Back to Work

babies march 009Two weeks after Savy’s fall she was ready to get back to work.  She’d been living the high life eating hay and hanging out with her friends in the pasture. She let us know exactly what she thought about being under saddle again.  I had a couple of decent rides, but I hadn’t tried the canter yet and I could feel her attitude skimming under the surface.  I knew there would be lots of bucking so I got Megan on her.  She had one hell of a ride.  Savy’s bucks have gotten bigger as she’s gotten stronger.  I happened to catch her coming down from a big leap buck. That’s her tail straight up in the air that looks like a tree (it’s braided) and all four feet are off the ground. 

But in 3 rides we went from 20 bucks to only 1.  Her lateral work has been awesome and she’s not bucking during the canter transition.  Looks like we’re not going to make my goal of showing training level at the next show, but we might be able to do Intro C. 

babies march 005

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Finding Savy and My General Horse Search

 

~ The Decision ~

My decision to buy a horse started with getting my wisdom teeth removed.  I am a bit of a hypochondriac and I had never been under general anesthesia before, so I was partially convinced I was going to die.  Everyone told me that getting your wisdom teeth removed was no big deal and that I’d be “up & at’em” again in just a week or so.  They couldn’t have been more wrong.  The good news; I didn’t die.  But I did have a dry socket for almost a month, and lingering sinus issues.  The thing is; getting your wisdom teeth removed at 18 is much different than getting them removed at 28.  I didn’t really bounce back.  I did, but it took a long while.  Most of the time I was in pain, and I tried to minimize how much I talked and moved.  I did a lot of thinking.

Horse quote - blessingsOn my 29th birthday, my fiancé and I were sitting around talking about what we wanted out of life.   Normally we would be out with friends or family on my birthday, but because of my surgery, we were stuck at home.    I was talking about how much I love horses, and about how much passion I have for them, and he said why not buy one now.  What’s holding you back?  I made excuses, but he had answers for all of them, and he eased my worries about taking on such a big responsibility.  It’s funny how life happens; I really think that if I hadn’t had complications from my surgery, I would never have gotten a horse.  And I can’t even express what an amazing gift this is. 

~ The Search ~

As soon as the decision was made to buy a horse I wanted one immediately.  I could not sit still. It reminds me of my dog when he’s trying to be good and sit, but he’s so excited his whole butt is moving back and forth across the floor.  All I did for almost a month was search for horses, and I spent my weekends going to try them out.  The first horse I saw was an OTTB (off the track thoroughbred) named Candy.  She was 8 years old and 15.3hh; the perfect age and size.  I was so nervous I made Clay (my fiancé) call and set up the appointment to see her.  Everything was going fine until we started cantering.  I could not get her to stop!  It’s not that I was being run off with exactly, but the girl had no breaks!  And there was a branch hanging over the round pin, so each time we came around the circle I had to duck.  She was sweet, but not for me.

Horse pic - longing

Then I went to Tennessee to try a Friesian/Quarter-horse cross named Jezzy.   She was stunning, and so talented.  But as soon as I saw her there was a hesitation in my chest.  She had small (I thought) behavioral issues and her owner was afraid of her, but I thought “I have a strong seat, I can deal with this”.  Nope.  As soon as I asked for the trot, with provocation at all, she took off bucking and farting like a rodeo horse.  Once I got her under control I looked at the owner and said the only thing that came to my mind “I’m not ready for this”, and got off. 

After a few more misses, I realized that with my budget, I might need to stop looking and wait until I could save more money.  Looking for a horse is a lot like house hunting.  You start out all excited, then you realize you’re not going to get exactly what you want, and then you just hope it’s over with soon.   But I didn’t want to settle.  My trainer sent me an ad for this cute little Arab-cross that she really liked a lot.  I normally wouldn’t consider anything with Arab in the breeding, but this horse could really move.  She naturally used her back-end as much as other horses do after years of training.  Also, she was small, only 14.2hh.  But I went to see her. 

~ Savannah ~

As soon as I saw her I felt something.  She was so…cute!  But it was more than that.  It’s like that feeling when you win a raffle, or when you get an answer right at trivia, or when you win first place at something (yes I am very competitive).  That thrill and happiness.  When they brought her out of her stall I remember thinking, even her hooves are adorable.  As soon as I sat on her back I knew. I just knew this was the horse for me.  I will never forget when her old owner backed her off the trailer and handed her lead rope to me.  I was so bewildered, I had no idea what to do with her once I got her, but we figured it out 🙂 

Savy and Cat 

The Horse Chiropractor – The real life horse whisperer

I had never even heard of a horse chiropractor before I bought Savy.  I was amused by the idea, and thought it sounded like something cute and neat for overly pampered horses with neurotic owners.  Either I was wrong or I myself have become neurotic with an overly pampered horse, because equine chiropractors are awesome!  Honestly, how did any of the horses I leased over the past 20 years stay sound without them.  If you’ve never had your horse adjusted by the chiropractor, you should.  It’s a neat experience and I believe it really helps your horse’s movement.  And of course the chiropractor is a godsend when you’re dealing with any lameness issues or injuries.

I was very curious about the mechanics of the horse chiropractor.  I mean, how does one adjust the spine of a 1,000 pound animal? And does it hurt the horse?  And of course, can they actually permanently damage the horse?  With these questions floating around my head, I was a little nervous and skeptical before our first visit.  I also had no idea what to expect about the kind of person a horse chiropractor would be.  Surely you would need to be strong, and not afraid of horses.  And how does one support themselves doing only horse chiropracty? As soon as the chiropractor walked in he exclaimed “that is a cute horse”, and so I immediately liked him.  He then proceeded to comment on well she must be able to move, and in his words “be able to jump to the moon”.  The CP, as I’ll refer to him, is a very down-to-earth, extremely knowledgeable horseman, and just radiates the thought “you can trust me”.  Once he stopped gushing over my mare, he pointed out that she had an old injury in her left hip, probably from a fall in the field from way before I bought her.  He used two rubber mallets to adjust her.  He placed one on her back beside her spine, and then used the other one to gently knock it.  Like hammering a nail.   While he was adjusting her hip, he had me place my hand on her spine, and I could actually feel it click back into place.  Very cool.

Savy however, does not like the CP.  He came out yesterday to adjust her, and she is apparently terrified of him.  The poor thing was shaking so much she was wobbling.  I’m not really sure why, because when I asked the CP if it hurt her, he asked if I would be able to hold her if it did (obviously no), and she didn’t act this way the first time he came out.  I think it’s more that she can see the mallet coming down, and so she anticipates it.  That would probably scare me too.  And she is still very sore from her fall the other week. 

The damage from Savy’s fall: hematoma on her hip-joint, and a rotated pelvis.  I can’t believe all she gave me was some bucking when I was riding her with all this going on.  Savy tries very hard to do what I ask her, she is such a sweet girl and she gives me her whole heart.  On the positive side, her pelvis is back in its original position and after a week or so of trot work, we can go back to the canter (hopefully – knock-on-wood).  The CP assures me this will not cause any long-term issues (whew!).

My Meltdown

For as wonderful as last weekend was, this weekend was rocky.  Anyone in the horse world knows that our lives are filled with extreme highs and lows and that horses are a very emotional thing.  I know this, and I try to be prepared.  So when my trainer and friend told me she was moving to Tennessee in a few months, I knew I’d be sad, but I thought I’d be able to take it in stride.  I thought I would wake up in a couple of days and be ok with it.  Silly girl.  Like anyone in denial I tried to distract myself and ignore my feelings.  Of course this never works.  On Saturday I spent a lovely day watching a dressage show at a fancy local barn with my cousin, who also rides horses.  The pretty horses prancing around the arena did manage to life my mood, and I looked forward to going home and riding my own pretty horse. 

Our ride started out good.  Savy is so soft and supple at the walk and the trot now, I decided to try a tinsy bit of sitting trot.  Since Savy doesn’t know anything about the sitting trot (and truthfully neither do I) she thought I was going to ask for the canter transition.  And she got really fussy.  Annoyingly fussy.  Since I unintentionally started the transition for the canter, and she was so fussy about it, I had to go ahead and ask for the canter.  Cantering undersaddle is new for Savy.  We’ve only been working on it for the past month, and since the weather has been so crappy I haven’t been consistent in my ridding.  A little bucking during the transition has been normal for her at this point.  It’s a balance/confidence thing and it was getting better.  But this time, she gave me a gigantic,  big f-u buck.  So I sent her forward for a few circles, then brought her back and asked for the transition again.  Each time I asked her reaction got worse, until I actually thought she was going to rear up and buck.  At this point I was very aggravated and annoyed and riding in the worst possible way – emotionally.

After a few minutes of this I called Megan very upset from Savy’s back.  She came out to watch and she immediately noticed that Savy wasn’t being bad and it seemed like there was something wrong.  Being in the mood I was in, I argued.  And I was wrong.  Poor Savannah has a gigantic knot in her back-end, apparently from her fall the other week.   And when I was asking her to sit to start the canter, it hurt.  I now feel like the worlds worst horse mommy.   I ended up crying off and on for the next hour or so at the barn, while Megan diplomatically ignored it.  All the while I kept thinking, who is going to come rescue me when I’m having problems with my horse once Megan is gone, and who is going to comfort me while I’m freaking out.  Just writing that sentence made me cry.  All this came to a head because before I rode, I went to check out our new barn, and to look at her stall, and it just made everything more real. 

I feel like as an adult I should be stronger than this.  Especially since I know this is absolutely the right decision for Megan and her family.  Being this emotional makes me feel selfish, and the last thing I want is to make Megan feel guilty for making the best decision she can.  And I know we’ll still be friends, and that we’ll still talk, and visit, and see each other at horse shows.  And I know Savy will be happy at our new barn and with our new trainer.  And since I know all this, why am I still so sad?

On a light note…I joined a clug 🙂  It’s the Dressage Company and I went to my first meeting last night.  While the meeting’s topic wasn’t very exciting (helmet safety)  I am really looking forward to getting involved and meeting more dressage riders in the area 🙂

Sweet Sunday

Before this weekend rolls around I just want to take a minute immerse myself in the sweetness of this past Sunday.  It was our first warm day in months and I spent the whole day outside luxuriating.  After hours in the balmy wind and warm sun I was as relaxed as I am after a massage.  It’s like the feeling you get when someone plays with your hair or runs their fingers lightly on your arm.  Your skin feels all tingly and your mind is on a natural high.  Yeah, I like warm weather.  After all, I felt this way while I was cleaning stalls.  I like feeling like I have hours and hours to spend at the barn, all in perfect comfort.  The only reason I left was because I was starving and Megan (my trainer and the farm owner) made me homemade lasagna that I couldn’t wait to dig into.  Then, a couple of hours later I came up to the barn again, just for the heck of it. 
 
My best friend Nicki and her son Christian also came up to the barn on Sunday to enjoy the weather and visit Savy.  Nicki made the mistake of telling me she wanted to learn about horses when I first bought Savy, so she got to groom her and lead her around.  She even picked out her front and back feet, which is a scary thing when you’re first learning how to be around horses.  I even have a picture to prove it. (Also, turns out pictures are really easy to post onto here). 
 
 
Christian brushing Savy

 

Savy gets lots of treats when visitors come (her head looks so big!)

 

Nicki is so sweet, she’s more worried about hurting Savy than she is about getting kicked

A Little Horsey Flop

Savy stepped off the trailer and immediately locked her sights onto a big orange cat that was in the bushes 30ft behind her.  Savy is afraid of 3 things, cats, jump standards and twilight shadows.  We think the barn cats torment her at nighttime.  I once watched one of our barn cats named Jasmine laying on Savy’s hay, and whenever Savy would try to take a bite Jasmine would move to that spot.  A full size horse couldn’t eat her dinner because a tiny little cat was using it as her bed!  Then Jasmine tried to play with the hay Savy was chewing while it was in her mouth.  A cat is the only thing that stops her dead in her tracks. Back to our ride: Savy continued to dance around and crane her neck in the cross ties while I was trying to tack her up so she could keep an eye on the cat.  Silly girl. 

We had an excellent ride and Savy was a superstar….but we did have a little glitch.  She fell!! My baby horse fell!  I’ll explain.  Since Savy is only 3, I usually lunge her for a few minutes before I ride to get out any bucks and to help her relax into her work.  It would do her no good to realize I can actually fall off her, so any kinks I can workout before I ride is a good deal.  If she hasn’t been worked for a few days she is a maniac on the lunge line for the first 5 minutes.  I think she gets excited and she feels frisky so she’ll bolt, for no real reason, except, it seems, to give me heart failure.  Since she’s on a circle she leans a lot and really bends her back legs.  She can get away with this behavior in our arena at home because the footing is spectacular, but since we were in an indoor with regular sand footing, she fell.  Her back legs just slipped out from under her.  She looked totally stunned, but she jumped right back up and didn’t miss a stride.  She didn’t hurt herself but it was a little disconcerting.  I’m really hoping this little episode will help her be more sensible on the lunge line from now on. 

She did wake up Saturday stocked up (fluid retention in the legs which makes them look puffy) in all 4 feet!  I frantically called the vet and learned that stocking up is harmless and that she just needed some exercise. 

Aside from that little flop, we made a lot of progress this weekend.  My trainer rode her Friday and worked on bending and even introduced the shoulder-in, which Savy rocked. And she’s just about nailed her canter transitions.  We’re aiming to show training level at our next show in April.   

 

 

 

 

 
 
Savy and I on Saturday doing a quick ride to help her legs

Inspiration & Getting Started

I’m starting a blog! Yay! Good for me!  Now you can all commence eye rolling and calling me funny names.  I want a blog for one reason.  I am horse obsessed.  I love anything and everything to do with horses and I just want another outlet to talk about them, and think about them, and to post pretty pictures of my baby girl, Savannah Rain (of course that means I’ll have to actually figure out how to post pictures on here).  Also, I’ve always thought blogs were fun.  I like the idea of seeing a little peak of someone else’s life, and I like the idea of sharing this part of my life.  It’s like a secret (totally forgot how to spell secret there for a second, I’m nervous, lol) that complete strangers can share in. 

With this nasty weather I haven’t been able to ride, and even being at the barn is almost unbearable, so I’m feeling a desperate urge for anything horsey.  Luckily my trainer and I are hauling Savannah (aka Savy) a couple of miles down the road to a friend’s barn to borrow their indoor arena.  I suppose I should talk a little bit about myself and my horse partner Savy.  It’s like an interview, you can decide if you want to keep reading the rest of my posts 🙂 

“Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quote perfectly explains my relationship with horses.  When I was 10 my cousin let me get on her little white pony named Casper and walk around in a little circle.  That was it.  I was totally and utterly hooked.  For the next 13 years my entire life revolved around horses, certainly all of my thoughts were on horses.  Being around horses, especially riding them, makes my soul happy.  Indeed, the only time I feel truly alive is when I’m with horses.  People often ask me why I spend so much time and money on horses, and I have a hard time explaining myself.  It’s really not a choice for me, it’s a feeling, a connection, and without it I feel empty.  Like I’m a zombie just going through the motions of life. 

And so FINALLY, at the age of 29 I bought my very first horse.  Miss Savannah Rain.  And even though I’ve ridden horses for most of my life and been very competitive, having my own horse is totally different.  Her happiness makes me happy.  Her and I have a connection and when I look at her, I know it’s there, and it was there from the moment I saw her.  Savy is a 3 year old Arab/Warmblood cross, she’s been undersaddle for about 4 months, and her and I are beginning our Dressage journey together 🙂 

I’ll let you know how our ride goes tonight…