Sunday, September 17, 2017

Autonomy

Things have been very different 'round these parts for the last month. Adjusting to a two person household hasn't been as bad as I previously thought. I can take my time in the mornings to sip coffee and watch news/read blogs for a little while longer than I was able to before. I don't have to get tied up in any school traffic or extra curricular schedules. I don't have to plan my day around someone else. We get take out more often. I do miss my daughter terribly, but she's having a wonderful time, and life feels new and refreshing in so many ways.

I have one week left at my job of 16 years. It's been stagnant for a few years now, as I have reached the top of the ladder there. A new job is already lined up with the move. I found a fun part time position with a small but growing graphics company back home. Three days a week there will ensure a certain amount of income and allow time for me to focus on my own small business venture.

And speaking of the move, that's probably the most exciting thing we have going on. My little herd is packing up and moving to the mountains! I know I've mentioned it a lot on here, but it's finally happening!! We are moving onto my grandfather's farm. It's been in my family for over 150 years. It's where I grew up and learned to ride. And I'm sure it will inspire a large handful of future blog posts across a variety of topics. I can not wait to get the place set up my way and look out the window at my horse farm. But until then...

Packing up the current house has been bittersweet. I'm sooo ready to go, but there have been so many memories made in this house that it's impossible to move without feeling like I'm leaving a part of me behind. Hubs and i have joked about taking the house with us. Wouldn't that be nice. 

In other, horse related news (because that's what you're here for anyway), I am now the owner of a 2015 Triple C 2 horse trailer. It's small and simple but I've never had anything this nice and I am in love. We brought it to the farm straight from the dealership to get Razz's opinion on things. He took about 35 minutes to make his mind up that the trailer was indeed awesome and that he would travel in it without protest. Well, other than his pawing. During his maiden voyage we went on a roughly ten mile around the neighborhood trip and the panelling looked like this when we got back:


There were zero marks on the panelling when we left :/ Razz will be on the trailer for more than 300 miles (over 5 hours) when I move him in a couple weeks, so obviously something was gonna have to be done about this. Initially I looked around town for 1/4 inch rubber matting sold by the foot. No one in town carries the stuff, not even tractor supply. I didn't want to drive over an hour just for the matting so husband came up with the bright idea of using some of the extra carpet we had in the garage. We put new carpet in two rooms a few months back, part of the upgrades made to maximize home value, and I scoffed at the idea of putting it in the trailer at first. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought "why not"? It was only gonna be temporary, I could replace it after my first real outing (that was fast approaching in a couple days) and it was only in the front so pooping on it wasn't going to be a problem. We put it up, I made sure the screws were smooth and flush, and the trailer now looked like this:


Just as planned, my real outing came a couple days later. Saturday morning (last Saturday) I got up bright and early, loaded the boy and his cheeky pal, and travelled about an hour and twenty minutes to a campground designed specifically for horses. Barn mate and I set out to explore their huge network of trails. Turning onto the driveway from the main road all you see is a muddy, low lying livestock pen that was kinda gross, and barn mate & I looked at one another in a questioning manner. We'd never been here before and that lot was very off putting. It was all smooth mud, no hoof prints of any kind, I figured that counted for something, and once we passed the lot, we drove through a stand of mixed hardwood/conifer tree growth and into a clean, green, manicured campground with full facilities, nice arena, fishing pond, swimming pond, and well maintained trails. Razz and company came off the trailer happy and not sweaty. We rode for a little over an hour with no idea of where we were going. The trails were all marked with signs and individual names. We just meandered along. "Let's turn here", "Just stay straight", "wonder where this one goes?", "I think I see some water, go this way". We did see water, it was a small man made pond and it looks like they dug it just for pony swimming. We waded in, Razz only went so far because he hates ponds (why horse?) and we took a more narrow, winding trail away from the pond. This trail was in another stand of hardwoods and I enjoyed the ride through trees we don't really have in the Croatan. Once we came back out to the parking area, we loosened girths and had some lunch and water, I made the boys some alfalfa tea to entice them to drink. 

rig lookin' good

almost ready to head out

We had a very pleasant little break. One in which I sat back and thoroughly enjoyed looking at my horse tied to my rig. It made me wish I'd had this trailer much sooner. 

I do have another trailer, had it for a long time, but Razz hates it and it got to be such a hassle to get him on, I just said fuck it. Last time we took it out was for delivering a screen printing press I sold. 


Anywho, barn mate & I finished our lunches and prepared to head back out on the trails. I had just put my bridle back on when barn mate walked around the trailer holding up her bridle to show me her bit was broken. It's a western version of a french link style, and was broken on the center link. It was carelessness that led to the broken bit, and neither of us had an extra, so that was that. Bummed because it didn't have to happen, i rode over to the arena and had a 20 minute lite schooling sesh with Razz that I came away from grinning ear to ear. He felt so loose and willing after being on the trails. I'm sure the newness of the ring played a part. After 20 minutes i called it good, took my time untacking and grooming. We loaded up and came back home safely. No sweaty ponies, no injuries. The trailer hauls great, Razz likes it, couldn't ask for more.


so happy to be back home with bestie.
gonna break my heart to separate 'em for good

The autonomy is great, being able to pick up and go whenev. I was supposed to be on another fun trip today, but an outer band of hurricane Jose ruined those plans. I'll take it, no complaints, compared to the weather some have had to deal with. As far as the carpet is concerned, it held up perfectly. As in you can't even tell I hauled a pawing horse. He only paws when we stop or almost stop, and his barefoot hoof just glides over the fibers. The screws are all still smooth and flush, so I'm leaving the carpet til we get moved. Hubby's crazy idea worked great!






Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WW: Goldilocks

Meet the newest member of the family! I call her the Goldilocks trailer, because she is just right!! She joined the family yesterday and I can't wait to throw Razz in there and burn the roads up :)











Saturday, August 5, 2017

An End To Limbo

I'm not exactly sure when the nagging feeling began. It's been at least a few months. Big life changes were coming, and I prefer routine. Predictable. Comfort zone. I'm not opposed to change per se, as long as I know that the changes will be positive and the transitions smooth. It's human nature to feel this way I'm sure, these feeling are only amplified by the fact that I'm a mom. I had my daughter young at 20, and the overwhelming urge to provide, protect, guide, expose, assist, teach, love, etc. has been engrained into my very being. 


just kickin' it, wishing the new paint
mare would come over and say hi


But the world never stops spinning. Somehow 18 years have come and gone, and my duties as a mom are changing. It's time to let go so she can find her own path. I've done my best to pass along my values and a few street smarts. Letting go is sad and not having her around will be huge. I will always be a mom,  But that's not what I'm uneasy about...


loving that fan



Every two weeks I get a paycheck. I can just about tell you how much it will be before I get it. Knowing you have $x coming every other Friday is nice. It's comfortable. Just the way I like it. However, I want to work for myself. I'm planning on making a real business out of my side hustle. My booth is always well received everywhere I go, and I really believe I can make it work. That doesn't take the fear of uncertainty away, but no risk, no reward.

Additionally, we're putting our house on the market and I'm gonna try and sell it myself. We bought our house back in 2003. When I moved to the beach I always knew one day we'd be returning home to the mountains, and this house has always been viewed through the "long-term temporary" lens. 

All these things have been looming on the distant horizon, leaving me feeling as if I'm in some sort of limbo. My comfortable normal soon to be over, yet not quite the time to begin transitioning. I wanted my daughter to enjoy a stress free summer in her childhood home.


razz's good pal, he has perfected the beg


This morning the contents of her room are all organized, boxed, stacked and labelled, ready to go. The empty shells of her remaining furniture already obvious. Later today we will load everything in the car and she will leave this driveway one last time. 

With her move comes the end of my limbo, the first tipped domino that gets the rest started. I'm ready to turn the page and start a new chapter. I can now focus on my own goals in a way I never have before in my adult life. Horses are a big part of those goals. Maybe I can make a real horse blog out of this page in the process!! Stay tuned :)



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Supplements

This unofficial blog hop showed up at a relative time for me and Razz, so thank you to whoever got it started. We are in the process of switching supplements in an effort to be more effective. 

Razz is an 18 year old, 16.1 tb/appy cross. He's an overall healthy guy, and doesn't show any soundness issues at present (please, to the powers that be, don't let me jinx myself by saying that), however at this stage in his life daily support certainly can't hurt. I've been feeding the Tractor Supply Dumor joint suppliment for a little over a year. This was simply out of convenience. Where I live, Tractor is the only place to shop for horse supplies. The next best shopping experience is about an hour and a half inland. Ingredients and dosages run the gamut across brands. I chose the Dumor after comparing ingredients, weights, and prices on the different options. It was also nice to not have the commitment to a Smart Pak subscription since this is all I wanted at the time and a simple joint combo wasn't enough $ to ship for free.


pc: Tractor Supply

I focused on three main ingredients-glucosamine, chondroitin, and msm. A scoop of Dumor contains 5,000 mg glucosamine, 250 mg chondroitin, and 1,000 mg msm. It comes in a 2.8 lb tub for $30 and an 8 lb tub for $70. I've purchased both sizes, but mostly the smaller one. It works out to .66 a day not counting the initial loading dose. Not bad...

But when all the heat and humidity set in and actual barn time cut back, I started spending my time doing more horse focused reading and research. Turns out the recommended dosage for 1,100 lb horse (depending on work load) is as follows:

Glucosamine  6,000-10,000mg/day

Chondroitin    1,250-5,000mg/day

MSM              up to 20,000mg/day

Again the Dumor provides 5,000, 250, and 1,000 respectively. Razz was being cut short, even for a horse in light work. It shouldn't reflect on TSC in a negative way. I'm happy with the products I buy there. And in general I believe supplement combos of all types come up a little short if you only feed the standard dose. I wasn't satisfied with a little short, ya know? Thus began a point and click extravaganza across all sites that offer supplements. I wanted highest efficacy for the best price. After a couple hours I came to the conclusion that there was nothing that met both my price point and desired recipe. But I could buy the individual ingredients myself and make my own, and that's what I've done.

Animeds is a company I'm sure most of you are familiar with. I picked up the Glucosamine 5000 powder for $22 and the MSM powder for just under $7 from Amazon Prime. 

pc: Amazon

pc: Amazon

The packaging I received had updated labels on them with metallic ink and actual horse images.

While on Amazon I also found UltraCruz Chondroitin pwoder for only $9. Razz was well on his way to having a custom mixed joint combo.

pc: Amazon

Between the different size packaging and varied doses, I now have to stay on top of things and know where I'm at with each one, versus a mindless single scoop a day. Who cares?! It's about what's best for pony, not convenience, so that argument is pretty much a non starter. 

My new, personalized dosage for Razz consists of 2 1/2 scoops glucosamine, or 6,250 mg/day. One heaping scoop chondroitin, or 2,000 mg/day. And one scoop MSM, or 14,000 mg/day. For a quick comparison chart:


                          old          new

Glucosamine      5,000       6,250

Chondroitin          250        2,000           mg/day

MSM                  1,000     14,000


It feels great having my boy on a suggested, customized dosage. The MSM and chondro was upped dramatically (IMO) and I consulted with my vet about it. I explained what I was doing and why, and where I ended up. Her only question for me was who is making the things I chose. She said Animed and UltraCruz were both legit sources, and that I shouldn't worry about the increase in dosages. She also told me that the only joint supplement on the market with proven, studied results was Cosaquin ASU. I ask her if this was due to the parent company (Nutramax) having more money than others to fund a thorough study, but it is the combined effect with avocado soy extract that pushed the rest of the ingredients into the "proven" corner. Their recipe is their own, no replicating that. But my recipe was still good in my vet's opinion, and she's anxious to hear how it works out for me when I see her next.

In addition to the joint stuff, Razz gets an electrolyte during these hellacious months. If the horse is sweating just standing around in the pasture, then he needs a scoop of Apple-A-Day on top of his feed. I pick this up at TSC for $13. Easy peasy, and it smells like cotton candy!!

pc: Tractor Supply

During my spring shots and check up I was discussing how hard it is to maintain a top line on Razz and the vet recommended Omega Horseshine. I get this at TSC also, $47 for 20 lb bag. This is an all around supplement for skin, coat, and hoof with additional benefits of increased conditioning, joint support, psyllium replacement, the list honestly seems too good to be true. But both vets at my practice sing it's praises and I've seen several other bloggers using this as well, so there must be something to it after all. Recommended serving is 1/2 cup up to one full cup daily for average sized horse. I'm feeding 3/4 cup a day. 

pc: Tractor Supply
Every one of these supplements is a powder. The chondroitin is especially fine, it's basically dust. I don't expect my barn owners and their staff to scoop each one of these, and frankly I need to be in charge of the doses because half scoops and heaping scoops are subjective. The cheap resealable plasticware found at any discount store works great. I'm guessing mine are one cup in volume because the 3/4 cup horseshine followed by all the rest almost fills them up. 




And the stats on where I ended up? Initially I was spending .66/day on sub par support that probably helped a little but not all that much. In April I began Omega Horseshine at .78/day bringing me to $1.44 total per day. Mid May I started electrolytes at .16/day bringing me to $1.60 total per day. 

The new recipe breaks down to: glucosamine .78/day, chondroitin .10/day, and MSM .22/day for a combined total of $1.10 per day. That's a productive buck and ten vs. a meh .66 on the old regimen.

That's also a lot of mg. noted and a bunch of math I wouldn't have done if not prompted to do so by this post. Kudos to you if you've hung in there with me this far. I'm spending $2.04 a day on supplements for my faithful sidekick. If it keeps him happy, I'm more than happy to spend it on him. Tailoring individual levels of each ingredient with the help of my vet also makes me feel like a more educated and proactive horse owner than the mindless scoop. 

If my combo seems to be working out after the first month, then I will invest in the 5 lb bucket of glucosamine rather than the 2.5 lb, which will save me a few bucks and put me back on track to spending closer to previous totals. And that's when you know you've won, by spending the same amount and getting more. I will probably keep Razz on the electrolyte year round from here on out. I plan to ride a lot more going into fall and winter, so he should be sweating more and the electrolytes cost beans anyway. And of course cotton candy hehe!!



Sunday, July 16, 2017

MIA

Hello again everyone. Five months is long enough to go without posting. I am fine. Razz is fine. He was kind enough to be waiting for me at the gate when I arrived at the barn yesterday afternoon.


this doesn't happen very often


So what's been going on? Well...

Not long after my lesson in February on the warmblood at instructor A's new place, winterguard season kicked into full swing. That's the dance/flag team that my daughter is on. She was a senior this season. We didn't travel as much as we did last year, but we did go to Raleigh every other weekend. I made sure to ride as much as possible in between. 

My section of the Croatan got a facelift this spring. The forest service came in and recut the fire breaks. That's the trail we use to get through the front section of woods and it hasn't been cleaned out in a few years, other than the maintenance my riding crew has given it. The digging exposed fresh sand which was nice footing but we had to watch out for small tree roots that were crudely cut as the digger made his way. I saw the machine they used to cut this fire break. It looked like a bobcat that you see on construction sites. but instead of tires it had a chain track like a tank, and a scoop on the front that just shoves everything out of its way.



And they didn't cut these again to make a nice trail for us. There were several controlled burns in preparation of spring storms. The horses weren't really sure what to make of the charred earth. Some hot spots were still smoking on one of our rides, being the good trail ponies they are, they adjusted pretty quickly.


the view of a burn from town

Along with the forest service clean up, I tried to clean out a back country trail that had haunted me for a while. Hubby and another barn mate joined in and we hiked over with snips of all kinds, a machete, and an axe. The trail was just as I remembered. Super thick and super rough. We chopped, hacked, pulled, dragged, but it didn't get any easier on us. I just new the thicket was going to open up at any time and the trails I'd seen on google maps would be right there waiting on Razz and myself. We made our way down a bear path for a good distance before giving up altogether. It sucked so damn bad to walk out of there defeated yet again. 


the entrance, trimmed but
not cleaned out yet

bear path, the dark spot up
front is actually hubby

You certainly can't say we didn't try.

Even though I didn't make it down that trail, I still found a couple other smaller new trails to mix it up with. I also got Razz to go in a pond after much protesting on his part. 


not happy

the water was so clear
til we stomped in


Aside from trails, we've worked in the arena some too. My new obsession is the mexican crossrail. It gives me lots of things to do with one obstacle. 



I've seen this one referenced in several places and finally decided to give it a try. The first time we jumped the entire thing Razz popped straight up and took a similar trajectory back down, even though we didn't come in too deep. I think the question was just fuckin' with him. Anyway, in mid air over the jump I was swung forward and my legs swung backward underneath me. It was a really weird feeling. I have never been thrown into that position on a horse's back. It only happened the first time over, and now he canters up to and jumps this fence like an old pro.


wtf toes?

Sure my positon needs work, but my toes bug me the most. I just can't seem to put my leg on without my toes turning out. We don't jump too often. Enough to keep the boy in half way decent shape. I haven't been taking any jump lessons. We aren't working towards any particular riding goals right now. I did pick up the shaped memory foam pad that some bloggers have been talking about. I came across it one evening on amazon, and since it came in aqua I had to have one. Was anxious to see just how much support the memory foam offered. I've been really happy with this pad. the foam works rather well considering how thin it is. I love the fact that this pad does not move. Not. One. Inch. 





Why no pony goals? As I mentioned earlier, my daughter was a senior this year. It's her time in life to shine. Some of the most memorable years she will have. I've been focused on her right now. I can focus on myself in August. Til then she's the star of the show. So I got through a winter of back and forth to Raleigh every other weekend. Then prom. Then graduation. And three trips to the college she chose, Western Carolina University. That's a 16 hour round trip. 

judaculla rock, largest petroglyph east of
the Mississippi, it's truly amazing

In addition to all this I've also worked on growing my business and I've had some moderate success. My products are in a two local stores and I'm working a booth at festivals & farmers markets. 

kiddo is hiding

Now that summer is here and it's hot as hell, I sit in my backyard and drink beer. One of the stores featuring my products is a home and garden center and it was there I found a cute Hungarian baby bath tub from the 1930's. I plant and replant this tub all the time. Everything thrives and outgrows quickly. I also built a potting bench out of reclaimed pallets. My backyard is cozy and just perfect. The only thing to make it better would be Razz right there in the back yard too!






Many of the plants are starting to look a little blah with the heat and humidity but the tub looks green and happy. Cheers to summer everyone!!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

My First Warmblood

As mentioned a few posts ago, I finally got to ride a warmblood for the first time. Riding instructor A invited me over to her place to give him a try. The lesson went well, as in I didn't come off of him. That was a legit worry because when she first told me about him last year one of the first things she mentioned was a "wicked spook". 

I haven't been riding any horse other than Razz for years now. Before Razz I owned the most athletic little arab known to mankind, and talk about a wicked spook. He could move so fast you almost wondered if he simply teleported twenty feet sideways. His spooks benefitted my riding exponentially, and I got to experience the warmblood spooks a couple times during my lesson. Let's just say those were nothing compared to the arab, but more about that in a moment...

I arrived at A's farm at 4:30 on a Wednesday afternoon. She and fiance just moved in to their spread, literally. They have acres of fenced paddocks, a tack room and a camper. They had been doing land prep all day and A had gone to return the heavy equipment they'd rented, so her fiance gave me the quick tour of their place. They own the coolest pig ever. Her name is Layla and she has the temperment of a dog. I scratched her all over, and when I stopped and took a few steps away she followed and leaned into my leg begging for more. So I scratched her some more and this time she rolled over for belly rubs.

Love that pig!!

But it was time to meet my equine partner for the evening. My guy was in a paddock toward the edge of their property along with two cob sized paints. Warmblood was standing at the gate waiting. He thought it was feed time. I walked in and let him sniff my hand before giving him a couple scritches on his noggin. Then I scratched the crest of his neck and withers and had a small chat with him. I think A's fiance was expecting me to just walk in and grab him but I don't roll like that with a new-to-me horse. I like for horses I handle to feel comfortable with me from the beginning and I always go for the withers and extended silly conversation first. I could tell he was a chill guy, and after a couple minutes I was ready to halter him & he willingly dropped his head right in. 

I started grooming and it wasn't much longer before A showed up. We talked about his history in depth. She'd told me a bit about him before. Warmblood is 11 years old and came from Connecticut. He was living in Raleigh with his owner when he developed an issue in one of his eyes. I believe the eye thing was a bit more than his owner wanted to deal with, however she didn't want to sell him. So A agreed to take him on a free lease and keep him in work. The eye issue has been watched by a vet for a while now. It's basically a tiny grey scar on an otherwise healthy eye. He can see around it but yes, it does block some of his vision. The condition doesn't cause the horse any discomfort. Instructor A has had him for over a year, but since she doesn't own him and I don't know his owner, he will remain as "the Warmblood" on my blog. 

While grooming him I couldn't help but notice how flat his back was. It was a beautiful thing. My pony has ZERO top line and a looong spine that's no where near as nice as Warmblood's. I got tacked up and we began our lesson. Instructor A has no arena yet so we rode in the small grass field next to the tack room. This damn field was honestly a pain in the ass. Rain soaked the entire east of NC the weekend prior and even though there wasn't any standing water, everywhere we stepped we were basically digging holes. You could hear the grass roots ripping under the pressure of his steps. The footing affected the entire lesson. I don't really feel as if I learned anything on this ride, but I did get to know WB so that is a win, right?

We walked around for less than five minutes before A told me to pick up the trot. I was riding apprehensively, being on a new pony and the thought of a wicked spook never far from my mind. He has a wonderful trot. I had to remind myself to breathe to stay loose. This is probably one my biggest struggles in riding. Bracing for any fucked up footing didn't help either. We picked up canter not long after that. Eventually WB started testing my geometry, deciding he wasn't in the mood to bend, and instead of nice 20 meter circles he was just gonna go large. As I became more comfortable on the new guy I began to ride him more aggressively. Which is what I should have been doing from the very start. 

The lesson lasted an hour and the sun was well below the horizon when we finished. Like i mentioned earlier, I did get two spooks. But they weren't wicked, not like hot arab wicked. I sat them quite well, and honestly he gives a split second's notice that it's coming. I popped him over some tiny verticals toward the end. His jump is complete opposite of Razz. Warmblood was just as cuddly after the lesson as he was before, so I was happy that he didn't hold a grudge against any horrible eq I might have offered up. I plan on riding him more in the future, but he will be coming to my farm until instructor A finishes her ring. 




Above are a couple shots taken one right after the other. This was during our first trot lap so please try not to cringe at my position. It was so nice to feel such a floaty trot underneath me. I will learn how to ride this trot well!! Stay tuned for more Warmblood adventures in the future :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Time Has Come

When I decided to move barns a year and a half ago a big part of that decision was trail access. I picked my current barn because it's right across the way from the Croatan forest. Once Razz was moved in I found out about another small trail access, the sand pits. I call it small...it's between 40 and 50 acres...that is very small compaired to the thousands of acres in the national forest. However, when riding in the sand pits it really doesn't seem that small. There are several different paths to choose from and if you don't know the way around in there it would be incredibly easy to get turned around or lost. 

One of my first blog entries was titled A Trip to the Sand Pits and it documented my first ride through the pits without any other riders. At the time I didn't realize I was only riding half of the woods. Later on I would discover the second half, and grow to love this little patch of trees just as much as it's larger, federally protected neighbor. 

One morning not long after moving Razz, I was doing my normal thing, drinking coffee and getting ready for work with the local news on tv. In passing through the room I glanced at the tv screen and thought to myself "that looks just like the front section of the sand pits". So I stopped and paid attention to the story, and ended up finding out the small town the sand pits are in was going to have a city council meeting on annexing the woods, raising local taxes to install infrastructure, and building approximately 300 homes in there. I posted about that as well. 

To say the least, I was shocked. After discussing this with the barn owner I found out that not only were the woods in the development plan. The fields behind the barn were included in phase two of the project. Yes, the huge bean and corn fields I talk about riding in. The other side of the bridge pictured in my first sand pits post rests on this phase two property. Meaning we won't even have access to the Croatan anymore without  a) riding in someone's backyard (assuming they don't fence their yards)  b) heading over on the main road which has almost no shoulder and tons of traffic  or c) riding through the large turnout pastures and dealing with loose horses etc.

Obviously where there's a will, there's a way, and we'd find a way to make this work. But loosing the sand pits is a huge blow to us riders. I never heard any more news about the development until late summer of last year. The project was approved, the same developer of the apartments next to the sand pits would be in charge of new housing construction. When the rental apartments were built, an adjoining development of nice duplexes were also put up. The duplexes were purchased, not rented, and they had two units left to sell. As soon as those sold construction would begin on the houses. The duplexes had been built a few years prior and I kept my fingers crossed that those last two would just continue to sit empty.

Then around October (??) we started seeing bright orange ribbons tied to certain trees in the sand pits. Other trees had been blazed with purple paint, including some trees around the bean field. I have no idea what each marking indicated. But I did know it was most definitely related to construction. These were the first actual signs of the project and things really began to sink in. 

Since the new year I've been riding almost exclusively in the arena and had no idea what was going on in the woods. The other trail riders had told me the land was beginning to be cleared. They'd heard heavy equipment on the back side of the sand pits, and out next to the main road everyone could see a small area where the equipment was being parked. This weekend I rode in to get a first hand look. The front part of the sand pits was more or less undisturbed. The second half was a different story:








After seeing this I wanted to vomit. 

This post comes on the heels of Sarah's post about road construction through a peice of her farm. The hills of SW VA are absolutely gorgeous. I've driven a handful of people through that part of the country for their first time and they always, always comment on just how beautiful it is. It is a real shame that things like this happen, and I hope the best possible outcome for Sarah, but such is the way of "progress". If there are tax dollars to be made, the natural world will always loose out.

So here we are. The sand pits are officially being bulldozed. 


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Time for a Lesson

Last week Razz and I had our first lesson in forever. We hadn't lessoned since October. Yikes. 

That doesn't mean we haven't been working on proper riding. I'd had him in the ring every other day for a couple weeks and, surprisingly, been getting a few things correct on my own. For the lesson, I tacked my pony up in his new stuff. He received a figure 8 bridle and a new half pad for the holidays. The bridle is covered in silver clinchers and looks as if it was made for parades or other fancy events. And if you've ever ridden in a truck with air brakes, then you know what it feels like to ride in this half pad. It works like a riser pad but without the awful look of a riser. Vet recommended a riser to address my concerns about sitting deep in the canter on the old man's spine. Now it's like riding on a cloud. 



I have no media from the actual lesson. Riding instructor A said we looked nice even during our warm up. It certainly doesn't feel nice during warm up. My horse requires an extreme amount of leg which can compromise my position. Leg on while posting is not my forte. I need to do a serious amount of no stirrup work and get my lower leg stronger. Instructor A got on for about five minutes to get a feel for Razz and I felt better about things after seeing her lower leg working overtime just like mine. 


We worked for the next hour and a half. Razz was finding his stretchy trot rather easily on the long side. He anticipates, falls in and hollows in the corners and short side. More leg. More leg. Mold him into the turn and support thru the short side and back out the other turn. He responded well and on our walk break, while A was setting jumps, I couldn't help but think about what kind of horse I would have underneath me were I a well educated rider. If I knew exactly what to ask for and how to ask for it, and had been doing so over the four years I've owned him.

Moving on to the sticks, A initially turned one of my 2' verticals into the tiniest crossrail the standards would allow. We trotted the crossrail several times. I know these excersices are good but damn I hate them. The jumping effort is so small, almost non existant, and I have trouble finding the correct position over that tiny, quick effort. I basically just go into two point and my hands follow with an appropriate release (which isn't much). Then A threw in a one stride to a tiny vertical. My super lazy horse gets hot once the jumping commences and we're just trying to make him slow down and think with these tiny jumps. We worked on this, raising the poles occasionally. The lesson finished with her turning me loose to jump anything in the ring. I had five jumps set up in total- a couple more random two foot verticals, some barrels laid over on their side, and a Swedish triple bar that was 2'3". I also made sure to put our flying changes on display. Instructor A can't belive he has the changes installed. Back when he was a lesson horse his changes weren't that great and many times he just didn't bother to change at all. Before I got him two other people tried Razz out (to buy) and refused him solely because of the issue with changes. Even though I am getting the changes from him consistently, about 20% of the time he will cross fire a stride or two. Instructor A thinks he's just so long, conformation-wise, that it takes a moment for him to get the front and hind in sync. Sometimes this same issue creeps in to the trot and canter and messes with our tempo. But that's ok. It teaches me to be a better rider. And I suppose in a way it also reaffirms why we need to work on those tiny fucking crossrails. 

The lesson lasted for an hour and a half. Pretty certain I was the most tired I'd ever been after a lesson, and so was Razz. We took plenty of walk breaks. But I used more consistent leg on him than I ever have before and it kicked my ass. 

I gave Razz two days off after that ass kickin', and our next ride was very low key in the bareback pad. He spooked twice during that ride. Both times at the sound of nutrea rats scurrying and jumping into the stream beside us. I also spotted a huge pileated woodpecker and snapped a pic of the resident red tail hawk. 

super crappy pic, sorry folks
                      
This hawk has been living around the barn since summer and I see him every time I go. Literally every time I go to the barn. He hangs out really close to people with no problem. He has swooped low over the arena a few times while I was in there riding. I have watched him dive at a retention pond but come up empty handed. Hubby tried to tell me red tailed hawks don't hunt over water but I know what I saw. The mockingbirds like to give the poor hawk a hard time and dive bomb him every chance they get. Hawk doesn't care one bit though. He doesn't even acknowledge their presence.

The weekend holds plans for a Croatan ride and more schooling. The weather is a little chilly but no rain. Next week I have plans to ride my first warmblood ever, and I'm super excited for the opportunity.