Damn I’m good.

My main reason to start this blog was just to have a place online (in case my laptop melts down) where I have a record of animal stuff – deworming, pictures, hoof trimming, etc. I am convinced that I can’t be trusted to keep track of shit like that (mainly because I can’t actually remember what happened last week.) But I’ve started noticing that I’m better than I thought.

Yesterday I started worrying in the back of my mind about whether it’s time to deworm the house pets. Then I forgot. Today I remembered again, and I checked here, and whaddya know – it’s been exactly a month. So today Cersei got her Iverhart and Promeris and the cats got their Advantage.

Also, cats are pretty amusing. While I was out this morning they knocked their scratching post off the desk. When I came home I picked it up and set it in the chair. They’ve been exploring it ever since. Familiar chair + familiar scratching post = Entirely New Structure!

Curtis has been eating some strange food lately. He’s such a wicked little beggar that I’ll usually give him a bite of my food when I’m done. In the last week, he’s had oatmeal, raw cabbage, and whey protein powder drink. Pro tip: When The Internet says “cats are usually lactose intolerant,” that really means “if you feed your cat some whey protein drink, he will hork it up in three different spots on your carpet within 5 minutes of consumption.”

FHOTD nailed it

Ok, this is what I was trying to talk about the other day. Halfpassgal is an amazing rider. I think it’s because she concentrates on riding instead of worrying about how she’s about to die. I still don’t quite have the words to explain my “shut up and ride” idea. Hmph. :-/

Also, I’ve ridden little Lily twice now! Jen let this yahoo ride her over the weekend, and I was like “wtf I can do better than him and I weigh less too” so I asked if I could ride her. Jen said yes, so… I sucked up and quit thinking about dying and rode yesterday and today.

Lily is a really well-gaited little horse. She’s 2 1/2, which is younger than I like but not so young that I have to refuse as a matter of principle. She’s a very quiet little mare. Very sweet, pretty smart, and just a bit spoiled. Yesterday was “you gotta go forward when I want you to” and today was “oh and you have to let me steer too.” She is not real thrilled with being a grownup horse that gets ridden, but she doesn’t hate it either.

In other news, studying for the bar is boring but I’m learning a lot.

Internet vs. Reality redux

I’m still thinking about yesterday’s wild crazy ride.

Everything I know about horses I learned, basically, from two places: The Internet and my redneck friends. These two sources are pretty much diametrically opposed. I, personally, hang out somewhere in the middle.

Vet Checks
The Internet says you MUST ALWAYS get a vet check or you will end up with a foundered pregnant yearling with a torn suspensory. Rednecks look at a horse, determine if it’s limping, check to see if it looks stoned, and buy it if they like it. Obviously, the truth is in the middle. Not all horses that aren’t vet checked are going to be foundered or injured. And honestly, we don’t all need Grand Prix level horses. Healed injuries, or unsoundnesses that only come out under extreme pressure, aren’t dealbreakers for most of us.

The Internet is like a giant lawyer disclaimer, without the disclaimer language. Nobody wants to put up that one website where you say “Go ahead and buy a horse without a vet check if the price is right” because some idiot will read that statement, get hurt because of it, and sue / internet stalk you. But really, there’s some ratio involved. What rational horse person who wants a light use trail horse would pay $200 for a vet check on top of a $400 horse? What if it’s a $1000 barrel horse? Maybe. What’s the magic number for the rational horse buyer? I don’t know.

Barbed wire
Rednecks think barbed wire is cheap and effective. The Internet tells me that barbed wire and uncapped T-posts kill more horses than every slaughterhouse in Mexico. And rationally, I know that barbed wire is horrible stuff. Two of my own horses have gotten nasty cuts on their fetlocks from it, a horse at the barn is blind in one eye from a barbed wire encounter as a foal, and probably 80% of the horses I’ve met in my redneck horse owning career have some scars from the stuff. But it doesn’t leap out and kill every horse that encounters it. My horses are eating grass right now behind a barbed wire fence, and I don’t lose sleep over it. When I move them up from Como, I’d very much like to find a place with board or hot wire fencing… but if it’s otherwise perfect, I wouldn’t turn down a barbed wire pasture.

More (inhumane and controversial) thoughts later.

On fear

I think the secret to getting over one’s fear of horses is to just do it. I mean, seriously, it just boils down to doing it, whatever the super-scary “it” is, and not overthinking it and getting paralyzed by it.

I’m not paralyzed by fear, like so many of my friends are, but fuck yeah I think some aspects of riding are terrifying. And I did so many of my own personal scary things yesterday. I just refused to think of the consequences and tried to enjoy the ride, and yknow what – I actually did enjoy the ride.

A group of yahoos headed out on their own trail ride a few minutes before we did. I really didn’t want to ride with them, but James said it was fine. If we met up with them, we’d just pass them and go our own way. So I set the tone for the day by just trusting him. Turned out they’d left the property by the time we did, so we just went our own way from the beginning.

1) Foolish behavior in the road: James took Surprise and I took a very grumpy Rascal on a long ride today. We started off on a bad note – Rascal started hunching up and crow-hopping in the median of the highway. We got off the road and he kept doing it, so we both got off and James adjusted his bridle up a notch. It was definitely weird; we hadn’t changed anything about his tack. The bridle fix seemed to do the trick so we headed off.

2) Road riding, esp. with shoes: We gaited on across the field and across the other highway and went up old Millington to get to the trails the long way. I posted about this route before – here’s the google map of where Old Millington takes a bend but if you go straight you end up on the trails. I just sat balanced and refused to think about how much I hate riding on asphalt, with stupid metal shoes, with cars, past Horse-Eating Monsters. Monsters? Yeah, there’s a couple of deadly mailboxes, then a lumberyard you have to pass, then a bridge, then a railroad crossing. It’s lovely.

3) Muddy rutted trails at top speed: But we finally made the trails! Yay! Except that we’d had a thunderstorm about an hour before we saddled up, so there was standing water in all the ruts. And dear god the ruts, you’ve never seen such ruts. James is completely insane and he lead the way at a full on running walk through this maze of kneedeep water-filled ruts in the forest. I briefly thought about all those fragile ligaments in a horse’s leg and then I just sat back and concentrated on not getting whiplashed by branches.

It was awesome.

Ten minutes in, I realized that neither horse was slipping like I thought. Two minutes later, I noticed just how much poison ivy was all around me. Oh well, that’s what Zanfel is for. (Yes, it really does work and it’s really worth the money.)

We rode upriver and I caught a lil box turtle for Stephen (but he didn’t text or call me back so I let it go at the barn.) Then we went downriver and we tried to go out under Hwy 51, our normal way back to the barn. But the entire area under the bridge is still flooded, and it’s snake mating time. We sat on the horses on a little bluff and watched the water for a couple of minutes before we saw a cottonmouth quietly swimming. So we turned around and went back the way we’d come in – back past the Monsters, across the highway, back to the barn.

When we got back in the field, we saw the yahoos headed back in. We all converged for the last bit of roadwork to get back to the barn. The horses were tired, but Rascal was still being a total choad. He wanted to GO and pass the other horses, so I let him – but then he broke gait and started cantering, so I pulled him back to a walk, so he got mad and started doing his baby bucks again. Oddly, it didn’t scare me. It made me mad, but not scared. We got back on the property safely and I took Rascal in the arena to have it out with him.

He’d been a pretty good natured fellow for the week I’d been riding him, but it was clearly because he was letting me be a passenger. When James went fast, we’d go fast; when James slowed down, we’d slow down. Rascal’s behavior had very little to do with what I cued him to do – he was doing what he wanted, which was to stay near “his human.” And that was (and still is) fine with me. I know I’m not his human! But damn, the horse must respond to my cues. I’m the brains of the trail-riding team and we’re going to die if he won’t listen.

So we went in the arena. And Rascal was tired, but damn him, we gaited. Then we went out of the arena and past a Monster, where he spooked sideways. So we gaited, circled around the trees, and kept going past the Monster (some contraption of nailed-together pallets that sits near the arena) until finally Rascal would gait calmly past it. Then we gaited past his barn (dammithorsedon’tslowdown) over to my truck (gooooood boy), stopped, and I had him stretch out. Then I got off, told him how wonderful he was, untacked him, fed him cookies, and washed him off.

The whole ride should’ve been a lot scarier than it actually was, if you know what I mean. I just sat my ass down in the saddle, as correctly as I know how, and rode the horse. I didn’t think about how we were both going to die, how I was going to die, how the horse was going to get horribly injured, or how I was going to look like an ass. I just rode. It was wonderful. I’m trying to hang on to that “shut up and ride” attitude.

More ridin!

Today I rode Tammy’s $250 walking horse stud. He’s black, 3, and has no papers, but he’s a pretty good little guy. He really wanted to drop and holler at mares, but I informed him that if he tried it I’d kill him, so he behaved himself. He gaits, quite naturally! Not pacey at all, and he was only wearing keg shoes in the front. He tripped a lot, but he’s a young TWH with shoes on; that’s what they do. Doesn’t steer worth a shit and doesn’t rate his speed very well, but he doesn’t buck or bite and he only cost $250. They got a steal. I hope they geld him, but I’m pretty sure they won’t.

Then James came out so we went trail riding. I got to ride Rascal again and he rode SSB. SSB (Spotted Saddle Bitch) is Lily’s half-sister, a black and white tobiano sabino (is there a stupid made-up word for that?). She is, as her name implies, a raging bitch. Jody owns her but doesn’t really trust her, so James is riding her out for Jody. She’s kinda halfass green broke and very pacey, but if anybody can fix her, James can.

Rascal was apparently just feeling lazy or indulgent Sunday. Today he actually tested me, the whole ride. It was fun. He pulled like a pack of huskies, he thought about cantering, about rearing, about bucking, about spooking at logs. When he wasn’t being wicked, he was absolutely blazing along, perfectly square, stepping as high as anybody could want.

Rascal is FAST. I knew that before – Rascal can rack as fast as Champ canters. I finally got to ride that hella-fast rack. We fought the whole time on the trail about how fast he’d get to go – I didn’t want to run off and leave James behind on the slow baby horse. And we had a major disagreement when we turned in the driveway to the barn. He wanted to completely ignore me and rack his happy ass straight to his stall, but I made him go in the arena. Then I made him follow James and SSB around for about five laps. James took SSB back outside the arena and I decided to see how fast Rascal would go without breaking his gait so we just zoomed around about three more laps til all of a sudden he asked to slow down. So we did!

It was really cool.

I rode in yet another horrible saddle. Better than the other two, but still not as good as my own wonderful saddle. I need to go get my saddle from my dad’s barn and let it live in my truck, I suppose. What I really need is a saddle rack in my truck… hmmm….