- Beta Grip Reins, also from The Distance Depot.
- EasyCare Stowaway Pommel Pack in Royal Blue (which happens to match our DayGlo blue accoutrements...) from The Riding Warehouse. This pack is compatible with both Western and English saddles; I chose it on purpose because I figured it HAD to be compatible with the Alta Escuela, which is kind of a hybrid between the two. It WORKS!!
I was wearing my new Tuffrider Unifleece Knee Patch Breeches, also from The Riding Warehouse. They are half the price of the Kerrits fleece breeches, and I discovered the fleece on them is even thicker! Very nice breeches for the price. (Regarding all of these super cool horsey gifts, Charles told me, "This is the budget, get whatever you want!" :) )
He also got me an Oh! Chair from The Container Store just so I could be more comfortable when writing for y'allz. I'd been sitting in the awesomeness below to work at the computer. The seat is surprisingly comfortable, but the angle of the backrest was killing my back:
Other awesome things we scored for Christmas: some really cool fleece-lined knit wool arm warmers from Kathy (Kathy loves to crochet and at the beginning of the fall, I'd asked if she might be able to make arm warmers; she had started a pair but decided to just get them for me since she was nowhere near close to finishing them. LOVE these!), an Amphipod iPhone holder from Phoebe (she really hit the nail on the head with this; I'd been wanting something along these lines for exercising and solo rides where I'm just listening to music, but had not mentioned it to anyone!), a bag of candies from Sally, and our BO handed out bags with a bottle of wine (mine is Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon) along with a bag of mints and a bag of baby carrots for each boarder's horse. (Isn't that sweet? What BO does that??)
Back to today: Phoebe is slowly making a comeback to riding and had asked about coming along with us for a short trail ride around the back woods. We were fine up until the moment we were going to turn around at the road crossing that leads to the soybean farm. Deja, Phoebe's Arabian, has mad shaking skills and can shake like a dog even while trotting...she shook while walking and totally torqued Phoebe's tender back. Phoebe decided to turn around and insisted we continue on. We had been planning on turning around at that point anyway, but Kathy and I decided to continue instead.
We rode all the way out to Four Corners and took the road to the right. We were going to ride all the way around the corn field at the end like we did on our last long ride, but the sun was setting rapidly and the temperature dropping even faster. I suggested turning around before we reached the end of the road and Kathy agreed.
Lily had not been worked in a week - between the holiday, bad weather, and a crazy work schedule (I worked 7 days straight flipping from days to nights with only a day off inbetween), she was not ridden at all last week. Assuming she'd be fine because she is on field board, I didn't even bother working her in the arena at liberty prior to riding. As a result, Lily had been very forward all the way out to the trail, and the minute we turned around to return home, she wanted to haul ass. I told her she was going to walk home and she complied by walking like a crab. We got into an argument where I asked her to go straight. She flung her head around in protest until she managed to get the curb chain on her bit loose. This is one of her favorite "I'm SO PISSED at you!" tricks. I was not going to get off to hook it back on, so I ignored it. When I put my leg on her to straighten her, she said, "Oh! You want me to CANTER?!" and tried to take off. I caught her mid-stride and made her circle. She continued wringing her tail and throwing her head around, getting smacked in the nose with the loose curb chain in such a way that made her even MORE "up" than she already was...I see-sawed gently on the reins (a jumper trick when you have a horse that is trying to snatch the bit from you; it also serves as a distraction) and she brought her head down, chomping on the bit, but stopped tossing her head and slowed down to an impatient walk. I released the pressure but kept a mild contact on the bit.
Kathy had handled Queenie just fine during all of this, making her circle as well while waiting for us to get sorted out.
We made our way back down the dirt road, occasionally making one or the other mare circle or back up as they got impatient with the walking. As we were reaching the end of the road, where it leads onto the path between soybean fields, Lily decided to skeddadle sideways again, smacking me against a bunch of low-hanging branches next to the road. They scraped against my shoulder, leg and face. I pushed her to the side with my leg and she didn't respond. Instead, she bulged against my leg and managed to jig right up to the next set of branches, getting me scraped again. "Lily goddamn it go straight!" I growled. I made her turn around towards the branches and when she started getting super "up" again, I turned her around, facing away from home, and nudged her into a canter. She transitioned straight from a walk and cantered happily up the road. I knew that in this direction Queenie would not be tempted to follow us, and this way Lily would get all of that extra energy out of her system while going AWAY from home.
We cantered for 30 seconds tops, then I asked Lily to halt. She came to a dead halt from the canter. I had her back up a couple of steps, then we turned around. She asked to trot and I let her so we could catch up to Queenie and Kathy again. They had continued on up the dirt road. Lily was really good about staying at a nice fast power-trot all the way back to Queenie without trying to break into a canter or get out of control.
She happily power-walked next to Queenie all the way home on a loose rein after that.
The sun disappeared behind the hills as we entered the back woods. It had been in the high 40's/low 50's when we had left for the trail ride and we had dressed accordingly. We were FRRRREEEZING on our way back!
Kathy had always admired Jamie, one of the exercise riders at our barn, who will ride the horses in her charge out on the trails at dusk and at night without a second thought. Well, we got to ride in near dark today! I told Kathy she could cross another one off the list. :)
Horses have great eyesight, but they are far-sighted. At dusk and dawn, however, they do NOT see well. These are the times when they are most likely to spook (or refuse jumps! Been there done that!) simply because they don't see as well as in full light or full darkness.
As we neared the final stretch of trail in the back woods, I pointed out a herd of deer to Kathy. I wish Lily understood English because 2 seconds later she gave a tremendous startle, splaying her front legs apart and ducking her front end like a cutting horse. She recognized the creatures moving in the twilight as deer, however, and continued on her way. I never even had to tighten my reins.
As we exited the back woods, Lily spooked again and bolted. I spun her around in mid-stride and she immediately settled down. I still have no idea what startled her. Queenie was unfazed, and Kathy and I looked in every direction but saw nothing.
We made it back safe and sound just as the last little bit of light in the sky disappeared and we were wrapped by darkness. Our ride was about 7 miles long, done in somewhere between 1.5-2 hours.
Lily received her warm beet pulp/grain mash while I washed and treated her legs yet again. I put all of her stuff away while her legs dried off and she finished her dinner, then applied MTG to the small scabs remaining on her legs (the old fungal infection is almost gone, but she has more fungus popping up elsewhere on her legs...I'm resigned to fight this battle all winter...) and Desitin to the areas of her feet most likely to get chafed by the moisture/mud/ice.
|Desitin-ed heels and coronet bands.|
I put her lined sheet on for the night, and left to go home and thaw!