Suddenly, I Noticed..

After my post yesterday, it has become clear to me how much things have changed.  I’m going through a tranistioning period.  I’m growing up, I’ve been through some changes, loved and lost.  I’ve always had riding there to help me feel better and get away from it all.  It makes me feel so much better when things are down or helps me appreciate and cherish when things are good.  Riding creates a balanced life.  So, since last December, when I took one of my last, good rides on Ink, I have been in a balance shifting state, which has notably gotten worse considering it’s been over half a year since I’ve had a real riding program there! 

I have to coach myself. “Riding is not there like you want it to be…so get over it!  Be patient.”

Yesterday, I thought that I would take a breather, something I have not been doing unknowingly.  I went up to see Reason in his paddock and, as odd as it may sound, I told him in the only way I knew, what was going on with me.  The rest of the day was great!

I brought him down where Reason enjoyed his treats and goodness in his stall before I took him on a walk.  We took a walk down to the arena where we hung out solo.  He stood at the mounting block where I draped over his back, touched his “oh-so-sensitive” ears and did other things.  Those other things consisted of me laying my sweater over his neck, face, eyes and ears.  He didn’t care on bit, except, there were no treats to be found! 

As we were walking out of the arena, A* was trotting a horse in-hand and this caught Reason’s immediate attention.  I remained soft, relaxed and a calm attitude and sure enough this translated to him and although still really interested in what was going on, the dark bay dude stayed with me!  As a reward for his good behavior, I took him to graze. 

Overall, I have to say Reason was so good yesterday and I felt much better afterwards.  When I was letting him graze, I noticed something suddenly.  How much he’s filled out – wow!  He’s losing that race-horse appearance and starting to look like a very handsome guy. 


Inside Loops.

I miss riding so much, ok there, I said it.  I’m not looking for pitty, I’m just saying.

Riding was so good for me mentally and physically.  I’m trying to keep myself occupied without the riding factor, but man, going to the barn everyday really is straight to the heart.  That’s the worst place to be when what you want to do is ride..

I’m constantly remembering some awesome rides Ink and I had.  It is pretty much everyday when I see something that reminds me of him and I think back and all I can do is miss him and our rides.  Everything was clear to me when Ink passed, but my emotions are still messed up.  It’s almost like he’s not gone.  I can’t even say if I truly even understand what I’m feeling.  It’s so weird.

Reason is my future and I have to stay focused on that, or else I won’t move forward.  I don’t know if it’s me or what, but I feel as though I’m not letting myself get close to him.  I’m not sure if those are the right words or not, but I just feel this block up and I’m not sure what it is or why it’s there.  In the present, I’m very much feeling bland and disconnected, even though I’m staying positive for the future.   

Hard-Core, those Race Horses.

Yesterday was not cool.  I guess I could say that yesterday was a low point with Reason.  Ah, it happens.  My main question for myself though, is why?  Mis-communication happens for a reason, we are well aware.  But why?  Where did it go wrong and where do you begin?

Enter retraining Thoroughbred racehorse.  They know what the bridle means.  Connect A and B here: bridle (a) equals work (b).  Work of course means running.  All these things that we don’t think about come into play with an exracehorse.  When you break your average horse in regards to the bridle, you are first teaching them to like and/or accept the bit and bridle.  It means nothing to them, as this would be the first introduction.  It is up to us to create a happy connection with the bridle and horse, teaching them that it’s a positive experience.  Racehorses are already well aware of the bit and bridle.  They know exactly what it means.

Racehorses are intense creatures, unique to their kind.  They are bred, born and trained to do something that many absolutely live for and love.  Some are more hard-core than others.  Some are not open to anything but this life they love making retraining a very fine balance.  You cannot use fire against fire.  For even the most naughty of race horses need a very kind and forgiving hand before they look your way.  Ink was very much that hard-core racehorse.  He was tall and statuesque, so to speak, with his personality and view on the world.  Each piece of him had to be neaurtured and he only allowed this to happen once you understood him.  I never wanted to break the racehorse mind out of Ink.  I wanted to take the good it had to offer and apply it to his new life. 

Back to the bridling.  These horses are well aware of who and what they are.  Bridling is part of the window to their ingrained job and life.  You can’t just shut the window and expect the horse to ditch it’s past.  You have to look through the window, you have to let the light in from your side and allow the light in from their’s.  Bridling, as well as so many other aspects, large and small, are part of your observations through the window.   You have to understand what exactly the bridle stands for them.  It’s not a big deal mind you, it’s just what they know. 

As much as I know the easy observation of a horse who happens to be an ex-racehorse, being “frisky…”  cough-cough, Reason, could very well be blamed on crisp, cold air, limited exercise (none, except hand-walking and his own play-time in his paddock), there is that ever-apparent, one very important factor that is over-looked.  The bridle.  Just as we teach our horses to respond to our aids, leg, seat etc, the bridle seems to trigger a response all in itself as it’s own artificial aid to a racehorse. 

Reason was a frisky, impatient boy yesterday.  I bridled him up, because I was thinking (to re-wire the bridle response) was to begin hand-walking him with it on.  This, I thought, would disconnect the bridle to the idea of running.  Once the cycle was broke, Reason would then revert to me to get answers, instead of assuming the racetrack was coming – yippe! (I don’t want to bridle him up during every hand-walk as that would be over-kill and almost defeat the point.  Randomly would be best.)  Yesterday I did just that, bridled him.  He stood patient and was almost insisting for the bit.  But once we began on our walk down to th arena (which I’m thinking is another fault of my own) his head was up, he was ON and ready! “…no racing Reason!”  I thought in my head. 

Sure enough he was ON.  The bridle pushed that button inside his head.  You’d be surprised the difference from halter to bridle when in the same exact situation.  The damage was done.  Once he’s in this mind-set, there is not a lot to do other than to be understanding and ask for unusual things bits at a time to try to collect his mind back.  Reason was pretty disconnected from me.  The only other thing I could do was correct him when he was getting frisky, which could escalate to a safety issue if not corrected.  But it’s such a balance, so much finesse!  I had to find the less invasive, attention-grabbing, respectful way to get Reason’s attention.  But my corrections did little help the situation.  (Backing, turning on haunches etc).  His mind, later, was not fried per sey, but he was defiantly closed off from any ideas at all. 

As I was walking him back to the barn, he was still being disrespectful of me.  I didn’t back down, but he didn’t care.  Again he was so ON that anything was going to set him off.  I finally thought that I just had to let him rest mentally, because as this point there was no getting him back.  (Unless of course we could use a roundpen or something, which we can’t due to his injury.)  I lead him over to a patch of grass, where he was crazily insisting to take him.  I did, thinking this might help him come back down.  I should have let him retreat there for more time, but I didn’t.  I tried picking up his head, more concerned about getting the bridle off and tying him back up where he is most agreeable and calm.  I tried picking up his head from the grass (which normally only take a little tug) and he struck out in disapprovement.  He was not being mean but he was clearly distressed and resorted to that tactic to get me off of him, to say.

This was an unacceptable behavior, but I couldn’t correct Reason without adding to the situation.  I had to handle him delicately.  I ignored him as if I had my angel back on the end of the lead and led him to the tie pole.  It was fairly close.  He was still on the muscle.  Once tied, he sifted around like he was ready to trot on a hot walker, but quickly calmed down.  I left him tied for quite a while, bridle still on, on top of the halter, in hopes he could relax in peace to think and come back down.  A while later, about 30+ mins, still standing calmly, I was certain his episode was over.  I was a little wrong.  He was still on the muscle.  Now at this point I could blame weather, the fact that it was past feed time, on his continuous friskyness.  But he was less intense and frustrated.  I walked him back to his paddock with the bridle on and despite his insisting to go to his feed bin, I made him wait and then took the bridle off.  He was calm enough at this point that I thought it was appropriate to expect the manners.  

I left him to eat and that was that.  

It was difficult and frustrating situation, but it’s making me think and learn more.  None of which was Reason’s fault.  I just have to learn how to handle the situation and react appropriately to not allow him to continue being ON.  

Today will be a better day.

Before I leave the post, I do have to say, Ink was much the same in the beginning.  I also think that Reason is going to be something else when he gets to riding.  I tink he’s going to be very talented.  I’ll write more about that later!

Surprise, Surprise!

On Friday, it was another cool, brisk, foggy evening at the barn.  Perfect conditions for me to enjoy a ride.  But, no riding, which means I get to enjoy to fresh horse, Reason…handwalking.  Oh poo, not fun!  I wish I could enjoy him under saddle, the prefer way to enjoy ‘fresh.’ 

I was surprised however, Reason was not fresh, frisky, wild etc. (Ok, exagerating on the ‘wild’)  He was quiet, calm, inquistitive.  We arrived to find barn owner and two boarders down at the lower arena.  All of which were at the ending of their rides.  We were shortly left down there solo.  I walked Reason for a little bit around the arena and then proceeded to practice moving the haunches and walking around me. 

I contemplated sitting up on him.  I have done that once already.  To my, not surprise, he was fine.  But so confused as to why treat giver was up there and not on the ground.  Friday however, I decided not too, for whatever reason.  He was being so good with only a couple baby silly moments :).

On a side note though, I am so happy to report that my new T-Sport wraps arrived!!  Yippee!!  No more fleece polos! 

The T-Sport Wraps: Reasons Fav.

I love, love the EquiFit T-Sport wraps!  Recently however my pair, that I prefer over any other polos or wraps, started acting funky.  When I went to remove them, the material that lays on the leg, would become sticky and pull hair along with it – ouch!  It was acting like a band-aid.  Then when I’d go to hose them off after use, they would dry and the material would stick to itself.  When I’d go to roll them up, once dry, I’d have to peel them apart  from one another and material would get peeled off. 

I sent an email to the company regarding this problem to see if there was anything they could do.  I got a prompt reply the very next day requesting that I send them in for a new pair.  That was easy and on top of that, the lady I worked with was friendly! 

I sent them in on the 29th of August and now am awaiting my new pair! 

I love these polos because when you un-wrap them, you await a cooler, tighter leg than what you’d get from your average polo.  I want to get a second pair, but they are expensive at nearly $90 for two.  But, I have to say, they are worth their price!

The only problem I’ve encountered, is that you must take care with application.  Unlike a normal polo, these are easier to wrap.  They contour to the leg so nicely.  But, if you apply with too much pressure, these stretchy wraps can become too tight. 

I’m patiently awaiting the arrival….

You can read more on the t-sports here.

Errika’s Many Adventures.

Errika and I are busy adventuring.  Things are changing, she’s getting older and I feel like we’ve missed out some.  Her days in the arena are pretty much over and all I want to do is take her on trail rides and to various places, anywhere.  Anywhere, even riding down to the local drive-thru for a shake.

It takes a special horse to do these things with.  That is safe in traffic, with excited kids who insist on yelling, “HORSE!” at the top of their lungs and with all the scary stuff normal horses are afriad of.  I wouldn’t do this with any horse.  But I love Errika, know her very well and we trust eachother.  She’s such a champ, with an active mind.  She’s not a dead-broke, lully-gaging horse.  She’s curious, happy and loves to explore as much as I do.  Up and down hills, through creeks, down neighborhood roads, to the local 7-eleven…hehe. 

If she was younger, I’d consider a trip across the U.S.  She would have been an absolute perfect mount of such a thing.  Being Arab she’s always had energy to spare and is hardy as…an ox.  I can’t do that, but I can do mini trips through the hills and down the roads. 🙂

Errika and I have had 7 years together.  I love her with all my heart!

We took a short trip to the beach on Saturday.  What a nice time it was.  Kind of lonely, but nice.  Errika was a wild thing throughout the whole stay on the sand.  I asked for one good gallop, but held her back quite a bit because we haven’t been doing much lately.  What a trooper she was. 


I’m Starting to Like That…

When I first got Reason he was very sensitive to the touch around his ears and upper neck.  Over time, of patting him down, from hind end to front, I slowly began to work up the neck.  I rubbed his head, less conerned regarding that but still not sure about.  Once he became OK with that and accepting of it, I started to scratch around the ears because I could tell he secretly liked that!  Now he lets me play with his ears and pat up his neck!  We hit the milestone of acceptance the other day.  Excited of this, I had to get a vid clip ;).  And here it is…  He was much better than what I caught on video, but you can get the idea.

Then here’s a little added bonus…  Last week or so, I got to the barn very hungry so I sat down and had some of my chinese take-out.  I thought what better way to eat than with Reason.  I sat on his feeder while he bugged and bugged me for some!  I finally gave in and held out a noddle (which I figured he would put his nose up to).  Reason took it from the palm of my hand, played with it and eventually dropped it only to return to trying to stick his nose in the little carton.  Silly!  🙂