Friday, 25 April 2014

No Sense

This post is not horse related so please forgive me for that.  I feel like I'll implode if I don't say something, and this place has always been a safe spot for my thoughts.

Earlier this month, my community was rocked by a terrible tragedy.  I won't go into details, but the lives of five young people were tragically and violently taken away in an act that's left every one reeling.  No one can begin to make sense of this tragedy and it's affected the entire community.

This one has hit close to home for me.  Of the five, I went to school with four of them, graduated with three of them, and the most painful for me, the last was the brother of my close friend.  I can't begin to describe how it felt, seeing the names, recognizing them, and then for the last one, realizing exactly who it was.

The past few weeks haven't felt real, and all I can keep thinking of is if I am this affected by this tragedy, I can't even begin to comprehend how the families of the victims feel.  Even the family of the suspect, because they have lost their child just the same as the others have.  My heart goes out to all of them.

Loss is not new to me, or to most people, but there is no way to even begin to understand this loss.  There are so many questions and no answers to comfort anyone.  Maybe eventually there will be answers, a reason as to why this happened, but for now, nobody can understand why these lives were taken from us.

I am trying to be there for my friend, but I can't even begin to know what to say.  I don't believe there are words that can make this better, and I only hope that the knowledge that I'm here for them, day or night, is some comfort.  I've spoken to them a few times, and those brief conversations are something I will never forget.

I keep all the families, particularly my friend, in my thoughts and prayers.  I think we've all been reminded how fleeting but precious life is.  It's been a reminder that we are not invincible, and maybe we need to stop and enjoy life more.  I know all of my problems suddenly don't seem so bad anymore, at least I am here to have problems.

I am sorry, writing's always been a release for me.  I feel a little better, just having it out in words.  Now I'd like to go and hug my horses and remind myself to appreciate everything I have.

I know the lives lost will never be forgotten.  They were all wonderful people so full of potential.  And even if their lives weren't very long, I hope they all knew how much they meant to everyone around them.  Each and every one of them was truly an amazing human being.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Learning to Ease Up

About two months after I began riding Artemis, we developed a problem in her trot.  We hadn't done much trotting up to this point, some on the lunge line and then a little bit each ride.  As she grew more comfortable, we increased the amount of time we'd trot.

At first, she was normal, and then she began to get really tense every time I would ask her to trot.  She'd go into this short, choppy trot that was ridiculously uncomfortable and she'd raise her head high.  Not flip it, she bring it high and hold it there.

One day, T was in the arena to watch her daughter ride.  I was riding Artemis, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong when T called me over.  She'd been watching me and she had a theory about why Artemis was so tense in the trot.  She told me to try trotting her again, this time with absolutely no contact on the reins.  I'm not going to lie, I thought she was insane.

I don't ride with a lot of contact on the bit, or at least, I thought I didn't.  However, I know that I do tend to tighten up the reins when my horses go faster.  I think it comes from years of Socks taking off on me the second she got her head (although thankfully we're over that issue bow).  So I thought I already was riding with little to no contact.

T saw that I was nervous and pointed out to me that as we were inside the indoor arena, if Artemis did take off on me, she had nowhere to go (she also pointed out to me that at no point has Artemis even attempted to take off on me).  And thanks to Socks, I know how to stop a runaway horse anyway, so there was no harm in at least trying.  I couldn't really argue with that, and I respect T a lot.  She's a reiner and her horse is one of the most well trained animals I've ever seen.

I asked Artemis to trot, keeping her in a circle that took up about half of the arena.  The only contact I had on the bit was to direct her.  The second she'd do what I'd want, all contact would be gone.  At first, she was the same, tense with her head held high.  She trotted really quickly, you know that fast paced trot before the horse breaks into a lope or canter.  After a few laps though, that head began to come down and her strides lengthened.  I could feel her relax and her head dropped even lower.  Her speed slowed and soon there wasn't any tension and nervousness in her.  Just like that.

T asked me to lope Artemis, doing the same thing, no contact at all except to steer.  This time I let Artemis go all around the arena.  Like with the trotting, for the first lap or so she went really fast, really choppy with her head up.  Then, when she realized I wasn't going to be pulling on her face, she relaxed almost instantly.

It was a big Aha!  moment for me.  It was just one, simple thing and driving home that night, I could see how it explained problems I'd been having with all three horses.  I'm not going to lie, I felt pretty stupid that it was such a simple solution.  I felt even worse that this whole time I thought I was pretty loose with my reins, when clearly, I wasn't enough.

Since then, neither trotting or loping has been an issue for us.  Artemis no longer gets tense and I'm no longer paranoid she's going to take off on me, not that I had a valid reason to be afraid of that in the first place.

To end this, have some pictures of the pasture horses.  It was my birthday Sunday and although I'm still not cleared by my doctor to ride, I still managed to get out and spend some time with the ponies.


Artemis in need of a good brushing

You can see that the creek has flooded again

Artemis and Ebony

Jay the farm dog

Friday, 4 April 2014

Winter Updates

Okay I seriously suck at this blogging thing.  It's been months since I last wrote.  A lot has happened.

First, I had another and hopefully final surgery on my arm.  It was to remove all of the hardware out of my elbow, so all I have left is a plate and some screws in my wrist.  It's made a huge difference, before the surgery my arm was in pain every day and I had to be extremely careful about what I did  not to make it worse.  Now, just over a month after, I have no pain.  The only problem is, I'm not allowed to ride or really, work with horses for three months.  I have a lot of holes in my arm where the hardware was removed so if I were to fall or anything, my arm is more vulnerable to breaking.  So that sucks, it means I basically get to lead the horses and groom them.  At least it's something though.

Okay, on to the updates.


Socks got some fancy new gear from my Christmas money.  It was a big deal, I'm crazy about replacing gear.  Especially her bridle.  My dad gave me her bridle almost ten years ago, and it was the first new piece of tack I'd ever owned and it was the only thing in the barn that didn't get shared among all the horses.  It was just Socks' bridle and I was overly attached to it.  It was really old though, and falling apart so it was time.  She now has a matching bridle and chest strap, with a new pair of leather reins.

This is mostly what's been going on with Socks lately.  About a month ago, right after my surgery, we got a call from our barn owners.  We're not sure what exactly happened, but the conclusion we've all come to is that she slipped and fell on the ice, slicing her knee open.  It's a pretty decent gash, but luckily my barn owners saw it almost right away, and brought her in, cleaned it up and wrapped it.  She was on stall rest for a few weeks just to keep her from running around on it, and she's been in a turnout pen now, for the same reasons.

She hasn't had a lame step, which is a relief, we're just being careful so that it can heal properly.  She's been enjoying all of the extra attention.


Jimmy's been good, I have to admit he hasn't gotten as much attention this winter as I would have liked.  Let's just say he's had a lot of time off, and while I don't think he minded, he seems to enjoy that it's over now.  I don't have much to say about him, he's been good to ride.  We had him on the lunge line yesterday and he was an idiot.  He even bucked, which was a first for him, but he did calm down after a while.

Right now we're just slowly going to bring him back into shape, and hopefully this summer he and I will start seriously working on barrel racing.


She's the reason the other two didn't get worked as much this winter.  Since finding out I wouldn't be able to ride for three months, my main focus was getting Artemis as far along as I could so she'd be alright for my mom to ride her.  She's been absolutely amazing, seriously, she's not your typical two-year-old.  She hasn't had a single explosion or freak out.

When she gets scared, she doesn't panic, she might trot a few steps but then she stops.  We can walk, trot and lope around the arena with no problems.  She's perfect at backing up and stopping.  She's learned how to move off of my leg, though I can't say she does it every time.  She's really good with other horses in the arena, though she doesn't understand why other horses get to pass her.  She's had quite a few chances to explode, like when a rider decided to pass between us and the wall, at a trot, even though Artemis and I had about six inches between us and the wall.  All she did was lay her ears back and move over before the 16+ hh horse nearly ran us over.

She's the same height as her mother now, and probably going to grow some more.  My mom's been riding her since my surgery and Artemis has been great with her too.  She gets ridden about once a week, sometimes twice, with mostly walking, and then a little bit of trotting, and every few rides or so we add in some loping.  We're trying to take it slow with her, and give her plenty of time off still.

This summer, once I can ride again, the plan is to get her out in the outdoor arena and then out in the fields for some rides.  I'd been hoping to get her out in the hay field this winter, but we had such a bad winter, it was always either too cold or the snow was too deep.

That's all for now, enough with the updates, the next posts will be real, I promise.  All of the outdoor pictures were taken earlier this week, and even more snow has fallen since then.  This winter is never ending.  The weatherman keeps saying the temperature is going to be +10, +12, they've even gone as far as to promise us it'll get up to +17.  It hasn't come close, I think the highest it's been is +6, but with the wind, it's been well below 0 every day.