Destruction

So this week Harley went all “Hulk smash!” on his winter blanket AND a front shoe. Bro, I get it, you want a little break, you don’t have to destroy all the things.

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Ultimately neither of these things are a big deal because even though it is supposed to snow this weekend, the coldest part of the winter season has ended and he will be fine with his sheet. Plus, thanks to that same reason, blankets are on sale or coming on sale soon at most retailers. This is great because I won’t have to rush out and get him a blanket and I’ll likely be able to find a deal on one and not even have to use it this season. Who knows if he and I will still be together next winter, but at least I’ll be able to return him to his owner with blankets.

I met my friend at the barn on Sunday afternoon to have a pony playdate and another mutual friend came out to join us. Dumb me tacks Harley all up and then goes to pick his feet and darn it, sprung shoe. I untacked him, gave him a cookie, and made him come hang out in the arena with us while we took turns on my friend’s magical dressage haffie.

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After one and a half days of having to stand in his stall all day while all his buddies got to go outside and play, the farrier came and reset his sprung shoe. All it cost me was my lunch hour yesterday and a couple of rides. Harley considered the cost to be very high, indeed. When I got him out of his stall for the farrier he screamed like a ninny for 20 minutes because he couldn’t see his herd. Once they *finally* listened to him came around the corner to watch the farrier work, he calmed right down and mostly snoozed through the shoe resetting. Either that, or the Be Calm I smeared all over his nose started to work…

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He was delighted to go back out in the pasture and surprised me by not immediately rolling in the mud. He had the decency to wait until I went back to work.

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He had to remind everyone who’s boss when I turned him back out despite throwing a loud tantrum when he couldn’t see his friends. But now when they want to come stand by him…whoa…gimme some space, man! He chased my friend’s pony away from that little hay pile right before this photo was taken. His bark is usually worse than his bite. He is mostly in to mean glares and swinging his big butt around. Me too, Harley, me too.

I’m hoping to ride him tonight and we’ll see how much mud he has managed to smush into his mane. But after earlier this week, I’ll be pleased as punch if cleanliness is the only casualty!!

State of this Union

Man, how the hell have you all been? Notice anything different around here?

I have been doing my best to keep current with reading all of my favorite blogs but it’s been a minute since my last post. The theme has been “survival mode” over here on my side for several months now at work. It’s stressful and exhausting. I have been riding somewhat regularly thanks to a ridiculously mild winter here in Southern Indiana.

I cleaned house a little bit around here and I’m trying a new template and a sweet new EquiNovice logo that Genny made for me as a part of the blogger gift exchange! I love it, and this old blog was well overdue for a facelift! I hope you like the new style but if for any reason you don’t, or if something didn’t transfer into the new template well, I hope you’ll comment and let me know.

My handsome lease horse Harley has been good, but a little all over the place in terms of dealing with the season. He is a very sensitive horse with a dizzyingly busy mind. We have some amazing rides where he is tuned in and focused and then, for reasons I can never put my finger on, he will be spooky, completely disengaged, and frustrating to deal with both on the ground and under saddle. It’s a coin-flip which one I’ll get each night but I try to roll with it and not make my agenda the law all the time. If he is worried from the moment I pull him out of his stall, I might not ride that day- I’ll tack him up and lunge him instead. I’m trying to stick to a schedule in case some consistency and routine will help.

He’s super healthy and everyone always comments how great he looks around the barn. They can’t believe it when I remind them that he is almost 19. The only way you can really tell is when he sometimes takes a bad step behind or starts out quite stiff in his hocks, especially the right. He is due for injections but he has been sound the whole time I’ve had him and the work he does with me is much lighter than what he had been doing with his owner.

Genny sent him some delicious gingerbread treats and he LOVES them. He isn’t picky at all about treats but it was obvious he liked these more than most. Immediately after I gave him the first one he started nosing me and licking my arm for more. I have been diligently rationing them but he ate the last one last week.

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So in addition to the logo and the fancy treats, Genny also got Harley a blanket tag that I decided I wanted as a bridle tag instead, and some yummy scented candles for me!

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I’ve had a couple short work trips already this year and in true Harley fashion he maimed his face in protest of my absence…again. I thought it was fine when I first saw it, though it was dangerously close to his eye. Upon closer inspection and a gentle attempt to clean up some dried blood I was rewarded with a gush of smelly pus. Perfect. Thankfully, it did clean up really well and once I opened it and cleared it out it started to heal from the inside out and is almost completely healed up now. STAAAAHP trying to rip your face off when I leave town!!!

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For every spooktacular shit show, we have wonderful, productive rides that end in bareback cool downs and much fun is had. I cantered Harley bareback the other day and it was definitely a trust exercise, but it went really well and no people or ponies were harmed.

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fancy prancing looks best with some lipstick

He is by far the most complicated horse I have ever ridden. The minute I think I have anything figured out, he comes out and acts the opposite. Our 1-year Leaseaversary is fast approaching and while I wouldn’t say we are the best match there ever was, he has been a huge bright spot in an otherwise pretty dark year last year and I know that having him to ride; dote on; worry about; play with; care for; throw money at; or even just snuggle has made all the difference!

Slowly Making Our Comeback

I’d like to share some super positive news- my knee is doing great! Physical therapy for the win!

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After about three months of my knee feeling so awful I thought sure I’d have to give up riding to have yet another surgery, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am currently in what is known as the most dangerous phase of injury recovery because everything feels really good and it is easy to get complacent and either stop doing the exercises, or worse- assume that you are completely healed and promptly overdo it and re-injure yourself. It is a total mind game at this point.

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Harley is doing great as well and I’m sure he didn’t mind the break at all.

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We got mirrors in the arena a few weeks ago and everybody loves them. Someone really enjoys checking out how handsome he is on a regular basis.

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He has been very well-behaved lately and I even felt comfortable enough to cool him out bareback a couple of times. This is kind of a big trust hurdle for me and something I like to be able to do with every horse I ride. It’s always just for fun and not for very long, but it solidifies a partnership in ways that traditional schooling can’t. I don’t jump and don’t often get to hack or trail ride so this is the next best way to feel a little bit of that rush, take a chance, and trust that you’ll take care of each other. After falling off of him twice this summer, we really needed to reconnect and, as others have put it, refill that trust bank on both sides.

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Fall shots were uneventful and Harley got his teeth done. The vet said his mouth looked great and he only evened up a few mild points. He did ask me if I give Harley a lot of treats. I instantly said no thinking about other barn mates that constantly feed peppermints or the trainers who both have sugar cube pouches attached to their saddles. No way! I do give him treats but not all the time and not pure sugar. The vet grabbed a pliers and gripped it around Harley’s canine. I panicked for second thinking, “is he about to pull that tooth without even asking?!?!” But a moment later a thick whitish yellow cap crumbled off exposing his actual tooth. The vet said, “that’s pure sugar.” As the vet turned to put the pliers away I mumbled something about that being odd because I don’t feed him candy but he absolutely loves bananas. Dr. K’s head snaps back around and he starts telling me about another client of his with a horse only a few years older than Harley who has a tooth that is in such bad shape that it may have to be extracted and they said they feed him lots of bananas! And that is basically the story of how Harley doesn’t get any bananas anymore….

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We’ve had lots of very positive rides together lately and with the weather staying warm for so long I think Harley was feeling really good. He had good energy but wasn’t spooky or out of control and every time I asked him to give a little more or do something tough he tried so hard.

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Work travel and lots of clinics at my lesson barn have kept me out of lessons for a few weeks. I am hoping to remedy that tomorrow because I am definitely in desperate need of a lesson!! I really wish she could come give me one on Harley but it will be good to see Louie, too.

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Oh Happy Day

My first lesson back after a 6 week hiatus was a total win! It was great. The best part about riding someone else’s horse is that when you can’t ride, they have still been training super hard. I got to slot back in and feel like I haven’t missed a beat. She adjusted the lesson to try and make things relatively easy on my knee, but it was just as detailed in terms of pushing me to improve both my aids and my position. Getting Louie, french leather lover, to come on to the aids and lift and feel super light and ready is soooooo much easier than it was one year ago. It is a great feeling to hear my trainer comment how tall he gets and how great he is moving while I am riding him. I can’t seem to replicate this feeling much with Harley yet but I’ll allow myself to feel like I am at least on the right track.

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We walked for most of the lesson and worked on half-pass. Louie is such a funny boy and often makes us laugh during lessons because he is so tolerant and forgiving but you can always tell when his brain is about to explode and he has earned a break. He will totally let me keep him there teetering on the edge of sanity for a good long while as we try to get the right result before finishing the exercise. He is never naughty and doesn’t buck or bolt, you can just feel it through his whole body that you are really pushing him outside of his comfort zone- it’s kind of this potential energy, snorty, chaotic sensation. It’s the best. He’s such a good boy.

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Treats?!

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No treats…no photos

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My knee did very well. It was starting to get tired at the end of the lesson and that’s when I will have to be extra careful. I gingerly dismounted and paid very close attention to each step while untacking, grooming, and walking him back down to his barn. When I got home, I could really tell that it had been quite a bit of work for my knee. I was sore and my knee was a little swollen. I iced before going to bed knowing that I had PT the next afternoon so I needed my knee to be feeling good for another tough workout. I don’t want to push things too far too fast for fear of backsliding. Overall, I am very pleased to be back riding and thankfully with dressage, an “easy” workout doesn’t have to feel limited!

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