|She has an ear notch from a trap-neuter-return program. However, though initially fearful of people, this one is definetely not feral!|
After my horse was taken from me and I was boarding at my current barn, I would see Oreo walking along the arena wall, on her way to the barn down the street. I tried calling her over several times, and convinced the barn manager at the time that we should leave food out for her, but none of these tactics ever worked in stopping her daily pilgrimage to the barn down the street. She actually ran from me when seeing me out of context, so after that I kind of let her be.
As it turns out, after I was gone, Diana was doing most of the evening feedings over there and had also been feeding the barn cats and Oreo. One evening shortly after Diana had moved to our barn, Oreo suddenly showed up at our barn, wailing and looking scruffier than I remembered her.
The timing was perfect. Judy's barn kitty, Smiles, had just been diagnosed with FIV and she had taken her home to become a permanent indoor cat. We still had plenty of cat food at the barn, so I grabbed a handful of food and brought it over to Oreo, calling her name to rein her in before she ran away (she always, always responded with a "Meow!" back) and placing the food on the floor about 6 feet away from her. I stepped back, and Oreo immediately came over to eat. She ate voraciously, so I fed her another handful, and after that she was convinced we were nice people, and allowed us to pet her, which got her talking more than ever and purring up a storm while she followed us up and down the aisle as we finished our chores.
She came back the next night, and after that she has become a permanent resident. In this pic she was kneading the air!
That's one happy kitty. I have to say I love cats about as much as I love horses. I own 3 cats. They're like potato chips-you can't have just one.
On another note, there is finally peace at the barn after Elisabeth left, and after a sit-down with Mark and Dianne, the air has cleared and everyone is friends again. It's nice to actually want to spend time at the barn again and to be able to look people in the eye with a smile.
While waiting for my saddle, we've gotten creative. I have been participating in the sport known as Wessage. Aka dressage in a Western saddle. Dianne now owns my old Wintec All Purpose, but the entire reason why I sold it is because it didn't fit Lily appropriately. I tried Diana's Wintec Close Contact, but it has Cair panels, and she just seemed 100% uncomfortable in it, hollowing her back and inverting her neck. I can't say I was much more comfortable either-for the first time in my life, I was very uncomfortable with short stirrups and felt like I was flopping all over her back at the trot; cantering was out of the question.
On a whim, I asked for permission and tried Diana's synthetic Abetta Western saddle on Lily. It's very light (maybe 15 lbs?) and small, with rounded skirts and a 15" seat. My fear was that having a Western saddle on would make Lily have a flashback to the cowboy days, so I lunged her for a couple of minutes with the saddle before getting on. She had absolutely no reaction, so I got on.
The ride was a huge success. She performed as well as she did in Judy's dressage saddle, giving me her snappy trot, and collecting when asked to. I was thrilled.
Our next ride was actually our first ride with Diana! I have known her for 2 years, and had not yet actually seen her on a horse, not even her own. We went on a trail ride to the park, and had a great time. She's a nice rider, and after 5 years together, her and Bali have an obvious partnership and trust. I love watching pairs like them-it's like they're one entity, a centaur.
Since Diana rode in her Western saddle for the occassion, I borrowed Dianne's black Circle Y Western saddle that she used to use on Pink. It also fit Lily well, and despite being heavier than Diana's (probably just under 17 lbs) Lily still didn't care about it on her back. It was like riding on a sofa-it has a nice cushy memory foam seat, and I actually liked NOT being able to feel every single little thing that Lily was doing underneath me. I remembered why I used to prefer training horses in Western saddles. I'd switch to my old close contact only when I knew I could trust the horse or if it was something gaited, like a Paso Fino.
So I've continued riding her Western. I figure it's good practice for the Alta Escuela, which is also heavier in weight than a regular dressage saddle, has a wider twist more like a Western saddle, and also initially feels like you're sitting higher above the horse. She has performed almost as well in Dianne's Western in the arena as in Diana's, so I now have 2 saddles to choose from in the meantime.
|Lily goes Western|
|I took the noseband off, permanently for now. She really doesn't need it, and it's been so hot, I'd rather she have as little stuff on her as possible.|