Ranger Recap: rollbacks and craziness

First off, just want to thank everyone for the kind comments. I appreciate them all more than I can say.

I also appreciate this thing. Because, Ranger cures all.

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How can this face not make you smile?

But, unlike last week’s perfect lesson, this week’s was decidedly NOT perfect. It was, well, hard.

But, hard means brain engagement which means that I can’t think or dwell on life. WHICH is not a bad thing. At all. So, yay?!

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Ranger was less enthusiastic… 

We started off with our typical basic warm up. Trotting, trot circles, all of that. Then my trainer decided she didn’t like my post. So, we did the stupid “up, up, down” exercise where you rise for 2 beats, sit for one to ensure that you are sitting softly and really controlling every beat of the trot. Yeah. It sucks and you have to think constantly or it’s impossible. And I’m thinking, “riding all these years and I can’t post? WTF?” But, I managed to forget thinking about life so that was a success… Then, the bigger struggle came. Posting normally. COMPLETELY impossible. After finding the “up, up, down” rhythm, it’s impossible to post normally. Just saying. Ugh. Finally managed to post again.

Cantering wise, we picked up a lovely quiet and almost dead canter. But, as I was feeling that way, I just went for it and enjoyed the ride. I’m pretty sure we started with the right lead. Then, at some point, we cut through the center for our right to left lead change. I did need to remember to actually move from a dead canter to a real canter in order to get the change, but being outside, Ranger does the change without anything but a slight weight shift and a tiny kick. I don’t know if it’s just that they’re easy for him now or if it’s being outside… left lead canter was more of the same. We went back to being dead until it was time to do our flying change. Easy again. Then we walked. Because he is perfection.

We started off cantering into (left lead) the white outside single towards the road turning in the air BEFORE the wall of jumps and continuing around to the other outside single. The picture below shows the basic placement of jumps (the plain brown rails/standards has moved slightly so that you land facing the gate) though the super tiny jumps are actual jumps). First time through the turn was fine, but I continued turning rather than staying out once I got towards the second jump, if that makes sense? Second time, significantly better.

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Next, we kept the first jump the same, but instead of turning to the second outside single, but we instead made the tight turn to the brown boxes/blue and white standards and continued around to the brown plain rail/standard jump heading to the in gate (which is why the picture above isn’t quite accurate). Going over the first fence, I sort of forgot to turn, so Ranger assumed (incorrectly) that we going straight. He listened (because he is a saint) and turned anyway, executing a perfect full change even though we almost died and barely escaped the green tree and made it over the brown boxes and the around to the plain rails nicely (halting on the landing).

We did that again, making sure we were to actually NOT DIE. But, the plan was to continue around from the brown rails to the out of the inside line (blue and white standards. It went fine.

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best view ever.

Next time through, we continued on (building blocks for brains like mine that don’t work… I think at one point the words “are you insane?” came out of my mouth) after the out of the inside line around to the log jump to the second tree jump as a broken line. Except, this time we chipped the first jump and the entire thing was super ugly as I never really got a nice rhythm. I pulled hard over the brown rails and but could NOT land on the correct lead. Despite this, we continued to the out of the line without a simple change and got a crappy spot. The log to the tree though was nice.

Next, we rode to the SAME SPOT of the single (SAINT HORSE) and then either stopped or continued to the brown before starting over… I can’t remember. Either way, we were eventually told to reset.

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So happy

At some point, we rode our final course. We FINALLY managed a nice enough (all my first courses had nice first jumps and then I lost it? who knows…)  first jump, an OK second jump) and FINALLY nailed the lead over the brown rails!!! With an established rhythm, we were fine to the blue and white and the rest of the course was easy. Actually, even when the course sucked, the last 2 jumps were always easy…

We ended there, thank goodness. Ranger was tired. I was tired. And why risk having to do more? Ranger saved my butt more times than should have been necessary with that first jump… Or that blue and white jump thanks to be screwing up the lead out of the brown rails…

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Gorgeous night!

We ended the evening with a leisurely walk around the field. I enjoyed. Ranger? Who knows. He wanted his treats, but I’d like to think he had fun. Though I’m sure he’d have appreciated the shorter route, not the long one I took…

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It’s so hard being Ranger!

Stuffed with treats, he finally got to join his friends.

 

Saint horse, you cure everything.

Burnout.

I was planning to write this earlier and then work got in the way.

And then I got an email today that shouldn’t have ruined me but did.

Here’s the thing about me. I care. Way. Too. Much. So, as a result, I either put no effort into something or I put 110% into everything. There is nowhere in between.

I’ve been joking with Michele about her taking Jiminy to TN and she’s not allowed to, but in the back of my mind, I keep thinking, what if I did send Jiminy to TN? That would leave me with Batty and Subi. Obviously I’d never be able  to ride again, but if I got rid of Batt, then I’d just  have Subi. Could I board him somewhere? Put him down? WTH? I know  I’m just stressed.  Stressed with work, stressed with life. Stressed with money. Stressed with migraines. And burned out. And it’s raining. And everything looks like crap.And my yard it washing away. And nothing is good.

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Mini for sale?

And I’m not having fun. I feel like utter crap. I need to ride and enjoy at least Batt and things will be better and I know  it. But then weather sucks ALL THE TIME and I don’t have  anyone to ride with and I’m not exactly motivated to start solo trail riding through Fair Hill…

And then Batt ruins not ONE but  TWO  fly sheet (one was repaired and the other was on it’s last legs) and the 2 I bought both didn’t fit…

And then I checked my personal email  (that I don’t check obsessively) and had the most WTF email from my former boss. And I’m back to being upset and done and  in tears about my former teaching job. I wasn’t fired, but position was eliminated (but part of it was advertised before I was let go) but here is huge long list of all the reasons why I’m a terrible person….:

*complained about the horses (I regularly described a few of them as saints and did try to explain that a few of students where terrified of a couple and blamed the issue on the student — FOR RIGHT OR WRONG)

*complained about the people (I miss my students terribly so I’m not sure where this came from)

*turned away those you didn’t want to teach (I turned 1 student away because I was told I could.  They regularly NO SHOWED even when they confirmed they would be there. Didn’t return calls/texts, then cancelled 5 minutes before the lesson or just failed to show up. Then when he was there, it was as struggle. Then they’d fall off the face of the earth for a while. )

*only wanted to teach those that could get their own horse (I was happy to catch/tack up???)

*only wanted to teach older teens or adults (I just happen to like adult beginners. Meaning first time on a horse adults. I do better with them then teens or kids. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t teach the others?????? I was happy too. I  had an 11 year old, a 13 year old, a 56 year old, a 17 year old, and  a 70 year old who just stopped riding). 

*only wanted to teach certain hours/days  (I’m sorry, I said I only wanted 1 day/week. Once I was allowed to do Saturdays, this was the day I stuck with (unless doing make ups). I work an hour 20 minutes from the barn.  I  leave work at 5. There are no lights (I did teach teach from car lights once, but it wasn’t safe).

*appeared annoyed if asked to do a trail ride (I guess I  just have an annoyed appearance. I just like to know when there are trail rides. Though maybe the time when I was soaked through and frozen from torrential rain I may have been annoyed.I thought I w as just cold.)

 

*complained when you didn’t get a tip for trail rides (I once made the statement that I don’t care if I ever get tips for trail rides. But, the trail ride that called constantly making complaints and changes and  showed up late and blah blah…Then I was asked by then boss if they tipped. I said no. That may have been my one exception to my tipping rule. But, had they said thank you and  not complained about wearing a helmet? That would have been nice too.)

*didn’t pick up after your students (I’m not the last person in t he barn. I  swept up after  my lessons, but I wasn’t the only lessons of the day. Maybe  I should have swept up after the boarders or the owner’s daughter’s lessons, but…)

*had to clean up after you and your lessons every week (If this were going on every week, why was nothing said?)

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I want young,healthy,and sound back.

*didn’t make sure horses were cared for properly after lessons (I did. To the point that several times I double checked that a couple horses were  OK  to go out. I also purchased my own fly spray to use on horses for trail rides  and lessons because none was provided for the lesson horses. It was the cheap bronco stuff, but it was better than nothing. I also sunscreened noses before turn out or applied stuff to rain rot…)

*didn’t even ask lesson people to participate in horse shows (I did. They said no. Or one showed until she decided didn’t enjoy it. )

What you also fail to remember or tell anyone, are the many things that we did for you, including:

 Helped you with lessons and to get ready with trail rides (I guess thank you wasn’t enough)

Let you bring your horse for the day (I always asked and I always said thank you)

Gave you vet advice on many occasions (I have certainly shared this. Do you need a list?)

Took off a day of work to come be with you to put Haley down (  While I don’t talk about this much at all, this counts as one of the kindest things anyone has ever done. But, I have mentioned it and the people who need to know, know.)

Treated you as one of our barn family (I apologize if I forgot my  place as the hired help)

Paid you fairly (at least 30%) of lessons/trail rides (I’m sorry if I should have been paid less than this?????)

Provided you with new lesson people (yes? I scheduled some, others chose to ride elsewhere  or failed to ever respond. 

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Even he looks happy.

You treated my customers as though they were only there for your financial gain and not mine.  Your actions came at a price to my business and impacted it negatively, so if you want to read the above and then tell me again that I’m the one that was unprofessional or lacked integrity, go ahead and try. (I was either fired or my position was eliminated.  You cannot have it both ways. Maybe I lack integrity, but, as the owner of a business, if I was this terrible of a person and that terrible of a horse person, why was this NOT ONCE DIRECTLY DIRECTLY DIRECTLY addressed to me? Dear Sarah, these are all t he things you are doing wrong. Please improve by this date or you will need to go. Thank you, the Management. ? Yes, in person would be better, but things don’t work that way… I haven’t responded, I don’t know that I will. I’m not sure I have anything I want to say. I’ve said it all here. I’m sure we have mutual acquaintances and maybe  she’ll read this blog and comment (joy of moderated comments). But,  I don’t care. I’m  done. )

The truth has multiple sides. I don’t know what it is. I just know that I’m sick of putting  my heart and soul into things and getting  flattened.

I really hate the horseworld sometimes.

And horses?  They take so much out of you. Is it worth it?

Does anyone want to a horse? Do I really mean that? I don’t know.

But I miss this.

 

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I miss days on this horse.

 

Ranger Recap: Jumping through the black clouds

I haven’t been blogging much. Honestly life has been busy and sucky and I haven’t felt like it. The weather in SEPA has been ugly and rainy and hot and humid and gross. And I temporarily moved to Atlanta for a conference. And I really haven’t had much content and too much content. And who knows?

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Sometimes kids detonate fireworks in your mailbox…

I had a fabulous lesson 2 weeks ago and a great one the week before that. But, 2 weeks ago I didn’t get around to blogging because I left the next day for a conference and by the time I got back (conference was energy sucking), I forgot all of the details. But I remember Ranger being incredible. And I rode inside. Because rain.

Sometimes your husband falls through the ceiling… And stuff isn’t properly framed.

Last night I finally had another lesson and the weather held out for a lesson outside! My back has been KILLING me (why? no clue), but improved enough not to cancel. I was thrilled to see Ranger. He was happy to get treats. He works for food.

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And your horse is really gross. 

After some warm up on my own (ow my back), we did a little more trotting, some halts (thank you Ranger for halting with you head up and making me look good). And circles. To the left our tiny circles were LOVELY. To the right, my hip was stiff as a board (strange because my other hip was killing me on Saturday/Sunday when I could barely walk) and we had to circle a couple times before our attempt was deemed acceptable.

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Jiminy got a new fly mask!

 

That said, cantering was lovely. Flowy forward canter. One left to right flying change (SO MUCH EASIER OUTSIDE) then flowy right lead canter. A quick right to left flying change, being careful not to ask him to speed up until we hit the center of the ring. And then we walked. Such a good boy.

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Devon 3 and under lead line insanity. 

We started off working on a figure-eight over the log jump. So, we cantered in left lead, turned right in the air, cantered back over it, turned left in the air, then continued back over it the same way we initially approached it. We did this 4-5 times. Other than being directionally challenged while this exercise was explained to me, I actually really enjoyed this. Ranger was slightly confused as everything was new to him as it was a new course so today was the first time for everything. I rarely get to be the first one to jump him over the course. So much more fun.

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New course!

Next we cantered right lead over our inside single (stone pillars going away from the road) and then continued around to the inside line (blue and while standards starting with the TINY brown pole). The tricky part was that the line comes up VERY quickly so if you don’t look as you’re landing, you’ll miss it. That said, my issue was the jump was tiny and Ranger didn’t care so I had to almost over ride the in of the line. The other issue was the first time I failed to realize where the inside single was and I turned first looking at the out of the inside line… then I correctly but had the wrong canter and Ranger was a bit heavy… Take 2, Ranger was better but wanted to be strong (though he listened PERFECTLY WELL). Take 3, we had a lovely canter to the inside single and I just touched my fingers to the reins once to lift him up and he stopped his attempts to be heavy. The inside line was perfect as well and I FINALLY got effort for the baby in (the out was actually a significant jump). This time we continued around to the outside single which was light and perfect. Ranger thought for a moment about being heavy, felt my finger tug (seriously, that was ALL it took) and got right off his front end. THIS HORSE IS PERFECT.

We took a short break (humid as hell) before ending with the inside single (stone pillars jumped the opposite way–heading towards the road rather than towards the in gate) around to a bending line. To get to the first jump you had to go between these 2 stone pillars basically going close to the the outside one around what could also be jumped as a single on the outside. We jumped everything perfectly the first time and ended there. My trainer was convinced he’d be wiggly, but there was no wiggles from him at all. He was just on. Perfect horse.

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Simply the best. 

Because Ranger works for food, he was stuffed with peppermints before I turned him and his friends out… Evidently I made him wait too long for treats. I slacked on my treat giving duty. Oh well, sorry Ranger. I owe you.

 

Ranger Recap: Lightning, thunder, and rainbows, Oh my!

We had some really gorgeous weather this week which was spent tending to Batt’s abscess. Exciting, right? As of this morning, it’s still there. I have a message into my farrier so hopefully I’ll be able to get him out. But, we’ll see. We have days he look better and then, nope, right back at square one. All of this makes me think it starts to drain and then closes back up. This morning I pulled off his wrap (meant to do it last night, but lightning storm) and didn’t see anything and when squirting iodine on his hoof, I got a reaction (major reaction) on his heel (and found a soft spot there too). Then I started prodding his heel like any good mother. More reaction. More iodine in squirting on his heel, more reaction. More prodding. So, I’m assuming the abscess is coming out his heel? At least it explains all the toe walking and why turns are the hardest thing ever. But, with all my prodding, I will win Mother of the Year. I’ll deal with it more when I get home.

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Lovely scar tissue hoof… this is what happens when you rip off 3/4 of your hoof as a 2 year old… It looks ugly but when he doesn’t have an abscess, he’s sound on it. Moreso than when we tried to make it look good. Lots and lots of scar tissue…

I also turned him out for a while the other day with his soak bag because I was lazy and had other stuff to do. Jiminy tried to eat the bag. Again, Mother. Of. The. Year.

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Can you spot the teeth marks?

But, enough about Batt, on to Ranger!

Ranger was NOT HAPPY TO SEE ME AT ALL.

He lost his BFF Elliot. Elliot now goes out with Coffee, rodeo horse turned princess (trainer’s husband’s new rodeo horse who was NOT happy to be out in the storm last night because he’s a princess now). Ranger is out with Mikey and Forrest now. He’s just as obsessed with his BFFs so who cares? Anyway, his friends were outside, he had already had a lesson earlier in the day, and I was there to make him work again rather than just give him carrots? What the hell man?

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Former BFF Elliot

So, we were poorly behaved in the cross ties. Normally poor cross tie behavior waits until post ride. Not today. Ugh. And it was looking ominous outside. Double ugh.

So we finally made it outside and watched the last course of the pony ahead of us. Then we proceeded to truck around the ring like crazy people at the trot. Thankfully after one circuit, Ranger came to his senses and decided to listen to me and returned to a normal trot. Meanwhile the sky became more ugly. We added in the circles and it’s finally clicked that if I add inside leg FIRST then we don’t fall in AT ALL when we circle. Anyway, our circles were lovely and balanced, regardless of size and impressed my trainer. Yay!

We walked and then, being warned that the storm was imminent, picked up the canter. I think we may have only cantered one direction… We cantered around, circled some, and then added in this “tiny pile of poles resembling a cross rail” and continued doing that landing right lead about 4 or 5 times before asking to land left. Which we actually did successfully. However, after landing left, I actually died and needed a break. So we walked.

Highlight of my week? I finally have a utility sink. And a crazy complicated feed program…

We next cantered over the log jump around around to the outside line that I love. I could NOT for the life of me see the spot to the log. We added and I jumped ahead because ???

Next, we did our white oxer and were to do the inside broken line around to the outside line. Except I turned back to the log because I can’t follow directions. And I didn’t even jump the log well and chipped it.

So we started again. And talked about how when I have the longest stride possible, it’s hard to adjust. So instead, I collected my reins and his stride and actually rode and followed directions. And you know what? It was better! Shocking! We landed on all our leads and hit our spots and everything was nice. We were a little forward landing from the in of the broken line and I had to collect a bit after stride 2, rather than sitting for stride 1 and 2, but the line worked out well. I also needed to woah a bit for the outside line, but again, I adore the line and it worked out perfectly.

We took a minute to catch our breath (OMG humidity) and managed to get one last coarse in (thunder was rolling in). This time, we rode conservatively to prove we could. If we’re more forward, we can land the lead, but the conservative ride, nope. So we missed every. single. lead. Ha. But, he was a good boy and did everything I asked. We got in the barn and the skies opened up.

And the lightning started.

And we waited.

And waited.

For 30 freaking minutes until I felt safe enough to turn him out. So much lightning. And rain. OMG.

Ranger had a melt down. While all the horses were melting outside because… rain. Ranger was melting down, because, OMG no friends inside with him and he needed to be OUTSIDE OMG NOW.

Idiot.

On my way out, I came across the most incredible rainbow.

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Most amazing rainbow. And a random stranger’s house. 

And then another storm.

Stuck in a rut.

Following the drama of last week (I did, by the way, receive my final paycheck), I spent all week looking forward to a trail ride on Saturday with Michele.

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Pathetic. Freeloaders.

Less a fabulous lesson on Ranger that almost didn’t happen due to a conference that had me out of town on my usual lesson day, the week basically sucked. I could talk about my lesson, which was FABULOUS, but I find when I have terrible weeks and my life sucks, for some reason, I feel the need to keep my lessons to myself. Let me just say that Ranger can cure anything and the lesson ended with the jumps getting hiked up for a final course. We cooled out with a walk around the fields and just for a moment, all was right in the world.

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Ranger fixes problems.

Good mood vanished pretty quickly when I headed over to the vet to pick up meds for Batts allergies/heaves to find that even though they said they’d leave it in the pick up box (that I couldn’t find), it wasn’t there. One bag of stuff was, just not mine. Ugh. Next morning I got up at 3:30 to head to a conference where my first presenter was LATE. And a whole lot of other drama. Finally on Friday, got back to vet, found out someone else had picked up my meds, got the meds…

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Conference views

Which brings us to Saturday. Feed horses, all seems good, got out to open the gate and notice Batt is toe walking on his right hind. Shit. He’s not lame yet, but he’s not sound. Abscess. I text Michele in disgust cancelling our trail ride, toss a muzzle on Jiminy, throw the horses on grass, and basically sit in my backyard and cry. I had a why me pity party. It wasn’t pretty.

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Toe walking and proud of getting out of work. 

Then I got a text from the mom of the ONE STUDENT I didn’t contact about me no longer teaching (I only taught her 2x, barn owner taught her once or twice) as they have no loyalty to me. I ASSUMED that the idiots were contacting my students to tell them the change of instructors… But, I guess not? They were letting me know a neighbor was bringing her over, but… Nice. Professional. Anger resumed. I didn’t respond. Who knows if she was even having a lesson today? Not me.

Yesterday Batty was sad, gimpy, and in pain. My friend Sandra came out and we tackled his hoof which I failed the day before… He got the full treatment. During a 45 minute white lightning soak (FINALLY have IV bags to soak in), we removed about 40 pounds of hair, pulled his mane, brushed out his tail, and let him graze. After the soak, he got his hoof covered in iodine then an ichthammol wrap (in which he tried to murder me for holding his hoof up for too long). Hopefully he’ll be feeling better soon. Assuming I have the patience, I’ll do another soak tonight or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the pollen is OUT OF CONTROL. And the coughing is out of control. Ugh.

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Disillusioned.

I considered not writing this post.

It’s more personal than a lot of things I post.

But, I have a blog for writing and reflecting on horse related things. If not times like this, then when?

As some of you may know, I have been teaching riding lessons on and off for a number of years. I started in college for my old barn and trainer at the time. She was…crazy, but most horse people are crazy. Or at least a lot of them are? Either way, the teaching paid my horse bills. It allowed me to afford board and lessons when I bought Subi. It made horses possible. I taught after I graduated. I taught through grad school. I taught until I started my first job in academia. And then I game notice and quit. I was mentally scarred due to some passive aggressive shit. I said I’d never teach again. This was 2010.

3 years later, I found that I needed money and a friend of mine offered me the opportunity to start teaching. We had both worked for the previous trainer. Things were to be different. She had her own barn, she learned what not to do. And for the past… 5 years, I have been teaching some lessons and leading trail rides. Not a lot, just once a week. When things got tight, I spent a summer working both weekend days and it almost killed me, but I did was I needed to do. There were a handful of days that I cancelled (business trips, 1 horse show, a couple vacation, when I was sick — though I usually dragged myself out, etc. BUT RARELY in 5 years).. Or students cancelled. But we weren’t a lesson factory. The old barn I was chastised if I cancelled even if there was a foot of snow on the road, the roads weren’t plowed, and all my students had already cancelled…

But, this past Saturday, I mentioned that there were 3 Saturday’s this summer where I either couldn’t teach (1) or I couldn’t do trail rides (2). One was due to the a business trip (an annual conference where I’m always away for a weekend in May) and the others I was willing to teach, but not do the trail rides that day (if there were trail rides) — 1 for a wedding, the other for a family reunion. My boss was cold but told me to email her the dates.

Yesterday I saw a posting for a trail guide for Saturdays and Sundays. The Saturday shift was my shift. I was suspicious and was debating how to confront her about this. I hadn’t yet done this.

This morning I was fired via text message:

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I have not responded. If I didn’t need my final pay check, I probably wouldn’t reply at all. I instead contacted all my students and told them I would not be teaching any more and answered questions they had as best I could. While the text indicates my students are down, I have the same number of students I had last fall and last summer. I am in no different place then I was last year. So, the excuse is just that, an excuse. Why? I don’t know. My students are upset.

I did let my allies at the barn know because I’m sure some sort of rumor about my departure will come about. What? No idea. I just want people I considered friends to know the truth (and my students). But I’m sure some story exists. I was immediately removed from the barn’s internal facebook group. As was my good friend who also rides with me. I guess she was fired from the barn too…

But I’m once again disillusioned by the horse world. I’ve once again been let down by the horse world. I just want to go hug Subi and Batty and Jiminy and Ranger. I won’t see Ranger this week (stupid conference and I can’t seem to get my lesson rescheduled either). But, there’s a reason why I don’t ever want to work for my current trainer… I don’t want to mess with that relationship.

People are crazy. Horse people are crazy. Maybe I need a new hobby. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, I need a new part time job.

I could go on and on about all the things I disagree with. All the things I would change. But I won’t. I will say, after 5 years of employment, who fires someone via text message? Without a real reason?

I’m done teaching. For good.

Ranger Recap: Escape to Zen

It’s been insanely stressful at work lately (understatement of the year, but this blog isn’t about me melting down about work), so a lesson with Ranger was exactly what I needed.

Goof.

He was already ridden that day (and, as a result, was super clean) and supposedly spent a lot of time leaning in. But, he was super pleasant to ride. While slow and a bit pokey, I faced none of the typical leaning issues and we circled without issue and played none of our regular “GET OFF MY RIGHT LEG” game while trotting around or circling. Maybe he sensed my stress and was going easy on me? Maybe he was happy to have me on his back? Maybe he got it all out of his system earlier? Who knows, but all I know is “he would not stop leaning in the entire lesson” according to my trainer with his earlier rider. I faced none of that. Lucky me? Anyway, he was a DREAM to ride. Love my Ranger.

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Log jump (on an angle next to the green) with the real plants next to it

 

After a low key trot and canter warm up and a quick review of changes (we did one right to left and moved on), we started by picking up a right lead canter and started over the log jump heading away from the road (new course, yay!). Then, we continued to our outside line against the fence in a 7. Supposedly because the log jump is narrowish (ok, it didn’t feel that way, but I guess), Ranger likes to duck out), but there was NO hesitation, ducking, anything and we cantered over nicely and continued around (with a simple change because we. could. not. land. on. the. correct. lead. to. save. our. lives. at. all. during. the. entire. lesson. I think Ranger thought it was funny?) to the outside line in a 7. Every once in a while there is a line that I love. It’s this outside line. I cannot explain how much I just love this line. It is set up to perfection. Everything about it is perfection.

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My lovely outside line

There wasn’t much to perfect (seriously. LOVE that line) so instead of turning to the outside line, we turned instead to our small white oxer after the log jump and then continued around to the broken line with the trees. The log was good, the oxer was eh (Ranger was a little slow so I ended up moving past the spot) and then the line, the first jump was again perfect, but then I again and too slow of a horse and rode too much to get too much pace and yep, move too far beyond the spot to a chip. Not that it mattered because it’s Ranger. But…

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Full course including inside broken line (stone walls with tree standards) and white oxer with the blue and white standards

So we did that again. This time the wasn’t as good, I had a better but still not 100% perfect ride to the oxer and finally stopped over riding when it came to the broken line. Took me long enough, right? Then we continued around and added in the outside line and once again it was just perfection because it is. I 100% LOVE THAT LINE. It’s just so easy.

Instead of jumping the log away from the road again, we changed things up and took it towards the road. This direction I actually felt him think SLIGHTLY about doing something, but it wasn’t even any effort to keep him straight and he didn’t really try. It was a half hearted, “are you paying attention? yes? never mind.” Type of thing. We continued around down to our blue and white gate jump as a single towards the in gate and then came up to other outside line (I can’t remember the stride). This was the only time all night (the line) that Ranger had ANY energy and I had to actually land, woah SLIGHTLY and the just sit there. He was so completely perfect all lesson it was incredible. Have I mention how insanely perfect this horse is?

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A nice view of the blue and white gate (we jumped it from the other direction where there are a whole bunch of flowers)

We ended on that course, because, I really couldn’t top anything. The jumps were low and easy, but who cares? The strides were fine even if I couldn’t see spots all the time (my eye wasn’t working which I hate as that is not normal for me).

All in all though, it was a great lesson and just super..consistent. We took an insanely long walk around the paddocks to cool out which I needed just to decompress mentally.

Ranger grumbled as his friends were out eating his hay, but he enjoyed himself. It’s so nice it’s finally light and getting warm. I missed my post lesson walks. I really needed them.

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How could you not love this guy?

Fair Hill Blogger Trail Ride

Taking advantage of a quiet evening reference desk shift to catch up on this blog. Saturday afternoon we FINALLY had our much planned blogger trail ride at Fair Hill with Michele, Emma, and Emma’s barn mate Amy and her horse Punky. I think Emma first mentioned a trail ride almost 2 years ago and it FINALLY happened! Michele and I had a planned a paper chase this past fall that was cancelled then a ride that we bailed on when life, weather, and, er, musicals got in the way.

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And this nose. This nose ALWAYS is in the way.

Too bad this trail ride happened because Michele is a terrible, mean person [who rescues me from airports and work and takes my blankets down to slower, lower Delaware] and is ditching us for TN. I mean, who is going to rescue me when I get stranded somewhere next? Obviously NOT my friends and family… Remember, it’s ALL ABOUT ME!
Selfish rant over. And, no, you can’t take Jiminy to TN.
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Putting Michele to work and making her hold my horse. And Batty’s posing because, that’s what he does…

After all this terrible weather we’ve had, Saturday was GORGEOUS! The pollen count wasn’t terrible either which was helpful as Batts’ heaves and allergies have been acting up. Enough that Michele and Emma thought I was contemplating bailing. No. But, had he been as bad as he was the previous week when I tried to get on him for my 1 “ride” since Thanksgiving, I’d had to have. Poor horse was coughing up a lung thanks to so allergies… But, everything settled since then and whenever the vet gets his Hydroxyzine in, he’ll start that 2x/day. Anyway, with 5 minutes of w/t on the lunge line and a 5 minute ride at the walk both a week before and no other work since Thanksgiving, we headed out to Fair Hill. Because, that’s completely normal, right?
Michelle taking a picture of me taking a picture…
So, Batty is THAT horse who is born broke and always quiet. This was no exception. His coughing was generally OK except when he was a. Ignored  or b. Bored. As long as we were doing something fun (ie: NOT returning to the trailer.. we sulked and had LOTS of feelings about going home. Mostly that included dragging our feet because we’re not normal), no coughing occurred. But, when we were in the trailer alone being ignored? Cough. Strange horse.

Anyway, we had a great time. Batty and Remus were the perfect pair. Remus was up Batty’s butt and Batts didn’t care (the joy of a former lesson horse…). Batt DID cause Remus to spook once over this plastic thing on the ground that he was sniffing at by turning sideways which was highly entertaining since Michele managed NOT to fall off… But all bridges were crossed, all water was crossed, and bravery was accomplished. We did make Angry Faces at Charlie for some reason though… Sorry Charlie…
Overall, the company was fantastic! I wonder why I don’t get out to Fair Hill more often considering I’m 15 (20-25 with the trailer) minutes away. So many trails to explore. And all Batts wants to do is explore. Had circumstances been different, some trotting and cantering would have been lovely! But, considering how out of shape a certain chestnut was… the walk was ideal!
Hopefully Michele and I will get out again before she heads to TN. So much more exploring to do!
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Sir Charlie!

Of course, as great as our ride was, drama followed me home… After passing a tiny Amish cart pulled by a Shetland pony, I almost got run off the road by farm equipment… Nothing like a tractor that can’t fit in a single lane approaching you when your hauling. I certainly wasn’t moving off the road. Somehow he managed to pass me with about 6″ to spare… I just sat there gritting my teeth. Then I arrived home to find that Subi had been screaming since I left 3 hours earlier (he’d been running too but got tired and resorted to just screaming). Lesson learned: When I take Batt out. DON’T put Subi and Jiminy on grass. Jiminy cares more about grass than Subi and Subi cares more about Batty than grass or Jiminy. At least when they’re in the paddock, Jiminy stays close to Subi and he’s not THAT dramatic.

Clean at Fair Hill, muddy within 5 minutes of being home

Drama. I don’t need it.

These two… tale of two quarter horses with opinions.

And because I can’t leave out the biggest drama queen of the bunch… Geldings.

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Subi’s lucky I love him…

Quilted Jiminy!

A mostly wordless… Friday post to share this amazing quilted Jiminy courtesy of Olivia from DIYHorseownership! I won her Easter contest and picked up an amazing quilted Jiminy complete with ears (that I missed in the box at first thanks to exhaustion and brain-dead-ness thanks to a 3 day work training in Pittsburgh…)

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Quilted Jiminy!

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Non quilted version

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Well behaved version with Ears!

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Non stuffed, less well behaved version with ears

And, to complete this, some fun from my trip to Pittsburgh… How many librarians can you fit in a hotel shuttle? Then answer is way too many when your shuttle driver’s name is Henry and you’ve been staring at large pages of text all day… And it shouldn’t be snowing at the end of April in PA. Just saying.

 

Ranger Recap: I’m so tired.

I have NOT recapped my lessons in the last few weeks. Not because they haven’t been good lessons (they have), but mostly because we’ve been stuck inside, have been working on rollbacks and I have had absolutely NO MEDIA and and work has been insane. Rollbacks are really hard to write about when you don’t have so much as a picture of the course. And then I sort of got tied up with work (or taxes) and never managed to even try and recap. Oops.

I’m not much better this week, but at least I rode outside?

I was in DC/Bethesda for the first half of the week for a workshop at the NIH on research data management. I only bring that up to clue everyone into my mental and physical state going into my lesson last night. My legs were burning (SO. MUCH. WALKING. NIH campus is huge) within 2 minutes thanks to comfortable (yet probably not ideal) shoes from earlier in the week and I was exhausted and not really able to take in direction? As long as I didn’t need to think, all was good. If I needed to think? haha!

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My train… Boarding without a platform… Platform 9 3/4 I guess?

We started off with a lovely FORWARD trot. Ranger was happy to be outside (though a little grumpy his OMG BEST FRIENDS were outside in the field next to the ring eating his hay) and moving nicely to the left. My left leg was not dead. We hopped over the poles that were in our one outside line working on straightness (so, there was a pole then a little shoot then another pole |    =    |   (the last pole had flowers with it). This direction was easy, though we did that a few times. Then we changed direction, and tried it to the right twice, adding in some circles and halts. To the right, OMG right drift and right leg = DEAD. And, after doing that twice, we picked up the canter and it became EVEN HARDER with the damn drift. But, the goal was canter the thing in 8 strides (easy), then canter it in 9 strides, really collecting (not hard, but the god damn drift), then 8 strides (easy), then 7 strides (easy) then 8 strides (OMG I’m dying)  then walk. The hardest part was that we essentially cantered 5 times around the ring and my legs were protesting so much. Well, my right ankle was mostly dying. See, I was paying with the swelling in my feet from the stupid trip…. Then we moved to the other direction and Ranger just naturally moved FORWARD. And the 8 was too fast and yeah we struggled. So, it took a couple times to get a nice 8 because I was already tired. But, essentially we did an 8 and then circled until we had the canter for the 9, then got him too forward for the 7 (oops, I was aiming for the 6…) then tried again and got the 7 then walked and I collapsed and took a break.

After a walk break which wasn’t as long as I’d like, Ranger and I were assigned our next task: cantering into our inside green oxer (an 8 canter), shortening our canter to our log (9 canter) which was a super tight turn as it was basically a tight half circle to the log out of the inside line and then immediately to the other outside line in the 4 (7 canter).  We actually made it through the first time, but had a little too much canter for the single. But, when in double, I’ve learned to move up rather than be passive and the jump was nice. But, Ranger was leaning on the landing making jump 2 hard. Take 2 wasn’t as nice as we landed wrong from the single (which was too slow) and turned late and it was ugly-ish. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but not great? Take 3 was better, but the simple change still was taking throwing me… Finally, take for was as perfect as I could make it and I think we thankfully didn’t do a take 5.

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You can sort of see the log?

From here we cantered right lead over our other inside single towards Ranger’s OMG BEST FRIENDS (idiot) and then came around to our inside line. My brain was seriously fried at this point so I just decided to count 1-2-1-2 to hold a steady pace and not mess with him. Our pace felt fine though I did here my trainer tell me I didn’t need to gallop… Oops. Our first jump was gorgeous and then I forgot to stay out for the line (it’s a super hard turn and if you don’t stay out, the line DOES NOT WORK AT ALL) but then Ranger drifted because I had no right leg and it all worked out and the in was perfect and then we drifted slightly and the out oxer was perfect, even though, gallop. But, because we can’t end on almost perfect (ie: gallop), we did it again.

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So brown single (with the blue and white standards) around to white boxes inside line

So last time through. Goal: NO drift and NO GALLOP. I basically approached the single with the same 1-2-1-2-1-2 approach and thankfully we had an even more perfect jump (no OMG BEST FRIENDS this time) and then landed and I continued to 1-2-1-2-1-2 myself to the next jump and we jumped STRAIGHT through the entire thing. Ranger, knowing he was complete PERFECTION got a hug and then started yanking at the reins… Brat. Thankfully we ended or I would have said no. Seriously, it was the nicest jumps I have done in the longest time. Don’t make me top that.

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Reunited with BEST FRIENDS Elliot (bay) and Mikey (grey)