"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Trot On!!

Schneider's posted that one on their Facebook page, and I just had to share, because I think it's so accurate...especially in my own personal life! *lol* Though I can now substitute "What I actually do" for this:

Cuz we're on full board now (no more needing to shovel poop, though this will mean I will have to start hitting the gym for real again...) and this is really what we felt like today. Like we were Edward Gal and Totilas. :D

That still falls under the category of "What I think I do", but whatever. *lol*

Today I brought Lily in from the medical paddock and tacked her up in one of the wash rack stalls. I'm not sure why, but she hates the wash rack. I'm going to just have to leave her tied there one day while I clean tack across the way or something, to just allow her to get used to it in peace.

I think part of it is that she can't see the other horses when she's tied there. She kept fidgeting restlessly, pooping nervously, and trying to look behind herself. All that is behind her is a wall. Granted, John was picking up manure with the excavator down the aisle next door, and maybe the roar of heavy machinery was reverberating from the wall behind her. But even after John was done, Lily kept fidgeting. However, if I walked away, she got worse, and the ladies talking and tacking up in the wash stall area expressed their concern when I came back from fetching my bridle from my locker. After that I stayed, and Lily reduced her wiggling to simply side passing from left to right and back again.

"I know there are horse-eating monsters behind that wall, Mom!"

I groomed her and got her tacked up, then walked her into the indoor. She was very forward at the walk, trying to walk in front of me, and I had to stop her and have her back up a couple of times on the way to the mounting block. However, once I was on, she was back to being her usual laid-back self, even when John drove the excavator in by the stalls at the far end to pick up manure. Lily didn't care.

A small group of boarders gathered at the gate to the indoor to watch us, as everyone had been dying to see Lily go. I warmed her up as usual at the walk, then had her move up into a trot. Definetely a medium trot. I had her do shoulder-ins at the trot in both directions, which proved to be a lot easier for her than back at the arena in FL. No more tail swishing when asking for it either, and the only time she lost momentum was when I lost the strength to hold myself up and out of her way. BIG improvement in her, and I've done nothing to cause it-she had a 3 week break, and all I did today was basically stay with her without interfering. I think part of it is also that my own body has had a 2 week break from my grueling work schedules which means that for the first time in a very long time, nothing hurts, nothing is tight, so it's a thousand times easier to flow with her.

We did our leg-yield serpentine at a walk, from one end of the arena to the other and back, then halt, and up into a trot. Lily's trot was FORWARD. Not fast with quick little steps-FORWARD. Down the long side of the arena, around the corner, and across the diagonal, and holy Batman-today she came the closest she has ever come to giving me real extensions. She arched her neck happily, ears relaxed, and surged up and forward. It felt like Lily had grown an extra hand, and I could feel her front legs flipping forward and up. Not only that, I never had to change the beat of my posting to maintain her going like this-I was actually getting a split second pause at the top of the posting motion, her stride was THAT long. I don't think I've ever felt this in any horse I've ridden before. We kept going around the opposite corner, and off across the diagonal again. We did this several times, just because we could, me grinning like an idiot.

We did other things, adding circles at each end of the arena before crossing the diagonal again, and then we took a walk break. I did some collected trot with her and more trot-halt-trot transitions, then finished with a long walk on a loose rein.

Everybody said Lily looked good and asked me how did she feel. I said she felt fantastic! I know the Simple Boots probably have something to do with this change as well-even when walking next to me with them on, she is definetely landing heel first, which I'm sure is contributing to this wonderful new trot of hers. No one ooohed and aaahed over her wonderful extended trot, so I'm assuming we didn't look like Edward and Totilas after all... *lol*

I untacked her in the wash rack, then moved her to one of the cross ties in the barn aisle, where she immediately stood still -no fidgeting- while I put away her tack and got out her brushes. I gave her a good grooming, then took her outside for a walk. Jose, one of the stable hands, was blowing the area in front of the gate to the medical paddock, so I took Lily to the outdoor arena, and we practiced walking over the bridge again, then having her wait, standing there, until I gave her permission to come to me.

Such a good girl!!
 I then took her over to this, which was a much greater challenge:

It is kind of a see-saw concept. Only about 2.5' wide, when a horse steps on one end, the opposite end does come up about an inch or two from the ground. Lily did not want to walk on it at all and tried to play dumb, but I treated the situation like we were practicing trailer loading on a ramp, and rewarded her every time she put a foot on the boards. Soon, she was crossing diagonally over the see-saw, all 4 feet touching it, and after that I was able to get her to walk over it length-wise. She pricked her ears and put her head down when she saw the opposite side of the see-saw come up a bit, but she walked forward without prompting. I had her stop right after, and praised her profusely. We left it at that.

We then walked and trotted over ground poles, and kind of just hung out in the arena. She would occassionally stare at the horses in the turnouts, but she was much more relaxed than the day before, and soon she wasn't paying the horses around her any mind at all. Hopefully I can ride her in the outdoor sometime soon-it's supposed to get warmer this weekend.

Pretty girl!
We never did get snow last night, only some rain in Alexandria. It dropped into the 20s last night, but both Lily and I are enjoying the cold. I'm still mystified that she is not showing the slightest hint of a winter coat, when last year I had to body clip her between September and October. Today it was in the low 50s when I arrived at the barn at 11:00am, and Lily had been turned out with her stable blanket. When I took her into the barn to groom her and tack up, I discovered she had just a hint of sweat around her shoulders from the blanket. In my case, I was wearing a thermal shirt and a cotton turtleneck, plus a lightly insulated jacket-first time since we got here that I've worn less than 4 layers!- and I ended up taking off the jacket while I was grooming Lily. I didn't feel the need to put it back on until shortly before leaving, when the temperature started to drop again. Meanwhile, all of the other boarders, the vast majority of them northerners, were wearing jackets and hoodies...and I'm the one that hails from a tropical climate. And Charles didn't believe me when I told him I'd get used to the cold a lot quicker than I could ever get used to the heat I'd lived in my entire life. *lol* We stopped by the barn the night before Dr. O's recheck to wrap Lily's foot one last time, and Charles, wearing 2 jackets, a wool cap, and my gloves, was shivering while I did Lily's bandage, happy and comfortable in my one jacket (Yes, I had 3 layers under the jacket, but all of them were thin layers). I didn't let him hear the end of that one for a few days! ;)

After our little bit of groundwork, I turned Lily out, then brought Beauty, the little black pony mare, out to keep her company. Initially, Beauty had chased Lily, always making sure Lily stayed at the opposite end of the paddock. Everyone seemed to be a lot more bothered by this than Lily and me. Lily is used to being the subordinate, and as long as the other horse isn't actively trying to hurt her, she has no problem respecting their wishes. BQ and I watched Lily get chased by Beauty the other day to her corner of the field, then Lily proceeded to run around and buck several times happily, simply enjoying the fact that she was out and free. I knew this about my mare, and I actually preferred that Beauty wasn't being sweet to Lily (as long as she wasn't beating her up), as it would mean my girl would become herdbound otherwise.

The mares' relationship has changed over the past couple of days, however-Beauty, who used to prefer geldings turned out with her, has suddenly stopped occassionally chasing Lily, and they are now coexisting peacefully. I stayed to watch after I put Beauty out, and saw her walk over to Lily. They looked at each other for a minute, then Beauty walked on past Lily, without pinning her ears at her at all. Lily gave her a certain degree of personal space, but she is not being relegated to the opposite end of the paddock any more. I went back to the barn to clean my tack, and this is what I found when I walked out to the car.

Grazing only about 5 feet apart
Yup, they are definetely friends now.

I left the barn at 2:00pm and still managed to get stuck in the very beginnings of traffic on 495. But the reward for waiting to take the GW is always worth it:

As a kid, October was my favorite month because even in Texas, this was the height of autumn. I had missed this so, so much. I don't think I could ever tire of seeing the golden, red and copper trees of fall.

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