Decisions, Decisions.

February 25, 2011

I have decided within the past hour that I am not going to ride in the big pasture tomorrow.

Yes, I really need to do that. For myself and for Fred. I need to show him that we can go out there and have fun. I need to practice and it would be nice to have the whole pasture to practice and play in. But, Fred in a pasture with free-roaming horses is just not safe. No matter how you think, it’s really not particularly safe for most horses. If those horses want to run, he’s going too. That’s not going to help my confidence, it’s just going to screw it up more; and screw his up, as well. It really is a bummer because I’ve wanted to ride in the pasture all winter. Also, it will be busy around the barn tomorrow. I want to be able to ride by myself when my mom is there.

So, I guess the plan will be: Riding outside in the back paddock for a while (Yeah, I will still be outside but it kind of defeats the purpose of what I wanted to do. I can’t go faster than a walk around the corners. LOL) and then I am going to go in the arena and ride for a bit, as well. If Fred is behaving, I may do a little bareback riding– nothing extreme. Just playing around.

We’ll just have a play day. Maybe it won’t turn out as I wished, but it will still be fun!

Mom, prepare to be artsy!

My Neck Itches.

February 25, 2011

I did not ride today. I had to work. I will not ride tomorrow. There is a snow storm… and I have to work.

I do plan to ride Saturday at noon. My mother is coming out to watch me ride, which means, she gets put on video taping duty! She’s kind of a weirdo and I always show her videos that are artsy and say “Get artsy clips next time!” and she never does, but that’s okay, I love her and appreciate her coming out to video tape for me. I am going to do some arena work and ride outside…probably. My problem is, the horses will probably be out in the pasture. I have always thought riding with loose horses was dangerous. It probably is; especially on Fred. I have ridden him outside next to the pasture and when the horses get excited and go to run, he tries to. So, being in a pasture with horses that he usually goes out with… oh dear lord. Kind of terrifying. But, I need to learn to be brave. So, what better than doing something I usually wouldn’t do? Plus, it will be snowy, so if I hit the ground, it won’t be as hard of a landing.

So. That’s the scary plan. If I never update again, I’m dead.

I’m shaking in my socks thinking about it.

But seriously, I need to get brave. I need to go in the pasture and just ride Fred and have fun… and not worry about the other horses. If they go to play and Fred wants to bolt, well, hopefully I can calm him down and don’t fall and break my neck.

I mean, that’s how I think. I need to stop that! 😛 I will be okay, right?

I also have a lesson Tuesday morning. My dad said I better start it on time because he is coming to watch but has to go to the airport later on.

DEE END. 🙂

Today was very eventful. I felt like I ran a million horsey errands. It was intense!

I finally arrived at the barn around 4:00. My trainer, Charlene, was giving a lesson at 5. So, I waited around and got all my tack and such together. When she came back, we discussed Fred’s med schedule and doses, and then fed the horses. Then came lesson time.

I decided to ride with her son and Maddie, the owner of Red, whom I took a lesson on recently. They are nine years old and easily “intermediate” riders, so I felt like they would be good to ride with. I got Fred out and did the usual routine and tacked him up. We walked towards the arena and as we hit the entrance, a horse neighed from outside. Fred stopped dead in his tracks and his eyes got huge. He would not budge. I took that as a cue to let him run around in the arena, so I fixed up his tack to be able to do so and let him in to run around. He chose to just walk back and forth by the gate. I walked in and went down to the back doors. He kept his eyes on me and watched me pat the doors and stand there comfortably. He then started to relax. I walked back up to him and then he started to follow me. We walked back to the doors and he walked past them without hesitation. I was not leading him, to give him the choice, just letting him follow me.

So, then I got on and rode with the kids. Fred was great. He was very well-behaved. As he has been lately, he has turned western and barely wants to go forward. I have to push the hell out of him to get him to even move forward. I did a lot of trotting work with him. My legs were much more solid today than they were yesterday. My calves were 75% steadier, my thighs were burning, and my legs weren’t in front of me; they were actually lined up where they should be. So, I felt much better about my ride. Yesterday, I was a bit bummed because my lesson on Red had gone so well but when I rode Fred my legs were all over the place. Today, they were not. So, that made me think more positively and I’m ready for my next ride! In a few months my leg will be solid!

The kids wanted to canter but D, Charlene’s son, wasn’t allowed to canter Rhythm. So, of course, I offered up Fred for the task. Charlene looked at me and said, “Why don’t you get on Rhythm, then?”  I think I almost died. Rhythm is one of the horses I’m a bit more fearful of riding. She, actually, is not bad. She doesn’t bolt or do anything stupid like Fred but she is super sensitive. If you turn your leg the wrong way she is leg yeilding, doing flying lead changes, etc. I am pretty convinced there is probably a “be a lipizanner” cue somewhere in there. So, I was pretty terrified. I’ve been telling all my barn buddies for quite a while that “I would be afraid to ride Rhythm.” and… what did Charlene do? Told me to get on Rhythm IN A CUTBACK SADDLE.

So, I got on. We walked a bit and trotted. She’s very powerful but smooth. She was goofy about the back doors but not doing anything dumb. All in all, I was pretty happy. It was still a bit nerve-wrecking, but I did something I wouldn’t normally do and I did not freak out. I kept my cool (besides my “OH DEAR GOD” faces) and rode her instead of hanging on her neck and tensing up. I only rode her for about 10 minutes but it was a good experience.

I’m starting to get more brave.

2/22/2011

February 23, 2011

I rode Fred. 🙂

I went out to the barn and got all my stuff together. I walked outside into the foot of snow and looked into the pasture. Low and behold, Fred was standing in the back of the pasture, staring at me. I walked inside the paddock and called his name, hoping he would decide he wanted to see me and come running. Nope. He just looked up at me and stared. That damn horse made me walk all the way to the back of the pasture through the treacherous snow drifts to get him. I debated trying to ride him to the gate, but (a) he’d kill me and (b) I can’t get on him bareback without a leg up. So, I had to walk all the way back. He made it difficult because he was walking much faster than I could handle in the snow.

So, I got Fred groomed and tacked up. I put him in the arena to see if he needed to let any energy out, but he just stared at me. So, I went in and set up my camera and then got on. He kept his attention on the back door, as if it was out to eat him, but unlike the usual reactions to the door, he actually was trying really hard to listen to me. It made me feel good because I can tell he is starting to feel more secure with me. He kept an ear out for that door but was attentive to me and behaved. I used my possibly new saddle, which was very comfortable. I could actually sit deep in the saddle! YAY! It was great! It made a big difference with my riding, even my canter seat is back to being somewhat decent. I think it will make a big difference in the long-run. It’s what I needed. My calves were a bit unsteady and too far forward; but I am beginning to figure out how to use my leg and I am no longer duck-feeting… at least I wasn’t today! My thighs were burning while I was riding. So, tomorrow I am going out to ride while my trainer gives lessons and hopefully I can get some insight while I am there. Maybe have her tape a minute of it or something. For me, it was a lot easier to have a proper position in a cutback on an energetic horse–rather than in a close-contact saddle on my lazy horse. I don’t know if that’s normal. I don’t know why I can’t keep my leg forward! Oh well, I have a few months…or however long it takes for Fred & I to be show-worthy… to improve my position and my confidence. Both are slowly getting there.

(I do wonder how long it’s going to take for us to be allowed to get back in the show ring!)

Hopefully not all show season. I’ve already missed out on too many show seasons. D:

New video?

May we revisit memories? 😮

Halloween ’08.

Blue Lakes Show

February 21, 2011

I am going to do a short update because I am tired and need to sleep soon.

Fred went to Blue Lakes today for their schooling show. My trainer rode him in two classes for me. We did not have stalls, so we got to stand in the arena for hours before his classes. We all took turns holding him, of course, but I did get a good 45 min or so where I just stood there with him. He was eating hay, hanging out calmly, loving on his mommy. He kept taking his back leg and scratching his ear with it. The first time he did it, I turned away and looked back and he had taken off his halter. Luckily, he was distracted by the hay and didn’t go anywhere. So, I kept an eye out from then on. But, point is, he was well-behaved and not being a brat. I was actually able to hold onto him in public. That, my dears, is an improvement. Usually, he is too antsy and I can’t keep ahold of him.

First class was Open Huntseat Pleasure, or something like that. Fred was pretty stiff but he had not seen the arena yet and was so well-behaved. No real spooking (just a few moments, when he kind of had a reason to). He was not gimpy. He was doing so well and looked gorgeous as usual. He did not place in that class, which was bull, if you ask his mom.

His second class was the Open English Pleasure – “No Stock Horses”. He won this class… probably because the other horses were all acting up, but either way, he did well. He was a little goofier, as he had reasons to be. The whole reason I wanted him shown by Charlene at this show (and a couple more shows before the season starts), is because of his nervousness issue. He gets nervy when he is crowded and when horses come up cantering too fast behind him, or next to him, or whatever. This class had a few ASBs with large, fast canters, that were making him a little bit insecure, but Charlene kept him sane.  So, that was good for him! But yes, he won! Wooo! At that point, he was starting to get ouchy. He was not gimping but was beginning to attempt to steer himself in a direction that would keep his foot more comfortable. He did that last year at the same show. I think that ground is too hard on his ouchy foot.

After his second [and last] class, I jumped on him and rode him around the practice ring for ten minutes. We just walked around, calmly, steering around the crowd of horses. Like I have written before, the other part of this training process is: My trainer shows him and I ride him without the nerves of showing. That way he will start to realize that shows aren’t scary for either of us. We had no problems and he was very calm with me. He was a great boy.

Hopefully I can go hang out with him tomorrow. Maybe do some light riding, depending on how he is feeling after the “soreness show”. I will see what the weather permits. Night night. xx

Riding Lesson

February 18, 2011

I had a riding lesson today. Yes, a riding lesson.

Not only was it my first lesson since September or so, but it was also my first time riding in a cutback saddle since June. It was crazy!

This lesson was not on the adored Fred. My trainer, Charlene, thought it would be better for me to take a few lessons on other horses so I could work on myself, rather than worrying about ‘what Fred is going to do’. So, when I got there today, she informed me that I would be riding Red. No, he is not missing the F, his name is Red. He is a nineteen year old NSH gelding owned by a young girl at my barn. He is an angel for her and in the lesson program. He has some oomph but at the same time, knows his job. So, he’s enough horse for me to get that uncomfortable feeling at times, but not so much that I am going to be like “OHMYGOSHHE’SGOINGTOBOLT!”.

So, I brushed him off and then we got him tacked up. Charlene brought out a cutback saddle. I questioned her sanity, but she said it was the only saddle that really fit him– that it’s hard to find a close contact saddle to fit him. She also said, hey, it will help us work on your position even more. Boy, was she right! lol.

I had a great lesson. We started off by me riding each direction just trotting to get used to him. He’s got a lot more pep than Fred. Then, Charlene made me stretch my legs as far behind me as  I could and forced me to trot around (posting) like that. It was freaky. Afterwards, we worked on my leg position. My leg position. My leg position. A LOT. I learned that my leg position is a lot easier to hold in a cut back and I had a lot less trouble than I have in my A/P saddle. I found out that my A/P saddle doesn’t fit me properly. The seat is too deep and the cantle is too high which is why it throws me forward. Charlene said it also makes it hard to really sit in the saddle. Hence, why I used to have a pretty decent canter seat and now I flop around in the saddle. Hence, why I can’t keep my legs at all in place and they just slide everywhere. Thus, why I am unbalanced and when Fred goes to ‘freak out’, I can’t sit back in the saddle and use my seat to calm him down. Plus, it’s really slippery still. I have really bad saddle luck. So, I am on a saddle search. Mine will be on consignment for anybody who is interested. It is a very nice saddle, just not right for me. I’m sad because it’s really pretty and I’m trying to save money; but if I find a good deal, then I will have to take that deal and wait for the money from my saddles to sell. (My cutback is also on consignment).

So, needless to say, my leg position was pretty nice for the first time ever. I also wasn’t flopping around in the saddle like a sack of potatoes. I also got to canter Red once. It was different. Very lofty. I had him a little bit crooked which caused him to cut corners so I felt like he was going to fall over, but apparently it felt worse than it looked. My trainer said it was a bit fast but overall looked good and that I had him collected and going pretty well. Then we worked on switching from an easy, collected gait to an extended. I know how, but my way is a lot sloppier than just controlling my posting and all.  That started off being quite difficult but I began to get the hang of it. It will be easier when my legs are stronger and I can control my posting a bit easier. But, I was happy with my lesson and really proud. I felt accomplished. I haven’t felt like that in a while. Now, I will have more lessons but also will be able to work on the leg position thing on my own time, because I’m finally understanding what to do.

Fred has a schooling show this weekend. I am not riding. My trainer is taking him in 1-2 classes and then after she is done, I may jump on and walk around, watch some classes, etc. We want him to be less nervy at shows, so a confident rider showing him will help. Then, me being on him but calm will make a difference. Hopefully, he will start associating different locations/shows with me as not a scary place. I kind of screwed that up. The only place I can show him comfortably right now is Randolph Fairgrounds. Everywhere else I get frazzled and nervous. So, I think that will help a lot. He just needs to begin to see me calm at shows rather than fussy and freaked out.

That’s all for now, folks. I had a good day. I am going to sleep soon. xoxo.

My article, published!

February 11, 2011

Many people do not understand how much they can learn from an animal. I have proof that you can learn a lot. My horse and I used to have way more issues than people can imagine. We went through a lot of tough times but no matter what, I would not give up. I believed in him. I believed beyond many other’s expectations. I still believe. Even with Navicular, I won’t give up on him. We will get where we want to be. Fred has taught me to believe in myself and in others; to not give up on myself, my friends, or my family. Shit happens. Really. You can either give up or learn to deal with it. I learned to deal with it. I am still learning. I won’t say that my relationship with Fred is perfect. I’m still nervous and so is he. We don’t have this unimaginable trust…yet. We are still working on it daily. But, we are trying. That’s all that matters.

I didn’t write this article to brag. I did not write it to say, “Hey, feel bad for me! I had problems!” I wrote it to show others that they should also never give up. That if they believe, they can achieve. Whether it has to do with a horse, a relationship, a job, a life goal–whatever. There is no reason to give up your passion or your love. Try your best and one day, you will get where you want to be.

Even if it takes thirty years. *

My article in Saddle & Bridle Magazine:

Here.

“Finding a Friend in Fred: A Reclamation Project”

I did not title it, but it works!

 

 

* That’s how long it will take for Fred and I to be part of the Extreme Cowboy Race.

It’s Been a While…

February 10, 2011

I’ve had a difficult time keeping up on this, since I haven’t really been doing much with Fred.

So, as everyone should know, Fred was diagnosed with navicular in his right front. He has a cyst on the bone. Right now, he is on a trial run of isoxuprene and bute to see if it helps him. If it does, then he will be on it for the rest of his life. It will be a “trial and error” type thing until we figure out what works for him. If it doesn’t work, the vet suggested the German drug, Tildren.

That being said, I have now ridden Fred twice in the past week. I have been trying this “You trust me and I trust you” thing. I’ve quit looking for things for Fred to spook at. I’ve started trusting him that he will behave. So far, it seems to be helping a lot. He’s not acting as insecure. The first day, he was extremely calm. I was relatively surprised when the horses were outside the back doors, whinnying and making noise, and Fred was going along doing his job without spooking at it. That was a first! Every time we went towards the back door, I would just keep his mind busy; I would work the bridle and use my legs and seat– but I would NOT pay attention to the door. I knew if I paid attention to it, so would he. It seemed to work.

I also rode the other day. He was a little bit more hyped up. I lunged him first and he actually bolted at the back door and I lost grip of the lunge line. He then got worried because there was something dragging behind him and so he wouldn’t stop. I finally got him to calm down and stop and let me get him unwrapped. We worked a little longer then I tacked him up. A woman from the barn rode with me. I have decided, for now, to only ride with others, for two reasons.

(1) I always ride by myself. I think that is part of the reason when I show, I get so nervous in big classes. I get worried when people pass me. I get worried when people are close to me. I get this feeling of being crammed against the rail and it freaks me out. When I’m going faster than a trot, I get worried about getting passed, etc. So, I think I need to start riding with others so I can practice and get more used to it.

(2) Fred is calmer when he is with other horses. He feeds off of them; so if I’m with calm horses, he doesn’t spend the whole time spooking. :grins:

———————————

So, he was really well-behaved then as well. He was giving all of his attention to me. I worked on my leg position a bit; and let me tell you, it’s super frustrating. I can’t figure out where my leg goes, and then when I get it there properly, I lose it when I go to trot. I either relax my leg too much or I tense it up too much. I can’t find the right balance. I can’t tell the difference between steady contact with my calves or gripping. I can’t tell the difference whether I’m gripping too much with my knees and thighs or just enough. I’m a mess. But, I am going to work really hard on it from now on. I am going to practice, practice, practice. I am not a natural rider. I actually have to work at it. So, in order to get better, I need to try as hard as I can. I have some ideas, like more work on two point to relax my lower leg and get it in the correct position. Even if I’m trotting a few strides then two pointing a few strides. I am also going to do “sevens”, which I learned about from a forum friend. I will be taking lessons eventually too. But, I need to work on it in my spare time as well. Lessons aren’t going to be enough! I think once I figure out my legs, it will be much easier for me to relax the rest of my body.

ALSO. I talked to my lovely ‘psychologist’ and he made me realize some things. I am nervous when it comes to anything besides a slow, collected canter. Why? Well, since day 1 of riding, it has always been about concentrating on the trot. That is the “important gait”. So, since I started riding, lessons were always mainly trotting and then cantering once or twice each direction at a pretty ‘slow’ pace. Not a lope, of course, but not fast either. So, that is what I am used to. When I go to shows and Fred goes any faster than a collected/medium canter, I get freaked out. Instead of thinking “Okay, I need to do this to slow him down. ” like a normal rider, I go “Oh shit! He is going fast. Why is he going fast? Oh my god. Oh my god. He’s going to bolt, isn’t he?” and then I tense up and end up making things worse.

“Psychologist” said that when he used to play sports, like wrestling, he was required to do a certain move 1,000 times (literally, no joke) during the first week. So that way, it would just come natural to him and he could worry about other things. So, it makes sense. I need to get used to going faster. When a horse goes faster, it needs to feel NORMAL to me. It needs to feel natural. That way, when it happens, I can think “Okay, this is how I need to slow him down. Okay, I’m coming up behind this rider. I am going to make a pass and get right in front of her.” instead of my usual “Oh dear god. I can’t slow him down. He’s going to bolt. Oh god. There is a rider in front of me. What am I going to do? I’m going too fast. We’re out of control!” I think he is going to take off on me only because he is going faster than I’m used to. SO, I need to get used to going that fast!

That, my friends, is part of the reason I get so nervous with showing. I need to get used to riding with others and I need to get used to more than just one speed. Does that make sense? I hope it does. It made more sense when it was explained by someone else. But, after having it mentioned to me, I realized that really is part of it. So, I need to work on it by myself. I need to go out in the pasture on Fred and just canter. A lot. Different speeds, different places. Not out of my comfort zone. When I’m ready to speed up, I will. Eventually, it will get to a point where I can go fast and not be nervous–I can go fast and think about what else I am supposed to do, rather than forgetting everything and just worrying about the fact I am going faster than I’m supposed to.

As for videos, they will come soon. I have [way too much] anxiety. Hahaha. Another thing that makes me uncomfortable is video taping in front of people. I have a song picked out for a new video. I have ideas for clips. Every time I go out to the barn, somebody is there, and I feel really uncomfortable grabbing my video camera and setting it up. I feel like everyone is watching me and like “Here she goes again with those freaking videos. She needs a life.”

And I know the majority of those people watch my videos and probably aren’t thinking that, but still, I’m uncomfortable. So, I need to find a time where I can video tape and not feel like people are watching me. Or, have somebody come out and tape for me. Then I feel much more comfortable.

Besides, once I start my ‘cantering in the pasture’ stuff, it will need to be taped! We can’t miss that!

Youtube comment of the month, here!

“You are incredible; at riding, videomaking, and just in general. You and Fred are a perfect example of an unbreakable bond, and I love watching you two together. You take the best care of him, and from your videos, you can tell he unconditionally loves you. You’re such an inspiration, and in a way, you remind me a little of my story (I’ll message you). I subscribed, and you’re probably the best person I’ve subscribed to.”

Look for the February 2011 issue of Saddle and Bridle. It should be out on the shelves and in your mailboxes soon. There is a three page story about Fred and I featured in there! Let me know what you think.

February 10, 2011

Freds nose

Actual updates soon.

Fred’s diagnosis.

February 2, 2011

Fred was diagnosed with a navicular cyst in his RF. A navicular cyst would be considered navicular disease because it’s degeneration of the bone. So, sadly, it will never go away. We can only maintain it and keep it from progressing too quickly. We got him coffin bone injections, which should help, but we’ll see. He is also on a “life plan” of Isoxuprine, Phenylbutazone, and Cimetidine. At least all of those come in apple flavored powder! *claps* Haha. He is on a three-week trial and if it doesn’t go well, the vet thinks the expensive German drug, Tildren, may be a good option. ($1,100+ later!). I am hoping we DON’T have to do that, but we may.

It’s going to take a lot of “trial and error” to figure out what works for him. He might have to be on a lot of bute all the time or he may only need it for really hard work. We will just have to see, “it all depends on the horse”. I am also looking at investing in some Soft-Ride boots for stall time and when he is at shows (on hard ground). I’ve heard great things about them. I’m just a broke-ass. So, it just depends. No matter what, it’s not the greatest diagnosis, but he is rideable for the time being; he may just have to be retired early. Bummer.

Anyways, I’ve had some great people donating money towards Fred’s medical funds. I’ve had some friends getting together to get western tack for us to borrow for show season. I’ve had people tell me that eventually they are planning to help me out with donations as well. Fred really appreciates all the help from everybody. You guys are so great. 🙂

Donate to Fred’s “It’s Gonna Be a LONG Road Medical Fund”. You can pay through paypal, with credit card, or debit card.

Thanks guys. xoxo.