Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Photographic Glimpse of Progress

Yesterday I took an extended lunch to meet the farrier at the barn to get Granite's second pair of shoes set (and YES, I kept the first pair!! Ideas of what to do with them?). Steve the SuperFarrier is amazing. Everyone (man and beast included) loves this man. He said our upright hoof is looking great as far as angle improvement!
As you can see, my kid is unimpressed (whats new?).

My boss is a pretty laid back fella and told me I didn't have to come back to work is I didn't want to, so when Becky said she had planned to do a training ride, I quickly decided to stay and watch. I've only been able to watch a couple of rides and I usually show up about half way through them, so to watch a whole ride after a little over a month of work was a great opportunity. They are now trotting, steering, going over trotting poles, doing leg yields and turns on the forehand in addition to backing up! Becky keeps telling me that he is a very dull 3 year old (in that he is not very reactive/responsive to aids-- or anything rather). So I wasn't expecting much in the way of refinement. Low expectations are a great thing to have sometimes because I was very impressed with what I saw. I will save you the boring run-down and show you the photos (now that I have a less-than-stellar yet still functional camera). ENJOY!

Trot Poles to remind him where his feet are!

SO? Does anyone else think I have a little 3 year old superstar on my hands? Reactive or not, the kid looked great! He is such a sweetie pie!! I get to ride him TOMORROW!!! Hopefully I can get some pictures to share with you. I know its a day that will go down in history for me too :) I LOVE this horse with everything I am.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Big News & Photos too

Isn't my boy so handsome? I got some big news on Friday... I get to start riding him next week! Our first lesson together is next Thursday evening! I can't wait. Sadly, I won't get to see him again until then because I have to work monday-wednesday evenings at the restaurant. This is pretty depressing, but I've been making decent money and its great to give my credit card a rest for once! Now if something happens to any of my kids, I have a bit of security in knowing that I won't be carrying a balance on the card! So-- all that to say, its a good thing.

It was storming this afternoon at the barn, so I used the opportunity to re-introduce the clippers. I bought the pocket one and some normal ones. I figured I would just use the pocket clippers and some peppermint treats to start working on getting him used to the process. It went better than on previous occasions, but I still couldn't actually clip anything.
Tools of the trade

They are off.

Yesterday I spent 10 hours standing in the covered outdoor arena at the state fair grounds. I was ring-steward for th 4-H district show. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. I consider it a job well worth the hours. I think I was helpful to the show and I got placed with 2 really nice judges. I did the non-trotting division in the morning and was able to learn a lot more about walking horses than I had ever known. The judge explained a lot to me. In the afternoon, I was placed in the western division. The judge was really nice and laid back. She would ask me about my pairs and tell me why she placed hers. Both judges took time to explain to the 4-Hers, any mistakes they made or why they had been DQed from a particular class. One of the most touching events was the "adaptive riding" division for handicapped 4-Hers. Those ponies/horses are ALL saints. You could see the deliberate look in their faces as they carefully navigated the arena. The levels of handicapped went from 1 (just walk with 3 side walkers) to 3 (walk-trot independently). The kids were so gracious for their ribbons and the ponies were heart-warming. It was a faith-restoring experience. I had a great (but extremely tiring) day. One day, I think I really would like to judge!

Friday, May 21, 2010

dog-gone dilemma

Oh my oh my... The 4-H District Qualifying show is tomorrow in Raleigh! I haven't seen my club in over a month (since taking the second job), but they have great parents and I know that this show is just another weekend in the show ring for these kids. I'm excited to watch them perform! I am also excited that I was asked to be the ring steward from 7:45am-5pm on Saturday. So, I should be pumped right now...right? Well, I'm not pumped, I'm stressed! D texted me last night and told me that she would be out of town and couldn't watch my pup! She has 5 other dogs and I normally assume that Daphne can spend the night when I need to go out of town or have a really late night. I give D some "lunch" money for Daphne's food and it normally works brilliantly. This is a lifesaver for me because of my perpetually crazy schedule. I couldn't have Daphne if it weren't for Dianne. I just couldn't. But, now I realize that she can't watch Daphne for me tonight (I had planned to leave after work and stay with Eva tonight then be at the show all day tomorrow). What am I going to do?? My roommate is out of Town. My dog is not very social, so this eliminates friends with other dogs. My thought is that I should board her but as I was researching I realize that they require proof of vaccination. I do my own shots (from valley vet), so I don't even think anyone will let me board her. I can't get out of the volunteering for 4-H because I'm listed as the ring steward and its one of those commitments that you had better find someone to take your place if you can't make it! What to do, what to do?!

I haven't seen Granite in 4 days :( But, I plan to leave work early today and figure out this dog business and go visit him also...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Murphy's Law of Barn Sitting

If you have to go to the office directly after bringing in/ feeding horses in your work clothes, it WILL rain it's ass off and you WILL have to personally cohere all equines out of their run-in sheds and into their stall and you WILL go to work drenched and with mud splatters on your slacks...

Just thought you should be forewarned.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

And so it begins...

Well, I survived. When I marched into that restaurant Monday after work, trying to mask my trembling hands, I had no idea that, not only would I walk out with a job, but I would be starting the very next day! I managed to wrangle together my 'uniform' (consisting of black slacks, black button down, black shoes and neon green tie-- yes, a MAN thought this was a good idea) in one evening.

Now getting my head in the game was not as easy. I am a planner. You may or may not have noticed that I like a schedule, I like to know what the schedule is well in advance, and I like to stick to that schedule. This news forced me to cancel my 4H club meeting and email my boss(es) and beg for forgiveness for accepting a second position without prior approval. Working for a small local government adds extra issues to everything. People know people and politics are always to be considered... Anyway, after transferring money from Granite's training fund to afford to buy clothes for the 'uniform', I went running. And I kept running until I felt more positive and less ashamed/angry/scared about waiting tables. 5 miles later, I felt much better. By this time it was 9:30pm, but I wanted to see my horse and explain to him why I wouldn't get to see him as much (because he obviously speaks fluent english) and to convince myself that I am doing the right thing. I got home late and slept fitfully because, well, I was nervous as hell.

After work yesterday, I slapped on the black ensemble and tried to avoid eye contact with anyone on the drive over. I prayed they had a back door but was unsuccessful in finding one. I considered introducing myself with an alias so that no one would associate me with my 'real' job (my picture is frequently in the local paper accompanying gov't news). I really liked the trainer. She is the type that I would like to have for riding. She is to the point and serious, not very codling, but gave encouragement right when I needed it (in the form of 'girl, youre going to be good').  She left toward the end of my shift and told me I was fine to work on my own for the remainder of the evening. I was nervous but happy that I had obviously passed the test of if I was cut out to wait tables there.

I ended up making $40 on my 3 tables that I did independently at the end of the evening. I was off of work by 9:30 (great for working a dinner shift, but not so great when you've been at the office since 8am with no dinner break). I managed to throw the black clothes in the washer when I got home and have some crackers and peanut butter before passing out at 11:45! Phew! But, how great did that cash feel? I realized I had underestimated how much i could earn there! This will be worth it. Maybe I will even meet a friend? Or, get a date!! (no potential suitors yet, but I'll keep you posted...hehe).

I have a work meeting tonight (in about 10 minutes), but i went to see granite on my 'dinner' break. Becky was riding him! It was the first time I have seen him be really worked under saddle. He looked great at the trot. I wished I had my blackberry so I could have uploaded some photos to show you. Becky did tell me that he is the most dull green horse she has ever ridden. In that he is not responsive to aids. This upsets me, but I like to think I can work on this when he is done learning his aids with Becky. I'm trying not to get too worried about it in this, the 12th ride part of the game. She said that he was going to be a prime candidate for a flash nose band. He literally chews his snaffle like bubble gum, the entire ride!! She also informed me that Granite has been picking on Reno relentlessly and that its not getting better, so? My kid got kicked out of the play pen pasture. Hes with the fat mare pony now :( I guess it is best for everyone, but I loved to watch them all play together.

 I'm feeding horses again this weekend. So my board will be way cheaper this month! YAY! I also enjoy the feeding. I'll have 9 horses to watch after this weekend, in addition to working my new job. Who said Rachel doesn't enjoy a challenge? They lied!

Cheers and thanks for ALL the positive comments Re: my second job. It made me feel like I was making the right choice and doing something positive here!

Now, off to work...again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Never say Never... and I mean Never!

UPDATE: Was hired on the spot. I start TOMORROW! 3 days this week AND was asked to feed horses again this weekend! Only problem is-- as part of my employment conditions at my real job,  I have to have approval of secondary employment! I emailed my boss as soon as I found out, but no answer (he has a blackberry, so I know he got it...). So lets hope he's not angry at me!

May a share with you, a famous quote:
 "I will NEVER wait another table as long as I live" ~ Rachel Hawley, circa 2007.

Well, Miss Myra (a former boss of mine) called today and told me that she has spoken with the owners of Elizabeth's Pizza (a restaurant not even a block away from my office) and let them know that I was looking for a little bit of work and that I had waitressing experience. The owner, Tony, responded "Yes, send her over". I am supposed to go over immediately after work today (never mind that I had a LONG run planned out). Myra said shes almost positive that they will give me job. I am happy and depressed all at the same time.

Ability to make student loan payments (simultaneously with rent and board--not in place of one or the other)
Possibility of building a Savings Account (I hear of this mythical concept of saving, but have never had the luxury of doing so)
Meet new people?
Extra money so that I can really enjoy what free time I have
Saving for a truck/ trailer??
Not living in a constant state of survival mode

waiting freaking tables!
working 50+ hours a week
way less free time for Granite and Running (my two loves)
embarrassment of having 2 degrees and needing to wait tables
owner's wife is my age
will be working with high school students
generally bruised ego (see above quote)

I will let you know how this goes down. I'm thinking bitter, like medicine (necessary and horrible all at the same time).
BUT, I will never give up on horses (my dreams) because I wasn't willing to work (hard) for them!

Update on my Captain Clumsy

I hope that no one has been holding their breath all weekend for this post. I apologize for not updating sooner.

Friday I procrastinated in going to the barn. I was really scared of what I would find, and didn't want to start thinking about what to do next. So, I got off work and went and ran 3+ miles. After that, I felt a bit better about going to see what Granite had in store for his momma. I went and grabbed him out of the pasture, just glancing at his legs for any obvious signs of irritation. I didn't see anything. I put him in the wash stall and began meticulously inspecting his legs. I poked and prodded. I picked up each foot and poked around on the soles of his hooves. I checked his shoes. I stepped back and examined each leg for symmetry. I couldn't find ANYTHING out of the ordinary. I know that horse's body better than my own; I would notice any abnormalities.

So, I took him out to the round pen to evaluate his movement. I trotted him a few laps each direction. He looked perfectly sound to me. HUGE sigh of relief. I brought the kid back in and groomed him. Told him he was gorgeous (because, really? He could be a horsie super model--well, if you don't mind his large ears) then I put him back out in the "play pen" (large pasture with his coming 4yr old cousin and 4yr old friend).

I fed for the farm this weekend. They just sold one of the horses and they took 2 camping with them, so I only had to maintain 7 critters. It was really a breeze and thankfully went flawlessly. I am even early for work this morning (thus the blogging) because it didn't take me nearly as long to feed before work as I had anticipated. All of the horses were very well behaved and the routine is pretty easily accomplished. I love driving the 4wheeler when I pick stalls. If I didn't need a break on board so badly, I would feed for free because I honestly enjoyed being in charge of 7 gorgeous horses all weekend :)

The only stumbling block came when the owners of a verrry chunky QH pony came out to groom her. They are a really nice family and they always compliment me on Granite and deal with my growling dog; I like them a lot. But, they asked if their pony had eaten dinner yet. I told them that she was actually only getting fed in the morning. The pony is probably a 7 body score (maybe more?) and is turned out on lovely pasture usually 24 hrs a day (because her owners want her to "be able to enjoy the weather"). The owners were not happy with this statement. They proceeded to tell me that grain 2x a day was included in full board and they pay full board (despite wanting the horse on pasture 24/7 in the spring and fall). Sigh... the poor mare doesn't even need the grain she gets! Some people think these are large dogs and food=love! Our Barn Owner is not only a seasoned horse woman, but holds a degree in equine science. I wish more people would trust the pros. I am not a pro, but I read a lot and have owned/ridden horses for almost 18 years-- I still listen and learn. Some people, although well meaning, just don't get it!\

Anyway, Granite seems to be fine (thank god). Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers! Have a great week!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Captain Clumsy...

I got a call from Becky the BO today...
Does anyone else have minor heart failure when the BO calls? I do. So she usually answers with "Hi, your horse is fine..."
Today she called to ask if I would be willing to farm-sit this weekend. I HAPPILY obliged. I have decided that it is finally time to swallow my pride (and any spare time) and get a second job (waiting tables, I presume). But as I was lamenting this decision at the barn earlier this week, Becky said that if she and her husband decided to go trail riding/camping for the weekend that she would call me to watch the farm (thus reducing my board/training fees this month!!!!).
After I happily agreed to feed and take care of the equines at the farm this weekend, Becky gave me a quick update on how Granite's training was coming along. He, as you know, has been really pokey. She said that for some reason he was really "looky" yesterday and had no problem with engagement. He was almost a little too "up" for a productive training session! Wow, babies sure can have their days! She said that another boarder was riding, so she rode him in the big arena with the other horse. This was a first and she said he handled it nicely. Then... (cue, ominous music) she said that he started limping. She got off to see if he had a rock lodged in his shoe. He didn't. She said she got off of him and gave him today off (and this weekend as well, because she will be out of town anyway) and hasn't noticed any heat or swelling in the leg (front right). She didn't seem concerned (never really does-- I guess it comes from a career of caring for horses) and ended the conversation on that. Leaving me, to spend my day in the office worrying worrying worrying (again? whats new?). Granite is the most accident prone being I have ever met!
What could be wrong? I haven't seen or felt his leg yet-- I'll go out after work today. I know that horse's body better than my own, so I may catch an irregularity that Becky didn't see. But assuming that nothing LOOKS abnormal, I tend to fear the worst but contemplate the best. I'm thinking because he had extra energy, he either pulled something, or he stepped on himself and stung himself. He tends to overreach and clip his feet against each other all the time, he could have just hurt himself that way. Or, he stepped wrong and hurt something more serious... I'm left to sit here and try to focus on work of the rest of the day. Me leaving work early and hurrying out to the barn won't do any good. Becky says there is no swelling and this happened yesterday. He is in the pasture hanging out. So, I guess I will go and trot him to see if he is still limping, a bit off, or back to normal. Then evaluate from there.
Why do I have the most accident prone horse ever??
Cross fingers/pray/do whatever you do for this to be nothing!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Positive side of my excessive Credit Card use??

I forgot to tell you all! SOON, there will again be pictures gracing my blog (and facebook)! Because?? Although I had to downgrade my phone because I am poor, there is a positive side to using your credit card for all of your purchases because your cash went to board, farrier and rent... you earn REWARD POINTS. And thanks to my kind USAA Platinum Card, I will be getting this lovely digital camera in the mail shortly!
VIVITAR 10.1 Megapixels Camera - StrawBerry 
10.1 Megapixels in a sleek design. The high definition device features a 1.8" screen with 4x digital zoom, face detection, anti-shake and a USB connection. The camera uses 3 AAA batteries. Color: Strawberry. ** Includes a 4 GB SD Card ** 

Yeah, I realize it isn't fancy or wonderful. But it was free and it will get you folks some visuals of my boy's training progress and anything else I deem photo worthy! I know you will be waiting with baited breath.... I will keep you updated!

Check out this interesting tidbit...

I subscribe to The Lameness weekly email newsletter. This week, as I scanned the headlines, something caught my eye: An article claiming that exercise in young horses (we are talking 3 weeks- 18months) is safe and may actually prevent joint injury in the future. Now, they haven't prescribed an optimum amount of exercise for these young horses, but the research did prove that some work was more beneficial to joints than being kept on pasture for the first year and a half. This is a new concept for me and it is certainly interesting.

Opinions? Thoughts?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Little Update

My life is pretty boring. So, I haven't had much to write about lately. Granite has just begun week 3 of training and has had 7 rides. He is currently learning to trot under-saddle and practicing the concept of steering. I've pretty much let BO/Kindergarten Teacher, Becky, take the literal and proverbial reins. She told me that she would let me know when it was time for my first "lesson" on him and from then I could start practicing concepts that he understands in between training rides. It sounds like he is doing well, but is having some difficulties with the impulsion concept. I think this is because he is still unsure about where to put his feet. I think this is generally due to his immaturity and size-- at least I hope. We will see how he progresses, Becky doesn't seem to be concerned.

Well, thats honestly about all I have in the way of updates. I go visit the man about 6 days a week and groom him and tell him that he is amazing, and I let the pros handle the rest. In the mean time, I'm running my butt off. Literally. I've only lost about 6lb at this point, but have lost a couple of inches in my waist and hips :) I'm running an average of 5 days a week for about 3 miles a day (give or take depending on the day). I'm feeling really strong and ran my best 5K time yet this afternoon! So, my hope is that all of this work will give me a stronger core and better balance to ride Granite with as little interference as possible. I'm also hoping that by the time Granite is ready (and I have the $-- which could be a looong time) to enter the 'A' circuit, I will weigh a bit less. The hunter judges tend to be pretty rough on overweight riders.

This month will be crazy (mainly on the financial front). I have 3 close friends with birthdays this week. Mother's Day and my grandfather's birthday is on Sunday. I have bukoos of friends (from my grad program) graduating on Friday of next week and a good friend graduating about 3 hours away with her BA (I'm traveling to watch her walk!). Thennn, my college roomie (all 4 years)/ close High School friend gets married at the end of the month on the beach. Phewww, and Granite needed fly spray and wound dressing this week. I am ALWAYS broke. It sucks. A lot. PS-- everyone from high school seems to be engaged or married. I? Haven't been on a date in approx 10 months. UGH... At least my big handsome white knight (Granite) loves me!!