Thursday, January 28, 2016

Salvaging the Weekend

Saturday the winter storm blew over my part of the country, just like many of you. The temps stayed between 34-37*, meaning all we got was a lot of rain and super cold wind. No fun at all. I stayed indoors and occupied myself online for a while before cleaning my saddle and switching over to the tv. 

Picked up a few creative ideas during my time on the interweb. I've been wanting to make a handful of small pvc jumps that I can add brush to, for setting up in the soybean field. Something easy to carry down there, enjoy, and lug back up the hill afterward, & eventually I came to the conclusion that five gallon buckets & poles are gonna be the simplest under the circumstances. However I think I will make one jump different and a bit more versatile. I love riding in the bean field so much more than the ring (which has plenty of jumps ready to use). The jumps can't stay behind in the bean field, therefore weight, or lack of, is the top priority for the field jumps. When I want to really train I will ride in the ring with legit standards and poles.

After spending my entire Saturday indoors I couldn't get to the barn fast enough on Sunday. It was still brisk out, 45ish and lite wind. All my freakin winter fleece breeches were dirty. How did I let that happen? Why didn't I realize this the day before? Damn. Long johns and summer tights it is. The combo got the job done without bunching up or getting uncomfortable. I also wore three thin layers up top (one polar fleece) and as long as I stayed active I was quite comfortable. 

The grooming ritual was extra thorough this time. Razz wasn't extremely dirty on the surface. I'm sure he spent all day Saturday under his shelter. I took the opportunity to work up everything off the skin and out of his coat. A bath just isn't an option at this barn during the winter months. By the time I was finished the boy was looking pretty sharp. I decided that since he was looking so good he needed his mane braided also. Razz didn't blink as I rolled the tack box over next to him and climbed on top. His mane is long and I gave him a french braid. No problems styling him up. He never moved a muscle. I should have used a styling product or braided in tinier sections. The middle of the braid threatened to fall out not long after we began riding, but somehow it held the entire time I was out. 

The plaited reins I love so much were dug out and attached to the micklem. I also used my new woven wool saddle pad. Originally I ordered a helmet the same time as the micklem right after Christmas during the Riding Warehouse sale. The helmet was way too large, and it was returned for the pad. I should have just ordered the pad in the first place. I've used a similar pad made by the same company for years and it's held up wonderfully so I expect nothing short of greatness from the natural fiber version. 

those reins have buckle ends, not hooks (fancy)

The ride was a blast. We left the barn alone and I promised Razz we wouldn't do any hard work. I rode the hell out of him on Thursday and he was great, until I got greedy and wanted more toward the end of our ride, which turned into a frustrating argument. Totally my fault. Anyhow, today we were simply striking off to the sand pits for a leg stretch and change of scenery. And I wore the gopro. 
Ended up running into two other barn girls in the sand pits. Initially I just said hello and kept going my own way. But the second time I met them we stayed together for a while. They had pulled some branches out of the woods and laid them on one of the dead end paths. The first one was just an oversized twig. Razz approached and locked it up right in front of the twig. Immediately he side stepped it and we proceeded to go right on to the second, larger branch, and he popped right over. 

After hanging with the girls for a while I struck off on my own again. Hard to believe I was having such a nice ride considering the previous day's nasty weather. The weekend had been salvaged. Following is a ten minute edited clip with music added for anyone who would like to see what the sand pits are all about. Keep in mind when my hands are dangling loosely over his neck I'm giving him his head and letting him find his own way over sketchy footing for the sake of keeping balance. Enjoy the ride along :)

On my computer when I watch this, its pixelated AF. Does it look like that for you as well? If you have any suggestions on fixing this please pass them along. The original files are crisp, colorful and easy to watch. By the time I convert formats and upload its not nearly as high def :/

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Backcountry Season Has Arrived

Finally! Time to truly make tracks. No bugs, no hunters. It's Croatan season!!

Saturday couldn't have been more ideal. I got to the barn around 10. It was cool out, but hardly any wind and no clouds, and I knew it would warm nicely in the next hour or so.

A flock of ibis (plural sp?) greeted me on my way to grab Razz from the outer paddock. This walk is really starting to get old. At least today I entertain myself with the birds. These guys sound like geese with a cold. They also remind me of a trumpet with one of those cap accessories on the end to muffle the tune. The ancient Egyptian god of wisdom was depicted with the head of an ibis, and I have always considered them friends and good luck charms due to the association.

Also the white sand in the bottom of the photo? That is where the chronic mud hole at the barn gate was filled in. So for now the tip toe dance around the edge is on hold for me, and I can actually clean my boy's legs up nicely for a change. 

I made makeshift crossties for the first time today. Razz has been in crossties his whole life but since moving here I've attached him via trailer safety tie to a hitchin' ring. And he uses it as a pivot point to swivel back and forth when I groom. Jabbing my thumb between a couple ribs stops him from shifting, but only temporarily. That ends today. Utilizing the hitchin' rings (because I can't bring myself to call them hitchinG rings, no one using them refers to them in that manner) on either side of the aisle, I snap a lead rope to the ring and tie a knot on the other end. In front of the lead rope knot I attach the heavy duty snap end of my trailer ties. The opposite end of the trailer ties have the safety release latches that I hook to Razz. Instant, safe crossties that make my life so much easier. Barn owner likes everything returned to the neutral position, as if you were never there, and I can set up or break these down in less than thirty seconds. Perfect!!

The boy wasn't too dirty but I still followed through with the full ritual, being extra meticulous about his lower legs. Lately we've been coming back from our rides with cleaner legs than when we left. That stupid mud hole at the gate was haunting my dreams and ruining Razz's chrome. Not today, the mud hole is gone. All groomed and tacked, I'm headed to the Croatan with two of my barnmates.

We take off just after 11. I mostly brought up the rear on the way over. Razz is so lazy leaving the barn. He's doing well in the micklem. Today's ride is #10 in the new bridle. Sill don't know what to do about the reins. Much to my surprise I really like the rubber. They're too short for the boy though. I believe some of you affectionately refer to this as dinosaur neck. I will probably put the old laced reins back on (boooo *thumbs down*) since a decent pair of longer reins are at least $60 and I don't need to spend that right now. I just got plenty of new pony toys. Too bad I can't use my totally lux plaited reins on him. Razz has a super strong head & neck and the braided leather acts more like elastic, giving me very little resistance to work with. 

My group is still using the lesser traveled side path to get into the Croatan. Those gravel at the main entrance are atrocious and we are forced to take the long way in. No big deal, I generally take the long way around on horseback regardless of where I'm at. Today I'm joined by a Peruvian paso gelding and an appendix mare. The mare hates Razz, but I don't hold it against her. We go on and off trail, meandering here and there, enjoying the beautiful day. At the first water crossing Razz is called upon to be the fearless leader. We stayed in the lead for the next half hour or so. 

After following the deer trails and our internal compasses, we make it to the four-wheeler paths. These paths are nice and clean. That is, until you approach the low lying areas where they flood. Once again Razz is asked to go first. We get a few steps in, then he changes his mind. The boy decides it's too deep and too far across, and he puts it in double time auto reverse. I coach him back in the water a couple more times with the same results. I remember saying out loud "I hate it when he wins". 

I was determined to get him across the water, and focused completely on the boy. If the other two struck off and rode elsewhere i didn't care. But they hung by and waited for me to work it out, knowing if we made it across our trail ride could carry on. I make him turn a few really tight circles and ask again. He goes in a bit farther. We stop and I pat him & brag about how brave he is. A few more steps, more patting and bragging. We do this until it's closer to go straight on to the other side rather than turn around. At which point Razz decides its no big deal & heads right on out. My two trailmates follow and we dismount for a break to reward all three ponies for their accomplishment. 

We are now in backcountry territory. The part where no one else is coming through unless they have chest waiters on. And I don't think anyone is doing that. The thicket opens up to a similar wooded area like the one found at the end of the gravel road. There are a couple options for our route, and we decide to head toward the railroad tracks and down to a flat sandy area where everyone can play. The shoulder of the tracks is relatively debris free and easy to traverse. The three of us follow the tracks for about a half mile, and the playground is on the right.

I'm not sure what the story is with this patch of land. There is a wide, grassy road that curves around back toward civilization, and it's lined with piles of sand & retention ponds on either side. We canter as far as the path takes us and end up behind a small private school. I immediately pull out the cell & take a pic. None of my non horsey friends will ever believe I made it this far without the pic. The horses were given a chance to catch their breath, and off we head, cantering back down this path that seems as if it were made for horseback riding. We tear in and out of tiny clearings between ponds, up and down the man made sand piles, and through the crystal clear standing water that covers one of the sandiest spots. 

behind the school

cantering the water

and climbing hills 

On our way home we have no problems getting through the water, ponies charged right on in. Considering we'd been out for 4 hours they were ready to get home. I filmed us going back through, so that when I mention "flooded" or "mud hole" in the Croatan you get an idea of what I'm referring to. 

Worst part of the whole day was getting back and finding this hole in my sock. :/ I like these comfortable socks.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Making Comparisons

A few days back Carly posted this entry on her blog about social media in ponyland and comparing ourselves to everyone else. I still consider myself a newbie to the blogging world, I'm only a couple months in, and while I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's stories, I admit seeing all you uber accomplished riders made me a bit insecure at first.

Why was I comparing myself to you guys? Why did I suddenly feel incompetent or less knowledgeable?

I have been on the back of a horse since I was a year old. My riding started as leadline therapy for a minor handicap. My parents purchased a pony not long after, and once my right leg had developed correctly I really started riding. I grew up in the blue ridge foothills. There are quite a few trainers in that area now, representing all disciplines. In the early eighties, however, there wasn't a lot going on and even if there had been my parents probably wouldn't have sent me anyway because they were very frugal with their money. I learned to ride on my own. Every time we passed a book store I would always beg for the horse books on clearance. That is where I got all my info on position, equipment, care, feeding. My parents both came from farming families so they were not completely dumb to livestock care. But they had working farms, not hobby farms with pleasure horses. I learned from trial and error. This works. That doesn't. 

I developed a natural seat on my own, and occasionally picked up some tips from neighbors who were more experienced. I was only taught hows. Not whys. So I knew the buttons to push but didn't know why pushing the buttons in a particular manner worked.

About 4 or 5 years ago I had my first real dressage lesson. It was at that point that all my acquired knowledge began to come together. Like a 1000 piece puzzle with twenty or thirty pieces missing, the holes were beginning to fill in. For someone who'd been riding their entire life I was surprised at how much I was clueless on. How did I miss all this growing up? 

My riding has come along quite a bit the past few years. I've learned way more than I thought I ever would. I now know what it is about pushing certain buttons that makes them work. Its really hard to describe exactly what I see in my mind's eye but I'm able to visualize things that help my riding. I can visualize my pony's inner workings. And I'm able to understand that simply turning my head left makes me shift my weight ever so slightly on my left hip, which pony can feel. I trained for roughly a year and a half on two different horses. 

Now I ride on my own. I channel all that knowledge when I need it. But I would love a coach to assist me from time to time. 

Being a blog reader has given me an inside look at what all of you have going on. Some of you are importing horses, some of you are earning usdf medals, some are hitting up every three day on their side of the Mississippi. It is when I read your stories that I begin to question my own abilities. I do get envious of your riding and your horses. I should be totally capable of doing what your doing cause I've been riding longer than you've been breathing. Yes it makes me feel inferior and irrelevant. I start to question my own life choices. What if I hadn't moved to TN as soon as I turned 18 to work on the ranches? What if I had taken a different route? My riding abilities were definitely good enough to move up through the levels in whatever discipline I chose, I just needed the instructor to tap into those abilities.

It is these times I have to talk myself down. I can still ride the hell out of a horse. I have stickability like nobody's business (although now that I've proclaimed it I'll prob have my ass handed to me). I can ride difficult horses and get results. And not only riding but horse husbandry. I've seen a lot in my 36 years. Even though I board I'm totally confident in my ability to keep a horse on my own property without assistance and be completely functional. I am an excellent horseman, blue ribbon or not. I shouldn't compare myself to anyone else. Our paths have led us to where we are, and maybe if I'd taken the same path as others I would be in the same spot. But my path led me to eastern NC, where nothing big or exciting ever happens. I have a gorgeous daughter who is tops on her colorguard team, I have a big, healthy pony and tons of places to ride, I'm not in debt nor do I have to worry about finding sponsorship to fund my pony habits. 

A small part of me will always compare myself to others, and be envious. But as long as I keep it all in perspective it's not so bad. It keeps the fire lit. And we could all benefit from a little fire inside, right? 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Learning the P.O.V.

I have been wanting a GoPro for a while now. Ever since I first watched this chick's videos on YouTube. I don't know her, I'm not even sure exactly how I came across them. But I love her cross country uploads. And I wanted one of those cameras. 

An action camera made by GoPro runs between $300-400 for the latest versions. I can't justify spending that much, so this past christmas I used some gift money to pick up a no name camera for just under $100. It has all the same specs as the name brand version without the price tag, a two year warranty, and my camera is interchangeable with all the name brand accessories.

it's so tiny

It arrived on a Monday, and rained all week. The waiting was killing me. I wanted so badly to take this thing for a spin. Friday was looking ok on the weather report. I took the day off from work and planned on spending most of it at the barn. At 9:30 I walk out the door, saddle in hand, and it starts raining while I'm loading the car. Damn. Rained all day. That's what you get for living next to the ocean. 

So I occupied my time by cleaning, doing laundry, catching up on all the rest of you guys' blogs, and I made the camera a neat little home out of an old stationary box.

all cozy and organized in it's new home

Saturday came and the sun was out. Finally. I went on a trail ride with two other ladies from the barn. I wore the camera on a chest mount rather than my helmet. It was comfortable. However my boobs stick out prominently on both sides. I captured our ride on the camera, and loaded it onto the laptop as soon as I got back home. The file was over 3 gigs. I filmed it at 1080p/60fps. That's sixty frames per second in HD. So of course it was huge. So huge that my laptop couldn't display it properly. It looked more like stop motion. My laptop is less than two years old and I didn't feel like I had stone age technology but apparently it is. It was at that point I realized the camera was gonna be more intensive than simply pulling the micro sd out and plugging it into the pc for replay. 

Ok. Maybe once I upload to YouTube it will be converted and I can sit back and enjoy. Hehe, very funny. That was gonna take an estimated 20 HOURS!!! After 15 minutes of that I pulled the micro sd out of the laptop and put it back in the camera to play with the resolution and see what would happen with the upload speeds.

Guess what?

If you switch the resolution on the camera, it re-formats the card and wipes any files on there. OMG I don't think I'm ever going to catch a break with this thing. My trail ride was lost. Yes I can always film again but after a week of looking at this little contraption I really wanted to see what it could do. 

On Sunday I went to the barn with a solid game plan. There are six different resolution settings and I set it to the smallest one, 1080p/30fps. I planned a dressage ride in the huge soybean field. One of the ladies I rode with on Saturday texted me to go riding again. Even though I didn't feel good about it I tried to put her off. Today it was gonna be me and the boy. 

Wouldn't you know she showed up while I was there anyway. 

I have went back and forth in my mind about the situation. Yes, when I was at the hunter barn I would have done anything to have a trail riding buddy. Someone who wanted to be out of the ring and in the woods like I did. Someone to chat with about ponies and life. A kindred spirit. At the new barn I do have that, and more. But here I was wanting to be left alone so that I could dressage a little bit. Some quality time for me and Razz to work. Kinda fucked up huh?

Barnmate made it into the field about ten minutes after I did. From then on we both just made laps and cantered around. She has no idea about dressage or horse mechanics. Towards the end of our ride I worked Razz on some figure eights and lead changes. He swapped every single one when I asked, and I rode back over to barnmate elated about what we just did. Her response? "What exactly is a lead change? That's something to do with the front legs, right?" She rides Peruvian Pasos, and does way more travelling in her pony's extra gait instead of cantering. 

I should be happy I have people that want to be around me and share their ride time with Razz and myself. I am happy to be surrounded by new friends here. Guess I just had the day planned out in my mind and had a curve thrown at me at the last minute. 

But I did catch the ride on camera, installed a driver on the laptop that can handle the large file, and finally reaped the rewards of all my efforts. 

A few screen shots from the clip:

entering a sharp, muddy curve

owning the sharp, muddy curve

And of course, a highlight reel from the ride:

Not anything exciting, but I'm happy to have the footage. It gets a little shaky when I use my seat to ask for the flying changes (sorry). There's still plenty to learn about the camera. I've got time though.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Don't Let Me Do That Again

Some of the trails I ride needed a bit of cleaning up. And as the old saying goes, if you want something done right just do it yourself. A few other riders have discussed having a clean up day but good luck coordinating schedules and decent weather. After spending a good portion of one of my workdays thinking about it I decided to get in the woods and snip some branches myself. 

Once I left work I ran home, grabbed the bike and my backpack, and headed to the barn. The deep woods off was in the grooming box in front of Razz's stall and I stopped to spray myself down. Believe it or not we still have mosquitoes in the thicker parts of the woods. I've never had to use insect repellent on myself or my horses in January before.  I liked the way my bike looked at the barn so I snapped a pic.

Covered in aerosol bug armor I head for the woods. It was fun riding the bike til the wind met me head on. Not too much farther before I get to the trail head and into the natural wind block the forest provided. Here I will shift into safety mode. The pile of trash just inside the trees reminds me I may not be the only one in here. It makes me angry that people dump illegally rather than carry it off to an industrial landfill. But you can't escape it. I don't care where you are, trash piles like this are unfortunately all too common. There are random beer cans and a few fire pits along the trail. I think teenagers ride their four wheelers in here and party at night. Being in here by myself on a horse doesn't make me feel compromised like being on a bike does. Well, my bike anyway. It goes fine on the areas strewn with leaves and pine needles. However the tires are too narrow and dig into the sand in other areas and I have to get off and walk it. 

I'm not really anticipating any trouble in here. But just in case I bring out the cat gouger. What's a cat gouger you ask?

cat gouger

This thing ain't no joke. It's made of a super tough rubber and those ears don't give when they make contact with something. I slide the little kitty over my fingers and instantly feel safer. Meeting someone sketchy on the trail with her gives the impression that I will go on offense if necessary, please just leave me alone.

I also have a small strand of belly dancer coins attached to the backpack. This allows me to announce my presence to others in the woods, man or beast. I have ran into bears in the wild on five separate occasions. One learns the value of making yourself known after the first bear encounter. The coins chime as I pedal my way down the path with a new set of snips in tow. They are red in color and the foam grip handles are definitely grippy. Nice and sharp, they have the ability to cut up to 1 1/2 inch branches.

And I begin to put them to use on every nuisance branch I see. Initially they come one or two at a time since this part is more heavily used by all. The snips make easy work of the branches. The farther in I go, the thicker the overgrowth becomes. I start leaving my bike in one spot and clear significant stretches all at once, then walk back for the bike. Sometimes I would apologize to a smaller tree I felt I may have been impacting in a negative way. You can laugh and I won't be offended. It sounds funny I know. But alone in the woods, really alone deep in the woods you can feel an energy about you. Maybe its just a heightened sense of awareness. But there is certainly a forest vibe I can't ignore. 

I finally get to the flooded area of the trail. My goal today was to get this far along, and begin to cut a pass through the thicket beside the water. Razz will go through the water with someone in front of him. He will lead anywhere, anytime, on any trail except where the water gets deep. Right here its probably three feet at the deepest, and the flooded area is about fifteen or twenty feet long. The mosquitoes are here also. I begin to cut a nice clean path around the water, anticipating not to finish but still do as much as possible. At some point I started feeling blisters working up on my hands but I ignore them. I don't even give my hands a second look. I was on a mission, a natural high, feeling like Edward Scissorhands (you knew the comparison was coming, right?) and gittin' er done. I worked til 5 o'clock. Going back at 5 gave me plenty of time to travel the almost two miles out to the paved roads and then back to the barn safely while sharing the road with cars. It wasn't until my way back that I looked down and noticed the condition my hands were in:

Those blisters I felt but ignored turned into this. And I had been working so hard I didn't notice. The snips were red too. I guess it was all blending together. The right hand was even worse and I figured this picture was bloody enough so I will spare you. But people, please don't let me do that to myself again. 

I had water, bug spray, and snips in my backpack. No towels. Great. Before getting back on my bike I snapped a pic of her out in the wild. She's a city bike so this was a special occasion for the old girl.

had her forever, still going strong

Two days later my daughter and I hiked in from the other side of the trail. This side has always been especially thick. But my daughter can work as fast as I can and together we knocked it out. I wore gloves this time too. We saw one very long snake along the way. We made it to the flooded section after a couple hours. The rest of the new clearing in the thicket beside the water didn't get finished because we were just too tired. On our way back out we met a pack of three dogs. They had collars on but no one was with them. This caused me a bit of concern because I've never seen these dogs before and they were prancing down the path just like they owned the place. Running in a pack can bring out the aggressive, hunting mindset of a dog and I make sure I keep myself between the dogs and my daughter as we passed them. We never made eye contact, but walked with broad shoulders and our cutting tools in hand. They gave us plenty of space on the trail, then stopped and watched us walk out of sight. 

I've had my fill of trail cleaning for a while. Now it is time to ride. The micklem is working out just fine. We've taken four rides in it and Razz is happy. I kept the rubber reins on and I'm kinda starting to like them. I like how substantial they feel in my hands. Just wish they were a little longer since the place I comfortably hold them at is right where the rubber part meets the leather. Definitely taking the stops off, they serve no purpose for me. 

One of those four rides was the final "new to me" trail used by others at the barn. We went down to the river. Its a shorter trail, and to get there you have to cross a very busy rural intersection. The river isn't too much to look at. There's hardly any current in the black water. But the bank is neat and mossy, & the ride is nice enough. 

On our way home from the river I snapped these two images of my boy within seconds of one another, just when the ground changed from leaves to pine needles. The background change wasn't captured on purpose. But I couldn't help noticing how his coat blended well with both. The natural ability to camouflage into the environment. Pretty cool.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Micklem

Ok. Here we go.

On Thursday I didn't get to the barn as early as I would have liked. My daughter had guard practice from 10-12. It's twenty two miles round trip from house to barn and I only wanted to make one trip. Also it thundered a couple times and got really cloudy early on. No big deal. It gave me time to research the fit a little more. 

I'm only paranoid due to so many others discussing their fit related issues online. The rational side of me says "of course, the unhappy folk are gonna be online complaining in higher numbers than happy customers". I mean, when are you more likely to go online and chat about a specific item? When things do what they're supposed to, or when you're having trouble or the item absolutely sucks? Even thinking most people and their horses are probably happy with their bridles, you still don't wanna get that noseband wrong. It is capable of constricting the airway when placed too low. I learned proper placement when using the flotation hack I mentioned in my previous post. 

Also I now understand exactly how the bit clips impact the fit and function. I'm kinda excited to see what Razz will think about them. He has a bad habit of being busy in the mouth when we try to take a break on the trail. The boy just doesn't want to stand still. Maybe the clips will adjust things and make him happier. Honestly though, I feel like the bit chomping is in his nature and will probably never stop. He could have worse habits.

I would like for this to stop

It continued to drizzle off and on all day Thursday. Daughter's practice spilled over til one. We grabbed Panera on the way to the barn and I let her drive us there (she has her permit). I got Razz out of his pasture as soon as we arrived. He was wet and covered in sand. There is a sandy wallow area in the middle of the field where all three in his herd are rolling. Everything else has standing water in it from the rain but the wallow is rather dry. Weird. 

I put him in his stall and my daughter and I enjoyed our lunch. Also learned that Razz likes the kettle cooked chips that Panera serves. I gave him four, one at a time, he took each one with his lips and crunched it with his front teeth, and I found it rather entertaining.

With lunch finished I got to work with the micklem. Nerdy me actually wrote out my own page of notes from the youtube videos. I left the bridle on its card til i was ready to begin fitting just for ease of transportation, and I got to use the horseman's knife I received from Fig in the blogger exchange to free it from the zip ties. 

Writing things down actually helped to embed the process in my brain. I never had to refer to the videos or my notes. Fitting couldn't have been simpler. Razz stuck his head right over his stall door and I groomed the sand away from his big, adorable face. The micklem is all one piece and it started out looking like an odd halter. I got horse size and it fell right into place on his head. The bottom strap around the jaw is in the last hole and a tiny bit snug. I figured this would happen because Razz has a large stock horse type jaw. A gift from his appy side no doubt. Micklems are known for stretching so I will punch one more hole and by the time it breaks in will probably be back in this hole comfortably. The cheek pieces follow his bone line just as they should. I then secured the chin strap loosely and made sure the noseband was sitting where it wouldn't constrict his breathing in any way. Time for the bit. The bit straps have keepers on both sides and are pretty neat. Razz took his bit no questions asked, still hanging his head over the stall, even as I fumbled with adjusting it properly. Once the bit was in place I tightened the chin strap and the micklem was officially fitted. I enjoyed a cheese danish and watched his behavior in his new bridle. He seemed comfortable. That's a good thing. It appears as if the cheek piece is digging into his face on the left side where the noseband starts across but it's just winter coat fluffed over the strap.

Razz would love to know...

what do you guys think?

he thinks he's handsome all the time

I took the micklem off, pulled him into the barn aisle and began the grooming ritual. By the time I was done a small mound of sand was on the floor at Razz's feet. Literally. His coat was still kinda wet and the misting continued outside. We went to the newly cleared bean field for about 15 minutes, most of which was spent in trot and canter. He was the same horse I've always ridden, acting as if a micklem was what he'd always been in. The layer of grime that settled on my face and arms from grooming was now starting to feel plastered from all the water in the atmosphere. I decided I had my answer and that the bridle was more than likely gonna work for us. Yay! My daughter snapped a couple more pics before I untacked.

I haven't tried the bit clips yet. Baby steps for the boy. They will go on once the arena is dried out, and I have my paddocks and half chaps on, and my stirrups are moved up a hole or two. Also noticing that I'm starting to ride in my glasses more often. Its something I used to never do. Anyway, Thursday continued to be misty and gloomy out. Yesterday (new year's day) was cloudy but no rain. My daughter and I went up and cleaned a trail that had some nuisance branches hanging around. We had a couple friends from the previous barn over for dinner last night. And today it finally feels wintry outside at 45*. The sun is shining brightly. Its only Saturday (winning) and I've got a new bridle to break in.