Saturday, 31 May 2014

Clydesdales and Beer

My mother and I went to Merrimack, New Hampshire first and foremost for Dover in Plaistow, New Hampshire.  I am not going to lie.  I found the Dover, did some google mapping, then convinced my mother we were going outlet shopping.

Besides sharing it's name with a super catchy song that is a great favorite in the Maritimes, Merrimack also has the smallest Anheuser-Busch brewery in the States.  And it is by no means small, folks.

For those of you who do not know, Anheuser-Busch makes Budweiser.

And Clydesdales.

In fact, apparently all of the Budweiser Clydesdales are trained at this one facility.  And it is a beautiful facility at that.

Needless to say, Walker would be living the dream in this place.

The haul

I apologize for falling off the face of the earth longer than I intended.  After Dover, the week went slowly and then all of a sudden downhill.  We were unable to find the second big tack shop I wanted to visit, but I did enjoy the rest of the shopping trip I took with my mother.

It's what followed that spiralled.  First I arrived home late on Wednesday night to water all over my kitchen floor and the pungent smell of rotting meat.  No power, and for who knows how long.  And from as far as I can discern, it was the error of the power company.  We are in the process of trying to figure out what happened, but it was not so nice of a surprise to lose the entire contents of my fridge and freezer.

Especially since I had to go to a firm retreat first thing the next morning.  Which, while fun at times, had its own issues which I obviously have no intentions of publicizing here.  Just people problems.  As always.

So needless to say I booked it home this morning so I could see my pony.  And play with all my new stuff!

People who say money can't buy happiness have never been to a Dover store with a credit card
Yes, in case you are wondering, those are Tredstep boots in the back, the DaVinci, which I fear I will never actually wear in case something happens to them.  I also got Tredstep Rosa breeches whose sizing was a little wonky (as in, I got two different sizes, both of which fit about the same...) but which I love nonetheless, especially for the weird leg thing that's going on.

I tried to buy pink tailored sportsman breeches, but they did not have my size.  Luckily.  Since I'm sure that was just my excitement showing through.

I spent several hours there and the staff were very lovely, especially when they let me wander around the second floor with a measuring tape measuring every single noseband on every single dressage bridle so I could buy this Passier bridle for my quarter horse's fat face:

I took the flash off.  Obviously.  He enjoys bearing his teeth at the crowd too much and I pay a lot to keep those pearly whites clean.  He might as well show them off.

I pretty much paid the salary of two workers with all of this stuff, or rather, Visa did, but it was well worth it.  I drove eight hours and I had no intentions of leaving empty handed.

Today I just lunged Walker to check his mood and see where I'd be at, but starting tomorrow, we're hitting the grind since I have four weeks of involuntary unpaid vacation left to fill up.

Hilarity is bound to ensue.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Birthday Boy

Yesterday was my baby's 9th birthday!

Birthday boy looking for more birthday treats
Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it out to the barn, but not for lack of trying.

I was invited to another birthday party - (I know.  How dare they!) - and it went a little longer than I expected.  By the time it was over, it was way too late to drive out to the barn.

Then, the horrible mom that I am, I forgot to bring his birthday apple out to him tonight when I went out to ride.  So I let him gorge himself on some treats I had in my bag instead.

I found this on my iphone.
It is the first picture I have of Walker on the first day he arrived

We had a pretty good ride.  I opted to ride inside since the bugs were bad and I wanted to work on some things other than tree climbing, but we had a generally successful ride.  We did some nice lateral movements and worked mostly on cardio.

I intend to make up for not seeing him on his birthday though.  Next week I'm going shopping with my mother in New Hampshire, and although I will be away, I am finally getting to a Dover store!  I know.  It is difficult to contain the excitement.  You Americans don't realize what you have!

Since I will be there on Memorial Day weekend, I am very excited for sales and all the lovely things that are always cheaper in the States anyway.  Hopefully this time next week I will have a new pair of boots and a myriad of other fun things to try and get across the border.
Gratuitous hand-grazing shot

Monday, 19 May 2014

Rider 3, Walker 2

I had a great weekend riding in the outdoor arena.

That's right, folks.  I rode in the outdoor arena.  For realz.  On my own horse and everything.

I just could not avoid the sunshine.

On Saturday we had a pretty great ride.  Great because Walker was a semi-perfect gentleman.  We did some mild trot and canter work, but mainly we just tried to ensure that he had his brain working.  When I was done, we went for a walk a couple times around the barn and for a mini trail ride on our own.  He got a bath and a nice roll and we were both happy.

On Sunday he reminded me why I dislike the outdoor arena.

We were bumbling along like we always do when I decided to ask him to canter.

Suddenly, people who were leaving the arena turned and watched us and actually said that he looked beautiful - beautiful - because he was all collected and felt so great.

Then he bolted out of the arena.  As I knew he would.

This was absolutely unacceptable, and when I tried to fight him back into the arena, he threatened some bad-tempered rears.  So I got him yielding his hindquarters and made him work outside the arena so that he didn't get the impression that this was a place he could escape work.

Rider 1, Walker 0

We went back into the arena where he promptly showed me just what he thought about all the other horses leaving us alone out there to work.

My barn owner has this theory that the trees on one edge of the arena help teach a horse to stay on the rail because if they get too close, the trees scratch them and remind them to stay in place.  Walker likes to prove all of these theories wrong, so he bolted into the trees.

I literally had to climb into a tree to get off of him - INTO A TREE - so that I could somehow figure out how to back him out of the brambles.

Rider 1, Walker 1

The next time I was weary of the trees.  That's no matter.  Because there's also a mini cliff on the other edge of the arena.  When I tried to get the better of him near the trees, he just ran over the cliff.  HE RAN OVER A CLIFF.  And fearing for both of our lives, I opted to bail.

Rider 1, Walker 2

By this point, I am livid, but mildly impressed with his creativity.  I hop off, grab the lunge line, and lunge the bejesus out of him until he is sweating so hard that I expect him to have a coronary.  Then I get back on.

Rider 2, Walker 2

We proceed to have a few more mini arguments because he is nothing if not persistent.  So I stay away from all edges because the edges of the arena are the devil, and I force him to canter tiny tight circles over and over again until he has given up hope of escaping.

Rider 3, Walker 2

In my world, that's a successful weekend.

Then we both needed a nap.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Blog Hop: Continuation School

Although I have been trying to blog regularly, I've been finding that I don't get as much of a chance to read everyone's blogs as soon as they come up.  I always read them.  It just takes me longer.

So I'm a little late getting around to L's blog hop but I think that it is a very thought-provoking question - at least in my situation.

Why do you continue to ride?

Well, lord knows I'm not going to the Olympics anytime soon.  I can barely trot a straight line.  I actually told one of the kids at the barn the other day that I "spend a lot of money on something I'm not really that good at."

So why do I continue to ride?

Because I built my life around this.  Literally.  I pretty much only went to law school so I could get a horse.  True story.

And on that train of thought, I have also expressed time and again that if I didn't have a horse, I'm not entirely sure that I would be where I'm at, doing what I'm doing.

Why do I continue to ride?

Because I had a dream.  Just one dream.  My whole life.  To have a horse.  That's it.  Simple.

Riding keeps me sane.  Riding makes me feel free.  Riding makes me feel like I accomplish something (even when, you know, I probably don't).  Riding - and horses in particular - feels like it is an integral part of my personality.

And this is my thing.  This is what I do.

So Walker and I just bumble along.  Together.

And I think, to some degree, I'm probably just a little bit crazy.  Aren't we all?

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Just another Tuesday

We've had a successful stretch of rides lately. Now that Winter is past us, it is easier to get to the barn, and my main goal is to keep my main man sound.

I took advantage of having the arena to myself on Tuesday and had a lovely cardio workout with the boy. In fact, I'd say our fitness goals for May are clipping along just fine. I even went for a run before I went to the barn and rode.

We did a little 2-2-2 minutes of walk-jog-canter. I got some nice WP lope out of him, which although it wasn't intentional, I allowed since I am incompetent at getting a good lope with him.

Then we picked up the pace - some nice forward trot and forward canter. Some circles at the canter (as a reaction to him misbehaving, but useful all the same), and then we finished up with some nice leg yields and shoulder ins.

I talked to one of the instructors about Walker going behind the bit and had her watch. She suggested a couple suppling exercises and stated: "I think it's an attitude problem."

Thank you, Captain Obvious. It's always an attitude problem. 

Well at least he's not boring.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Fail Friday

I hopped on Walker earlier in the week and he felt fantastic. He was so collected and really moving with purpose. He was so suspiciously good that I seriously could not figure out what was going on with him. 

The only thing wrong with him was that when he rounded corners, he insisted on bending to the outside, and no matter how much I put my legs on and worked the reins, he just looked even more to the outside.

So finally we started to have it out over this. 

And you know what the little bugger did? He completely changed direction on the wall! Like he spun his entire body around and changed directions, completely ignoring me kicking him to go the other way and pulling his head around to the middle.

I was so livid.

That's when I realized that the reins were crossed underneath his neck.

Yep. When I had thrown his reins over his head, they were twisted so that when I was pulling on what I thought was the outside rein, it was connected to his mouth on the inside.

This is why he was so fantastic under saddle because of the way the bit was undoubtedly working his mouth and because he was on freakin' edge that I was going to rip his mouth off. 

This is also why he insisted on facing the outside. Because I was pulling on that rein ever so slightly to encourage bend to the inside (combined with my leg signals to completely confuse him).

And this is why when I argued with him he changed directions. Because that is what my hands were telling him to do. And when faced with the choice of me breaking his jaw or kicking him harder, he opted to save his mouth.

Luckily, I was relatively gentle and noticed after only a few minutes so no harm done.

Sigh. How I haven't ruined this horse yet is beyond me.

The Great Outdoors

I was very proud of Walker and me last week.

I decided to lunge him in the outdoor arena for the first time since maybe the Fall, and even then, we've only ever been in the outdoor arena a handful of times at this barn.

And you know what? He was pretty darn good.

Ok, "good" is probably stretching it. He was the same contrary beast in the outdoor arena as he is in the indoor arena, which in my mind is an improvement. When you expect worse and get the same, it's a good day.

I only lunged him because it was starting to get dark, but he worked pretty well. Then, to reinforce the idea that outside the outdoor arena is not a great place to try and escape to, I worked him for a few minutes on the harder ground.

This was a mistake.

It was only for literally 5-10 minutes, but the next day he was dead lame.  It was so noticeable that even my barn manager felt the need to give him bute. And let me just say that Walker could be hobbling down the hallway and she normally just lets that go given his constant foot soreness.

So then today we had a b-e-a-u-t-I-f-u-l day. It was so warm and the sun was shining. A bunch of the kids went on a trail ride, and a few other people were all out working in the sunshine.

But not us. I walked him outside for a few seconds through the open door, and the minute his feet hit the hard ground, I could feel his steps shortening and getting stiff. I figured, why chance it. So we worked inside instead.

Whenever Walker is in the outdoor arena, he is a whole lot of jerk, but god can he move. He is never trotting or cantering half as lovely as when he is outdoors being an arsehole.  So today even though we worked inside, he started off really great because I had given him a taste of the outdoors and he kept thinking that we were going out with all his friends. Once time passed and he realized we were staying inside, he went back to being slow and lazy, but at least we started off good

Then, as a treat, I took him out to graze. We wandered up to an abandoned paddock, which I discovered is twice the size of the biggest paddock we have and full of grass (as opposed to our sucky dirt paddocks). I have made it my mission in life to annoy the bejesus out of my barn owner to see if we can restore it so that Walker can go out there instead.

I suspect I'm not a model boarder.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

In which Walker gives me a heart attack

Walker took a reaction to his vaccinations last week.

I find this out during Disaster Friday, which is what I call any day of the week in which everything hits the fan at work.  So I'm knee deep in work when I get the text that his neck is swollen and he can't move it.


I drive out to the barn, but luckily, "swollen" simply meant that he had a bump on his neck where the needles went in which just happened to be bigger than the bumps on the necks of the other two horses who got done.

He was sore in his neck though, so the barn manager hung a hay net for him.  I was content to discover that he was chipper all the same, which made me feel 10x less bad about leaving town that night.

Luckily I was only gone for one night and when I came back on Saturday night, he was 100% back to normal.

I think that my barn manager thought I may have been overreacting, but this time last year Walker's neck swelled up to the size of a balloon and he ended up getting infections and being on stall rest for 9 months.

So, you know, better safe than sorry.

Some bath tools
I gave him Sunday off even though he was back to normal, but I figured that if his neck was so sore that he couldn't move it, it was probably still a tad bit tender.  Instead I took advantage of the lovely weather and gave the princess a bath, which he appreciated almost as much as he does working.

I wanted to try a new type of shampoo/conditioner.  I normally do shampoo and conditioner separately, so I first used the Vetrolin bath I bought and then followed with my regular Mane & Tail Conditioner.  The Vetrolin is nice.  It lathers up wonderfully, but it doesn't have the same lovely smell as Mane & Tail which I now associate with horsey-bath time.

The new shampoo/conditioner I tried.
(Turn your head sideways to see it because I just wasn't getting my computer to spin this for you)

Sunday, 4 May 2014


Walker and I have been focusing on a little cardio. Me with Zumba, him with trot sets.

I was really happy with him this week. We generally did 5 minutes jogging or trotting, and 2 minutes walking. I also threw in a set or two of 1 minute cantering, with emphasis on a nice upward transition instead of the actual length of time. 

It really helped control his puffing and panting. It wasn't nearly as bad as it was the week before. The intervals are clearly going to be a good thing for getting back into shape.

He was also giving me some relaxed licking and chewing at the walk. If I could only get that same kind of relaxation at the faster gaits, we'd be cooking up a storm.

Unfortunately he's usually a bit tense if I have any amount of contact. While I feel like I'm being as gentle as I can, I know that I jab him periodically and I'm sure he has good reason for the jaw tension.  As usual, he's 10x calmer on a loose rein so I always start and end on that note at all three gaits.

The reason I need new boots.  I managed to
button them at the top though.  
The theme of May is going to be fitness, fitness, fitness. Hopefully we can simultaneously work on the other things (lateral work, being on the bit, using the caboose). 

And also the outdoors. I'm going to work myself up to the outdoors again. First by lunging out there, then cooling off out there, then some mindless meandering, and then finally working out there. It'll be Winter again by the time I'm psychologically prepared!