Friday, December 30, 2011

In Which the High Queen Walks Home Killing My Dreams Along the Way.

I am pretty angry right now which is why I am not even looking at the pasture. Yesterday I decided to trailer Seneca to an indoor arena that is ten miles from my house.  It took me around fifteen minutes to load her, but still she got in, so off we went.

Seneca was pretty freaking fabulous at the indoor. She snorted and eyeballed everything but got down to work and was great. She was a bit bratty about giving me the left lead but that's the usual for her.  We even jumped a little.

Everything was happiness and sunshine until I went to reload her. OMFG! She wouldn't get in. She wouldn't get in for four hours. Then my husband came and we tried for another hour. She still wouldn't get in. It was at that point 8pm.  I wanted to call the barn owner and leave Seneca there for the night.  My husband decided to walk her the whole ten miles home. IN THE DARK! ALONG THE HIGHWAY!  My God I love that man.

Everyone is stiff and sore this morning. We got home with the horse just before midnight, and my poor husband had to be at work at 6:30am.  Did I tell you I loved him?

But here is the new problem other than the High Queen absolutely hates me and almost wouldn't let me put her halter back on this morning(I let her loose in the pasture naked last night).  And she's avoiding me, giving me the "I will hate you forever" look.  I don't know what to do anymore.  It took me a good two months to get Seneca to the point where I could load her and get her locked in the dividers.  What the hell do I do with a mare that I can't trailer?  *ARRRRRG!!!!!!!!!!*

Staring at the flags that are sooo far away.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stepping Out and Stepping Up

Starting on monday I have a couple of weeks of vacation time. What, oh what will I be doing with all that time off?  Can you here the maniacle laughing?  The High Queen can and I can envision her giving me a haughty "bring it on" look.

Today I started our new "we will be fit enough for the next step" training regime. Lots of trotting, long stretchy walking, and a bit of cantering.  I also threw in some jumping at the end. Nothing big or spectacular mainly because it rained buckets yesterday and the footing wasn't great, but also because we haven't jumped on a regular basis since this past spring. We're working back up to jumping courses again.

Part of the regime is also to trailer out to my friend E's at least twice to practice over her show jumps and trailer to an indoor arena to get Seneca used to working in that environment.

Why, do you ask am I getting the High Queen back to fitness and desentizing her to indoor arenas?  *jumping up and down with barely contained happiness* I am going to a jumping clinic to take a group lesson with an event rider who is riding advanced, and he's not too far away!  I've never ridden with him, but all his students seem really happy with him.  I've been wanting to ride with him for awhile, but either my horse was broken and or refusing to get in the trailer, or I was broken.

So this clinic is a test.  I have very specific ideas about what I want in a trainer. I've had some pretty bad ones in the past. I had a screamer when I was young, finally screwed up the courage to ditch her. I had a huntseat instructor in college who it always felt like she was nervous about her students jumping. Yeah that really inspired confidence, the only thing that saved it all from disaster was I had a really awesome horse. The first draftX I'd ever ridden. He always made my hips ache when I got off him, but he was so great. Steamboat was his name.  I had a trainer who changed her training ideas everytime I got on the same horse, and while I loved riding with her the arena we rode in always made me feel clausterphobic.

So now I will test riding with the new guy before he takes his stable to Aiken for February.  I want to start riding with him at least once a month. The distance is too far to do more than once a month but if I practice on my own we could actually make real progress for the coming year.  *bouncing!*

And the husband is coming along as the official photographer and videographer.  So in a few weeks we'll have our first post broken leg photos and pictures.

So keep it between the flags and wish us luck for the 15th.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Putting the Spots to Work

Although I haven't spent much time working with the Spotted Beast aka Cowboy since I had broken my leg last spring, and then trying to get the High Queen back to a modicum of fitness he was always lingering in the back of my mind.

He's way too pretty, and way to good a mover to just be an idle pasture ornament and sometimes trail horse. He's soooo going to event. But he's barely broke, and only just starting to understand turning and stopping. But he is an extremely quick learner.

So this weekend I gave the High Queen a break and we loaded the Spotted Beast in to the trailer. He's pretty much a self loader as long as food is offered.  We took him over to the park where I had trail ridden Seneca last weekend.  We let him loose in to the round pen and watched him do laps for awhile before I started reminding him about voice commands.

After working him for fifteen minutes we gave him a break then saddled him up and I got him in the round pen. He hadn't been saddled or sat on in almost a year. But he was calm, and seemed to be working well off my leg. He did argue with me once and almost smacked me in to the rails, but other than that he was fabulous.

In a few months when a spot opens up Cowboy will be going off to the trainer.  M. did the finishing work on our last ApHC youngster and did a fabulous job. I wanted to try and do all Cowboy's training myself but I realize between work and my healing leg that I am not going to have the time, and if I want to event Cowboy anytime in the near future he needs more than I can give him. So off to M's this spring.

I'll put up the pictures later this week so everyone can see Cowboy's awesome spottedness.

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Into the Scary Woods We Go.

So last we left our psycho drama queen horse super pony we had successfully traversed travling out away from the farm, reloading and coming home again. Two things before I move on to this past weekends adventures.  Did I mention that the worst part about trailering out (other than the uncertainty of the High Queen reloading in the trailer) is actually getting the trailer back in the drive way? My driveway was not created with big long trailers, or any trailer for that matter in mind. It's fairly narrow and there are deep(5 feet at least) ditches on both sides. So if I don't make the turn in just the right spot I am screwed and have to do the unthinkable. BACKING UP! *Shudder, shake Shudder* 

When I took Seneca over to E's I just planned it right and waited for my husband to be home as a ground guide before I attempted to get back in to the driveway.  The second thing I forgot to mention is how attached my two horses are to one another. Cowboy ran the fenceline and screamed for at least an hour while we were gone. He was so loud, and so plaintaive that my neighbor called to see if she should check on him. What a big baby.

Now on to the latest adventure. The whole reason I took Seneca down to E's was a pretest for my trail riding club's holiday party. I wanted to go sooo bad. I had never been able to go out trail riding with them in the year I belonged to the club. But now I had a sound horse, sound body, and a fabulous trailer.  Work tried to endeavor to get in the way of going but I got my schedule rearranged for the day.  The only snag, I would be going totally on my own, lone wolf, commando even. By the time all the partying and trail riding was done my husband would still not be home from work. So no ground guide to get the trailer back in to the driveway(GULP!) 

Plus there was no telling the kind of craziness my horse would throw at me. She'd never been on a big group trail ride, never been to the park where we were going to ride and her black and white spotted buddy was staying at home. Oh God, what was I thinking!

But I planned ahead. I pretty much knew the High Queen was not going to stand tied to the trailer. But my club had so nicely fundraised and donated a round pen to the park. Haha, one problem solved. So I arrived early, parked my trailer close to the round pen and installed the Queen in her new digs. She trotted laps for 45 minutes. Fabulous.

The friend I had hoped to be there to shepherd my mare didn't arrive when we were ready to go but I tagged along on the end of a five or six horse group. The club president had a very nice Tenessee Walker gelding who did not mind my tail gating him the whole way. We're talking her nose stuffed in his tail hair. I was wondering if we should have gotten the two of them a room she was hugging him so hard.

Seneca seemed to think that she was going to the races because she sure acted like it was the post parade for the race. She yanked the reins, she jigged, she didn't want to stand still when we paused on the trail. Not the most relaxing trail partner. But she tackled going over the five or six wooden bridges and the sometimes over the fetlock deep mud without arguing. She was even manageable when the group moved out and were trotting and cantering(us) or gaiting(pretty much everyone else)

And she did have moments of sanity where she just relaxed, let her head hang lower and walked along happily. At the return she was good, tired, but good. She stood fairly well at the trailer, but I didn't want to take chances so I threw her cooler on and let her loose in the round pen again. At which point she rolled and then spent most of the time nibbling hay or staring transfixed at the cows across the road.

At reloading time, she was a little bit of a pain, but in all actuallity it only took me less than ten minutes to reload her. Then the truly scary part, getting the trailer in again.  Wisely before I left I left a marker for where I should start my turn.  Sadly it was too far forward and I ended up having to back up the trailer twice to get the right angle to get in.

But I DID IT! I got the trailer turned around in the pasture and reparked in its spot and everything. I was extremely proud of myself for that one. It means I am independant. It means I can haul to shows and clinics without having my husband come with me. Not that he wouldn't go, he's totally supportive of my addiction, but his work schedule doesn't always allow for it.

In the end I was proud of my horse, and proud of me. Go TEAM MIDNIGHT HILL!

Keep it between the flags everyone, and Happy Holidays!

Seneca chilling in the round pen after the trail ride.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On the Road Again

Since late September I had the one thing that was missing in the puzzle of getting the High Queen to load. The new, bigger trailer.  But ever since we got the fancy Exiss the High Queen has deigned to be loade, but not locked in between the dividers.  Then it was figuring out how to keep her loaded, and how to do it by myself.  My husband works most weekends(the evils of being a senior manager of a retail chain). So I needed to be able to load and unload Seneca myself.

After a couple of weeks I figured it out, everything, the loading, locking and unloading, all by myself.  There was only one element left that I needed to test.  Loading, trailering out some place, unloading, and reloading.  This would be the ultimate test. Because if I got to a show and couldn't get my mare back on the trailer to go home what the hell would I do then?

So with Seneca being all legal with her shiny new coggins, and the trailer being legal with the title finally arriving in the mail(don't ask, wayyy too long a story) I decided a little trip was in order.  But where to go to make this a happy relaxed trip? Ah my dear friend E.  I boarded the High Queen with her a couple of years ago so the Queen should not have too much of an issue going back there and riding in E's fabulous arena(She has show jumps).

With much evil wringing of hands I planned and plotted. I let the two horses out to graze most of the day  in the front yard where the grass was better. This would relax the Queen and make her unsuspecting. Then I just went through the regular routine of catching, grooming, then loading. Except this time I didn't unload her. I started the truck and off we went.  Seneca was good the whole way. When I went to unload the Queen she almost didn't come out. Then she was all high headed giraffeness, and snorting.

After a while she calmed down and we rode in the arena.  E. and her family weren't home so I didn't really want to jump too many things.  I had major jump lust for the coop but I didn't feel comfortable with E. not being home.  I did trot all her ground poles, and hopped over the little X a couple of times. We even cantered a bit, and the Queen's circles and serpentines were decent.

There's hope for us yet.  Look out spring horse trials!

Keep it between the flags everybody.