Thursday, January 18, 2018

Beach Ride

I've lived in Oregon for over 13 years, and every year I've said I want to ride on the beach but never did.  That changed Sunday.  Our BM just got a shiny new four horse trailer and was planning a trip to the beach to break it in.  They had an extra spot in the trailer so I jumped at the chance to go. It was a perfect day; 60*, mostly sunny, and no wind.

BM on the pinto, her daughter in the middle, and her husband leading their son on the barn's mini
I figured Peebs would be terrified of the water (he was) and didn't know how he'd react to people, dogs, kites, etc found at the beach.  I had taken my bridle apart to clean Saturday and decided I didn't want to deal with two reins if he was a nutcase so I put my bit converter on the pelham and used one rein. And since Peeb's default spooking stance is to put his head straight in the air, I added a standing martingale.  Bonus, the neck strap of the martingale could also be used as an "Oh Shit" strap if I needed it.

What is this place?!
To get to the beach from the parking lot, you have to ride/walk through and over the sand dunes.  I got on at the parking lot but Peebs felt like a keg of dynamite so I elected to hand walk him through the dunes.  He was pretty nervous, and tried walking over me a couple of times.  Once we came down the steep hill to the beach, he seemed so shell shocked that he kinda shut down for a few minutes.  We walked a couple loops and circles till I felt ok getting on.  I used a large driftwood log that Peebs wasn't sure he could stand next too.  He was up and looky while we started down the beach and held it together for a good five minutes or so till a small girl came running and screaming down the dunes right at us.  He slammed on the breaks and wouldn't move so I hopped off and hand walked him in a few circles.  Once he was ok we continued hand walking down the beach behind everyone else.  He was obviously spooked out his mind, but held it together well and never tried to be bad.  Except when I tried to take him into the water.  He was 100% convinced the waves were deadly and noped out of them as quick as he could. Since he was being so good about holding the rest of his shit together I didn't push it.

About half way down the beach he seemed to realize he wasn't going to die, so I found another log and got back on.  He felt fine at that point, but he wouldn't stand still and was marching much faster than the others.  So we did lots of loops and circles in the deeper sand to slow him down and wear him out. He did keep an eye out on all the people and dogs on the beach, but didn't spook after the initial screaming kid. Once we reached the end of the beach and turned around, he seemed to relax, like he knew we were going home. I felt comfortable to ride on the buckle and drop my stirrups for part of the ride. We were still walking faster than the others, but it wasn't the driven march he had before. KT (BM's teenage daughter) and I did a couple trot sets where both horses were very well behaved. I didn't quite trust Peebs enough to let him canter, but hopefully next time we go I will.

We led the group going back up the hill over the dunes towards the trailer.  The trail is narrow with the dunes rising above you and Peebs very much did not like that.  He doesn't like when he can't see around him and was staring to get antsy.  BM's horse had a little meltdown behind us and when I tried to get Peebs to halt and wait for them, he kept dancing sideways and wouldn't stop.  So I got off, got after him about standing still, then hand walked him the two minutes back to the trailer. I was kinda upset that he couldn't make it the last two minutes, but overall he was much better than I expected.  I had anticipated some running sideways, backwards, bolting, but except at the waves he never tried it. And we had been out for over two hours and I can't blame him for hitting his breaking point. I had a ton of fun and can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rise and Grind

Thanks for the comments on my last post.  After putting it out there and talking it out with a friend, I'm in a much better mindset.  I scheduled "my" arena time for this week and the next, and it felt good.  I figured it's also a way to hold myself accountable for my riding.  Like if I'm blocking out the arena for my use, then by god I'm going to use it.  I've got a weekly plan for Peebs in my head with flat days, jump days, and lunge days.

Last Friday when there was supposed to be lessons all day (a couple kids cancelled) I did get up at 4:45 to ride before work. I let our BM know, as she and her family live in the the apartment in the barn.  Her husband usually feeds around 5 and leaves for work at 5:30 so they'd be up anyways.  I got to the barn around 5:20 and was on by 5:40.  We didn't ride long, but had one of our most productive rides in the indoor in a while. I think the fact that the barn was quiet and I had it to myself, let me focus so much more on Peebs and what we needed to work on. I could make circles and figure eights and change directions without having to worry about lesson kids with questionable steering. While I don't want to make 5:30am ride times our normal thing, and looking at the schedule I shouldn't have it, it went a lot better than I thought. Peebs might have other opinions though.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

When Your Happy Place Isn't Happy Anymore

This post is super hard to write, super hard to even think about.  To me, and probably a lot of equestrians, the happiest place on Earth isn't Disney World it's the barn.  It's my second home, my sanctuary, my therapy.  But in the past couple of weeks I've come to realize my happy place isn't making me happy anymore.

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with my horses.  I can not imagine not having Peebs and Cinder.  Peebs is pretty darn close to being even on the list of heart horses with Phoenix. I don't see myself ever selling him.  Cinder is far and away so much more than I imagined a baby would be.  I can't wait to see her develop and be started under saddle.

January 1st marked 11 years that I've been boarding at my barn. So much has changed, but one of things I love most about it, is that it's always been a quiet low key barn.  Even when we had the college team riding, it was never super busy except on practice day once a week. My trainer and a few others come in and give lessons, but there's no resident trainer. But that changed in October. We had an Arabian western pleasure, KH, trainer move 7 horses in, in October and she just moved another two in this month. Most are her own horses, 2 or 3 are client horses in training.  She also gives lessons five day a week.

Before KH moved in Peebs had a double stall.  We had taken a wall down between two stalls.  I wasn't paying for the double stall, but we had room so my BO gave it to me. BO has been cutting back her barn time and letting another boarder become the barn manager, which is fine except BM has had a bit of a steep learning curve.  When BM announced that KH was moving in, she asked about putting Peebs back in a single stall.  I said I was ok with it, since I wasn't paying for the double and BM assured me that she'd try to keep him in a double, and if/when they had to put walls back up he would be the last horse to lose his double stall.  Well, KH moved an "extra" horse into the barn and guess who was the first horse to lose a double stall? Peebs.  And they didn't give me any warning that it was happening, just a text at 8:30pm after they did it.  And it was the night before a show.  I didn't blog about it at the time because I was beyond pissed and couldn't process.  I did send some nasty texts a few days later and after a bit of back and forth BO and BM apologized for how it went down. And they assured me that nothing else would change with KH in the barn. (Side note: a horse moved out that was in a double and Peebs was able to move into it on the 1st)

Only things have really changed. With 9 horses in the barn KH is always there.  There was one day I rode early in the morning and KH showed up at 9am.  When I came back to feed that night she was still riding, having used the arena all day, at 5:30pm.  If I hadn't ridden before 9, I wouldn't have had the arena. She's always doing something, has a horse turned out in the indoor or is riding or teaching. Her dogs are always in the tack room, which she's taken over except for my little corner.  She had little kids and parents asking questions and wanting to play with Cinder when all I want to do is be left alone with my ponies.  She does put her lessons on the board, but the schedule is never correct. I try to time my rides/turnout around her schedule but it's always screwed up. I've been cutting back on my barn time, and ride time because of it and only just noticed.  But once I noticed, it's all I can thing of.

Like I said before, our barn has always been quiet and I've never had to deal with a lesson barn type atmosphere. Its been hard trying to adjust my schedule after having the same one for almost 11yrs. I've talked somewhat with BO and BM and basically my options now are to put my arena time down on the board and schedule myself.  I absolutely hate that idea.  There's not any H/J barns within an hour of me, and I can't afford big barn prices, and I still want to ride with my trainer who doesn't have her own place anymore.  Most of the other boarding barns in the area are either trashy, or out of my price range for two horses.  There's a couple eventing barns local, but I don't want to event. So I'm stuck. I'm not really hopeful that things will change, but until I can find another option, or please sweet baby Jesus KH leaves or gets kicked out, I'll have to come up with some coping strategies. Anyone got some for dealing with a busy lesson barn?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 In Review

I know I'm a bit late to the party, and haven't been blogging much lately but I carved out some time to do our year in review.  2017 was an emotional roller coaster from start to finish, but looking back, it was pretty good overall.

January started with a frozen bang at our first show of the year. While I was trying not to freeze to death, Peebs was fired up and ready to go.  The rounds weren't what I was expecting, but I'm proud of how I handled everything and we came home with some satin.  We had a lesson where Peebs was also fired up and I once again pulled up my big girl panties and worked him through it.

We got a big surprise in February when I found out Peebs and I qualified for the OHJA Certificate of Merit and got a huge ass ribbon. I started developing a feel for how even, or not, Peebs is side to side. I took another vacation to Mexico and found ponies. Peebs and I joined USHJA since all the local shows we do are Outreach shows.

March was medical month.  I started it by being the sickest I've been in a long time. Peebs got his teeth done and it was much worse than I thought it would be.  Per vet's recommendation, he also saw the chiro and she performed a miracle.  We had some great rides over ground poles, including a lesson on trot poles that kicked my ass.

I didn't post much in April (staring a trend here) but continued on with the good rides and figuring out his right bend issues. We kept figuring both his and my issues in May. I also went back to San Diego/Mexico for horse shows, blogger meet ups, and sunshine! I didn't announce it, but a few days before heading south I had dropped Tia off to be bred. We found out she had conceived late in the month.

But when we took her back two weeks later for a check up, she had lost the pregnancy.  I was living the emotional roller coaster from here on out trying to see if she was ok to rebreed or not. In the middle of that, we went to our first Outreach show and it didn't go well. Peebs was once again fired up and terrified the water truck was going to eat him.  I kept my cool and we somehow walked away with a 2nd. 

We showed again just a couple weeks later in July and killed it.  I took Tia in for one more vet check and after getting the results of her uterine biopsy, decided that trying to breed her wasn't going to happen.  I then fell into a bit of a funk, and went on vacation, and gave Peebs some time off

August was HOT and not much riding, or blogging, was done. But we did have some awesome rides. September was prep month for our big inspection at work and I didn't blog.  I made the super wise decision to do a show the week before the inspection, and surprise surprise it didn't go well. But we had a major breakthrough with Peeb's poop problem.  He's still on his pellets and one flake of hay a day, and is doing great!

I went and visited my friend KP's foal at the end of September and fell in love. We kept it a secret for a few weeks till I could tell my dad, but I decided to buy Cinder. I wasn't really looking to get a baby; I really just wanted a baby out of Tia.  But Cinder is an amazing little horse and more than I could have hoped for. Peebs also proved he's a wonder pony and will jump whatever from where ever, even if he doesn't understand the question. I'm pretty sure honest is his middle name.

Cinder came home at the beginning in December and we celebrated her 7th month birthday. And started learning how to be a grown up horse. And decided on a show name. And started introducing her to the fact that she's going to have to play dress up. Peebs has had much of December off, as work is not letting up and it's been cold. Not as cold as most of the US, but enough to make me loose my mojo.  I figured he could use the break, especially once I looked back at how much we've grown this year.  I'm planning on getting back in the saddle tonight to start gearing up for an even better 2018!