It was the first really pretty day in a long time. I was finally able to ride both horses and it hace to avoid squishy areas.
I can tell the squishy areas held some negativity for Drew from some of his recent escapes. He hesitated and slowed WAY down on the boggiest part of our exercise area. But he was otherwise brave and we went all around the front of our property. He’s come a long way.
Apache and I enjoyed ourselves a lot more nice we stopped doing groundwork. He wasn’t into jumping today. But I think we both enjoyed our practice with our skills and wandering around. We’re all tired of just walking in saddle or on the ground, but I think all the time I spent just hanging out with the horses while it was rainy and muddy paid off. We seem like good buddies who enjoy doing things together.
I think that was my initial horsemanship goal! I guess I really do have to think about cantering, after all.
I always thought I’d get my goals achieved when I was young, vital, small, and cute. Nope. I learned a lot then, though, and it prepared me to be very grateful when, with help from others, I do achieve goals in this older, creakier, larger, and plainer phase.
Apache and I have been trying to become good partners and have fun together for many years. I realized we couldn’t get there without help, so as you probably know, we’ve been working with a trainer, Tarrin Warren, whose philosophy of working with horses is compatible with mine. It’s been very hard work, but tons of fun, too.
As a teacher of adults, I appreciate someone who’s good at it. Tarrin is so patient and consistent with people, and she’s training them way more than training their horses! Thanks to her help and lots of practice, I can do this:
Ride my horse alone
Trot on my horse in a controlled way
Tell when my horse is having anxiety symptoms before he gets squirrelly
Give my horse good information about what I want him to do
Ride calmly, so my fears don’t pass on to him
And yesterday, while we were working on improving our skills, I hit a new milestone or two. First, some of the things I’m learning are becoming ingrained and I don’t have to think about them. And second, Apache and I can now go sideways. I finally got the coordination to ask him right and not feel all awkward.
Goal achieved! I feel like I can now get him to move in all the ways. I’ll need to get better, but this was a big milestone. No, I’m not doing advanced dressage, but I can safely ride and communicate with my very patient horse, who I’ve also helped get into good enough shape that he can listen.
So yes, I cried happy tears yesterday and Tarrin said if she had a certificate of achievement to give me, she would. But to hear her say she’s proud of our progress and to see a relaxed and happy Apache were enough for me. Heck, we even made it to the trailer without a meltdown (that took months— the boy hates that trailer).
Meanwhile, Drew is making great progress in his training. My little pony (he’s so small when I ride him after Apache) has been causing Tarrin no problems and progressing right along. He canters for her, and will get better at that! Mostly she is working on building his muscles up to carry a rider after his break.
Then I was surprised to get to ride Drew myself! I had taken off my helmet, but he was a good boy and I was fine. I’d ridden him before but not too well. This time went way better. I ended up trotting and even leg yielding on him! I’m doing way better figuring him out and he’s doing better taking my cues instead of Tarrin’s. I felt competent! Another goal achieved!
I told Tarrin I look huge in those pictures but she reminded me he is small. That’s for sure. When I went to pat his neck to tell him he was good, it felt so skinny compared to Apache. But his mane amazed me. It was parted in the middle like a human and there was enough on each side that it looked full. What a guy.
I’m proud of me and my horses. They aren’t fancy and can’t trace their bloodlines to any famous steed, but they sure have good hearts and are willing partners. And I’m chugging along and making progress. I’m glad to have a training partner to guide us so well and at our pace. It takes as long as it takes!
I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been doing with Drew and Apache over the past few days, in the wake of Drew’s choking incident and me putting in a lot of work with Apache on leadership and partnership. It’s all good, so that’s a huge relief!
Friday I had a late lesson over at Tarrin’s. Apache was not in the mood to go, but he did. I think the horses liked the other trailer better, because it was more open. But, we can’t tow it with the Tahoe, so too bad. Fancy trailer it is. By the time we got there he was all in a lather and everything was all dusty, but by gosh by the time we got to the working area, he was ready to work. Now, the work he did wasn’t his idea of a good time, at first, but he was a real sport about making attempts at jumping over the little jump. It wasn’t any fun for me, since I had to use the broken whip that tries to break my arm, and my arm was already tired from grooming him an hour the day before. He’s quite a good shedder.
After I got on him, we both learned a lot in an exercise involving trotting circles and side passing. Since I never thought I’d get that far in my feeble attempts at horsemanship, I was quite pleased to get the chance to work on it. We are both getting the hang of it, and again, Apache is quite the trooper at doing hard things. That way they will become easier!
The best part of the lesson was another test of Apache’s trail willingness. Tarrin walked behind us this time, and I got to practice being calm when he decided to turn around. It all went extremely well and we had a lot of fun. That’s when I spotted the violets in the woods and we forgot all about horse lessons and reveled in a new discovery. Plus, we got to look at all the axis deer in the next pasture over. No one spooked each other. That was cool.
It was such a great feeling to know that at last, he will go where I ask him to, because he trusts me not to send him anywhere scary. Tarrin got these nice photos of us looking all confident and happy together.
As for Drew, I told Tarrin I was concerned about him going so long between meals and not being able to do much in his pen. She told me she’d had a horse choke this week (it’s an epidemic, we think), and that she is feeding her wet food and watching her carefully, but she does have grass to eat. Our grass is still pretty short, so it would be hard for Drew to choke on it, anyway, so I decided he needed to be let out.
I was also worried about him developing stomach ulcers from being without food, especially since the vet had indicated his tooth grinding was a symptom. Hmm. Well, what a nice coincidence it was that Kathleen had many, many syringes full of ulcer medicine that Mabel hadn’t taken. Drew is all set in that department now, too.
That boy is eating a LOT and seems in a much better mood now.
All that continued yesterday, when nothing that the other horses were doing bothered him. Other than Apache starting back in on his grass eating, I could not complain. And Drew was so good and sweet. He comes right up for me to give him his Pepto Bismol stuff.
Today was really a big day for me and Apache, though. We went on a trail ride with Sara and Aragorn and I felt no nerves at all during any part of it. We managed to open a gate and at least push it shut. Score! And when I had to dismount to unlock the one with the barbed wire that tries to kill you, I had an easy time getting back on using the gate rails.
Then we walked and chatted and had a fine time. Apache did try the grass thing, but after whacking him with the saddle strings a couple of times, he got the idea. We went all around the creek, walked over logs, and easily settled when anything got scary. The best thing for me was that we were able to go up the hill to the woods, walk in, turn around when the way was blocked, and go back down calmly. We even went back up and walked up to the gate to our house to say hi to Goldie. Apache was good as he could be, possibly even having fun.
As you can see, it’s a beautiful day. We had a lot of fun trying new things and seeing what we could do. This was my horsemanship goal, to be able to go out on our property and ride around with my friends without worrying or spending the whole time feeling like I am in a battle. Sure, there will be challenges, and there were some today, but mostly we had fun and so did our hard-working horses, who got a break from cantering and leg yielding.
This is my view from the front porch as I type. No complaints for me. I’m in a time right now where there’s anticipation instead of stress, peace instead of worry, and joy everywhere I look. Even a short period like this in your life is one to treasure. And in these times, it’s especially true.
And oh yes, even the dogs are all mellow and happy. The chickens are all laying. And Fiona is free grazing, her favorite hobby. The Hermits’ Rest is a restful place today.
Okay, I have a little something to say. After all that iNaturalist work last weekend, it was this weekend where I met some goals, or desires, or whatever.
While walking around, I remembered to open up a balloon flower to find the seed. My friend Linda Jo was right! They look like little yin-yang symbols!
While we were walking the horses, Sara very patiently let me try to get photos of all the butterflies and moths swarming in the pasture, even when her horse stepped in fire ants.
Everyone’s patience was rewarded, though. I saw a butterfly on the fence. It sat still. I got its picture! It was an American snout, the ones we saw so many of last week! Finally one stood still.
After achieving that goal, I felt fine. Then, on my way home, one of the dragonflies I’d been seeing all summer finally stood still. I was really curious what they were called, but they are very dart-y ones.
These always look like two mating to me. I was happy to see what they actually look like. Cool insects, and another goal met.
I looked at my iNaturalist totals and was happy to see I hit 1800 observations today. I’d been disappointed not to get there last week. Luckily, there are lots of interesting things to see on the Wild Type Ranch, where we walked!
I think that’s good for someone who has jobs and stuff. Still, I look forward to lots more in the future. We hope to visit neighboring counties with few observations and see what’s there!
Glad I found my voice. Sometimes I just need to shut up. Hee hee.
Ooh, this is a controversial topic in my family right now. When I first started this blog, I wrote that my main goal was to live in the moment. I’m basically sticking with that one, along with:
Like myself just as I am
There. I’m done. My yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals are right there.
On the other hand…
My Cameron housemates, Lee and Kathleen, are very big on goals. They have fancy goal-monitoring journals that take a long time to set up. The journals help them set their goals for every period of time, and encourage them to evaluate how they are going, whether they are reasonable or not, and whether they need to be changed, due to life or whatever.