Today is a better day

Our barn in Ocala

Okay, so I spent 13 hours working yesterday.  I’m not going to go into that today.  Let’s just say that today is a better day.    I was supposed to take another lesson today, but Gus showed up to the field the same way he showed up to the Becky Holder clinic—WILD!!!!  I was sooooooo glad because Dorothy thought I was making it up that Gus could be nuts.  She rode him for the entire lesson.  It took her an hour to get him to pay attention to her.  He was soaking wet and wore her completely out…….all because he thought today was a jumping day.  Sure, Gus……that’s why you’re wearing a dressage saddle.  He spun like an idiot in the field each time a new group of horses passed by on their hacks or trot sets.  He even tried to chase a few horses as they left to go back to the barn.  I felt completely justified—–FINALLY!

He is scheduled to take a jumping lesson tomorrow, but Dorothy is waiting to see whether “Jeckyl” or “Hyde” shows up.  If he is not good for his flat work he gets no jumping.  Hopefully he has learned his lesson today.  Dorothy went on to tell me that sometimes she rode Molokai (her olympic and WEG horse) 3 times before his dressage test.  It may just be necessary for my beast as well.  I am so glad she understands what it is that I ‘m dealing with and knows how to handle it.  It helps that she really likes him.  I am anxious to see how it goes tomorrow!  Will we jump or won’t we????  That is the question.  I’m hoping he’s just tired enough from today to be great for tomorrow.

Here in sunny Florida

What do you get when you put 2 teenagers, 2 women, 1 pre-adolescent girl,  3 dogs, and 1 gecko into 1 apartment???  You get crazy, that’s what.  I am living in an interesting world for the next 6 weeks.  This morning I shuffled down the hall to go the bathroom, and when I turned on the light I saw a small dog drinking out of the toilet.  I took a freezing cold shower,and drank a slim-fast.  I went off to the barn, where things seemed to be much more normal. 

I got on Gus for the first time today.  He was wild, but settled in after about an hour of work.  We went on a short hack around Jon and Jen Holling’s farm and called it a ride.  He got clipped today, and was not thrilled about it.  Somehow I ended up with hot sauce on my nose, and it is burning the daylights out of me.  (the hot sauce is slathered in Gus’s stall to keep him from cribbing—apparently it is REALLY HOT!)  Tomorrow I am in charge of all Dorothy’s horses and the work associated with it.  I am just a bit nervous since I don’t even know which one is which??? I found out about 2 hours ago that I was filling in for Michelle tomorrow morning.  YIKES!!!!  Is Jude the “fat one” or the “red one”???  Which one has all of the white socks???  The only ones I know for sure are “Pickles” who is grey and about 17 1/2 hands high (easy to spot)  and Dorothy’s old olympic horse “Mo”  who is 27 years old with a long mane and lots of hair.  Got it. 

So tomorrow I become a working student.  Aren’t I too old for this???  I am pretty sure you have to be 18 and weigh a buck five soaking wet. 

Okay, I am going to have to leave Starbucks now.  I just itched my eye and now it is on fire too.  Blasted Gus.

Ready to leave this snow-infested state

Wade on the pond
Playing on the pond
Kate on the pond

Ohio is supposed to get hit with yet another snow storm tonight.  I decided to be smart and pack  for Florida before the snow makes things really difficult.  Tonight Jeff loaded 25 bales of hay and 12 bags of grain into my trailer while  I  loaded all of my tack and equipment.  I think all I need to do now is some last minute packing. 

We took a short break from packing to let the kids run around on the pond…..yes, ON the pond.  Notice who the smart one is that in standing on the real ground taking the picture.

“Words”—-a poem by Kate Von Handorf (10 years old)

My words run like a river; sometimes in a rushing torrent; sometimes like a river gone dry.   Flow, flow, flow, flow, flow, is how my words go.  My brain is like a whirlpool, thoughts going round and round.  Spinning, spinning, spinning, until the horizon meets the ground.

by Kate Von Handorf

Words from the wise….to the not so wise

A few minutes ago I got off of the phone feeling very optimistic.  Dorothy called me to find out how the clinic went.  “Wow”….I said.  And then I launched into the whole story about my wild horse, my position deficiencies, and other such things.  I told her that by the time it was over I was fairly happy.

She gave me some very good advice…..for which I will be eternally grateful.

1.  When you spend money on a clinic, you want to have a bad ride and have your horse act up (so that you can learn some tools to fix things that go wrong.  If you have a great ride and your horse is perfect, you don’t get to learn as much).

2.  Try not to care about what anyone thinks about your riding.  Try not to care about the people on the sidelines watching.   When you can finally forget about all of that, then you can start to become a great rider.

3.  Remember the bad things your horse did at the clinic and how the instructor told you to fix it.  Put it on paper and remember it for when it happens at a show later.

Dorothy then went on to tell me about the “spies” she had the clinic.  She had heard that my horse was “high” today, and that it seemed to fluster me at the beginning.  Her spies then told her that things got a lot better, and that I learned a great deal. 

I  felt so much better after speaking to her on the phone.  I don’t know how she does it, but she always seems to say exactly what I need to hear.  My confidence is restored, and I am once again grateful for the words from the wise.

Thank goodness for long clinics

Wow…….that’s all I can say.  Wow.   Gus came off of the trailer today like a wild man, and  I knew I was in for it.  It took 3 of us to tack him up at the trailer.  Needless to say, he was VERY wound up about his first trip out for the year.  As I led him up to the arena, he was also full of himself.  The warm-up actually went okay, but then it was our turn to enter the arena where the clinic was to be held.  Gus piaffed and passaged his way into the arena.  His fancy dressage moves were followed by leaps, hops, and some counter canter.  He sort of gave me some “I also want to rear” moments.  Becky Holder was so impressed by our moves that she made us do the “special horse” warm-up.  After a half hour of warm-up and an hour of clinic time, Gus settled down enough to finish the clinic.  We jumped our baby caveletti lines many times before actually being allowed to do anything of height (and by that I mean an 18″ vertical!)  I couldn’t believe him.  He has been the quiet little hunter horse at home for the last month, and today he was everything but that.   When we were actually able to jump fences with “the good students” he jumped very clean and carefully.  Height was NO issue.  He even did the more technical turning exercises well.  We finished satisfactorily, but only because the clinic ran for 2 1/2 hours.  By then he was very rideable…..FINALLY!

Today I learned a great deal about my “new horse” and how to ride in my new saddle.  It was completely frustrating, humbling, humiliating, and exciting—–all wrapped up together.  I feel that we are just a few steps away from becoming a team again.  Sometimes I feel that this  journey gets really old……..sometimes you just feel like giving up and being a real “stay at home” mom.  And then you remember that you have just spent a whole lot of money on a new saddle and a trip to Florida.  So whether I like it or not, I am stuck with this sport at least until March……….and by then I will be back on cloud 9……..and loving every minute of it.

TRYING to get ready for the Becky Holder Clinic

Covered in snow......again

Once again, my arena is covered in snow.   I was forced to ride in my little indoor yesterday, and today will be the same.  The clinic is tomorrow, and my final jump school (which was scheduled for yesterday)  did not get to happen.  The good thing is that a number of the people riding in the clinic are in the same predicament.  I’m going to hope for the best, and just enjoy the ride. (and hope that Gus isn’t too crazy!)

Gus is back at Wetherbrooke

Today I made the decision to bring Gus home from Shelby Farm.  It was a decision based soley on my impending lack of time leading up to Florida.  As the day draws near, the amount of maintenance that goes into this horse is quite overwhelming.  He started his round of aceto-glucosamine injections and will need to be seen by the vet, farrier and the  equine chiropractor before we go.  I just found that it was difficult for me to do everything I needed to do to get ready while he was there.  

A big thank you goes out to the Albro’s and the rest of the Shelby Farm crew for helping me and my horse stay fit during this record breaking (and by that, I mean TERRIBLE) December.  I could not have done it without you.

Gus was relieved to go without his cribbing muzzle today.  Little does he know that he will be back in it again in just a couple of weeks.  He spent the majority of the afternoon turned out in his own field, and  I think he enjoyed seeing his buddy “Rhyland” again!