I'm currently sitting in the library, putting off working on a study guide for a test that I thought was this Friday...except I found out in the last hour that it's not until next Friday, so it's no longer as big of a priority as it was when I got up and planned my day this morning.  So, instead, I'm using the time to update this blog because I suck at writing on a regular basis anymore!!

Basically, my life right now consists of my GIS course, which is three days a week including a lab on Wednesdays.  I'm also working 36-40 hours a week at The Cave/EJ & Emma's, training new people and running everything out front in the restaurant.  It makes for a decent paycheck ever since I was promoted to being a lead there.  It's not what I should eventually be making in my career, but considering what I'm doing right now, it's not half bad.

My class is going great, and I really like it.  I'm pretty positive now that I want to do grad school with it.  I'm looking at online classes through Oregon State and Penn State.  That's another goal for today, to get more information about both programs to compare and contrast.  My professor is also doing some research of his own on the two, both for his own curiosity and to help me out.  I talked to him a couple of weeks ago about what I'd like to do, and he was very enthusiastic about finding information for me and helping me get on the right track.

I'm signed up to take my GRE on November 23rd.  I could have picked a closer date and just got it over with, but I'd like to have more time to prepare for it.  It's an expensive test, and I'm not about to pay for it and go in unprepared and have to pay for it all over again. 

I got to visit Orion last week for the first time in nearly a month.  A friend and I who are both going through some stuff in very similar situations needed to get away.  She knew going to see him would make me feel better, so off we went.  She's always been very timid around horses and scared of them, but last week made her a little braver.  She actually went into the field with me to catch him, something she'd said on the way there that she was too afraid to do.  She's not keen on being around them when they're loose, but she realized while we were there that they weren't going to do anything to her and were just curious and wanted to say hi.

While we were there, I lunged Orion to see how he was moving.  He suffered a really nasty abscess (I'll post pictures of the aftermath later) a month ago and freaked me the hell out with how much he was favoring his leg.  There was swelling in his leg up to his knee, and he refused to put any amount of weight on that leg.  His other leg was also a little inflamed due to overcompensating for his sore foot.  He's fine now, but I wanted to be sure...

He was acting like a crazy little psycho the whole time I lunged him.  I expected it after not doing anything for so long, but he wasn't listening and acted worse when I reprimanded him, so I decided to change tactics.  Using the lunge line limited him to only the immediate area around me, and I didn't want him bucking and acting crazy while he was that close, so I decided to try free lunging him.  I made my friend go watch from inside the barn and kept the lunge whip in my hand, both to guide him and keep him away from me when I didn't want him to come near.

The first 5-10 minutes included loping, running, bucking, and squealing...with barely any pressure from me.  He didn't come close enough to me to do anything, and most of the time stayed around the perimeter of the fence.  He wasn't paying attention to my cues, so I just kept asking him to keep moving each time he stopped (though not with a lot of pressure; all I wanted him to do was trot - he just took that and blew it way out of proportion and ran because he was full of himself and being stupid.)  Eventually he settled down and began listening as he slowed to a smooth, relaxed trot. 

Once we hit that point, I immediately felt better about everything I was going through, because it was just so gratifying to see that this horse I have loved and put so much work into has made so much progress and excelled at something new.  I've only truly free lunged him once in a round pen, and he did amazingly.  It was always hard to do it at our own barn before because our paddock was too big and there was too much room for him to get away and ignore me.  Now though, the paddock is split into two sections, making it easier to do ground work. 

He had an ear fixed on me the whole time, began licking and chewing and dropped his nose - not all at the same time for a join up, but he did do all three cues at some point during the session.  After stopping him twice and seeing him not choose to come to me, I asked him to keep moving both times.  He obeyed, and the third time he signaled that he wanted to stop and I let him, he immediately came to me and stood waiting to be praised.  After he got his praise and love, I asked him to move out again to test and see if he would do it again, and he did, three more times.

After that, I decided we had made enough progress for the day and walked over to talk to my friend...and Orion followed with his nose at my shoulder, without being asked.  The whole time we stood in the barn talking, he stood patiently at the doorway and just watched and listened.  I went out to walk around the paddock, and he moved out of my way so I could leave the barn, then followed me around as I walked and ran, staying right next to or slightly behind me the entire time.  He didn't leave my side again the rest of the time we were there.

The day was a huge success to me.  I felt like I bonded more with Orion than I had for a long time.  He made me feel better about everything, and my friend is now not as scared of horses as she was before.

Here's to hoping we can go again soon!

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