Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Midnight Summer's Eve

Favorite pair of purple ears
Forget #legalizeit, we're gonna #purplizeit
The past few weeks have been filled with a decent amount of horsey time, but also a few mini vacations: one to visit the Boyfriend while he's away for work, and a spontaneous camping trip with friends. I don't think Annie has minded one bit, and I'm starting to think less or more in some circumstances.

Following the Derek clinic, we headed out for a few long, somewhat technical trail rides. One of which was back at the Onion Lake ski-trails and I had a friend from out of town tag along (he drove Spud). The horses were more or less foot-perfect, but I was struggling to really enjoy myself in the absurd heat and the fact that Annie was rooting down every time a bug buzzed by her face. The annoyance with the bugs was fine, but it made my ribs verrry sore by the middle of the ride. I actually ended up getting off and walking part of the way, because I was exceptionally sore due to how much she was jerking her face around and carrying on because of the flies. (In her defense, they really were terrible tho.)

The bugs were so bad she shook off her fancy purple hat
four times before I gave up.
The ride was pretty good, although we didn't manage to get to the location we had planned. The map was a bit deceiving, as we followed signs that included the name of the look-out point we were hoping to get to, but apparently a very different (and weirdly named) trail takes you to the look-out point. I'm not sure who made the signs, but you'd think they'd keep them kind of... inclusive to the area they're headed to. But I guess, bad on us to not double-check.

Regardless tho, it was a good ride and the horses were able to get a few good trot and canter sets in. We logged just about 8km in just about 2 hours - Spud did really well at keeping up, but I could tell Annie was getting frustrated with all the going and stopping to wait for him (his poor little legs just don't hold a candle to a regular horse's walk gait)!

The horses got a well deserved day off following that ride, and then were saddled up again for a short little trail ride in the rural subdivision. And, oh my lord... Annie was Satan.

Her Satanism made it into my ride notes.
I'm not sure what the heck was her problem, but I ended up getting off twice and we had to have a few Come to Jesus meetings throughout the trail. I kind of have an idea of what was up her butt, but none of the residual circumstances were good enough excuses. I guess sometimes horses just have off days tho and bad rides happen.

I tried to keep #ZenNinja status but if I'm being completely honest, I was tired, sore, hot, and every time she tugged at the reins (attempting to shake bugs away again) it felt like a hot knife sliding through my ribcage. We tried a few things - putting her in front of Spud (she got pissed having to wait for him), behind Spud (she ignored my half-halts, went down to itch her leg while walking and cracked her skull in the back of Spud's cart), getting off and standing (THESE BUGS THO), staying on and standing (ANGRY), doing circles (haha, let me run you into these trees), etc. Nothing really worked and I honestly didn't have the strength or energy to duke it out with her. At the end of the ride, I had to get help putting her fly-sheet on because I couldn't lift my one arm high enough (not her fault, I was still recovering from my biking accident).

Not the above trail ride, but from our Onion Lake ride!
Unfortunately, the ride left a bad taste in my mouth and I realized that maybe I should take some time to recover before attempting to ride again. The injury to my ribs was just becoming irritated every single time I rode and it made the entire process exceptionally unpleasant. So I gave Annie the weekend off and disappeared to visit the SO for the Canada Day long weekend.

Upon returning, life was pretty hectic until Thursday, so I started implementing some longer grazing time for Annie in the one paddock behind the BO's house. I've had her out there grazing before, but the 40 minute short duration grazes 4x a week wasn't really doing much, and since I had asked the BO to leave the area unmowed, I needed to start leaving her out there to do a bit more damage.

My only concern was that the area is "temp fenced", meaning that the front half is board/no climb, but the remainder of the perimeter is straight wire and electrical that is not hooked up. The area has become so overgrown that Annie would have to kind of bushwack into the trees to even get close to the straight wire, but regardless, it is still there.

A fun little map.
Orange is where the horses are mostly 24/7,
the red area is where Annie gets turned out alone, and the blue area
is where she grazes under immediate supervision. The area where she grazed
all week was the red area.
I have put her back there before, and had taken steps to slowly introduce her to the area, where the "perimeter" is, and have done some work on leaving her there to graze while I do chores. Sometimes, she is content to chow on the grass... and other times she will throw a complete and utter meltdown if I disappeared from eyesight or earshot.  I love my horse, but not enough to sit there and watch her graze for four hours.

So, I was kind of nervous about leaving her to her own devices. Although Spud shares the fenceline with her,  the entire time she is in this area, he screams bloody murder for her. She is pretty good and doesn't call much, but can get worked up, and if I'm not there to monitor her, how can I be 100% sure she is being safe?

I had mulled it over for a few weeks - what is the best, and safest way I can get this accomplished? I reached out to the BO after an unsuccessful attempt to leave her in the back paddock alone for a few hours (she didn't escape, but it certainly wasn't a relaxing time for either of us), and asked if they would mind helping out since they are home throughout the day.

No relevant photos, but enjoy all the purple.
They graciously agreed (seriously, they are so awesome!), so I sent them a text message on my lunch hour that I had left Annie in the back with water and to call me if there were any problems. I went home and had a quick lunch and mowed the backyard before returning inside to see I had missed a call from the BO.

My heart sunk.

I listened to the voicemail, sighing heavily when the BO stated Annie was "galloping around frantically" and she wasn't sure if I wanted to come back out and put her back. I called back and spoke to her husband, and after a few key questions (Was she trying to jump the gate? No. Was she running into the fencing? No. Was she being dangerous? No.) we decided to leave her be and let her have her little tantrum.

I called every hour on the hour, and as each minute passed, Annie became less and less anxious. She would canter from side to side, stopping occasionally to grab a mouthful of grass, before becoming enamored with the prospect of grazing. She'd graze a bit, and then remember she was still mad, so she'd trot up to the fence to look for me, and then back again.

By the time I arrived three hours later, she was dry, quiet, and happily grazing in the far corner of the paddock. Every single day that week, she was put out to graze for 4-5 hours in either the morning or afternoon (whichever suited the BO's schedule the best) and each time, she progressed further into enjoying her time out there, which also translated to a much more patient and quieter being undersaddle AND in the cross-ties. Not that she is a wiggle worm, but I've found since having to "deal" with being (mostly) alone and being somewhere she doesn't realllly want to be, she kinda just goes, "Well... this is my life now." and cocks a leg almost immediately.

And what a beautiful life it is!

I did manage to pop into the saddle last Thursday before we headed camping for the weekend with friends, and honestly, it was probably my best ride ever on Annie. We had headed to the ring for our first schooling ride in the Derek Huget clinic, with the intent to keep things light and airy since it had been about 11 days since we had previously schooled. We had taken a bit of a break from the ring because we had back to back clinics during the last two weekends of July, and I felt both of us deserved a bit of a break - hence all the trail riding!

Things started off slow - lots of stretchy trot before bringing her up and doing some changes of direction, a few lengthens, and leg yields. I quickly popped her into the canter and we had some beautiful canter work and some really nice down transitions, which were quite lovely to ride. From there we worked on some walking shoulder in and moved into some trotting shoulder in and ended up doing shoulder in down the long sides and canter down the short side of the arena. Since we did it on the long side, I was able to ask, straighten out, and then ask again. And finally, we finished up with some canter diagonals and after a particularly beautiful shoulder-in right, I halted, celebrated, and hopped off. Good girl, Annie!

Heading to  the ring...
I led Annie around the ring a few laps, patting her and telling her what a good girl she was before I re-haltered Spud and headed back home. I was pleasantly surprised and exceptionally happy with her performance - if she rides like THAT for the rest of the year, First Level is looking like it's more than attainable.

Now that I'm finally feeling better too, I've scheduled us in for a fun Percentage Days outing this weekend to get ourselves out there and practicing these tests, especially in an arena Annie hates. And then we have the rest of July open for pretty much whatever we want before out first Dressage Show the first weekend of August. We only have three shows this year, and although I want to make sure we do our best, I'm not going to go crazy and school 4x a week and burn ourselves out like we have done in years previous.

Riding young horses is all about incorporating balance - and I intend to keep it that way!

...heading home from the ring
Summer storms, hey how are ya?


  1. So glad she had her tantrum in a safe way. Best of luck with test practice this weekend!

    1. Yeah, me too.
      Sometimes they have opinions about the silliest of things.

  2. glad you're feeling better! also lol my horse managed to shake off his ear bonnet this week too, which was a slightly harrowing moment since it took the bridle with it, oops! those flies really suck tho ugh

    1. Her bridle also came half-off during the first good shake lol

  3. You're doing so well with her. She sounds so much like my Banana pony with all the mare-y opinions about things.

    1. Aw thanks :)

      Hahah, maybe they are just soul sisters!

  4. Mares and their opinions! I'm glad she got over herself though and you had such a fantastic school afterwards!

  5. Glad that though she threw an utter meltdown that she settled into that field.