We skipped the hats and balloons and wild celebrations this year. It was raining. And now it’s cold and windy. Honestly? I didn’t order anything and just don’t feel up to it. But, Subi had 1.5 oatmeal cream pies and a carrot before turnout so I’m pretty sure he won out.
Old Man is 24! For some horses, that’s young. But Subi has been retired for a number of year and he’s an old 24. He has arthritis and just looks older than he is. His teeth are starting to fail and we’re just enjoying each day. It’s fine. He’s happy and healthy and enjoying life. His solid racing career took a lot out of him. And then he became a riding horse. Life takes its toll.
So today we wish Subi a happy birthday. And we celebrate with oatmeal cream pies and carrots. And later? GINGER SNAPS and peppermints. Ginger snaps are slowly taking over top spot as Subi’s favorite treat…
First about my fantastic ride on Saturday where I cantered into my first fence (not including the second jump in a line) since sometime in December.
Then I planned to write about my failed attempt to ride on Sunday because of my jackass neighbor, his ATVs, horse spooking antics, and Subi going lame.
I hoped to write about my lesson on Wednesday which ended up not happening due to rain (so much rain) and a massive migraine. This would have been my first lesson since December.
Then I planned to write about my rescheduled lesson on Thursday. The lesson, by the way, was great.
Instead? I’m writing about my trailer. My trailer, my lovely OLD beater of a trailer which was purchased for Batt but also with Hayley in mind has been a lifesaver. Subi will load in it as well. But Batt? That was HIS trailer. He self loaded with confidence in that thing. Nay Nay? He dislikes it, but loads without issue. He likes the step up, but it’s a bit rickety for him. Still, he is willing to eat the world’s best alfalfa in the trailer so it’s not all bad…
At least until my drive to my lesson. Then things got bad.
Keep in mind my trailer is old. It’s a 1989. But it was refurbished in 2013? It was serviced/checked out when I got new tires the end is 2019 and I planned to get it looked at this year (last year… Covid). It’s basically the most basic steel box. But it works as I regularly drive 3.5 miles ROUND TRIP and that might be being generous. 1 mile to my lesson, 2 home if I take the long way… yeah.
So, driving to my lesson yesterday morning and in the side mirror I saw the rear trailer tire wobbling… a lot. Shit. It looked like it was going to come off. I had 2 choices, well 3. Stop in the middle of the road, continue to my trainer’s driveway, or go home. I could see the driveway so I continued on to my lesson as that seemed to be the best option. I parked, checked the bolts (tight) called my husband who also checked the bolts, and tacked Nay up and rode.
Ultimately, the group of us uneducated auto people determined it was the axle. At some point I lost the hub cap. And the wheel wasn’t straight. I called a few garages and found one close who would take it. The US Rider to arrange a flatbed.
Fail. They couldn’t get a flatbed. They did find someone to tow it slowly. Fine. If something went wrong, it was on them. Except the wrong hitch was given to the tow people (I specifically said I wasn’t looking at the ball size and I didn’t know). They told the company 2 5/8…
I went out to wait and then waited over an hour. Then we couldn’t get it hitched… then we tried to use my hitch but rusted on my truck. Ultimately, I had to drive it the 4 miles to the garage with the tow guy as my escort with his 4 ways making sure no one died or that the wheel didn’t fly off. We averaged 10-15mph but the wheel stayed on (his boss basically said we had to keep going if we lost the wheel but I didn’t know it)… we made it to the world’s tiniest parking lost where thankfully the shop owner parked for me. He said he hoped it would be about a week…
All of this of course is assuming that the repair costs aren’t so extreme that they are more than the trailer… I’m casually searching for a trailer. Used. Newer. I say 2000 is newer but my mom is encouraging 2010 or newer. Anything is new compared to 1989! Nay got a ride home from the haul in that rode after us. He was very unsure of the ramp, but he’d be ok with time. Still, I think he’d prefer a step up at this point. Straight or slant, no preference. So if anyone knows anything in the midatlantic that is affordable, let me know!
And just like that it’s been 2 weeks since my last post.
Where to start?
2 weekends ago things were… awful. My trainer was back from FL and while not ready for lessons, I was determined that I would ride my horse. Saturday was not pretty at all. It was windy and ugly but damnit. I was going to ride.
I pulled into the barn and I realize right away I should have just turned around and kept driving. I was immediately greeted at the end of the driveway by a horse. Not normal. So I stopped, put on my 4 ways and caught the gelding while everyone around me ran around like fools. He was quickly handed off and I pulled around to park. But if that wasn’t a sign? In the barn, I groomed and tacked up. Nay was fine until some ponies came in, spooked, and bodied slammed the wall. Nay was done. In the indoor a lesson was going on and Nay decided that rearing was OK. It was not. I tried some ground work but never got through to him. I accepted some chemical assistance and was at least able to get on where I spent my ride trotting him down (there were 5 horses in the ring by that point) until we came to an agreement that we don’t jump sideways at every noise, sound, or movement. Moral of the story? Loose horse? DRIVE AWAY.
Sunday the barn was emptier. Western trainer was finishing up a lesson and rides. Nay was quieter so I got right on and one of the riders stayed in with me so I could work on getting Nay used to riding with other horses. Except, he had too much energy. After trying to work through it where Nay tried SO HARD to be good but where all he really wanted to do was buck me off (he didn’t but you could tell he wanted to), I finally hopped off and lunged him. Nay NEVER plays on the line. The first thing he did was explode. So out of character but he was holding it back and trying to be good. So, after one good buck, I let him canter and then did some canter trot canter transitions each way and by the end of our lunge session? Nay’s head was about 18 inches lower. His eyes were relaxed and he just looked… happy. After that? we had a nice, relaxed ride. That said, as we were leaving? Another freaking loose horse. Turns out part of the fence was down… But, horses were crazy which made leaving a stressful experience.
With all of that in mind, I set out this past weekend to ride a little later in the day. Due to work, I was unable to get out and ride during the week (work has been hectic). By the time I made it out, lessons were over and the barn was quieter. I’m OK sharing the ring, but I wanted to make sure that we had access to either the indoor OR outdoor to lunge. Because, my new plan is to lunge before we ride. So Saturday we had a nice lunge in the indoor before we rode.
It was nice enough to ride outside, but I haven’t been riding and didn’t feel like introducing a new ring on a cooler day. My plan was to ride outside Sunday but that didn’t end up happening. I went out Saturday with a touch of anxiety, but Nay was a doll. We did what we felt comfortable doing and he was a gem. I haven’t been asking for the canter because it takes a lot out of me physically, but as he landed IN the canter after a couple of jumps, I decided I’d just let him canter. It worked out well and was a lot less work on my part.
Sunday, more of the same. Except, warmer temps and high, high, high winds. Every jump in the outdoor blew over and everything was banging around. I was exhausted from the ride the day before, but despite all of that, Nay didn’t care one bit. We had a pleasant ride INSIDE thanks to the weather though did a little less than the day before (my confidence wasn’t quite as high thanks to shaky legs from the day before).
What I’ve found is that lunging right now is key. It puts BOTH of us in the mindset for work. Nay gets to warm up without me (he’s sometimes a little cold backed) and I get to see what his energy level is (physical and/or mental). Depending on how hard we work on the ground, we adjust how hard we work under saddle. As I’m not riding him very hard right now, the ground work is probably a good thing. He’s also improved A LOT on the lunge line as we work on transitions. Walk is now in his vocabulary (though downward transitions from trot to walk are still a work in progress). Good boy doesn’t mean woah anymore either.
Happy March everyone! Who knew 3 months after getting sick I’d still be in recovery mode? The good news is the full body weakness is gone. The bad news is, my immune system sucks and my asthma isn’t exactly under control… and endurance is non existent.
The weather has also sucked. Nothing like the south, but the Mid Atlantic/southeastern Pennsylvania has had one snow storm after another. Nothing crazy, but enough. Actually, some of them have been sleet storms for my portion of the county because totals have varied upwards of 12-15” for some storms in the same county (45 miles apart) due to the snow/sleet line. But, either way it’s sucked. Even worse because we still haven’t fixed the snowblower and my driveway is evil (I can only afford plowing every so often). And yesterday? Rain. So much rain and flooding. I’m surrounded by creeks. Between the melt and the rain…
But enough about weather. The horses.
Nay hasn’t been eating as well as he should. He’s not loving this batch of orchard grass (2 bales left if he’ll just eat them) plus Subi deciding he can’t eat breakfast inside… I’m not sure if his weight is awful or if he’s lacking muscle… anyway, horses. I just don’t like how picky he is. I’m treating him for ulcers again, but it’s not helping so I’m pretty sure that’s not it. Subi, on the other hand, is night and day since starting ulcer treatment.
But, due to weather, I hadn’t ridden since the beginning of February. Wednesday we reached a balmy 52 and finished shoveling out the trailer (I don’t haul in snow and that Monday it snowed) and off Nay and I went to the barn to ride. We lunged and I hopped on.
The ride was nothing exciting. We trotted a bunch and did poles (a favorite) and worked on a puddle from the leaky roof. We were joined by another haul in and found out about monthly caveletti clinics in town so we might try those as well as Friday night dressage schooling shows. I have no interest in dressage, but it’s a low key way to get him hauling elsewhere in town. It maybe adds 5 minutes to our current trip. So something to think about for this year.
We rode again Thursday, this time 100% solo. More poles. There were several set up thanks to the resident western trainer so we just played with what was there and changed our pattern constantly, circling, bending, changing direction, etc. we added in some 2ft fences here and there as well and Nay had a grand old time. I don’t know what it is, but this kind of ride really suits him. I did canter a couple of circles and found myself heaving a touch but I survived? Lol
Friday was COVID shot 1 and Saturday I was just exhausted so I waited till Sunday to ride again. In the pouring rain. Not ideal. I’m a fair weather hauler, but we did it. There was barn activity and Nay was a touch up and cold backed so I tossed him on the line. The other trainer ended up dismantling the ring ( so he could drag ) as we ride (left us piles of poles) but of all things Nay cares about), moving jumps/standards/boxes is not one of them. Didn’t even give them a second glance. Go figure. We had a nice walk/trot ride and called it a day.
Trainer is back Tuesday from Florida. Honestly? I’m enjoying playing right now and might wait a few weeks before I start lessons. I mean, I don’t really have the strength to canter yet… so why bother? We could use help at the trot, but I just want to enjoy my rides and not make them work while I’m trying to come back.
The boys have decided they are DONE with winter. Nay Nay in particular. Last week he was especially agitated by the SNOW. I turned him out in the round pen hoping he could let off some steam prior to turn out (hoping he’s be easier to lead). I didn’t help and the easiest horse to turn out ended up body slamming me and I ended up with a bad case of whiplash… More injuries. Great.
Subi also has been having issues with life and has been incredibly poorly behaved turning out. I think he’s decided he wants to live out 24/7 again, but Nay and Jiminy are 100% against that. So, after try a few things turning out that… didn’t work (loose Subi is a bad idea)… I introduced clicker training and this morning was much better. I’m also trying to feed breakfast outside as a sort of compromise. I’ll keep you updated.
In the meantime, yesterday was WARM. High 40s and melting! And then flash freezing as everything dropped to 17 overnight… And mean mom forgot to put heavier blankets on everyone. Snow storm tomorrow because we need snow again on top of the melted snow turned slush turned ice concoction currently existed everywhere but? Maybe it’ll miss us? Probably not because I still haven’t gotten the snow blower fixed which means I’ll have to pay to get the driveway plowed out again.
The boys have also been going out and playing most mornings… I never get the fun stuff of video though because why would I? I start recording after the gallop around and rear and buck…
I’m not sure I know what my dream horse is (is there a such thing?). I’m not even sure if I care. What I do know is that there are several horses in my life that have helped me become the horseperson I am today and helped teach me to ride.
I love the horses I own and have owned. But this post isn’t about them. This is about one of the 2 horses I have ridden in my life that have made me feel like I could do anything and, to be honest, have almost made me feel invincible. One is Ranger. But you know about him. The other?
Eleventh Hour (linking since I don’t feel comfortable embedding someone else’s instagram photo)
Eleven came to my old barn one summer. He was a massive warmblood by Consul. An older guy, he was retired to the barn to live out his days and teach some lessons. He had some injuries and was serviceable. On his best days? He looked great and you could barely tell. On his worst days, it was definitely more obvious. That said, he definitely stayed more comfortable in work and when turned out for too long, was more less comfortable, at least in the earlier days of my time knowing him.
I began riding him a year or two after he arrived at the farm and he and I clicked. Something about this horse who had been there, done that and pretty much knew everything just took away all my fears and hesitations. Some horses just help you exude confidence. For me? This was Eleven.
When I started riding with the barn owner/head trainer the summer before I bought Subi, I rode Eleven. I only rode him for a few weeks before moving on, but he gave me the confidence to show I was capable.
I remember one lesson in particular. I was in a group. Group lessons made me nervous. The jumps were always bigger, things moved faster, there was less individual attention. But, we moved through our paces. I was a master at packaging up Eleven (if you didn’t pick him up and get him off of his from end, he was very hard to ride. But, the second you did? He went from being a truck to mid-sized sedan to turn), but that point and we were having fun. I think my trainer even forgot that we were in the group because we weren’t standing out as inexperienced (or as the only non owner/lessor combo in the lesson). So, when she sent the group into this awkward and huge (well, to me it was huge) oxer over the water jump, I didn’t think twice and just galloped (used in hunter terms) Eleven up and over.
I remember landing and my trainer say, “I was going to stop and have you jump something else, but you but you looked so confident and Eleven looked so sound and happy! Do you realize you just jumped a 3’6″ oxer?!”
Now, he rarely ever jumped that big, but on that day, it was easy. He was the ONLY HORSE I’d ever have even jumped like that without thinking because on him at that point in my riding career? Anything was possible.
So, thank you Eleven for being the best teacher I could have asked for. For being kind. For being a true gentle giant (he was about 17+).
Eleven passed away a few years ago and I’m pretty sure arthritis and his past injuries bothered him his last few years (I last saw him in 2010). But, I’m so grateful for what he taught me years ago. My biggest regret is the lack of riding photos I have with Eleven.
Michele posted so peer pressure says I should too.
The thing is, I have very little to say. Nothing is going on on the horse front. I think I’ve been on Nay Nay once since my last post? We walked, Nay spooked at a pony in western tack. We walked over poles until his brain stopped draining out of his ears, then I managed to trot 2x around the ring, and called it a day. No energy for more.
Since then? It’s been cold. Frigid. High of freezing. Then there was a snow storm. Then it warmed up a tiny bit. Yesterday and today are warm, but… maybe I’ll “ride” or whatever you call wandering around the ring.
It’s evidently going to snow again tonight/tomorrow. A coating to 8”… Every time I want to start riding, winter gets in the way. I don’t haul in snow. Then we’re at some single digit/teens at the end of the week. Part of me thinks I should just hold off until March and restart then.
As for me? I’m feeling less weak (I mean, I have zero strength but that weak feeling is either gone or normalized) but just exhausted. I give up. I’m trying to manage the asthma because I think I’m heading into another flare. Just can’t win.
Since I last posted, I’ve pretty much been on the sidelines with a bunch more health ailments. Whether they were caused by body’s reaction to the asthma flare or a deeper issue or both, I don’t know. But, I’ve been on the sidelines with a bunch of weird issues ranging from an eye issue that landed me in the ER to full body weakness to some other infection. I’m off antibiotics, the eyes are healing (a specialist diagnosed me with nodular epscleritis in both eyes but it’s self contained and healing), and all bloodwork is normal so the weakness is still a mystery. We’re seeing if it resolves in another week before we run more tests (I’ve been tested for just about every autoimmune disease).
Anyway, due to how weak I’ve been, much of my time has been spent on the couch under a heated blanket. I’ve helped out with stalls when I can, but there are days when I can barely hold onto the full pitchforks (my arm is shaking holding my coffee this morning). My husband is doing it all without complaint. I think he’s discovered the solitude of stall mucking.
Still, I’ve missed my horse time. I feed and turn out every morning and before turnout is treat time (right now, ginger snaps seem to be everyone’s favorite, but no one will turn down peppermints or an oatmeal cream pie — Subi’s eating them again). And I bring in at night while Erik makes up dinner buckets. I have to say, the ponies have been really good lately. After all his issues the last couple of years, he’s Mr. Relaxed. My husband turns him out in the mornings and they’re best buddies now—he used to be terrified of this horse and now he’ll lead him day or night. But they’re all so good. I mean, Jiminy is Jiminy so he’s a brat, but…
I did finally get on Nay Nay on Sunday. He definitely knows something is up with me and is being extremely careful and gentle. When we walk at night, he stays close so I can use him for balance (my entire property is on a hill). Getting on? He’s never stood that still or not moved off until I basically begged him to and even then he looked back as if to make sure I was really ready.
We more or less just walked, working on a nice forward pace and carriage, but it felt like coming home. It’s amazing how much you can miss something so much. I did try and trot, but only managed 1.5 times each way before I was jello. Still, it was a place to start and Saint Nay Nay took care of me every step of the way.
My goal is to ride again tomorrow and do more of the same. At this point, I don’t care how little we do, I’m just happy to get back on.
I was sick folks. Really sick. Way worse than I thought. When the urgent care doctor told me I could die, I kind of ignored him because, honestly, who wants to hear that kind of thing. Then my primary care told me the same thing though I was doing a lot better by that point. But, damn, asthma is no joke. 3 weeks of heavy duty nebulizer medicine 4x/day (which makes me feel like crap), dexamethasone (don’t be like me and be allergic to prednisone because then no one will prescribe you steroids), I’m finally approaching the world of the living again. My lung levels are finally out of danger zone and actually resembling normal person zone and my husband isn’t worried about me keeling over and dying. So progress, right?
But, I am weak. While I got crazy bad Xmas week, the truth is, I probably was going downhill for several weeks before that and just… ignored it. Because why not? Every time I rode, I was short of breath. I was tired all the time. But, it wasn’t that bad. I just tried to use my inhaler before and after I rode and moved on with life. For future reference? Not a good treatment plan going forward.
So, now that I’m approaching the living, I’m trying to figure out how to re-introduce riding. When I got back on the other weekend, I know it was too early, but mentally, I needed to sit on my horse and walk around. I ended up having to recover for 2 days from the 10 minute walk and 1 minute trot session. But, with steroids in my system, I’m able to do a little bit more.
This weekend, I managed to get out both Saturday and Sunday to ride. Saturday, we worked on the flat with the draw reins and had a nice ride before popping over some tiny fences. It was a good ride. I enjoyed myself. Nay enjoyed himself. All was good. But, it took a lot out of me. Lesson learned. Nebulized BEFORE I ride. Then, I got home and crashed on the couch vs nebulizing and basically missed another nebulizer dose. Not cool.
Sunday? Armed with a nebulizer treatment, I felt much stronger. Except, I left circumstances dictate my ride. Nay has been REALLY happy with the draw reins. But they make me work very hard. We can spend 10 minutes just walking and stretching into a forward walk and I felt lazy. So, since there was a lesson in the ring, I decided that I would wait until the lesson was over and then forgo the reins. I got on and forgot how much organization they help me have. In addition, the lesson left (sub trainer as trainer is in FL) opened the barn door 100% so there was distraction and glare and movement every time we passed. It wasn’t a big deal, but just unnecessary distractions and I couldn’t focus my horse. The easiest solution? Hop off, close the damn door, and get back on with my ride. But, I felt stupid doing that and to do that I have to pretty much leave the indoor (the door was open wider than it is in the summer. I’ve never seen it that far open). So, pretty much our entire ride was just unfocused. Add dogs galloping around outside, it was wasn’t the ride I wanted. And I was tired from the day before.
I ended up giving up on flat work after a while as it just wasn’t going anywhere. I was getting tired, I couldn’t get Nay forward enough and focused and it just wasn’t working. So we popped over some little fences and called it a day. He wasn’t bad, we just weren’t communicating. I’m going to try and get back out this week and see if I can get a better ride in when I actually make a plan and stick with it.
I’m trying to balance a little bit of yoga (I like power yoga, but I’m not there) to regain ALL the core strength with riding. But, it’s SO FREAKING HARD.
Anyway, I’m riding again. Maybe my February I’ll actually have some strength back? All video is from the Pivo. My settings were messed up and not working, but after not letting me change anything (speed, autozoom, etc.) finally Sunday night I had access to those settings. I’m hoping that this will allow me to make better use of it. I have some flat video, but the tracking is complete crap so… I’m also still trying to find a good place to put the tripod…. The end of the arena is too far, but the middle doesn’t work well either. Oh well…
Very short post since I have pretty much nothing to say. I’m on the road to recovery, or so I hope. I’m finding it’s 2 steps forward, 1 step back. I do too much and I’m down for the count. Seriously, asthma sucks. My goal this week is to find a good pulmonologist. So that’s pretty much where I’m at. I managed to clean 2 stalls yesterday and then pretty much spend the entire day on the sofa under a heated blanket. And on Saturday, I took Nay Nay out to the barn to lunge and against my better judgement, I got on and walked around for 10 minutes and trotted for 1 entire minute.
Way more than I should have attempted at this point (I was shaking when I got off), but mentally? I needed it. First ride in about 3 weeks.
Nay Nay was the best boy I could have asked. My goal is the be ready for a lesson by the end of January when my trainer is back from FL for a few days. We’ll see. Even if I can just manage an easy flat lesson, I’m OK with that. We’ll spend a lot of time walking, marching at the walk, bending at the walking, and all that jazz until then. And building up time at the trot too. Just taking it slow and easy until then.
January 1st also marked the boys official birthday’s with the jockey club. Subi is 24 (!!!) and Nay Nay is 10! We celebrated with carrots, apples, peppermints, and gingersnaps. Nay Nay got oatmeal cream pies (Jiminy got some too), but Subi has decided he no longer eats them? Who knows.