Injured reserve

Dixie has been on the IR list. I rode Wednesday, to vast (but not unexpected) amounts of drama, and she whacked her front right heel bulb pretty good. Discretion > valor and all that, so I elected to lay her off for a while. I think perhaps it’s unnecessary.

Wednesday was a lovely day, so I went out to do some hills. Dixie was forward and moderately obedient going away from home, but as soon as we turned toward home (whether we were actually going home or not) she got really hot and wanted to zoom home as fast as possible. I was riding in the snaffle and part of me deeply regretted it, but mostly I realized it was a good teachable moment, and she can’t just run through the snaffle. (And I do realize I bring this on myself, letting her canter home some of the time. I absolutely deserve the horse I ride.)

I let her make her mistakes – for HALF A MILE, every time she’d break above a walk I one rein stopped her, had her walk away from home, did circles, etc. It did no good at all. Finally we got back to this one road that goes up a hill for about a half a mile before it goes private. So we did hill sets. HARD hill sets.

We cantered (then racked, then halfass trotted) to the top of the hill. We turned and walked partway down, then she broke to a pace and wouldn’t slow back to a walk, so I wheeled her dumb ass around and cantered her back up the hill. Rinse and repeat at least ten times. She’s not the kind of horse who ever hunts the woah, but I tried. I got some really snappy canter departs, halts, walks up the hill toward the end of our fight, and I did, eventually, get her to walk home on a loose rein. It was a very snappy animated speedy running walk, but by god it was a four-beat head-nodding walk.

Anyway, in the midst of all the wheeling around, she slammed her right heel bulb with a back hoof and split it open. Not a bad injury, but I thought I should let it heal and watch her for a couple of days.

Thursday was trim day. We’ve been using the same absolutely amazing saint of a trimmer for nineteen months now, and Dixie has gone from being a horrible yanking falling-over stomping bitch to, finally, on Thursday, yawning a lot and nodding off. Must be time to leave, move to California, and find a new trimmer for her to yank stomp and be a bitch to, now that she’s finally used to Jim. :)

In between horse stuff, I’ve been demolishing where the pool used to be and painting the Dr. Seuss room. The room is tan now; it just needs one more coat cutting in and it’ll be finished. The pool area is almost transformed – I posted a “free” ad on CL and a guy should be coming tomorrow to get the materials I ripped off of the upper deck.

So here is a video of my poor injured pony. The heel is not swollen, not hot, and clearly not bothering her, so I think after the guy clears out the deck boards tomorrow I should ride her. A long way. A really long way.

What set this off? Banders, mighty hunter, snuck up on the chickens and they eventually noticed him and started squawking. Yes. Chickens squawking caused this fine display of wild mustang behavior.

Note: I’m trying out uploading the video straight to Blogger instead of posting it on Vimeo. Vimeo takes forever to process, so we’ll see how awful the Blogger quality is…

An American Man takes a stand against the vicissitudes of time

Lo all these many years ago, way back in the early part of this century or perhaps the tail end of the last, there lived a man. He was a respectable man, with a house and a wife and a very small dog.* He went to his government job five days a week, and he collected junk the other two. He began to feel the cold tentacles of mortality wrapping silently around his body – he wasn’t as spry as he used to be, and he’d put on some weight, and as it turns out he wasn’t very smart or rich or satisfied with his family. This pressure built up inside him like a seething Chihuahua until finally he snapped.

“Wife!” he announced. “We shall install a pool for our (grand)children! Then everyone will know that we are respectable middle-class homeowners. We will stand beside it, holding hands and laughing, while our (grand)children splash merrily in it. Why, if only photographers for glossy homeowner magazines knew about us, our backyard would be published in Happy Backyard Families!”

The wife replied, “But we live in the desert, and you never finish what you start, and you’re going to make me clean the damn pool.”

“No, no,” he said, “this time it will be perfect. And of course I’ll clean it myself.”

The wife grumbled and shook her head, but the man was not to be dissuaded. He bought a pool – not one of those fancy gunite pools, no, he was a modest civil servant, not some rich fat-cat. He bought an above-ground pool kit and installed it.

He consulted his hoarded lovingly stockpiled back issues of Pools Today and Deck the Yards and Practical Deckbuilding magazines. He planned out a nice circular split-level deck. Because this pool was his Stand Against Mortality and Decay and Everything Wrong With America Today, he spared (almost) no expense. He planned for a pier every five feet. He used 3″ deck screws, not nails. He bought redwood 2×6’s, plus some of that redwood stain wood sealer, so those private-plane fellows always zooming overhead would know that his deck was redwood.

His marriage fell apart. They probably fought over who had to clean the pool. The tiny dog vanished. His surefire guaranteed pension government job began to look less and less surefire. He got older, fatter, and greyer. It took seven years to sell the house – seven years of listening to his ex complain about the pool! But by god, the deck was there to stay. At least there was that.

And then I came along and ripped it out in two hours this afternoon. Our Hero didn’t bother with treated joists. Oh, he bought the right joists – the whole deck sat on 4″x6″ joists – but they weren’t treated, and they weren’t watersealed, and they were so rotted that the 3″ screws yanked out as easily as nails.

Something about the combination of deck screws and untreated 4×6 joists really pissed me off. The stupid deck was built to last… except for that one huge corner he cut, skipping the treated joists. Did he think they’d never get wet? Beside a pool??

I’m all about building stuff that’ll last exactly as long as you want it to. If you want a pool for your Norman Rockwell children to frolic in, great! But that stupid above-ground pool isn’t going to last forever, so why overbuild the deck? Why the hell would you use screws? Just use nails!

*I found a very small dog collar under the deck. There is no other evidence of a dog of any size living here before us.

Well, I still think it *looks* pretty

I got Dixie out for a ride this morning. We did the short 6 mile loop around the sand pit. I wanted to take Cersei and have a fun ride, no deliberate training. Also, I put her back in the snaffle for the first time since, I think, February.

Speaking of bits, I bought my own curb! I’d been using DiJ’s Myler curb, and I was very happy with it in general but wanted slightly shorter shanks. I think everybody feels guilty for not being “as good” as other individuals / disciplines, and I’m no exception – I feel guilty (among other reasons) for doing endurance with a bit. The hackamore/halter/bitless people are somewhat smug about how their horses are free to eat and drink on the trail. Oh well, Dixie and I are not the ideal team to go bitless, and she stuffs her face without seeming to care about the bit. Still, I noticed that the shanks whacked into water tanks. Yesterday I bought the same mouthpiece, same shanks, just 2″ shorter shanks. I think I’ll have about the same control and she’ll be able to eat and drink a bit better.

Anyway, I’d rather ride in a snaffle. It was surprisingly cold and windy – the sun was shining and it looked like it was warmer than it was. We briskly headed out and when we hit the magic corner and turned for home I let her loose and we absolutely hauled ass coming home.

Dixie’s not a fast horse – or at least I haven’t had the nerve to let her go really fast. I need something like the Bonneville Salt Flats, some place perfectly smooth with good footing, cause I just get all wigged out about the tiny margin of error when you’re really galloping. None of our trails are really smooth enough for my overactive imagination. Random boulders and ditches and wooped-out areas.

So we weren’t going that fast, just 10-12 mph, but she went 10-12 mph for two solid miles and felt awesome doing it. She slowed down where I asked (going down into little gullies, coming up to trail intersections) and stayed balanced and solid the whole time. We passed some scary stuff – a lady getting into her SUV after letting her dog play in the hills, a big yellow road grader thing grading a private road, and lots of dirt bikes.

And because we were going pretty fast and it was pretty windy, her mane kept blowing all over the place and getting tangled in my hands. It’s astonishing how distracting that is! I’m still not going to cut it. I guess I need to improve my braiding skills and learn to do a real fast running braid down her neck.

5.9 miles, 52 minutes, 6.7 mph. Next: I want to get her out early next week after work and do some deliberate hill work for an hour or so – maybe Tuesday, definitely Wednesday.

Needs riding!

So it’s been raining, yuck! I woke up at 4 am Friday morning to a very strange sound and it took me a little while to figure it out – rain, on my roof! It rained off and on all day Friday and today. I should’ve sucked it up and rode, but (whine!) it was cold and my horse was exceptionally filthy from getting rained on and rolling in the sand. So instead I washed clothes and caught up on my shows. I am now up to date on Justified, Glee, and Doctor Who.

Dr. Who paragraph: OMG, the Who writers are consistently the best at coming up with utterly terrifying monsters. Rory has really grown on me and I am glad he appears to be a real Companion now, and I’ve always stubbornly liked River Song. Of course Amy’s awesome, that goes without saying! I don’t want to spoiler it for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to see the new episode yet, but feel free to spoiler in the comments.

Justified: Why don’t yall watch this show? It’s amazing! The characters in it are fabulously three-dimensional. And some of them are really hot. And they talk right, i.e. like me. It’s just really well written and acted.

Anyway, back to the Dixie horse. She is, more than ever, like a ball of controlled energy. She seems very alive and alert and focused on me. I can’t describe it without sounding all gooshy and touchy-feely, but it is true: we have a deeper connection with each other.

I went out for an armful of wood around dusk and heard snorting and thundering hooves. I walked over to the fence and videoed her acting like an Arab. I think this clearly indicates that she needs to be ridden! I know you English people hate the long manes, but surely you have to admit it’s utterly gorgeous at liberty.

Dixie needs riding from Funder on Vimeo.

After I ended that video, she came prancing around the corner of the run-in and started begging for carrots:

Dixie needs carrots from Funder on Vimeo.

I took pity on her and got her some carrots. After she ate them she licked my hand for a while

then hung out by the gate.

I think she is roaning out a little more every year. That little white spot on her jawbone is growing. Her sire is another roan paint, but he’s SO roan he looks grey. It’d be pretty cool if she ended up like that.

Anyway, she was clearly giving off “scratch me” vibes so I scratched her neck for a bit and she licked my hand. Then I slipped inside the paddock and scratched her for about 15 minutes, all over, in places she’s never wanted scratched before. Not just her crest and withers, but all down her neck and shoulder and up by her poll. She’s been such a tough nut to crack, but there really is a sweetie under there. :)

White Horse Pilgrim asked why I avoid feeding grain. I think it’s just something endurance riders take for granted, and non-endurance riders don’t consider unless they have a problem with sugar-sensitive (feet or brain) horses. In between riding and cooking duck confit tomorrow, I’ll see if I can’t hack together a post about why I avoid grain.

Needs riding!

So it’s been raining, yuck! I woke up at 4 am Friday morning to a very strange sound and it took me a little while to figure it out – rain, on my roof! It rained off and on all day Friday and today. I should’ve sucked it up and rode, but (whine!) it was cold and my horse was exceptionally filthy from getting rained on and rolling in the sand. So instead I washed clothes and caught up on my shows. I am now up to date on Justified, Glee, and Doctor Who.

Dr. Who paragraph: OMG, the Who writers are consistently the best at coming up with utterly terrifying monsters. Rory has really grown on me and I am glad he appears to be a real Companion now, and I’ve always stubbornly liked River Song. Of course Amy’s awesome, that goes without saying! I don’t want to spoiler it for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to see the new episode yet, but feel free to spoiler in the comments.

Justified: Why don’t yall watch this show? It’s amazing! The characters in it are fabulously three-dimensional. And some of them are really hot. And they talk right, i.e. like me. It’s just really well written and acted.

Anyway, back to the Dixie horse. She is, more than ever, like a ball of controlled energy. She seems very alive and alert and focused on me. I can’t describe it without sounding all gooshy and touchy-feely, but it is true: we have a deeper connection with each other.

I went out for an armful of wood around dusk and heard snorting and thundering hooves. I walked over to the fence and videoed her acting like an Arab. I think this clearly indicates that she needs to be ridden! I know you English people hate the long manes, but surely you have to admit it’s utterly gorgeous at liberty.

Dixie needs riding from Funder on Vimeo.

After I ended that video, she came prancing around the corner of the run-in and started begging for carrots:

Dixie needs carrots from Funder on Vimeo.

I took pity on her and got her some carrots. After she ate them she licked my hand for a while

then hung out by the gate.

I think she is roaning out a little more every year. That little white spot on her jawbone is growing. Her sire is another roan paint, but he’s SO roan he looks grey. It’d be pretty cool if she ended up like that.

Anyway, she was clearly giving off “scratch me” vibes so I scratched her neck for a bit and she licked my hand. Then I slipped inside the paddock and scratched her for about 15 minutes, all over, in places she’s never wanted scratched before. Not just her crest and withers, but all down her neck and shoulder and up by her poll. She’s been such a tough nut to crack, but there really is a sweetie under there. :)

White Horse Pilgrim asked why I avoid feeding grain. I think it’s just something endurance riders take for granted, and non-endurance riders don’t consider unless they have a problem with sugar-sensitive (feet or brain) horses. In between riding and cooking duck confit tomorrow, I’ll see if I can’t hack together a post about why I avoid grain.