I haven't blogged all week, and I haven't read any blogs either! Don't I wish I had all the time in the world to do horse-related activities? Yes, especially when Bill sends me pictures of Lilly like this one while I am at work. There is my adorable brumby napping neatly in the snow. I think it is so cute when she tucks her legs up like that. The good news is that yesterday I was back in horse mode, after a week of snow and a strange bit of odd traveling for work.
This picture starts with a little story. Saturday morning I tried to lure Brandon to Bill's so we could try and do some skijoring. Bringing skiing into the equation is one way to entice Brandon. Ideally, we'd get skijoring so good that we could build a little jump for Brandon to launch himself with. The plan was only slightly derailed when Brandon had no interest in skijoring at all that day. He went to the real ski mountain that features no horses. Fine. I thought I'd get Lilly used to the skijoring stuff without him. Bill came out with a tarp which we planned to slowly get Lilly used to pulling behind her. Because if a horse can pull a tarp, she can certainly pull a skijorer! But before that even got underway Lilly was weirded out by Getty's new snow booties that made a funny little galomping noise as she ran around the barn. Then when I was putting the saddle on Lilly she had a mini-freak out when I unexpectedly did it from the off side. On top of that the girth (not connected) and saddle slid off her back to the ground and weirded her out some more. But those were minor incidents. We recollected ourselves and continued.
She was really great about the tarp up near the barn. For her to be ground tied and not dashing off wildly in another direction was super. The tarp was new and very crinkly. It was scary but she kept her head and was using the thinking side of her brain. Good brumby. Time to move on.
Down to the ring we went, Bill dragging the tarp and all the other horses verrry interested. Bella, for example, thought nothing of the tarp. She wanted to examine it.
I don't have any pictures after that moment, so I'll just insert a few here from last week. I will say that if I had the presence of mind to get my camera out at any time during that next hour, they would have been very action-packed and blog-worthy. We went down the ring. Bill lugged the tarp around and I followed him. And then we backtracked. I had Lilly following the tarp, and we had the tarp (still pulled by Bill) following Lilly. Great, we were doing great. We slapped the tow rope all around Lilly--on her rump, on her legs, on the saddle. Nothing new, we've done the rope exercise a thousand times. Not recently, but horses never forget. Lilly was very tolerant.
Then we placed (not tied) the tow rope around the saddle horn. And then. I am not sure what exactly happened next but the tarp must have fluttered and frightened my brumby. She bolted up the small hill hating this thing behind her, "attached" to her. Now ideally, the tarp would have come undone (although that only would have taught her that bolting would rid her of a harmless tarp), or ideally she would have paused to stand still and think it out. Ideally. Neither happened. What did happen was exactly what we did not want to happen. My brumby kicked her way back to the donut in the ring, the tarp flying behind her. She ran around the ring like a mountain lion was on her. (OK maybe not that bad. But she was running and she was scared). Just when I thought she might follow the ring's curve and come back to where Bill and I were, possibly salvaging a dreadful moment, she slipped on some ice and her bum momentarily slid to the ground. But her front feet kept going! She recovered, ran out of the ring, tarp flying, busted through a fence and into the pasture with crusty ice and snow that could not have felt any good. She went into a treesy area, still frightfully desperate and freaking out, and this is where the tarp must have gotten tangled in the branches and detached. With the tarp finally off of her, Lilly came RUNNING back to Bill and me, head as high as a thoroughbred, snorting and blowing and breathing like a terribly terribly frightened brumby. Not our finest hour in the ring! Horses never forget!
The good news is that she ran back to Bill and me, as though we were her herd and she would find safety there with us. True enough, dear brumby. We assured Lilly everything was fine. And when the time was right (very soon really), we started the tarp lesson again. It was a different lesson, one that started tarp training from scratch. It had to be done. We couldn't stop with Lilly fearing that tarp. That would have been a disaster. Bill retrieved the tarp and we spent over an hour getting her used to it laying on the ground. By the end of the recovery lesson, she was calmly walking over it. We left off on a positive tarp note. Let's hope that's what she remembers.
Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, that night Brandon and I went skiing at the local ski resort. That lesson too, ended imperfectly, to say the very least.
We started on the ant hill with the four year olds where I was carving it up! It wasn't long before I advanced to the bunny slope. This one has a chair lift to the top. Great, all was going great! I even helped a person on this slope whose ski had fallen off and who was unable to pull it together. Brandon cheered: Instructor!!! Who knew!!?!
Then we decided to try a real slope! In retrospect, such a dumb idea. Given my temperament, and looking objectively at my skill level, it was one of the least thought out ideas ever. Remember, I am person who spent a YEAR riding my horse in the boring ring before even making one tiny venture out on the trail. I should have known I was headed for disaster when I didn't propel myself off the ski chair in time and flopped over the wrong side, tripping the emergency stop. The lady there said, Don't worry about it, it happens all the time. Then I fell down and couldn't get up, possibly because my legs were in a pretzel shape under me. Ouch, that hurt! Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Just like Lilly carried on after the saddle and girth falling scared her a wee bit, I recovered and continued.
But not for long! The non-bunny slope was so steep and so icy, I couldn't make any turns! My carving was non-existent! I was making frightened and wobbly swishes and moving way too fast-- and that was even before the real incline began! It was like skiing on linoleum! I was just like Lilly with that tarp behind her! It was terrifying and I was terrified. My freak out started slowly and grew into a meltdown. I finally snowplowed to a terrible stop going sideways and started crying like those four year olds I had just been whizzing past. I lost it on the mountain! I was also mad at Brandon who said he would stay with me! I did not see him near me! To be fair, he tried to help me, but trying to help me because a death trap for him. I spent some time sobbing and then finally had to take off my skis and walk down the mountain. A very nice man stopped to make sure I was OK. I think he had been watching my demise. I felt terrible, just as I am sure Lilly felt terrible. I guess I am not a brave person. My courage seemed to have deserted me. Am I more prey animal than predator? The walk down the mountain felt very long and frankly depressing.
However, back at the bunny slope I got on the lift and went back to the top of the bunny hill. I needed to start again from scratch, just like Lilly learning to walk over the tarp again. I can tell you honestly I didn't want to. It was not like in the movies when the hero's resolve gets built up in two seconds as he or she decides to overcome great odds, go seize the glory and emerge victorious. I just wanted the hell out of there. But I knew I had to leave on a positive note. Or I would never go back. Mission accomplished. The bunny slope was conquered.
Will there be a next time on the slopes for me? Will brumby become a skijorer? Stay tuned.