Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rachel Sucks at Riding: Part I

Last night I had a big set back when it comes to my patience. I tired to do some in-hand training with Granite and he wasn't getting it. It was really windy and he was distracted and I just got frustrated. Thankfully before it could get too bad, I had to leave to make it to Applewood to ride Chance. I'm really questioning taking him to the Oak Ridge Show. He stops crooked and doesn't seem to understand turning on the forehand. We will work slowly at it this month and make an official decision maybe the week before the show.

I headed out to Applewood and BA was finishing feeding and putting horses up for the night. Chance and I went and rode all alone in the indoor. It was fabulous. I don't think I've really had time to school in an arena all by myself in a long time. I think thats why I love my sport. It affords me time to reflect and concentrate and just be there with 'my' horse. Chance is still having a hard time staying straight on the outside lines. I just don't have the muscle power to keep him in line. He wants to either ram my leg into the fence or pop his shoulder and drift off the rail and into the jumps. I had a horrible time getting my right ankle to cooperate. It just would not stretch down, it felt like something in it would rather just pop before stretching. I am hoping it is something that can be fixed by just riding and stretching and that it isn't something more serious. I rode for about and hour and even popped over a couple of tiny jumps. Poor Chance needs more direction from me, and its so frustrating that I can't give it to him because I am so weak. Before I locked the barn up, I took some photos to share with you all. They aren't great because it was dark and they are cell phone pictures, but you should be able to get an idea of how wonderful this place is and what an opportunity I have been given here.

There are 20 stalls. Its a fabulous facility.
Meet Sugarfoot, the most AAdorable pony ever!
Chance after our ride. He is such a love.

I came home last night and went directly to the gym. I hate that I am so bad at riding now. Its like I know what I need to do but physically can't do it! Sooo frustrating! I will fix this! I got up this morning and took Daphne to the park for a 5mile jog/walk. Then we headed out to Granite's barn and we worked on some more in hand work. I'm reading this book by Michael Schaffer and I'm trying to apply the concepts, but Granite isn't quite getting it. We are working on leading with my shoulder and his shoulder parallel. He is getting the leading portion (I'm not having to drag him along) but the stopping is not going so well. He wants to turn to me and then he normally proceeds to wrap his neck around me. ARGH! Getting a baby was a dumb idea. I don't have the patience with myself or him that I should! Its so frustrating, I swear I used to be a good rider and now, Rachel Sucks at Riding!

The good news is that BA is letting me ride Chance again tomorrow and on Friday (she said Tuesday was fine too, but we are supposed to get, yet another, winter storm-- great). So hopefully I will be getting more and more practice and I may not suck so badly!

More good news, my buddy over at Golden the Pony Girl blog gave me an award! How sweet!
Apparently the rules are: tell 7 things about yourself (like ya'll don't know everything about me already) and give the award to 15 other blogs... am I right?

1. I found Granite on a Craig's List ad (of all places)
2. I was a varsity cheerleader in high school, and loved it
3. My dad owned a BBQ restaurant, where I started waiting tables at 12yrs old.
4. I drive a little red car (Its so not a horse girl vehicle)
5. I'm generally a negative nancy
6. I often feel like I have something to prove when riding
7. I have been battling fear in the saddle for about 10 years now.

15 great blogs (I guess I can't include Golden's, but I love hers)
1. High Tech Horse: gotta love my bff. She has to write the blog for her Masters of Comm, but manages to subject all her classmates to her horse world.
2. Eye of the Horse: Nicku is my hero. A talented rider with a great outlook on life and riding.
3. Tucker the Wunderkid: Marissa is also my hero, a girl that busted her butt to achieve her dreams!
4. Sprinkler Bandit: I still don't know what a Sprinkler Bandit is, but I know I love hearing about Izzy's adventures.
5. Green n' Green= Black n' Blue: This re-rider is realistic about what she has to learn and its fun to follow her while she does so. Her mare, Denaili is such a cutie.
6. A Horse and a Half: Love hearing about Phoenix and Gen, two special horses. 
7. The Jumping Percheron: This girl is totally badass. Athletic, in the military, and crazy about her rockstar jumping perch, Klien. 
8. Sweet Horse's Breath: The journey of Kristen and her OTTB Laz. This pair has been through hell lately and I keep sending positive thoughts in hoping he can somehow recover from devastating laminitis. 
9. From Wingman to Witching Hour: The story of 5 year old Salem, a TB growing to be a dressage horse.
10. Ravishing Roxy: A new blog to me, but I think this girl and her horse are so much fun.
11. Hunt Seat Cruizer:  The story of a young girl and her stunning AQHA.
12. Riding Aside: A peek into a totally different world of a side saddle rider
13. The Joy of Horses: Also a look into a different equestrian world... morgans.
14. What was I thinking: The adventures and misadventures of a middle aged rider and her large Canadian Horse.
15. And Sorry I Could Not Travel Both: although she hasn't blogged in forever, I like to keep up with my friend Carrie and her life, including leading to ride!

OK, one last thing. I woke up to some pretty horrible news. My best friend's 20 yr old sister is in Chile for a semester abroad. She had been backpacking this month and was in Del Mar last night. Thats where the 8.8 earthquake was epicentered. We haven't heard from her yet and her family is sick with worry. As am I. I'm not one to pray, but I'll ask that you all keep Eva's Sister and her family in your thoughts/prayers. I have my fingers crossed to hear good news soon. Its been over 12 hours since the quake...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Show or No-Go?

So. On Sunday I was gearing up to leave the barn when the Barn Owner(s) (a husband and wife pair, although the wife does all the training and a majority of the feeding etc...) returned from a trail ride. I had brought a friend to the barn with me and I introduced him to the Barn Husband. We chatted for a while; all of the boarders were at the barn (60 degree weekends have a funny way of bringing them out of the wood-work!). I asked who was showing this season (we have 3 teenage boarders and 1 woman who rescued an ancient pony). He responded that everyone was going to be competing (I chuckled a little, because from what I've seen, not EVERYONE should be considering "showing off" any of their skills). Then he mentioned that everyone in the barn would probably be going to the local show on Easter Weekend. Even Me and Granite!

 This was news to me. Its not a training barn, I don't ride with or for the owners (I adore them, but I've always been a bit more on the independent side, preferring the occasional lesson or clinic and a majority of independent study). BUT, I don't have a trailer so if I were to show at this point, it would probably be with them. Now, you may be thinking (as I was), um, Granite isn't even under saddle and easter is the first week of April... Then he mentioned that Granite and I could do the halter class.

There is only 1 halter class per day. They have a Yearling, 2 yr old, and 3+ class. Granite will still technically be 2, but if you count like the Jockey Club does, he would be in with the big kids. Now this gets me thinking, how great would it be to get Granite out to a show! If they are taking the barn kids anyway, they probably won't charge me much to hitch a ride (the show grounds are approx 7 minutes from our barn), its a community show held annually, and class fees are $10, and its for charity. This would also give us the perfect opportunity to Spring Clean (read: bathe, bathe, bathe again, clip, mane pull, tail bang).

Then Competitive Rachel rears her ugly head and begins to think... Halter class?! I used to show Quarter Horses, for my entire High School Show career I showed Quarter Horses. I KNOW halter! I know that halter is judged on conformation and suitability. I also know my beautiful boy had a club foot. If they do consider him a 3+, I know he will be up against grown horses. My warmbloodish 16+ hand coming 3 year old is not quite 'put together' yet and would look foolish against grown horses. Finally, I know my horse moves not unlike an elephant. VERY SLLLOOOOWWWWLLLLYYYYY (FYI, I typed that slowly, just to emphasize my point). I seriously have to drag him along on his lead rope from the pasture. He is fine on a lunge, but a lead is an entirely different story. I really don't know how I could get him to trot off (yes, we will have to figure this out for our hunter classes eventually). To top it all off, he chews on anything he can get his lips around... i.e. his reins! So I will have a club footed, not developed, slowly lumbering rein chewer in competition with AQHA halter horses (its an open show run, in part, by a horseman's association that caters to the stock type horses). If you know ANYTHING about me, you know I hate to lose!

Then there is the part of me that says, 'Rachel, ten bucks isn't much to pay for a day of experience and exposure to new things for Granite, who cares if you don't place! Think of the experience and the pictures and the opportunity to wear your new field boots!" So... to show or not to show?? That is the question I pose to you?
< This.... Verses......This  ^

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

At the intersection of luck & hard work...

I got to ride on Friday night. Oh, how wonderful it is to be in the saddle! The Barn Owner/ Trainer (we'll call her BA) had been really sick but still managed to meet me out at the barn to show me around to Chance's girth/ bridle/ martingale/ saddle pad (I brought my changeable gullet Bates which I love so dearly). Chance was really pretty good. He responds to an outside rein and outside leg for a canter transition (I am used to inside rein to pick them up and outside leg to push them forward), but once I figured out this cue, we had no problems. He did  tend to pop his inside shoulder to the inside and wavier off of the straight lines in the arena (by the way-- oh indoor arena, why have I not ridden at a farm with you before?!!). I tried to do some 15-20m circles when he began doing this, but I don't think it had much of an effect. He is really rusty and so am I, so it is something on which to be worked. Sadly, the outside (tendon? ligament? muscle? I know horse anatomy slightly better than my own) of my ankles gave completely out after about 30 minutes of flat work. This is so depressing! I have been working out so hard, but there is no substitute for riding when it comes to develop riding muscles. I am so lucky that BA has offered for me to ride Chance. I have planned to come out next Friday night again. She even showed me how to lock up the barn so eventually, I can come out when I want! Persistence pays off, things didn't work out in October, but now it seems like I may actually have come together for me to get to RIDE! I love it so much. BA even told me that "we'll get you in shape to ride that big guy of yours."

So Saturday was a great day. I had to work in the morning (yep, I got a government job for the great hours and benefits, yet I was at work at 8am on a Saturday). Then I had a trial meeting with the Daughters of the American Revolution. I actually really enjoyed it, but I need some more info before deciding to join. Then Daphne and I went to this great park and ran the greenway. I was pumped and felt energized for the whole jog (by jog I mean probably 2/3 jog and 1/3 walk). When I finished, I realized that I had jogged 4.9 miles in 1 hour, which, if you ask me, isn't too shabby. 6 full weeks of working out and I am FEELING the progress! Then, I went to the barn and worked with Granite, who was wonderful.

In light of the recent tragedies among our little blogger community, I have really been inspired to take every minute I can to appreciate Granite. I sacrifice a lot for him. He is worth all of it. He brings me so much joy and it is such an honor to have him. I just want the ladies who have had their dreams with their horses just pulled out from under them, that I am doing all I can to consciously appreciate what I have been so lucky to have.

Sunday was another good day. Eva and I went to the 'A' show in Raleigh. OhMyGod, there was ON ONE there. Classes of 2-6 people! Apparently the economy has had most people choosing the C circuit. In turn, more people leave the As because they don't want to spend that kind of money to pay to compete against such small numbers. Eva and I watched the 3'6'' Ammie Owners then I went back home and went to the barn. I came home and worked out and then started my week over again.

So, sorry for the blow-by-blow, but all that to say that I am so grateful to have the opportunity to have such an awesome little horse and to now be able to ride at a farm at which I could never afford to board.  I am also pretty proud that I have done so well starting on my 7th week of working out at least 5 days a week. I think I am on the road to once again being an athletic rider! I can't wait, and I know that my hard work and luck will pay off one day... soon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Good Article to Check Out

I just found this (via facebook update) and wanted to share it with you.

I am winding up week 6 of my exercise program and while I haven't lost any weight, I have lost an inch in my waist however-- so I guess that is a good thing. They are predicting weather in the mid-upper 50s this weekend, so I hope to take Daphne for a jog at the park after we visit Granite!


Granite had his farrier appointment yesterday with the much loved and highly acclaimed Steve Herr. I love that I work close enough toGranite's barn to hold him for the farrier on my lunch break. Things were a little awkward at first because the barn's farrier was there at the same time (what ARE the odds?). But Steve is a gentleman and the two farriers chatted about mutual acquaintances while I de-robed Granite from his filthy blanket and tried to clean him up a bit.
Alright, here is a photo of Granite's front feet (left is obviously our problem hoof) from a month or so ago.
  Granite has the most slowly growing hooves of any horse I have ever met. He has had approximately 5 trims since I have had him (14 months). Steve was pleasantly surprised to see to see the condition of G's hooves. He said that he remembered them being much more severely contracted and that his frog had been contracted as well. He said that G's hooves have widened and that his frog is now much larger and what he would consider it to be normal and healthy! He had brought 00wedges in preparation for much more worrisome hooves. Frizzle had questioned why my farrier was leaning toward wedges as a corrective procedure. I did some research and this is a good summation of why the practice is used in these situations.

As for what causes club feet, I think it is mostly an inherited imbalance. The club side is the short side of the horse, kind of like a table with a short leg--you know, the one you slip the matchbook cover under, so the table won't rock. Nature tries to make the short side longer by growing a longer heel on that side. Most veterinarians think that cutting tendons and ligaments will help the problem. I have seen many a horse that still had a club foot after being cut. A club foot is a whole-horse problem, not just a hoof problem.  I have had good results treating club-footed horses. I try to make the toe and heel of club hoof longer than the other front hoof. I rasp the flare of the toe, then trim the heel down to get a good angle of less than 60 degrees. I don't try to make the two front feet look alike; at this point, that would be only cosmetic. I shoe the club foot with a leather pad between shoe and hoof--like the matchbook cover under the table leg. I trim the other front hoof short, with an angle that matches the angle of the pastern. Sometimes I leave this hoof bare; or I'll shoe this hoof with a matching shoe, but without the pad. As the feet normalize and the club hoof gets longer, heel and toe, sometimes I can shoe the club hoof without the leather pad. Normalization may take anywhere from one to six months. I see remarkable changes in the feet, body, and attitude of these horses.

The good news is... After trimming Granite (we won't need shoes until he goes under saddle which will be in mid-late spring), Steve determined that we will not need wedges! He said that Granite's left hoof is at 58 degrees. He considers this to be the high end of non-problematic (54-60 degrees). This puts Granite's hoof at a Grade 1 club foot.  He said that the heel does touch the ground when trimmed normally, which is what we want. He will simply have to trim with a shorter toe and longer heel than would normally be the case. I did mention that Granite had a possible 3'6 A/O career in his future. I asked if Steve would like x-rays before considering any corrective shoeing in this case (bc he will be an athletic show horse, not a pasture pony). Steve told me that right now, he thinks it is looking good and that we shouldn't worry with x-raying until a problem occurs (any lameness, soreness, or other signs of discomfort). He thinks that this is just something that will have to be closely monitored and maintained but because his shoulders are correctly conformed and his bones line up straight when placing his hooves correctly, that we may not have to worry with corrective procedures (at least not yet)! 

So, check out the after photos...

I think they look pretty good. Steve also noted that there is no bulging at the cornet band as is often the case with club feet. So, it looks like we have a clean bill of hoof health as of now! I am so grateful that Steve came out to my farm to do one horse. He has raised my confidence in the maintenance of this issue (and he didn't charge me an arm and a leg). Best. Farrier. Ever!

In other news...
When Eva and I were looking at sale horses, we checked one out that the farm I was telling  you about in the late fall/ early winter months, where I was going to have the opportunity to school horses! This kind of fizzled due to scheduling conflicts, but I was able to ride the sale horse with Eva and send the owner a follow up email, offering to school the horse if he needed it (she commented that he hadn't been ridden in weeks). She took me up on my offer and I am going out to the farm tonight to hack the sale horse! I hope this leads to a more regular riding schedule with her. I would love to take lessons with her if my financial situation ever evens out! This would also incline me toward waiting for a few more months to start Granite (giving me the chance to save any extra cash until I have enough for 30 full days of training--over a 1 1/2- 2 month period). So cross your fingers that this goes well and our schedules will be conducive to me schooling her sale horses through the spring and until I can concentrate on Granite.

This is Chance, the sale horse Eva and I tried and that I will be schooling! He is a cutie. Rough around the edges but with significant potential. 

Have a Happy Weekend Everyone :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

well its all over now, and it sure is MONDAY.

Monday, Monday.
Hello. I hope you all had a fabulous Valentine's Weekend. Eva came to stay with me on Friday night and we spent the evening determining exactly what it was that Eva was looking for in her next horse. We also wrote a list of questions to ask while trying out these horses. When it comes down to it, we both tend to forget the important stuff unless we have written it down. All the while we are preparing for our day of horse shopping, Mr. Weather is outside snowing... again. Come ON North Carolina! I am really considering finding my next dream job in California!

Oh, no the snow did not stop us. We were out the door by 8am on Saturday and headed to see horse #1. Horse #1 lives at the fancy Hunter Barn where I, at one point, planned to school horses. It didn't work out for me, just because of scheduling conflicts between myself and the owner. Her horse was super cute. We arrived early and caught the poor horse eating breakfast. Shortly thereafter we tacked him up and headed to the indoor (Man, I am so jealous of those with indoors, that made life so much easier). The owner doesn't really ride any more and I trust her, so I offered to warm up the horse so Eva could watch him move before she took him for a spin. It was obvious that he has been out of work, but he was really cooperative and eager to please. He had a huge trot and a very smooth canter. I liked his easy going personality as well. Eva hopped on at just the wrong time, because the snow began to melt and slide down the side of the green-house-like indoor. This spooked the poor guy and Eva didn't get too many times around the arena without him acting up. He wasn't bad at all, but understandably cautious about the snow sliding on the walls. Another rider at the farm schooled him over some jumps for us and while his form left a bit to be desired, he was willing and honest.

Seeing all we were going to see of horse #1, we headed off to the Boone Docks to take a look at Horse #2. The journey there involved not 1 or 2, but 3 failed attempts to find coffee at area "convenience stores". I grew up a country girl, but nearly 6 years in the city has led to me demanding for starbucks or a least a Panera Bread when I'm in search of caffination! Anyway, This horse isn't yet under saddle. So we saw him move around the pasture (although not much because it was so sloppy and muddy from the melting snow). Then his owner brought him in and let us examine him. He was very curious and much like any baby horse in that he was nibbling on things and a bit ADD. He was really pretty, but you can't tell much about potential in just meeting the little guy. There is certainly some research to be done. I'll let Eva tell you more about both horses and the choices she has over on her blog: High Tech Horse.

Valentines day was yesterday. I've never gotten particularly excited about the holiday even when I am seeing someone. Its normally more of a pain than anything. I'm not a big fan of holidays for which I must do a lot of preparation. Well, this year I didn't have to prepare, but there was nothing to get excited over anyway. I spent all day cleaning and catching up on laundry...BORING. Then I went to see my Valentine, Granite :) I saddled him up and worked him on the lunge in the big arena. He was relatively good. We worked with side reins for half of the time and he is doing well. I took my new iPod Nano out and tested its video capabilities. It was a success, so next time, I will try to get a good video of the big man posted up here for you. I am technologically challenged, so don't hold your breath, but I will do what I can.

Tonight is Horse Management Class #4: Hoof Care and Corrective Shoeing. I am excited about this one particularly because of Granite's "Special Fin" also known as his upright or "clubbed" hoof. I had my farrier look at a photo of his feet before I even bought him and my farrier promised that as long as we were cautious, the hoof shouldn't cause us problems or inhibit us from competing in the Hunters. When I moved to our current farm, I lost my farrier and I have been worried about Granite's feet ever since. I don't know enough about hoof care to know if the barn's farrier is doing his Special Fin justice. I may have told you that I have since convinced my trusted farrier to come out to my new farm to do ONE horse. He is scheduled for Thursday and I am pretty sure our trim will cost us a fortune. But, no hoof, no horse--so we will do what we must. Granite will get shoes with a wedge on his upright hoof in April before he starts work. Hopefully tonight will help me understand more about alignment and hoof angles in addition to healthy frogs etc... I will try to give you a full report tomorrow, if not a bit later in the week. Tomorrow IS Fat Tuesday, so I may just be out celebrating {like I have ever been to New Orleans} tomorrow night (hey, any excuse to celebrate: no one told me how boring life after college would be!!).

Friday, February 12, 2010

yep, I seriously need a vacay!

I have some sort of horrible sinus issues (and don't have the time, money, or energy to deal with a dr. appointment just yet) and aside from being miserable, last night I couldn't sleep. When I did get a few minutes of sleep here and there, what did I dream of? YOU GUYS! I need a serious get-away if my bloggy buddies were in my dreams. I dreamed of all the baby horses, I don't remember any details but Julie was there and Pongo and Izzy and Bodhi! Granite was there as well of course. Don't you love cold medicine induced crazy dreams?! Oh, I just had to share that with you all. It made me laugh (then it scared me, perhaps I need more face-to-face time with my friends).

Aside from my miserable woes of being sick and sleep deprived. Eva is coming out to my place tonight and we are (suppose to) go look at a small handful of horses for her tomorrow. Of course, now the forecast is calling for MORE SNOW, so cross your fingers that it still works out. I have loaded the IPod with fun tunes, broke out every conformation book I have, charged the camera, and grabbed a note pad. I am ready!!

So, what are the most important things YOU look for in purchasing a horse (aside from things like breed, age, height-- bc thats WHY we are looking at these in particular anyway)?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I need a vacation

Hey y'all. I have just had a frustrating last couple of days... To top it off, I am siting in front of the TV watching my beloved Carolina Tarheels lose to our arch nemesis Dook. Should I bore you with the gory details? Well, what is a blog if not a forum for me to gripe when the desire hits?

Monday: Monday didn't suck too badly. I slept in and skipped my workout, which made me feel guilty. But, Eva met me after work. We went to visit Granite. She was surprised at how grown-up Granite looks (she hasn't seen him since summer). He was sweet and uber docile as usual. We had to rush off from the barn however and head over to our Monday Night Cooperative Extension Horse Management Class. The topic of the night was pre-purchase vetting and emergency care. I learned a lot! What I also learned was that the vet that gave the presentation (and who happens to work for the hospital that Granite now uses at Becky's barn) is cute and wears no wedding ring! He is so smart and he could have talked to (ok, maybe it was at) me all night long. Sadly, the 2 hours were over in an instant and we were on our way to the local dinner to indulge in some grease and de-brief the class and my new found crush on gorgeous, supremely intelligent young vet (please tell me how to get this guy to ask me out!).

Tuesday: 5:00am, Eva and I get up and endure an hour of Bob (from the Biggest Loser) push us through 3 levels of the Weight Loss Yoga DVD (have I mentioned that in 5 weeks of strict workouts, I have gained 4 lb-- screw you Mr. Scale! Ms. Measuring tape tells me I have lost an inch in my waist however). Oh, the joys of being a fat kid! I am off to work and there 30 min early (I wanted to allow extra time with Eva staying in the house and all). Work was crappy and I was so tried on the way home. I fell asleep on the couch while waiting on dinner. This is unusual and signaled something was off. I have had a dull stinging headache for the past 4 days, but thought maybe it was alcohol induced (although i only had 3-4 beers fri, sat, sun, and none on monday). I woke up from my nap with a scratchy throat. I then proceeded to watch 4 episodes of Unstable. The show annoys me to no end, but the alternative was American Idol in the living room with the roomie and her bf, but that show gives me a headache even when I don't ALREADY have a headache-- plus Unstable at least has horses and I love the theme song. I went to sleep early and slept restlessly as we have 30-40mph winds in the area and I was awoken to more than one tree cracking and falling in the 'woods' behind my apartment.

Wednesday: Alas, my alarm sounded at 5am to get me up for my hour of fun with Bob. I felt like I had been hit by a mac truck. Headache, sore throat, sore everything, sinus pressure! I am ALWAYS sick and went to the Dr. like less than 3 weeks ago for these same shenanigans. Needless to say, I rain-checked on Bob. But it really upsets me because I promised myself that I would work out 4-6 days per week for 6 weeks then re-evaluate. This is week 5 and I'm still on track (if I follow through the rest of the week). My day at work was great. My boss gave me a few new opportunities/responsibilities and in this early portion in my career, I am anxious for any extra work or opportunity to learn or meet new people. But without too much detail, what broke my heart and upset me big-time today was a comment I received in regards to my owning Granite preventing me from being able to cover my bills (including soon-to-come student loan payments) on my current salary. Granite is not only my pet (read: child), he is also my sport, and an investment (side note--good news, his 1/2 brother is up for sale for over 7 times what I paid for Granite and his 1/2 sister for 3 times --not to mention, I am of firm belief that his other 1/2 is better than the other 1/2 of those sibilings).

My question to you is, do you ever get push back from non-horsey people about the investment (of time and $) that you put into your horse(s)? Do people accuse you of irresponsible spending (like the comment I received) or skewed priorities? How do you make people understand? Or do you even try?

I don't want my superiors to think I am an irresponsible person. I keep Granite at a reasonably priced stable on pasture board. I don't take riding lessons, right now, I am not riding at all. And in order to take care of Granite I make sacrifices in the way of never shopping (or thrift shopping when I need work clothes), working out via DVD instead of joining the YMCA, shopping thrifty and foregoing fun events or trips.

Ugh! Its so frustrating! Maybe I'm just in a bad mood and am too sensitive.

Sorry for the grumpy rambling. I did have a lovely dinner with two friends and have a weekend of horse shopping with my Bestest to which to look forward :)

UPDATE: with 10:45 left in the game, UNC is now winning-- fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Granite is Famous... in a small town.

Granite and I were included on the Pet Page of the local paper! Check it out!

Friday, February 5, 2010

99 reasons why I love my barn...

Lil' Aspen Farms....
Land of the Free, Home of the Paints.

Granite is out numbered in that he is taller and less spotty than most of his Painted Playmates. 
But he is none the less happy for it.
He dines on a large pasture of beautiful green grass and has access to a cozy shelter equipped with a buffet of delicious (or what appears to be as I personally have not taste tested) hay. 
Owner/Manager/Trainer, Becky, makes sure he is toasty in his blanket if the North Carolina temps reach below a frosty 32.
She makes sure that despite snow or blazing temps that all the critters are fed and watered.
She worms them regularly and makes sure to call the vet and farrier at appropriate intervals to set up appointments and the proceeds to hold my horse for me while I am at work.
She answers my never-ending calls and emails "just checking in on my boy".
She offers advice when questions or concerns arise.
She also knows the power of allowing an owner their own space and to afford them their own opinion when it comes to their equine child.
I have an arena with lovely rubber footing.
I have a round pen in which to work my terrible two year old (jokes, of course, for Granite is perfection-ok, that part is a joke as well).
My barn is 10 minutes from work and home.
There are no screaming children or bratty rich bitches (eh, maybe I lied, one has the potential to fall into category 2).
Things are neat and clean, although we are allowed to use the barn-- its not a museum.
Although I only pasture board, if anything were to happen I have access to a stall.
My things are safe.
My HORSE is safe.
Becky notices anything unusual in Granite's behavior or physique. 
I am happy there! Very happy.
And as you all know, I have planned to have Becky start Granite undersaddle for me. But financial issues (whats new!?) are throwing a wrench in the process. I emailed Becky to "just check in" since I haven't been able to go see Granite in a week. I also mentioned that perhaps we could talk about working out a schedule or some way to have her and I work in tandem to get him started. 
Her response solidifies the fact that, for this time in our lives, Granite and I have found an amazing home...
"And as far as Granite goes,  don't worry we will work something out when that time comes.  Also Granite( and the other horses) is doing fine, fat and happy at the buffet."
Those simple sentences mean so much to me. I am eternally grateful. I often fall into the most amazing situations with truly wonderful people! 
I love the way the world works :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thanks A Lot Obama, and You too Bev Perdue!

So you know that tax refund money I had allocated to paying to have Granite's spring shots/ teeth float/ front shoes/ 30 days training??? Well, I got my taxes done on Tuesday, and I got 1/2 of what I did last year! HALF!!! I am soooo mad, but mainly heartbroken. I obviously must use the money I will be getting back to pay for his vetting and farrier service, as these are essentials. This leaves me with the question of the training. I could wait, and hope for a windfall. I could wait, and stash little bits of extra cash as I get them (we are talking like very few dollars a month, I am stretched to the max simply paying his rent and mine). I could try to pay for one ride a week or so (Becky charges $15 a ride, which is great and makes it easier to spread it thin instead of doing the 30 days in a month and half- two). I could pay her for very few rides and I can try to ride also. Or, I can try to run this show on my own.

I have ABSOLUTELY no experience with babies. I have shown for years, rather successfully, but I have never broken, trained, i hesitate to say re-trained, anything! And I know his initial training will help determine the kind of horse and athlete he will be. I don't want to screw this up by being all DYI. BUT-- I want to make this happen. I have waited a LONG time for him to grow and I was so looking forward to April when it was finally time to get his shoes on and send him into the area with Becky (under my watchful and interested eye). So I am trying to think outside of the box and I'm asking you to also.
Do you have any creative ideas? Any suggestions? Simply sympathy?

I had a dream last night that I was riding my first horse, Bonnie (she was a grey TB). We were cantering in the arena with a lot of people around. Then I looked down and she morphed into Granite. At first I was scared because I knew he didn't know the cues to slow down. But then it melted away and he and I just cantered. It was amazing. Now I want to make it a reality.

The Makings of a Power Pony (and local celebrity) who is loved by many and duplicated by none...

Karma comes from humble beginnings. She was born to a Paso Fino dam and a American Quarter Horse sire. She was sold to Ms. D. Porter at the age of 8months. With Ms. Porter, she thrived on a wide assortment of delectable tidbits and an overwhelming helping of love.

Karma was trained by Ms. D. Porter and spent years mastering the art of Ultimate Trail Conquering, Leading the Trail, Traversing Rivers, Begging for treats, and Imbibing lovely varieties of muscadine wine.

In 2007, Ms. R. Hawley entered Karma's life. At this point Karma was dubbed "Shez Klassic Karma" (as is currently on record with the American Half Quarter Horse Association) in the way of her many snazzy-named Quarter Horse predecessors. Karma was then asked to endure a plethora of pink accessories. During this time, she also learned to love close contact hunter saddles and pink sport boots. She conquered many Hunter Paces and dabbled in Hunter/Jumper lessons. After she was asked to share love and affection with an obnoxiously large and goofy little brother, it was determined that Karma would be placed back into the loving ownership of Ms. D. Porter.

In late 2009, Ms. A. Waldruff fell, like many before her, for the Power Pony in Pink. Ms. Waldruff knew "adorable" and "talent" just as soon as it walked out of the pasture in its size 00 shoes. Ms. Waldruff now claims (often disputed by Ms. I-Am-An-Only-Child-And-I-Want-It-All-Hawley) ownership of Karma and has high hopes for arena work and victory in the mare's future. She also plans to feed her copious amount of sweet snacks in order to bribe her into said arena work and victory.

Karma is also doing more than just looking adorable to earn her keep. She gives lessons once a week to Ms. C. Miller, an aspiring equestrian who longs for the togs of the hunt field nearly as much as the mount. Karma is patient and kind in helping Ms. Miller fulfill her dreams of equestrian diva-ness. In Karma's spare time she also holds therapy sessions in which troubled teens and twenty-somethings lament the fact that zero-few decent men reside in this city.

Karma's fan base is currently in the thousands and certainly grows during every outing she takes. She will soon be international and thus has ordered her faithful minions to create her a Fan Page on the Book of Face, so that her many admirers could have a forum through which to discuss their undying love for the Princess Power Pony in Pink herself. 

The above post is from Karma (the mare I used to own prior to the Big Grey Donkey)'s new Fan Page on Facebook. Become at Fan!

Monday, February 1, 2010


I didn't go to my Horse Management Class tonight. The class was still on but considering I have gotten my car stuck in three separate snow-covered parking lots today, I figured I wouldn't try my luck tonight. So, I came home and worked out and got tax information ready (I get to have them prepared tomorrow, for free! thank you credit union!).
But, I wanted to share with you a marked up picture of Granite to examine some conformation. He is actually, in my opinion, a pretty well-proportioned horse. He makes a nice overall picture but he has a few minor flaws, some of which I think he may grow out. So, heres a marked up picture for you to check out and compare to the important points for analysis above.

The problems I have identified with Granite are the following:
-Slightly higher in the rump (he isn't even 3 yet, and I'm confident that this will even out)
-His left hoof is slightly clubbed (it has always been his most concerning flaw, but my farrier is confident that as long as we are careful about corrective shoeing and tendon support, that it will be a non-issue)
-In this picture, He looks a little under in the back, I think its just the photo.
-He needs some building up of the haunches, but I think this is also due to age and lack of muscle strength.

Other than that. I think he makes a nice overall picture. In the latest Equus Magazine, there was an article about not focusing on the flaws but picking conformation for the whole picture. Granite has a large head with a roman nose, but its a nice, well defined head and he has soft eyes and a clean throat latch. He has a nice long neck that blends nicely into his shoulder. He has a short back and great bone structure.

AND? He is the love of my life!