Archive for February, 2012

Into the Wide, Wide World

amywink February 27th, 2012

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Blessing has moved beyond the round pen! Out into the wide, wide world she went this weekend, across the Scary-Sounding Gravel, past the Tractor of Death and down into the Big Arena to show me her stuff. Before Malen took her out, she showed me how Blessing could even canter with the bouncing tire behind her and I have to say it looked as if Blessing herself was showing off a bit too, proud of her new skills.

After 90+ days of training, she’s filling out quite nicely and muscling up in all the correct places. Her neck has finally caught up with the rest of her and she looks like a grown up horse. And quite the beauty as well.

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She’s also learning the importance of ignoring dogs, since that will be a required skill at Taipan Station.

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It was, of course, very difficult to take a photo in the arena, given the lighting conditions, but Blessing did very very well as Malen ground drove her through her paces. I got this one photo, which I like very much.
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I was very proud of her and I think she is as well.

After the great day Saturday (which also included a wonderful riding lesson), with the weather improving, I hooked Will up on Sunday for a nice drive, hoping to get back to a good schedule of riding and driving on weekends.

Little did I know that there were Dragons Coming Down The Road. Oh, sure, they looked like Ordinary Horses, but they were Clearly Dragons and Will decided that Immediate Retreat was necessary. . . By Any Means Necessary. Lisa offloaded rather swiftly and Will was off in what can only be described Canter-Leaping. It wasn’t pretty and not at all appropriate for a trained driving horse. I never lost his head, nor my own, and we managed to make somewhat ordered retreat and get settled enough to stand and wait for Lisa to return from where she’d dismounted the carriage. Once we got back to the barn, she got off and I took Will into the pasture for some remedial work, which he protested with an almost buck. Whether he was still hyped up from the dragons, or sore from the sudden work, or unhappy by getting back to work after a month off, it’s not appropriate. Simply not appropriate. It is also something I haven’t seen since his greenest days so I have to reassess what happened and consider our restart. We unhooked and went back to the lunge line and we will be doing more lunge work and perhaps some long lining and ground driving before we get back to work again.

Blessing: Driving Mare

amywink February 20th, 2012

I also had a lovely surprise on Saturday. Blessing has learned to pull a tire! It’s been two weeks since I’ve seen her work and she’s improved her directional understanding and her “whoa”– which at last viewing, she had deemed merely as a polite suggestion rather than a hard and fast rule of equine deportment. No longer. she has a good stop and appears quite confident in her directions, moving without the furrowed brow of concentration.

She seems quite engaged in her training as well and inspected the tire quite rigorously, giving it a good kick as well as a bite, before settling down to business.

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She didn’t bat an eye at the some-what snake-y sound the tire made following her around the round pen.
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She’s also beginning to look remarkably like her brother:
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After her workout, we measured her and she sticks at 14′2 almost 14′3, the height of her brother. I may have a matched pair after all!

Ride to Drive

amywink February 20th, 2012

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This is the lovely Dol on a sunny day earlier in the month. In the midst of Saturday’s rain storms, I had my third riding lesson with her– in the cozy and covered arena. It is certainly a good time to take up a horsey activity that can be conducted indoors. I am leaning toward being very tired of the rain, though we now have an Official “Much Improved” outlook for the drought through May. I will keep riding if it keeps raining–though really, I am unlikely to stop riding even if it’s not raining!

I am gaining confidence and strength with my third lesson and many things are clicking into place–leg position, foot position, seat position as I get more and more relaxed in the saddle. My hands, it seems, need the least adjustment. Whew. I’m also not nearly as sore as when I began! Morning yoga has definitely helped.

At my last lesson, I noticed how much more swiftly I could tell what issue Dol and I were having and quickly correct it–getting deep into the corners and bending in the turn, for example, which can be Quite A Lengthy Discussion while we drive. It’s also becoming clear how she gathers her entire body to move correctly forward, rather than simply faking it with a nicely curved neck. Of course, it’s quite different than the experience from the box seat. Instead of watching her gather herself correctly, I can feel her collect her body and feel her elasticity in the movement. Once I get back to driving, I suspect this will enhance my interpretations of what I am seeing as well.

My obsession with driving the perfect circle did pay off yesterday when Malen asked me to trot a 20 meter circle and I was able to do it! Everything Francine taught me about driving the circle translated to riding the circle. Riding the circle underscored the importance of excellent body posture to create the circle. My tendency to lean forward and into the circle while driving is not at all practical in the saddle and thus was instantly corrected!

I have to admit that when I started my riding lessons, I thought my riding goals would be minimal and mainly a single one: stay on. But now, just a very short way into the journey, I have tripped some cognitive switch and the links between riding and driving are suddenly illuminated and the way once dimly lit now blazes much more intensely.

Goodbye to a Great Dog

amywink February 4th, 2012

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Since I have been “living” at Taipan Station, one of the most joyous experiences has been the always enthusiastic greetings from all the dogs. It is, after all, a place named for a dog– the original Taipan I who I did not have the pleasure of knowing. Since I’ve been dogless in my own life the last year, the Taipan Pack has been giving me all of the dog attention I have needed while I wait for my own dog to arrive (and I have a plan for that this year). From the smallest, Cookie, to the oldest, Chloe, everyone has been doing their doggie darndest to make sure I had enough dog time.

This past year, Taipan (the 2nd), the chocolate lab, has done his therapeutic work for me, always greeting me with his Labrador grin and always always bringing a stick, or log, or stump, for retrieving, or picking up my grooming brushes to draw my attention away from the horses.

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Falling in love with someone else’s dog is always tricky but has some excellent benefits–a pleasant little love triangle with all of the benefits and none of the problems. Of course, falling in love with a dog means opening oneself up to the pain of losing the dog, even if he belongs to someone else.

Yesterday, we all lost Taipan.

He’s buried now in the pasture so his spirit will remain with the place but it’s very hard to say goodbye to such a great dog.

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