Monday, February 27, 2012

Barn drama and horse therapy

It amazes me how one place can be the source of so much drama, and at the same time, so much contentment and healing.

I found out on Thursday that Rondo is chewing on other horses' tails in his corral — or should I say, chewing off.  The first one happened shortly after he arrived, but the owner just kind of shrugged it off as the price of keeping your horse in a social environment.  Things happen.  Unfortunately, the owner of the horse of the tail he just chewed off wasn't as philosophical about it.  She has a show coming up, and doesn't want her horse to look like a pasture horse.  So she complained, and although she is being nice to me about it, she is also quite clearly interested in separating her horse from Rondo.

Initially I was feeling like I (or Rondo) was being unfairly pushed out of the corral and into a run — unfair because I've been weathering much worse treatment in Panama's corral (his ear being bitten off, for example, and the rump of his blanket getting ripped virtually every time he wears it) without complaining, because I figured I chose a corral and things happen in corrals, and complaining doesn't make them unhappen.  Yet here I am being pressured to move my horse because of something much less permanent!  Tails, after all, grow back, whereas ears do not.

By Friday morning, when I talked to the owner of the latest horse sporting one of Rondo's haircuts, I was feeling pretty sad.  I had pulled blankets, talked to the other owner, and then taken my dog to physical therapy appointment; sitting at home in front of my computer after all of this, I couldn't stop crying.  So I decided to go back to the barn.  Despite the fact that it was the source of my current misery, I also was feeling very strongly like what I needed to feel better was some horse time.

So after eating some lunch, I threw on my riding clothes and rushed back out to the barn.  Luckily the other owner wasn't there anymore, so I didn't have to be reminded of any of that.  I quickly brushed Panama, threw on his bareback pad, and took him into the indoor arena for a ride (our outdoor arena was full of snow and slush).

In the end, several people and their horses joined us, but I still had a very relaxing, enjoyable ride, after which I felt totally revived — better even than after the healing effects of a good night's sleep.  We mostly putzed around at the walk and trot, and I chatted some with the other boarders, but not a whole lot.  The snow was sliding off the roof as it melted, which tends to scare the horses, but it doesn't bother Panama as much as it used to, so we had only one mishap: Once when the snow fell off the roof in the general vicinity of "behind us," Panama bolted forward a stride or two.  I ended up on his withers (I was bareback, remember), and got bounced once (ouch!) before he remembered he had a passenger and stopped.  I was amazed that I managed to stay on through that, especially from my precarious position atop his withers, though in all honesty if he hadn't stopped when he did I might not have.

Anyway, it is amazing how effective "horse therapy" is.  Before my ride, I had decided to move Rondo into the run next month when it opens up, as the barn's owner was pressuring me torequesting, but I was still very upset about the situation and the perceived unfairness of it.  By the time my ride was over, though, I was at peace with my decision, and was able to see the positive side of it.  I had wanted Rondo to remain in a social environment, sure, but he will still have neighbors.  And now both of my horses will be on the same side of the property, very close to one another actually, which will be much more convenient for me.

And I won't have to worry about any of the drama anymore.

Furthermore, I came to the conclusion that I can't worry about the situation being unfair, because I didn't complain about what was going on with Panama.  I can't help that the owner of Rondo's pasturemate did  complain, but ultimately I had to acknowledge that that's not the kind of person I am, and therefore I can't worry about how things might have been different if I were a different (and maybe less understanding) sort of person.

All of that acceptance and rejuvenation out of a simple bareback ride...  And people wonder why we love horses so much?


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trying to get back on track

For a few weeks there, my life really felt like it was getting out of control.  I'm not sure where the days went!  I was still getting out to the barn at least a couple days a week, but I had no time for blogging.  So this week, I'm regrouping, getting caught up on my blogs, and then next week I'm going to focus on establishing a better barn schedule.  (Not this week because I have another busy one ahead of me, I'm afraid.)

Last week I did have a lesson and a training session with Rondo and my trainer.  Rondo's training session mainly focused on getting him ready for bridling — he's not great about his ears being handled, so my trainer worked on that a lot, using a stool so he couldn't put his head up out of her reach.  I realized then that he has more of a mommy attachment than I thought, because he is WAY better about letting me handle his ears than anyone else.  Still reluctant, but there's less fight in him when it's me.

My trainer gave me "homework" — to handle his ears some more — though maybe what I should be doing is also asking everyone else to handle his ears!  I did it with and without the stool the other day, and with only a couple of exceptions, he was grudgingly accepting, and even was willing to bring his head down when asked so that I could reach his ears better.  Pretty good, I'd say, but we'll see if he's still fighting it with anyone else when my trainer comes again this week.

For my riding lesson, I worked a little bit on our upward transitions into the canter, and my trainer said my sitting canter was looking much better.  Yay!  Then she pulled out the jumps.  I haven't jumped in a long time, because the nicer jumps turned out to belong to another boarder, so when she left a little while back, the jumps left too.  The poles that were left were plain and unpainted; they were about the same color as the arena sand, and Panama was shying away from them as a result when we were using them as ground poles.  Plus they are rather long for our little indoor arena!

But my trainer said she was getting bored with me only doing flatwork, so on Thursday she got them out anyway.  And it went great — apparently all the two-point canter work I've done in the meantime has made my position much better while jumping, too.  Panama didn't shy at all, not even when we did ground poles to start — I suspect that having a white-painted jump standard on either side helped because then he knew where the pole was, even though it was about the same color as the footing.

Since my lesson, I haven't had a chance to do much more than grooming, blanketing, and working with Rondo on his ears, and like I said, this week is going to be a busy one.  I may have to be satisfied with one ride today or tomorrow, and a lesson — and then hopefully next week will settle down a little!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Funny videos "Stuff Riders Say" episodes 1 and 2

This is funny mostly because it is so true.  How many of these things have you ever said?  How many do you say on a regular basis?  I know my husband hears "Is it cool if we check on the horses real quick?" and "It'll just take 2 seconds!" on at least a weekly basis, sometimes even more frequently than that.

(Don't you love the clucking at the shopping carts thing?)

And of course, there's always the "Stuff No Rider Says"...

Enjoy and I'll be back tomorrow with some news and updates!