Saturday, August 30, 2014

attached at the hip

Well, the move is over. It went smooth, which was nice. Both horses loaded right up into the trailer and away we went. Leaving was sad, but for a variety of reason I am happy to be back at the other barn. Being closer, on the way home from work, being able to continue my lessons on Reba, and having Lily partial lease Shyloh make the move worth it. 
Travel time!
Shy is pretty great about taking everything in stride. She doesn't get worked up by new places or old-new places. She stepped off the trailer, like whatever. Reba however. . .well, Reba had to make a grand entrance. We opened the trailer and Reba began backing out, while she was still tied to it. That didn't stop her, she busted through her halter and fell backwards. We have arrived!!
Checking out the new digs.
Once we got the horses into their new pasture, Shy rolled first thing. Then she began searching for grass. Reba followed her around like a lost puppy. Shy took to the woods up front and began running around. Traveller was being led out of the pasture and it was clear that they remembered each other. Reba was not down with this and got in between them. Traveller kicked out and Reba kicked back. It was instant hate and they continued kicking each other. Yikes! Shy was off running around the woods and Traveller went to follow her. Terry got Reba and Traveller's new owner tried to catch him, but he was off running with my wild pony. Finally, he was caught and led out. Reba was at peace.

Shy decided it was time to run out into the back of the pasture, with Reba close behind. Shy took her through more woods and they met up with the two Arabs and Quarter horse that are their new pasture mates. There was a small amount of squeals, but nothing like up front. The only scuffle was when Kota reared up on Reba and she reared a little bit and chest bumped him and he fell backwards. 
The herd. Shyloh, Reba, Kota, Ranger, Prince (order from front to back)
It was funny to see. Shy was just doing whatever she wanted and Reba was her bodyguard, not letting the other horses get too close to her. But at the same time, Reba would not leave her side. Every step Shy took, Reba took a step, too. It was a far cry from the first time I brought Shy to this barn. Shy was miss independent today and Reba was her tag-a-long. 
Me and Terry stayed a while, just watching the horses settle in. They ran around, came up front for water, and went back out back to graze. It was funny to watch Shy trot through the pasture and the woods. . . Shy could clear branches that Reba had to seriously duck under. And since Reba would not stop following Shy, duck under those branches she did!
Coming through the woods. Looks like Reba is leading, but her strides are just bigger.
Every turn Shy made, Reba was right there with her.
Reba and Shy are the only mares in with the three geldings. Should be fun to watch the herd develop. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Nobody really likes change.  I like to weigh the pros and cons when making a a big decision, especially when it comes to my horse. And I generally don't say too much until the decision is already made, because I want the decision to be mine and not swayed by anything else. 

Saturday I will be moving Shyloh to another barn. We will be going back to the barn that we came from. Many factors played a part in my decision, but the biggest ones were that I would be able to take lessons on Reba then transfer to taking lessons on Shy, Lily will be able to ride Shy and use her for 4H, there is an indoor and outdoor arena, and it is closer to my house and on the way home from work. 
The woods Shy loves so much
I am sad to be leaving Jaime and Kyle's place. We had a ton of fun together. I am very thankful that Jaime and Kyle took me and Shy in when money was tight. Money is still tight, but with saving money on gas and other things, I can make it work. 

I remember the first time I moved to this new barn. I was a wreck. Shy was going in a herd of horses on about 15 acres. I thought I would never be able to catch her! But she proved me wrong. In fact, when I turned Shy out for the first time, she stayed close to me. Never had she done that before! Shy really looked to me, and for my independent pony, that was something. Over time, she slowly worked her way to the top of the herd. She could run any horse off the hay. It was quite funny to see. 
Shyloh gets access to the "T" area at all times. 
There are not as many horses in the herd now as there were when we left, but there are no new horses. Should be fun to see how Shy acts when I turn her loose Saturday. And a bonus, Reba is coming, too!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

help with fear

I love getting stuff in the mail that is not bills. So when GunDiva sent me a CD surprise, I was super excited. If you don’t know GunDiva, she spends some time each year working with Julie Goodnight, which is pretty cool. She also just got two Mustangs and is working on starting them. It is a very cool adventure to read about. And, she sent me one of her CD’s Building Confidence with Horses.
You may ask, how can one be scared of this?
I listened to the CD multiple times. It made sense and it provided an action plan. In the CD, Julie explains fear and fear responses.  As I was listening, I wanted to smack myself upside the head. . .I knew this stuff. I deal with it every day at work. But I never related my anxiety to any trauma.

Quick recap, trauma or fear memories are stored in the amygdala, which is a primitive part of the brain. So sometimes, even if you don’t remember something traumatic, your body does and responds accordingly.  So, when I fell off Shyloh, I fell off the back of her (bareback), which is one reason why I am having so much trouble letting go of hunching forward.
Shy's water in her face, face
The first thing to do is intellectualize your fear by understanding where the fear comes from how how to override the fear. There are two types of fear, a post traumatic type fear and a general fear. I think my fear comes from thinking I will not be able to handle the situation if something takes place, like a bolt or large spook. Then falling and getting hurt comes secondary. There is also the general anxiety that I deal with every day. And Shy is a very sensitive animal, so she can feel everything I feel.  So in order to ride her successfully, I really need to get my fears in check because my body will send off signals that she can pick up on.

Next, come up with some real life coping skills and think about the purpose for having a horse. My main purpose when I bought Shy was to do trail rides. My purpose had evolved from then, now I want to do anything I find fun. That can range from driving to ground work to clicker training to riding. 
After bath munch and dry time
I think my biggest obstacle is being physically fit. This I NEED to do.  I have not been this, let’s say “unfit”, ever. I like cookies too much. Really thinking about it, I think my fears may stem from this as well, not trusting my body. Not feeling balanced or coordinated. I really need to incorporate some type of exercise more often (I do take a swim class weekly, but more is needed). I prefer outdoor things (biking, kayaking, hiking) that do not seem like exercise and I hate the gym. And running, I figure I spent enough time running in high school where I ran cross country and track. 

Keeping a positive attitude is also and important coping skill. Sometimes I get down on myself, but most of the time I try and stay positive and celebrate the small successes. Lately, I have had a real lack of motivation and have been overall blah. I need to get out of this funk. 
Braid all the hairs!
Finally, have some tools for building confidence. There is a whole list she goes through on the CD, but these are the tools I think will help me most. 
Breathing. I do this. I take a minute just sitting on the horse to slow my breathing and relax. I am not sure if I will ever be one of those people who can mount on the fly and just go off on my horse.
Eyes. Do not look down, it freezes your mind. Look around instead and take in other information to stop the anxiety mind freeze.

Stop the “What-Ifs”! This is my life. . .what if this, what if that? I think it comes from the anxiety. 

Sing to occupy your mind and develop rhythm. I love to sing. I am terrible at it, but I love it. This is one I have heard before and I think it is a good one. I just have to remember to do it. Because when I ride, I tend to freeze up. I don't talk to Shy like I should and I am focused on keeping her calm (even though she already is) and staying on. 

Take lessons. I am happy that Terry is helping me with this and letting me use Reba. 
Bath hard work is instantly reversed :/
Once all those things are in place, I should have a plan to manage my fear. The best way to do this is by having goals. I don't want to give away the whole CD, these are just the most helpful to me. And they have been very helpful. Listening to the CD really put some thoughts in my mind and some other things in perspective. Thanks again, GunDiva!

Monday, August 18, 2014

ice cream

The Good Old Days Show was put on this weekend. It is a long show that has English and Western riding classes, Pleasure and Draft driving classes, and in hand classes. I have went the past two years, once without Shyloh and once with Shyloh. This was going to be another year without Shy, but I am sure she was totally fine with that.

Since Shy was unable to get down to Ohio, Beth graciously offered me the use of her ponies for in-hand classes. Those classes would be trail in hand and ground driving obstacle. She would be taking Art and Rambo to the show. I accepted, then Beth made a friendly bet. . .loser would buy ice cream! And since they were in hand classes and the horses went one at a time, we could both use both horses. Challenge accepted. 

I told Beth that I would have to come down a day early to practice if I wanted a chance against her. So down to Ohio I went. We spent a little time practicing and more time killing horse flies. Those suckers were ruthless! They attacked in waves of two. Two horse flies came in, we (and by we I mean Beth) either killed them or they flew away after several attempts at killing them, then another set of two would swoop in  and we would have to start over. Ugh!
We decided to wash ponies and get them ready for the show the next day. The horse flies were relentless and continues their two at a time attack. But ponies got washed and clipped and sleezed up. Then Art and Rambo got put in the grassy round pen so they wouldn't roll in the dirt. Art decided to be an evil villain in his "costume" and was beating poor Rambo up in the round pen! So after a while the sleezies came off and the horses got put all back together. 
Super ponies. Purple Art was the evil villain and red Rambo was the super hero
Of course, when we got at at dark still for the show, Rambo had a line of dirt along his mane.  Rambo is such a funny horse. He is very busy and very mouthy and wants all the attention. He is so damn cute about it!
He sucks his tongue and holds on to the trailer. 
Once we got to the show, we braided horses tails and manes and got to showing. 
A Fjord!
Beth riding Rambo
Flo on Mick, Chelsea on Tom in the back
Farrier's daughter was at the show, too
Steve and Sally Sue in Pleasure driving class

Regina driving Art, they got reserve champion for the draft driving class!
Flo and her sweet new wagon!
The trail classes run most of the day so people can do them in between their other classes. So after Beth did her classes and the cart class with Regina (her youth driver), we waited for the trail results. And waited. And waited. Finally they made the announcement. . .

Beth took first with Rambo in trail in hand and I took second with him! I also took fifth with Art. Beth also took first with Rambo in ground driving obstacle and I took second with him. I took sixth with Art in this class. Looks like I owe Beth some ice cream!
Our selfie with Rambo
My ribbons with Art
It was such a fun day and very low key. Ponies were good and Rambo was a blast to line drive. I am so glad I got a chance to use Art and Rambo at the show. Thanks Beth!
Beth got Reserve Champion for the draft division!

Friday, August 15, 2014

rides on reba

Remember when I had a panic attack on Shyloh?
The solution to help me get over my anxiety is to ride Reba. I mean, if I can ride a Shire, I can surely ride a Haflinger.

There are a few steps to riding a Shire. . .
1. Find a saddle with a flat tree. Because the back of a Shire is wiiiide.
2. Find a girth that is taller than you. Because the Shire is rooouuuund.
3. Find a ladder to get on the Shire. Because the Shire is taaaall.

Once all those steps have been completed, you can ride the Shire. 
Me and Reba!
Terry gave me lessons on her horse, which was super nice. Even though Reba is way out of my comfort zone height wise, I knew she was not going to do anything overly stupid. After I got used to the English saddle, her larger strides and her slight clumsiness, oh and then her bullheadedness, we were all good.

My main focus was to be able to ride a steady horse and work on my balance. So we did lots of exercises like walking around with my eyes closed and my arms out to the side, reaching up to Reba's super far away poll, leaning back in the saddle as far as I could, walking without reins and doing crazy arms, and putting my legs over on the same side of her in the saddle. I worked a lot on trying to not lean forward and I feel I was semi successful with this.

I also worked on adjusting to rein and leg pressure. I am not sure of anyone knows just how difficult is it to move a Shire when she doesn't want to move. Let my legs tell you, it is hard! And I am always a bit timid with my leg pressure because Shy is so sensitive. So I had to learn to use more pressure. Reba also responds differently than Shy, so I had to adjust my cues as well. 

Steering was also addressed, since Reba had a need to be on top of Terry at all times. Trying to steer her away was a chore, but I did it. We put out cones and boxes and used what we had to make a course for me and Reba to go through. 

Most of the lessons were in the round pen, one lesson was in the pasture (we put the other horses in the round pen). I felt that lesson was the worst, but Terry said it was the best. I think because after the balance exercises, I felt I had no goal, except to walk around the must larger space. And Reba did not want to walk. And, I believe Reba kept trying to knock me off on the tree branches. 

The longer I rode, the more relaxed I became. If we had a week's break between lessons (fair week), it was like starting back at square one. But even so, the initial couple minutes up on that horse sends me into a high anxiety mode. I think that is just the way it is going to be. It calms down after those first few minutes though, usually. I'd like to continue my lessons on Reba and also get Shy going. I think it will be good for all of us. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

too much cute, part 3

The last baby Gypsy was born! She was born during fair week and she is everything her owner, Kim, wanted her to be. Tight, compact, a filly, and sassy!

I went to visit with Kim and Christina and the baby Gypsies the other day. Enjoy the cute! For even more cute, check out part 1 and part 2. And you will be able to see how much the other two have grown in just a few weeks!

Baby Cuileann and mama
Baby chicks!
So adorable!
baby teefers
Love this!
Baby and mama
Charming Charlie running around!
She is so cute
New baby looking at the other two babies
So big for 5 weeks!
Visitors make for a sleepy baby
Three sleepy babies