Monday, April 28, 2014

English Saddle Minus Stirrups Plus Lesson Equals OUCH

Joe and I went to a one day local schooling show on Saturday. On Wednesday before the show Sarah met me in the barn with an English saddle and was all excited because it fit Joe. I rode it in for the first time on Thursday. There is no faster way to find out how weak my core is than to go back to an English saddle. Once I figured my body out I was really impressed by how nicely Joe goes English. I rode English again on Friday. Sarah kept saying “When you get stronger” there was no “if” in her conversation. There was even talk of lessons without stirrups in my future. 

Joe was wonderful at the show on Saturday. We started the morning with English Walk/Trot and Walk/Trot/Canter classes. He excelled in the walk/trot, but seemed to lose focus in the canter classes. All of a sudden he remembered that there were other horses in the arena and did not like it when they came up behind him. This was one of the reasons for the schooling show. He had been run up on at this same arena a few years ago which is when he started to get spooked in traffic. Each time he got upset I put him to work and circled him. I didn’t take long for him to refocus, it also helped me to stay in my bubble and keep my own. We switched to Western tack for the afternoon; I have to say it was much easier to ride Western after 3 days of English. My leg started to make sense now. Joe was a rock star in his Western classes. The lope on that horse brings a smile to my face every single time! I could really get used to showing him. We brought home a pile of blue ribbons and some highpoint awards but most of all we both loaded up with some show ring confidence. Next show is in 2 weeks. 

Today I arrived to my lesson and announced to Sarah that I would be riding in the English saddle without stirrups. If the next show is in 2 weeks I have to get on this getting stronger plan. 10 minutes into the lesson Sarah said “remember this was your idea”. OUCH! The first thing I figured out was that I was not going to let Joe give me the usually jarring trot he starts out with. There was no way I would stay in the saddle, so I pushed him into the bridle with my leg and asked him to lift his back. Sarah had me sit the trot, then stand up in two-point for 5 strides. I could barely do it. She also had me post for 5 strides and sit for 5. Wow.. I am weak! Canter was much better, I was able to really get the feel for using my legs and core and not just my hands. I was planning to start working out again, but after tonight’s lesson I’m thinking I could just ride without stirrups and be set. Hope I can walk tomorrow!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Horses Save Me Again

I moved to a house on the same property as the barn in late October. It has been such a blessing to live here. This home is my happy place, my sanctuary, I love it here. The day I left my husband I loaded up the trailer and drove to the barn. I was in full blown panic attack when I hooked up the trailer and for the first time ever I dropped it when I missed the ball hooking up. I managed to get it jacked up and back on the truck, I was trying to run away before my husband came back home. I was a hot mess when I unloaded Grace and got her settled in. I stayed at the barn that day not wanting to leave – this was before I moved here. I noticed that there were some stalls that still needed to be cleaned so I grabbed wheelbarrow and pitchfork and jumped in. Halfway into that first stall my thoughts started to settle, my body took over as I begun the repetitive motion of shifting poop through shavings. I realized how much I missed working in the barn, the quiet mornings with the horses, the satisfaction of freshly stripped and bedded stalls. It wasn’t long before I was the Saturday stall cleaner. Once I moved to the property I took on night feedings and weekend mornings. Little did I know these simple chores would save me.

I’ve had my heart broken twice since my marriage ended. Yes – you are correct in your judgment it was most likely too soon for me to be involved with anyone. That didn’t stop me. I fell head over heels in love and gave a man every last ounce; he broke up with me the first time the day after Thanksgiving. That was a Friday – he came over that night, told me how much he loved me and then walked out the door. I was devastated, how could someone I gave everything to just walk away? The next morning I wanted to hide under the covers and never get out. I wanted to stay in the fetal position until the pain went away, but I had to get up and feed the horses. I had to put my clothes on and trudge down the hill. I then had to force myself to eat food so I would have enough calories in my body to clean stalls. Something happened halfway into cleaning stalls; I had a brief moment of clarity where the pain paused for a moment. It didn’t last long but it gave me a glimmer of hope that there may be a way through the pain. In the weeks that followed I fell into a scary black hole of depression. I came home after work and didn’t want to leave my bedroom. But I had to feed the horses each night. This meant changing my clothes and trudging down the hill. Joe was there with his sweet face always happy to see me. I would cover his nose in kisses and tell him that he is the only boy for me. Grace was there kicking the walls to her stall telling me to “hurry up and feed bitch, I don’t have time for your boy drama!” I rode less in December than I had in years, I just didn’t feel like I belonged in the saddle. In early January I started to ride Joe several times a week, about two rides in my smile came back. His lope was my new happy place. 

I started seeing a therapist and worked weekly with my life coach. I was finally starting to get over the man that broke my heart after the holidays when he showed back up to give it another try. This time I thought I had my blinders off, I was still crazy in love with this man but I wasn’t going to let him hurt me again. We were just “dating “this time I told myself, I could walk away at any time. In reality I was very much in love with him, again. Last Sunday he ended the relationship for the second time. Once again he told me how much he loved me and then walked out the door. For a smart girl I seem to be really stupid when it comes to relationships. How could I let this happened twice? Why in the hell did I trust him again? 

This time around I am much further along than I was in November. The pain is still fresh but I am more angry than sad. I’m also not sure that I trust myself to make relationship decisions. The horses still need to be fed every day and still need me to clean their stalls on Saturday. Stall cleaning has become my 5 hour physical meditation. I start out stuck in my head, thoughts of him are non-stop. By the time I am on the last stall I am looking forward to showing Joe this year and am planning out the rest of my weekend. Joe is still my favorite boy to kiss. He is there for me to wrap my arms around him and cry into his neck. He doesn’t judge me, he doesn’t tell me I wasn’t ready for a relationship, he just listens to me and softly blows his breath on my hair. I once said that if I could go back and talk to 14 year old me I would tell her to spend more time with horses and less time with boys. 39 year old me is just now starting to hear those words.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Grey Horse

I have officially found myself in the world of maintaining a grey horse. All those years I said out loud "I'm so glad I own a solid bay" are about to catch up with me. We are having a beautiful sunny Pacific Northwest Day today so I broke out the Quicksilver and got the grey horse grey again. I have a whole host of new products in my tack truck including, Blue Shampoo, Green Spot Remover, Baking Soda, Vinegar, and all kinds of products for sweet itch. Poor Joe has a horrible allergy to the gnats. He will tear up his belly in just one night trying to get relief. I've been using Avon Skin So Soft Gel which helps to calm the itchiness but doesn't prevent the bug bites. I had just picked up several products for a home remedy (Swat, Bag Balm, Campho-Phenique) when the lady at the tack store sold me on Belly Balm from Tail Tamers. Cost wise it was about the same a the ingredients for the homemade concoction and the ingredients are all natural. I get nervous using a home made remedy on Joe since he is super sensitive. Today was day 2 of the Belly Balm and so far I think it's working. I reapplied after his bath and noticed that he wasn't swishing at bugs while I hand grazed him. I'll give it another week before I know if it is going to work.