November has to be quieter than October was. I don't think I could do two Octobers like that in a row!
Central California finally got some rain this weekend.
We had a good downpour on Friday morning, but it was just enough to get things damp. On Sunday morning, we woke to heavy clouds and a few sprinkles. By 7:30 a.m. the sprinkles had turned to real rain - enough to make me think it might be enough to skip a ride and spend the day lounging in my yoga pants. Not doing yoga of course.
Since we've moved, we've yet to have a day where we could just lay around and hang out. I know the horses need to be ridden, but both boys seem okay as long as I at least drop by. As much as I wanted to simply snuggle up on the couch, I did drive by and give them their Platinum Performance and a few scratches.
I was rewarded by the most brilliant rainbow I've ever seen. The boys got a few minutes of my time, but then I did spend most of Sunday just laying around. We watched the #48 win this weekend's NASCAR race, some family dropped by to see our new house, and I made home-made clam chowder to go with the wet and windy weather. It was a nice day.
November has to be quieter than October was. I don't think I could do two Octobers like that in a row!
Izzy has been a complete stinker the past few weeks. I am not completely dense, so I suspected it had something to do with my irregular visits earlier in the month, but I couldn't figure what the deal was.
Day after day, he has gotten worse instead of better. I've done all of the "right" things: after nearly two weeks of not riding, I started out with free play in the arena, lunged him in the sliding side reins, hacked around the neighborhood, galloped in the open field (which he loved), all before I asked for a short ride in the arena.
The short rides have turned out to be an hour because he was so awful that I couldn't find a single good moment in which to stop and say there, that was good. Every afternoon, I left the barn with a for sale ad written in my mind.
So what's he doing? Well, everything except what I want. Fortunately, his bag of tricks is pretty small, but he's pulling them out one by one. The other day he tried his I can't turn/bend to the right. Yesterday, it was all about locking his neck, flinging it into the air, and going mach 10. If it wasn't full speed forward, it was a balk with a humped up back.
I begged. I fumed. I might have even cried a little bit. Then I got the whip out, which I haven't needed in several months, and went to town on him. After 15 minutes with my new best friend, Izzy was willing to turn right and mostly accept the tempo that I asked for.
I put him away without a peppermint or a cookie (it's a petty victory, but it made me feel better), and then I called Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer of Symphony Dressage Stables. I was 100% ready to sell him. I explained my frustrations, and after a pause, she posited that it sounded like Izzy and I are in a power struggle. She continued by explaining that Izzy might be upset over my recent absence.
As soon as she said it, the puzzle pieces fell into place. I know Speedy was bothered by my lack of attention, but he shows it in a different way. He gets very clingy when he's irritated with me. He wants all of my attention, and when he doesn't get it, he nips at me, calls to me, and flips his head in frustration.
Izzy has been pretty insecure on the ground these past few weeks. He has started crowding me, so much so that I've been schooling him on the ground with the dressage whip. He acts like a monster is right behind him wherever I lead him. In the arena, he won't keep his attention on me and does the head swivel while chanting Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!
I think Chemaine is right. Izzy has lost at least some confidence in my leadership ability and has decided that he should be the one in charge. So, I need to remind him that he is the employee, and I am the boss. Since he refuses to check his email and has zero skills at texting, I'm going back to the two tools he does listen to - my whip and spurs.
It's going to be ugly for a little while, but I like having a plan. Chemaine is awesome, and I am glad she was able to talk me down from the ledge. What I need more than anything is to hear stories of the my horse was a jerk for 8 years before he was finally sane variety.
I'll go first ... I HATED Speedy for at least the first 3 years I had him and then tolerated him for the next 3. After 10 years together, I finally adore him.
Now you ...
Well why not? We all know how awesome Speedy is. That dude just takes everything in stride. I had a pretty rough day yesterday at work and after an obnoxious ride on Izzy the day before, I was simply not in any kind of mood to deal with his sh ... enanigans again.
When Speedy saw me pull up, he barreled over to the gate and started whinnying his head off. His lameness has improved steadily each day, so I decided that lame or not, he would enjoy toting me around the ranch.
Even though Speedy hasn't been ridden in more than two weeks (thanks to my recent move to a new house and then his lameness), I felt totally comfortable throwing on a halter and nothing else. I didn't even bother to pick out his feet or dust off his coat. I simply walked up to the gate, grabbed him, sidled up next to a horse trailer, and hopped on.
Speedy was so thrilled to be doing something with me that he barely let my butt settle onto his broad back before he stepped off smartly down the road. The dude was on a mission. If he's still lame, it's not at the walk. My plan was to just walk around the ranch, but since he was so perky, I headed out the front gate and tooled around the neighborhood.
When we got to the old golf course, Speedy volunteered a little trot, and when I realized that he felt sound, I gave him the go ahead. We trotted over to the little copse of trees where there are some whoopsie doos.
We trotted up and down with me laughing like a hyena. Even though Speedy has zero jumping skills, I aimed him toward one of the railroad ties scattered around as borders. Without even a moment's hesitation, he popped over it like he was da man! And seriously, he is!
Remember, Speedy was bareback, in a halter, and he hadn't been out in over two weeks. He has zero jump training and neither do I. We nailed that cross tie! Repeatedly!
And lest you think we're a one hit wonder, we jumped both of them, several times! Oh my gosh - most fun I've had in a long time.
Every time I start to think that I should pass Speedy on to a green rider, he shows me how much fun it is to have a totally broke and dependable horse to ride. I get on Izzy and write sale ads every day. I get on Speedy and simply have fun.
Can anyone find a way to squish those two horses together to give me a wonder horse?
There is nothing like a barn full of hay. It smells good, it looks good, and it gives you a feeling of complete satisfaction. Knowing you don't have to worry about getting more for a while is a very good feeling.
I don't have to buy hay anymore, but I still love to see a barn full of the sweet smelling stuff. My ranch owner's hay barn was getting pretty empty, but she assured me that a delivery was on the way.
While I was busy moving, the hay truck finally arrived. I was bummed to have missed it because it is quite interesting to watch the squeeze at work. The ranch owner feeds alfalfa because it's cost effective and plentiful here on the west coast. To my joy, she also feeds a beautiful grass hay that she brings in from Oregon. That's what just got delivered.
While Reggie and his son tarped the ends of the hay stack, Speedy and I hung out on the lawn watching them work. Stacking and covering hay is not nearly as much fun as admiring the finished product.
I was pretty pleased at how relaxed Speedy was about the noise of the tarp as it shook and flapped. Speedy gave the guys a long look, but then he went back to grazing.
Now that the hay is delivered and covered, winter is welcome to arrive. It was so warm on Saturday that both boys got a bath, and no one shivered. We like our sun here in California, but we would all welcome some rain.
The worst part about buying and selling the two houses was that I was simply not able to be out at the barn like I usually am. Like a lot of riders, I make notes about every barn visit: who got ridden, who got walked, who has an owie, and so on. While I shoot for seven days a week, I usually miss about three days a month.
That one was July's page. I didn't miss a single day, but that was because I was making up for the 16 days I missed while we were in Italy in June. Here's October's page - every slash is a non-barn day:
During the week of the 9th, I managed to run out and at least check on my boys, but that was it. One mid-week visit was simply not enough for Speedy G. The ranch owner sent me a text on the 16th saying that Speedy was lame at the walk.
Trusting her read on the situation, I didn't make it out that day, but I was there the next. Speedy looked decent at the walk, but he was grade three on a trot out. He still is, but at least he's looking better. There isn't a single mark to account for the lameness and he has no swelling or filling anywhere. I feel comfortable just waiting it out. As he has done so many times before, he probably just whacked himself during all of his pacing and whirling (in his enormous dry pasture). I am sure he's just bruised.
While pretty ugly, the gash in his face is less worrisome. I am glad I didn't see it on the day it happened because after a day or so it was still deep enough to put my finger in. I've been gently coating it with coconut oil, and it already looks much better. It's probably going to leave another scar, but it will be just one of many.
While a bit dirty and covered with flies, Izzy fared much better over the week. He had a couple of small nicks on his legs, but by the time I saw them, the skin was already flaking off and clean skin had already grown in. Instead of whirling and pacing like his dorky big brother, he spent his time digging a massive hole.
While I love that Speedy adores me, I wish he didn't feel the need to pine for me so dramatically. Now that I have time to ride him again, he has to remain bored as he is too lame to ride. I sense an O. Henry tale in all of this. Irony ... it seems to be an essential part of horse ownership.
I know life is supposed to be about the journey, but sometimes it's nice to just get home and relax. We're not quite to the relaxed stage yet, but we're getting there. This move turned out to be much harder than I imagined it would be.
Standing out on our back patio listening to the cacophony of birds, I know it was worth it, but it was tough.
If you've ever bought a house, you know how difficult and stressful it can be. If you've ever bought and sold two houses in 30 days, you're wondering about my sanity. I am too, believe me.
I told you this already, but the house we owned sold in just 6 days. That meant we had to find a new house really, really fast. And to complicate matters, it needed to pretty much be our dream home, or at least be something close. We did find it, but it didn't go very smoothly. In my last post, I left you while I was waiting for the keys to our new house.
The keys did not come that day. To start off the chain of events that became a list of mini-disasters, the house we sold didn't close escrow on time. There was some complication with how the buyer paid her down payment. The next day, there was another glitch with the buyer - there was some kind of lean against the husband.
While these glitches were happening, we were living on takeout and paper plates. I had one pair of shoes at my disposal, and all my pants were packed.
Escrow on the house we were selling finally closed, but then we had a glitch. The lender needed one more bank statement from my husband, but I had literally just packed up the wireless router so we didn't have internet. Fortunately, our mortgage broker came up with a solution, but it delayed the close of escrow yet again.
This wouldn't have been that big of a deal, but the movers were loading the van with our stuff, and we were paying them by the hour. As I write this, it sounds like such a tiny thing. In that moment though, I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.
I think that in the history of moving, no one before us has ever told the movers to SLOW DOWN. We were in full panic mode. We had no keys and escrow hadn't yet closed on our new house. As the morning wore on, we worried that the movers would have to drop everything in the new driveway as they had a moving job for the next day. Out stuff had to come off that truck.
By early afternoon, everything that would fit was loaded, but we still had no keys. The movers grabbed a piece of driveway, and we all sat in near silence. I offered to buy everyone lunch, but the guys preferred to just hang out. To my surprise, they'd been through this plenty of times before. Apparently, many people have to wait on the keys.
A half hour later, we got the call that escrow had finally closed, and the house was ours. The movers got the van rolling, and we spent the next ten days unpacking, scheduling repairmen, and furnishing a house nearly three times the size of our old one.
We're not quite done and probably won't be for a while. We have several more repairmen coming out this week and furniture is being delivered. For now though, the boxes are unpacked and we're getting back to normal. On Saturday, I rode for the first time in two weeks. I am also looking forward to riding in another clinic with Christian Schacht in mid-November. Before that, we're going to the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.
We might look and feel a little travel weary, but I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's good to be back.
It seems like my horses do this all the time. Hey! Are you still up there? Sorry, forgot about you for a minute.
This an old picture of Speedy from way back in 2009. When I first got him, that round dot on his muzzle quickly became known as his reset button. Speedy won't behave, hit the reset button! When he checks out, which isn't very often these days, I know I always have at least that trick up my sleeve.
I mentioned a week or so ago that I've been too busy to reply to comments or do much else besides go to work and squeeze in a ride now and then. It's not much of a reveal, so don't get too excited, but we just bought a new house. My horses moved a few months back, and now it's our turn.
We're leaving our very modest home of the past 11 years for something far grander and rather fancy. It's been a long process, and I still don't have a key in my hand, but that should happen in just a few hours.
Yep. That is a lake, although my husband calls it a pond. Since you can't boat or swim in it, he's probably right. You can fish from the shore though, and it's teeming with ducks and other birds. Our backyard opens right onto the lake with a gate so that we can walk the dogs and drive the ducks crazy. Or the dogs crazy. We're not sure who is going to win that one.
We actually placed an offer on a different house but after more than a week of hearing nothing from the seller, we moved on to this house. They weren't particularly quick to respond either. My husband finally groused that it was crazy that we had nearly half a million dollars to spend and nobody wanted our money!
So what have I been doing this past month? Well first, we sold our current home in six days. While that sounds fabulous, it put a ton of pressure on us to find something really fast. And it couldn't be just anything; it had to be something we loved. Once we found the house, we spent weeks dealing with inspections and repairs on both houses.
Over the weekend, we had to issue an ultimatum to the sellers when it seemed as though they'd changed their minds about selling. We were in full panic mode as everything was packed and the mover was hired. Ultimately, the sellers signed the last needed piece of paper and the move became a go.
In a few hours, after I sign one last piece of paper, I am heading out to see Speedy and Izzy. While there, I am definitely hitting Speedy's reset button in hopes that it works for me, too. So for now, I am checking in, but I need to check out for a bit. We won't have internet for a few days, but I hope to be back early next week.
Wish us luck, and I'll see you all in a few days!
I truly enjoy my C4 belts ... all four of them. I started with an orange strap and white buckle. I then moved on to a navy plaid with a navy buckle, a tan plaid with a black buckle, and then my favorite - the California flag with a chrome buckle.
The Sugar Skulls though really grabbed my attention. It's not listed on C4's site yet, but once it is, this belt is joining my collection. I like the black buckle, but I'll play around with their buckle/strap switching gizmo first to see if something else pops out.
After Sugar Skulls is in my hot little hands, the Underwater Dogs might find themselves added to my collection. The bugged-eye guy on the bottom just cracks me up!
Over the weekend I had another one of those moments where you realize your horse is not going to wake up tomorrow and be a schoolmaster for the blind. He's not even going to be a schoolmaster for a pro. He's just what he is, a youngish horse who is a bit hot and sassy and quite full of himself. He isn't going to be "easy," which is what I keep hoping I'll find when I get to the barn. And just like all young horses, he needs at least five more years before he's somewhat dependable to ride.
On Friday afternoon, I hopped up on Speedy bareback with nothing but a halter and a desire to have that easy ride. He gave it to me of course because that's what well broke 12 year olds do. As we ambled around the neighborhood, I realized that I've been waiting for Izzy to start behaving like a well-broke teenager. Well shoot, that's not going to happen.
Like I mentioned the other day, Izzy is an energetic horse that will simply need to be ridden for several more years until he slowly turns into that reliable teenager. That means I have about 4 or 5 more years to keep working on it. One day, I'll wake up and laugh about how many times I threatened to sale him.
For now, I just keep throwing learning experiences at him. Sometimes he behaves like you would expect, trembling in anxiety, certain that death is on his heels. Other times, like with the "tunnel of terror" pictured above, he drops his head, gives a bored sigh, and shows me his future well broke self.
Sometimes I find myself telling him in the most exasperated tone, "would you just start acting your age?" But of course, he already is. Come on, Birthday Number 9!
A week or two ago, Izzy pulled yet another shoe, so I decided to go barefoot all around. The hind feet have been shoeless for more than a year, but his front feet still needed shoes. When I first bought him, he came off a grass pasture so his his feet were pretty splayed out. The farrier has slowly roped in Izzy's pancake feet, and now they're nice and round.
When he pulled the right front for the second time in a week, I gave up. I rode him with one shoe until my farrier could come and pull the other front. He was never ouchy on either foot. I've ridden for more than a week on barefoot hooves, and he's been sound.
The farrier was out last night and cleaned up the previously shod hooves and then smoothed out his hinds. I was actually concerned about his back feet as they looked terrible. They were heavily chipped, but they look great today, so it must have been cosmetic chipping only.
Here's a quick look at Izzy trotting out on freshly trimmed feet. I am delighted that he's not at all tender footed. He's not exactly moving his best, but this was a cold trot out with no warm up.
Izzy was standing in uneven dirt when I took these photos, so the angles are all wonky. The right front still has nail holes because we had to reset that shoe so many times. I am delighted that he grew so much foot that there aren't still nail holes in the left front.
I wish I had thought to take photos of the hinds before the farrier trimmed them as they looked really bad. They had taken on a pointed shape, but that was only from above. From underneath they still looked round.
As long as he stays sound, I'm hoping to keep him barefoot. Speedy's been barefoot for more than a year. I hope it works for Izzy too. It's quicker for the farrier and a lot cheaper for me!