Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Possum update

Well it's now the post holiday let down hahaha. Actually my holiday was great. I got to visit with family that I don't get to see all the time and also got some nice things, nothing huge or anything, but many practical gifts. I, however did not get anything horsey. My parents are pretty much against getting me anything to do with horses. They have given me money before which I have spent on horse related things, but that's about as close as it gets. But on Christmas eve, well in the afternoon I stopped by the barn on my way to the parents house and gave Possum some treats and pats and attention inside his paddock. It was actuallya fairly warm and sunny day so it was nice just hanging with him and the other horses. I think Possum was a little confused that I wasn't taking him out to ride or anything, cause aftre I snuck under the gate he was leaning against it trying to get out. You would think the high heels and smell of perfume would have been his first hint that I wasn't riding, but he obviously didn't get it hehehe.

Saturday, teh day after Christmas I went out to the barn not dressed in heels and nice clothes, with the intention to get in a good ride. It was pretty cold, with temps just hovering around 20, but that didn't deter us. I got Possum dressed and walked down to the arena. I got on and we both were stiff and cold. I also hadn't ridden him since the jump-off so I took a long time walking and trotting to get those muscles warm and working. He had a good spring to his step which was good cause I really wanted to use that energy and do some dressage work at the begging of the work-out. After both he and I were thoroughly warmed up and I had finally shed my winter jacket to just a sweatshirt, we were ready for some real work. We worked on some shoulder in and haunches in. We did some lateral movements across the arena with a try at some half pass. We also did some lengthening down the long side in the trot and worked on coming back to collected trot but not losing the impulsion. We were actualy clicking quite well and he was listening and made good attempts at each movement. His poll started to become more elastic and longer. His shoulders weren't as stiff and he was really coming through his back. I was already pleased with the flat portion of our ride, but I knew that the next day was going to be stormy and gross so I really wanted to get in a good work.

We warmed up over some jumps at the trot, making sure to take them all in both directions. While we warmed up I focused on my position and keeping my heel lowered and thigh and calf contact. I am also finding that I'm focusing too much on the jump itself. Basically I'm over analyzing and feel like I need to make all these timy adjustments instead of just riding to the jump. SO I've really started to focus on looking past the jump and letting the pace and rhythmn take us to the base. It's going pretty good, but old habits die hard, especially when the jumps get higher. I also have noticed that I tend to shift most of my weight to the outside when going around corners or tight circles. I have really been after myself to keep equal weight in both stirrups, or just dropping my stirrups all together so that I'm not throwing my horse off balance.

I then got off and raised the jumps all to atleast 2'9" to about 3ft. I then had my friend make up some courses for us to do. It was good for Possum and I to start to put some courses back together since we have been focusing a lot on either single jumps or lines and working a lot on our rushing issues. I really wanted to put our training to the test. He did really good for the most part, and I tried to pull my weight as well. There was also a pretty tricky broken line which caught him off guard at first, but then when I gave him more clear and better directions he was very honest. We did about 4 or 5 courses. He didn't struggly at all with the height and his rushing issues have subsided ten fold. Ofcourse we have some polishing to do on both our parts, but the basics are firmly in place and I think we're both at a better place now then we were at the Medals in September.

Not really sure when I'm gonna go back up and ride. It's sooo cold and windy today that if I went up tonight after work he would hate me forever, and plus I would be miserable. I might try Wed night and Thursday night. Friday we're supposed to get dumped on with snow, but hopefully I can get in atleast one ride on him this weekend.

Also wanted to add that I was looking him over the other afternoon after our ride and his body is looking great. He's at a good weight, he's muscular and fit and his top line is nice and rounded and his neck is getting a nice shape to it too. I think all of the flat and dressage work is really helping his body and he's looking awesome. In the next couple weeks I hope to have his trace clipped so reduce his sweating after rides and so I can also put on his new winter blanket that I got last year. I love this blanket and have been saving it all summer. It's a Weatherbeeta heavy fill with hood and it's in an awesome color. When I tried it on him it looked so good and fit him like a glove. I havn't put it on yet since it would be too much blanket with all his hair, but I can't wait.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas

Hey everyone!! Things have been busy as usual. Getting presents bought and wrapped before the big day. Taking care of the animals and riding Possum, plus trying to squeeze in running 3 times a week atleast and working. It's a lot on my plate now especially with juggling finances which is always a stressor. But on a good note we had our barn Christmas party this past weekend and it was a blast!!! Everyone had a great time and there was lots of yummy food and also games on horse back.

We had our famous jump-off competiton, or as many like to call it "jump till you die" contest hahaha. Possum and I did really well. I was so proud of my horse. We were one of the last horse and rider combos at the end and cleared 4'10". We attempted 5'1" twice and knocked it down. But Possum made a great effort and after reveiwing the tapes I believe that if we took off 6 inches before we had we might have squeaked over it. But he mad an enormous effort and didn't even bat an eye at the height. I was totally satisfied wiht our jumping efforts. The jump-off ended in a 3 way tie with three of us making it over 4'10" and nothing higher.

Below are some jumps and stuff from the competition. PLease note that I was not winning any points on style for this. I have a tendency on higher jumps to lift my horse up and over them which you will see in a few of the pics hahaha. I also did wear a helmet just in case which made me feel a little more secure. Enjoy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tis' The Season

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I had the chance to go to Boston Mass. with my parents and visit some family there for the day. It's a 3 hr ride one way so I spent 6 hrs in the car with the rents which was interesting. I had a great time laughing with my cousins and telling stories with the rest of my family. The food was exellent and I was lucky enough to be able to bring home a plate. After dinner and before dessert we took a 2 mile walk around their neighborhood which was good because I was literally stuffed. It was nice to get away for the day but on the ride back home I was anxious to go home to my doggies.

Possum has also been doing pretty well lately. We had visiting hrs here on Friday for 5 hrs and I couldn't come back home until after 8p. It was a yucky and rainy day and the dogs and I spent most of it huddled in the tack room of the barn staying dry and warm. I did manage to run down to the indoor with Possum and just rode around bareback not working on anything in particular. Yesterday was a gorgeous late fall day with the temps maybe touching 50. It was bright and all the rain we got on Friday was starting to dry up. The barn was busy and I took my time getting Possum ready. I let him pick scraps of hay outside of his paddock while I brushed him. Because it was so busy in the outdoor ring I warmed up out there and then went down to the indoor to work. We started jumping in the indoor just trotting and then cantering low fences and gradually making them higher. Then I got down to the meat of the workout. I set up two fences at about 3 ft with two strides in between. My goal was to 1. get good distances to the first fence, and 2. get him so that right after he lands to then pick himself back up and prepare for the next fence. My goal for the next ride is to then turn it into a one stride.

Possum did pretty well and I was able to navigate him to pretty good spots for the most part. I did notice as we went to the right that he was drifting towards the rail and kind of twisting in mid air. The next time around I made sure to have a strong left leg and also making sure that I had equal weight in both stirrups since the left is my weaker leg. It got a lot better after that. Then we cooled down and went for a walk around the farm and watched the end of a jumping lesson that was going on in the outdoor ring. So my goal for the next ride is to turn that line into a one stride to get him to really lift himself up on the landing of the first jump and then get ready for the next, especially with it being of good height at 3ft.

I've still been running and walking. This past week obviously was hard because of the holiday weekend, but I did manage to ride my horse twice and then run/walk 3 times. This week I hope to get back in the swing of things again. The weather has turned rainy and raw again and I hope that by tonight it lets up so I can go for my run. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do in the winter. I've even thought of going to the barn and running in the indoor at night which could work. The college I work at obviously has a gym and fitness center and I'm hoping that I can talk to the dean and have access to the facilities so that I can continue to work out and stay in shape. The trust of the matter is that even though I hate running and working out, it does make me feel better after I do it so I just need to suck it up.

Well I think that's about it. Just trying to budget now and save money and pay bills and with Christmas seson coming. I've been saving money by cooking more and eating out less which is a huge savings, but it seems that whenever I seem to get ahead on bills other things come up, like our rent just increased by $100, I just paid car insurance, Possum gets his winter shoes on this week which is over $200 and I also need to get my winter tires and an oil change on my car. Again, these are all issues that everyone deals with, but man it just makes me want to be a kid again for a few days.... OK, promise, the next post will be the book review that I have been talking about for a while now. Have a great day!

P.S.- Minnesota dude is good. We still talk on a daily basis and he is also working on things in his own life. We hope to have a visit planned for January, I'm crossing my fingers, I really wanna see him!!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quick Check-in

Hey guys! Long time no chat. Things have been crazy busy for me lately. Work is going great but still very busy, but also rewarding. I have been teaching a lot more this year so far as opposed to last year so that's awesome. I have only been riding Possum about 3 days a week and for 6 days a week I have been running. That's right, you heard me right. I have decided to get fit and maybe lose a few lbs so I have been taking the two bigger dogs out for runs after dark at night. I find that when I ride after dark it seems like you go faster than in the day light, and plus I never get home until after dark most of the time anyways. I have been doing really well with keeping up with it and am up to running 4 miles at a time. I am toning up a lot but have only lose like 4 lbs. I have a feeling that once my muscles are more fit that they will start to burn more off.

Possum has been doing really for the most part. We have been taking this time to really get back to the basics andn work a lot on our flat. We do jump, but our focus has been on the dressage basics and really working on using less noticeable aids. We did have a kinda crappy ride last Friday. He was really stiff and not using his back hardly at all. I just chalked it up to a bad day and tried not to get frustrated with it.

Yesterday I had plans of going out on the trail since it's Sunday and there is no hunting on Sundays in Maine, but my roomie had set up some big jumps in the outdoor and they looked really fun. I decided to have a "goof off" day and not do anything really serious. I didn't even work on collection. I basically let him pick his frame and only asked that he be forward and not behind my leg. Even though he was a little strung out and flat, he felt comfortable and was not rushing and took everything in stride. We did a flat warm-up and then started jumping small jumps. When he felt stretched and warm we decided to approach a large 4ft vertical. I didn't worry about his head and just kept the steady rhythmn. He was even a little slow, but we got a great spot and he hopped right over it. I was thrilled!!! There was no rush to the jump or throwing his head up in anticipation. It was like it wasn't anything and just up and over and onto the next. SO played around with that jump and then there was another 4ft vertical on the diagonal and we hopped right over that one too. Then m,y roomie set up a stone wall (fake ofcourse) it's was about 2 and a half ft in length and 3ft high with no standards or anything, so really the epitome of a skinny. I thought Possum might look at it some because it was kinda strange looking. He cantered right up to it and popped over. He did give it a little look as he was going over it, but cleared it nicely. I really was on cloud 9. He was doing so perfectly. It also really made me proud because my roomie's horse had a hell of a time going over the stone wall. She would spook and stop short or jump off to the side. It just goes to show me that my horse and I have a great relationship based on trust and when I ask him to do something he rarely protests in terms of bravery. I need to remember this o nthe days he is really frustrating me.

SO it was a good boost to the day since I was kinda feeling down. Minnesota guy and I still talk a lot, and I'm really liking him, but I just don't know if anything will come of it and it's kinda making me sad. I've been hanging out with a couple other guys and their nice and all, but I just don't get that feeling. My mind always keeps wandering to MN guy. I guess I just need to have faith that if it' s supposed to happen that it will and I can't always make things happen the way I want them to in my life. Last night I was kinda bored and Nick texted me out of the blue. Yes, remember him, good ole Nick. He wanted to know if I wanted to come over and chill since I told him I was bored. I said what the hell and went to visit for about 2 hrs to pass the time. We laughed a lot as usual and things were cool, strictly on the friend level. I'm willing to let by gones be by gones and turn the page to a new chapter. Anyways, I think that's about all that's new. Staying busy as the weather turns colder and colder. Almost every morning I have a nice layer of frost on my car. That means Possum is in a mid weight blanket until he gets clipped which will then turn into a heavy weight with a hood in about a month.
Next time I post I promise I will have that book review. It's definately a good book to talk about and especially ponder the early stages of hunt seat riding and proper equitation.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Little of this Little of that

Wednesday I managed to get out to the barn after getting out of work early and ride my horse. The weather has definately taken a deeper turn into fall and is now fast approaching winter. It was only in the 30's even in the dim sun light that was fading fast. I had high hopes of having a good ride out in the outdoor. But due to a minor crisis with a boarder that involved her dog and about 30 porcupine quills, my game plan was shot. Possum also knew that I was distracted and modeled his mood after mine. Basically the ride just turned into a leisure energy burning ride. We did manage to jump a few lines but he was heavy on my hands and slow to come back and collect himself. I then turned my focus to working on sicrles at both the trot and then the canter. I focused on keeping him soft and round and listening to my half halts. It is when I'm doing circle work that I really try and oay attention to my body. I was having a really hard time keeping equal weight in oth stirrups. I felt my weight tilting to the outside slightly. No matter how I tried and shifter my weight it just wasn't working. Plus with this uneven distribution of weight I could feel him tilting to the inside to overcompensate. I then decided to drop the stirrups completely. As we cantered aroung again I felt him become more even and balanced.

It's amazing what we learn from horses. When we think a lot of the problem lie with them, it turns out to be something that we're doing or not doing and didn't even know it. As we cantered around the 20m circle I really kept an inventory on what exactly my body was doing every stride. My upper body was good for the most part. My head was up and shoulders square. My elbows had a soft give to them every stride with thumbs up and hands about 5 in apart. I then focused on keeping my butt muscles soft and not flexed with more give to my hips. My legs were tight with toe slightly out and contact with both calf and thigh. It was a lot to think about, but it's something that I need to think more about.

I have to admit that I was browsing through RFD TV the other day but came across a great clinic by Lucinda Green, an olympic event rider for the British team. She had a lot of great things to say about body position and feeling the horse. Learning to listen to when they ask you questions. I also learned that your legs can also be TOO tight. That there is a time and place for tight legs and also a time to slightly relax them. Now I realize that eventing is not exactly equatition but it's great advice and good riding is universal and applicable I believe. I really liked her teaching style and everything she said made sense.

One of the other things I took away was her talking about the riders position and weight while jumping. She talked about the horse being like a teeter tooter and how when you jump ahead of the horse or are leaning too far forward it puts added weight on the horse therefore making it harder to lift their shoulders to jump. When a horse jumps they lift their shoulders and front end and are then propelled by their hind end. This got me thinking to the the now known "classic" hunter position of riders basically laying on the horses necks with a too long stirrup. See pics below:

This added weight can put the horse off balace and make it even harder to have a nice jump over a fence. Now, in hunters jumping the fences shouldn't be a huge strain for them since it is not about height but about manners and way of going, but still it makes the horses job that much harder. A lot of riders say that with a riding a hunter it's harder to keep proper equitation because the horse has such a big and rounded jump. I don't believe this is true. I think that too many riders in the hunt and even in the eq ring are trying too hard. I know I am also guilty of this. I find myself jumping for myself instead of just sitting "chilly" and letting the horses motion fold my hips and following with my hand. Many times I will force myself to ride fences as of late and just keep a steady rhythm and pace and let the jump come to me instead of calculating take offs etc. When you let go of many of the technical things it suprised me of how it just happends naturally.

Stay tuned, I am re-reading a good book that I wanted to do a post on , it's called Renegade Champion, the unlikely rise of Fizrada, written by Richard R. Rust. It's a wonderful book written about his mother Jane Pohl who rode on the show circuit with her runt of a TB gelding in the hunters and jumpers classes of the 40's and 50's and breaking gender barriers along the way. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ode to Dressage

I thought I would do a little post about the benefits of dressage in all seats of riding. Before I started jumping and doing all that stuff I rode dressage for 8 years. Sometimes reluctantly because the barn I learned to ride at did not like jumping and it was rarely allowed, but it was very beneficial for me. I am not a huge fan of just riding in 20 meter circles and doing things like shoulder in and haunches in and blah blah blah, but I think dressage for me is like eating your vegetables, it's good for ya. My adrenaline junkie nature is always looking for the newest thrill and exciting death defying trick. Dressage makes me slow down and really focus on the details of my riding and getting the best out of my horse.

Through the eight years that I rode dressage I feel like I have gained a lot. I first learned to ride in a dressage saddle. I remember holding onto the grab strap when I trotted for the first time in the old County saddle. That was a thrill. I learned to have an independent seat. To not only figure out where my seat bones were but to use them as an aid as well. I learned how to make a horse soften to your hands and push up through the bridle and really engage their hind end while slowly shifting weight from their forehand to the hind. But most importantly I learned to feel. I was able to open the line of communication from horse to rider through just feeling.

My opinion is that dressage basics are the foundation of all kinds of riding; be that western pleasure, saddle seat, hunters and equitation, and any other kinds you can think of. Dressage is based on control and balance and strength. Being able to have the horse move in any direction at any speed at any moment. Isn't this the ultimate form of riding? I think so. If your moving cows or running barrels you need clean flying changes based on balance. If your jumping a course you certainly need the basics of dressage. The horse needs to be listening to all of your aids, you need to be able to shorten and lengthen strides, collect and just about everything else you can think of. Even if your just a trail rider it's important that your horse has proper balance and can move off your seat and legs. You need a horse that has good transitions, what if you are cantering along and all of a sudden the foot drops out and you need to stop short??

So I just wanted this post to pay tribute to the great art of riding that is dressage. I am super grateful for the fundamentals and basics that I have learned with having regular dressage lessons. I was showing first level and schooling second level movements when I decided that I really needed to either get serious about it or branch off into another area of riding. It was then that I went to college and was able to have my first instruction in jumping and all I can say is man I'm glad I had my dressage background! I think every rider should be able to ride a training or even first level test with their horse. Dressage is great for the horse. When done correctly it creates a nice top line, strengthens your horse, gets them used to using the powerhouse that is their hind end and increases communication between the rider. It's kinda like stretching every morning before you work out or even start your day, it's good for everyone involved. Remember, it's like eating your vegetables, It's good for you!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall Scene

Here is a pic from last weekend. We were on your way to ride through the field and through the woods. Just wanted you all to see the leaves. It was a great day for a hack through the woods.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Showing the fruits of my labor

It seems that after I make a decision to hold off on the showing for a while is when improvement seems to show. I had such an amazing ride on Possum last night it was crazy. As I have mentioned in my last post we're really working on length of stride, shortening and lengthening. Possum has never had any problem lengthening, but shortening is another story. He's been doing well lately so I decided to setp out of our comfort zone and really put our training to the test. I started out the ride just as any other ride, giving him a good warm-up and then trotting 2ft fences in both directions and then cantering. After that I focused on getting a certain number of strides in a line. It was set to a fairly large 4 stride. Possum easily got 5 strides and once we even squeaked in 6 strides. It wasn't pretty, but it as done. Then I took a deep breath, dismounted and eased the jumps to 3'3" verticals. They were big airy verticals with just a single pole and ground poles.

I just have to add that I hate verticals. Especially airy verticals. I find it hard to really find my spots. I did this on purpose to not rely on my eye and to focus on pace and rhythm. My goal for the exercise was to get 4 strides in the line, just the same as it was at 2ft. So both of us were really being challenged in this exercise. I bit the bullet and started him in a canter. I kept the same rhythm as we did for the 2ft fences and focused on maintaining his energy and having it be an active canter without it being fast. We got a perfect spot to the first fence. After we landed I et him have one forward stride and then eased him into a shorter canter stride. He responded well and we made it down the line in a perfect 4, with it even being a little long onthe take off. I was floored. We did it again and nearly the same result. Then I changed direction and we nailed it again. The one time we messed up, or I should say I messed up was when we were really getting short strides and instead of asking him fir a long spot to the second jump I thought I could sneak in another little stride. But I didn't prepare him enough ahead of time so we had to basically splant his front legs and then make a four footed leap over the jump, knocking the rail with his hind feet. I made sure to let him know what this was not his mistake and that it was me. He seemed to understand because after putting it back up we did it again and he was great.

I was so happy after the ride. I can;t even describe how good it feels for all the hard work to pay off. I felt like we could have done a whole course in a relaxed manner. For the end of the ride I worked for a few minutes on transisions, especially canter to walk.

So maybe I just wasn't working on the right things this summer. Maybe I was focusing too much on the big picture and stressing myself out on showing and everything else that I really didn't get a chance to tackle the real issues. Who knows, but we seem to be on the right track now. I know that there will be set backs and all, but it just feels good to finally get ahead of the game.

I also have to add that my finances are finally starting to look a little more bright. I've been scrimping and saving and paying off bills and trying to get ahead. I also have some money coming in from work that I didn't even think of. So that's def good news as well. I figure that by the end of November I will be all caught up, credit card all paid off and paying bills early instead of a week late.

Still been talking to Minnesota guy on a daily basis. Hoping to either go out for a visit or him to vome visit here sometime in the next month we'll see.

Alright, the roomie is begging my to go out for a walk. We're being lazy asses and sitting in our recliners with laptops on out legs and making silly stupid comments. So I better get back to acting 12. Check in later.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Due to popular demand....

Ok, people keep pestering me to update my blog. Let me start by saying that work has been crazy busy lately, we have had funerals and or visiting hours every day of the week at the apartment and I have also been riding lots at night after work at the barn. This leaves little time for blogging, never mind even sleeping. But I'll try and give a little update. Possum has been GREAT lately. We have been riding lots this week. Worked on lots of flat stuff. Mainly been trying to really shorten his canter stride and also work on lengthenings. I have been setting up either a 4 or 5 stride line and trying to atleast add one or two strides in the line. I'm happy with his progress since it's been our pattern to leave out strides, so adding them is a huge thing for us. I have also really wanted to work on my position and his pace and rhythm. SO I've been setting up a 3"3' oxer and just cantering it over and over. I'm working on not even touching the reins and letting the even canter rhythm take us to the jump and it's working out pretty well. I'm concentrating on keeping my heels deep, legs tight and letting the horses jump close my hip angle and using an automatic release. It's a lot to think about at once but it's coming together nicely. We also went for an awesome trail ride last weekend with another boarder at the barn and it was fun to get out and stretch our legs in the fall air.

As for Minnesota cowboy, things are still the same. We talk all the time and it's good and I'm just trying to sit in the backseat and let the universe take it's course. That's about all for news in my life right now. Just going through the motions and really busy with work and stuff. I'm looking forward to hitting the trails at the barn this weekend before real deer hunting season begins and keeps us out of the woods for a while which really sucks. I don't even take a chance. There are so many stupid hunters out there that just shoot on sound and the thought of my horse or myself getting shot by some jack ass makes me shudder. Don't get me wrong, there are many responsible and great hunters out there, but it only takes one to ruin it for everyone.

Money has also been real tight as of late as well. I'm trying to catch up and get ahead on bills. Plus my car needs winter tires put on and it's also that time of year to pay car insurance. It seems that as soon as you feel like your caught up and doing well other bills come up to totally ruin it all. SO I'm on a super strict budget and it sucks! I really want to go out one night this weekend but lack of money may keep me home. We'll see. Well I think that's about it. I'll update more this weekend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Helloooooo, is anybody there?

This is basically what people are asking me as my posts are now a week apart. So to put everyone's mind at rest I am doing fine. I have been battling a nasty cold for over 8 days now. Last weekend I hung out with my parents and then sure enough on Monday I felt like shit. It was so bad that I either worked from home when I could so I could lay down and drink hot tea or called in sick most of last week. It literally wiped me out and I am still coughing a little with the sniffles, but am feeling much better comparitively. So due to this cold I havn't been riding much or if i have it's been pretty short just to stretch both of our legs. Yesterday I finally felt better enough to do an actual ride. We worked on some endurance on the trail with lots of cantering and trotting and then when we got back to the barn we jumped a few jumps and puttered around. After riding I gave hom a treat while I brushed him and then put on his rain sheet since the weather that night was calling for rain and yes even SNOW! I am so not ready for that stuff yet. After letting him back out in the paddock I snuck through the fence and just chilled with him in the grass. Wherever I walked he followed, it was kinda cool. I gave him lots of pats and hugs and just enjoyed spending time with him.

I got home and then showered and changed since a "friend" had asked me to dinner. I know I know, everyone's interest has just perked up, but it's not as great as it seems. This guy friend and I are simply just that and maybe a little more, but in terms of feelings it is strictly just friends. Basically we are just both a little lonely and not in relationships and enjoying each others company, Kapish? So it was kind of out of the blue that he would ask me to dinner since that's not usually our deal. And to be honest I have been kind of avoiding him lately because I am really starting to have feelings for the Minnesota guy. But I was kinda cornered yesterday and really had to say yes to dinner. Plus this guy friend and I really are friends so it wasn't that bad, plus we have known each other for many years so it was cool. But I couldn't help but feel a slight twinge of sadness. Like I was hoping it was my Minnesota guy that I was chillin with instead of this guy friend. My MN friend and I talk literally 5 times a day. We talk about anything and everything and we can talk for hours. He's sweet and nice and has his life together for the most part blah blah I know you guys have heard it all before. However he is not in a position to date anyone right now. He is in the process of a divorce after a seperation and has kids so I really don't want to be in the mix, and plus it's not my place to be either. (FYI he got married 10 yrs ago when his gf got pregnant and obviously it's not working out) But we talk all the time and it's great. He picks me up during the day and he tells me I do to him too. I really look forward to talking to him and we just seem to click. I know we're 1600 miles away with some obstacles to get through, but boy does this feel good. He's honest and up front, almost brutally honest. He hasn't been happy in a long time and was basically staying in the marriage just for show and then finally couldn't take it anymore. He then came to Maine just looking to get away for a while and get out of the situation and have fun and that's when we met. Neither one of us planned this at all and neither one of us were looking. I was just getting over the Summer of Molly and having fun and he was getting settled into the single life of just himself. He is by no means a player, it makes me laugh a little because of how little experience he has had, but it's cute all in the same hand. SO I really don't know what is going to happen. I have no expectations and we communicate effectively about it all the time so it's good to not have any secrets. Just taking this really slow and "holding my horses" so to speak hahaha. All I know is that as of this time I am not really interested in anyone and am just sitting in neutral seeing what the universe has to bring me. Patience is not a virtue of mine so this is good for me mentally and emotionally just to cool my heels.

Well I think that's about all. It's raining today and I'm not going to ride since I'm still not feeling 100%. I think it's gonna be a clean the apartment evening, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, folding clothes etc...real fun. Plus I need to catch up on everyone's blogs since I've been offline for a bit. Have a great day everyone.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Crazy work week with little time to ride

Just as the title implies it was a crazy work week. I worked late 4 out of the 5 days in the work week and have been running around the county going to schools and colleges in a crazed frenzy. My poor horse only got ridden Wednesday and Friday nights. Wednesday I finally had a break in the action to ride my horse. I didn't ride long, only for about 30 minutes since it was yucky and rainy. Had to ride in the indoor and someone else was also riding a young horse so I didn't want to do any serious jumping. Possum was quite energetic which was cool, but he was well behaved. We flatted for the most part. Working on bending and transitions. I worked hard on my equitation and getting back into riding shape. It's crazy how when you don't ride so many times a week you lose so much muscle, especially in the legs. It was went OK for the most part and I just focused on enjoying my horse. We tried dodging the rain back up to the barn and I gave him a good grooming and put on his rain sheet.

Friday was a much nicer day. It was still cool, only in the low 50's, but I love that temp anyways. Possum came right up to the gate and was ready to ride. I stripped his blanket off and curried him for a while. Now that it's getting colder and the days are getting less and less light they are really starting to get in their winter coats and shedding their summer ones. We ended up having a pretty good ride despite my low energy levels. He warmed up good but was a little lazy so I had to work a little to get him in front of the leg. Once we started trotting some 2ft jumps he perked up some. We worked on being straight and not having him just fall on his forehand after a jump. This is always a challenge for him. He listened pretty well and I was happy. We cantered some small lines and he was nice and slow and collected. I still took it easy on tight turns still kind of babying that left hind. It seems to be doing good, but I don't want to push it. We worked on some canter circles and flying changes. To end the ride we worked on some collected and extended trot sessions. I have found that once Possum starts jumping some and using his back that he is more apt to lift his back in the flat work. So he was nice and collected and really through the bridle. My roomie and I walked around the farm to cool out and then put our horses away. I put his rain sheet back on since the weather was calling for a wet weekend.

Saturday was soaking wet. I had family in town so I went to my parents and did laundry and visited with them. I went to bed early Saturday night since I was going back in the am to meet my family and going to a local fair on Sunday. The fair was a lot of fun. It was good to see some people I havn't seen in a while and hang with the fam. Ofcourse the fair food is always delicious and totally fattening, but hey, we're allowed to indulge sometimes, right? The weather actually cleared in the morning and we even had breaks of sun in the afternoon which was nice. I did feel guilty not riding my horse, but I figure the break won't hurt either of us. Tomorrow I have to work late again but Tuesday I really want to get out to the barn at a decent time and hit the trails. This time of year is so nice with the leaves changing and the nice crisp clear air.

As for my "cowboy friend" we are still 1600 miles apart so it's kinda hard, but the roomie and I are still planning on going out there to visit and check things out, but it might have to wait until December or January because money is really tight right now and I just have no spare cash. Our plan is to go out to Minnesota in the worst part of the year weather wise so we can see it at it's worst because it will only get better from there and see if we can really handle it if we do decide to move next year. This is all just planning and talking for now, nothing is definite for sure, but I know we're both ready for a move and knowing people out there is a plus so we won't just be on our own. So stay tuned for that. However, my cowboy friend and I do talk on the phone every day which is nice, atleast we can talk if we can't see each other. Well I think that's all for now, kinda quiet around here other than the craziness at work which I hope will slow down a little in a few weeks.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What a Great Day!

Pic above is a quick shot of the trail ride Possum and I went on on Saturday.

Yes, you heard me right from the title of this post, today is a great day. No particular reason other than the sun is shining and I hopped out of bed this morning with a feeling of purpose, strange I know. The air is warm and clear, and despite the fact that I work a looong day today it seems to be working out alright. I also get frequent calls from my special cowboy friend which also helps to make the day move along in a pleasant way.

Things have been pretty quiet since the show. I wanted to give Possum some time off and he just got a new round bale when we got back Sunday night, so I let him gorge on that most of the week. Saturday was a gorgeous day with a small bite to the air, perfect sweater weather! I slept in some, took a shower and decided to leave the dogs at home so I could thoroughly enjoy my ride on the pony. Possum came right to the gate and I led him into the barn. I spent a while grooming him and looking him over. He is starting to shed his summer coat for a thicker and more dense winter coat, aghhh!!! I'm not ready for winter. I saddled him up and led him over to the picnic table and hopped on. My plan for the ride was to have fun and enjoy the weather on the trail. The ride was great, it was just Possum and I and we were able to have some bonding time together. No stress, no agenda, it was great. When the footing allowed on the way out we trotted some. It felt good to feel the extra spring in his step from having the week off and he went forward willingly. About half way through our ride I couldn't resist and we took a detour to a large field and then I just let him fly. I forced myself to be aware of everything. The sound of his hooves thudding in the mowed grass, his rhythmical breathing, the up and down of his neck, the wind in my face and the sound it made as it screamed by my ears. I looked up to see bright blue sky and the sprawling field ahead, this is heaven I thought to myself. Forget the dusty arenas, the yelling of trainers on the sidelines, the nervous chomping on the bit by the horses and the scared and tense look of the riders. I was riding with a huge smile on my face that I couldn't hide if I tried.

All too soon the end of the field came into sight and I slowly pulled him up. He gave a toss of his head as a small protest to slowing, but he too saw that the woodline was approaching. We walked the rest of the way back until we hit the road. It was nice with my feet dangling out of the stirrups and the steady swing of his back as he walked with purpose. I have to confess that on the straight stretches I asked him for some collection and to reall work through his back as he trotted. Then when we cantered I would ask every few strides for a flying change just to make sure he wasn't rusty, he wasn't. He did everything I asked, I could tell that he too was feeling good. When we got back his neck had dried to a crusty sweat and we both felt better, like some satisfaction had been filled. I untacked and gave him a brushing and threw him back out.

I'm gonna be real busy with work this week, working late 4 nights this week until 8p. I hope one of those nights I can get out and ride before the sun sets. That's about all that is happening. Yesterday it rained all day. I went to the laundromat and then watched movies with the roomie most of the day and cleaned the apartment. I may be planning on a trip out to MN with the roomie sometime in November, but it's purely in the planning stages right now, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Hope you all have as great a day as I'm having.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pic from the show

Someone sent me a fairly decent pic from the show last weekend. Possum looks pretty good, but I'm jumping slightly ahead and my release could have been higher, but I can tell you that I had to be right on top of it on the landing so I'm guessing that's why I didn't release as much as normal. Not to say that's an excuse, but he was pretty strong on the landings. But on the plus side, Possum and I do look the part even though we couldn't walk the walk that day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Weekend re-cap

Well I finally have time to sit for a few minutes and check in with your guys. I apologize for not having any great stories or long accounts of the show, but I really just wasn't feeling it. I feel like I've been in a race since I came back from Virginia and really just wanted to do something fun and relaxing and the horse show was anything but. Thursday I got ready for the show most of the day because were were shipping out Friday late morning. I got all my tack cleaned and horse clean and everything packed. My back was killing me by the end of the day but it felt good to have it all done. I then went home and got all of my stuff together for the most part. That night I went to the local fair with a friend to hang out with some of the bull riding people that had come into town. I ended up having so much fun. They were primarily from Minnesota and Iowa and what a great bunch of people they are! I didn't want to leave. We were laughing and joking and just having a great time. I didn't go to bed until the wee hrs of the morning.

I had my roomie load Possum on the trailer the next morning so I could have an extra hr of sleep and then she came back to the house where I helped her hook up the camper. I then got ready and packed and had to drive the one hr in the opposite direction to drop off my dogs, then went to the barn and loaded my car with the stuff I had packed the day before and then hit the highway to meet up with the trailer and my roomie at the show. It was just about dinner time when I arrived. I checked in on Possum and put some mats in his stall and fed him and gave him a quick grooming. I got my stuff ready for the jumper portion of the show and hung for a little bit in the barn and then went to the camper to sleep, since I was beat. I got up early the next morning and cleaned his stall and fed him breakfast and then took a shower and got changed in my riding gear. The show Saturday was soooooo slow. It was about 1pm before I finally was able to ride in the first jumper class. Possum had a great warm-up and felt good on that hind leg, but I also didn't want to push it. We had some good rounds in the jumpers. I can't remember off the top of my head what we placed, but it was fairly good. By the end of the day I was tired and cranky because it had been a hurry up and wait situation. I took care of Possum and then decided that I would drive the hr and a half back home that night to meet up with the cowboys for the last time since they were shipping out Sunday morning and I had a little crush on one of them, the one I stayed up till 5am talking to. I really wanted to spend a few more hrs with him before he went home to Minnesota. I took care of Possum and then hit the road. I got home about 8p and took a quick shower to wash off the days dirt and headed to the fairgrounds. It felt nice to walk up to the large group and have everyone yell my name and give me big hugs and excited to see me, I have to admit it made me feel good.

We hung out and then went to a local bar. I didn't drink since I had the show in the morning to drive back to. My classes were last of the day so there was no huge rush, but I still wanted to feed and make sure everything was ready and I also had to polish my boots. So I was the DD at the bar, but I still had a blast. I danced basically the whole night, moving from one cowboy to the next. They were such great people and so respectful that it was a breath of fresh air to hang out with them. They definately stuck out like a sore thumb in our small town or locals but they just took it all in stride and if someone was ride to them they just brushed it off. I got home about 2am and slept till almost 7am. I packed up and took a shower and was back at the show a little after 9.

The day was just not that fun. Our barn for the most part did excellent and that was great and I was happy for everyone. I had a good warm up on Possum and then when it was my time to go in the ring for our first eq class it went fairly well. Not great but ok, but we still ended up 4th out of 4. The medal class was pretty much a wash. I was a little nervous and ofcourse Possum picked up on it and started to get strong. We got some bad spots, he was rushing in the corners and lost his hind end lead. I was so nervous that I wasn't blinking on course and my contacts were drying out and almost fell out of my eyes, so I basically did the second half of the course with my eyes shut. I tried my hardest. Tight legs, sitting back and using my body to try and slow him. It was so bad once that he lost his hind that I had to wrestle him to a trot to bring him back. I ended up with a score of 50 which is pretty crappy and placed 3rd out of 4 and didn't even get a call back to do the second test. I was pretty upset and had to fight back tears.

I've realized that I really need to sit and think about what it going to make me happy. I have never loved showing, but it's getting to the point that I'm starting to hate it. It's a lot of work and money and if you don;t like doing it, it's gonna make you miserable. I don't really know what is going to happen, but I feel like a break from showing is necessary. If I'm not into showing, my horse sure as hell is not going to be into showing. As it is is he puts up with it because I wanted to do it. I think this fall we're gonna take it easy. Hit up a lot of the trails and just have fun and spend time together. Get out heads and bodies straight and then maybe make a decision.

I'm kinda down today, not in a bad way but I kinda miss my new friends, especially the one that I had gotten close to. Just a real great guy who is a sweetheart and very genuine. He's not a super model or anything, but once you start talking it's just so easy and smooth. I'm glad that I got to be friends with them and have a lot of their numbers so if their up this way again we can hang out or something. SO I'm back at work adn the daily grind, sitting here thinking what it would be like in Minnesota hahaha. Everyone has horses and farms and all that good stuff. We stayed up late a few nights just talking about the west and how different it is from the east and the people. It makes me wonder sometimes.

Well I think that;s about it. I don't have any pics right now and to be honest they wouldn;t be that great anyways. I'm glad to be home and have some time to relax and settle back into the routine. I have a late presentation at the local college tomorrow night so I won't be able to go to the barn, but hopefully Thursday I will.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's Already Wednesday!!!

I have soooo much to do it's not even funny. Show is T minus 2 days away and I need to get a move on my packing. So this whole week has just been a balancing act of barn and work. AFter work last nite I literally raced to the barn to make sure I had enough daylight. I got Possum out and groomed him and gave him a once over. Ever since this funky left hind thing has been going on I've been hyper vigilent in checking everything over and making sure there are no changes or anything. Everything looked the same as it did before. I got him all dressed and took him in the outdoor arena. He was super lazy. I felt like I almost needed a crop to get him going. We spent a bit of time on his warm-up, lots of trotting and then cantering big circles so as not to put any early stress on that left hind. Basically my rides right now consist of really reading how he feels. My gut still told me that something wasn;t just right but I had nothing to base it off of. He was perfect and balanced cantering to the right, but still to the left I felt that slight compensation.

I decided to press on and trot some smaller jumps and really stay in tune with how he was feeling. He went right up to the jumps and did his job great. We started cantering smaller lines and he was steady and quiet and calm. After about 10 minutes I decided to throw a roll back in to the left. Right after the jump on the turn he lost his hind end lead. I cooled him out and decided to lunge him to see if I could see anything from the ground. I had asked everyone I could especially in the past few days to see if they could see anything going on with him. Even the barn owner and trainer couldn't see anything. I put him on the lunge and started to trot him out in a large circle. I could see that he wasn't striding up as much with the left hind and seemed to be picking it up slighter quicker than the right. Again, it's hard to see, especially when your trying to see something. Then I asked him to canter. This was the tell tale sign. With no rider to keep him balanced he was a mess. (Ok a mess in my mind, maybe not a mess to some people) He even started out cross cantering. ONce he did get the lead he quickly lost it. I ended the lunge session immediately. I went and talked to the trainer and he was to be given a gram of bute that night and put on MSM to help if there was any inflammation going on. She said that it definately did not look like stifle and she thought that it might be a slight muscle pull. We can't really know for sure, but it's really frustrating.

Possum isn't in any pain that I can tell. I know this horse inside and out and we communicate on a level that's kinda cool. He's not in pain, but it seems that it's more of a nuisance for him, like "c'mon leg, stop doing that" After untacking him I spent a good 10 minutes going over his entire body taking mental note of how everything felt and looked. Everything appeared to be fine. I touched his hind all over from rump to the bottoms of his feet and found nothing odd. I again washed his hind and legs down with liniment and popped him a gram of bute and started him on the MSM. I will not ride him the rest of the week until Saturday. Saturday morning before the show I'll lunge him and then ride him and make an asessment from that. We're only in 6 classes Saturday with nothing above 3ft. I just want to make sure my horse is 100% before we do anything. Keeping my fingers cross that it is just a sprained muscle or something and move on from there. I feel bad because he wants to keep riding and working, but I'd much rather be safe than sorry. As I let him back out in his paddok he trotted away and cantered, crazy horse, I told him not to do that, he looked back at me like "what's the big deal dummy?"

So with not riding my guy for the rest of the week I should have plenty of time to pack. Tonight we;re going to my parents to get the camper and for me to throw in a load of wash since our washer is dead. Tomorrow I will be cleaning tack and packing grain and hay and shavings. Getting all my equipment and supplies in their respectful totes and starting to make a list of all the clothes that I need for myself. I feel like I have a child and then some, having a horse is so much work, but I have to admit that I love it. I am psyched for a good time this weekend and I have faith that Possum will be 100% and rarin to go. Think good thought for us please!!

Well I think that's about it. It's a gorgeous day and the weather sounds good for the weekend!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Number 200

Believe it or not this is my 200th post on this blog!! I can't believe how the time has flown by. As I look back on all of my posts I see some growth along with all the struggles, and even some really good things that have gone down. The blog to me is a place to reflect and get thoughts out of my head and share comments with others that my not necessarily know me. I started this blog at a very hard time in my life and it's been through all of the journeys that I have been for the past year and a half. With that said, I had a good time in Virginia. The days were kinda boring and the nights were made fun! Some of the work shops were good and useful and some of the other ones were boring and not something that I could use in my work. Ohwell.

I came back Friday night and raced to my parents to pick up the dogs. They were so happy to see me, and the feeling was mutual for me as well. I had to wash a load of laundry while I was there because our washer shit the bed, joy, more money to spend. So it's 4 days and counting until we leave for the Medals. We will be leaving Friday afternoon to head up there with the horses and stuff. I will be coming up a little after since I have to drop my dogs off at my parents again. I'm really excited but I know that it's a lot of work and a lot to prepare for. I know once we get there and can settle in and relax that it will be fun. I just dread the thought of packing and stuff beforehand. So much to remember and bring and store that it's kinda depressing. I do have Friday off from work thank God! I also took that Monday off as well to unpack and relax a little since I will be out straight the entire weekend. So Friday I will pack all that I need, give Possum a bath and do all trimming and prep work at the barn so that all that needs to be done at the show is braiding.

My scheduled is as follows for the show. Friday we unload and unpack and settle the horses in. Saturday moring I egt him ready because we are entered in 6 jumpers classes, heights 2'3"-3ft. Because I decided to only do the jumper classes I do not need to wear formail show attire. I will be wearing beeches and tall boots and a polo shirt. Possum will be wearing a square embroidered white pad with his sheepskin half pad and he will not be braided. That way we can go around the ring, jump some courses and get some of the energy out of him. My goal is to have him nice and quiet for the day of the medals. Saturday night the barn owner is going to braid Possum for the Medals the next day.

Sunday will be the day of the Medals. Everything is to be clean and polished and looking great. I have an equitation class and a Medal class. My classes start later in the afternoon so that will give me a chance to get ready and watch the others from the barn. Sunda night we will finish packing everything up and head back to the barn.

So with the Medals weekend only 4 days away my goal is to ride consistently this week. I rode Saturday and I could feel his right hind acting up again. I have asked a lot of people about this, but no one seems to have a good idea by looking and feeling it. It is also something that you can't see when he's going other then losing his hind end lead. But when I ride him I feelhim tip his rib cage in and over compensate with the outside hind, therefore making him not through his body. But on a good note he has been very quiet and listening really well in our rides. Because of his hind issue I am not doing tons of jumping, but what we do he is very nice. I have even gotten to the point of asking him to add strides in a line and he's doing it! Our changes are also going really well, over 80% of the time on his bad side and 100% on his good side. My roomie even rode Possum one day that I was gone so it was good for him to stay in shape and working. I did not ride yesterday after riding fairly hard Saturday. When I was done Saturday I gave him a liniment bath making sure to really rub any sore spots and checking him over thoroughly.

Tonight after work I'm headed to the barn and going to have an easy ride. I think I may even just flat him and maybe go for a little jaunt down the road to keep him fresh. My reasoning is this. It's not that Possum can't jump the jumps or the height. He's good on tight turns now because we have been working on them, and he's getting a lot quieter in the lines. Basically I just need to keep him maintained and fit and most importantly sound. I have a feeling Saturday will nock him down a peg with the jumpers. I don;t want him too tired and that's why we;re only doing 6 classes. And if he still feels good there is a race track on teh grounds that we can play around with too. Possum especially loves galloping on the track, and remembers it wellfrom our marshaling days.

SO that's the game plan. I have also been having a lot of fun in my personal life as well. I'm not going into details since there are way more people that read this blog then I realize! But the weather has been consistently great and I'm having fun with friends and hanging outside. No BF prospects, but just having fun with good friends.

Alright, think that's about it. I am so busy at work too with school starting and being in VA all last week and now with the Medals coming up and having Friday off I'm swamped. Checkin tomorrow, later.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Alright already

Ok, so it's been brought to my attention that I havn;t updated my blog in a while. I think it's funny but also makes me feel just a teensy bit important to have people miss my posts, I'll take what I can get. So here goes....

I rode for most of last week. Had a couple of good serious ring rides and a couple of really fun trail rides. The weather here for the last week has been beautiful. We're so used to having it rain almost every day this summer, getting 7 days of sunshine in a row is like heaven. The temp is also perfect. 70's and80's during the day and nice and cool at night with no humidity. During one of my ring rides towards the end of our jumping session I felt that left hind acting up again in the turns. I cooled off quickly and then after untacking him inspected it. There was no heat or swelling, just those nasty looking lumps that have turned hard and calcified. I cold hosed it anyways for about 10 minutes and rubbed liniment on the whole leg and rump. If it's one thing about Possum, it's that he HATES liniment. I'm pretty sure it's the feeling he doesn't like, the tingling sensation. He dances around and stomps his feet and has even done little rears. He doesn't ast as bad if it's just his legs but if I scrub him down with a bucket of water and liniment he freaks. Just another little bit of info on my crazy appy.

It's actually been a good week for me and a restful holiday weekend. I've been hanging out with friends and having fun at night. Work has been crazy. Schools are back open again and I've been getting back into the schools and getting presentations ready for the year. After this weekend, Tuesday morning I fly down to Virginia for a conference for work for 4 days. I think I;ve said this before but I'm gonna miss my puppies like crazy!!!

I've also been running more this past week. I've been running down the old snowmobile trails and it's helping to keep my motivation up. But i have to admit that my meals have been less than healthy, I'm sipping on a can of Pepsi as I type this hahaha.

Last night was particularly nice. I got to the barn at around 6 and it was pretty quiet, just as I wanted it to be. The dogs ran around and and did their thing and I got Possum out and ready. He was pretty slow to warm-up. He usually doesn;t get his motor revved until we start cantering some and then he comes into himself. My goal was to work mostly on rhythm and pace. He did excellent. I was thrilled with him. His canter was absolutely perfect. I was able to just sit pretty and lift him up when he started to get a little heavy. He was nice and light for the most part and responsive, it felt really nice. I was still riding in the Happy Mouth Elevator. I've decided to keep riding in that right up until the medals since he is doing so well in it. I want him this light and responsive for the Medals rides. It also helps that we've been working a lot on the flat Bringing things back to basics and having him really listen to my seat aids more. Getting him to rock back on his hind for downward transitions. I'm actually pretty happy with our progress. SO when we got to the jumping part of the ride last night I was really sensitive to any heisitation on his left hind. He felt great and nice and strong. The rhythm and pace was right on! I was jumping for joy inside. Even with the jumps au around 2'6 and some close to 3ft he was still keeping that nice pace, and with that pace I was better able to get him to a good spot and not be fighting with him all the time to slow down. I only jumped serious for about 10 minutes, enough to get throigh every line and mix things up a bit, I didn;t want to push my luck.

After the ride I untacked him and gave him his dinner to eat in the yard. It was so nice just sitting in the grass watching him eat and playing with the dogs The sun was just setting and everything was pink and orange and a huge moon was hanging in the sky.

Today I really have no plans, I want to go to the barn and have a fun ride this afternoon since he was so good yesterday. The sky is such a bright blue with no clouds in sight, it's just beckoning me to ride. Tonight the roomie and I are going to her guy friends hous for a small cook out and he invited one of his single cop buddies over too to meet me. Who knows, I'm not expecting a love connection or anything, but can always use good friends. I've also been hanging with a few guys lately too. Nothing serious, just having a few drinks and chillin. It's nice to be in the company of guys again and chatting. I feel like I'm just starting to feel ok living the single life, doing my own thing and only taking care of myself. I'm looking forward to this fall andofcourse the medals are only 2 weeks away!!!! That's going to be the highlight for sure, everyone back together as a show team again and having the whole weekend dedicated to horses and showing, I can't wait.

Well I think that's about it for now. Sorry it's been so long between posts, I'll try and keep up, but when I'm in Virginia I'm not sure if I will have internet, so we'll see. Have a great holiday weekend!!!!!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Getting There....

I've been riding Possum on a fairly consistent basis. Friday I went to the barn and watched my roomie have a lesson and relaxed on the swing by the arena while munching on a roast beef sandwich (on wheat bread and light mayo). After her ride I was leisurely going to get Possum and then found out that the barn owner was taking a client out for a trail ride to the pond. I only had to think for 2 seconds and decided to forego a borning arena ride and hit the trails with them. They were ready before me, I still had to put britches on, tie Phin up and put on Possum's bridle so they went ahead. Note that Molly did not watch which way they went to the pond. There is a short way which is mucky and has a steep hill and then there is a longer way which is basically riding on the road. Possum and I geared up and then trotted through the field, walked down the mucky hill, cantered down the county trail, walked to cross the ditch and water and then cantered up a rocky hill to another field. I thought that it was funny that I hadn't caught up to them. I also wasn't noticing any fresh tracks in the trail, although both the other horses were barefoot so they blend in better with older tracks. When I finally got to the part where we cross the road and take the trail that heads to the pond I decided to follow back the longer way and see if I would meet up with them head on. Sure enough I meet up with them a few minutes later. Both the barn owner and I conceded that the extra mileage was good for Possum, I was also thinking in the back of my mind that it was also good for me to burn of a few extra calories. We had fun at the pond, didn't get too wet cause we had all our tack on, but enough to cool off and enjoy the scenery. When we got back to the farm I decided to have Possum go around some jump courses for a few minutes just to stay sharp. He was already plenty warmed up sp we trotted a few and then went right into cantering. The trail had taken him down a couple notches energy wise and he was pretty quiet and we ended on a good note.

Saturday I didn't ride. It was all rainy and yucky and cold so I opted to be lazy and stayed home for most of the day. Yesterday was perfect weather wise. The air was dry and the sun was shining but it wasn;t too hot. I got to the barn late afternoon, I had to watch the Red Sox game first ofcourse haha. It was too nice to just do work in the arena so we had a long warm-up and flatted some. We brushed up on some flying changes which he did well with and did lots of serpentines and softening work. He was doing so well, like butter in my hands. I literally had ounces of weight in each hand, even on his bad side. I decided not to push my luck so we turned for the trail. It was Beautiful! We just buzzed along. Trotted when the footing was iffy and cantered when it was good. SOmetimes I just really like trail riding by myself. It's when I do my best thinking and relaxing. I Don't even talk out loud but I feel like Possum is knowing all that I'm thinking. Either I'm really in tune with my horse, or I'm just a wackadoo, I'
ll leave that one up in the air for now. It was nice to just get out. But like most of my trail rides I do like to work on things, We worked on shortening andn lengthening strides at the canter. ALso worked on some flying changes which he did awesome with. He was soft and responsive and really working through his back at the trot. I was really happy with how he was going. We got back to the barn about dusk. I gave him a quick grooming and then he had his grain since his paddock had already been fed. I then turned him out and fed hay to the guys in his paddock. It was just starting to sprinkle when I left.

Not sure if I'm riding tonight. If I don't I'll atleast find the time to have 2-3 serious ring rides this week and then a trail ride or two as well. I Like to mix things up. Possum is a little like me and can get bored easy and when he gets bored he finds things to do that are fun, Like galloping around an entire jump course. I want to keep him on his toes and working on things, but also want him to think it's fun and stay in tune with me. I'm finding that it's a hard balance. As long as we have our regular trail rides and gallop sessions he seems to be pretty happy.

Didn;t do much socially this weekend like I said I stayed home most of Saturday and Sunday went to the barn. But I did manage to rustle up some fun on Friday night and ended up hanging with an ex......giggle giggle....and no it wasn't Nick. It was actually quite comical and trust me nothing came of it. I won't get into details since this blog has become quite popular as of late so I'll leave it up to your imaginations. Well that's about it for now. Work is getting real crazy again since school has just started and I've been moving my office to another room in the building. Now I need to make up some posters to hang in the schools. Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another really good ride

Got to the barn after work tonight and the weather was almost perfect. It was cooling off and the air was a lot frier than it has been. Possum warmed up kinda slow but I took the time and we did lots of trotting and softening work. When we started to canter he was a lot softer and more responsive than usual. I was so excited and was able to just sit and try and equitate as best as I could.

After a good flat warm-up we started trotting jumps and he was really doing quite well. Then I had him canter one single jump. Cantering to the jump and then breaking to a halt about 8 strides away, turning him around and then cantering the jump the other way. After he did that decent we jumped a roll back. There was a lesson at the top half of the arena so we stayed towards the back. After doing that fairly well we did some diaginal lines and he was really listening and going nice and slow. I even tested him and we got 6 strides in a 5 stride line, I was thrilled that he was really coming back to me and shortening his stride when I asked. I put the roll back jumps up to 3ft and practiced just going back and forth over those working in both directions. I was really happy with the ride! When we were finished I could tell that he felt good too, his ears were up and he had a nice swing to his back andw as just looking around. I made sure to give him lots of praise.

Below are some pics. The first one is a pic of one of the new jumoes everyone has been painting, they look really spiffy!

I let Possum out loose to eat his grain and graze for a bit. Got a shot of his ugly appy eye hahaha.
This is a shot of the sun shining on him as he's grazing. It is so hard to keep him clean!

A close-up of him eating his dinner

Lastly a shot of all his muscles. He is quite fit and muscled. Look at that nice long appy tail, when I got him it was barely to his hocks and now it almost touches the ground. Also note that I do not touch his mane and that's all teh growth I can get. Luckily the barn owner is a whiz with braiding and make it look really nice for shows since I'm braiding challenged.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Great ride last night

Got home form work last night and changed, grabbed the dogs and raced to the barn. Possum was out in his paddock haning out with a round bale. I went out and go him. I was happy to see that the farrier had done his back feet. He had done the fronts last week and didn't have time and it was getting late and said that he would come back Monday. I was psyched cause his shoes were wearing thin and starting to make that "clunk" sound out on the road, meaning that it could go at any moment.

The weather held off and after tacking up we headed to the outdoor arena. I had no real game plan and was going to play it by ear according to how he warmed up. I let him warm up slowely not asking him to collect and just kept the reins loose so he could criuse around. After a while I asked him to collect. One of Possum's infamous traits is to suck his neck in, disengage his hind and crawl around in a nice false frame. I had to use quite a bit of leg to get him moving forward. It was then that I cursed myself out for not grabbing a dressage whip. Finally he started to really work through his body. I still had the Happy Mouth three ring Elevator on for a bit. He was suprisingly light and it was nice to only have ounces in my hands. We did some lengthening and shortnings. His canter was nice and round. His stiffer side is to the left and I worked extra hard on softening him with some shoulder in and lateral work. I was really pleased with how nice he was moving and feeling. We did some flying changes across the diagonal and he didn;t rush them and was quiet. Towards the end of the ride he was really stratching into the bridle and I could really feel him push with his hind end. I quit on a good note.

After a nice flat we hit the trails. He was a little sluggish at first. I could tell that he thought he had done a good job and didn't want to work anymore because a roundbale was calling his name out int he paddock. After about a quarter mile he perked up and really got into the ride. When we got to the long dirt road part he started to dance. We hadn't galloped in a while because of the funky thing going on with his left hind. I got up out of the saddle and we started to fly. It felt good to be out galloping again. His strides ate up the ground and before I knew it we were reaching the end. We walked most of the way back to the barn and cantered along side of the hay fields. I was very happy with our ride. Even though we didn;t go over a single jump, a nice flat is definately the stepping block to a nice hunter round.

Might ride again tomorrow. Have plans Thursday night so won't ride then, we'll see how hot the weather gets tomorrow. Possibly a wet weekend is coming so that means riding in the indoor mostly. Either way we'll get in some solid rides and keep working towards the medals.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Getting the wheels of motion into working order

OK, so The Downeast Medal Finals are slightly less than a month away. I rode Possum Thursday and Friday last week and both in the ring. Thursday was challenging but I could see some noticeable progress. I did switch to my bridle with the Happy Mouth Elevator for some added leverage. It did help some in getting him to halt in lines quicker and help to lift his shoulders instead of leaning on the Pelham. He can't lean on my hands as much with the elevator. Now some of you might be scratching your heads and wonder why I have to do all this bit switching and talking about heavy on my hands, because really a horse is only as heavy as you will let them. Let me start off by saying that Possum has some permanent nerve damage to his mouth from his past abuse. What Possum works best off of is poll pressure. He actually does great in a Hackamore, but unfortunately those are illegial in hunters and eq, I could use one in jumpers. So with added nerve damage, being naturally built downhill and riding like a 1929 dump truck; you can start to see where my problems are hahaha.

Hes a very good boy. He would never buck or rear or be dangerous in any way, but he is also not an easy ride. He has a very straight shoulder which makes his trot bone jarring. He has a neck that is on the shorter side and his withers and back are dead even, meaning that for him to lift his shoulder and the frontpart of his body and really push from behind makes it hard for him. What is easy for some horses like some dressage movements, or soft and collected downward transitions is hard for him. I realize this, but on the other hand it is possible and if we want to do well at shows we need to work on this lots.

I feel while I am pointing out the negatives of my horse I should also add in a few positives just to even it out. Possum is the best trail horse ever, hands down! I have talked about this before, but basically he will do anything that I ask on a trail. He has a wonderfully long canter stride and can eat up the ground easily. Conformationally he is not that bad. I mentioned the straight shoulder which could possible be trouble in the future, and the short-ish neck and the slightly downhill build, but nothing like you see on the Fugly blog or anything. But other than that he doesn't have an real faults that could make him unsound in the future. He just isn't built like those wonderfully large warmbloods who are up-hill with long sculpted necks who just naturally collect. The ones you see cantering in the field and it looks like their in a dressage test. When Posusm canters and gallops around the paddock he looks like an arab. Head up, tail up, back hollowed and usually cantering disunited and then tripping because he was off balance. Am I drawing an accurate picture here?

So Thursday's ride went fairly well. We continues to work on halts in the middle of lines, then trotting int he middle of lines and then after some success just a strong half halt in the middle of the line. I absolutely hate having to muscle my horse around, but sometimes to get through to him it takes very strong aids and then we just try to quiet them every time after that. I do have to give him credit though, he strides were more collected and he was rushing the second fences in the lines less which is plus. We also continue to have challenges in jumping lines on the downhill of the ring. Cantering and then jumping 3ft on a downhill adn then quicky gathering himself and getting off his forehand is very very very hard for him. We usually leave out a stride on the downhill lines but I was working hard to get those correct number of strides in and I could see some progress. I ended on a good note and let him cool out, we were both really tired.

Friday it was threatening rain all day. I did manage to get in a 40 min ride before the skies opened up. Not only was it pouring but the lightening was horrible. The next town over even had a tornado touch down. A tornado in Maine! It was crazy. So for our 40 min ride I warmed up fairly quickly. It was hot and muggy and I didn't want either of us to get too over heated. I just wanted to brush up on the jumping from the day before and see if any of it had sunk in. He actually did fairly decent. We rode a couple courses, nothing fantastic, but also nothing that would make people hold their breath.

This weekend was just a relaxing weekend for me. I literally stayed home all weekend. Saturday was another super humid day with temps in the mid 90's. I cleaned the apartment top to bottom. When I would get really hot I would go in my room and cool off in the ac and then go back to cleaning. The apartment really needed a good scrubbing and I was feeling motivated so it was a good combo. Yesterday I ran some errands and then watched some TV. We still havn't gotten ride of all of the fleas so we did all the carpet stuff again, bathed all 4 dogs and my roomie's cat in flea bath and washed all our bedding again. Those suckers are really hard to get rid of. The weather we're having isn't helping either. Hot and sticky exuals lots of fleas. Supposedly this is the worst year on record for fleas in Maine and we're not te only ones having issues. It was quite a project last night. My roomie and I in our bathing suits one washing the dog and one rinsing them. We scrubbed and scrubbed and rinsed and rinsed. It was so hot that the sweat was dripping off my face into the bath water, gross!! SO now the dogs are all squeaky clean, the rugs treated and the bedding washed. So keep your fingers crossed. Ok enough of my rambling. Hope to ride Possum tonight if the weather holds off. Probably going to do some flat and then a quick trail. Have a good day everyone

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

Here is Phin guarding the front door to the funeral home (where I live). I thought he looked so cute just standing there and Abby went up to join him. Phin is definately like his mother, he sits and thinks and is kind of a reclouse at times. He's my big baby.

Close up of Phin on the front steps. He was less than impressed about having his picture taken, he was still on the look out.

So this is my excuse for not folding and putting away all my clean laundry. Jetta was enjoying the AC in my room and decided to curl up in my clean clothes. This little dog does anything she wants!

Went to the barn last night to ride. Braved the above 90 temps and got all dressed in breeches. I go and get Possum out of his paddock, put him in crossties and notice that he is missing a right front shoe. Crap!! No riding for me. I groomed him up and inspected the foot. He was almost due for a reset anyways, but I was really hoping to get in a ride. We have been totally slacking lately because of the heat and we really need to get a move on. The Medals are in a month! I called the farrier and he called me later in the evening. He's going to be at the barn today and hopefully he will have time to show Possum. It's another hot and sticky day and I can't wait for the slightly cooler temps for tomorrow. My roomie is gone for 2 days so I have the house to myself and her dog is at the kennel. I think if I don't ride tonight I'm gonna brave the humidity and go for a run or long walk. I need to stay in shape and keep in a routine. Have a great day, off to a teen group at work......

Monday, August 17, 2009

Just a Quick Update

Wow, I just realized that it's been a while since I posted. I actually don't have much to resport on horse related. I did ride Possum Thursday last week. It was a long hard ride and we had to work through a lot of our challenges, like half halting in lines, not throwing his head up to avoid contact so that he can continue to the next jump. His hind end is almost completely better which is good. He is a lot stronger in corners to the left and keeping his hind lead nicely. By the end of the ride we were both hot and sweaty but atleast he was listening a little better and we had accomplished something, It may have only been a small something, but it was in the positive and that's all I care about.

Friday I went to the barn with every intention of riding. It was later in the evening, about 5:30p but it was still well into the high eighties for temps. I was all dressed in boots and breeches. Most everyone at the barn was sitting in the middle of the outdoor arena taking a break from painting jumps. They have been making and painting jumps lately and they look really nice! So I started chatting with them, and then someone else arrived. Then before I knew it I had a beer in my hand and was still shooting the shit. The sun was starting to slip below the tree line and it was then that I knew I wasn't going to get my ride in. Plus Possum was leisurely eating from a round bale and I don't think he minded not getting a ride in. It actually was a great night. I needed to laugh as much as I did. We sipped beers and told stories and before long it was 10p! I stopped drinking but continued chatting. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and you could see all of the stars. The temp was perfect and you could hear coyotes howling in the fields. It was after midnight when the last of us got in our cars and went home. The dogs were long asleep by this time and I had to wake them up to get in the car to go home. It was one of those summer nights that you get once or twice a year that everything was just really good about it and you get to hang with good people. It was one of this summer's highlights.

Saturday dawned hot and steamy, into the 90's. My roomie and I took the motorycle and went to lunch and then went to a friends house to swim in her popol for a few hours. Then it was game time! The big softball game that we have been practicing for, the police versus the fire department. I was playing for the police side. It was a charity game to benefit a local sexual assault center. I drank tons of water but still was sweating like crazy. The game was a blast and we ended up winning 12-5. I was a little disapointed with my hitting. I only got one really good clean hit and the last were little tings off the bat that resulted in pop-ups, one that was caught and one that was dropped on an error. After the game it was kinda bittersweet that we wouldn't have any more practices, I love practicing and doing drills, almost as much as playing in the games themselves. Afterwards we went to a local pub for some drinks and apps. Afterwards we then went to a friends house where there was 4 of us and we sat in the hot tub and sipped beers and basically stayed up all night talking and hanging out.

Sunday I was exhausted. I only got about 2 hrs of sleep and then my roomie and I grabbed lunch and then went home and showered and then went to my parents camp on a lake with the dogs and went swimming. We had a mini cookout and the water was so nice that no one wanted to get out. My dogs aren't much for swimmers, but my roomie's German Shepherd loves the water and she was even diving off the dock and going crazy. Here is a pic of the lake the camp is on.

After a few hrs we went home to chill. I took a 2 hr nap with the dogs in the ac and I have to admit that it was heaven to just relax. Later I went to a friends house to watch a move and then came home and went to bed. I don't think I could have packed anything else into this weekend if I even tried. Ofcourse I havn't heard from Nick and I don't expect to. I have erased his number from my phone and am hoping that after a while that it erases from my mind as well. I'm doing OK and just trying to move on. STaying busy helps and keeping myself surrounded with positive and good people is great. Am thinking of riding tonight after work, but as it stands right now the temp is 94 degrees and if it doesn't cool off significiently I might have to skip it again. It's supposed to aleast be less humid by Thursday so I should be able to get in a few days of good rides.