Wednesday, November 30, 2011

hold on to these moments as they pass

Yesterday morning I rode Max again.  Max wears boots on the front and I am finally getting the hang of putting them on.  After grooming him I gear up for a wrestling match and was drenched in sweat the last two times.  Yesterday, though, the boots went on fairly easily.  I think it was me all along.

I walked him to the park with me on foot.  Max doesn't like leaving the barn alone at first, but with me leading him, he happily walks away like I am a horse too.  Once we are about four houses out, I can feel him relax and adjust his homing device to me rather than the barn.  Because the park is an equestrian park, there is a small mounting block right inside the south gate.  Max is about Foggy's size so mounting is easy with a saddle and this mounting block.  I don't think it would work out for me with Pie or Sovey.  I did see other mounting blocks around the park that had three steps.  They are locked and obviously belong to different people who are storing their gear in there.  

We walked the entire perimeter and I got to see a new part of the park.  Also, there are small trails through the "woods" (Palmetto and Palm tree woods) and Max and I coiled through those.  There are hidden caches in here so I am going to bring Maizie and Brian back with me sometime to find them.  

One stretch of the trail was flooded because we had torrential rains on Monday.  Max plodded right in and pawed and played in the water!  He was adorable.

I rode for about 45 minutes and then dismounted and headed back.  I regroomed him and grazed him in the lush church grass across the street from the barn (we have permission).  

I stopped at a tack store on the way home and bought another white fleece show pad for Max.  I have my quilted big pad and a white fleece one, but I am going to use another white one too. Max has high withers and I would feel awful if he got rubbed.

Today is another group trail ride!!!!  I can't wait - heading over now!

Friday, November 25, 2011

parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme

We arrived in Florida on Monday afternoon and today I went on an amazing trail ride with a group of wonderful new friends and fellow horse lovers.  This is the lovely mahogany bay neck and black mane of Max, an ottb. Max is owned by Niki, who kindly allowed me to ride her sweet boy even though she was on the ride too.

Here is some of the group heading out.  I think there were nine of us total. 

There is Niki, Max's owner, in front of me on Sunny B.

Here is Max, giving me the listening ear.  Cutie boy!

Above is our shadow on the street and sidewalk.  We are heading to an equestrian park!

This one is of the group crossing at the horse crossing.  Sigh.  My dream is to live near a horse park in a horse friendly town.  I got to live that dream this morning!

I look so silly like I am falling off of sweet Max in this one. Really I am just loving him up. He has a western bridle with a snaffle-looking bit in his mouth so no carrots are being handed out in this photo.  I did bring my bitless bridle with me and hope to ride him in that too.

This equestrian park has trails and a large arena where they hold small shows.  We came into this open area of grass and all laughed and said how lucky we were to be here with the horses on Black Friday.  It was 75 degrees and sunny for the ride. 

This one is around the lake where I rode last year when I was here. There is a zebra that lives nearby!

On Wednesday evening, as Brian and I made our way to the grocery store, Simon and Garfunkel came on the radio and Brian said, "Oh, listen, it is your Thanksgiving recipe song." On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I was combining my Scarborough Fair stuffing ingredients (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) thinking how thankful I was for all the riding I had this year in Pennsylvania and anticipating today's (Friday) trail ride in Florida.  It ended up being everything I had hoped for and more! Special note: I think one horse on the ride was named Sage!  I hope your Thanksgiving break was filled with horses and yummy herbs too!  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crossroads, seem to come and go

On today's date last year, November 17, Brian and I drove to Philadelphia Park racetrack to meet our Found in the Fog (Foggy). Doesn't Foggy look, in the photo above, like the mirror image of the little horse in my Honeysuckle Faire banner?

Foggy came in January and has settled in nicely bringing great joy to us. His sweet ways are contagious and I think Pie and Sovereign both like his addition.  

This November, we are packing to travel to Florida again for the holidays. Each year this trip gets more difficult for me.  I love spending time in the sun with Brian and Maizie, but I miss my boys terribly.  I do think Foggy is content and healthy on our farm and I can safely leave. This was my worry last year. This year, I know I probably won't be completely free of worry until the day I return. Is it worry, or is it me missing them? I wonder, are all horse owners like this?  Will I ever be able to fully enjoy travel without my horses? Bittersweet is blooming its little red and yellow heads off on our farm right now. Very apropos.

I'll be on the road for a few days.  Happy riding everyone! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I got silence on my radio

Saturday's ride on Foggy. Sunshine and no wind!

Friday, November 11, 2011

You can be my partner in crime

Today was one of those days when Pie needed to be ridden, but the weather was not right for a Pie ride.  We had sustained high winds and the leaves and branches were whipping around with great force.  The wind was the kind that is noisy and it makes the adrenaline flow even in humans when it whistles.  I do not believe in sticking to a riding schedule without listening to the weather.  I also don't believe in being in danger when riding.  I am not a thrill seeker in the least - in fact, quite the opposite.  I am a serious chicken when it comes to danger.  But, I ended up riding Pie and he was fabulous and we had a safe ride.  

I started out just grazing him and grooming while he munched. I had ridden Sovey yesterday and Foggy the day before and Pie was in need of some exercise.  He gets weird when he isn't ridden consistently.  I can't tell if he is jealous if I ride the other boys or just overfed, but he isn't a nice pasture mate if he goes too many days without his riding time.  He is pushy with the brothers and even pushy with me on a lead when he gets like this. Grazing was nearly impossible today. The wind was crazy-nutty and Sovey was in a nearby pasture racing around making it obvious that riding anyone would be stupid. A little note here about Sovey racing around. Sovey is one smart cookie and most days he is a quiet boy. BUT, if there is any sort of "situation" that he perceives as "dicey" he works it for all it is worth. He is the prisoner in the yard that incites an incident in order to escape. He never breaks a sweat like if he were actually worried about something.  He is very good at starting a riot. Funny guy.

Anyway, Sovey was running about encouraging Foggy to join in. Pie was jumping and shying at every leaf that hit him like a missile, which were many, so I flew my Pie kite in the direction of the barn and stuck him, and then the other boys, into their stalls. Now what? Why did I want to ride Pie, I wondered. What was the point? To be honest, I felt sorry for him. I personally know what it is like to have pent up energy and how great it feels after exercise. 

So, after a few minutes of quiet down time with hay, I got Pie into the cross ties and resumed grooming and hoof picking. I told myself that tacking up would be good for him as far as attention from me and riding doesn't have to ever occur. I walked him outside and the wind hit us like a ton of bricks. We trotted and pranced down to the mounting block and a huge gust blew a million dry leaves across the tennis court and Pie went into orbit. Again, I questioned my reasons for continuing and again, I told myself that me just standing on the mounting block would be good practice for him. It would keep him focused because grooming and grazing just wasn't enough. So we practiced the mount with many wiggles and shies. And, then, Pie stood still and calm and I slowly got on. Well done, Pie! 

I walked him in small circles and serpentines until I heard his calm snort, muffled under all the wind noise. My mom appeared at that moment and opened an outside gate so we could head out to the field. He thought he might graze but I said "no" to that straightaway - I didn't need to have a horse with no reins in that wind. (I've been through the desert on a horse with no reins  - sorry, bad joke.)

We walked on and I kept him balanced between my hands and seat and calves for the entire ride. I opted for my trail running shoes (Inov8s) instead of my riding boots. I was glad for the agility and control over my legs and ankles and heels that they give me. Sometimes in critical moments I feel like I am confined and not fully in control in any of my riding boots. Riding an up horse on a windy day requires the right tools - for me that is comfortable, but warm layered running clothes, and running shoes - I need to feel loose to move and react. Riding, even at the walk, is an athletic event every minute. I just can't be tangled up in boots or clothes that are too rigid. 

As nervous as he gets, Pie is a willing horse. He tries very hard to be good and today he did not disappoint. He stayed with me in the field and by the time we got to the woods, he was quiet and relaxed and listening to me completely. The wind held no power over him anymore. Hooray. 

On the way back to the barn we stopped in the field to graze and I did give him the reins and loosened his girth while I was still on him (a little tricky on the dismount later!).  

I am so glad I rode today if only to watch Pie go back out into the pasture with his friends. He was sweet and sleepy and all his bossiness was gone. I feel better when I run each day and I definitely see a change in Pie after attention and exercise. 

I took this picture of the pink sunsets we've been getting at my house this autumn. I am hoping that the red sky means a pretty tomorrow with NO WIND!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Twenty-four hours sometimes slip into days

Here is my Maizie girl yesterday afternoon with her pony, Foggy BEFORE OUR FAMILY RIDE!!!!

Our temperatures were an amazing 60 degrees and the sunlight was magical. It was very pretty for November in Pennsylvania. Brian is on Sovey, above, and Maizie is on Foggy sweetie boy. I am on the chubby Pie Pie but you can't see us because I am taking all the photos. We rode in the field and through the woods.  

My mom led Foggy for us to keep Maizie safe.

Here we are letting the horses enjoy a post ride grazing session.  They were all so good and deserved the yummy clover they found on the hayfield paths.

The weather has been perfect for riding for the last week. Prior to that we had the wicked October snow storm and lost the electric at our house for four days. Brian, Maizie, Noodlebug, and I moved over to the farm and lived in my grandmother's (empty but furnished) house because there was electric there. I got to live where my horses live!!!!! I was in heaven for a week! Sometimes you really do get what you wish for. No internet there, which explains my blogging absence (I promise to catch up on all my favorite blogs soon).  Tons of down trees in our woods and pastures.  Luckily, I put the horses inside the barn on the night of the storm because many trees fell on the fence. If they had been out, Pie would have certainly stepped over the fence and encouraged his friends Sovey and Foggy to do the same. I shudder to think about it.  

A week before the storm, my friend Terry came to ride with me one sunny afternoon. Terry rode with me in November of 2009 and we had an equally good ride this year.  Here she is, below, on Sovereign.