Riding, Sunburn, and Monsters
I wrote most of this on Friday, but I didn’t get a chance to post it, so here you go:
Today I went on my first ride at the new barn. Not anything too exciting, just around the arena (we have an arena! :D). Orion isn’t moving out there until Wednesday (squeeee!), so I rode the BO’s little 3 or 4 y.o. mare, Vanna. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of Vanna until we were done and had put her back into her stall, where I couldn’t get a great picture of her, so you’ll meet her later. For visualization’s sake though, she’s a sweet little Paint mare. Really laid back – as in, we brought the horses to the barn, I put her in cross ties, and she promptly cocked a hind foot and pretty much went to sleep.
The day dawned pretty well. For once I was wide awake when my alarm went off at 7:45a, and I was ready to go by 9a. We stopped at the office to pick up my paycheck, then picked up Chelsie and headed out to the barn. Walked up the road to get the horses out of their field (one of the fields is maybe a quarter mile up the road from the barn) and dodged the geese that were meandering along the road next to their pond. Dear lord, when we were bringing Merrill and Vanna through, you would have thought we were stealing their whole pond from them. Most of them just scattered across the pond and dove into it headfirst, splashing and honking and flapping as they did, but one stood on the bank across the road from us and hissed and hissed and hissed like we were the biggest threat in the world. Finally he decided to join his family and booked it across the road to hop into the water with them – hissing the whole way. Once that was over, we continued with our walk back unhindered. When we got back, I tied Vanna, and as I mentioned above, she chilled and waited for whatever we decided to do next.
The other girl who boards there, who is quickly becoming a good friend, had her OTTB, Merrill, tied a little ways down the aisle from us. He was also in super-snooze mode most of the time when we were getting ready. They ate their breakfast, drank some water (actually, Vanna decided it would be fun to upend her water bucket all over the rubber mats in the aisle, so apparently she wasn’t very thirsty).
When we started to tack up, we ran into a problem. I was given permission to ride Vanna, but her tack was nowhere to be found. We found a bridle that didn’t look like it was going to fit her well, and the bit that was attached to it looked way too harsh for her sweet, easygoing nature. Plus, when I held the bridle up to further scrutinize it, I noticed that it had more than just the beginnings of dry rot. At that point, I just said screw it, I’m not using this thing. At the first bit of pressure, it probably would have snapped apart. I later found out that the BO, who only recently bought Vanna, hasn’t bought any tack for her yet and is planning to do so in the next week or so. So for the time being, I used Chelsie’s Wintec English saddle and made a makeshift bitless bridle with an old set of reins and her halter, and we decided to just ride in the arena rather than the road so that I’d be in an enclosed semi-undisturbed area if she decided to do anything crazy. We really didn’t expect her to, but it was a precaution. I always ride with my helmet, so between that and my gloves (rope reins), I felt pretty safe. And of course, baby girl didn’t do anything crazy. She wasn’t exactly sure how to react to the different pressures that were being put on her halter, but she slowly caught on. She mostly followed Merrill anyway, so it was just a relaxed ride around the edge of the arena while we talked and laughed at the horses.
Merrill kept deciding it was time to stop, and Vanna just wanted to eat, until Merrill would get too far away from her, then she’d mosey on over to him. I was, at least, able to get her attention when she did this. Gentle repeated tugging of the reins, clucking, and urging with the legs got her to raise her head back up and move off fairly easily. Eventually she caught onto when I wanted her to turn too. I just had to pull harder on whichever rein I was using than I would have with a bit or a real bitless bridle, and a lot of pressure of the legs was needed. But as I said, I only had to do this a little bit once we were in the arena because she prett my gloves (rope reins), I felt pretty safe. And of course, baby girl didn’t do anything crazy. She wasn’t exactly sure how to react to the different pressures that were being put on her halter, but she slowly caught on. She mostly followed Merrill anyway, so it was just a relaxed ride around the edge of the arena while we talked and laughed at the horses.
Merrill kept deciding it was time to stop, and Vanna just wanted to eat…until Merrill would start get too far away from her, then she’d mosey on over to him. I was, at least, able to get her attention when she did this. Gentle repeated tugging of the reins, clucking, and urging with the legs got her to raise her head back up and move off fairly easily. Eventually she caught onto when I wanted her to turn too. I just had to pull harder on whichever rein I was using than I would have with a bit or a real bitless bridle, and a lot of pressure of the legs was needed. But as I said, I only had to do this a little bit once we were in the arena because she pretty much stayed with Merrill.
She kept sideswiping poor Merrill with my leg, and once, I’m pretty sure I actually knocked him forward a little because she walked right up next to him and knocked my knee straight into his butt pretty hard. It’s a good thing this horse doesn’t kick or care if anyone is in his space, because she definitely didn’t respect it, and I was only able to prevent these encounters a few times.
Little mare also wasn’t the brightest on picking up cues from Merrill. Example: At one point, Merrill made one of his stops. This time, however, it wasn’t for no reason; he needed a pit stop. Vanna, off in her own little world, walked straight into his butt, ignoring my pressure to halt. She didn’t run into him and back up; she ran into him and stood there with her face right on his butt. Yeah, this didn’t end well. He pooped. She finally realized what was happening and backed up quickly….but not quickly enough. Chelsie and I were laughing hysterically by this point, and for a long time after that, little mare was shaking her head and wiping her face on everything she could. Apparently she cleaned herself up at some point, because when I untied the reins from her halter, her face looked clean. But oh my God, the reaction at the time….priceless.
I intend to take some good pictures next time I’m out there, regardless of how much work has been done. So far we’ve mostly been picking up trash. It has become a junk heap for a lot of the BO’s stuff. Spiders abound. Apparently there’s snakes (black snakes). I thought there was only one, but after looking at the pictures of the skins, by grandpa seems pretty positive there are multiple. Non-poisonous snakes don’t bother me a lot as long as we can stay out of each other’s way. Orion more than likely won’t be in the barn a lot without supervision, and I haven’t seen a single mouse in the entire time I’ve been cleaning and planning out there, so I’m calling it good for now. Spiders on the other hand….*shudder*. I know they eat the bugs, but I came across one that was almost the size of my hand the other day. Big old wolf spider. I almost peed myself. There was definitely a scream and a lot of cursing, and I had to walk away for a couple minutes before I had the nerve to go back and kill it. Not okay with spiders that big. Sorry. Plus, it was right next to the tack room where all of our stuff will be. It’s got a door, but still. Double not okay with that. Pretty sure there’s another one skulking around the wash stall that’s around the same size, but in the second that I saw it before it ran from me last week, it looked to be a different body shape than the wolf spider I killed yesterday. *SHUDDER*
Anyway, back to the present…we finished up, put the horses in their stalls so they’d be out of the heat for part of the day (we left around 11:45a, and it was getting really hot), and headed back into town for a couple hours at the city pool. It was time well-spent, and it was my first time at that pool in probably three years, so it was nice going back. I have a few memories there, though not many, and it made me think a lot about how much life has changed in just five years. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot lately (and written a lot about), and I’m kicking around the idea of posting some of those thoughts here in the near future.
But for now, I’m happy to say that I will have a lot more horse stuff to post on here in the future. Orion is moving tomorrow! Squeee again! I really can’t wait. I’m trying to get all of my thoughts in order, about what I want to do in addition to getting his feet healthier and being able to bit him and go quicker. There’s so much that I want to do that it’s really going to take some time to wade through it all. lol
I’ll also be posting a description of the barn tomorrow (a friend took pictures of it on Sunday, so if I have those pictures from her by then, there will be pictures…if I don’t have them, they will go up as soon as I get them)…and there will be a post of our move in the next couple days. Thursday I’m really hoping I can go out and work with him a little bit and introduce him to the property more…
But at this point, I feel like I’m rambling. lol Stay tuned, and you can find out more about all of this more over the next couple of weeks. There will be plenty to write about!