from our day.

February 9, 2012

Can't Catch A Break.

Have you ever felt like life is always just trying to wear you down, and that you can't catch a break?

Over the last 6 years, starting in my freshman year in high school, I have had a total of 6 surgeries on my feet. I got new orthodics molded for me and have been wearing them since January 18th, or roughly around that time. I was stocked that finally this whole ordeal was over. But, here comes life with a hammer, boink-ing me on the head as if to say "no stay down".

At first I related it to my increased riding and/or to my new orthodics, but this pain started before my riding increased and before I got the new orthodics, but since December 18th roughly, I have had this on and off hip pain. Like my Mom, I have hip displacia (which is where your socket of your hip is too shallow for your ball of your hip). I'm not sure if that is what is causing my pain, but something is. Last night I decided that I will try stretching at least once a day to see if it makes a difference, but I don't plan on stopping my riding, not when I'm finally getting decent.

So on a lighter, less complaining note, I need some advice from my readers! At the barn there is a 9 year old QH named Legend. Usually Legend is a great boy and very personable but lately he has gotten very crabby and has attempted to bit me and other people numerous times, and one time he got a chunk of my thigh. Boss lady and S believe that it's because no one is working with him. S tried riding him because she thought he would make an awesome lesson horse, but she hopped on and he wouldn't go forward, no matter how much she enticed, squeezed, or smacked with the whip. He just took it like it was dust landing on him. He would only move forward if someone was on the ground leading him. So, riding is really out of the list to do for now. The main problem is that he is supposedly arthritic. My experience with him? I haven't expienced much arthritic behaviors. He is the one that is always bucking in the pasture and running around like a little colt. Boss lady also says not to back him up too much because his hind end is weak...well in my experience he backs up better than he walks forward. He backs up with such ease and with just a slight touch of the finger (on good days), so I'm not sure where all these awful symtoms are. But anyways back to the point, I offered to work with him Monday-Thursday, but he can't lunge and can really only do things in straight lines. Do you have any ideas of what I could do with him? S said that I could trot/walk him over ground poles, but just make it 1 or 2 at first. He is really already obediant, but I would love to teach him to ground tie which I guess is a job in itself. But, do you have any more ideas of what I could do?

Thanks for reading!

February 6, 2012

Exit -stage left-

I have three exams this week, that I should be studying for. But nope I find myself sitting at my laptop just dying to write about my lesson today. I know I won't get any studying, or productive studying in, until I do so.

For the past week we have had GORGEOUS weather here in Minnesota. I cannot believe it, I am almost scared to see what is going to happen on later in the month. We'll probably get dumped with 4 feet of snow in April. It was so nice that I found myself almost skipping to the barn for my lesson.

I arrived to the barn to see a bunch of horses who are also very happy about the sunny and 40 degree weather we are having. Ears all perked up, lots of whinnying, and some playful fun with each other. I walk into our herd paddock and grab Mr P for the lesson. He seemed very against going inside "But but it's NICE out I don't WANT to work, I want to be outside!" Ears all loppy and just a pitiful look on his face. Scratching his neck I promised that he could come out after the lesson, we won't be too long.

Major kuds and credit goes to the new trainer S at the stables, and also to all of the workers. Before Christmas vacation it was almost impossible to groom Mr P inside a stall by himself. He would pace and pay no attention to you and just be a big butt head, but now it's almost a 180. I believe it's with some training and he is also being consistently ridden and worked that has helped him settle down. I also try to make a point to have all the horses in the barn for 5 minutes or so by themselves so they learn that it is okay to be in the big scary barn, and that they will make it out alive.

Grooming and tacking went great. Mr P got a little upset when a fjord named Ole left the barn, but he got over it quick enough, and with that many "good boy!" and scratches. S brought one of her saddles to try on Mr P, hoping that it might fit him a little better then the other tack. It fit good in the front, but was questionable in the back, but with a fluffy saddle pad we made it work.

In the arena I did the normal starting ground work. Walk-halt-walk-halt, halt, HALT I said!-back up-walk-halt *Good boy!*, rinse rather and repeat. Fixed my stirrups, tight tightened the girth, and hopped on. S told me to be a little more conscious during the warm up since Mr P had new tack, and he seems to be very particular about tack fitting him. Nothing seemed to bother him so I warmed him up and worked on my positioning. It felt a lot different going from a dressage saddle to a hunter saddle, but I made do. S had me do some trotting around half of the arena and made some comments about my posting. I need to lean back more, and go up more than forward. I also told her that I generally loose my stirrups when I'm posting and not sure why, but I told her that I thought it was because I wasn't putting enough weight in them. She agreed with my thoughts, so now I know what to work on.

S wanted to put Mr P on a lunge line while I was riding him, to see how he would do, since I have proven that I can stay on if he decides to do some bucking. But, it went well!! I just had to coax him to not go in towards S but other than that he was, well, perfect. S had me tie the reins in a knot and drop them and just post with no reins. This made me a little worried because I thought for sure I'd flop everywhere and fall off while trotting. I walked him around the circle a few times and S told me whenever I was ready to ask him to trot off. I asked him to trot, secretly held my breath, and...it went very good! I didn't fall off and I didn't loose my balance, maybe a stirrup once or twice but not my balance. I never used the reins for balance before so I'm not sure why I was that worried about it. After working on posting, I worked on my sitting trot (which was FUNNY!) I felt like an idiot, sitting well for a few strides then *bump bump bump flop* I was looking like a rag doll in the saddle haha! I realize that it is because my hips "lock up" when I'm riding, and when sitting the trot I don't allow them to just go with the horse, I also arch my back which I am trying REALLY hard to work on.

After going around both ways, S had me trot around half of the arena. While going around someone opened the big garage doors at the far other end to bring a horse in, and -EXIT STAGE LEFT-, Mr P thought that was his cue to leave the arena, so he quickly bucked and turned left and bolted for the garage door. Instinctly I sat deep in the saddle and pulled on my left rein for a one rein stop, turned him around, and had him walk away from the door. I walked him around half the arena and did some walk-halt transitions to get him paying attention again.  He did calm down and realized that he will leave when I say it's time to leave.

Today's lesson was nice because it brought up a lot of things that I was aware that I had problems with. I told S right up front about my sloppy trot to walk transitions and how I can't seem to keep the stirrups in the correct spot when trotting. Tomorrow I hope to work on these problems a little bit more.

Thanks for reading :)