Friday, April 17, 2015

Finally - a moment of clarity!

I've been thinking a lot lately about why Eagle is currently reacting to being mounted the way he is.  For me it's been frustrating to say the least, because I really didn't understand.  I knew he was upset when my hubs came off of him a couple of months (?) back, but I didn't think it was that big of a deal to him.  Within a few minutes, he was remounted, rode around a little bit and that was it.  But today Kate left a comment with a couple of links for me to read about horses with similar issues.  I've always known that Eagle's confidence is a tender thing - to be handled gently.  I don't treat him with kid gloves, not for a long while now.  He's one of the herd and what's expected of one, is expected of all.  House rules.  He gets that, he fits right in and usually has no problems at all.  In fact, I think he's a very content, happy and well-adjusted horse.  But in reading about these other horses, one of which was badly shaken because their rider came off, something resonated with me...yes, MH did get right back on Eagle.  Where I now firmly believe we made our mistake, was that we didn't take the time to get either Eagle or MH totally relaxed before calling it good.  We quit too soon, and that didn't do Eagle any good at all.  

In fact, it was probably just as bad as if MH hadn't even gotten back on him at all.  We left him feeling badly about the incident and then I didn't work with him for quite a while.  That left an indelible mark on Eagle's brain.  And not a good one, I'm afraid.  I'm convinced that's the problem.  So, at least I feel better because I think I understand where he's coming from a little bit better.  I have some clarity and that's good.  So, for me it's in the past.  We're done with that - no more wondering, we're just moving forward from here.  

Last night's session was fairly short and sweet.  I worked with Eags for 30-45 minutes without any tack.  Just walk, trot, backing, trotting over the (dreaded) poles, in and around the barrels and even tried a little sidepass.  Not bad at all.  We were relaxed and in sync.  All good stuff.  We had some issues standing quietly at the mounting block again, but in the end, Eagle stood quietly and I rubbed him and patted him all over for maybe 5 solid minutes and that's where we called it a night.  Eags got led quietly to his stall and had a carrot.  While he yawned and chewed on his lesson, I finished the watering and feeding, then brought everybody else in for the night.  Seeing those big, old yawns made me smile all the way down to my toes...  :)

Tonight, I'll be saddling Ladde up and have Eagle in hand while I mount and dismount Ladde. Over and over and over again.  Lad will probably fall asleep...he's had plenty of practice sleeping while I figure out how to come aboard.  I've always believed that in part anyway, horses learn by observation, just like us.  I'll have Eagle in tow while I ride Ladde a little, and then work with Eags in-hand again.  

It sure feels good to be working regularly with my horse again.  Feels really good!  I left a message for Rachel today, and am hoping to get together with her really soon.  I'd like her to come over and interact with Eagle and maybe watch us work together as well.  

I realize my pictures have absolutely nothing to do with today's post...I just like pretty pictures!  I'm starting (sometimes) to be able to look at pictures of Annie without tearing up...progress.  Baby steps for both of us.

Until Monday,

Thursday, April 16, 2015

When ya got nothing, make a list

And that's about the size of it - today, I got nothin'.  No witty comments, no cute puppy pics, no delightful tales of life in the country.  

I'm tired.  I didn't sleep much last night and it's been a rather depressing day at work.  Let me just say this - colic sucks.

There are some days when it can be very life-sucking working at a veterinary clinic.  

I'm really (again) looking forward to this weekend, and just laying low, hanging out, sleeping in and frittering my time away.  It's all about the mental breaks, don't ya know?  Oh ya, and planning a vacation.  I really need an extended weekend, and soon.  


So, 10 extremely random things about me...I know, but it's my best subject.  Sorry, I told you I had nothin'.

1)  Whenever I'm scared or nervous, I sing.  

2)  I am the most opinionated person that I've ever known...some may say stubborn, and I'd be lying if I disagreed.  

3)  I used to go to a lot of concerts.  Mostly rock, but lots of other genres too.

4)  I have always been an avid animal lover, and many times prefer their company to people.

5)  I am nurtured and inspired by spending time in the great outdoors.

6)  I enjoy cooking, but rarely follow a recipe.

7)  My most favorite desert in the whole, wide world is pie.  My mom's pie to be exact.

8)  My happy place is at the beach.

9)  I've been riding horses since I was 3 years old.

10)  I don't think I could live a happy, well-adjusted life without 2 things:  horses and scented lotion.  In that order.

I spent time working with Eags again last evening.  It was really, really good - until it wasn't.  At one point, Eagle decided he did not want to trot over the poles anymore and pointed his butt in my general direction and did a short, butt lift towards me...then his eyes rolled back in his head and he thought better of that decision.  But, it was too late for that - I had already reacted with a big jerk on the lead and a big, HUGE bellow from me that, that was absolutely NOT acceptable!!!!  He became acutely humble, apologized and we moved some more trotting over the poles.  I am an evil woman.  

Pretty much everything we did work on last night went very well, except for his tiny infraction involving his butt, and me being on his left side while standing on top of the mounting block.  *sigh*

I keep reminding myself to be patient.  It's only day 3 of our lessons.

I just keep wondering where in the world this problem has come from???  The only thing I can come up with is that fall my hubby took.  Does he think I'm going to get hurt if I get on his back or what?  Or, does he just enjoy his life of total leisure?   If only I knew...

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Simple pleasures

For me, right at the top of my list is spending time with my horse.  I have more than one horse, so it's a different and unique experience with each one.  They are all so special, and different from one another.  But when we are together, I am with my horse.  Wholly, completely in love and awe of that beautiful individual.  My horse.  

I am never more at peace than time spent in the presence of our horses.  I wouldn't give that up for all the money in the world.  And it's a good thing, because I might actually have some money if we didn't have horses!  Aahh, but money doesn't snuggle up to your neck and give you goosebumps and make you giggle in delight.  You can't wrap your arms around money and bury your nose in their sweet, sweet scent.  You can't cry on their shoulders and tell all your problems to money, and money does not love you in return, or nicker in the silence at your return.  That's heaven!  There is simply no more precious pleasure than spending time with a horse.  God's greatest gift to mankind...

And speaking of spending time with my horse - my time with Eagle last night was incredible.  We were both relaxed and everything we did, we did together.  I asked and Eagle tried.  That's all I've ever wanted from him, and he gave of his heart and for that, I am thankful.  He is a beautiful soul, gentle and kind.  Super, super sensitive and tender.  His trust in humans is so very tender, he brings forth such emotion from me that I have trouble putting into words how he makes me feel.  I am so honored to have this relationship with him.  It is the most beautiful thing just being with this horse.  Anyway, before I get really weepy and make myself cry, I just want to say that our session was an overall success.  I set up poles and some barrels, we did some walking and trotting in the round pen.  We went for a little stroll, we backed, I did some work on the mounting block, and only twice put my foot in the stirrup, applied some pressure and removed it, from the off-side only.  But Eagle stood quietly, elevated his head slightly, but waited. We did hindquarter release, flexing both directions, backing and even a little flag work. Eagle was groomed, saddled and throughout most everything, he remained quiet and relaxed.  I decided not to try mounting and have something go wrong, so we called it good and will pick it up again on another day.  Likely this evening.  I just heaved a big sigh of relief that everything went so well.  We still have a ways to go to get back to where we were last fall, but I have faith.  We will get there.  I just have to learn to have patience and not to expect to just pick up where we left off last year.  Consistency is the name of the game.

This is a picture of Eagle taken just before I picked him up.  He had apparently gotten tired of climbing the mountain and decided to stop and have a little rest.  He was on the end of a 4-horse pack string and Kate had to go about a quarter mile up the trail to find a place to dismount and tie the horses up, and go back for Eagle.   Silly guy, he was just standing there resting and waiting for her...

 Another simple pleasure for me is spending time with my husband.  He can be really annoying at times, but he really is my best friend.  We've been together for almost 33 years and I don't know what I'd do without him. This was taken in Hawaii and we'd just been snorkeling in the bay behind us in the picture. I remember feeling pretty fried.  

*sigh*  Will I ever have a waistline?  Oh well, it is what it is...

Another simple pleasure that I just love is spending time with our animals.  Over the years we've had our share of dogs, cats, horses and even a few birds.  But the joy we've experienced with our dogs is just the best.  Best friends, indeed!  

Oh, when I start thinking about all the simple pleasures in my life, then and now - I get overwhelmed with emotion, nostalgia and above all, thankfulness.  I am blessed!  

I could go on and on...trips to the beach, horseback riding, walks with the dogs, swimming, lying in the sun, beautiful flowers, long baths, sleeping in, family and dear friends, pie, vegetable gardens, sunsets, puppies, ice cream, vacations, a good book, pie, kisses, soft and squishy pillows, did I say pie?  :)

Blessings everyone,

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Onward we shall go

Me and Eagle, that is.  We skipped last night because we had dinner plans with a friend.  So, Mr. Eags probably thinks he's going to come in, have a little dinner and down time, relax and hit the hay early for a little R and R...have I got news for him!  

Mr. Hefty hefty cinch sack has had all together too many evenings like that.  Therein, lies the problem!  I cannot allow myself to over think this thing and get myself all worked into a fine tizzy.  Huh-uh.  I refuse to do that to myself, or my horse.  We've pretty much been off since last fall.  That's a long break from work, or expectations of any kind.  I've picked his feet, groomed him, led him in from pasture and fed him for months.  It's high time for me and Mr. Eagle to get back into a regular working pattern.  

So...I will approach my horse with a relaxed mind and body, no expectations.  We will have a short grooming session, I'll tack him up and warm him up in the round pen.  We'll work a little on release of his hindquarters, moving out comfortably and flexing well both directions.  We'll both strive for relaxation and flowing transitions from walk to trot and reverse.  Eagle does not do relaxed canter.  Not.  At.  All...yet.  So for now, we'll skip that and do what's familiar.  I may even add the barrels for something to turn around and a few poles for him to step over, we'll see.  Then, to the mounting block we'll go.  My plan will be to have him totally relaxed, I'll do a little rope work all over his body from the mounting block, I'll move him around me and just lean on the saddle seat.  If he stands quietly for all that, we'll take a short stroll and call it good for the evening.  Dinner and relaxation in his stall awaits...

If not, we'll keep at it until I'm satisfied with his level of "try".  That is all I can ask right now.  His try is very important.  It has everything to do with his trust in me.  Everything.   I may not even attempt to put a foot in the stirrup tonight.  That depends upon Eagle.  

I've got all the time in the world.  And that is my plan...

Wish us luck, will you? 

I will be wearing my lucky cap.  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Morning commute and a plea for help

If one has to have a daily commute, to and from "ye olde salt mines" as my dad used to say; it always helps to have some beauty to admire and appreciate along the way.  

I'm thankful that I live in the country, among a few small towns and close enough to a city when, or if, we want to add some culture or something along those lines.  

I've always enjoyed the views, and try to be mindful of the vistas that I pass by, instead of being lost in my thoughts, or just driving mindlessly.  There are several locations that would be wonderful to have a home for the views alone.  We are situated between the "Coast Range" mountains, which is small as far as mountain ranges go, and on the east side we have the "Cascades", which is much more substantial and contains our famous peak, Mt. Hood.  We can also see Mt. St. Helens (or what's left of her) which was the mountain that blew her top back in 1981 (?) or so.  Our very own local volcano!  It's beautiful, but also kind of creepy to go and see the blast zone which is coming back to life.  

Farms and farm fields, wineries and grapes.  

And one of my favorites, a working old-fashioned windmill overlooking a serene pond, usually filled with swimming peaceful.

Our weekend weather was typical for spring in Oregon.  Mild temps, some brisk breezes, intermittent sunshine and showers.  Overall, just about what we should expect for spring.  I've been hearing people complain about our rain and how it "just sucks", and I want to slap them for it.  We have been blessed with nothing but mild weather!  We hardly had a winter to speak of, had ample rainfall, but not overly much, no snow in our valley at all and now what us "lifers" know as normal, and they want to complain that everything isn't "perfect".  Just ticks me off!!  No matter what - people will always complain.  Like my grandma always used to say..."you can't make all of the people happy, any of the time; so don't even try".  Or even better; "life's a bitch and then you die".  She was so smart...  :)

Last night I spent some time working with Eagle.  What a mixed bag.  It started out great, walked right up when I called him, spent some time grooming and then did some in-hand work, saddled him and did some more.  He was like butter.  Relaxed, focused and seemed to be enjoying our time spent together, until...I decided to mount him.  He acted like he was totally freaked out by my getting on him.  I worked and worked and worked with him, and in the end it was getting dark and I had to go back to something we could end on a "happy place" with.  *sigh*  I swear, it's like taking 2 steps forward and 1 step backward with this horse.  I was so discouraged, but just decided to let it go and believe that we will get there.  It's just a minor set-back.  The problem is, I don't know what to do differently than what I was doing, for the next attempt.  He repeatedly would back up very fast when I'd lift my foot for the stirrup, or if my hubby held him, he'd swing his butt away from me, and fast.  I have to use the mounting block because I'm not able to just stick my foot in and away we go...I put my foot in, give a bounce or two, them hoist myself aboard.  And that, Eagle will not stand still for.  Good grief...

There were times when I wanted to lose my patience with him.  But I didn't.  Eagle already knew he was acting inappropriately because if I'd life my arm, or reach out to touch his side, or even just the saddle, he'd fly sideways like I was going to whack him. When that would happen, I'd just ignore it and move on. Wish I could get my hands on whoever it was that did whatever it was to this horse and just throttle them!!!  Because whatever it has almost ruined a sensible, gentle, kind and undeserving horse.  He was robbed of any confidence or trust he once had in people.  He trusts me.  But, that fear is ingrained deep.  Very, very deeply.  

Tomorrow night we'll just begin again.  And again and again and again; until we make that much-needed breakthrough again.  It sure didn't do any good for Eagle, when my hubby took that fall off of him recently.  We just have to go through this, to get past it.  Poor Eagle, he just doesn't yet realize, how thoroughly stubborn and relentless I can be...

I would definitely appreciate any wisdom some of you might have though...any ideas or suggestions on exercises or whatever, that we can work on.  I'm running out of ideas that are creative and engaging.  I don't want either one of us to get bored.  *sigh*  Help...

Until tomorrow,