Neither snow, nor wind, nor encroaching dark…

…shall keep a rerider from visiting her horse after vacation! Though all of the above plus their having been put away for the night meant it did keep me from taking him out. So we had an indoors-only visit.

If being retired and not being worked every day is making Lucky stir-crazy, it’s a very minor form of stir-crazy. I drove back from my parents’ house today, with two cats, one dog, and one fish in the car and in whiteout conditions outside. I also had to turn around after ten minutes to go back for my laptop (thank God for cell phones, or my mother couldn’t have called me until I was three hours away.) By the time I got to the barn, the snow itself was in and out, but the wind was still going. The barn has two sliding doors, one on each end of the aisle, and they were both banging in the wind, but Lucky never batted an eye, even when I jumped.

I don’t remember enjoying grooming before. I do the same order with Lucky as with my old horse–rubber curry, stiff brush, soft brush, and with Lucky I sometimes add a rub rag, and then the hooves. And I would have considered it a waste to just go out to the barn and groom. I don’t know if I just haven’t done it in so long that any kind of horse labor is novel again, or if it’s part of mental evasion about riding. One of my LiveJournal friends, who has much more concrete riding goals than I do and who puts a lot more self-analysis into it, recently mentioned something about making friends with fear. Fear and I are not on speaking terms. The last time I was fearless on a horse was probably right before my old horse spooked mid-jump and I didn’t have any sort of leg to stay with him. I came down on the side of the saddle and stayed with him until the end of the arena when he swerved left (I was hanging off the right.) Ever since, I don’t know I’ve ever gotten on any horse without at least a tiny little twinge of fear. Even Patrick, the bomb-proof, been-there done-that schoolmaster I rode in college, the one I jumped over a 3′ rolltop to prove I could, I couldn’t jump on a regular basis.

It’s especially stupid with Lucky. The doors bang, and he is calm. But when I bridled him and saddled him and actually sat on him last week, a little fussing was enough to get me off. It’s icy, he’s in racing plates, and I can’t ride much anyway, but I’m psyching myself out in advance.

Today, though, we were inside anyway. Lucky enjoyed just being groomed, but we are definitely going to need to work on mugging for treats. He’s as shameless as Puff and Molly (my parents’ dog) when they hear crinkling.

This is Molly.

I worked mostly on his feet–he’s got his moments about picking them up, but he was good about it today. I’m finding the biggest disadvantage to straw bedding is when bits work their way under the edge of the shoe. I’ve never had to use my fingers before, but the stubborn bits won’t work their way loose with the pick. His feet are still nice, but I can’t wait for the farrier’s visit (January 12th) when he can get the back plates off, and we can talk about his right front. I have heard of “grabbing a quarter” and know it can cause bleeding, lameness, and takes a while to heal. Lucky’s happened in April, and there is still a gouge out of his foot.

Interestingly, there are now four at the barn. The other boarders moved their two horses, which wasn’t, apparently, a surprise. I am having to resist, very strongly, the temptation of the empty stalls. There are cheap horses to be had everywhere, and apparently at Shipshewana you can pick up the ones even the kill buyers don’t want for as little as $10, or free if you haul them off that day just to get rid of them. Though the idea of picking up a horse with potential for less than I make in an hour, and flipping it a few months’ later, is tempting. My BO had the same thoughts. There are some horses that go through that only need some groceries and a bit of work to be children’s horses or husband horses or trail horses, which is the primary market around here. Her husband pointed out there’s no such thing as a free or cheap horse. We’ll see how long I remember that.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lee
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 16:55:32

    I hear you about fear, and psyching oneself out before you even start. One of my Other People (I ride Other People’s Horses, mostly, except for this year with is a different long story) is having ongoing courage issues. I think it helps to work with someone who won’t let you back out unless you’re puking – and is sympathetic but firm once you are riding. It is really really hard to apply that to yourself, and much easier to have it applied to you by someone else, or have them apply it to you.


    • luckytocope
      Dec 29, 2009 @ 21:48:48

      An interesting thought, especially as I’m going about this without a trainer. I’m not necessarily sure it would work for me–I tend to automatically rebel, at least from female teachers, so possibly I should try and find a male trainer (my riding instructors have almost all been female, and the male wasn’t exactly George Morris, if you know what I mean.) My male dance pros never really had to apply the boot to the butt, at least not so overtly that I noticed, as I generally didn’t argue or backtalk them, while I’ll evade like the dickens for a female teacher. I don’t really take “Just do it!” well, but on the other hand I don’t respond well to hand-holding, either.

      I have a deep-seated suspicion that what I *really* need is what I would tell my skating students they needed–a good fall to realize that it wasn’t THAT bad. The difference is, except in very odd circumstances, like if you’re going too slow, falls in skating don’t actually hurt much. (It hurts much more to fall standing still than it does to go fast.) In retrospect, all but three or four falls I took before were ego bruises rather than seriously painful, but when there’s a thousand-pound horse involved there is always that chance this one is going to be REALLY ugly. That, or I need to get on, ride, and find out what he’s going to do at a trot and canter and what he thinks about jumping. But all that is not only going to have to wait for the farrier, it’s also going to have to wait for the ground to thaw. I’m not sure yet if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.


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