Pride and Practicality

I have to say my horses make me proud. Today was another lesson day for both of them, and you could really see progress, even since last week. Drew. Damn. He just loves to learn new things, so it’s easy to sneak new knowledge.

The goal today was to work on turning right without crowding. He thought it was working on stopping and starting, then going in and out of cones without me following. I walked in a straight line and he had to weave. He didn’t get it at first with Tarrin but got great at it with me. Proud!

He’s a winner.

He also is now jumping higher jumps, which is really going to help his muscles. And today he did it calmly, so he didn’t have to re-do anything. He was cool as a cucumber. In fact he drifted off a couple of times when we were talking. Maybe he will learn to turn more straight and I’ll learn to turn correctly, too. We’re getting instructions!

Q2 Virtual Show ribbons

I’m also proud of these ribbons from the virtual show we did in May. It’s the first time he ever had competition. And I was very proud of both Drew and Sully. They were very close in their scores. This was a great show for Sully’s first one! Sara has done such a great job training her. I’m proud of her, too!

Dog play break

As for Apache, he was moody at first, but he got really excited and seemed genuinely happy when he managed to jump over the high jump twice, in each direction. I think he surprised himself!

And that boy worked his butt off today. His goal was getting under his haunches and stopping properly. He has really been reluctant to stop when he’s anxious. Well he practiced stopping a LOT. He did many of the things Drew was doing, but including lots of stopping. To his credit, he got the idea!

By the time we were doing the “approach the scary trailer” ordeal, he was paying attention and stopping on a dime. Screech! That’s real progress. The whole trailer approach is improving. It’s not there yet, but Tarrin says he’s starting to trust that I’ll keep him safe.

I’m also doing better with my ability to be calm and deal with his stuff. I’m proud of our progress, but feel bad for how wound up he gets. I did give him a nice bath, and I can assure you he had a nice roll later.

Practicality

I thought you might get a chuckle out of how I decided to organize all those Color Street nail polishes I have. I found that one of my shoe boxes fit them perfectly.

Ta da

I felt like decorating it, so I found my 2020 calendar of donkeys and used it to cover the shoe box. It’s certainly cheerful.

Howdy

The donkeys make me smile, and now it’s wY easier to see what polish sets I have. I also sealed the used ones in hopes that I can use them later by warming them up.

Ok. Fun.

And there ya go. Something random and not depressing! And because I want to reward those of you who read to the end, let’s enjoy the dogs on a pleasant evening.

Patience Pays Off, with Help

Today Apache and I had our first lesson in a while, since Tarrin is recovering from some surgery that will improve her quality of life, if she survives her convalescent period. That’s hard for an active person! I just brought Apache, since Drew is doing well.

Fine. We will just bond.

This was one educational lesson! Tarrin did great scooting around on a 4-wheeler and Apache did amazing for the first half of the lesson. He jumped the right way at least twice. We were proud of him! This is going to build good muscles! He and I both did well doing some circle things that we can easily practice at home. I’m getting more balanced, and that feels great.

Hey, Dusty, did you get enough food? No, Apache, we’re not special.

However, as soon as he got tired, Apache started to act up. We got some great practice with not putting up with that…stuff. I’m improving. We practiced me getting off, having him run in circles on the ground, then me getting back on. That way he doesn’t get to think he can get me off him so easily.

We get special food. Ha ha.

It was much better than last time, and I was more assertive. Plus, once he calmed down he went right up to the trailer, ate one treat, walked around, went back, and got another treat three times! No drama! And like Tarrin said, I had to do it myself, because she couldn’t jump on Apache and discipline him. Go team.

I love you all, silly animals.

I’m getting the hang of it, slowly but surely, and Apache is really getting to be more of a partner. We’re enjoying each other and not just thinking any time we get together is only for work.

Not sure I love YOU, yet another water snake.

Back on the upswing, at least horse-wise.

I Did It All by Myself!

One of the things that’s been frustrating to me since I’ve lived out here at the Hermits’ Rest is that there are a lot of things that need to be done on a ranch that I simply can’t do. I’m a smaller than average person who has never had a lot of arm strength, even with all the yoga I used to do. I wish I were better at lifting heavy objects and reaching high things. I can’t do much about that other than practice.

Sometimes I feel as competent as a dead shrew.

But what I can do is keep trying to do things I’ve never done to try to get more self-sufficient. Today was one of those days, and I am very proud of myself. I’ve been trying to help out with more stuff outside, and I really wanted to get myself a little wagon to pull heavy things around (I was using my poop wheelbarrow for the time being). Lee got me a wagon that can carry 800 pounds at Tractor Supply, but it was “some assembly required.” I’d asked a couple of people to help me with it, but they were all busy with their own projects, and I appreciated all that work, so I understood. But I did want the wagon.

My very own wagon

So today I finished a big work project and rewarded myself by letting myself put that dang wagon together. The only help I got was Lee moving the box to where I could access it and my son telling me to use a smaller wrench to hold a nut steady. I assembled every bit of it myself. Like a champ.

You can take the sides down to carry wide things. Handy.

I have assembled a lot of furniture, but mostly I have used hex keys. For this, I had to go find wrenches. I found where the socket wrench set was and managed to find ones that were the right size. Then, I figured out how to assemble and use the wrench. I tightened bolts! I even had to find larger and smaller socket things (no idea what those are called), and I managed to do it.

There they are, in the drawers.

Then I put on wheels! Lee had to tell me how to bend a cotter pin (I forgot that earlier), but there they are, and they turn! The handle works. The sides go up and down. I made a wagon. Myself. That’s not much to some people, but I sure feel competent in the tool usage department.

I used some of these, too.

Of course, other work is getting done around here. I opened the door to my future tack room this morning to discover that all the walls are up and the entire ceiling is insulated. Wow! I’ll soon be able to put the feed in there, which will be great with as much as I have to feed Drew these days. The guys all did a good job. It feels fine in there, even without electricity!

I also took all the outdoor furniture in last night before more bad weather came (mostly just wind). Today I moved it back out and stuck some fake geraniums by the front door. Why fake? Because of everything in the front of the house being vulnerable to herbicides in the field across the road (but yay, it doesn’t appear to be planted in cotton this year). I did bring out my indoor/outdoor plants, too. It makes the front porch look more cheerful, I think.

The dogs seem to like it.

I’m on a quest for calm and cheerfulness around the house. I need it to become my safe place, since it’s my only place now. Having the tools I need and more beauty in the ranch environment helps. I’m still getting used to what is good looking at a ranch as opposed to a suburban house, but I’m getting there and am happy to see how many great tools and work areas we’re getting. Ranches are a work in progress, and ours is moving along well.

The dining set my friend Carol painted for me sure looks nice.

I hope I can continue to make small contributions to the work around here. It makes me feel better about being a part of the family, not just the irritating resident who doesn’t have much of a purpose.

Taking Time to Smile

Not much time to write, because I was busy working and having fun. I got to check out Anita’s house renovation in progress, and I was surprised to see how pink the bricks are that haven’t been exposed to the elements since the 50s.

Same brick! The ones on the ground were removed to add the window, which is original to the house, but was removed to add a patio door.

Her house is going so great, and I’m proud of the work so far. Heck, the whole town is looking better. Some ugly stucco was taken off a building in downtown and this was revealed.

Old ads.

After I finished teaching, Lee and I went over to a lesson for Apache (because I’m busy this weekend). He seemed in a bad mood, but quickly perked up once we got there. It WAS a bit late.

We had another great lesson in which we both learned a lot. He’s still confused at cantering but was willing to do it for Tarrin. I ran around a lot, but he wouldn’t.

I’ve decided I really like the Western saddle on him. I can feel what I’m doing with my feet better. He started to try to be squirrelly with Tarrin, but she worked with him to get used to being under her lights.

Then I got to try some tight turns and circles, using more “refined aids.” That means not yanking the reins. I figured it out, and was just barely tugging the reins and moving my legs to get him to follow instructions.

I felt so good after improving! I could trot and look correct, even. I think I may become an okay rider after all. I just needed Apache to learn what to expect, then learn to do it. We both are getting a clue.

I even was able to handle him outside the training arena in the dark. Some parts he just did well on, and other parts I coped with. So proud!

Drew and I have a competition number!

I smiled all the way home. I’m so grateful for my great teacher and the chance to keep learning. Heck, Drew and I may even compete later in the year! And Tarrin said trail rides may be sooner than I think. I miss them!

Everyone Was Right – It Got Better

Some of you may remember that I had a pretty dismal experience with my little horse, Drew, last week, and I’ve been feeling like a crappy horse person with my paint, Apache, as well. I mean, I used to be able to ride him on long trail rides and take him places. Now I am confined to the round pen.

No round pen here, my pretty horsie backing up in the afternoon sun.

But, it’s not so bad. Yesterday I talked about doing much better with Apache. Today was another lesson on Drew, so Sara and I drove out to the trainer’s place…only to find we were an hour early. Oops. As hard as we all try, we keep getting our times and days confused. None of us is to blame, because each of us has been confused in different ways. You just have to laugh, which is what we all did.

The horse part went really well, though. Aragorn has made huge progress, and it was interesting to watch him today. I am getting better at understanding when he’s doing well and when he’s messing up on his complicated work. It sure was fun seeing him try to deal with a new and more complex pattern that was intended to keep him from anticipating what he was going to do next. Plus, it’s enlightening to realize that some of his issues are much like what I deal with on my horses, just at a higher speed. I was so fascinated that I didn’t take pictures, but my brain learned a lot, which is important.

Nope, not Aragorn. It’s Drew going sideways down a pole.

Next, we went and got Drew. I got to groom him and do his feet. Three out of four feet went well; one was a challenge, but I got there. We then marched right out and did the longe work that I was so bad at last time. Thankfully, I was not in such a difficult mental place today, so I did just fine!

Drew looking out of control in his canter, but he’s okay.

I really think I was so upset from the various things that were going on that I couldn’t focus. Today, I had focus, and got that little guy going around in his circles going both ways just fine. And if there was an issue, I just coped. Hooray for me. After that, I backed him up and down his little “hill.”

He backed up for me! Cinder the dog is proud.

We moved on to jumping! Yes, I got him running in circles over jumps. Sara was so fascinated that she didn’t take pictures. One direction went better than the other, but I eventually got him jumping over the right thing. Wow, that little guy can jump (over the wrong things). I never got scared, which was key, I think. I had a much better attitude, which of course passed on to Drew.

Backing up.

Finally, we did some walking with his shoulders in and haunches in, and I did fine with that…then the trainer got on Drew and showed us what he has learned under saddle. He is cantering amazingly well, which impressed both me and Sara. He’s young, though, and isn’t having to unlearn old patterns like Aragorn is. But wait, there’s more!

That lump is me, on Drew!

I got on Drew and rode him solo. Well, mostly we stood still a lot. He was not interested in having a different person on him telling him what to do. I persevered, though, and things got better. I’ll try again next time I go see him, which is on Monday, when I bring him home! I look forward to that. We have a lot of “homework” to do for the next few months as he grows and matures, including all these things we have practiced today.

At least my posture is good. This is a still from a video Sara took of me flailing away trying to get him to move.

I look forward to hanging out with my little bundle of muscle and working on our partnership. And I now feel like I can learn and improve…which is really all I want.

I’ll dream of the day when Drew and I can do this.

By the way, I know a lot of us are dealing with illness these days. You’re in my thoughts. It seems like COVID and the flu (and bad allergies) are everywhere right now. I know it’s hard. I know I’m tired of feeling trapped at home (even with a pool!). I canceled my next trip, too. Flights seem scary right now.

Crissi McDonald

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