Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Thursday, March 13, 2014

In the Arena #155 - If the good lord's willing and the creek don't rise...

Indications that life is finally back to normal again: (five long months since the big snap)(in order of increasing importance)

3. Fully employed once again. I'm back to swinging the heavy hedge trimmer, manhandling the trencher/edger machine and slinging sodden bags of mulch. I've never been so happy to be so tired at the end of the day.

*It seems like recovering from immobilizing of a limb for so long is trickier than a broken bone + surgery. The arm looks and feels normal now. My hand is still regaining lost muscle, and the numbness slowly receding.

2. All chores are being achieved single-handedly, and in a timely manner. I can move hay bales, empty feed bags, and best of all, give Val a thorough trim, two-handed, and solo.

*This last development is important for a few reasons, so humor me while I digress...

Our last farrier visit didn't go smoothly. At all. Disclaimer: it was wretchedly cold, and Val hadn't had his monthly Pentosan shot, (we were waiting for the compounding pharmacy to get it back in stock), so he was uncomfortable.

My farrier arrived in a hurry and stressed out. This was a perfect storm of not-goodness. Val and W got into a battle of wills which ended up with my horse refusing to hold his (arthritic) hinds up, and W manhandling him - cowboy style. (P.S. - Val is an angel when I trim him - every time. And it takes me easily three times as long.)

I know that W believes in how he handles horses. I know that he is an equine professional, with many more years of experience than I have. I am respectful of both of those facts.

I also know my horse - better than anyone else on this earth. He is never just randomly an a$$ for the hell of it. If he acts up, it's because he hurts or he's scared. The last time I didn't listen to my gut about what was best for my horse, I ended up with a broken arm, Val suffered a laminitic episode, and my life was basically turned upside down.

So - I gave Val a full trim Tuesday, knowing we were seeing the farrier this week. I'm planning to pay W for a consultation, and guidance on any corrections. This is how things will be from now on. I can continue learning about trimming, and W will be around if troubles crop up that I can't handle.

1. Best for last! Back in the saddle for real - post injury rides 2 and 3 this week. It feels so good to be on my horse again. SO good.

I'm riding bareback. Val's topline is non-existent, and his saddle won't be comfy until we build it back up. My goal is simply to increase our fitness slowly, at the walk for now, and focus on biomechanics (mine) and Val moving out with energy. Most importantly, me being clear and consistent with my requests and aids, and Val responding immediately and softly.

So far so good, with some fluid turns on the forehand and backing. Val seems very happy for things to get back to normal. He gave me a nice grooming during post-ride tack cleaning the other day. Later on he happily cantered back from the far end of the grazing pen when I called, bouncing to a stop right in front of me with a satisfied snort. Supreme cuteness.

Arena footing - perfect

Lady - you best be retrieving a cookie!

Check out the lipstick on my goofball of a pony

It feels like we've got an opportunity for a fresh start. And there aren't any funds in the foreseeable future for lessons or clinics. I'm going to have to dig deep, step up to the plate, pull on the big girl panties... etc. I've begun to quell the anxiety that built up from not riding for so long and sustaining a horse related injury. I've reorganized goals and priorities to be more realistic. I'm hoping to regain the joy that riding my horse should be all about.

One day at a time...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

In the Arena #154 - Laissez le bons temps rouler!!

Happy Fat Tuesday! Don't know about you all, but I'm giving up complaining about the weather for lent, which doesn't start until tomorrow so.... I AM F*CKING OVER IT!

There - I feel better. Time to catch up.

After the less than encouraging set of x-rays in January, I researched homeopathic remedies for bone growth, and ate those babies by the fistful. At the final appointment (!) Dr. Dreamy cleared my arm for regular activities and raved over the plentiful new bone.

So, the arm is mostly back to normal. There were issues with my hand feeling weak, and with a scary amount of numbness once I ditched the brace, but that's improving daily. The broken arm saga is officially over. Bye-bye Dr. D... parting is such sweet sorrow.

That was right about the time the most recent bout of cold + wind + snow/sleet/freezing rain-fest started. I have (finally) returned to work - weather permitting. I love my job (landscaping) but making a living has been trying lately. Too many days we can't work, and too many when we can work, that are super miserable to spend outdoors.

Yep. That's my girl in a flowery hooded doggy raincoat. SO excited to wear it (not)...

This past Sunday brought a brief visit from the golden orb in the sky - finally time to hop on the pony. First ride since October. I tacked Val up with the bareback pad and scrambled on - admittedly a little apprehensive about putting my full weight on the arm. It felt so good to be on my horse - I threw my arms around his neck and gave him a giant squeezing hug. Thought bubble over Val's head said 'Oh - get on with it lady!'

We happily tooled around the arena, did some circles and turns on the forehand, but mostly - we tested out our new tack acquisition. Val now officially sports a Micklem Competition.

Disclaimer: There is no room in the budget for indulgent tack purchases here. Nor do I believe in changing tack every time you encounter a problem. However, everything I have read - much of it from you my fellow bloggers - suggested that this bridle would be a good fit for Val. I've always thought he had issues with the noseband on his old bridle, and getting him to accept contact has been a struggle. With Smartpak's generous return policy in mind, I went for it.

The Micklem is anatomically designed to be comfortable on the facial nerves, and to stabilize the bit in the horse's mouth. Also, Val has a big tongue and a low palate. All three times he has worn it, he was chewing to beat the band, and made lovely lipstick. The turns on the forehand Sunday were like butter. I'll need a few more rides in it to confirm, but I have high hopes that some of what I assumed was bad riding might have been discomfort. Fingers crossed.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about this year's garden (theoretically), and a project related to some new additions - coming soon to a farmette near you!

Handsome - even with the yak hair
My favorite view

ummmmm - cookie please!!
 ♥♥♥ (hehe - forelock resembles a toupe)
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