Friday, April 16, 2010

Yea for slow appy's!

The pic above is from last week riding outside. It was very windy and the campra caught us in an awkward position, but I guess any picture is better than none.

Just as the title implies, my little jumping speed demon is really starting to slooooooow down and look more like a hunter than a jumper. We have had a couple of very good rides in the outdoor arena which totally makes me happy. Our outdoor is not completely flat, it has a a noticeable downhill grade from top to bottom. My horse is also built downhill, so down-hill plus down-hill equals running around on the forehand. Well he has been staying more collected and listening to my aids and in the lines he is listening to my half halts and really sitting back on those high haunches of his to maintain a consistent and rhythmical pace. He has been so good that our schooling rides have become much shorter, around 40 minutes or so. When he gets something right consistently, I move on and don't dwell on it so that he knows that he did a good job. He has also been rally listening to me in terms of changes of direction. Possum is notorious for charging down lines and not being prepared for tight rollbacks or broken lines. Well that has also changed. I was really challenging him and myself the other day with doind some seemingly impossible tight turns and broken lines. He was soft and responsive and did not buldge and run through his shoulder, and was even turning almost in mid air to prepare for the turn that I was looking towards. I was pleasantly suprised and was praying that this was not just some fluke, but it seems to be consistent as of lately. One of the things that I have changed about myself is to relax more. I try not to be so tense or workman like, because that gets him keyed up and ready for anything. There is a fine balance in jumping of being too tight or too loosey goosey. Legs are always tight, calf and thigh, back is always straight with head up, so finding a relaxation zone in all of that can be hard. But I think I'm mastering it and it's filtering through to my horse. I have also had so much confidence in my horse lately that I have switched him out of the rubber mouth pelham and put him back in the D-ring which in the past he has just blown through. He is going comfortable and respecting this bit so I will keep it until things change down the line. Plus I really likes the D-ring and it is the "in" bit in the hunter ring, sad I know.

So with all that being said I'm really just enjoying my horse lately. Our jumping sessions are relaxed and fun and easy. Three words I didn't think I would ever say in conjunction with Possum jumping. I'm anxious to show off all the work we have done throughout the winter in some summer shows. Unfortunately with my financial situation it will only be a couple, but still it will be nice to go out there and show with the big dogs. I have also been hanging out with a new boy. Not going to jinx it or anything because it is still very very new, but he is a county comissioner and also the director of a non profit organization that manages one of the largest rivers in Maine and the surrounding watersheds. he is 29, no kids, never been married and he's kinda cute. He is however, very busy and may be kind of a player, still trying to establish that. But we get along well and have a good time together, so who knows what this will bring, but not holding my breath. At the very least I made a new good friend.

Rain is in the forecast for literally the next week! Possum has spring shots this afternoon so I'm flying over to the barn after I get out of work early to hold him for the vet and help out with other horses. Because of the nasty weather he may get a few days off which won't hurt him at all, I'm sure he will be very content eating from his roundbale outside all day and going under his shelter. He has such a rough life now! Well have a great weekend. I have a 3 day weekend because here in New England we have a holiday on Monday, Patriots Day yippeee

Friday, April 9, 2010

Plugging Away

Well just as soon as I posted about summer temps here in Maine, things have cooled down considerably and it is now a steady drizzle outside. But before it started raining and was just overcast, I got in a pretty good ride last night on Possum. The barn was pretty quiet since I didn't get there until after five and I quickly went and got Possum before they fed his paddock. He wasn't really happy with me, but I gave him a couple carrots to tide him over. He was flithy! Because it had been so warm out lately he has been naked and got completely covered in dirt and mud. It took me a good thirty minutes of grooming to get him as clean as I could. For some reason he seemed taller to me last night, like I couldn't even look over his wither on my tip toes. I asked my friend who was also there if he seemed taller today or if it was just me, she said that he looked big too. I thought maybe it was the mud caked in his shoes before I picked them out, but not really. Just one of those weird things, or maybe I was shrinking, who knows.

I tacked him up and decided that we would try and have a semi serious ride. We went about our normal warm-up. He was very stretchy for some reason, he kept stretching his head and neck down and stretching out his back. Ofcourse thing is a good thing, but it was odd how much he was really enjoying it last night. Even as we were cantering he would blow out his nose and stretch down and low. It was nice to have him so relaxed and feeling good. We then hopped over a few jumps at the trot in both directions and then cantered some low fences. None of the jumps were over 2'6" which was fine with me because I was going to work on shortening stride and lots of changes of direction. As we were cantering some simple lines I felt the bored Possum come out. He's smart in teh fact that he ahs this gamem figured out, but when he has something figured out, it usually means that he charges to the next obstacle with complete disregard for the rider. If he could talk he would be saying; "Just leave me alone, I know what I'm doing!" So that's when I really started asking for crazy turns and broken lines and such. I wanted to keep him on his toes and not anticipating where he was going. We did manage to execute some pretty tight roll backs and I was impressed that he stayed with it and didn't fight me too much. Then because he was still a little quick for my liking I asked for a halt in some lines, so that he would really listen to my aids and focus on me qand not always on the next jump. Then I would randomly let him canter down the line, but ask for a half halt to collect himself and he was listening much better, so much so that he sat right back on his haunches and was rpeparing for a halt when I gave him the gas to keep going, but in a smaller frame. That was when I knew it was working. I love it when things work out like I want them too.

After a good 30 minutes of working steady I let him end on a good note. He did knock one of the fences down from getting in a little too deep to it, which I had asked him to do, so that was no fault of his own. I would rather have him listening to me and hit the fence then ignore me and fly over it. He was fairly sweaty and so was I, so I walked him for a bit. He seemed pleased with himself. He had a spring in his step and a swing in his belly as his head was bobbing up and down (not in a lame way). So I brought him back in the barn and untacked him and brushed him and then gave him his grain for dinner which he was more than eager to eat. As he was eating, I just stood back and examined him. I'm kinda anal like that. I am always looking him over and feeling him for bumps or scrapes or anything new. His topline was nice and strong. His neck was developing nicely and his hind end had some good definition. When he was finished I put a rain sheet on, for the expected rain storm and threw him out and hayed them. When I left he was happily munching on a huge pile of hay, life is good!

As for the guy side of this blog, which I have not talked much about, nothing really big is going on. I still talk to Steve from R5 Sons Alaska as much as he is online. Our schedules can never seem to coincide for a visit, but I havn't crossed it off the list yet, just trying not to push things. I think it will happen, but not sure when yet. Bacisally I've just been doing my own thing lately. I've been really happy with myself and not "needing" a guy around. I feel like I'm really starting to come into my own and be comfortable with myself. That's not to say that some days I get kinda down about it, but the majority of the time, things are good in that department. The dogs are wonderful and as always are the best companions. Possum is going well and is healthy and we have such a great relationship. My job is going well and I'm happy with the progress that is being made this year. I am also participating in The Vagina Monologues at out local theater to help raise money for our center and I really believe in the project. If any of you are familiar with The Vagina Monologues, I am performing in the "My Vagina Was My Village" The story of a Bosnian girl who was raped repeatedly by military personel in the 90's It's a pretty powerful monologue. In my heart I really wanted to do "The Angry Vagina" but there must be a reason they choose me for the other one, so I'm going to do my best. The performance will be April 24th and 25th. Well I think that's about all. I also really want to work Aragon this weekend, the TB astud at the barn. He has had the entire winter off and everytime I see him I promise him that it will be soon that he goes back to work. His first few rides should be interesting since he can be quite a character and a studly boy at times, but I love him. Well have a great weekend everyone and hopefully I will have some more pics soon.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Did I miss spring??

This past weekend and the week days following have seemed more like summer than spring for sure, especially since this is Maine! I wore shorts on Easter and it reached 80 degrees. Saturday it was in the mid seventies and Friday was also in the 70's. It has been an incredible "spring" so far. It seems that we have skipped "mud season" all together which is usually a messy and yucky season here in Maine for when the snow melts and the ground is frozen and therefore the melting snow has no where to go but mix with mud and stuff. It is not a fun time of the year. But since we have relatively small snow totals this winter, thing have dried up nicely.

On Saturday I took Possum out and he was already slightly sweaty just standing in his paddock. He is slowely but surely shedding out his winter coat, but it doesn't seem like it's happening fast enough. So because he as naked he was flithy from laying in the mud and such. Three quarters of his paddock has been fenced off so that the grass can gross and the rest of the paddock can completely dry and not get all tracked up by the horses. So it's pretty muddy in their little section. I spent over half an hr grooming him and using the shedding blade and making him as pretty as he can be this time of the year. I tacked him up and headed down the road since it was my mission to go out on the trail on such a beautifuul day. Both of us were happy to be outside and moving in the breeze. We did our warm-up and trotted for a bit and then walked since it was so warm, and then we started cantering. It was so nice in a light seat just cantering along and we worked on our flying changes. We cantered for probably a good four minutes before I pulled him up and we walked the rest of the way to out next dirt road. I made myself look around at the pretty scenery and take big breaths of the fresh air and just soak it all in. Listening to his hoofs hitting the ground, feeling the swing of his belly and watching his ears pricked twitching in one direction or the other listening to the sounds of the outdoors.

He definately knew where he was and swung onto the other dirt road. A road that we are famous for galloping up. It goes gradually up hill the entire way and is about a mile long with sweeping turns and grades. I made him trot for a bit and then canter. He was grabbing at the bit telling me he wanted to just go. I was nervous because we hadn't been on this road since the late fall and I havn't inspected it for soft ground or added rocks and such. So I let him out, but kept a firm contact on him. His strides ate up the ground and his hindquarters powered him up the hills. Just to feel such power is amazing, it takes your breath away. The trees were whipping by and with each bob of his head it seemed like we were going faster and faster. I kept a sharp look out on the road for rocks and soft spots and piloted him around the hazards. Pretty soon the road was coming to an end so I pulled him up and let him trot a few before finally walking. He was pretty wet and breathing hard. I let out the reins and let himm walk out until the dirt road ended. The trail then becomes pretty steep and very rocky and was especially wet this trip. I let him pick his way around the rocks and take his time while he also caught his breath. When we got to eh top and the barn was in sight across a large field I let him trop a bit before the ground got too wet and soggy and I made him walk. We walked the rest of the way home and he was thoroughly soaked fromt eh heat and his still long coat. I stripped him down and decided that since it was stilla round 75 out that he would get his first official bath with soap and everything today. I tied him to the wash rack, dug out my horse shampoo and a bucket and sponge and a curry and got to work. He put up minimal protest so I think it felt good for him. When I was done I scraped the water off as much as I could and let him loose in the sun to eat scraps of hay and dry out.

I watched poeple riding for about an hour and then caught him and put him back in his paddock. It was just so nice to be outside in the warm air, with no bugs yet and enjoy my horse. SO Sunday I didn't ride since it was Easter and I had laundry to wash and family members to visit. Yesteday I didn't get to the barn and not sure if Iwill tonight since it's kinda rainy. But I might go up just to clean him up again since he's still naked since the weather has been so mild. But that's about it for rides lately. All the other rides have just been mediocre rides in the ring outside with nothing really exciting to post about. have a great day everyone, and hopefully i'll have more exciting thigngs to post about and hepefully some more pics as well.