Back on Board

Every winter, I have the greatest aspirations to ride. I have the cold-weather gear, the insulated riding pants, boots with insulated lining that actually fit in my stirrups, even ear warmers that fit decently while wearing a helmet. But every year, I fall short. And I make excuses, especially now that I am on my own property with a field/arena on a slight slope.

Too cold, too muddy, too wet. Too slippery, too mushy, too hard. And then there are the conditional excuses - I don't want to upset their systems, I don't want to upset my system (aka I don't want to freeze my tush off). I enthusiastically claimed, in the fall, that I would trailer them to places with indoor arenas in the snow. It didn't snow very much. So I didn't. Bad me, bad me. Even while I was boarding where there were posh facilities, I was lax on the riding. Lazy. 

So it should come as no surprise that, in the face of riding now, I'm as floppy as a fish. I mean, seriously. No riding, very little gym, a sedentary "day job," a lock-in-my-office real job...not very conducive to hardness and fitness. Big bummer when it comes time to climbing back on board. Which I did yesterday, by the way. 

It was actually quite pleasant, thanks to my two amazing boys who seem to just be happy we are finally riding now rather than begrudging me decency as recourse to my maddening lack of under saddle attention in the last few months. If they were snotty, I'd deserve it. But they weren't. Atlas was enthusiastic and Winston was sleepy. Atlas' enthusiasm was encouraging. He still loves me, I cheered. And yet even on sleepy Winston, I wore my crash vest. Not necessary for a ten minute walk-trot, of course. But I have too much padding in all the wrong places if I fall. THAT is how out of riding shape I'm in. Teetery, uncentered, unbalanced. 

But at least I'm back on board. An analogy for life. Even when you're feeling your floppiest, just do it. Just get back on board. Maybe things will go swimmingly. Maybe they won't. Maybe you'll crash & burn. Maybe you'll be humbly reminded time and time again of your floppiness. But, eventually, you will get hard again. Eventually you will feel it is natural again. You will trust yourself and be in control of your own devices. You will own it. Just keep going. Believe me, believe it, you will get there.

Loggy McLogface and other trail buddies

Spring is finally here (I hope). After blanketing the pones one last time (I dare dream) for the season, we look forward to the coming of spring. Grass is tentatively starting to sprout in the fields (C'mon grass!). The "arena," albeit a bit muddy and assuredly going to be so for a while with the spring rains, at least holds more appeal than it has the entire winter. But what I - and dare say we - are looking forward to is hitting the trail and catching up with some of our old friends. I say old friends and I actually mean new friends. Meaning we have not done nearly enough trail riding in the last few formative years to know them real well.

Bottom line - we've GOT to get our butts out there. And the friends we're looking forward to seeing? They may sound a bit familiar to you too. 

First, we have Loggy McLogface. A real nice guy. Solid, unmoving. Sometimes needs stepping over. Other times, needs leaping over like he's a four foot fence. He means well, just chillin' there. But in the right (or wrong) light, he can be crazy scary, like a swamp creature ready to grab your baby. 

Then, there's his buddy, Branchy McBranchkin. Also, a pretty nice dude. Just chillin' too. Waiting. For your pony to take you under him, then - whack! - he slaps you across the face for no reason. Not a nice guy, actually. But your pony thinks so, especially when he helps with that itchy spot on his wither...

One of the friends we look forward to seeing the most is Windy McWindersail. She's breezy (haha). A bit lofty (eye roll). Actually, she's beautiful and wonderful, until she blows and makes your beloved do crazy acrobatics for no good reason. Problem is, the pones think there is a good reason - a bag flapping, a branch waving (hi Branchy!), or just Windy herself, bringing in different smells. Can't wait to see Windy.

Next, there are the sisters, Birdie McBirdsh!t and Ducky McDuckcrap. They all seem innocent, but actually they're a bit vindictive. They wait, on the side of the trail, in an overhanging tree, a nearby bush, or in a stream you are crossing. Then they jump out, all perturbed, that you dare disturb the peace, share the trail, and stir them from their slumber. Or they're just mean. 

A better friend we can't wait to see is Rocky McScaryrock. He's cool. Again, just chills there. Looks the same every time we see him...but different. My babes claim he's different. Every. Single. Time. But he's the same. I like him. Good mounting rock when the pones go flibberty jibbet. 

One of our faves is Boggy McBoggerswamp. Walking along in a field of grass is so nice...until it morphs into Boggy. He's kind of the friend who sneaks up at a party only to change the music, eat all the snacks, and get too drunk.

But then there's his bud, our very bestest friend ever, Puddy McPuddlebutt. We cannot WAIT to see him. When we're feeling courageous, that is. But then there are times - many times - when he is super creepy, like a big black hole ready to eat us. Then, we must do whatever it takes to avoid around, pop up a little, then, eventually, maybe, jump over like an eventer who meant to clear it. Wait, don't most eventers go through puddles?

Oh, and I almost forgot, Puddy's sister, River McTrickleton. She is also loads of fun. We like her, even drink from her...until we decide we can't see into her and what lurks beneath.

Needless to say, we just NEED to get out more and see all our friends. That way, we can get to know them a whole lot better, make nice, and enjoy the trails. We cannot wait!!! Gooooo spring! 


My Horse Cake

No, I don't mean that kind of cake (poopcake). I mean the kind of having-my-kiddos-in-the-backyard cake and still finding the time, the energy, the conditions, etc etc etc (add excuses) to ride. If you have horses in the back yard, the side yard, the front yard, or somewhere you maintain, you probably know what I'm talking about. It's almost like too much of a good thing. Too close to home. Like the place that's really cool down the street that you've never been to because it's always right there. 

Except its different. They're your kids. They're my kids. I want to ride them, play with them, spend time with them. And I am forever blessed and happy to have them so very close. I get to snuggle with them at will, tuck them in at night. And if I wanted, I could set up a cot in a stall and sleep there! But you know what? I'm tired. And when I'm tired, the fun things tend to go. The chores must be done. Food must be fed. Poop must be picked. Even hooves need to be cleaned, coats groomed, barns tidied, hay tossed, fields maintained. So, riding? Yeah right. 

Then I feel guilty for not riding. Oh, the guilt. Because they're young. I know they have a lot more training to do, trail riding, polishing. We could use an awful lot of desensitizing. And, the biggest on the guilt pile: they're bored. I can tell. They look at me like "mama, when?" And I tell them "later" or "soon" or something that gets me off the hook momentarily. But the sad thing is, I don't want off the hook. I want to ride. It just gets pushed and back-burnered, time and time again. 

But I also feel guilty when we do ride. What's not getting the house, for the pups, for my projects that are only an arm's reach away?

Plus, I'm out of shape. That doesn't help. Another excuse. 

So how do we get over this hurdle? How do I allow myself to have my cake and eat it too? I really don't know. Please tell me when you have it figured out. For now, I'll just keep putting my cake on a pedestal and at least appreciate how good I have it. Hopefully soon, I'll learn to take a bite.  

Even with bubble wrap

So, my big boy, Winston, decided to stab himself in the butt. Really. My bubble wrapped horses, and STILL they find a way to hurt themselves. Seriously, guys, really?

T-posts are the enemy and I knew this going in. But I inherited a T-post hotwire fence so I tried to make it as safe as possible while imagining ways of funding a ten thousand dollar post and rail fence to replace it. The funny thing is, I have also seen horses impale themselves on broken rails. At a boarding property, Winston took advantage of a nearly downed rail and went for the greener grass on the other side. And don't even get me started on smooth wire. So, knowing my boys, anything is a risk. 

Anyhow, I erred on the side of extreme caution and took down the smooth wire, replacing it with not-so-cheap electric three-strand poly rope, making sure to cap each and every t-post. Even then, I keep a watchful eye and test the fence just about every day. 

Needless to say, my silly ponies found a way to make their mama's life just a little more dramatic. Of course, it was a day when I came home, energy depleted from work, and doddled a bit before heading down to clean up the barn. The horses were out, so all should be okay, right?

Wrong. I don't even know what happened. Best I can guess, Winston spooked at something in the wind and kicked out? Got wrapped up? Still guessing. Thankfully, the poly rope is more forgiving than wire. But he somehow pulled a t-post over, uncapped it, then backed up onto it. Yeah. You're thinking, WHAT?! Yeah, me too. That's my Winston. Gotta love him.

He wasn't even limping. The only way I knew was he seemed a bit quiet; but then I stepped out and saw the line and t-post disaster behind the barn. Atlas, my other kid, was the only witness. His eyes told me something crazy happened. But overall, they seemed okay. Then, I saw the blood on Winston's bum, running down his tail. Oh no. He let me examine it, and as T-posts do, it was pretty ragged. So I called the vet, knowing the stitches would be beyond me. I am so very glad I did because the wound was deceiving, hiding how deep the puncture truly was.

Thankfully, this story ends well. The vet came, cleaned out the wound, stitched it up, and assured me it did not appear to be at any big risk for permanent muscular damage or lameness. He would have to be kept up for a week, but a small price to pay and he was a champ about it (I think he even liked the extra attention, although the oral banamine and pasty antibiotic, not so much). The wound has healed amazingly well, although with winter still mucky, we have not yet gotten into a good regular workout routine to make certain certain. But overall, he runs around like usual and seems to have no ill after-effects.

I, on the other hand, am back to cursing T-posts and am a bit more helicoptery (as if I ever wasn't). Rather than replace that section of fence, I pulled it since it was just a divider between the boys' smaller day paddocks (that I don't even use any more). Bigger fields, more space, and hopefully less risk. But just goes to show, with horses, you can try try try to prepare for any scenario. But they will always find a way, padded cell or otherwise. Gotta love our ponies. :)  




The Disaster Site

Sleepy Winston getting stitches

T-posts are Evil

Good job, Doc!