Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Thursday, January 3, 2013

In the Arena #136 - ...but if you try sometime, you just might find...

Between Christmas and New Years (my Dad and) I built and hung doors on my old boarder's run in shed, turning it into a second and much needed hay / tool storage building. Top capacity is now 120 bales on site - 150 being our yearly consumption. My inner hay hoarder is (almost) satisfied.

looks like Dad did all the work, but I wielded power tools too

Completing that project allowed me to clean out the other half of my studio, and bring everything to the farm from the storage unit I had rented since moving into the Shimmy Shack. Big savings, much more convenient, and I'm simply overjoyed to have yet another reason to justify kicking out the boarders. (I also feel better not storing hay in the same building I use a torch and kiln in... hel-lo!) 

Val and I ended 2012 with a bareback ride. Prompt response to the aids and smooth steering were our goals, which we achieved in an enjoyable and easygoing ride. My neighbor stopped by and shot a few pictures for us.

putting squeezers on him

We began 2013 with a morning ride. My plan to groom Val while ground tied proved challenging, with him being super wiggly, and ultimately taking advantage of my turned back to flee to the far corner of the arena, giving me his best "I'm naughty but also very cute" face. I brought him back, smiling, doing circles, halts and backing as we returned. Val relaxed and relented, staying put for the remainder of tacking up. I was proud of him. It was windy and hunting season is in full swing.

The rest of the session was like a (very good) dream. While I focused on yogic breathing - deep, regular and audible - we worked on the buckle. We stayed that way much longer than usual. I let Val tell me when he was warmed up. He did this by snorting and deeply breathing as he stretched down and gave me a swinging walk.

I focused on keeping my seat bones even and over Val's long back muscles, which basically prevents me from collapsing my right side and shortening my right leg. My other task was to press the saddle gently forward into Val's withers, which is to say keep my weight on my triangle, seat bones and pubic bone equally. I think it has to do with the tilt of the pelvis... counteracting a chair seat.

As we worked on a few school figures, the thought floated through my head that it might be a good day for trot work. Val immediately picked up a trot. I was shocked, promptly ruining the moment by posting on the wrong diagonal, but the feeling was still awesome. I finished up by working on trot transitions in the non-telepathic way, and we called it a day.

The remainder of the first day of the year was similarly fruitful. After shucking the last of the holiday oyster bushel in preparation for making oyster stew, I loaded the last twenty four bales of hay waiting in my trailer into the new storage space. Next, a thorough cleaning of the trailer, collecting all the loose hay for evening feeding. I organized Val's blankets and blanket bins, and returned them to the spic and span trailer, which is an excellent place to store, hang and air out blankets between wearings. As the light faded and a cold rain began to fall, I delivered a bucket of steaming mash studded with apple slices out to the barn. What a good boy.

one for the stew, one for my belly...

the best oysters have delicious crabs in them

I avoided doing a blow by blow ode to 2012 post on New Year's eve. Mostly because there were so many really disappointing aspects to the year... very tight finances, putting my dearest Sweetpea to sleep, yet another hurricane disrupting everyone's lives and destroying our road for the second time in a year, ugly, public confrontations with my boarders + a family member that made me physically ill. Worst of all, the nagging feeling that desire and passion are not enough to progress in dressage when you are on your own...

finally got the road "back" on 12.21 - to be continued... I tacked up my horse and rode anyway. I've heard that how you spend the first day of the year reflects the way your year will develop. I hope this is true, as I had one of the best, most productive days I can ever remember. Happy New Year indeed.


  1. Sounds like an amazingly productive New Years Day. I'm struggling to get back into a routine after jetlag & the holidays :-(

  2. Love what you've done with the run in shed. I'm with you- you can never have too much hay!

    It does sound like you and Val had a productive and fun time on New Year's day. I'm sure it will carry over into the new year. The saying does go something like, whatever you do on New Year's day you'll do all year long.

    You didn't have a great 2012 in some aspects but you've always got Val to help you through. You truly are a wonderful team. Best of everything to you, your Dad and all the critters in 2013!

  3. I SO relate to your inner hay hoarder, Jason and I are both hay hoarders. We have two large hay barns and can store 300 round bales in them. We are ALWAYS wishing we could build one more hay barn . . . the things we hay hoarders dream about!! Know that someone in Tennessee is jealous of your expanded hay storage!

  4. Yay hay hoarders club! Lovely renovation on the shed, and those oysters look delish! How I miss fresh seafood...

    I hope your 2013 is a wonderful year - it certainly seems like it's off to a good start!

  5. Don't you love telepathic horses?

    I hope 2013 is a better year for you, I think 2012 was a tough year for a lot of us.

  6. I covet your beautiful shed! I think all horse people are hay hoarders...its in the genes.

    I must ask, crabs in oysters? I didn't see a crab in the oyster, what am I missing? *spoken like a true Midwesterner who has NEVER seen a fresh oyster in her life*

  7. I loved reading your blog! Val is GORGEOUS! I'm hooked! ^.^

    ~A new follower

  8. Jenn -

    The round things with reddish brown stripes are tiny crabs, about the size of your thumbnail. They are still alive, a sign that the oysters are healthy, and are very delicious. :D

  9. SammyJo -
    Thanks for stopping by and following!

  10. hahaha, "my inner hay hoarder" made me laugh :)

    It seems that when things go wrong in life, spending some time with a beloved horse is one of the best ways to seek comfort or gain a more positive perspective on life. Wishing you great rides and the utmost horse happiness in 2013!

  11. Don't you just love those days when everything goes right and so much gets done without even trying?! Sounds like your first day of the year was like that! Val is super cute in your photos! Congratulations on the hay storage area and the perfect 2012 ending bareback ride.

  12. Wait, I LOVE oysters and what in the FRACK is a tiny crab doing inside?! gag!! Is that true??
    By the way, Val has a beautiful CHEST, it's so wide and strong looking. I LOVE LOVE that picture of you giving squeezes to him. His neck is beautifully arched,sunshine-oh it's a keeper!

  13. And why are you not posting that oyster recipe? It sounds yummy!

    Good stuff, the yoga breathing and position work. I've been working on the same things, myself. It's a good concentration for the winter months, when riding is a little too inconsistent for hard training.

    Here's hoping 2013 kicks 2012's arse!

  14. Our horses are on dry lot all the time -- no pasture in S. Calif. either. We don't limit the time they have with the tree but there are four horses plus two donkeys so they have to share. There is one variety of Christmas tree that can be toxic so you might google what you get and double check. We get Noble firs here and they are safe.

  15. Very lovely C~
    I see your Thinline is still working. I must get mine back from sis. Val is so in tune with your energy...think it, and it happens!

    I know 2012 was rough...nothing to get excited about posting for me. You though, wowee, I'm living vicariously through your Farmette life!
    Here's to a brand new year, full of changes, beginnings, endings of bad habits...and life worth living BIG!



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