Ike Cracks the Code


Howdy Horse Peeps!

I need to vent a little about my mother.  I think she has lost her mind.  Yes, that is right, I am worried about her sanity.  Lately, she seems to speak in some sort of numerical and linguistic code.  It could be that she just doesn’t want me to know what is going on, but I fear that she has been sipping a little too much of her adult grape juice.  I will do my best to decipher her codes for you so you will understand the insanity that is my life and show season. 

“Two boards Ike? ” Apparently, pushing the fence boards aside to munch on the green grass on the other side is frowned upon at Ms. C’s farm.  I showed my displeasure about the repair by running circles around Mom.  Just try to catch me!

“70th percentile for First Level.” At the first show of the year, my performance must have been pretty good.  Mom had this cheesy smile on her face.  This appears to be the expectation for this weekend as well.  We shall see if conditions are favorable.

“Ride times are up.” This has something to do with when I will be expected to work this weekend.  It made Dad do a face palm which I assume means that I will have a long couple of days.  I just hope that this performance stuff does not interfere with mealtime…And speaking of mealtime,

“You only get half.” Half of my dinner that is.  Mom likes to show up for a lesson at dinnertime.  Seriously, the woman needs to better plan her days.  None of the other horses have to cope with this withholding of meal rations.  She even has Ms. C withholding food.  They think I don’t know what they are doing, but I am fully aware of the size of my meal.  And Mom wonders why I try to bite her sometimes.  Payback, Mom, payback.

“60th percentile for Second Level.” Mom has introduced this terminology this spring. I am not sure what is on this so called Second Level.  This boy is not getting on any elevator.  It apparently involves Mom bouncing in her sit trot and me “engaging my hindend.” Umm, how am I supposed to do that?  I can’t marry myself!  I will have to pay better attention to figure out what this will mean for my free time.  If my hunch is right, Ms. C and Mom are in cahoots to make me work even harder.

“We want 7’s and 8’s.” I want an apple.  I am still trying to figure out why this matters.

“We got a 9!”  Nine what?  I certainly did not get nine apples or carrots.  This code is particularly difficult to crack. 

“He moves more freely in that saddle.”  Mom seems to think that this new saddle she is trying makes me move better.  Not sure what is so free about my movement.  Mom tells me what to do.  She disapproves when I break into a freestyle performance.  She couldn’t stay on when I really broke free last year.

If anyone can help with the harder codes, I would greatly appreciate the help.  Stop by my stall at the show and slip me a note when Mom isn’t looking.  She is easily distracted so just yell “squirrel” and she will look.  Trust me.

Until next time my friends!


Working My Way Out of the Quicksand


Finally, after feeling like we were mired in quicksand for way too long, Ike and I are making some tangible progress toward our goal of competing at Second Level.  The past week has given me a very optimistic attitude for the season ahead.

The schooling show last weekend was just the spark I needed to get the season started on an uptick.  I had forgotten what a wonderful thing a schooling show can be.  It was a low key and white-britches-free experience.  We arrived well in advance of our rides, but I wanted to give Ike plenty of time to “drink it in” as my friend D likes to say.  Instead of drinking anything, Ike opted to bury his muzzle in the grass in the parking area and ignore everyone.  If we’d left after that, Ike would have considered the day a success.

Warm up was a bit of Ike’s wild ride, but luckily we had Ms. C on the ground to comfort Ike with Mrs. Pasture’s cookies.  We’d signed up for First Level Test 1 and Test 3.  The rider in front of me scratched, so we opted to head down centerline early.

I was pleased with our first effort.  I goosed Ike on our first lengthening, and we had a bit of a spook on our left lead lengthening, but overall it was a solid test.  It earned us a 71.11%.  Our first ever First Level score over 70%.  I was elated.  The judge was very generous with both her written and oral comments.  Many of her comments were geared towards what we need to add for our transition to Second Level…I greatly appreciate all of her insightful words of wisdom.

We didn’t have long to wait for our second ride (another bonus for schooling shows).  I was a bit worried that the horses in the adjacent paddock might decide to have another gallop as they did for the rider ahead of me, but we lucked out with 7 minutes of calm.  My apologies, but I have not yet uploaded the second video to YouTube.  But I am happy to report that we received a 70.588% on Test 3 and managed to get a 7.0 and an 8.0 on our canter loops!!  Hallelujah!!  The girl has finally learned how to properly ride a canter loop.  There is hope yet for successful countercanter!

We also survived a visit with the saddle fitter with my saddle still adequately fitting Baby Huey.  She did have to stretch the tree which means if someone’s shoulders muscle up anymore, I am doomed as is my pocketbook…Since it appears that I am on borrowed time, I did test ride in a few of the newer models that Custom Saddlery ( http://www.mysaddle.com/ ) offers to see what my options might be.  There were a few that I immediately cringed as soon as I sat in them (a medium twist is NOT for me), but luckily my saddle fitter had about 30-35 saddles in her trailer.  I’m currently test riding in a Icon Flight model with hybrid memory foam and wool flocking.  It is the new design that will be available on their website soon.  Oooh, it is comfy.  The knee blocks put my leg in a very steady position and I was able to stay in sit trot for more than a couple of minutes.  Ike also seemed quite content with the fit.  He too “told” us when he did not like the fit of the demo saddles.  While I like it now, it will be interesting to see how I feel about it after 7 or 8 rides.

So I am looking towards our licensed show in two weeks with new found optimism; hoping that I can recreate the rides of last weekend for all our First Level rides.  I am also eyeing our Second Level debut for May 24th.  Full steam ahead!

Birthday Boy


Happy 19th Birthday to Ike’s brother Cigar!  Today’s birthday celebration will include scouring his paddock for the tender spring grass, playing with his brother, and eating apples and leftover black jellybeans.

Working with Cigar has been anything but boring.  I think in his mind he is still a race-fit Thoroughbred awaiting the ring of the starting gate bell.  It makes me smile to see him frolicking in his paddock.  I cringe when I see what he has taught his impressionable younger brother.  But I am glad that we can provide him a comfortable retirement where he can spend his golden years just being a horse.

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Repeat

Tim April 9 2015

Jimmy Buffett tells us in one of his songs to, “Breathe in, breathe out, move on,” but today I find myself holding my breath and wanting to go back in time.  I catch myself holding the inhale just a wee bit too long and then I must remind myself to breathe out.  It is not my equines causing this lack of oxygen exchange, but the loss of our beloved canine Tim.  We said our final goodbyes yesterday, but it still doesn’t seem real.  I keep hoping his scruffy face will pop around the corner to see me.  I would love to hold him just one last time to tell him how lucky we were to have him as part of our lives.

He was 14 and the gentlest soul.  I think I can honestly say that everyone who met him liked if not loved him.  He was a great ambassador for dogs.  He did a stint as a therapy dog and enjoyed letting children read to him.  He was an attentive listener and they always thought he was reading right long with them.  Little did they know that I hid treats in the books at home so that Tim would stare at the pages…hoping for more treats to fall into his mouth.  If ever there was a dog that needed to be cloned, he was an ideal candidate.  His final days were peaceful and I feel certain that all our family dogs that went before him and my husband’s Dad (Mepaw) were there to greet him with wagging tails and open arms on the other side of the bridge.

But, maybe, just maybe, Jimmy Buffett was right about the “move on” part.  But though I grieve, time marches forward and I must look ahead to our first show this weekend.  Thankfully it is a small schooling show and we are doing two First Level tests that we feel comfortable performing.  No pressure.  Just a fun outing to distract my thoughts for a few hours.

"Mom, I gave myself a mud bath!"

“Mom, I gave myself a mud bath!”

Maybe that is what Ike was trying to do by wallowing like a pig in the mud hole he has created in his paddock.  There was mud in most every orifice, in his forelock, his tail, and covering at least 95% of his hulking body.  Grooming today was a strength and aerobic workout rolled into one.  I curried, and brushed, and wiped away clump after clump.  I used my fingers to detangle his mane and tail.  After an hour, he was presentable.  But for that hour, I did not cry.  I just talked to Ike as he munched his hay.  Perhaps it was his way of getting my mind off the sadness of Tim’s loss.

Ms.C did her best to keep my mind distracted for the next hour as she gave us one final lesson before the show.  I did my best to keep my mind on the tasks at hand.  It really is how I should ride each and every time I throw my leg over Ike’s back.  Be present during my ride just as I expect from Ike.  From there, we are two minds working as one.  We really did have some great leg yields and canter work today.  Fingers crossed that we can replicate the lesson on Sunday.

Breathing will eventually return to normal, but life will be a little different without Tim around.  But though he is no longer by my side, he will always be in my heart.  I will ride with that joy in my heart each time I head down centerline.