Saturday, January 22, 2011

thinking some words I can't name ya

This photo of Pie playing in the snow is obviously from last February. Our pastures and skies and trees do look exactly like this picture, but the dear Pie is considerably more rotund this winter!

I am featuring his cuteness in this post because he and I had quite a wild ride on Thursday afternoon. Brian said that he could get Maizie off the bus which gave me many hours of horsey fun. I love days like that...I never feel rushed and I don't wear my watch. Thursday was Pie's day since Sovey and I had our perfect birthday ride on Wednesday. I grazed him first, allowing him to gobble to his heart's content. I groomed him while he munched. It was cold but sunny. I was in my Carhartts and Sorels, which isn't the best riding outfit, but I am resigned to wearing this "sleeping bag" in order to stay warm.

I said the hell with the ring - Pie hates it so I decided to skip it altogether. He stood well for mounting in his happy wagonshed. It felt a little like cheating by mounting in there and not forcing the issue in the ring since Pie clearly is ginchy about mounting and riding in the ring, but in this crazy cold weather I decided to not fight him. We have warm spring days to practice mounting in the ring. I am fighting the wind and cold, why fight him too?

My mom showed up on foot just as we were heading out. She walked in front of us which gave Pie a little extra confidence. We headed south, up and around our upper pasture. Pie side-stepped a little near the auto auction, but not too bad. We circled out to our big field. My mother said that her feet were two chunks of ice so she headed back to her house and big, brave-boy Pie wanted to go out to the apple barstool. (Duh, of course he did.) I knew there weren't any apples out there, but I let him see for himself. Once there, he wanted to go to the right and walk down the perimeter fence. We did that and it felt like he was wound pretty tight, but held it together in the wind. I thought that was pretty good for our first big outing and started for home, but Pie wanted to duck into the south woods. These are the woods that border the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We don't maintain these trails because part of the woods are not ours and there are long raspberry brambles and overgrown paths. Pie always wants to go in and I always say "no" and promise him that I will trim it up in there, but I never do. Now, with the snow, the overgrown trails are fairly easy to see so I said "ok" this time.

He was all happy and stepping out like he was really going somewhere. The main problem with these trails is that there used to be three ways back, but recently a tree fell on one path and a groundhog hole is blocking another. Therefore, the only way back is the way we came. Well, this is a source of contention with my Pie-Pie boy. He is so funny in his "big feeling" personality. He always plows into a situation with a big, kind, "I-know-what-I-am-doing" attitude and then when things aren't as he expected he gets worked up and doesn't know how to calmly get out of the situation. He couldn't remember about the tree and the groundhog hole and was very adamant that we should go back those ways. He has to go to the tree and then he says, "oh, yeah, I remember now!" - the same for the groundhog hole - he couldn't see it, but thankfully he did remember. Now what? I tried to go back the way we came and then he started his tantrums. He chomped his teeth and with each chomp he winds his temper tighter. He becomes like a nervous, spring, coiled up for an explosion. The whole time we are just 20 yards from the turnpike. The loud trucks are whizzing by and Pie ignores them when I go the way he wants to, but if I ask him to go my way, he hears the trucks.

Of course, Sovereign NEVER whinnies to us when we ride UNLESS we are in a tight spot. Then, we faintly hear a Sovey whinny like a metronome in the distance. I tried everything. Singing, patting, leaning forward, squeezing gently, talking, laughing. Pie was frustrated and springing upward, but he refused to go back the way we came.

Something made me get myself together and especially, of all things, in my equitation. I am not sure why, but I sat tighter, better. I put my legs in a better position and made sure I had a nice line from my elbow down to his mouth/noseband. There wasn't a judge there, but I rode like there was! I sat like I was going into a fence, not a two-point, but more a half-seat and I got determined in my brain. I squeezed and asked him to go forward like I was in charge, I knew how to get home, and that was to go back the way we came. I struggle so much psychologically when I ride because I have this constant conversation in my brain with asking a horse to do what I want and not forcing them to do something they don't want to do. That is embarrassing to admit in black and white (sepia and white), but there it is. Thankfully, this stupid wrestling match that goes on in my head took a backseat to the safety issues at that exact moment. It was a cold, windy day and I was on a horse who was not listening to me and I was too close for comfort to the loud trucks on the turnpike. The alternate route he wanted to take was even closer to the trucks so we HAD to go back my way. And I finally pulled myself together and rode him like I meant it. And, miraculously, he listened! He walked out calmly and perfectly the way I wanted to go!!!

As we made our way back I started thinking about the history of equitation. Perhaps these "rules" were developed and taught for a reason other than looking good in a class. I know, I know, of course they were, but sometimes it takes me years to believe something as true. Well, I am a believer. Riding with the correct equitation sent very specific instructions to Pie, even through my thick Carhartts and Sorels. He felt my intentions and it wasn't delivered in a sappy, muddled mess. I was clear and he was alert and listening! We walked home so perfectly. He was happy and proud.

Back at the farmhouse, my farm helper, Melanie and her family had built a fire ring to roast marshmallows. The new and improved, confident Pie boldly walked up to this stone construction and sniffed and investigated. He got many apples and carrots after our ride and I realized while I grazed him that I rarely ride without learning something new.


Calm, Forward, Straight and Kristen at Sweet Horse's Breath and It's Quarters for Me kindly presented me with a "Stylish Blogger Award".

Thank you!
There are 4 duties to perform to receive this award:
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

Seven quick things about me:

1. My birthday is next Wednesday - 44 years old!
2. I run daily - I used to be fast - now I am not.
3. I love the United States, but I do wish I lived in England for the footpaths and scenery.
4. Amazingly, for a painter, I am a fairly good mathematician.
5. I can't spell too well which freaks me out when leaving comments on blogs.
6. I want to ride in EVERY field I see along the road and that is really all I think about when driving around.
7. I have very exciting news...I am bursting to share...soon in an upcoming post!

More detailed facts about me:
Click here and here.

15 Recently discovered bloggers:
Please ignore if you already won or are WAY too busy (riding) to do this - I am late getting to this!

8. The "Dutch" ess of Deerfield - Rachel!!! If you see this I have had glimpses only of your blog - and I love it, but my computer explodes every time I go there. That is why I can't comment. I have to upgrade to Windows 7 I think!?!
9. MiKael's Mania - Arabian Horses
12. It's Quarters for Me - oops...sorry...didn't know that you had given it to me! - oops again - I must have known, but forgotten! Ugh! It is too cold to think!
and some old favorites:


  1. Nice post and great leadership! And thanks for mentioning us!

  2. Great lesson on focus and riding with intention. Thanks for sharing so honestly -- I know I've been guilty of the same wishy washy-ness, especially when riding on trails.

  3. Oh, Juliette, I think your psychological struggle of "asking a horse to do what I want and not forcing them to do something they don't want to do" is fundamental to good horsemanship, isn't it? It's harder than it seems at times, at least to me. There are those moments when you've asked something and the horse refuses or is seriously hesitant. Ok, so maybe you shouldn't have asked in the first place...but you have. What then?

    Of course, in this case you were definitely right to have asked and you dealt with it perfectly, in my opinion. It's amazing the response we get once we are sure in our minds what the best option is. They feel it, and go "oh, ok" and we think "duh! Shoulda done that before!"

    It's not so unusual for artists to be good at math, you know. It's a sign of genius :)

    Thanks for the mention!

  4. Why thank you very much for the award! I always enjoy reading your blog and am honored to be acknowledged by you.
    Happy Pre-Birthday and I've never noticed any misspellings in your writing. What's up? Can't wait for your announcement!

  5. I love your posts Juliette, because I can relate. I've had many similar conversational struggles in my over-active head. I'm glad you had a rewarding ride, and both you & Pie came back "walking taller". Kudos to you, for making it successful - for both of you!

    Thank you, for the sweet award :)

    Can I guess at your exciting news?? Hope you don't find it hurtful...any chance Found in the Fog is joining your family??

  6. Thanks for the award! I also enjoyed this story about your ride. My daughter and I always say, "be the boss, but a nice boss." Funny how you go out for an easy hack and end up working through something so difficult. But you did it. Horses are like that! One of the things I love about them.

  7. Thanks for the shout-out, and don't worry about your oops. Goodness knows it's too cold here for normal brain function :)

  8. Juliette! Thanks for this award! I am really very flattered! So wonderful to be given such a thing by such a fabulous blogger peer!
    I loved how your equitation helped save the day. I think that posture can be empowering. And because horses really do know what you are doing when you sit on them, it has extra stength.
    OH AND HEY: Happy Birthday, beautiful rider! Thank goodness you were born! Earth wouldn't be as good without ya!

  9. One more thing: I cannot wait for your exciting news!

  10. Juliette, What a wonderful story and significant lesson in your ride with Pie! I do so know what you mean about wondering at times if I should "force" what I want with the horse, but in those times when safety/ some other very reasonable priority is the reason, being very firm is needed. And I too have seen that the horse then listens, and responds well! What an epiphany! Sometimes firm leadership is just what our horses need, and they respond well. I'm so glad for your experience, and for your sharing it. It is, I think, such a normal, inner conflict we riders have, and so helpful to share it. And what a wonderful horse Pie is! Extra carrots for days!

    Thank you for awarding me the blogger award. You are so very kind. (And, as an aside, at your suggestion, I am here sipping the delicious blueberry tea! Yum!)

  11. Thanks so much for the award! I'm sorry it took me so long to get back over here to you and I promise that I'll try to play along in the next day or so. We're just getting hammered with below zero weather and more snow! I'm really enjoying your description of your rides with Pie. I think it shows great confidence and courage on your part to continue to ride him in this weather. Won't Spring be especially sweet this year?

  12. WOW...that was a thrilling ride! It really was a great lesson learned too. I know he appreciated your strength-admist his meltdown.Can't beleive Sovey whinnied like a metronome!Only in thoise circumstances does it bother!
    I'm so glad Pie responded so very well to you.

    I understand about the not wanting to be domiant because you are the rider..but I always insist on being right...when I know I am with my Wa mare. Sometimes she spooks, and I give that to her instincts(having gone through wild cat days last year) but sometimes she wants to be the leader or call the shots..I won't tolerate -scarey- for- my- safety- behaviour. I never get as rude as she does with me...but I tell her "Someone will come and feed me in a couple hours"...which, with body language said...lets her know-this time- I have all the rest of the day and into tomorrow!

    It funny about your equitation thoughts..I was just reading "Ride with your mind" Mary Wanless yesterday and there is a drawn pic of a riders seat "Plugging into the horse's back" right where it's supposed to be for flowing movement. That is what we did yesterday, I placed my seat bones in different postions and felt what she did under me...very cool. And the right postion...for forward is weirdo feeling..makes me think I am going to touch her with "my back" itself!

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Friend Jules!!! Hope it's a goodie!I can't wait to hear all about it. Hope you get another black horse with a white star for your day's treat!!!
    Thanks for the award too!!! I gotta get on that!

    Love to you and big (((Hugs)))) too! Hope your family is cheery and keen!

  13. Thank you so much for giving me the award for the 2nd time! If I'd known you could 'do' that, I'd have given you one, too! :-) Thank you so much.

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