First ride(s) of 2023.

I’ve really sucked at blogging. This should just be a blanket statement across all my posts. No apologies, no explanations, just facts.

A couple weeks ago, after we got the new truck, I finally hauled Nay out (of retirement) for his first ride since November-ish. He was shocked. Jiminy was shocked. He had a mild meltdown in the trailer (I need to add a mat to my back door), but he got over himself the second we arrived at the barn. Honestly? For a horse that has done NOTHING all winter, he was pretty great to groom and tack up.

I had low expectations. The plan was groom, toss his saddle on, then toss him on the line to see what I had. The bulk of my work was intended to be on the line. If it went well, MAYBE I’d jump on. If it didn’t, there was always another day.

He was pretty darn good.

And he was honestly a gentleman. I can’t explain it. He was relaxed, happy, and just good. He seemed to like having a job, but did express very clearly that MY MAIN JOB should continue to be a human stack dispenser. Noted Nay, Noted.

My actual ride was pretty uneventful. He was tired from the work on the line. And he felt a bit like steering a bus. But we walked around, trotted a bit, made sure our buttons sort of kind of worked, and called it a day.

We were stylish with one bell boot…

The next day I can’t remember? Easter? He got the holiday off. Then I worked him at home in the round pen. We free lunged on a super hot day (lunging was a near death experience — for me) and actually ended up having some fun with different cues. And Nay had his first bath and first toss himself on the ground post bath of the year… (missing bell boot still not located)

Then I came down with the world’s worst 4-day migraine and he had a weekend off. Plus the week. Which brings us to this past weekend.

Working is hard.

I planned to try and ride during the week. It didn’t happen. I was sure I’d ride Friday. I decided to binge The Diplomat instead. Motivation was lacking. Bringing a horse back into work is hard.

So Saturday morning I hitched up the trailer and decided to get this done. The weather was nice and sunny. The wind and storms hadn’t started so all was good. I drove the mile to the barn, pulled Nay out of the trailer (no loading issues this time) and BAM. Wind gusts took over. It was like living in a wind tunnel.

Nonetheless, we pushed forward with the same plan as our last ride. We groomed, tossed on a saddle, boots (missing bell boot has since been found), and headed to the ring. All the jump standards were down. But whatever. I decided to lunge by the road as it’s the scary end. Nay isn’t actually spooky, but there was a tractor parked near that end and the remains a of a burn pile smoldering so I figured it was a good place. There was one lunge whip but I grabbed a dressage whip instead (I have 2 in my trailer, but…lazy). As I’m getting ready, someone else walks in to lunge and immediately grabs the whip (I figured I’d be sharing) and it was in the prime lunge spot… So we start lunging and other than giving the fire remnants the evil eye, he’s fine. Anti going left (it’s always something), but we fixed it. And all was going well…

…And then another horse joins to lunge (and swaps with the other one in the ring). I think I’m finished as a buggy trots by. Buggies are Nay’s kryptonite. He gets very distracted/bothered by them, but doesn’t spook. If he’s working, I can usually channel him into work, but we had just stopped. He was fine. And then as we walked to the center of the ring, he unraveled. The new horse lunging was a touch exuberant. So we were reactive to that. And joined by a 4th horse. And Nay decided that it was too much to handle. He decides to do his best impression of a stereotypical Arabian. Tail in the air. Snorting. Stomping. Snorting. Complete embarrassment. I pretty much wanted out of the ring. But, you can’t leave on the note of horse being an idiot (as he tries to bolt with me while I’m holding the line.

Always looking for food. Always.

So, I decide if he has that much energy, we’re lunging again. I mean, I’m not getting on. I tell him to walk forward and in response, he rears. Lovely. Straight up, but no danger of flipping. Just an f-you type of rear. I had dropped my whip so I just tapped him with the rope, growled “get up” and sort of surprised him into walked forward. He thought about being a turd (this is when I realized he stopped being scared and was just working on scaring me) but a slight swing of the line and he was walked forward. And we lunged for maybe 5-6 minutes and he did… absolutely nothing. No buck, not bolt. He changed direction every time asked. Trotted, cantered, halted, went forward (with pace when I yelled “get up” because lazy was his MO when we started). And that was that.

And those riding told me to just get on, they could bail if he was stupid. But he was fine. One horse flew backwards when his rider hopped off for some reason so we jumped a bit (he was fine), but 5 minutes later when a huge gust of wind blew a chair across the arena? He didn’t even move an ear. Yeah. I know. It appears flying furniture is completely normal. (this was a call for everyone else to leave. It was a sign that my horse was quiet) We also cantered for the first time which was a slight disaster. Mostly in that I couldn’t keep my horse moving. Crop or spurs needed and Nay concluded my leg was a joke.

Sunday we were back at it. Cooler temps and wind still going, but less crazy. More lunging but on the other side. While it’s the side everyone likes (close to the in gate), the footing is deeper and Nay hates the deep corners. Tough. He was spicier this day on the line. Just wanted to canter, but did trot when asked. Both sides were equally spicy.

When I got on, he was again fine, but definitely spicy. I had to work for pace as he was looking for trouble. I just worked through poles randomly set throughout the arena and changed direction constantly. It seemed to work well with his brain. We had one spook/startle (there was a lot of activity going on around the arena), but I was able to leg forward through it vs stop and panic. The only unraveling was the canter. I was definitely sitting on a cannon. I had a crop and was able to keep going, but I did think I was going to be launched if he got his head down. The left was ok, but but the first time to the right? Hahaha. Pogo stick. The second time, I added more left, lots of tug tug with my inside hand and inside heel, and it actually resembled a canter. I could only keep it for a full circle around half the ring (it was hard) and Nay squealed about 7-8 times, but we did it.

And on this note, it appears boot camp has begun. We’re taking our first lesson this week and then we’ll be back, chugging away on our won.

The great fall of an old frenemy

Laramie (2006-4/5/2023)

It appears I have few photos of Laramie so we’ll take this photo of Laramie, Batt, and Michelle.

Laramie joined the family in July 2015 to replace a 1999 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie. A total rust bucket that tried it’s hardest but was doomed from the start. That truck was my mom’s but lived out its last years with me as a farm vehicle. But, as (one of) our mechanics said, “Do you actually like your horses? If so, don’t tow with this thing.” So, at the end of the day, that thing died. It was low mileage. But, it sat prior to our ownership (look for a theme).

In July, we found a 2006 Toyota Tundra (Fun fact, we got the tundra 2 days before Jiminy). Our budget was low. But, we liked the Tundra and didn’t know about the rust years. Lessons. Lessons. I learned to haul with the Tundra. Erik named him Laramie after the Ram. All was good.

And then it wasn’t. We put money into it. Lots. Had a frame scare that I really don’t wish to relive. Had a gas can leak from some squirrel eating a hole in the gas can. Replaced muffler. Replaced ALL the brake work. Multiple times. It was a sinking ship at times, but we went with it because it worked and buying a new truck wasn’t it the cards.

Then we ended up with a fuel leak.

Except Laramie wasn’t leaking fuel. You see, it was transmission fluid or something. And they also found that the frame needed to be replaced. And let’s just not go there.

So, this is where we bit farewell to Toyota (at least for now). There was a time where my driveway resembled a Toyota car lot. But, alas, I no longer own ANY Toyotas and for that I am extra sad. So, yesterday, I drove Laramie for the final time. And we left with a new vehicle. New used vehicle, but whatever.

Goodbye Laramie. I’d liked to say you were good to us, but let me instead say, you were a money pit. You were like a horse. Vet bill after vet bill. But, you taught me a lot. You taught be how to haul and now I move on. And I caution everyone else, NEVER. I repeat NEVER EVER EVER name your truck after a previous rust bucket. It won’t end well.

But for now, please meet Big Blue.

Maybe I’ll take more pictures, but I haven’t bothered since we test drove it… Oops.

Big Blue is a 2016 Ram 1500 and RUST FREE. Higher mileage. But corporate owned and only serviced by the dealer. He has more bell and whistles than I’d ever need and I still need to think through the process of turning him on let alone using all his extra features (though his backup camera is very much appreciated). Anyway, hopefully he’ll be in the family for a long time to come.

He’s all set up to haul, I just need to pick up a new ball hitch and we’re good to go. And I even learned how to turn off the back up sensors in advance! Lol. I guess this means Nay Nay’s 4 month vacation is coming to an end?

A visit with an old friend

I can’t talk about certain things right now (especially things involving transmission fluid and rust and lots of money I don’t have), but I can talk about the fact that I rode a horse for the first time in 4 months.

Last week I decided it was time I learned how to ride again and I reached out my trainer about a lesson. She questioned why I didn’t want to ride Mr. Nay Nay, but there was this whole thing about a fuel leak (oh how na├»ve I was back then) and I was temporarily lacking transportation. And he was feral (minor detail). So, we agreed on a time and a place and a lesson was scheduled.

Because I am the luckiest person in the world who happens to also be the most unluckiest person in the world, I was given the opportunity to ride the world’s best horse. And when I say the world’s best horse. You ALL should know exactly who I mean.

Ranger.

No one is better or more perfect.

He has long since earned his title as world’s best.

I am lucky to get to ride him.

It has been much too long.

I had 3 goals for the day:

  1. Get my boots on without breaking the zippers
  2. Remember how to tack up
  3. Get on without falling/dying

And while getting on was dodgy (Ranger needed to make sure I was serious about this, after all, his mid morning hay was about to be delivered), I did in fact get on and we meandered around at 6mph until my lesson started and I was told (not so politely) to pick up the pace. So with that, I began to ride.

I’m not going to bore you all with details of my not so exciting lesson, but one thing I found was, Ranger listened to my cues. All those cues that Nay Nay doesn’t necessarily understand, Ranger actually listed. Inside leg? Oh I’ll move off it. A little bend? Oh I can do that. Without riding for 4 months, I’ve retained a lot more and Ranger somehow listens to me way more than before at the trot and canter. Circles at all sizes? No issues.

We moved pretty quickly into over fences work. And other than a quick adjustment from some too big two point (oops), it went really well too and before I knew it, we were stringing fences together. We had one hiccup at one fence where I made the weird turn but stopped riding to the base and Ranger noped out of it, laughing the entire time. I swear, you could see the glint in his eye, knowing the power of his ONE trick. But, we took our time, picked up the canter, and I actually steered to the jump, not letting him get heavy on the right rein. And the second he realized I was riding? He was game to jump. No point fighting when his rider is actually riding. We finished up with a nice line, aiming for a 7, but getting a nice even 8 (the 7 would never happen without galloping). In the end, I couldn’t say enough nice things. For my first time riding in 4 months, we had 1 less than perfect jump (I could have ridden it better) and 1 duck and dart and everything else was perfect. Nothing was more than 2’3″ but who cares. I did hurt for…4 days. LOL.

We decided that ever 1-2 months we’re including a Ranger lesson because I need it (confidence) and it’s just plain fun. I haven’t had fun like that in forever. No pressure no stress just fun. I love Nay, I’m challenged by Nay, but Ranger just makes you feel like the world’s best rider. Sometimes you need that.

I got to end my ride with a wander-round the property. Who doesn’t need that?