Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Adjusting My Routine

Adjusting My Routine

The hardest part about this time of the year is the shorter daylight hours.  Since I have to go home and take care of my animals after work, I run out of time to ride in the park.  In the beginning of the month, I would rush out and take a quick ride with Kevin—just barely getting back before it was too dark to ride the guys home on the street.  I don’t mind the darkness—it is sharing the road with cars that bothers me.

That leaves me the loop and the arena.  It is so hard to ride, inside, when the weather is nice, that I have mainly been on the loop.  It is about a quarter mile long and is in the back of the property.  When our trail rides first started to get too short, I would tack on a few trips on the loop to lengthen my ride.

In the beginning, Cole was a handful.  He felt like I was riding a stick of dynamite, but to tell the truth, he never did anything truly wrong.  He did some prancing and walking with his head way up in the air—waiting for a reason to dash back home.  That is one of the reasons the loop can be tricky—the barn is in sight.

To counter his mood, I did a lot of walk/whoa transitions.  I clicked him when he was good, and that got his attention on me.  Once I had his attention, we practiced leg yielding and shoulder-in.  I still find shoulder-in difficult if I don‘t have a wall to guide me, but we were doing something lateral.

After a few weeks like this, I had a day I couldn’t get on the trail at all.  It was just way too cloudy.  It was too dark to ride on the street before I even started.  I would have to do my whole ride on the loop.

The big surprise?  He was fine.  That day, we were able to add trotting when we are going in the direction away from home for the first time this fall.  I’ve had little trouble, since.

One day, it started to pour just as I was going to go ride outside with him.  It seemed like hail, it was so loud on the metal roof.  I had to ride in the arena for the first time this fall.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I was in the arena.  Consequently, Cole was very, very excited about it.  There was one other horse in the arena, the rain was deafening and Cole wanted to perform.

Just leading him around it was a problem.  When he wasn’t doing a very enthusiastic silly walk or trying to stop and bow, he was bucking in hand.  I really didn’t appreciate that.  I tried leading a couple laps and then gave up.  It looked like I would have to ride if I wanted to get anywhere.

Remember when I talked about riding a stick of dynamite on the loop?  Multiply it by 10 times and that is how wound up he was.  Just as on the loop, I tried walk/whoa transitions with clicking good behavior.  It didn’t work as well, this time. I stayed on the safe side of the arena; doing circles, and the woman I was riding with stayed out of my way.

After about 15 minutes, I decided to try trotting.  I warned my riding friend.  Cole was still very excited, but I thought if I could trot, it would give him a direction for his energy.  Yes, it did.  He trotted so big and so bouncy that I nearly flew right off.  I think I went 5 strides and I asked him to stop—and clicked for the stop.  My riding friend was amazed at what he did.  She had never seen his show-stopping show trot before, and this was the show trot on steroids.

I spent the next 10 minutes or so working on trotting short distances on the circle.  I eventually was able to do a half circle at a time, but it wasn’t easy.  He did have 3 different bucking episodes that I had to manage.  

By now, the rain was abating and my nerves were shot.  My friend finished up her ride, and Cole calmed down a little since he was by himself.  We just walked, practiced side passing and turn-on-the haunches (his favorite.)  I made it a total of 40 minutes and called it a day.

I haven’t been in the arena, since.  I know I will have to, soon, but hopefully I can let Cole run around it, first, so get the excess energy out.  It is amazing that he would get so excited about being in there.  Hopefully, he will adjust to it in a reasonable time like he did the loop.  Otherwise, it will be a very long winter…

Monday, October 26, 2015


Int the world of cat blogs, this is Tocktober--the month when the cats show off their tocks.  My sister's cat, Stormy has the cutest tocks, that I had to show them off!

Princess - Feline Tyrant at Our Barn

Doesn't she look innocent and sweet?  Don't you want to give her a great big hug?  Well, you better ask permission, first.

Princess loves attention.  If I call her, she will typically appear within a minute for her pets.  Sometimes, she is up in the rafters of the indoor arena; hunting for barn swallows, and she will work her way back to me.  She will gallop across the hayloft, down the ladder and into my arms.  Even if I don't call her, she often tracks me down when she hears my voice.

Why does she like me so much?  I think because everyone else is afraid to touch her.  She is a ticking time bomb--ready to explode if you touch the wrong spot. No one has escaped the wrath of Princess.

Like a fool, I keep calling her and she keeps galloping to me for pets--until she has had enough!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Storm in the Dirt

When my sister emailed me to tell me that her cat, Stormy, was playing in the dirt, I never pictured this!  Look at those paws!  Thunder would be horrified.  Cats are not supposed to get their paws dirty! (According to Thunder.)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Vacation and Short Days

Vacation and Short Days

Ellen and I are in the middle of a great riding month—sort of.  We had a 4-day weekend for riding—with 2 more scheduled.  The weather has been mostly wonderful and the changing trees are gorgeous.  That’s the great part.  The sad part of October is the days are getting short, and so are my trail rides.  I am rushing home, gulping down a quick meal, taking the dog for a short walk, patting the cat on his head and running out to the barn for a very rushed ride.  (My cat is not happy about this arrangement.)  Still, it is better than riding in the indoor arena.  I have months of that ahead of me; no reason to start prematurely.

Last night, was the first time that I couldn’t make it to my usual short-ride turnaround spot.  Kevin left before me and I met him right before he was going to cross the river to go home.  He turned Starry around and rode with my 10 minutes before we had to go back home.  I don’t mind riding in the dark.  I just don’t want to ride on the road in the dark. 

When we got back, we walked around the loop in the back of the property for 3 laps.  I was glad to have company, because when I tried that a few days ago after my ride when I was by myself, Cole was a bit fidgety.  With Starry there, he did fine.  It won’t be long, and that will be all we will do until the weather gets crummy.

And that is why I like to take vacation time in October!  Our rides have been so wonderful—and uneventful—that there isn’t much to say about them.  Dante and Cole have just been dream horses.  We invite Starry along, sometimes, just so we can have someone who will misbehave.

They are staining the stall walls in our barn.  Ellen was out there the day they started.  The guy was brushing the bars to clean them.  Dante was very curious, wondering what he was doing.  Cole was attacking the brush.  Ranger was hiding in the corner of his stall.  We have 3 very different horses…

I get to review an item from Two Horse Tack!  Hurray!  Ellen and I just love our bling bridles.  I’m getting him a bling halter to match his bridle.  I think he will look so handsome in it. 

Last night when I was at the barn, Princess, the evil cat who loves me, came to talk to me.  She had a burr on the tip of her tail.  There was no way I was going to allow that, so with a little struggle I got it out—without a single scratch.  (I was rather proud of myself.)  She did seem happy about it and show me by not whipping her tail around quite as much.

Speaking of cats, Maggie the Cat needed an operation to remove a cyst in her ear.  Ellen and I said we would pay for whatever is left of the bill that other donations don’t cover.  We are lucky to have a vet tech at our barn who gets discounted vet care for the barn cats—not to mention how great it is to have someone with so much cat knowledge.  Sadly, her horse died a few weeks ago.  She is looking for another one, not only so we can have her feline expertise, but because she is a super nice person.

Maggie is doing well, but she has to wear the cone of shame until she gets her stitches out.  She isn’t happy about that, at all. 

Just waiting for the next long weekend…

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fun Fall Riding

Ellen and I are continuing to enjoy the fall riding season.  Last Friday, I took Cole out for a quick ride before dark.  It was very, very windy and cold.  That meant Cole was fast and fun.  We avoided getting hit by any falling branches, though we did hear a few ominous cracks. 

Saturday, it was rainy all day—except for a few hours in the morning—and that’s when Ellen and I zipped out onto the trail.  We kept the ride a little short because we didn’t want to get caught in the rain, but we still had fun.  It still wasn’t raining when we got back, so we took Ranger out for a walk on the hill to the river.  He was very hyper.  Leading Ranger is always great exercise.

Sunday was perfect.  We took Cole and Dante up to the show ring trails—doing our favorite back trail and also the front loop.  On the way back, we met Kevin and Starry after they just got up the very steep hill leading to these trails.  Poor Starry, he went up that huge hill, just to turn around and go back down.  All horses were as good as the weather.

This is such a boring blog post.  Such wonderful rides—it doesn’t give me much to write about.

My weekday rides with Kevin and Starry have been very short because it gets dark so fast.  We rush around do get home at a safe time.  I don’t mind riding in the dark, but we have that little bit by the street that I worry the cars won’t see us well enough.  At least we are still able to get out.  Soon, I will be stuck riding the loop in the dark, and once the weather gets crummy, I will begin to ride in the arena, again.  It has been so long…  It is hard to motivate myself to work in there.  We do have a lot of vacation planned in the upcoming weeks, so that will help with the transition.

The other night, after our ride, Kevin had heard that the International Space Station would be passing over us.  It was a perfectly clear night, so we were out there, waiting.  There are so many airplanes, we were worried we wouldn’t be able to know the difference, but we did.  At the precise time, we could see it going across the sky.  We waved, but I don’t think they saw us.

Vote for Stormy--cutest cat around.

Vote for Stormy--the cutest cat around

Please vote for Stormy for cutest pet.  I have been posting adorable pictures of my nephew for years because I think he is so irresistible.  Now, lets show the world how true it is.  Click on this link to give him a vote.