Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In the Arena #41 - Looking a gift horse in the mouth

It been busy around here with holiday preparations / obligations so this post will attempt to catch up on the news. I had a real lesson in barn ownership over the weekend. Turned on the hose Saturday night and no water came out. Bummer! It wasn't frozen, we're thoroughly winterized, so likely there was a problem with the well pump. It was dark and pouring freezing rain, so I had to wait until Sunday to discover that the pump was indeed history - seized up. Can't think of anything I'd rather do than handle cold metal pipes and cold metal tools out in the cold - fun! The morning was spent replacing the pump (and freezing) with my Dad, who luckily is such a handy man. Mechanics, carpentry electric and plumbing - he can do it all. Problem solved, and no toting water... yea! Dad - you're the best :)

It was more complicated than it looks

Today was the bright spot in the weather forecast for the week... time to saddle up, or not saddle up and ride bareback as the case may be :)

As I was preparing to mount, Val wiped his muzzle up and down my leg, with his mouth open. It seemed strange, so I inspected further. He had some blood on his front upper gum line - just a tinge. I'm planning on some warm salt water rinses for a few days. I have recently contacted a new dentist, and am in the process of scheduling an appointment. He's not due until April but my gut feeling is the sooner the better. I'm still not convinced that some of our turning difficulty hasn't got to do with dental / tmj issues. Thanks to Kate at A Year With Horses for setting me on the path to finding a more enlightened horse dentist.


Do I get extra cookies for courage?!
It was just a little distracting down at the barn today. Let's see... the neighbor was working in his yard (power tools of course) which always seems to include yelling (a lot at the top of his lungs) at his dogs. Yelling at his dogs who came crashing through the woods and spooked Val. Apparently it's easier to ride out a spook bareback because I swear, I didn't even realize it had happened until it was over. I continue to be impressed with the benefits of bareback riding.

Next came the yowling feral cat bursting out from the woods. A minor prelude to the little button buck bouncing around just outside of the arena. Why was he out in the open, so bravely, so uncharacteristically you ask? Well maybe, because my boarder's mom decided to chum him and his deer buddies up with piles of corn. I figured this out while the boarder family were at my place over the weekend for a holiday open house. (As they arrived they managed to let my Jack Russell terror run out the front door - it took half an hour to catch her!)

Over holiday punch I happened to mention that Val had been extremely distracted for a few days. Distracted to the point of dropping hot mash out of his mouth and tearing off to the far end of his paddock where he stood and stared for hours. Distracted to the point that one morning when I arrived at the barn no water and barely any hay had been touched overnight. "Oh, he's probably seeing the deer. I've been feeding them. I want to touch that little one!" Needless to say, no more corn at the barn. Special prize was awarded for self control...

But I digress... despite all of the commotion, we still managed to focus and get some nice work done. Most of the work was getting Val to pay attention to me and move forward. We did some pretty turns on the forehand, and the contact again seemed improved - another no glove ride. Afterwords we did some work in the backup arena - located smack in the middle of the bermuda triangle of horse eating monsters. I could tell Val wanted to get excited, but I firmly kept his mind on me. As I began some in hand trot work he popped up a little bit and scooted around, but all it took was a firm voice to get him back on track. Val did beautifully! I was so proud of my horse today. His reward was some grazing on the tiny patch of grass I still have, a pocketful of gingersnap and all my love. What a good boy!

Happy Holidays!!


  1. awwww good Val! Seems counter-intuitive that the bareback would be easier in a spook BUT I guess you do have to have your seat in the bareback pad, don't you? We are patiently waiting for good riding weather ourselves. Merry Christmas and God bless.

  2. Thanks for the Christmas wishes Rachel - right back at you! Love the tunes at your blog btw :)

  3. Love your Christmas lights and star on the barn. Merry Christmas to you and your critters. I'm sure Dad is getting something very special this year, what a great guy.

  4. You sure get the award for patience! Thank goodness you had help with the well pump. Thank you for your holiday wishes, and many to you, also.

    The black dog photo on your sidebar reminds us very much of our 1st dog (Star) when he was a senior. <3xo

  5. You're lucky to have such a great father!
    I've been on Savanah (our draft cross) bareback a couple of times when she's spooked (cantering through the woods, in the 'scary' corner of the riding ring) and was amazing at how I stayed with her. I think it's because when riding bareback our center of gravity is really attached to theirs, so we just move with them? Anyway, it's a great feeling. Good for you! I tried bareback on Rogo once and will get longed the next time I try :) (wasn't terrible, but he wouldn't obey the aids).

  6. Lots of frustrations you had to deal with, but what a lovely ride on your boy. I'm sold. I want one of those bareback pads and I'm getting one!

  7. I love reading about the trials and tribulations of barn/horse ownership when they have already happened and resolved with no lingering issues. :)

    Happiest of holidays to you! If you get a chance, email me about the dentist. I am on a similar path and would love to exchange notes.


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