If You’re Not Almost Falling, You’re Not Almost Learning

Well, Frank Carroll didn’t say the part about “almost.” I owe msj from Chronicle Forums an apology–Lucky did in fact jump me out of the tack, at least enough for my knees to come much higher up his sides than I strictly find comfortable. Ironically he wasn’t actually jumping anything especially high, having knocked one rail down of the X oxer and being very reluctant to go over my strategically-placed buckets (serves me right for giving him something ‘interesting’ to jump.) The next time through, he picked up the canter with substantially less arguing and jumped it without quite so much drama. And, as I pointed out to the B.O., back when I was taking lessons and riding the old OTTB a jump like that and I’d have been eating dirt, so I must be doing something right.

He also seemed somewhat enthusiastic about barrels, actually wanting to run for the finish line (though as long as he takes to get rolling, it’s probably not going to be beating any Quarter Horse gaming types any time soon.) Saturday, and to finish up today, we took it outside. Saturday was just pure play–a little riding on the track, and some wandering through the woods, semi-enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. All the fall colors, and the falling acorns, and the suicide squirrel squadrons racaing across the trails. Lucky did have a leery moment when we came up behind one of the houses next door and they were burning brush in the yard, but he relaxed when the man waved and the woman said hello and he could tell they were people and not horse-eating tree monsters. We pretty much did nothing but tool around, and he got what’s probably his last bath of the season courtesy of the warm weather. He was more than happy to stand there dozing off while I did it. The new puffball kitten, meanwhile, likes to sit and stare at whatever you are doing, even if she has to sneak up very quietly behind you to do it. I actually plopped her on his back in self-defense, as it seemed the place where she was least likely to get stepped on! Lucky didn’t care, the puffball just thought it was interesting to have a better view of the saddle going on.

After riding Lucky on Sunday, I took the B.O. up on the offer to get Takota out. As there are only so many hours in a day and Dino needs all the work he can get, Takota’s had a few weeks off. It showed. Probably the most interesting thing about riding someone else (besides going “WOW, he’s short!” while I was grooming and could actually see across his back) was how used I’ve become to Lucky’s relative unflappability. Takota wasn’t really spooky, he was more fresh and experimenting to see what he could get away with as far as the new monkey on his back went. Answer? Probably not what he wanted to hear. I wouldn’t call any of it a genuine “come to Jesus” meeting but the experiments with bucking at the canter ended right quick. Probably surprised the heck out of him, too. He also was determined to scare himself looking at the woods (something he’s perfectly familiar with and should know better than to spook at) so I had to spend mmost of the time convincing him that it was far less work to come quietly than it was to be a goofball. It was an interesting change from tooling along on Lucky, who naturally tends to prefer the path of least resistance.

In a public service announcement: It’s October, and that means the end of racing at Finger Lakes is coming up sooner than you think. Some horses are already looking for new homes and careers, and since I really haven’t got the place to put another one, please save me from myself and consider horses like Dewanna Brushon Me. Quite the handsome devil, and look at those gentle eyes. For my fellow pedigree fanatics, why yes, that Brush in there stands for Broad Brush, his grandsire, which makes him the great-grandson of the great Ack Ack. And please note one two, not three, but FOUR crosses on Turn-to, so if you’re looking for a sport-horse prospect, won’t you please think of him? All for the low, low price of only $500.


The Kittens Have Something To Share

Nanook and the Pest would like to share the following:

Does anyone want a small puffball of a calico kitten? Free. Will ship.

The older two kittens (well, one year, and probably about a half year) are very clingy all of a sudden. I think the presence of a certain small dilute calico puffball is grating on their nerves. This is somewhat unfair, as she’s very quiet and waits her turn to eat, and is far less pesky than some kittens I have known. She IS going to get stomped on if she doesn’t learn that you can’t just wander underneath horses who cannot see tiny little you. Nanook and the Pest have decided to remind everyone around that they were here first and they’re cuter. Nanook did this by nearly taking a nose dive into Zoey and Lucky’s water tub while he tried to balance around the edge. Pest followed everyone everywhere. When she climbed up on the fence and looked like she was seriously considering a leap onto Lucky’s rear, I grabbed her and took her for a ride. (Lucky, it should be noted, is capable of executing a turn on the forehand with me riding one-handed with a cat in my lap.)

The weather’s getting colder, which may explain why Lucky was bouncy and inattentive yesterday. Well, that and the fact that everyone went in. I gave up fairly quickly, but I also hadn’t thought to grab a coat. He’s also turning nicely fuzzy. And brown. Unlike Benny, Lucky stays noticeably bay in winter, but he turns chocolate brown instead of blood bay. (Benny was a ‘dark brown or bay’ who turned seriously black in the winter.) He’s also dusty, but it’s now officially too cold for baths.

Had an interesting conversation about horses in the movies and actors who can or can’t ride. Especially with “Secretariat” coming out I think I need a horses in the movies post.

Photo Post

Thanks to Amtrak’s Metropolitan Lounge wi-fi, enjoy a gratuitous picture post. I am consoling myself that, even though my friend Laurie is enjoying the lovely day at Churchill Downs and my brother is enjoying the lovely day at Belmont Park, and I am enjoying overcast cold and boring Chicago, at least I have free wi-fi.

Look at that classic profile.

Look how nicely he pricks his ears for photos!

We've got a nice trot going!

Lucky says: You first!

No nice trot over this one....

This one, too?

All right, if you insist....

I look exactly like the thoroughbreds C.W. Anderson drew, don't I?

Aren't we done yet?

Finally got that monkey off my back!

And now, gratuitous kitten pictures:

That's Nanook on the left and Nova on the right.

Onward, noble steed!

Nova is the photogenic brother.

And Lucky and I wish good luck to Final Call as he heads to his new home.

Getting ready for a week away!

Lucky is getting a break from me for a week! I’m off to DC, and that means while I may do a couple aside posts (like that one I mentioned explaining why Let It Ride is my favorite horse movie) there won’t be any Lucky updates. Puff, Tucker and the kitty crew have my parents and Molly to keep them company. Lucky has the herd, including three new members. The new boarders finally arrived last night, about an hour after I left. There are three new horses, two paint mares and a palomino gelding, who are getting settled in one pasture. One of the mares, the piebald, came over to say hello while we were cooling out, and Lucky seemed quite intrigued.

We do have six jump standards now, with holes up to 3’3″, not that I anticipate getting over THAT any time soon! After today’s ride (picking up the canter proceeds apace, the trot is better, both days would have been much nicer if we both weren’t ready to keel over from the heat and the ABSOLUTELY AWFUL humidity) taking crossrails at the trot is a victory. We didn’t achieve that, but I accepted a walk/hop over the two xs with a big forward trot after the second on our third try as good enough. Stylish it was not, but it was forward and he didn’t take a rail down.

His feet are looking lovely, by the by. The farrier came this week, and was pleased with the amount of growth all round. He will be back in three weeks to tweak the right front that had the quarter grab and said in the meantime to keep doing what we’re doing.

And yes, since I am hoping the hotel has wireless/high speed (and I am fairly sure it does, there will hopefully be a Monday update with some lovely photos–yes, including Nova and Nanook, the new barn residents. I was hoping to leave you with a teaser, but my connection isn’t cooperating, so you’ll just have to wait for Monday to see the stunningly gorgeous gelding and the complete adorableness of kittens. Lucky will have to wait for more work until the following Monday, when hopefully he’ll also have some new duds to show off, too.

An aside: Lucky and I would like to congratulate his fellow Finest (who had a much longer, harder road to her new life) Ducky’s Ho Oh on the arrival of her own little Goose.

Rain, hair, and mud.

Of course, on the days you can go out to the barn, it’s raining. Yesterday, it wasn’t so bad–mostly a light drizzle, so I was able to ride. One of those “rains” that was really just enough moisture to keep the dust down. That, though, was after I spent forty-five minutes on his coat. Lucky is definitely shedding. It’s a shame there isn’t a market for yarn spun out of horsehair from a horse’s winter coat. I could have had a bale going. Lucky’s coat has exploded this week and is coming off in massive clumps, complete with more of that dandruff. His face is almost complete shed out now, and he’s definitely a different shade of bay under that fuzz. He would also be more than content to stand there all day while I worked on his coat. Which is basically what I did today. They were inside, as it had gone from manageable drizzle yesterday to cold, on-and-off downpours today, so I spent my barn time with him in the crossties working on his coat some more. He would cheerfully put up with this all day long, with appropriate breaks for cookies.

Riding he would be much more happy to forgo. I’m now starting to be seriously concerned about pain, as he’s back to being highly resistant to going forward. He’s not hot, and the ground IS uneven, so he may just be out of shape and really opposed to working on the incline. It also may still be that tooth. I’ll be so, so happy when it’s Friday and the tooth specialist comes. I suspect Lucky will be, too.

For anyone who was wondering: the kitten is of course staying. Her name is now Sundae. This way, when you line her up with cats my parents have acquired in their barn recently, we have Thursday, Friday, Saturn, and Sundae.

Red-Headed Mare!

I cannot decide if my headache is from the weather constantly changing today, or from feminine issues–probably a bit of both. This morning was bright, clear, cold, and VERY windy, and by the end of the day we’d gone through at least two cloud fronts. So either this is my monthly migraine starting, sinus-pressure changes, or both. Huzzah.

Probably with some allergies contributing. It took more than a half-hour to groom today before a ride. Lucky wasn’t dirty, he’s just shedding out. And shedding out. And shedding out. At least one other purchaser of a Finger Lakes’ Finest has mentioned her mare having a downy-soft coat, almost like a baby coat, and that does seem to be what Lucky’s feels like. And it’s coming out in clumps. He was especially happy today to stand and let me scrub his face up between his ears.

It was, as I mentioned, extremely windy, enough that I wasn’t so much worried about spooking as my own discomfort. This was hard enough my car was getting pushed around a bit on the drive over, and it was just as bad on the horse. Every time I turned into the wind I got a facefull of hair (his and mine) and dirt blown up from the footing. Yech. We did have one butt-scooting spook, but I’m honestly not sure if that was the wind, the BO’s daughter coming up to the ring behind us, or something else. Whatever it was, he stood while I talked with her and went on after that and seemed largely disinterested in the kids running around. We stuck with W/T today, and he was back to protest-by-stopping, and I am starting to wonder if the tooth the specialist is coming for is really bothering him. The head-up and stopping don’t seem to be spookiness or related to actual attempts to run. He responds to the bit and leg when asked. There’s no heat in his legs or back and the masseuse didn’t find any hypersensitive points on his back. It’s happened with both saddles (very different shapes) and he’s generally going well in the PDN, so I don’t think it’s a matter of saddle fit. The tooth is a known issue, so possibly it bothers him more some days. If that doesn’t fix the problem then I will see about getting the vet back out to watch him go and see if they can spot anything (I say they because the practice has four and I’m not sure who’d be out.) Chiro is an option if it is alignment, but as the only one I know of locally requires you to haul to him, he’s not an option so I would have to go looking.

Two other possibilities: He’s a morning glory (as he’s gone quite well mornings and this was an afternoon ride), and his feet may have been tender as the farrier was out this week. His feet continue to improve and the front angles are looking better.

The wind was annoying to the point I had a short ride (and my lips are now chapped–it was also cold wind!) Lucky once again was happy to be curried for as long as I cared to stand there doing it. He got another candy cane (he has the most entertaining way of smacking his lips when he gets peppermints) and went back out. The BO, her daughter, and a couple of the kids were working with Trudy–“lessons” for the kids, work for Trudy! Trudy is a Tennessee Walker and a stereotypical redheaded mare. She likes to pin her ears at any horse who walks by, and she loves the fact that she is the only mare on the property and therefore (in her mind) in charge of everyone else. BO asked if I wanted to ride her, so I put my helmet back on and got up. The saddle was a synthetic western and the stirrups were just too short, especially with my dress boots on, so I sat back and went without. Trudy does not neck rein, but she will obey leg, if you can convince her of your intent. She’s also the type of TWH who does not trot, she paces, which isn’t something I’ve experienced before. It’s a weird feeling! A little like cantering, or trying for a canter and not quite getting into one. Her canter is also fast but smooth. She was not especially thrilled to have someone riding her whose legs were long enough to stay on her so she couldn’t ignore them. She also was a prima donna–I ended up having a close encounter with the pommel (though fortunately not the horn) when she abruptly decided to put on the brakes rather than step in the only pile of manure in the round pen. Since that pile was not there when I was riding Lucky in there not long before, I know for a fact she put it there! So not only a red-headed mare but a finicky one, too!

Kitten update: My other two cats, Jet and Marcus, seem to be resigning themselves to the notion of a ‘little sister’ in the house. The dogs continue to view the kitten as their responsibility and are tolerant to the point of letting her stick her nose in their dinners (though poor Tucker was highly agitated by this as she’s on a diet and every crumb is precious!) The kitten’s biggest disappointment is that she is apparently a night person (or a Jellicle Cat!) and when she is up and ready to play, everyone else is ready for bed.

And yes, she’ll get a name eventually. Nothing has really suggested itself so far.

Kitten picspam

Kitten LUVS Puff. Jet and Marcus are not so crazy about it. However, I’m getting them all high on catnip and hoping everyone will mellow out.

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