Thursday, June 14, 2012

Can I get a big Wa-HOO!!!?

I went out to the barn today.  Actually in the middle of the day, which was kind of nice.  I started a new job fairly recently, so I'm still learning, and still running everything by my boss, sometimes multiple times.  I have five or more projects up in the air right now, but my boss was in a seminar yesterday and flying home today, so she hasn't given me feedback on my stuff much lately, so I was kind of at a stopping point and not able to move any further until I heard from her, so I cut out of work at 2:00.  (And am now working from home as of 7:00, but such is life.)

Anyway, the barn manager was there, as well as another gal (and two other people showed up just before I left, so it was a relative traffic jam compared to when I'm there all alone, usually).  We chatted a bit, then I got Trigger out.  Oh yeah, he wasn't in the pasture.  The morning person "wasn't sure" whether he was supposed to go out, even though there's a schedule on the tack room door.  Whatever.  So I got him out and took him to the arena first, so he could roll and get the wiggles out.  On the way, we passed the barn owner taking the backhoe back to the poo pile after dumping a load in the dumping area.  Trigger didn't LOVE the backhoe, but he actually did great.  His neck got really tall, but he didn't even really blow or snort at it.

I took off his halter, and he cantered away from me, but ran out of steam as soon as he got to the other end of the arena--he was just checking whether the other horse was in the dry lot (it wasn't).  He didn't even bat an eye at the jumps set up in the arena, but I wanted to see what he'd do about them.  But first...he had to get a good roll in.

Oh yeah, that's the spot...right...there...
For some reason, Trigger doesn't feel like just rolling is enough.  It doesn't really get his face itched to his satisfaction.  So he PLOWS his face through the dirt multiple times in between rolls.
I grabbed his halter and put it back on him, and led him over to the jumps.  There was ZERO drama.  He was bored.  So I took him to the taller jump, where there were two wing standards set up, one in front of the other, with poles and fence-type things and whatnot between each set, with a gap between the two sets JUST wide enough for a horse to get through, if he watched his feet.  Trigger didn't even think twice, just followed me through.  Well, that was boring.

This was actually the second pass through, and I guess he decided they needed a good sniff.  But spooking.

I tried to get him to jump over a much lower jump (18 inches or so?), but he plowed over it at the walk.  He picked his fronts up high enough, but not his hinds, so he knocked the pole over.  It's a LARGE but not all that heavy PVC pipe--I'd say 6 inches?  It was heavy enough it didn't bounce much, and again, no drama.  He just kept plodding along.  I tried "trotting" up and over it myself (and yes, I was wearing stretchy riding pants...I hope no one was around with a camera!), but Trigger still just plodded over it at a walk.  Oh well, he won't be jumping Grand Prix anytime soon, I guess.  There go my dreams...

Anyway, since he clearly didn't have too many wiggles needing to be removed, I took him to the tie-up tree and tied him up.  I brushed him up a bit, and felt around on his back.  He had a spot on his left shoulder that seemed to be a knot in his muscle, but he didn't act like it was sore, so I worked on it until it seemed like I was MAKING him sore, and tacked him up.  I seemed to recall that Aussie saddles will often look further back than they "should" but wasn't sure I was remembering or imagining things.  But since his shoulder was sore, I erred on the side of further back.  The rigging is also further back than I'm used to on the western saddles I've ridden in lately, so the cinch seemed pretty far back to me, but between the bump he has where you would THINK the cinch goes, and the fact that there was only a couple finger-widths between the back of his shoulder blade (when standing, not moving) and the front of the saddle, I figured we were good to go.

The ladies were both planning to leave soon, but they took my hints when I was asking them how long they'd be around, and asked if I wanted them to stay until I was done riding, and I squeaked, "yes please!"

I took him to the round pen, and lunged him in circles both ways (and by lunging, I mean "had him walk and trot at a calm pace, turning frequently, so as to get his attention on me" not "careening around in circles full speed which some people thing (and maybe for some horses, does) wear them out, but for some horses, it just amps them up more)."  He was listening really well, didn't act sore from the saddle, so I tightened the girth (yes, I'm using cinch and girth interchangeably--sue me--it's an Aussie saddle with an Aussie cinch/girth thingie, not actually like either, but probably closer to an English girth since it buckles and doesn't have a latigo.  ahem...)  had him do a few more circles and a little groundwork, and then swapped out the lunge line for the bridle, and the lunge whip for the mounting block.

I remembered that I needed to lower the stirrups, so that provided some more stalling time, allowing my nerves to really begin jangling.  I checked the cinch.  I put some weight in the stirrup then took it back out.  I put my weight over his back, then removed it.  I PLOPPED my weight down on his back, and wiggled around a bit.  Then I took a deep breath, put my foot in the stirrup, and threw the other leg over and sat down.  His ears might have twitched, but otherwise, he didn't move a muscle.  I sat as deep as I could while also in the fetal position, and took deep breaths as much I could while hyperventilating, and relaxed my muscles as much as I could while they were quivering.  I rubbed Trigger's neck.  He stood calmly and I sighed.  I relaxed from a tension level of 100 to about 99 and two-thirds.  I squeezed and said "walk."  He did.  We walked around for a bit.  I forgot to breathe.  Trigger stopped.  I took a deep breath (well, sort of) and squeezed him to a very slow walk once again.  I tried to sit tall but deep and breathe deeply, but I don't think it really worked.  He kept stopping.  I kept asking him (quietly and gently) to go.  I really hope to be careening around the arena and confidently walking/trotting on trails soon.  Sheesh.

Anyway, so after a minute or so, he humped up his back and did the world's tiniest crowhop.  I don't know if there was actual pain, if he was just remembering that doing this ended the sessions before, if the saddle was too far back, or if he was just reacting to my nerves.  But I wasn't very interested in finding out, so I hopped off.  The barn manager came over and asked what was wrong (she even noticed the crowhop, so tiny though it was, it was obvious and I wasn't making it up).  I said it was probably my nerves, but that I wasn't interested in continuing alone.  She offered to get on him, so I said sure.  She moved the saddle forward, cinched it up good, and we shortened the stirrups, then she hopped on.  He pinned his ears and swished his tail, but she made him walk out, and he did, no hopping.  She asked for a trot, and he pinned his ears and swished his tail again, but he did it.  Then he seemed to realize that it didn't actually hurt, and relaxed a bunch, and had happy ears the rest of her ride.  She hopped off and told me to get on.  I hemmed and hawed and spent a bit of time adjusting the stirrups and checking the cinch again, but I got back on.  He walked just fine, turned fine (well, relatively--he doesn't "do" leg aids, like, at ALL, and doesn't neck rein either, so it's not very graceful), stopped and backed fine.  I walked him for probably three minutes, then asked for a trot.  I don't think he even pinned his ears at me.  He did keep slowing back to a walk after like TWO strides, probably because I was still a bundle of raw nerves.  I didn't have the guts to really get after him about it, so I just kept asking for the trot again, and he willingly trotted again...for two more strides.  Oh well.  We walked again for a minute, and I hopped off. 

Next time...arena?  Maybe even trails.  He's not spooky, and he's not bucking to dump me or anything, so I think the trails would actually take BOTH our minds off the recent history.

Anyway, I dumped his tack in front of the barn and took him to the hose.  He didn't love the hose when I washed off his owie a few weeks ago, so I wasn't sure how it would go.  He danced a bit, then realized it was kind of nice (it wasn't super hot, but was warm, especially in the dusty round pen).  I held the water in front of his face to see if he was interested, and boy WAS he.
I tried to take video, too, but by the time I remembered, he was kind of over it.
This horse is nothing if not curious about things!  He sniffed at it, then shoved his nose into the stream and enjoyed it tickling his nostrils and wetting his lips.  He lapped at it like a dog, and even let me put the hose in the corner of his mouth and waterpik his teeth (not really, it was a pretty gentle stream).  I also hosed off his back and belly, though he was a little more touchy about those areas.

I let him graze for a while, then needed to fetch the rest of my stuff from the round pen area, and decided to just get it over with and let him roll--I didn't have enough time to hand-graze him until he was dry, and he was going to roll in his paddock regardless, so I might as well let him roll in the round pen and watch.  Unfortunately, I'd left my phone (i.e. camera) up with the grooming stuff, so I didn't get photos, but I'm sure you can imagine what a damp palomino horse looks like after a good roll.  And a GOOD roll it was.  Practically orgasmic from the sound of it--he was moaning and groaning and plowing his face through the dust.  Oh yeah, it felt GOOooood.

We grazed our way slowly back to the barn, then I put him away, and returned all his fly bands to their proper body parts.  He still has all four leg bands and the neck band--they haven't fallen off yet.  The smell is supposed to last at least two months, but the bands themselves are pretty flimsy plastic (perforated so the smelly stuff smells enough), held on with metal snaps, so I'm just waiting for the plastic to tear or the snaps to pop out of the plastic, but so far so good. 

Unrelated, but it just popped into my head:  I've gotten a bunch of compliments from all the barn ladies on how well he handles on the walk to and from the pasture and putting his fly mask on.  What a good boy!

I put away all the stuff I'd gotten out and refilled his feed baggies.  I'm up to THREE supplements, plus a scoop of grain, so four different scoops.  The ulcer supplement is supposed to be fed twice a day, and I don't want the feeding ladies to have to differentiate between a.m. and p.m. baggies, so I halve the doses of the other supplements so each bag has an equal portion of everything and it doesn't matter which they feed.  But this means that each baggie has:
  • One scoop of feed (Safe Choice--the higher calorie one because I'm trying to put a little more weight on him)
  • One scoop of ulcer supplement
  • Scant half scoop of mineral supplement (one scoop is the dose for a 1,000 pound horse, and he's more like 900, if that)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 scoop of psyllium (i.e. Sand Clear or similar names--they put his hay into buckets, but he scatters it around, and is eating it right off the dusty ground.  Horses can get sand colic if too much sand builds up in their guts, so the psyllium makes the poo puffy enough to push the sand out.  Supposedly.  It's just supposed to be given one week out of each month, and it works out quite nicely that I prepare a week of feed at a time, so ALL his baggies right now have the psyllium, and when they're gone, I'll make more that won't have it.
All the scoops are different sizes, too, so when Nathan helps, I have to make sure the scoops stay in their respective containers, but that's easy enough when it's just me.  Each item is in pelleted form, but each is a different shade of green/brown, so it looks like camo in the baggie.  Okay, it doesn't take much to amuse me.

I'm off to an endurance ride (two crew for two friends riding 50 miles each, not riding myself!) this weekend, so you won't see any posts from me until Sunday.  I hope to have a lot of photos of the ride, too!

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Anyway...if you've made it this far or came just for this, here's an awesome WTF for your enjoyment.

I got a text from the barn manager today asking if I want to trade one of the barn ladies horses.  Like for realz (I think).  I quote:  "Hey what do u think about leira [spelled Lira on her stall sign] [barn lady]'s horse?  [barn lady] said shw would trade u if would like to have laira [sic]."

Um.  No?  First of all, I just got him, and yes, we've had a bit of a setback, but I was ON him tonight, wasn't I?  Sure, I was a ball of nerves, and probably looked like I can't even ride, but whatever.  But second of all, what's wrong with this gal's horse that she's so desperate to be rid of him?  Or what's so appealing about Trigger that she wants him that badly?  Or is the barn manager just making stuff up and the barn lady never said anything about swapping horses?  But seriously...who just TRADES horses?  (Out of the blue, I mean.  Sure, if both horses were for sale, and happened to be perfect for the other person, that would make sense.  But just randomly?) 

And no, there is no planned trail ride or something where she might mean to just trade horses for the day just for kicks.  I don't even know...  I'm accepting responses people think I should give, though!  Either snarky or serious--bring it on!


  1. I think the barn lady who rode him for u realized wha a nice horse heis and how he has potential. She wants him. Don't trade him. He may be taking time but your getting there. Today was great progress. And he realized its not gonna hurt everytime u rde him. Same exact thing is going on with a lady in my barn who just got a new horse. I luv ur posts! Keep up great job :-)

    1. I don't know who you are, Anonymous, but thanks for the vote of confidence. :-) Yep, I think he and I will both get more and more confident with each ride. Unfortunately, due to the endurance ride (which I am really looking forward to), I won't have a chance to see/ride him again until Sunday. But I will get on him again, plus probably pamper him with a real bath, with shampoo and everything. Gotta keep that mane and tail white, right? :-)

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  3. Shawna,

    I am proud of you for not giving up. You are doing great. And Barn lady seems like a Horse Trader. Be leary - sounds like you are being smart. ~Jewel