Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Polyamorous

That song came on the radio a few nights ago as I was headed home and I thought "you know, this is how I feel right now". Not in the traditional sense of the word, but concerning all the things going on right now, all aspects of my life, I am loving it all right now. My trip on Cloud 9 began last week.

In August of 2010 I showed up at the Subaru dealership with no cash, just my old car (a shite dodge) and a smile. I'd never owned a brand new car before and I wasn't sure how things were gonna go for me, having no down payment to give. I'd been looking online and knew there was one car in particular that had been in their inventory for a while. I figured that was my best bet.

Long story short, the car came home with me and I just made my last payment.

Next on the list are my half sleeves. I started my right arm October 2014. It is my horse arm and began with a sort of cover up. That arm was finished early spring of 2015 and then I started my left arm this past fall. I generally prefer to not get tattooed during the summer so I don't have to worry about keeping sunblock on a piece that's still healing. There was only one small area on my shoulder to fill in and finish, and I had that knocked out last week too. Project complete!!

The herd of three at the barn has settled down. No more drama and no more battle scars on my pony. Just this alone would have made my week.




Rotten pony sure does look like a bay in this pic. When he's out in the light his coat is totally bleached and damaged, his mane, tail & feet are dark brown and the rest of his coat is a reddish dun. 

But good attitudes aren't the only thing going on at the barn...

I found a riding instructor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've known A for a few years now. She was the former working student at my old barn. Now she's doing her own thing, at her own barn (which is filled with her own horses). And she travels out for lessons too. I already had her number stored in my phone, and once I found out she was coaching I immediately hit her up. Several texts later I found myself tacking up for a lesson on Thursday night. We started at 8, and after spending the first five minutes or so hugging and grinning from ear to ear, we got down to business. I rode until 10 with lots of walk breaks and had so much fun even though I was bustin' ass. Razz was totally whooped when we finished, and he fell asleep standing next to my paid off car while A and I chatted for another 20 minutes or so.

A was the first one to lease Razz when he originally showed up at the old barn, so she is very familiar even if it has been several years since she's ridden him. I've only ridden under one other instructor before, and the differences in their teaching styles was instantly apparent. Although A was WS with my old coach, she's been riding with two big names out of the Raleigh area, in addition to two other instructors well known in eastern NC. My old instructor really emphasized bend, bend, bend. A is all about softening first and letting everything else come into place naturally. Razz and I have a shit load of work to do. I will be going to her barn for half my lessons so that I can focus strictly on me. We vaguely discussed some future plans (hauling off to fancy farms for schooling, maybe showing?!?!).

Friday kicked my ass after such a late night on Thursday. But I didn't have time to slow down yet...


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Demoted

One of the high school boarders graduated this year, and she left for college last Sunday. So, Saturday all of us regular trail riders met up to enjoy the morning together and have a going away ride with breakfast to follow.

The previous weekend had offered really nice weather in the early morning and we were hoping for more of the same.

I woke up at 5:45 and was at the barn by 6:30. We were trying to beat the heat but that just wasn't going to happen. We had a relapse of hella hot. The same as two weeks prior. My boy was standing under the shed in his night paddock, his neck and shoulders damp with sweat. The sweat was also trickling down my neck and back before I started grooming.

he sweats while doing nothing


I noticed in the pic I posted of my saddle last week that it wasn't sitting quite right on my pony's back. I have an adjustable gullet and fixed that issue pronto. By the time I finished tacking up we were both ready for a sponging. Razz lives at the bottom barn with two other horses whose owners don't come around all that often. I am incredibly thankful that I more or less have this whole barn to myself. It also means that I am in the dark concerning any goings on at the top barn. The rest of the riders came down to meet me as I was putting on my boots and chaps. I only needed to bridle the boy and we were off.

Walking out of the barn I see we are one rider short. The graduate wasn't there. She overslept for her own ride. Turns out she's been really nervous about going off to school and hasn't been sleeping very well, and didn't get to sleep until 4 that morning. 

The rest of us decided we would try to go in the Croatan. It's been several weeks since anyone tried going in there. I knew the trails were still overgrown but after the two prior awesome rides in the sand pits I suppose we all thought mayyybee we could pull it off.

The ride over was uneventful. hot as hell, but uneventful. We went about a half mile into the Croatan before we turned around and came right back out. The trail was really overgrown but I could deal with that. The horses could not deal with the biting flies though. They were all extremely irritated, as they should have been. Razz was hopping up on his front legs just like he would for a buck, but instead of extending his hinds out he tucked them underneath and was smacking his belly to rid himself of insects. I was using my crop to reach under and sweep across his belly in assistance. We got out of there quickly and the bugs left us alone. 

From there we went right back over to the sand pits. It was so much nicer in there. No flies. I don't get it. These are two forests right beside one another, why is one infested and one not? 

OK, so the Croatan might not be you average forest. It's several thousand acres and pretty damn wild in the summer time. The sand pits are about 40 acres and not as thickly overgrown. But they are less than one mile apart with the same wildlife and pine trees that the deer flies and green heads love. 

Ultimately it doesn't matter. We need a place to ride and if the sand pits fit that bill I'll take it. I like it in there anyway. There are traces of the stupid housing development showing up sadly. Not long after I moved Razz up to this barn, the news came out about plans for a gated community with a club house, pool, convenience store, basically everything you need without having to leave the gates. It's to be geared toward military families. This is a huge project that had to be voted on by the town, and water and sewer has to be ran before construction starts. Well, the trees have been blazed with purple paint, orange streamers have been tied to some branches, and little orange flags are appearing staked in the sand. My plans are to move back to the western part of the state next year once my daughter finishes high school, and based on how slow the work is happening I probably won't be here to see them destroy our beloved trails. It is still devastating to all my friends not moving. And the barn owners, I really feel for them. The soybean/corn field that joins the barn property is included in the development. Even though the barn is a really nice facility we have no resident trainer or any kind of program going on, and the boarders board here because of location, location, location. It just won't be as desirable of a locale with half our trails being consumed. 

But this is a subject for another day.

The rest of our ride went off without a hitch. We untacked, hosed down, and took off to the same breakfast joint that we ate at the previous weekend. We still had to wait forever on a table. The graduating senior also showed up for breakfast. 

On Sunday hubby and I went up to the barn around 4 in the afternoon. I wasn't going to ride. Just groom, bathe, and treat. Razz's grazing pasture is a decent little walk from the barn and once he sees me coming he generally meets me about two thirds of the way out. But this day he was just holding his head up looking at me. What the hell Razz? 

Naturally I assumed we had such a hot ride the day before and Razz was thinking "nope, not today". I caught up to him and attached the lead rope to turn back to the barn but he planted all four feet and refused to move. This is entirely out of his character. I checked him over looking for injuries or any reason as to why he was acting in such a way. He had two bite marks across his rump and one on his left hind but they were not bad bites, the skin wasn't even broken. Just missing hair. Barn owner recently got a new horse and he was put in the pasture with Razz, making a herd of three. I understand that this changes herd dynamics and expect some biting. Razz has always been the dominate one. 

Until now. This timid, 14 hand bleached dun pony is kicking my horse's ass.

I finally got Razz to walk with me back to the barn with some encouragement. As we passed the little guy, he charged over and took in after us. Razz galloped off, headed toward the barn. I threw the lead rope over his back as he took off, hoping like hell he wasn't going to step on it and yank his neck out of socket. The little horse charged after, ignoring me and running about halfway to the barn before he stopped. Hubby was waiting on us at the gate. He retrieved Razz. I met the little horse as I walked back alone and he stood over to the side, giving me plenty of room. His expression seemed to say "I don't want any trouble". Worried about the two legged, totally ready to whoop the four legged. 

They have since worked out their differences (I think) but it is concerning when this kind of activity is taking place in narrow chutes with no where to duck out. 


Some of you might be asking yourselves "why not just swing wide and avoid that rotten pony?". The above diagram is my rendition of the bottom barn & paddocks. One, two and three are all razz's daytime grazing pastures. His little herd gets rotated between them every couple months. He's currently in three. The x represents Razz, the star is the rotten pony. Rotten pony was just chillin' under a huge tree, controlling the flow of traffic into and out of the pasture. That pink chute is about five feet wide. I'm not sure how long it is, but I've counted my foot paces out before and its roughly 350 steps down to pasture two.  

After getting him out, I bathed him, medicated his bites with my homemade bee salve, and gave him his beer and cubes. The store closest to the barn has a wonderful assortment of tall boys for under two bucks, and Razz has been trying them all. Full flavored Bud, Yuengling, Miller lite, I've gotten him one of everything except for IceHouse and Steele Reserve. I just think they might have too much alcohol content. I don't know what the legal limit is for an 1,100 lb animal is so I stick to the stuff I know is alright. I'm guessing none of it would really affect him.

better than a huge bowl of ice cream

And the rest of the week has been more of the same. Cool hosing and cubes. Looks like we might catch a break this coming week, and I may be able to get some arena riding in. We'll just have to wait and see. All the fitness I worked on over Spring has went right down the tubes this summer. That's why I had to adjust my saddle. His topline is pathetic frankly. There is just no way to safely exercise him when it's so oppressive out. The arena is not shaded at all, the path around the cornfield is covered in flies and mosquitoes, and I'm not disciplined enough to get any real work done in the woods. Jumping any height is definitely on hold, I don't hesitate to pop him over two feet or less though. I feel like he handles that with minimal effort.

I have contacted two trainers about some lessons, neither is available (for different reasons). I don't really want to ride with my old trainer. I would like a fresh perspective on us. I have another month or so before the weather finally cools enough to use the arena comfortably and by then I'm hoping I will have found an affordable instructor to come out and teach.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dog Days

My summer has been slightly busy, slightly chill. Busy at work (it is tshirt season after all). Chill concerning anything with ponies.

The largest factor influencing the low key riding? The stupid weather. I don't remember ever having a summer so damn humid for so many days in a row. My mom texted me one morning asking how the conditions were. I sent back this pic:


Yep. 98% humidity before 7 a.m. So humid that the weather station thinks it's raining. But there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Later that evening, mom hit me up again asking about the weather and I sent back another pic:


Weather station still thinks it's raining, but it never rained all day. I have the outdoor thermometer installed in the shade. The heat index was through the roof. This was one of the hotter days of the year (and the reason behind my mom wanting to know what's up), but we've had over a month of above 90, miserable conditions and it's affecting everybody's attitude. Enough already!! 

Razz is spending his first full summer out in the elements. Years passed (10 years to be exact) he spent summer days in his stall with a fan blowing. I have been going after work to hose him off and give him treats instead of ride. The boy's favorite afternoon snack is a handful of forage cubes soaked in a cold 25 oz. Natural Light. Feeding instructions on the bag say to make sure the horse has good teeth and feed dry. Are they fucking crazy? These things are legit cubes and need to be soaked. Some poor bastard is feeding them dry, and I'm cringing at the thought of a large cube being chomped in half and lodging in a wind pipe. That's just not cool at all.

Back on topic of handling heat, I roached Razz's mane to let his neck breathe. His mane was longer than his neck is wide. I have a pair of kinder scissors in my grooming bag, the short kind with dull rounded blades for preschoolers, and they took care of it without any real issue. Razz stood super still and I was able to get a nice, close cut. He's gotten two maintenance trims since the initial roaching. I believe he's enjoying the new look.

trying to get a shot of the new 'do, but
he just wanted scritches

so i just collected what was
left over and grabbed a shot
of that instead

Hubby has been accompanying me to the barn on the weekends. I'm so glad he enjoys going, it's nice to have him around after a dry spell all spring. It wasn't on purpose, he just didn't make it for one reason or another. I ask him every time he goes if he would like to ride and he always says "next time" with a grin. We chat about all sorts of things while I perform my thorough grooming ritual and it's time well spent. I've been riding bareback in the rings when hubby is present and striking off around the corn field when he's not there. Sometimes he takes pics of me riding, but mostly he burns up my 4G data since his phone is a flip with buttons. So sad.

trying to get some good bareback work out of both of us

not trying at all, also i look really
tall in this pic or razz looks short

Finally, for the first time in probably five weeks, I threw a saddle on the boy's back. Saturday morning hubs went with me and he hiked while I rode. Razz also wore a new saddle pad. It's a purple and lime Roma pad with a swirl pattern stitched in, and I always figured the purple would clash with the rich chestnut color of Razz's coat. But it looked great. I've had this pad at least a year, should have used it before now. The only thing is it's really big. Almost too big, the girth keeper wanted to sit farther back on his side but the front edge of the pad was plenty far over his shoulder. 

i just love him soooo much

trying to get it right, this is before
i realized how large the pad was

lookin' sharp

We made our way over to the sand pits and the insects weren't all that bad, honestly nonexistent aside from one spot. I haven't ridden any real trails in forever and it felt like the sand pits were just as happy to see me as I was happy to be in there! I knew we were gonna run into some snakes but the only thing out getting their bellies warm were tons of anoles. I was trying a new bit on Razz, a french link loose ring, but it was no good. I thought I would try milder bits to see if he would like any of them before moving on to something stronger. You never know what a horse might like or respond to a little better without testing it, right?

just getting started

guess why they call
it the sand pits

vegetation gets thicker
the farther you go

On the back side of the sand pits is a neat little plateau. This is a nice spot for cantering, it's more open and and the teenagers set some small jumps up last year. They've mostly fallen over or settled down from their original position. Hubs offered to get a video of me hopping over a branch, so I tried to get Razz looking all nice and on the bit, but he just faked it. And I guess Hubby felt like he needed to state the obvious, so I shot him a quick glance of "really?" on my approach. 




It was a great morning. We stayed out for close to two hours and the heat was beginning to really beat down by the time we arrived back at the barn. Razz got hosed down and treated and turned out with his homies.

Sunday morning I was back at the barn at 6:30 in the morning. Me and two other boarders were going out to the sand pits again. We rode the same route through the woods but followed that up with a ride around the tree nursery down the street. The crepe myrtles are in bloom and the nursery was loaded with every imaginable shade of pink and red. 

After our ride, the three of us drove back in to town and grabbed breakfast at a small local joint. It took 40 minutes for us to get a table but that was fine, we chatted and chatted some more.

almost back to the barn

I'm so thankful to have a horse in my life. He make the endless dog days of summer more bearable and brings a smile to my face :)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Carrot Patch, Let's Try Again

This post was originally published back in November when I first started blogging. A little while later I accidentally deleted the post. But it's true what they say, anything you put online never really gets deleted for good. A few days ago, again completely by accident, I found the post in an obscure little corner of the internet. I enjoyed writing this and wanted to share it once more even if it does sound a little silly reading it now. So without further ado...



I love to garden. My backyard has four small veggie gardens, one of which is a raised bed for carrots only. I eat some of the carrots but they are grown mainly for Razz. Being able to go out and quickly grab him a fresh, organic treat before I head to the barn is awesome. I have grown carrots for the past few years but this year was the best harvest so far.

Carrots are planted early in the spring. If my memory serves me correctly they mature in about 60 days as long as you follow the package instructions. I don't follow the instructions. Instead, I simply tear away the top of the packet and shake the seeds into the dirt, which has been prepared about a month earlier (fertilized with pony poo and turned regularly). I used six different seed packets this year. And I've had a steady carrot supply from early June til now. Once the first round of carrots were harvested it made room for the new seeds to take off and the cycle kept going.

For me pulling a carrot out of the ground is a lot like a lottery scratch off ticket. You don't exactly know what is underneath that beautiful green top. Sometimes it is a total let down. A tiny root strand that leaves you wondering how the top got so big in the first place. I know I get these due to planting too closely, and they are the loosing scratch off ticket equivalent. Sometimes I get a little resistance when I tug on the greens, and these are generally the winning scratch offs. Beautiful orange or purple roots that make the best sound as they are separated from the soil.

So why is one of my first blog entries about the carrot bed? Because this morning I pulled all the remaining carrots and it's officially over for me til next year, and it's a little bittersweet. There's gonna be something missing in the backyard now. Tonight it could possibly freeze. No reason to leave them in the ground any longer. I knew the day was fast approaching and for the past couple weeks I've been taking photos.

bizarre end of season carrots

more end of season bizarreness

final harvest this morning

found this little guy keeping warm one of
the first cool mornings

inside the purple ones,mother nature knows
her complimentary colors :)

The weather is perfect for riding this weekend, and I plan on putting a few miles on my pony the next couple days. He will enjoy some of this final harvest after each ride.


the very last carrot pulled, and quite
possibly one of the most perfect
all year
I wonder if he'll notice a difference between the homegrown goodies and the store bought carrots he's getting for winter?