O, Beautiful

Monday, April 14, 2014

What a difference one week can make! Saturday I was down in the ring, setting up some cones and a  few obstacles and Lilly and I were audibly overwhelmed by the wood frogs and the peepers in the ditch that runs the length of the ring itself. There were frogs hopping around everywhere! I could not resist investigating this egg blob.

You can just barely see my brumby in this photo. Pretty cool!!! After my frog watch, I got on Lilly and trotted her around, practicing side passes and yielding her hind quarters and also changing direction, weaving around cones like Clinton trotting around those trees on his ranch. We even walked over the teeter totter several times perfectly. Lilly was excellent at everything... except the canter. Let me rephrase that: I know she is excellent at cantering. However. There is something about the ring that makes her detest it. I didn't get a canter. I got the notorious tanter. This means lots of crow hops, some ridiculously fast trots and crabby resistance in general.

Reasons why a horse might throw a temper tantrum when being asked to canter (IMO):
1. Rider not cueing properly
2. Rider sits the canter incorrectly so canter feels uncomfotable to horse
3. Rider pulls back on reins and therefore horse is thinking HUH?
4. Horse does not know how to canter
5. Horse does not like to canter
6. Horse hates the ring
7. Horse sees rest of herd nibbling hay and not cantering and is thinking: Why me?
8. It is feeding time and horse is hungry and crabby
9. Horse has an injury or her feet hurt
10. Horse is opinionated and thinks cantering is dumb

Some of these I have thought seriously about many times over the years I have had Lilly. In the end, I always settle on #5, 6, and 7. Occasionally, if I ride after work, #8 is definitely the case. Maybe in the past #9 has been the case, but that is a 100% excusable reason and I would never push Lilly to run around when her feet are hurting. Since her feet have been very sound lately, it wasn't near feeding time and I know she has a beautiful rocking chair lope, I am led to focus on #1, 2 and 3. #10 may be true and maybe that is part of the trouble. Hmmmm . Of  #1-3 I was verrrry careful to make sure I was not doing #3. That leaves #1 and 2. I want to say it cannot be #2. But what do I know? I need Canter Coach. YES! That is the answer! I need someone who can become my eyes from the ground while I am cantering in the ring.

Any ideas for cantering coaches? Any one person in particular? I can think of one. More on that later.

 The good news is that today (which is Sunday) the weather was so splendid we headed out on the trail.

Lilly was not too keen on this strange cube of remaining snow. I didn't blame her. It is weird that it is still hanging around.

 There are so many cool things to see on a spring day. This little clump always bravely pops up each year. I don't even remember what these are. Daffodils maybe. Lilly sniffed at them but [luckily] didn't think they smelled good enough to eat.

It is still a bit soggy around here. Instead of taking the trail and mucking it up when it is so wet, I stuck to the road. But as you can see, the road is as lovely as the trail.

That is, until I see something like this. Then I become outraged.

Onward. This is the gate that last weekend made QTee and Lilly freak out. The one where Christine thought it was a bear and I wasn't sure what the heck happened. This time though, all quiet. It looks like quite an appealing little path in there. But in reality, it peters out as soon as it begins.

The peepers are out! Here my brumby and I stopped to gaze at their little world, full of quacking wood frogs and peeping peepers. There are few things more wonderful in April. To get the full audio, click right here! It will make you smile, guaranteed.

This will not make you smile. Here are all the cans I picked up along the side of the road during my ride. I have written a short note to the person who thoughtlessly left them for someone else to clean up:

Attention, littering, beer swilling asshole: I cannot help but observe that most of your purchases are of American beer. Is that because you love America? Because I can tell you plainly that none of its beauty has anything to do with you. Frankly, I think you owe my brumby a thank you. Because she is the one who carried all of your stinking recyclables down the road to an appropriate receptacle...and without a single complaint I might add, even though the way they rattled in her saddle bag made her eyes get wide and wild. Littering, beer swilling asshole, GET IT TOGETHER.

But who wants to leave a blog post on such a sour note? Not me. Here are some pictures I snapped of Kestrel who we dared to crawl though a hollow log in the woods. Naturally, the kid could not resist. I love how teens always have something to prove. 

A few steps down the road from the log, my husband is flying around like Tarzan. Oh, it is springtime all right.

Lunar eclipse this week! Don't miss it!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Last weekend's weather was so gross I was beside myself. This is why early spring is not a season I find particularly inspiring. Not only is it still cold, it is ugly. And very often raining. Cold, driving rain--just great.

So here I have this supercute brumby and there is nothing to do in the cold and rain with her. The ring is sloshy and slippery. The snow is old and gross.  My motivation for doing anything in challenging weather is waning.

There is nothing to do but hunker down in the hay and wait for the real spring to arrive.

 That was last weekend.

This weekend did not start any better. Not only was Lilly covered in mud, as soon as I got to Bill's it actually started sleeting. Bill says the weather always starts to go downhill as soon as I show up. Believe me, I wish I had that kind of power.

The very unwelcome rain and sleet did subside so I tacked my brumby up and we headed out. It was cold and miserable. There is still snow and ice on the trail so we stuck to the road. But the road is pretty so I had no problem with that. It felt like an ice age since Lilly and I had been out on the road.

So even though we have not been down this road in weeks, my brumby was immediately up to her old tricks as if not a day had passed since our last adventure. Here she is driving me into some hemlock as she makes her way toward a nibblefest with christmas ferns.

Then we moved on to our favorite vernal pool. Don't you love how green it is? It's like water from a glacier! Well, OK, maybe not quite. But fabulous nonetheless.

On the way home, Lilly did not take too kindly to that pile of logs down Sunset trail. I should add that last summer we passed that pile every time we took that trail without a single worry. They must have shifted and now look slightly different. In this way, I love how my brumby sees everything through fresh eyes.

On Sunday, the weather was perrrrrrrfect. Now this is what I'm talkin' about! Bill, Christine and I headed out, all on mares! I remember last year four of us went out early in the season on four mares and it did not go so well. Without our taking time to notice it, the mares were fussing and bitching at each other for half a mile. Which we only fully noticed much later than we should have. This time, not so bad....as long as Lilly and Ruby weren't too close to each other. They are pretty good at ear-pinning and tail swishing when they want to.

Usually, this is what happens with me and my slow-as-molasses brumby. Bill and Christine are yapping away and I'm way behind them, at least when we are headed away from the farm. Being on an actual trail is better because I can distract her or trick her into thinking we are headed home when we are not. (But is she ever really fooled?)  At one point on this ride both Lilly and QTee startled so badly, Lilly tried to make a run for it and QTee did a tiny rear. What was the cause? We'll never know. Christine thought it sounded like a bear growling (!) and I thought it was the flapping of a metal farm gate (even though there was no wind). Bill was so far ahead he didn't even notice the kerfuffle.

Final analysis: Spring has sprung!

I'd like to preface my final, parting shot with these words: We may not have big mountains here in New England.....

 But we do have giant pebbles!

Farewell for now!

World's Best Brumby

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Since my brumby loves to eat so much, you'd think she'd be in the thick of this nibblefest. But no, there she is all by herself in the corner, on top of an old snow heap! Although she looks kind of sad and lonely in this picture, I know that she feels quite happy living in her herd...even if this picture makes her look like a herd of one.

 Thursday may have been the first day of spring, but it also happened to be Lilly's birthday!! Happy Birthday, Brumby! Although I was at work all day, Bill got the party started by putting this pink bow on her! I do think I see those lips curling in a little smile. 

With the trail not an option, it looks like I will be in the ring for a while. This means I have zeroed in on RDF-TV and all the training shows they feature there. This is a shot from one of Julie Goodnight's episodes. It is probably totally illegal to even put it on my blog. Uh oh. In any case, she was talking about getting your horse to move in a given direction, and how you have to close all the doors except the one that you want the horse to take. I happen to like Julie Goodnight a lot. I think this graphic is simple and helpful.

And then, over on Clinton Anderson's show, he was demonstrating lateral and vertical flexion and using this patch of trees to help him try it out on a thoroughbred he was training. It was really strange to see Clinton riding such a tall and skinny horse! He was carefully bending this horse around the trees and circling him around and around. I wanted to try it with Lilly in the ring, using cones.

So today I zoomed over to Bill's and scanned the pasture for the birthday girl. The day wasn't that warm, but it was so pretty and placid that I called Christine from the pasture to lure her over. No luck: her back was killing her.

In the barn, my brumby tried to asphyxiate me with her shedding hair.

Down in the ring, I set up a bunch of cones fairly close to each other in no particular pattern. They were supposed to be the trees  from Clinton's show. I forgot to take a photo of them, but the scene is easy to imagine. All I can say is that my brumby did not have the racehorse mentality of Clinton's thoroughbred. She was as slow as molasses in January. While I was in the ring, Bill came down and spent some time with Glitter, including taking a short ride--- which went swimmingly. (Very nice, Glitter!!!) Then the wind became LOUD AND WILD and I had to get out of there.

Looks like spring is getting off to an excellent start! If only the snow would melt and the mud would go away so we can get down to the real business of riding.


The Ides of Brumby

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The weather would have been better for riding today if I had gotten to the farm earlier. This is so often the case so you'd think I'd manage to get out of bed earlier on Saturdays. I never do.

When I was making my way over to the farm (around noon), I spied some wildlife sauntering around the road! Turkey alert!!!!! I grabbed my camera!

But naturally, the closer I got to them, the more dedicated they became to getting away from me. They were running down the road in front of my car! It was like a little cartoon!

Then they turned and scampered into the woods.

So I made my way to Bill's.

As soon as I got there, the weather took a turn for the worse. By the time we got into the ring, the wind was howling and rain was coming down heavily at a slant. I took the saddle off and covered it with a towel. Then my brumby and I just stood in the ring with our bums to the wind and rain.

Luckily, it did not rain long. We took a walk around the ring. It was so mushy, my brumby was sinking into the sand!

I began to practice lungeing. It was very wet, sloshy and not very inspiring. However,  I am pleased to report that I was better at lungeing (even if not by much) than I was last week. It is all a question of practice making perfect. The most challenging manuever for me is getting Lilly to change direction without losing momentum and keeping her trotting in a tidy circle. My hands are a mess with the tangly rope. The circle is no circle. Sometimes my brumby just stops moving. Maybe she is laughing a me. Bill came down and helped. How nice to have an interested expert on the premises!

Bill lunged my brumby successfully for a short while. Toward the end she began to register signs of irritation with lungeing. We were careful to leave it on a good, positive note. Job well done, Brumby!  In this picture, just for fun I am trying to lure Lilly up to the top of a giant snowpile on the edge of the ring. She was perfectly willing to follow me up there.

 Then we took a detour into the round pen. Notice how the sun had come out and was shining away!

How nice it is to just hang out in the sun!

Do you know how some people say there is nothing so precious as a sleeping baby? Well, there is also something very special about a brumby dozing in the sun while you are hanging out with her. Clinton Anderson says that horses are the laziest animals on earth. Maybe they are just connoisseurs of quality lounge time.

Now you see it....

Now you don't!!!

More connoisseurs of lounging. Excuse me, Connoisseurs of Lounging.

There is nothing better than having a brumby as your best friend.

And it is also nice to have some chicken friends too. These are Bill's two hens who I have named Allison and Maybelline.

And now for the Parting Shot:

It is only a matter of time before Getty finds that little pile of poop and begins to roll it in.