Saturday, December 20, 2014

Winter Holidays at RHE

There's been rather a lot of this lately:
There are many plus sides to that sort of weather, though saddle time isn't one of them. Still, we drought dwellers needs must pull on our hip waders and heft our mud shovels and enjoy this thing called Winter. Memories of dead grass and fire danger are fresh yet, holding court over the glow of fresh green and the slog through shin high mud. When the tack is oiled and packed away, the truck windows shut tight (they weren't at first though, oops!), and the AERC calendar seems far away, it's time to appreciate other aspects of life and ranch tending. Like:

the pond is back!

the grass is back 
   ---also blankets are back and all the joys therein associated with blanketing Sheza! 

stunning sunrises are back

the sun sometimes come back, and when it does everything *sparkles* with life

tis the season for large lovely trees coming indoors to scent the house and please the eye..
 ..and little gift wrap helpers!

Doing something different is back!  Enjoyed a stellar rock concert in Oakland last weekend

 ..but mostly I do the same stuff, just in rain gear, with soggy ponies..Ahhh Sheza itches

 Have a wiener-ful holiday, I know I will!

Hey Readers, If you or your loved ones are fishing enthusiasts, come enjoy the CA north state freshwater with us!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

When In Doubt, Reassess

There's a funny cycle in this whole horses+endurance world that I dedicate myself to (actually, many, but let's focus!). I'm awake, aware, curious, eager to learn and dedicated to serving my horse first, and best. All told I've been riding horses for over 20 years now and though I would have believed myself in saying that last sentence to you at any point in those 20 years, I will honestly say that I have only really begun to understand horses and reach another level of connection with them in the last 4-5 years.

 It's a funny trick of the horse world particularly that when you state one thing, the opposite usually happens, often scarily quickly. So just about the time that I claim to possess an eager, open questioning mind, I catch myself in a totally bovine train of thought regarding a puzzle at hand. I should say that sometimes I catch myself, but often it's my fellow equestrians who toss out a simple, non rocket-science-esque statement that hits me with a bright light of clarity, and leaves me sitting back thinking, "Well, DUH. Why didn't I think of that?"

We're not necessarily talking major life issues here, either. This post actually started brewing in my head because my right big toe hurt (seriously, bear with me.) Despite attentively trimming my finger and toenails before leaving for our recent multi-day ride, my right big toe hurt suddenly and terribly riding out Scrappy-Go-Weeee!! at GRS, so badly that I was hopping trying to hand walk him and get his brain back on trail. My right side is my metal ankle side and I'm always looking for/dealing with potential imbalances there, so I started focusing on how I was walking with that foot, but beyond catching myself weighting it a bit differently, and making my ankle sore trying to correct that, I couldn't figure out why my big toe in particular hurt so badly. I hypothesized maybe it was jamming into the front of my boot, but the pain was different than that, which I've experienced before.

Then I talked with Mel.

"Your shoes are probably too narrow." She typed.

But But BUT! My brain spluttered. As the sentences left my fingertips I was already laughing at myself:

"But I bought the wide Ariats and they fit great when I bought them 8 months ago."

Sound familiar?

"It can't be the saddle fit, I had Sparkles professionally fitted X months/years ago"


"It can't be saddle fit, I checked it thoroughly and trained X miles/months since then"


"It can't be the saddle, it was just fitted very recently and Sparkles is 3-6 yrs old"


"It can't be chiropractic(or similar), I just had Sparkles looked at 2 weeks ago."


"It can't be the trim, Sparkles loves my farrier/trimmer!"

I could go on.

The more I brewed on it, the more sure I was that we all go through this, to various degrees, and it also struck me that the ability to recognize when your brain has assumed the oxen yolk and is numbly straining in a fallow field is an important one, whether you're thinking about your toes or your life path. One of my favorite quotes ever is credited to Lao Tzu:

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

You can extrapolate that to this I think..if you're justifying your current decisions/methods with something that once was, or might be, rather than what and who you are and what you're faced with in the moment, well, it may be a (potentially futile) struggle.

To go back to my toe, after talking with Mel I put my Ariats back on and wore them to town for errands, allowing the possibility to enter my mind that perhaps these carefully tried on, relatively expensive shoes might not be fitting my current feet. Wouldn't you know it, just quieting that stubborn voice of "But I tried them on first andandand..." allowed me to feel just how squeezed my wide flat foot felt, and I caught myself attempting to stretch my foot within in the shoe to relieve the very present crunching of my unhappy right big toe.

Well, DUH. Why didn't I think of that?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Mares Between the Rains

It's been raining here pretty much since Scrappy and I got home from our not-gone-to plan last ride of the season a week ago. At least 7 inches of rain if not more fell in a matter of days, with gusty winds to match. Because Desire and Rory's shed is framed right out my double living room/office windows, I was privy to some pretty nifty and effective horse training taking place during the endless rains. Desire is a mild boss mare, expressing herself with marvelously pulled flat-eared snarky dragon faces, the odd squeal, but not much "bite" to back up the bark. She and Rory get along well, Rory harassing her a bit like she was her own foal, grazing together, and egging Desire on to take hill runs with her daily. Still despite the peace Desire wasn't entirely buying sharing valuable shed space with Rory, at least until endless days of rain rolled in and Rory decided things were going to change. Quietly, doggedly, with gaze averted, Rory would sidle into the shed, Desire would snark, Rory would retreat. And repeat. For hours, maybe even a day. The next day glancing out the window I noticed that Rory was farther in under cover, for longer at a time. And still utilizing the same method when necessary, casual approach, non panicked retreat, repeat, repeat. Sure enough the filly was quietly and determinedly desensitizing Desire to her presence there in the shed, just the way I worked with her and the spray bottle, or Sheza and her raincoats. She was casual and non threatening, and completely persistent to the point that it was more effort for Desire to get mad at her than just accept it. It's reassuring when you see a horse teaching another horse the way you would! Anyway by the 4th day of downpours and since, I can feed them in out of the rain, side by side in the shed, with no more than some token mare ears. 
Desire, bodaciously muddy at 18 1/2
out for a hoof trim, couldn't resist hosing her off, not that it lasted
Rory is 14 hands.... at the rump!
OH HAY Scrappy, meet your new Kimberwick
Between storms I mucked the mares' entryway yesterday and with no effort on my part or influence by the other horses Rory came running to me and wanted scratches. I was thoroughly filly flattered! She has run up to me before but that was with Sheza influence, and in general while quiet she's been a bit aloof and not entirely connected with me until now.
Hey ! Whatcha doing! 
getting buff at 18 months old
filly cuddles
In today's break in the storms I pulled Sheza out to change her waterlogged rain sheet (it's been raining that much) and have a look at her hooves. The deluge of water after 2 winters with next to none have turned the land seriously mucky and I'm on thrush patrol but happily Sheza's hooves looked *great* and just need a bit of heel taken down, bar clean up, toe roll, and that was that. 

Sheza grown up face! In momma D's halter

She's 15 hands at the withers now! And maybe butt high?
 She was great for the long mane detangling/deburring process and shorter hoof trim, even modeling nicely for her liberty photos..and then went totally batty about passing through her gate home politely. When she was a wee thing blasting through gates was a desire of her's we worked on a lot, as we did today. Quietly, persistently, like Rory moving into the shed, a foot at a time, a breath at a time, over and over until we accomplished what we needed and were peacefully where we wanted. Boy, I truly love horses and what they can teach us.