Chief’s new Digs!

I’m on vacation in Florida with my mom for a quiet few days away from real life. The last month has taken me through the full circle of emotions and back again. But I am happy to say we are on the other side of it.

Chief and I are well, better than well actually. At the end of last month I broke the news to my friend that I was moving Chief to a new farm.  She was so gracious about the news, just totally understanding. I made myself sick over the decision for a week before I broke the news and couldn’t have been happier with how it was received.

We moved in order to be around more people, more horses, as well as to have larger facilities. My new farm is beautiful and the owners are lovely. It has been two weeks since I moved Chief and most of the time has been spent letting Chief settle in to new surroundings. The weather has not been great in Jersey and as of last week Chief was still a little on edge/excited and very concerned with his new friends. We are going to take things day by day and I am really going to let Chief tell me when he is ready to give me the attention I need to ride him. I found myself in a small battle with him last week when he was getting excitable on the cross ties in front of some of the other boarders. And I had to remind myself how new his surroundings are to him currently . And that I wasn’t there to impress anyone… not that I could do that if I tried.

I am reading Mark Rashid’s book “The Heart of Passive Leadership” and I think it has come at the perfect time for me. I am learning a totally different outlook and it also makes me feel secure in the non confrontational way that I like to work Chief. I am also learning that there is not a “right way” to develop a relationship with your horse. I have to learn to trust myself and my very smart pony and work off his “tries” which he gives me all the time.

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Let it Snow…

img_33171It is snowing here today in delightful New Jersey.  As I was dashing out my door at 6am, arms full of work binders, lunch and my morning tea, I realized there was a giant ice patch on my driveway.  I discovered this after my things were flung everywhere and I was sitting on my butt, water seeping onto my pants, knowing how my day was going to go from there.

Luckily it has gone relatively well since then… And then the snow happened.

I hate Snow.

My friends seem to think we are all supposed to think snow is beautiful and majestic.  I know, that as a female, I am supposed to want to curl up on my couch and drink hot chocolate, sitting in front of the fire acting romantic and loving.  But honestly, all I can think about is that I hate how snow makes me feel cold and wet at the same time, which is the worst combination. I mean, unless you are on fire. I am sure being on fire and smoke inhalation is the worst combination ever.

But realistically these individual snow flakes are tiny, frozen acid rain drops destroying my day and probably my hair.

There is no way that snow is pure delicious frozen H2O. And it definitely should not be landing on anyones tongues.

Knowing absolutely nothing about meteorology, I can only imagine that with all of the chemicals that shoot up into our atmosphere, tiny half chemical half frozen water-hate balls manifest themselves in the form of snow.  If I am wrong, I don’t care.  I still despise snow.

That being said I am on barn duty tonight, on the first night it really feels like winter to me.  Although there is something I love about sliding my hands under Chief’s blanket and feeling how nice and warm he is underneath, and how his breath always feels nice and warm on my hands.  I also love his fuzzy bunny coat he grows before he starts to shed out.  And riding bareback when it is cold, and letting your horse’s warm body keep your legs warm, ambling around in the quiet is pretty fun too.

Flashback: I remember the first winter I saw Chief.  The guy who owned him at the time left him in a field all winter.  I would bring him buckets of warm water when his water buckets froze and break the tiny icicles off his face.  There was another horse in the field who would stand in the shed and not let Chief inside. So he would be standing in the same spot every time I saw him, half frozen.  He was still Ornery as hell, regardless of the temperature. I would sit on the top fence post and he would put his head on my leg for a half minute and let me scratch his ears.  Sometimes I miss those days with not so much responsibility.

Oh the weather outside is frightful,

And I’m sure my horse is spiteful,

I’m late and snow makes me move slow,

To feed I go, to feed I go, to feed I go.

I think I may start to post a horsey version of a Christmas song every day until Christmas!

Sugar High

Lately Chief and I both seem to feel the same way.  Bloated and tired.  Every time I look at him I think , “If I was a horse, we would be identical twins.”   Our exercise routines have been pretty identical too.  I am sure my excuse is the abundance of sugar I have been eating.  His… I am not so sure.  Everything kind of goes something like this.

Walk a little.  Walk Slower. Turn. Walk a little faster. Maybe some trot steps. Stop.  Ahhh relief.

Lets go eat.

Except one big exception is that, after a day of “work” in the ring,  I choose to lay on my couch, with my iPhone, reading Chrono of the horse blogs and “Behind the Stall Door Segments.”  Whereas he likes to sleep with his head in a steaming pile of shit.

To each their own.

I have to imagine if Chief knew what doughnuts tasted like, he would also dream about them.  Last night I had a dream I won a horse show (I don’t know where this came from ) and that my reward was a large white box of doughnuts wrapped in a sparkling pink ribbon.  This was before my dream That a rapper named Machine Gun Kelly and I had a romantic date on a cruise ship.  But after the dream where I was being farted on by my Dog.

Moral of the story is if I did ever win a horse show, and they rewarded me with a giant box of doughnuts, I would be a happy camper, I would forgo the blue ribbon.  And I imagine Chief would feel the same way.  Because when I give him a horse cookie, he feels all of the feels.

Being that this is only one of the 8 reasons I project onto him that he is my best friend, you can see my priorities are clearly in order. Food First.  Obviously he can’t argue with me, so no one has to know the truth.  That he would rather have his head up Puck’s big warm blood butt than be hanging out with me.

But alas, here we are.  Me committed to pay to keep him with me, and he has been nothing but perfect lately.  I consider myself really blessed.  For a free horse, and two years of solid work.  We do pretty damn well together.

Last night on our little hack we saw the “Super Moon.”  Pretty awesome. img_0288

2 Houses, A Wedding and No Funerals.

My life has been a beautiful mix of chaos these last 7 months… I managed to:fullsizerender28

  • Sprained my ankle twice
  • Wear a giant air cast for 2 months
  • Bought a new house
  • Sold our old house
  • Moved!
  • Planned a wedding
  • Multiple Dress Fittings
  • Nashville for my Bach Party
  • Bridal shower
  • GOT MARRIED!!!

And got back to riding Chief this week.  Needless to say he had a 3 month break!  I just mentally could not dedicate time to my pony and the wedding and moving.  I almost think spraining my ankle so badly was an gift from God, only because it alleviated the guilt I had about not working my horse!

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Astrid tied my wedding bells to Chief’s halter to celebrate Craig and I 🙂

Now  we are back in action though we are feeling pretty good! To put a good base on Chief after being off for 3 months, I did groundwork for 5 days last week.  Prob about 1 hr to 2 hr sessions.  It was fun, and it got him back in the work mindset a little bit.  He was great with the flag, very responsive to be and really respectful.

So I scheduled 3 lessons in a row with Astrid.  I had Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night lessons.  The first night was fantastic.  I was really careful with my groundwork and really relaxed.  We ended with a great trail ride and really felt together.  Worked on Chief moving off my leg, controlling his hindquarters, turn on the forehands, nice halts and nice downward and upward transitions (walk and trot).

Same exercises over the next three rides with varying degrees of difficulty.  Thurs was a little more challenging, whereas Friday felt challenging but more like we were connecting.  No bucking, which is really nice to think about.

I rode alone yesterday, Monday 10/11, and it was a perfect ride and a perfect night.  I laugh when I say this to people but I think Chief actually really likes me now.  I never thought he particularly liked me.  I know he tolerated me, but now I feel a bond.  And that makes me happiest of all.  It makes me sad that so many of his owners chose to get rid of him, rather than to work through his issued with him, but it makes me happy that I am his partner now.  Giving that up to Jesus.

New Saddle and Consistent Rides

5 great days of work and 4 really nice rides.

IMG_4334(1)Sunday Feb 29th- Rode… So low key and relaxed.  Took it easy went on walks.  A few peppermints were involved.  Walked mostly, only light trotting.  No issues.

Tues march 1st- Light Groundwork. Rode 30 Mins, Serpentines, walk to stop transitions.  Some walk trot transitions. Really relaxed.

Sunday March 6th- Beautiful day.  WTC day.  Canter to the left perfect.  Canter to the right difficult to pick up the correct lead. I am working on my balance and my seat.

Tuesday March 8th- Groundwork under new saddle.  Chief was great.  Only minor worries about his new saddle.  No bucking.  Mostly groundwork only, Astrid took me on a walk trot pony ride because I was still a little nervy.

Weds March 9th- Rode with Astrid.  I am always a worse rider in lessons bc

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My new saddle! Fabtron Cross Trail ❤

I feel like I have a hard time concentrating.  I have a hard time concentrating on what I am supposed to do while listening to instruction.  Going to get better at this over this spring! Walk trot transitions.  Chief was jumping into his trot for some reason.  He senses my nerves I am sure.  But was still a total puppy dog.  Which I appreciated.

Working on this coming week… Knowing where his feet are.  Rolling his hind over.  Backups.  Good smooth walk trot transitions.  Getting Chief super comfortable with his new saddle.

Also, I want a painting by Sarah Lynn Richards so bad!

 

What My Horse Gives Me

My horse gives me a foothold in a day of chaotic voices.

my baby pony

“Every rider has that one horse that changes everything about them”

My horse gives me calm on a day where I have to pretend to love all of the people around me. People who’s voices may as well be screeching because that is what I hear after 12 years in this business.  Every client who thinks their suffering and misfortune is the only thing at that moment that matters to me. Although my horse has given me more heartache than these clients combined, from that grew in me a sense of pride and love in myself I have never been able to find anywhere or in anyone else.

My horse gives me quiet and contemplation on a day where I can’t seem to get my own reprimanding/loving/beating/burning mind to stop talking churning away in my own head.  I am spinning through each day and cannot understand how people meditate, have children, maintain calm exteriors when my mind just will not stop and I can barely keep it together.   When  I can’t make the movement of so much human energy around me melt together in any soft way that makes sense,  my horse turns his head to me.

My horse, in his calm presence, in his bloodline of mud and sweat and tears elicits a final cease motion in my head.  In a life where I am pretty much liked superficially by most people that I meet, my horse made me work for his affection and trust.  There was no sense of a consistent connection in our very early relationship made up of mixed signals, misunderstandings and two very different languages.  My horse now lets me hear his voice where I understand a few more words, and many more moments of affection, gentle soft breaths and curious lingering eyes.

My horse is my solitude.  But he is also my pride and my exterior self.  He is my friend and a true companion. My horse is my peace.

 

Fake Craigslist Ad for Chief

 

I could never sell Chief.  I am way too attached, and just love him way too much.  But if I was going to write a Craigslist Classified ad for Chief it would go something like this…

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Love tears on Chief’s coat

“Red Ones are the Best Ones”

14 y/o, Almost 15h, old school chestnut aqha quarter horse gelding for sale.  Chief aka “Ten “o” sea,  A little horse with a mostly lackadaisical personality,  Chief is not exactly an “in your pocket” horse.   If you are a human, he could take you or leave you unless he is suspicious you have a treat for him. He is never blatantly disrespectful to your face on the ground, but is more like a passive aggressive partner.  He will probably give you dirty looks behind your back (a side eye or a wild eyed glare usually suffices) and he may try to bite you if he thinks he can get away with it.  If he knows you have a treat he will put his nose on you and blow hot breath until you give it to him.  He also doesn’t care how long the process of procuring the treat takes either.  For example, if you are picking his feet (which he stands perfectly for) he may put his nose on your butt and blow hot breath onto your ass until you get self conscious enough to stand up.  At which point he whips around to the front and pretends he was never there and has no clue what you are talking about.  Chief doesn’t love hugs, but will tolerate one for approximately 1.5 second before either going back to his pile of hay, or giving you a puzzled side eye from the highest height he can stretch his head.   He despises  selfies, is always aware the phone or camera is an object that he hates and when in very close proximity pins his ears and wildly only shows you one side of his face (in order to see you and your phone, camera weapon clearly.)  Chief has to go to an accepting and open home because he is bisexual. If his owner is judgmental of his sexual preferences it will make for a not so cohesive relationship.  Chief is into S&M and does not want to be judged or asked about it.

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If their faces aren’t almost touching, they aren’t happy.

He lets his boyfriend Puck (Warmblood) nip at his face, beat him up, and wildly chase him around the paddock, all the while happily prancing with  glee.  The more blankets that Puck tears up, the happier Chief becomes.  Although he doesn’t love looking ragged in his torn sheets, he loves the constant attention from his man.  Chief doesn’t have a “safe word” but instead only has to pin his ears and bite Puck back one time, and all nonsense ceases.  But when they are separated they pine for one another with whinnies, pacing and locked eyes and long stares.  Under saddle Chief has gotten much more calm when being cinched up, mostly taking good care of his rider.  I believe Chief is a dreamer though and if he starts to drift his attention from his job,  anything can scare the pants off of him.  Other than this little glich, plus the random girthiness that sends him into a small bucking frenzy he is “rock solid.”  Bareback though, Chief always assumes his rider is nonathletic with absolutely no independent seat and treats all riders equally, walking slowly as if he is anticipating you are going to come tumbling off at any second.  If you mistakenly ask him to trot while bareback, he will get pissed because he knows you are bound to fall off, so he makes that happen as quickly as possible.  When Chief really does not feel like being ridden he may test you and take a single large step away from the mounting block.  Adding to his passive aggressive personality Chief usually picks one small thing to make difficult for his rider at a time.  This may consist of holding his head up when bridling, spinning, bucking and other overly dramatic behavior.  When is it time for grain he doesn’t want to worry about anything else, but is perfectly content doing light work on a full belly.

He would probably make a great kid’s horse.

So clearly this is slightly embellished, and I love Chief way too much to ever sell him,  but if he had the wrong owner he would be many of these things to a “T.”