Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Mare!!

The deed is done.  Papers are signed and money has been sent (cringe).  But the really exciting result is that this year The Boy and I get to shout "HAPPY NEW MARE!!!!!" at each other and then kiss.  (aw).

I'm so glad that he's as excited about this as I am.  Although he did point out that it's very likely that it will be impossible to fit our two (two!!) mares in one (uno) three-horse trailer.  I'm not sure where the fail is, but that's some messed up math.  (god bless him for enjoying us, (ahem) athletically built  ladies)

So there you have it.  I'm very much looking forward to what 2012 has to offer.  P is growing and tackling new challenges, and Prairie will have her own goals to be set.  The thought of having them both under the same roof eventually is thrilling and hopefully one thing we get to see in the coming year.

The Boy and I are off for the holiday weekend to visit some friends and spend NYE at a bull riding event (YAHOO).  I can guarantee that our drive home on Monday will be by way of Prairie's barn for a nose pat and hopefully a ride.  Then, Wednesday is a trip to see Queen P! 

Now to try and work for the next few hours and not spend hours amassing new toys and treats and boots and bits for the mare....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Things are zooming right along.  I'm thankful that I seem to have made good long lists early, because at this point the purchase process is picking up speed and feels a bit like a whirlwind.

Yesterday I got a call that a vet I trust (and is a rock star at PPE's) was down near BBM's barn and could squeeze in an exam for me.  I intended to hold the pre-purchase off for a few days, as I wanted to be there - but I'd rather have a vet I trust to be thorough, than have me there with someone I don't know.

We did pretty extensive PPE (complete with extended neuro exam).  I'm thrilled to say that BBM passed her physical with flying colors, no soreness anywhere, no restrictions on her range of motion, nothing unusual anywhere.  Her teeth are good (but need a float in 6 months), eyes are great, skin good, feet fabulous, muscle tone, etc. etc....

But more than being in good general health, BBM deserves a god damn crown for passing her flexions with flying colors:

LF: 0
RF: 0
LH: 0
RH: 0

Love zeros on a flexion.  LOVE THEM.
Then we went to imaging -  x-rays of both hocks to compare with older films and also to have as a baseline going forward.  We also got a snapshot of her LF, where she had the infected splinter thing.  Everything looks clean as a whistle, but I am having them reviewed by my vet as a double check.
Just to be over the top conservative, I opted to do an ultrasound on the LF to make super sure that there was no indication of any weird suspensory issues from the splinter that were somehow not apparent in the x-rays.  Ultrasound also looked clear, so I'm feeling pretty comfortable about that.

As scary as it is to say it type it "out loud,"  it looks like we might actually get this horse. Also scary? the seller "really wants" to wrap this up by year end.. which is... uh 72 hours away.  It's totally doable and not that far off what I was initially thinking, but it does accelerate the "holy crap what size of EVERYTHING does this beast wear" conversation.

I'm just guessing, but I'd wager a pretty good dollar that there's no way in hell BBM's giant head will fit any of my P sized bridles.  I'd also wager that BBM's big German back would make P's wardrobe look like doll clothes.

The tack-whore in me is literally quivering with the thought of a "justified" shopping spree...

Other thoughts that are worth thinking about include "where does BBM go?" and "have you even found a new place to bring P home to yet?"

Fortunately I have GREAT answers for both questions.

First - BBM stays where she is for the next two months.  I really like the trainer she is with (aside from ANOTHER 3 hour drive which isn't in the same direction as P...).  The real kicker though, is that full board and full training is $850 a month.  That's nothing to sneeze at, but it's cheaper than P's summer camp, and it's only about $100 more than I was paying for board only before..  That, my friends, is what I can consider a good deal.

As for when we are back from Africa? Well, I finally found a barn that I'm excited about.  It's close (20 min), it's got great turnout (20 acres of large pastures + dry paddocks) and it's cheap (relatively), at only $450 a month for full care.  There is one teeeny catch, which is that the farm lacks an indoor (a veritable requirement for wet northwest weather), but there are big lovely indoors just 2 properties down that charge a modest ring fee for usage.

I am thrilled about the turnout and the idea of having both mares at the same facility for less than P's summer camp tuition. Also, there are tons of trails and it's cheap enough that I won't feel guilty if one of the girls gets a month off from working here or there. 

So, that's my Wednesday Short-Term-Plan.  Aside from making my visa card nervous I feel pretty good about it and fairly organized.  Or, as organized as I can feel with a pending pony purchase and a wedding in 17 days.

Ok fine. I feel crazy, but it's a good crazy derived from wonderful, exciting things.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Making My List.... and Checking It Twice(ish)

Thank you for all of your comments, everyone's points are exceptionally valid ones (specifically with regard to having enough time and avoiding another bout of Wobbler's....)

As you can imagine, the last couple of days have been filled with last some minute holiday shopping, as well as endless conversations with The Boy about the Big Black Mare as well as repeated views of all our videos of her.

Currently, we are still moving forward.  hoping to schedule a pre-purchase exam in the coming week, or immediately after the new year.

Here's why:


Definitely one of the biggest concerns, I'm feeling pretty good about this one.  Aside from the obvious lack of time between now and the wedding (20 days!!!), and then the extended absence for the Africa trip, my life is pretty flexible.  I've stepped back from some main responsibilities with our company, and have been able to work a little less (and from home!).  That let's me get up, work out, clean the house, then head to the office in the late am and ditch out in time to watch the tail end of Ellen while I start dinner.  It's the sort of schedule that makes me crave having a full barn to eat up some of those evening hours (as opposed to mediocre talk shows and consuming baked goods).

Even when P comes back, I think I'll be in a good spot with time.  I don't have illusions of campaigning both of them heavily, but I do think I'll have enough time to love, hack and play with both of them adequately.  Frankly I'm more concerned about finding a facility that has the acres and acres of turnout that I've been dreaming of.


SprinklerBandit makes a very fair point in citing the fact that I'm not exactly on a roll with animal health right now... ALTHOUGH, I continue to wonder whether P even has neurological issues.  She's improving so much that I wonder if she was just locked up from trying to correct herself...
As for Maisy?  Well... Maisy definitely has something going on.  She's always dragged her hind end around like a walrus, but its not like her sole purpose in life is excelling athletically, so it's never been an issue before.. Current theory on the dog is that her spinal cord is severely bruised as the result of falling/tripping/running into something? Current plan is lots of rest and lots of treats (tough Rx to follow..)

As for a new horse? regardless of the horse, you can bet your last dollar that  a field test for propoceptic deficiencies will be part of that vet check.


We seem to be good.  I don't want to dip into the savings for anything that costs more than Big Black Mare, but in terms of monthly upkeep, I'm comfortable with putting another beast on the bankroll.  We'd still have a good vet-bill cushion and wouldn't be beyond our means with monthly bills... I wouldn't even consider another animal (regardless of size) if I didn't think I could afford the "worst case" potential bills, - though, in related news, if we end up with Big Black Mare, she will be insured.

Initial X-Rays...

BBM has a big library of films to her name.  She had extensive films taken in Germany prior to her inspection since she was gunning for her Elite status.  I had them sent to my vet, who commented that she hadn't seen films that clear and sharp in a long time.  Apparently German x-ray machines are.. intense.
Mare has beautiful films of all her joints and (yahoo) even a full set of her spine.  Not that it *totally* would allow us to rule out Wobblers... but it's nice to see well spaced vertebrae and clean shoulders.  The only blip on the radar screen was a small bone chip in one of her hocks.  Usually that would be cause for alarm, but it was actually taken out when BBM had a deep splinter removed from her front leg and she was going to need some stall rest anyway.

Also nice to have? follow-up x-rays showing a healed, healthy front limb after that splinter came out...

All in all really nice, complete health records with nothing too scary on them.

So where's that bring us to?

The pre-purchase.

I'd like to get films of that splinter leg up front (and make sure nothing has gotten weird) as well as shots of both hocks to make sure nothing has changed significantly from her Elite-worthy films.  Also, assuming they are clean, it's always nice to have a flip book of clean, clean, clean films in case we end up selling her down the road.

I'm still not trying to think too far down the road, but if we seal the deal, I'd likely leave BBM where she is for January and Feb in full training, then look to bring her closer to home when we get back from Africa... seems like the responsible thing to do...

Still planning to head up north to see those Geldings on the 30th.  For one thing, something might come crashing down at the vet check, and for another - they are both interesting prospects, although very, very different from BBM.  Never hurts to comparison shop a bit...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Shopping (the kind I like)

I know I"m terribly behind on recent horsey events, but I'm trying to catch up!!!

The most important, nay - most entertaining is definitely the recap of our trip down to see the Big Black Mare last weekend.  I'm so very thankful that The Boy seems to enjoy these horsey escapades.  God bless him for thinking that a 3 hour drive in the rain, punctuated by a pit stop for bad Subway Sandwiches and an hour + standing in a freezing barn sounds like a "fun Sunday."

When we finally pulled in (after a few attempts to find the right driveway, part of me was hoping that there would be some fatal flaw (terrible feet, crooked gaits or something as tragic as a puny forelock or tail...) that would allow my terrified checkbook to breathe a sigh of relief, much as I always hope I will somehow magically prefer the cheaper boots, or knock-off sweater... But, true to my unfortunate nature - once again, I seemed to really enjoy the object of obvious quality. (dammit).

Aside from still being pretty out of shape (and having a bit of her baby belly left), Big Black Mare was adorable.  Great legs, great feet (did I mention she is and always has been barefoot?), and a great disposition.  I pinched and poked and prodded her, with nothing more than a quizzical look from her Giant Eyeballs.  Her Trainer had just gotten back form a weekend away with a few of the hunters in the barn, so Big Black Mare hadn't been ridden in 3 days, which (honestly) is how I prefer to see a horse for the first time.

There was no lunging, just a few laps leading her around the ring at the walk before Trainer got on.  Mare was quiet, but forward.  Striding out and tracking up immediately.  No squeals, no hippity-hopping, no naughtiness at all.  We watched her go for about 15 minutes and aside from looking like a LOT of horse to put together (she is not a tiny mare), she looked great.  Very soft in her working and medium gaits, supple both directions, willing with her leg yields, half passes, shoulder and haunches in..

Then I got on.

She is a BIG lady.  I haven't been on something with that much movement in a long time - and I think it showed.  It took me a bit to get situated and feel like I had actual control of my body, but once I got myself pulled together (mostly), things started falling into place.  Or at least, I stopped inhibiting her trying to be a good girl.

My initial instinct was to clamp down and get her trot to something that felt "manageable" but then I figured out that her "huge, rushing stride" wasn't actually rushing at all... she was just covering some GROUND, and it would be polite of me to stop choking her in the process....

less choking, but still not helping her much...
After about 10 minutes, we were clicking a bit better.  I found some of her buttons and started to get her to swing through her back more (yeah.. more) and she felt pretty awesome. She started tuning into me and we were able to open up and collect as I wished.  She's definitely not in great shape, but then again, neither am I so frequent walk breaks were our friend.
firing on almost all cylinders...(I might be grinning)
By the end, we had run through her paces, obliterated my core muscles - and I had fallen a bit in love (watch out checkbook!!!)
Aside from her lovely gaits, I really enjoyed her temperament.  The entire ride was done without spurs or whip as reinforcement and she goes in a lovely chubby double jointed D ring snaffle...  She likes to put her giant muzzle on you, but she's not mouthy.. no nibbling or hoovering of treats.  (I enjoy that).  She canters on a loose rein, stretches easily, pushes like a locomotive and all in all.. just seems like a sweet mare.

Can you tell I like her?

Before my heart runs away with my money... it's time for a pro/con list:

  • Seems sane.  
  • Moves like a cloud
  • She's on "sale"
  • Sensitive
  • Great Feet
  • Has her Elite status (other people like her x-rays)
  • Proven Broodmare (with pretty babies)
  • Been to a few big shows no problem
  • Never lame, never sick
  • my saddle fits!
  • She's CUTE

  • She's coming 7, with not a lot of training on her
  • Feels a bit like driving a limo
  • Even on sale, she's spendy
  • There's no way she'll fit in my trailer
  • She's out of shape... have to guess what happens when she's in shape..
  • I already have a horse. and P will be PISSED
So, what's happening? I had her old x-rays sent to my vet for review, along with pictures and videos.  So far she's getting passed with flying colors for her movement and soundness, but we'll see what shows up in the films.  Assuming everything looks good, I'll schedule a full pre-purchase (eeeeek) and take some new films so we can compare and see if there are any significant changes.

Then... If that's a flying pass? I think I'll have a hard time walking away.  She's pretty adorable.

I am still trying to get up to Canada next week to see those Geldings... I'd like to see them as a comparison (if nothing else). But The Boy seems pretty stuck on this Big Black Mare too... Thoughts? am I insane???

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

P goes to the Beach

A slightly elaborated version of my day with P last week:

When I pulled into the Farm, P was munching her way through some hay with the rest of the herd.  She seemed comfortable surrounded by everyone, and I was proud to see that she was capable of not being run off her food in the group.

It was also apparent that she has become somewhat of a YAK.  The mare who didn't even justify a body clip last year has grown a veritable yak-coat.  Which, I suppose means that her body is happy, healthy and mostly normal.  However, her ears look ridiculous (although warm) with 3" of pouf coming out of them... lol

Anyway, I made myself some tea and chatted with the farm hand before heading out to the field to find Miss Mare.  I was disappointed to see that instead of munching with the rest of the group, she had moved herself aaaaallll the way to the back of the field where she was gazing longingly at a gray arab gelding across the street.

It appears that this has become part of P's normal routine.  Eat.  Pine.  Eat.  Nap. Pine some more.  Sleep.

She is utterly convinced  that this gray gelding is her soul mate.  (what??).
Anyway, after tromping out to get the beast, confirming that she is not a total Yak, I brought her in, chipped off some of her mud layer and got ready for our beach ride.
Although P has been to the beach a few times now, she still isn't totally certain about it, and her face in the trailer as we got there was priceless
"this place smells like salty dead things"
 I couldn't really blame her.  We specifically waited for low tide in order to have a bit more room on the beach, but that luxury comes with a rather aromatic trade off...
I think she was looking for whales...
 P was alert, but calm while we tacked up. She seems rather reliant on her buddies still, but as long as they are close, she allows herself to really relax and drink in her surroundings.  Herd-bound? yes.  But right now the theory is that she has to really learn to be in the herd (and not pine after the street-gelding) in order to get the sort of relationship skills that will help her trust me in the future...

Of all the things that were surprising to me during our ride, legging up (sans air-vest) from the ground, without help on pavement was one thing I never really expected to do on her.  Not that anything in that sentence is remarkable on its own, but they are all indicative to how much more relaxed and stable the mare is, along with how much my own nerves have quieted about her....

The ride was uneventful.  P took it like a champ.  Smelling scary piles of wood and seaweed, bravely putting her nose on anything that was questionable, and most importantly - Continuing to stride out and stay forward for the whole time.
Once again, chilly temps and gloves had a negative impact on my iphone photog skills...
 I chose not to pick a fight about getting in the water, although I think I would next time.  I still wasn't totally comfortable in gauging how long P's current "fuse" is, but it felt like she was handling herself so well, I'd rather log a happy, productive ride, then worry about accomplishing too much.

All in all, I was thrilled.  Thrilled that the beast is happily progressing, thrilled to be on a beach with my mare, and thrilled to be able to spend a day doing nothing but patting my furry, mud covered beast.  It reinforced my current thought that even if P stays a "trail horse" (though I doubt she will forever), I definitely still want her to be my trail horse.  She's so cool :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beach Ride!

Those are my horses ears with the Pacific Ocean just beyond them.

Not a bad view for a Wednesday afternoon...

I'll get a full update here later, but P and I had a super fantastic time together yesterday, which was punctuated by a nonchalant ride down the beach complete with boats and ducks and dogs.
Also, I learned she likes seaweed.  lots, and lots of seaweed.

Happy Weekends and a full report on Monday!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Our Feet

Well, after a long day, and some semi-panicked phone calls in the evening to the vet in order to find out if my dog "was even still living,"  Miss Maisy is up and in as fine form as ever (minus a patch of hair above her tail, she's so embarrassed..)


The neurologist was super friendly, informative and very straight forward.  Maisy apparently has a HUGE amount of fluid around a couple vertebrae that is causing more of a compression on her spine than Miss P has.
(dog - internal view).
No wonder she walks like a walrus!!!

The good news is that apparently  Maisy doesn't display the typical conformation deficiencies that most frenchies do, so that's nice to know.

What we leaned is that the ataxia is being caused by the fluid, but we haven't determined is what exactly is causing the fluid to gather...  Our options are basically one of the following:
1) Trauma (a thwack, smack, or severe twisting of the spine)
2) Infection (meningitis or something similar)
3) Cancer (wah).

In order to rule out #2, I authorized a spinal tap to analyze the fluid, which we should hear back on today or tomorrow.

#3 is unlikely, (and expesive to diagnose) so we're moving forward with treatment for #1 and will circle back to #3 if we don't see any improvement in the rather near term.

So Miss Maisy is on some low dose steroids and seriously restricted movement. No playing, no running, no stairs, no jumping onto the couch, NOTHING. She's to be carried to her lawn, peed, and returned to her bed for the next two weeks.
Enjoying a brief moment of freedom for breakfast, and a chilly back.
 She's going to be so disappointed, especially because frolicking in Christmas wrapping is among her favorite annual joys...

The one thing that I still don't have a lot of clarity on is how this explains both the long-term proprioceptic deficiencies (toe pointing, leg dragging) and the more recent hind end lameness.  The fact that she's always pointed her toes and dragged herself around like a walrus would indicate to me that this fluid has nearly always been there.. but it doesn't indicate why it would now show itself with the progressive lameness in her left hind.

Dr. Neurologist didn't really have an answer for that, though I refer back to P's initial vet who said, "well, if you couldn't tell where your legs were, you'd probably twist your ankle or tweak your back eventually too."

So, until I get more info, I'm not going to worry about it too much.  The one possibility that Dr. Neuro suggested was that the lameness was being caused by increased pressure on the cord (from an increase in the fluid) which is something we would like to be able to eventually explain.

But for now, one step at a time as we isolate the variables and a big sigh of relief for an easy round of anesthesia.

On the Horizon? a few horsey packed days:
Tomorrow is a much needed visit to P
Friday is my first (gasp) Dressage lesson in what feels like forever.
And Sunday is a trip to see that big black mare!  
All very fun and exciting things...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Waiting on the MRI, and more shopping...

Dropped the pup off nice and early this morning for her MRI.   She's so darn cute.  And for the record, this vet facility is TOP NOTCH.  Some small animal vet clinics just give me the heebie-jeebies, but this place is clean, doesn't smell like terrified animal (read: Spit and cat piss) and the whole experience is pro from start to finish... So I'm feeling about as I can when there's a snub nosed doggy under anesthesia....

Clearly needing a distraction, my shopping perusal continues.  Here's another guy I'm liking and might go see in the next few weeks  He's just over the boarder in Canada.. He seems to be a little more over his back than the mare I like - plus he's only 4.  (also he seems to like jumping... always a bonus)

Monday, December 12, 2011

This has to be a joke.

I can't remember if I've blogged about this or not, so in my wedding addled brain, I'll just run the risk of repeating myself..
 About two months ago I noticed that Maisy (the beloved frenchie) was favoring her left hind and really protecting it when jumping up and down from her couch.  No issues chasing her Frisbee, but when asked to do something she didn't want to (get in car, go out in rain, etc) the limp became rather pronounced.  It also increased with lengthy walks or extensive playing (not good).

Additionally, I finally picked up on the fact that M-dog was refusing to "trot" choosing instead to perfect her walk/canter transitions (at least one of my animals has??).  I became worried when Maisy flat out REFUSED to trot, regardless of our pace or her energy level.  That's when she hitched a ride to Sequim and talked to our vet about her little ham hock leg.  Vet gave us a referral to her favorite orthopedic vet over here and off we went.

I was lazy, so it took me a few weeks to book the appointment, but we had it today and I am currently still baffled at the current diagnosis.

Anyone want to guess? Bueller??

One word:



Of course at this point I'm a total skeptic, so I was peppering the orthopedic (and then the Neuro specialist they brought in) with about a ga-zillion questions, but it all came back to neuro.  As it turns out, Maisy's adorable "pointed toes" on her hind legs (she always points them when she sits, or stands.. it's cute) is actually a perfect example of disconnect in her hind end and a comprimised spinal cord.  Since, as we learned in our earlier adventures with Miss P, the bundling of the spinal cord has all the hind end stuff on the outside.  Ergo, it shows symptoms of damage before anything else does.  (ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh).

Apparently however, this is common in Frenchies, and (unlike most equine cases) is often the result of something that is degenerative.  Most commonly, cysts in the spinal canal or malformed vertebrae that fall out of alignment are to blame.... WAH.

Either way, Miss Maisy goes in for an MRI tomorrow to see where exactly the spinal cord is damaged and what's causing the symptoms.

Since Maisy has pointed her toes like this since she was a puppy, I'm hoping that the stenosis is just the result of a crumpled bulldog spine and that the increased lameness in her left hind is a simple strain, sprain or slipped disc that can easily be managed.

Things we aren't interested in seeing include: cysts, tumors or turbo-bad arthritis.

You should have seen the look on my face when the neurologist tried to give me the "Wobblers 101" speech.   Thank god I was holding the pup, or I might have involuntarily punched him.

More tomorrow.  Fingers crossed for the puppy please....

Friday, December 9, 2011


Forgive me readers for I have sinned, it has been... uhhhhhh.... a really long time since my last confession.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been allowing myself to casual peruse Dreamhorse, just for fun, just to see what's out there.

Casual perusal slowly became religious checking and updating, which has quickly led to a more in depth search that involves me checking out favorite breeders and trainers both locally and smeared across the nation.  Which has in turn led to numerous conversations with self, always along these lines:
"but don't you have a Pia?"

Yes... Yes I do.

"and don't you have a wedding coming up that you should be focusing on (/ allowing to suck up all your extra $$$)???"

Why yes... yes I do.

"and haven't you thoroughly discussed how much money a second horse will cost, especially while paying for P's summer camp?"

Yes, yes I have.

"and yet, you still allow yourself to semi-seriously search for another horsey to have and to hold"

Apparently, yes... yes I am.
Apparently I have ALSO decided that I have won the lottery, as the price tags seem to be skyrocketing - even though I keep assuring myself that this is a "buyers market" and I should be able to find a steal of a deal...

Anyway.  Part of me is hoping that I come to my senses and stop this train before it gets to far along... buuuuuut part of me hopes I act like an idiot and add to the collection.

I mean WHY NOT.

I still have a few months before P comes home (I think) and even though I can't fathom where the time would come from... I'm sure I could manage two beasts... right?

So this is the girl I'm currently on the top of my list.. She's a little tight in her back (I think), but she recently had babies and so this is still "getting back into shape" footage... hard to tell, but I really enjoy her lines.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Flash Back....

While we're on the sentimental streak... I stumbled onto a collection of pictures of Star (the ancient white pony)back from the beginning of our relationship.

They came from a box of photos from my Aunt's house, and as far as I can tell, they are almost entirely from the same day.  They aren't dated, but based on the level of construction going on with our property (i.e.- FENCES) I think it was pretty gosh darn close to when I first brought Star home.  Also, the massive-tack-whore in me realized upon further inspection that Star is (proudly) wearing her original saddle, but a new(er) bridle, and I am riding in giant-rubber-boots.

The first photo is me, my grandfather and Star when she was still a school pony at the barn I took lessons at.  She was a total hellion and no one else would ride her except for me (also a hellion?).  I think this was pretty close to when I "bought" her, but I just LOVE my big mushroom helmet and it's super chic rain cover...
I was always SO proud of her
As for the rest of the pics, they were the following year, and here's how I know that...
Star ONLY wore her cardboard original saddle and the bridle that it came with (the whole package including a "girth", leathers and irons was a whopping $119 at our local feed store, tack stores were for rich people) UNTIL that Christmas when we got a new (extremely fancy) raised snaffle bridle from the local tack shop (see? fancy.) My mom actually suggested the purchase when she noticed that our cheapo-feed-store bridle was dying my pony's ears and nose pink every time she sweat.  It was not a quality piece of tack.  Of course, even from the fancy tack store, there was no flash bridle in perfect pony size available, so we're sporting an only slightly ghetto flash attachment.

So I know it's after xmas of '93 (where we also received a super trendy green NZ turnout rug)... but before my birthday in '94 because that's when I replaced my giant rubber boots with some actual leather field boots as a present to myself.  I couldn't tell you who was president (ok maybe I could) or what I learned in school that year, but I can recite (perfectly) every horse related acquisition I ever got under the age of 20. 

So, based on my tack-whore-calculations, these pictures were taken sometime during the spring of 1994.  Which makes Star 20 or 21 at the time and I think she looks pretty darn good.

 What other amazing thing did we get in the spring of 1994????

A super fantastic 1972 King two-horse straight load trailer.  Complete with ancient rubber mats and plenty of rust.  But the thing was cheap, and the fact that it was Blue & White (my self proclaimed cross country colors) meant that it was meant to be mine...

I compulsively scrubbed, blasted and repaired this thing...
Star hated the thing though... hated
 Giant. Rubber. Boots.  And yes, I'm riding in sweatpants (that.. is something that I do not remember
Now for the fantastic arena that Dad built me all on his own.  When we were done with it, it had gorgeous flower beds terraced in at the short end, fencing (duh) and good enough lights to jump long after the sun went down.  But, this is it's infant stage, though clearly I didn't care.
(Star was also skeptical of this place where she had to do dressage sometimes..)
The woods beyond the ring is where we built all of our homemade deathtraps cross country fences.  I still have dreams every once in a while about galloping through them on our little trails...
We looked like this a lot in those early years...
But she could still jump the moon.
Annnnd... a few more just for good measure (and because I have them)
Getting ready in the barn (also built by Dad)
See, ghetto flash attachment, but no dyed ears/nose
Standard Pony Expression (SPE)
And my brother would shoot me if he knew I ever let this photo see the light of day again.. but I can't resist a good old fashion Holiday Photo with the PONY!!!!!  This is just before we got that new bridle.. note, no flash attachment, and I can assure some dyed pink ears under that santa hat...
bahahahaha, none of us look good here.. but look how happy dad is with his pitchfork! I think this was his favorite holiday card ever....
Such amazing memories with that little beast and that little farm.  I learned so much on those few acres.
I love this picture of us <3
As for the rest of that stuff.. the giant-rubber-boots have been long gone, the cardboard original saddle is still in my garage, and the crappy, old, leathers are still my favorite to jump with - and in fact have been used in every show of my life.. how they haven't disintegrated in the rain.. I have no idea.  The bridle went with Star up to her retirement fields and that massive mushroom helmet was thrown out after I hit a tree while galloping around in the woods (whoops).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Soft Spots (and Merlin)

The onset of winter in Seattle always seems to trigger some sort of hormonal condition in me that leaves me in a perpetual state of PMS which shows itself most obviously in a new-found ability to tear up at nearly everything.

Exhibit A: I have nearly cemented a morning routine that has me on my little elliptical (aka, hamster wheel) for the 7:30-8:30 hour of the Today Show.  For those of you doing more productive things at that hour of the day, let me fill you in, 7:30-8:30 is after they've finished glossing over major headlines, but before the team dives deep into any issues (or hot shopping trends).  This usually means that I get a solid 30 minutes of human interest stories.... 

The firefighter who rescued three guinea pigs from a burning shed... the adorable 9 year old stricken with cancer who's collecting toys for her hospital... the family who's 6 kids all tragically died from carbon monoxide, you name it.  They are all sentimental tear jerkers. It;'s like watching the Olympics, but without any medals..

What happens with those other 30 minutes you might ask?  Commercials.  The ratio is definitely 1:1, but I'm okay with it, because this time of year the commercials are all about soldiers coming home to Folgers coffee, or blue collar husbands surprising their wife with spectacular jewelry they've been saving years for...(more tearing up).

And the kicker?  The kicker is that damn trailer for War Horse that I can't even begin to watch 30 seconds of without nearly losing it.

So, there you have it.  Me.  On the Elliptical. (in ancient, ragged workout clothes). surrounded by a box of flipping tissues.

Charming, isn't it.

In other news, this spike in sensitivity has also led to a need to foster something.  So, after sharing a giant plate of nachos (dammit) and a few margaritas (oops) The Boy and I had our hearts set on bringing a new pet into the house.  Fortunately for me, the GREAT DANE BREEDER didn't respond fast enough so I was able to pacify The Boy with a new Kitty from the Humane Society.

(Footnote, we actually DO want a great dane, and that's not an impulse buy - but I feel like maybe we should wait on a puppy until after the wedding and month long trip to Africa...)

So we had a fabulous day at the Humane Society.  We played with all sorts of kitties, and waited till we found the right guy, who was CoCo.  He was mellow, but very social... happy to be on a lap or held, but not mean when you shooed him off... (I was sold).

We got him home and after he cleaned himself up from a rather upsetting urine incident during the car ride, he set about to exploring the house for laps to curl up on.

He is quite possibly the friendliest cat I have ever had.  He's posable, floppy, let's you rub his tummy, play with his paws and roll him around.  He's dandy and he looks like a wizard, which led to his new name - Merlin.
Wizard Face
 All we know is that he's about 5 years old, was picked up as a stray about an hour south of Seattle, taken to the PAWS shelter, then transferred to the Humane Society about a month ago.  He is FIV positive, but we don't have any other kitties anymore and I have no intention of letting him outside to be Eagle Food, so I'm happy to give him a home.

So far he seems more than happy to have a home.  He's been on his best behavior and already paid for his $25 adoption fee in hours and hours of cuddling on the couch.

It's so nice to have a cat again! I forgot how much I missed their purring....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Adventures on the Fenceline & in the Creek

I feel like I've been starting every post with a "my how times flies" but it really feels very true.. INSANE.  No idea where my life is going.

But, back to the pony.  My trip out last week was fantastic, as usual.  P looks like a woolly mammoth and autumn at the farm is just stunning.  The air was crisp, colors were gorgeous, the mountains were snow capped and the ponies furry...  Not a bad place to spend the day.  I could do with an extra 10 degrees of warmth, but the weather was nothing that a constant supply of hot chocolate and some hand warmers couldn't contend with.
I mean really, gorgeous. 

Maisy was my trusty co-pilot again, although she acted like I was taking her to a torture chamber and demanded to ride in my lap the entire way, lest she quiver and pant incessantly.  I had visions of a Brittney-style-tabloid-shot... "reckless owner endangers life of puppy.. travels unbuckled in lap!" But Maisy managed to not squirm so I figured she wasn't putting either of us in any increased peril....
stressy face
Carefully avoiding interference with my driving...
M-dog stayed in the car (and her sweater) while we saddled up for our first ride of the day.  I grabbed big 'ol Wendy, Cowboy Man took P and another owner was on her adorable hunter-turned-trail horse who's trot is beyond droolworthy.  

First order of business was to head to the back of the property and work on the fenceline.  Cowboy Man said that he's been working P on the property more and more, which is great (cause it's convenient), but a little tricky since the herd is wandering at large as well - which provides pretty stiff competition for P's attention... He said so far she had been handling it well, and expected her to continue to do so today.  (good for the mare).

we trekked over a bridge and through the fields to the back pasture/woods area.  The herd was at the front of the property grazing, so their impact on the horses was minimal.  I did notice P and Wendy "checking in" a lot more than they do out on the trail... A few whinnies, pricked ears, and attempts to look in the general direction of the group.. but nothing more demanding than that.  Once we got to work we basically asked the ponies to walk, and whoa based on our breath (like I did with P on the ground before) and wait patiently before walking off again.  This was easy as a group, but more challenging as we asked the beasts to walk off or wait away from their buddies.   The old hunter was a very good girl, P was surprisingly responsive and Wendy.  Well, Wendy was not amused.  Wendy did great when we were the first to leave... but did terribly if we were the last to catch back up to the group.

Did I mention that Wendy found herself at the farm after she taught herself to rear in order to get her way?  Well she did.

Something Miss Big Mare was keen to try again rather than stand calmly for 30 seconds away from her friends.  I must say, as much as I've enjoyed my nice long uneventful trail rides with W, it was nice to have to work a little and really feather her lightly with the exercise (however simple).

W tried a few little crow hops, and we backed all over the field in an attempt to not stand still, but eventually we got to a nice calm place where she was willing to indulge my requests of wretched stillness.  Cowboy Man had a good go with P, she was a little jiggy, and backed herself into the fence a few times, but no explosions (yay) and good progress as we worked longer.  Also, I know I mentioned it in my last (mini) post, but CM was riding Miss P in a rope halter.  with a leadrope tied to it.  Uh yeah.  NO THANKS.  but in all honestly, she was good.  I guess I'd probably be more comfortable than I give myself credit for with the halter, since P doesn't exactly "bolt".  The issue with her isn't sensitivity, it's being able to accept "pressure" from her rider.  SO the halter thing kinda makes sense I guess.  Keeps her form feeling boxed in, but still allows some nose control... something to think about going forward...

Anyway, after mastering the walk, we moved on to some trot work, still asking to go, then whoa and wait a bit.  Wendy was fussy, but we worked through it :)  P was a star and was more than happy to move forward a bit...

After about 40 minutes, the beasts got a break and we got to warm up a bit over lunch (which was an absurdly delicious pulled pork sandwich... )
P wondering where her sandwich is...
 When we finished with lunch, the beasts got pulled back in so we could load up and head to another piece of property to play in a creek.  We had four horses going.. 3 of them large, wide-butted things that take up half of CM's stock trailer.  BUT since P is starting to work with the herd more and is accepting of them moving in on her at meal time, CM decided to see how she would do in a tight trailer.  Big boy number one, and medium boy number two loaded up front in the trailer, while Wendy loaded in the back, leaving a shred of space for P to work herself into.
Uh, where am I supposed to go?

Oh.  In here...

The second Property was just around the corner and consisted of a gorgeous giant meadow along with some nice woods heading down to a creek.  The creek was not... roaring, but there was a good couple feet of water which was more than enough to make all the ponies leery of putting their toes in.  (rightfully so, it was FREEZING).

Wendy wanted to investigate a bit before sliding her giant self down the bank and into the river.  She was not pleased with the rocks, or the wet, or the cold.  But she went and stood semi-happily while the rest of us waited for P to get it together and get in.

P was, to put it nicely, not interested.  I can't tell if I blame her or not.  I cant think of an intelligent creature that would have looked at the steep muddy bank, cold rushing water and big slippery rocks and though "OOOH, me! Choose me to get in that!!"  So, I give her a little credit for her skepticism, but then she lost some points for style.

Especially because this was not P's first trip to this creek.  Apparently upon her first visit she plodded right into the water and started playing with it.  This time, she was wise to the situation and refused to approach the bank.  Cowboy Man kept her nose to the water, which meant P could back up all day long, but under no circumstance could she turn.

I finally wrestled my phone out of my pocket to take a few pics, but by the time my numb fingers could take pictures, I got one, blurry picture of the creek, and one shot of P after she backed halfway home from the creek.
blurry creek, but pretty! (and cold)
P, making a break for it.
A few minutes later, P gave up and hopped in.  She immediately set to drinking/splashing/playing with the water and insisted on getting me wet (grrrr).  We were starting to lose sunlight so we rode up the creek a bit, splashed in different parts of it, then made our way back to the trailers.

Cowboy Man did make a point of commenting on how sure-footed P felt on the rocks, which just continues to call into question how much Wobblers this mare actually has... but that is a philosophical question for another day.

Today is a day for hugging ponies, being thankful for their many lessons and throwing some elbows at the grocery store in order to get my hands on some basic Thanksgiving Day supplies.

Gobble Gobble everyone! Enjoy your holidays!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

great mare day

Had a great day with the mare yesterday, didn't take as many pics as I should have (freezing fingers and the danger of dropping iphone in a creek were slight deterrents) but I promise to give a full update shortly! But the mare was adorable (and furry!) and did all her schoolwork in a rope halter with reins attached...

I was impressed.

Anyway, I am mid panic attack over wedding details, organizing a move for my grandmother in 3 days, planning our company's 100 year anniversary and chairing a conference for a few hundred international attendees.

Oh, and brilliant me has managed to secure entirely different vendors for each event.  @$%!!.

Currently in search of more than three braincells that are touching.  back soon!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What the Cuss?

While casually flipping through the increasing torrent of tack catalogs (can you tell the holidays are coming?? sheesh). I stumbled across this:
I'm not even going to address the matching boots...
Now, I love a gorgeous "couture" (my inner fashionista sorta cringes at that use for a saddle pad) Mattes pad as much as the next tack-whore, but WHAT are they thinking?

This looks like those ill-fitting, horrid "blankets" that you used to get for your Breyer models.  They never quite fit, never quite worked and always seemed to be available in awful colors.

I'm a fan of the quarter sheet (found them quite handy for myself back East..) but this seems to be taking it a bit far.

Has anyone seen these in real life? are they less offensive than they appear?  This makes it look like some poor respectable horse got chased through a 1980's living room set and came out the other side wearing the window treatments...


Tomorrow I'm OFF TO SEE THE MARE.  It's been far too long, but a trip is being made.  Also, I'm taking the pupper because her weak little left hind seems to be getting worse.  For every detail I notice on my horses, dogs can go ages without me picking up on something... To which I mean to say that I can't remember the last time I saw the bulldog trot.  She either walks, or 'canters' and avoids loading that left hind entirely.  Poor thing.

Updates soon!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bad things happen when The Boy encourages my addictions (aka horses and anything related to horsies).

Like, for example, actually entertaining the legitimate possibility of pursuing a giant effing trailer with nicely built out living quarters.

For what?

We aren't totally sure, but we are totally sure that we should be regularly perusing the dealers and looking for good used options. (like responsible adults we quickly realized that ordering a new custom built trailer for $70k was maybe taking this concept a little too far... at least we're reasonable).

So, what are the specs?

3 Horse.  2 horse seems too small (why I say this when I only own 1 horse, I don't know) but a 4 horse seems too big (the boy has visions of camping sans horses sometimes.. and a 4 horse trailer behind his "camper" seems just unnecessary.  Plus... we only have the one (1, uno) horse).

7'3" wide at a minimum.  His truck is hefty, the replacement will be heft-ier, and P only squashes into a 7' wide trailer if she gets two spots.  (though I try to avoid making her feel bad about it)

8' LQ MINIMUM, though 10, 12 and even 13' would be ideal.  We quickly decided if the LQ is too cramped or too crappy, we'll never use it and it'll be even more of a waste of money than this notion already is. It should sleep 4 comfortably and there has to be room to sit down.

STORAGE.  I don't really understand where people put all of their crap in these trailers that only have the teeny, tiny rear tack compartment.  Even when I'm only hauling P I pack our tack room FULL of water buckets, extra wraps, first id kits, grain, etc... Those weenie rear tacks have no room for that.  So we're looking for something that either has a larger rear tack (they exist), a mid tack (Ideal) or some serious manger storage (though this requires a trailer to be at least 8' wide cause it cuts into the standing room pretty significantly.

It has to be pretty.  this might sound like my requirement, but it's the boy.  I keep finding well priced older trailers, and he keeps nixing them on account of the fact that "they look like crap." Not the most compelling argument, but as long as he's indulging me in this endeavor, I'm not going to complain.

So, what have we found?  Not too surprisingly, there's a lot of really nice used trailers out there that fit pretty much the entire bill.  I even have a couple friends who have "outgrown" some gorgeous sundowners (one with 16' of LQ! that thing is a beast...) which are enticing.

BUT, there's one that's calling to me particularly strong... it's pretty close, and seems to fit the bill.  The only worry I have is that it has manger storage, but it only 7'3" wide... that might be a little skinny, but worth a look?

well, hello
That front door isn't an escape door (which every 3 horse GN seems to have, but I never use?) it's actually a second door to the Mid-Tack, which for some reason has doors on both sides of the trailer.  Necessary? no. But I guess kinda nice if you end up tacking up away from the awning (and lawn chairs and whatever else you set up).

Weird, right? but maybe super clever..
It's a 2006 Logan, looks like it's in great shape, and the price is pretty right... now we just have to decide if we're really going to become that car-camping, horse showing couple or if we just can't give up our hotel hopping ways...

It's amazing how quickly I can rationalize a big purchase like this... let's see, sell the current trailed for $5k... one kidney, stop eating for a few weeks and BAM! we net to zero.....

Here's the full ad if you want to ooh and ahh with me....

See what happens to me when I'm not busy actually at the barn doing things with my horse???

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mountain Trail Clinic: Drive Home

Wow, so this feels like it's in the ancient past, but the last couple of weeks have let me marinate on the whole trip with P and sort of marinate in what it means for us.

Sunday we skipped the little schooling show in an attempt to hit the road early.  The Boy had figured that since we needed to haul P home, then haul ourselves home, we have about a 10 hour day ahead of us on the road.  (that wasn't considering the inevitable "2 hour horse delay" that The Boy has decided should be factored on to any horse related event).

P was just as happy Sunday morning as she had been the entire time.  Eating, drinking, peeing and pooping all as she should while happily watching the world stroll by her stall.

The Boy and I went about watering and feeding then packing up the trailer as best we could. I know one is never as organized packing up to go home as when you pack up to leave, but my god.  Our "tack stall" had become a tangle of split reins, bailing twine and saddle pads.  Not for the OCD at heart.

I grabbed P and took her for one more big walk out through the fields and relished in her continued calm.  It seems so basic, but her presence of mind and confidence never ceased to be stunning to me.  I guess this means that when I have kids I'll probably be constantly amazed at their most basic accomplishments, but for P it felt big.

I guess for me it felt big.

Back in May it seemed like feeling totally comfortable and confident with her (even on the ground) in a new and scary situation was unobtainable.... But there we were. Calm as can be and happy.

headed home
We loaded P and May back up into my trailer and hit the road.  May was a little bit less thrilled with her back seat spot than she was on the way down and insisted on screaming and scrambling about every time the truck pulled to a stop  (which was frequent since we needed gas, McDonald's, a rest stop and then gas again on our way back).

But aside from May's protestations, the trip was quick, easy and uneventful (as they should be).  P arrived without breaking a sweat and walked off the trailer on her own without any unnecessary attempts to race back to her herd...

Watching P reintroduce into the herd was actually a pretty cool thing.  Her new BFF, May is much (much, much) higher on the totem pole than P is... Which begged the question, whether P's new alliance with May would improve her standing in the herd, or if upon returning home to the "cool kids" if May would ditch her again.  As soon as P hit the pasture, she calmly (though assertively!) walked back into the middle of the group and greeted her two closest buddies (the fat tiny pony, and a chubby QH named Charlotte).  A few moments later the Lead Mare made herself known and chased both P and May out of the group.  There was a brief "don't forget who runs this show" display that involved P and May taking a few laps around the property, before Mrs. Lead Mare let them settle again.

P resumed her place toward the outside of the group, but was meandering around without the sort of nervous jumpiness that she previously had.  Cowboy Man said that it's typical for the newer/nerdier horses to gain confidence from outings like this and that often it will predict them moving up the pecking order a few notches... interesting stuff.

The Boy and I just sat watching the group for a few more minutes.  P wandered over for one last treat and some water before trotting off with her friends and we finally loaded ourselves back in the truck for the last leg of our own drive.

All in all, I loved every second of the weekend.  I loved how great P was, I loved watching other Mountain Trail horses.  I loved having The Boy along for a horse infused weekend, I loved watching P work, I loved planning for an overnight pony adventure and I loved petting all the donkeys.  I just loved the whole thing.  It made me hungry for more and it made me patient regarding P and her progress.

Oh yeah, and I loved riding my horse again.

Also, the fact that The Boy is convinced that we now "need" to find ourselves a nice trailer with some living quarters? yeah.  I love that too.  The more our "shopping lists" can overlap, the better...

A girl can dream right?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Only In Dreams

Oops! Still have one more day to blog about from our adventure.. uhhhh two weeks ago.. (bad blogger, very bad), but I'm not quite getting there yet.

Instead life has been CRAZY, and by life I mean "work" as that's where I typically carve out my bloggy-bloggy time.

But that's neither here nor there.  This is just a quick post (during a conference call, WHOOPS) to share my oh so amazing dream last night.

Apparently I was playing around on P in the woods.  And she was feeling amazing, so naturally I pointed her at a few logs and branches that were laying around and she hopped over them like a good little bunny.

Then, as we meandered down this perfectly shaded trail of my dreams, the small branches turned into small x-country fences (bounce, bounce) and then those turned into larger x-country fences (bounce, bounce, bounce).

Until finally (as dreams do) we were magically on course going prelim at some unknown to event and I was actively (well.. "dream actively") thinking, "You moron, who takes a horse that's never schooled cross country before PRELIM."

But then I was also thinking, "god my horse is badass, she's never even schooled cross country before and she's GOING PRELIM." (aren't dreams wonderful?)

Anyway, all of this mental discourse is clearly happening as we are galloping our way through the woods and eating up obstacle after obstacle, when after a particularly LARGE log oxer I started to loose my balance and slowly but surely fell off my horse by way of sliding off her butt.  This of course meant that I landed perfectly on my feet and hoisted myself back on before a jump judge noticed and we continued our flawless ride....

I think I woke up about that point since I had to pee, but it was a pretty cool dream.  I mean, I'd prefer it if P would stop sliding me off her back (dream or not), but the whole jumpy-jumpy adventure felt nice.
oooohhh sparkly dream jump....
Back to the conference call..

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mountain Trail Clinic: Day 3

Day 3 started with the usual rousing to get to the barn and feed/water the beasts at a decent hour.  Of course, without a 8:30am dressage time to panic over my idea of a "decent hour" is something around 8 or 9am...after at least two cups of coffee.

Yet again, the ponies were happy and calm when we arrived.  P ate, pooped, and drank consistently the entire time.  I did shove a tube of probiotics in her since the switch from pasture + hay to full hay seemed to.. uhh "disrupt" things a tad, but that was all it took.

Saturday added "cow sorting" to the option of classes available to take, which meant that the usually empty warm up ring was full of cows and women learning to sort and rope as well as a few extremely wild eyed horses.

Cowboy Man grabbed May and I grabbed P in order to take them for a morning walk through all the mayhem.  P was concerned and about as amped up as I'd seen her thus far.  she was snorting and her ears could not decide if they needed to focus on the donkeys braying, the cows mooing or the extremely disturbing hay-bales-with-a-head being manhandled in the roping practice...

Once we settled on the far side of the cow pen, she started to calm down and even went so far as to start sniffing and nibbling on the cows pressed up on the other side of the fence.  Apparently P needs a chew toy in nearly every situation.  in her stall, in the field... on the trail (this usually comes in the form of chewing on the horse in front of her) and apparently while watching cows.  One cow finally got sick of her "explorations" and shot a little kick at her.  P was horrified  that it could kick, but after a few swift snorts, she settled back down again.

After that, The Boy joined us and we headed out to the field to let the horses graze a bit and relax.  Apparently the wide open space was just as enticing to humans, because The Boy asked if he could take P for a "jog."

uhhhh sure... I thought as I eyeballed P's chain-less nose and The Boy's converse footwear... go for it.

Well go for it he did and P just jogged (and loped!) along side of him.  I think I must have been PMSing, or just totally emotional cause I swear to god I started to get choked up.  I mean, here was my (non-horsey) guy meandering around all easy-breezy with my supposedly difficult mare like it was the most natural thing in the world.
you can't really tell, but she's continuing to move better and better...

It was honestly really fun to watch him enjoying her so much...
After a while, the cavaletti that were strewn about were apparently just as irresistible to The Boy as they would have been to me.  (glad to know I'm not the only one) So he started scampering around with the mare and seeing what she would do.  I'm not going to claim that she looks like some athletic superstar here (it's a cavaletti..), but it was so damn cute to watch them!  Plus P's shoulder really is starting to loosen up a bit.  It's way less restricted than it was back in May.

and just cause I couldn't stop taking crappy iphone videos... P caved in with her shoulder a bit and he even corrected her! Superstars... the both of them.

After I was done GUSHING over the two of them, I rewarded myself with another delicious grilled cheese (the amount of american cheese & butter & bread that I can consume is staggering) before saddling up the horses for another afternoon giddy up.

While Cowboy Man was working with a few of the other horses The Boy asked if he could "sit on P."  Mind you, I have NEVER seen this boy on a horse and realistically the most discussion we've ever had regarding the issue has centered on the point that he loves horses but "thinks riding is weird and isn't interested in ever ever doing it."

But, nevertheless, up he went.  P was a good girl.  She scooted around a couple times, but I think that might have been due to the apparent death clamp that The Boy had going on with his legs.  I should have handed P off to someone else so as to capture this rare moment on film (err.. phone), but I didn't think of it, so the moment has just to live on through lore and legend...  When it was Cowboy Man's turn to leg up, P was a good girl.  Even less squirrely than the day before and just as forward and pleasant. 

Then... as he brought P back around Cowboy asked if I was ready to go for a ride.  I probably looked like a kid on Christmas morning because I'm pretty sure I bounced up onto my mare as fast as possible and grinned like an idiot the entire time.  That's not to say that I wasn't nervous as hell (where did that come from), but the nerves were easily outweighed by the happiness of being back on P.

Cowboy Man legged up on May (who hasn't been ridden since she was "rescued" and brought to the farm) which was curious.  May has a tendency to go up before anything else, so there were a few interesting hops/rears/leaps, before she decided that everything was ok and she could handle it... I took note that May was apparently not in a bridle.  let me repeat.  NOT IN A BRIDLE.  rope halter and a lead line.  uhhh yeah.

I seriously enjoy watching Cowboy Man work, but I am learning to appreciate more and more that there are just some steps in his training pyramid that I don't ever feel a need to master.  Riding a still traumatized horse with a penchant for rearing with a rope halter out in an open field might be pretty high on that list...

Once May was calm and ready, we took off to ride the perimeter of the field.  P was calm (mostly), forward (yay!) and happy (even better).  It took me about 10 minutes to actually start breathing and relax, but once I did enjoy every minute of it.  We explored a few fields, a gorgeous hazelnut tree grove and some irrigation ditches.  P amped up a couple of times (usually when May got excited about something), but each time she came back quickly and quietly much to my satisfaction.

45 minutes later we were back to the barn and I felt like a million dollars.  The morning fog was deciding to turn into a cold wet mist that had us all pretty chilled, so we called the ride and let the ponies go back to their stalls while we ate (more) and watched the classes go.

Finally, around 6pm we tacked P up again with the intent of having Cowboy Man work some of the obstacles under saddle.  Classes were using the main arenas until 7, but we had access to the warm up ring (cows and all) which seemed like a good place to start.

P decided that her string of exceptional behavior was tediously boring, so she came out of the stall snorting, anxious and fiery.  Cowboy Man responded by working her along the wall, asking her to tune in and pay attention.  Anytime her ears and eyeballs locked on something other than him, or if she bulged in with her shoulder, she got sent around in a mini lunge circle a few times, then put back up against the wall.  P started to focus (albeit slooooowly) so we went to bridle her up and start things under saddle.

P, ever loving brat that she is, noticed that there was a brief moment between halter off and bridle on, which she took as a perfect opportunity to attempt to bolt and go find her friends in the main ring.  Cowboy Man managed to hang on (via lead rope around her neck) and wrangle the mare back, but not without a few slightly mortifying chants of "looooose horse! looooose horse!"

I found myself actually responded with "she's only mostly loose! not actually a loose horse! we're ok! it's fine!"  sigh...

Anyway, back to the wall she went with plenty of more circles.  The "tuneup" ended up taking up the rest of the hour, which meant that the main ring was available so we wandered over and started working in that space.  P settled eventually and I started working some of the bigger obstacles we hadn't tackled yet.

Most of note was P's attempt at the super deep "L" ditch that presented May with so many problems the night before.  P stopped, sniffed, snorted... then walked right on into the damn thing with a little bit of trepidation, but then rounded the corner and marched out like a champ.  The second time through I asked her to pause in the deepest part and she calmly obliged.  Champion!

After that we made our way over to the advanced ring which was SWARMING with horses.  The atmosphere got to P a little bit but she held it together and seemed to relax more when I was asking her to work than when I was simple wandering around.  The Boy took May again and had fun leading her all over the place.  P had a few moments of trying to tune me out, which made for a bit of a struggle, but we worked through it.

The hardest thing for me is not to back pedal and rely on the "tension" of my lead rope, but instead stay with the body language and enforce my requests without yanking on her nose.  I caved a few times, especially when P was trying to rush through obstacles, but we improved, and eventually finished the evening on a good note on a nice loose lead.

We managed to put the horses to bed by 9:30, which was early by our previous standards and left plenty of time for a few martinis back at the hotel while we discussed the continued victories of the weekend...
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