Sunday, September 27, 2009

take things in stride

Our rides have been fun and frequent much so that I haven't had much time to document them. Mom and I have been heading out on the boys and our friend, Ginny, has been riding Sovey on some days too! We all have been having a great time. September is such a nice month here for riding. We usually ride in the mornings, but last week one day I was on my way home from teaching and I just felt like riding. I phoned Mom and she reluctantly agreed to meet me at the barn - (she is not an afternoon person). I didn't want to go home to change so I just wore my "work clothes" which I jokingly call my "costume" - clothes that really are good for nothing but looking "good" - no actual work can be done in them. As I was tacking Sovey up, he became enamored with my shoes. I had on these goofy flats that have tiny red flowers on them. Definitely NOT proper barn shoes. Sovereign kept sniffing and nibbling my shoes! I realized that he must have thought the flowers were candy or something to eat. It was very cute and funny. Pie, with his bloodhound nose, was not fooled for a second. His nose knows candy and silly flowers on shoes are not candy! We had such a great ride and all my stress from work just vanished.

Here are two more videos Ginny filmed on Labor Day. Sorry if everyone is offput by the quality! We have been having so much fun laughing at these!!! I have shorts on with my wellies and I was freezing that day so I threw on a warm-up jacket I found in my grandmother's house. It is from the 1970's and adds the perfect touch to the 8mm feel. Hilarious! At least Mom and Sovey look great - so does the Pie.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

everybody knows the secret, everybody knows the score

Here is a photo of Pie and Sovereign grazing in front of one of our apples trees. Our farm is happily blessed with three apple trees in the vicinity of the pastures. Sunday afternoon Maizie and I picked apples from this tree while Pie and Sovey supervised. Of course, we shared with them often, especially since Pie was pawing the ground like he was digging to China until we would throw one in for him. Spoiled puppy! If you enlarge this photo you can see "applesauce" that he slobbered all over his left front shoulder! Below is the old-fashioned apple picker we used for the apples on high branches.
We filled huge buckets with the apples and put them in a refrigerator. When it gets cold we can move them to the garage. My grandmother used to do this each year and she managed to save apples for the horses until February!!! We don't spray our trees, so they don't look all shiny and new, but they don't have stickers or chemicals on them either! Do I hear Joni Mitchell? Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees, Please! Later, Maizie and I made a delicious apple cobbler - yummy! As we were picking, I kept thinking about how lucky we are to have our farm and our trees and our sweet horsey-porsies. The sun was low and it was a soft September light and Maizie was laughing and picking apples with that antique contraption and Pie and Sovey were crunching and munching apples beside us and I wondered if it could ever be better? I was reminded of Michelle, and her lovely blog From The Horse's Back. She always has a "Thankful Thursday" post where she remembers to be grateful for her horses or dogs or some such wonderful pleasure in her life. I am so very grateful for my lot.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

they all had a lovely turn

Sovey happily munches grass. Sigh.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Does anybody remember laughter?

I had a breakthrough this morning on our sweet Sovereign boy. Recently, I have been worried that he hasn't been having fun when we ride alone. He clearly enjoys his rides with Pie, but lately, when we head out alone, he is anxious and hurried. He isn't dangerous or naughty in anyway, just addled. I find this unusual because he was the boy who originally could care less about Pie. He just wanted to go see the world. When the horses arrived in February, I got in the habit of alternating days that I would work with them. Early on, that meant hand grazing, leading, grooming and tacking. Eventually, when I started riding them, I would ride them alone. Sovereign was so interested in going out over the fields. (Click here for more about that.) My mom and I ride them together often now, and both horses love that. Pie still loves going it alone, but Sovey seems sad without his buddy. Why does Pie accept me as a good alternative to Sovey, but Sovey thinks I am a poor substitute for Pie? I ride through all Sovereign's emotions, but I wonder, am I taking the time to make sure he is happy? My friend, Ginny, remarked how few posts I have about Sovereign and his rides. I realized she is so right! The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and Pie has been the silliest squeaky wheel in town. He just demanded more of my time because he was so big and needed more guidance. Sovey was the perfect angel from the beginning so I just never took the time to "play" with him as much. I have been brainstorming for a couple of weeks how to make Sovereign have fun again on our rides. I realize that there are some people who will think I am crazy for worrying if a horse is "happy" but that is just me! To me it is all about the enjoyment of both of us. I truly believe that my success comes from keeping horses happy and interested. When a horse is enjoying what he is doing he will not look for excuses to be naughty. So today I decided that I would start from square one with Sovereign. I made up my mind that I would stop as soon as he was in anyway troubled. I got him out of the pasture and hand grazed him, just like we did when he first came. I softly groomed him. He wasn't cranky about the grooming. Usually he is ouchy and I thought that I would have to stop if he was, but it was all good. Then, we walked around the farm and houses and driveway and tennis court investigating this and that. We grazed under the apple trees and he happily munched apples. This is very similar to what I did with both the horses last winter (without the apples). He was still interested in me and not looking at all for Pie. We went into the barn and got the bridle, still goofing around and acting like it was all fun and games. I slipped on his bridle and hopped on bareback, but instead of heading out to the field, we walked around the pastures and barn and houses. He was animated and happy. I kept him walking in different patterns around the farm, but not on the trails. He really listened and remained calm even though he couldn't see Pie. At one point we picked up a trail and he started to rush a little. This hurrying isn't like "I am going to race home because I am barn sour nervous" it is more like "let's get this stupid part over because I want to see Pie again" rushing. I made a mental note of where we made it to and then I asked him to go a tiny bit more and then, home. He always does complete the entire farm trail for me if I want, but he won't do it with the lightness and animation he once had. Usually, selfishly, I make him do it anyway. Today, on our smaller ride, he had the light-hearted step again for 95% of the time so I am thrilled with that. Sovereign has always seemed like he is an old soul, contemplating so much. I just want to add to his joy - not his misery. Today he seemed joyful again. Hooray!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

beneath the blue suburban skies

Today's ride was so much fun that I just had to include a map. Pie and I basically followed the same route that we did on my virtual ride in July. Click here for that post. The only difference is that we went deeper into town today. We actually visited a friend. I used a red line to draw our route on the way out and a blue one on the way back. (Our farm is at "A".) I hope it isn't too small to see. (I think you can click on it to enlarge.) I had a blast and it seemed like Pie did too. Sovey was happily munching grass when we returned, so I don't believe he minded being left behind. I really do wish I could ride Roman!!! One new obstacle today was a splintered tree that was hanging from high over our heads and completely blocking the Forest Drive cinder path. I didn't think Pie was brave enough to sneak through the skinny opening. I knew he could physically fit, but I never thought he would allow such a stunt. He walked right up and was almost through before he knew it. Then, STOP!!!! Snort, snort, back, back, snort. I laughed and coaxed with my legs just a tiny bit. I reached forward and stroked his neck and he walked through the opening. I tried not to think about how we would ever get back!!!! We visited Cletus' house and his Dad gave Pie an apple. Then, off through the cemetery. A man was cutting the grass and we tried to avoid him because I am sure he would tell us to get out of there. I keep Pie on the roads at all times in there, but still, I am sure that no one wants a horse in there. Cemeteries and golf courses always look like the most beautiful places in the world to ride to me, but I think I am alone in that (at least to non-riders). Still, I am always careful to be respectful. When we visited my friend on Elmwood Avenue, Pie left a "present" in the street. (I was sure to drive back later and clean it up, as I always do.) Then, back through "Sunnyland" to the Forest Drive trail. Pie had zero problems with the splintered tree on the return trip. He is amazing!
Later in the afternoon, I had shavings delivered and Brian and I briefly covered them with a blue tarp until a friend was able to come and push them into the wagonshed. Pie and Sovey were in the pasture and Pie was snorting and Sovey got the hiccups. They were very annoyed at the tarp. Mom and I walked Pie slowly into the barn by the tarp. He snorted and, as usual, decided that it was much safer to walk on my feet then his own. I remarked to Mom that I am really better able to calm a horse when I am on their back than on the ground. She agreed that she is too. Of course, Mr. Sovereign came into the barn with barely a sideways glance at the tarp. His hiccups were over and he was the perfect angel we know and love.

Monday, September 7, 2009

video killed the radio star

Mom and I had a fun Labor Day morning ride on the boys. Our dear friend, Ginny, graciously accepted the challenge of filming us in the pasture before we headed out. She captured some nice footage of us together and then another snippet of Mom and Sovey trotting off into the distance! Ginny loves the boys as much as we do and is a photographer, so good video is certain to emerge soon, but, until today, not one of us had ever used the video feature on my camera. I told her just push any buttons you see and have fun! I think she did super well!!! Thanks Ginny!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

can the people hear...what the little fish are sayin'?

Pie and Sovereign are feeling frisky now that our nights are cooler. All summer I felt like I had to practically carry Pie outside each morning to the pasture. He would stretch and stop and take little baby steps outside. Pie isn't a "morning person" and we get a kick of how he does his yoga pose "downward dog" in the aisle on his way out each day in order to wake up. Now that it is cooler, he walks with a purpose and snorts in the early morning air. I didn't think I would welcome their friskiness, but it is nice to have an enthusiastic horse beside you and under you. Everything is easier.
I rode Pie on Monday morning with a saddle. He went very well, although, because of the cool temperature, much spookier than just a few days ago. We had a tiny little situation to sort out that has been nagging me since my ride with my niece, E. Click here for that post. The very last leg of our ride that evening, went by my uncle's barn and his boat. Pie went by that boat 1000 times before, but it had been moved to a new position and Pie was frightened. E. and Sovey had no trouble, but Pie stopped and snorted. E. went ahead and took a path back down toward our barn, but Pie was really upset. He threw some wicked bucks and wheeled around to head back to our barn a different way. I was sad that he was so upset, but mostly I felt sorry for him because I usually stop everything and take the time to work through a fear with him and I didn't that night. Every ride since then has been with my Mom on Sovey and I didn't want to put her in any danger so I have been waiting to work on this little obstacle with Pie. On our ride on Monday, we were alone so I walked him over to the "boat path". He stopped and snorted. I relaxed my seat and reins and allowed him to fully examine the boat in our view. He backed up and side stepped. I laughed softly and kept smiling. Laughing, smiling and singing are my secret weapons against "spooky monsters". I find that when I laugh or sing I soften my posture and that sends "safe" messages to my horse. I knew Pie was scared, but he is always very willing to try to get over fears so I wasn't too worried. He does have some nasty bucks in him, though, so it is important to work through this now rather than wait until February when the wind is whipping! The most difficult thing to do as a rider in these situations is to give your horse a loose rein, but I believe in doing that. Pie and Sovereign don't have bits in their mouths anyway, but loosening the reins conveys the message that all is well. Pie relaxed his neck and back and started walking toward the boat and around it. Our first time by, he looked at it out of the corner of his eye. Our second time, he walked without hesitation. Our third time, he hardly noticed it. I was very proud of him! He is such a good boy.