Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In the Arena # 82 - Control issues

From the Farmette # 2 - 24 hour news cycle

One of my favorite things about riding / horsemanship is how I am consistently reminded about the many aspects of my personality which need improvement. Patience (lack of), self control (lack of), ability to tolerate frustration(lack of)... it's a long list.

Friday started off cool, overcast and breezy - perfect for riding - oh I wanted to play hookie (sp) from work. By the time I made it up to the barn however, it had cleared off into a sticky and sweltering afternoon. Well too bad - I was at the barn, last ride was on Monday, we were going to ride. (add stubborn to that list) When I finished grooming I was soaked. I tacked Val up, applied plenty of fly spray - and off we went. Sort of. He was less than motivated, I was uber uptight, and we degenerated pretty quickly into a no steering, no forward, balky mess. No unicorns or rainbows here. I dismounted and got my sh#t together on the ground (had a little big 'ol hissy fit).

The upshot - I was hot, uncomfortable and most importantly feeling overwhelmed with non-horse related concerns. (more on those later...) I was neither able to control my body or my emotions. I couldn't concentrate, and basically had no business being on my horse. I also couldn't leave things with Val like they were, unresolved. After much deep breathing (and a few tears) I remounted and salvaged our ride. We did some very nice trot work, especially the 15m circles - round in both directions - and I worked on relaxing my ankles while posting. Add some crisp transitions and we ended on a good note.

After work comes pampering. A cool rinse + minty fresh liniment, drinks from the hose, green grass and then it was dinner time - the best time of the whole day (besides breakfast time). Thank goodness horses are patient with us humans, that's all I can say.

Sweaty all over 

Fun with the hose

Refreshingly handsome!


Yesterday's ride went tons better. Until the gun shots that is. I had just worked through some reluctance to pass close to the neighbors property when blam blam blam - extremely close by gun shots happened unexpectedly. Val and Cowboy both bolted - expectedly. I stayed on. I think my very stern hollering to the neighbor convinced Val that I had the situation under control. 

Me "What the hell?! I'm trying to ride my horse over here!"
The neighbor, "I'm shooting a snake! Water Moccasin!". 
Me, "Did you hit him?" 
Neighbor, "Not yet!"
Me, "How many shots do you need?!"
Neighbor, deciding to have a sense of humor, "Maybe a few more!"

I dismounted and led Val over to the very closest spot by the fence and waited. After each gunshot I fed him a cookie. Training opportunity = bribery. ;) Once the neighbor finally dispatched the snake, or ran out of ammo, I led Val back to the mounting block. He swung his butt out so I force marched him around a few times. We proceeded to have a lovely ride. I focused on draping my legs while still giving effective aids, and we achieved the start of some bend - I could just see Val's inner eye. More successfully round 15m circles, work on our big walk, and turns on the forehand. Attitude is everything in riding.


On to news of the farmette. Fixing to have ten tons of peppers. Weeding, weeding, weeding. Still no rain, so lots of hand watering. I found some blossom end rot on the first little green tomatoes. Usually a sign of lack of calcium exacerbated by drought conditions / uneven watering. Solution - powdered milk. Who'd have thunk? :)

So - there is some really big news. I think I have found a way to live on my property sooner rather than later. In a decent sized travel trailer one of my landscaping clients owns. I've been eyeing it for a while. The owner mentioned the other day that he would be moving it soon. I took a chance and asked what he was doing with it and he offered it to me. Super affordable price and terms. 

This changes everything. As in I'd be getting out from under paying rent + mortgage thereby saving a bigger down payment for building my house - which will likely need to be huge. As in no more commute to the barn two or three times a day - fuel savings and more riding! As in just about all my stuff will have to go into storage - time to seriously minimize.

It's a ton to think about. Lots of decisions and logistics to work out. First step is inspecting the trailer. Then I'll have to figure out the storage situation. I'll probably need to get a small out building for studio space and extra storage. And I have to make sure I can be comfortable for several years in a tin can. With two dogs :)

There is even more news that I'm not at liberty to mention yet - stay tuned... (I think I need a drink!)


  1. Being with and riding our horses can usually put things into perspective. I like that you got off and dealt with your emotions and then returned to the saddle and had a good ride.

    Seems like you've got a lot going on and I'm curious about even more news coming. Hope it all works out for you with the trailer. It seems like a good idea but only you'll know what's right for you and the dogs.

  2. Wow! That was one jam-packed post! I think living on your land, even if it has to be in a small space for now, sounds fabulous. "More riding" is all the selling points that I need. Go for it!

  3. Great post! I have been there - driven to tears when I was forcing the issue and shouldn't have been near a horse. So glad you got it together and had a good ride and hosing for Val. That neighbor story is funny - now - not so funny while you are waiting until the shots end. Great thinking with treats for training.

    Hooray for you getting to live on your land. Good luck - can't wait to hear more! Stay cool.

  4. I'm with Vall up there. The closer to the horse the better. It soulnd like you could possibly save a lot of cash too!
    I am sorry that you were so stressed out, but happy that you were able to pull it together and end on a positive note. We all have days like that. Looking forward to hearing about the new "news".

  5. Wow! You have lots of stuff going on!! Very exciting! Things are falling into place. :-) Loved those hose pictures!

  6. Good luck with the decisions.

  7. Grr cliffhanger. Evil!

    How exciting about the trailer though. That would be fantastic for you to be at home and not paying rent. :D Good luck with the inspection and storage problems.

    Way to go using the gunshots as a short training session. :) It sounds like he did fantastic once he was calm again.

  8. I laughed my butt off at your first paragraph - not like I can relate to THAT or anything! ;) The news about your potential move is very, very exciting! Pretty awesome, in fact! Keep us posted, for sure.

  9. I could (and should) read the first part of your post again and again. You caught so clearly that moment of recognizing where your own frustration was taking you and your horse and hitting the reset button. The great thing about doing that is how much is helps you, even when the focus may be directed more to helping the horse. Thanks for writing it.

    And I'm a CFS junkie, so I've got to hear the breaking news as it happens.

  10. Love your stopping to reset and reframe things. I tend to get crazy on the ground as opposed to in the saddle, so usually I just make the call that it's a no riding day when I get wiggy. That you could do all that while hot and sweating is very impressive!

    I'm dying to know the news. How much more can there BE? So exciting - and I'm eager to hear what you decide and what else is going on!

  11. Great post. I had a ride like your initial one recently and also had to re-group, do something simple and call it a day earlier than planned before the frustration undid both Rogo and I.
    I love the idea of you being able to live on your land in a trailer. I once lived for 11 years in a tiny one bedroom log cabin with my dog and cats. My friends tease me about loving small spaces. Currently we're getting a travel trailer ready to put on our new land, as a palce to stay while we work on it.
    Sorry about your dry weather. too bad I can't send you some of our rain. It's so wet here (Nova Scotia) that some farmers can't plant.
    Can't wait to hear more news.

  12. I really, really hope the trailer works out for you! That would be awesome.

    Regarding the beginning of your post: been there, done that at least 8,000 times. It's part of being human I think. I'm impressed that you were able to pull it together and salvage a nice ride out of the wreckage.

  13. Good job turning the shooting range into a training situation! :D

    The travel trailer sounds like it might be awesome. Downsizing your stuff sounds like a horrible chore with an awesome end result!

  14. What a dynamic post! so many interesting things going on. I am always so glad to hear I am not the only one who can be emotional and at times unfocused on horseback. Whew.. Good to have some company there. And yegads, a water moccasin! And gunshots! Your post could daily be an episode in a John Wayne series!! I'm awfully curious about this trailer ! maybe you will post a picture!

  15. Awww..Gabe does the same thing with the hose and wanting to drink from it. I'm just not quite talented enough to hold camera, hose and get pics all at the same time.

    I've made it a point to make sure my horses are all completely gun-proof. As redneck as this makes me sound, I regularly stand on the deck and fire a few rounds from the .12, .17 and .22 (they all sound different). At first the horses didn't know what to think but didn't freak out TOO much. A little bolting and snorting was about it. Now, they don't even flinch, even when I fire the biggest, loudest shotgun.

    Good luck on getting onto your property sooner rather than later! How exciting.

  16. I like the cookie vs. gunshot incentive. I've used it for other things and have found it to be very effective. :)

    And I am with you on all of those personality "gifts" that do not contribute to calm rides. On the other hand, Bar has been one of the best therapists I've ever had precisely because he doesn't care how screwed up the health care industry is. "Just get on and ride," he says. "It will all be the same tomorrow."

  17. Just came across you blog, and wow! Seems we had the same idea in mind, to buy a farmette and someday build a house! Like you, we bought a trailer to use on site, however unfortunately it gets WAY too cold here to live in over the winter. So we still own the city house and drive out.

    But someday, like you, we hope to live there on the land, and grow some produce and ride our horses. Keep up the adventure!


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