Friday, October 29, 2010

Ability is of little account without opportunity. ~Napoleon

Good Morning and Happy Friday Blog-land!


I apologize for my long absence! I'm not even sure where to start my re-cap!
Lets start where we left off October 15th and on:

TK and I went on a fabulous trip to Grandfather Mountain, NC on Saturday the 16th and hiked with Daphne for the day then stopped to get fresh apple cider and a pumpkin on the way back home! It was a great great day!

I got to ride 4 times the week of October 17th! It was fabulous.
Eva came out on Sunday and we went for a long run and talked about things such as marriage, families, benefits packages and where our decisions with our horses have fit into it all. Merely years ago, our discussions centered more on graduate programs and how we hated that we couldn't go out as much. Growing up kind of sucks... actually, it really sucks! Taylor Swift was right when she said "stay little"...anyway, off topic.

After our run, Eva and I went riding. Reno did pretty well and so did Granite. We switched horses and that was also a lot of fun. Its so nice to see Granite move under someone else (and a talented rider at that!). Eva was really impressed with Granite and that made me feel like a million dollars (and maybe like its all worth it in the end).

I fed horses for Becky Monday and Tuesday of last week. I love it because she reduces my board and I get to see Granite before and after work! I also managed to squeeze out the last few minutes of daylight on those days for some easy rides. Granite was very forward. I think this was due to the crisp air and the newly constructed baseball fields on the other side of the pasture. I took him for a hack through the pasture and he spooked his brains out. This energy came straight to the arena and he sped around like a demon! But... we worked through it and by the end of both rides, I had a sane and very forward horse! I am so unfamiliar with a spooky or forward Granite.

Because I am greedy and my Thursday Night Work Meeting was Parks & Recreation (and I feel that I should be able to wear jeans and be dirty for a RECREATION meeting), I took the opportunity to recreate after my work day and before my night meeting by riding my pony. He was really sticky in the canter and I was frustrated, but worked through our problems by cutting across the ring and asking for the canter on a bend instead of on the rail. It worked and I felt satisfied on our accomplishment for the day. Its the little things at this point :)

I worked on Friday night (as per usual...HATE this). And on Saturday morning, TK and I headed home to the Outer Banks to visit my folks!!! We took Monday off and spent 3 days at home. I hadn't been home since July and missed it terribly. I got my hair cut by my favorite hairdresser, I had my mom's lasagna, did some serious thrift shopping, had brunch with my high school friend/ college roommate, watched the Redskins win with TK and my Daddy (my hero!), went running down the old dirt road that leads back to my house, had lunch at my favorite Mexican place/ high school hang out, visited my mom's coworkers, got a Halloween costume, then had some of the best sweet tea in the world on the way back here. The ride back is 1,000 times easier with TK and Daphne. I love them both so much and its like my heart is home even when my body isn't. The only thing that would have made for a better weekend would have been if Eva could have come too (I tired to convince her... but she couldn't).

This week was short but has felt so long! I only got to see Granite on Tuesday and didn't get to ride him because I had too much to do at home to catch up. I haven't ridden at all this week! This leads me to strongly consider letting Kansas (see last post) ride him. She offered to hop on him and hack him at a walk and trot for me... I know he needs consistency. I am scared to lessen the bond/communication that he and I have finally developed, but I don't want to do him a dis-justice by not riding enough and with all my work hours, its barely possible to ride more than 3 days a week. What do you think? Ask her to ride him a day or two a week? Or keep trying to make it work for a few more months so that we can continue to develop our under-saddle relationship?

Wednesday was a bad day. TK got into a car accident. A hit-and-run. He is OK, thank god! But his airbags went off (bruising him up) and his car remains in the shop. He called me at 4pm (my office closes at 4:30) and I was the only one in the office and it was monsooning outside! I locked the office and left! It was the scariest drive of my life (30min) because my tires are about 6 months overdue to be changed. They are seriously bald and after SKATING the whole way to get TK, I have made the executive decision to borrow the money to have them changed on Saturday! But I rescued my poor bf, thanked the stars for his safety then upon his request, dropped him off at football practice to coach his JVs...sigh. He has such dedication to those guys. I love him! I had to call in to the restaurant so this gave me 2 hours to hang out with Di-aunt. Watch the Barbaro documentary and eat some Mexican food (my fave, if you haven't noticed).

Then there was yesterday. My work meeting didn't end until 9:30PM but despite the hectic-ness of work (Early Voting at Town Hall....argh!), I had a great day. Why  you ask? Because I got a call for a job interview!!! As a Marketing Specialist for the corporate offices of Goodwill Industries! I'm in love with the job description and it would keep me in Greensboro, but there is no listed salary... so who knows if anything will come of this interview, but its a possibility and an opportunity and I am thrilled! I also heard that a great great job is opening in a nearby city (I could commute) and a friend of mine is in good with the HR director (hopefully getting me an initial interview).

And on more job news... you know I desperately hate my part time job. So, I put some Craig's List ads out and made some phone calls to horsie friends... basically whoring myself out as barn help. I don't need to earn much a week to close the gap (I'm good at being thrifty and am looking at some serious $ saving a few paragraphs) and I know I will be so much more happy at a farm, getting exercise, making some extra dough and expanding my horse contact network! I have gotten 1 response asking me to come out next week (I plan to take TK or a friend for safety purposes). IF I can secure feeding/cleaning at a barn 2-3 nights a week, I can quit my devil job. Cross your fingers for meee!

And in MORE big news. TK and I have decided to move in together. Yes... 6 months is early. But ALL of our friends and family are super supportive. He is currently living at his family's house and its straining their relationship (grown son living at home...yeah, notsomuch) and I am paying a lot for my 1/2 of my apartment! TK and I stay together most nights and do a lot of commuting between our two places (his in the neighboring city---25min). If we share a 1 bedroom or an inexpensive 2 bedroom in a more central location to our jobs (and Di-Aunts where I take Daphne for Daycare every day), I will be saving over $150 a month and be really happy in a home of our own (not sharing with parents or roommates and worrying about disturbing people and letting them know if we are coming home or not etc....). We've been researching for about a month and I have created a fabulous spreeadsheet (very similar to that of you folks picking new barns) of possibilities. TK has a day off of work today and is actually going to check out about 5 places. I am so excited that this could be happening soon! I could be moving in a month! It may be initially expensive, but its going to save me in the long run and save me so much time, gas money, and hassle in coordination! And, I'll get to make a home with Tk and Daphne!

So... thats whats been up in my life. Sorry for all the sparatic, long, recap posts! This weekend will be in Charlotte with Eva and Tk and HIS best friend! YAY! I'm going to be the white rabbit and TK will be the mad hatter! I'm going to squeeze in a ride Saturday morning early! I miss my big grey guy... a lot!

Happy Weekend Ya'll!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This week in the saddle...

Well, as I told you, I spent Monday (usually a riding day) sick in bed/the bathroom floor, but apparently the world doesn't completely hate me because I was rewarded by a meeting cancellation which resulted in a riding day on Wednesday (usually a work night). So, I still managed to get 2 weekday rides in this week despite the minor setback on Monday (isn't that sad? That I get excited by getting in two rides....ugh!).

Tuesday was your average ride. Granite wasn't fabulous, but he wasn't nasty. Becky was teaching a lesson in the arena and while she says I can ride wherever I want, I try to be courteous and stay out of the way. I also feel a little self-conscious when she is in the ring because she trained Granite and gets much better results from him than I do. So, I didn't push the issue of the canter but I did manage to get one solid transition (not a run-into-it canter, but a transition).

Granite has developed a new vice, now instead of simply grabbing the bit, jacking his head up to the sky, and hollowing out through the back, he curls his neck and dips behind the bit! I hate this habit even more than the second because short of popping him in this mouth, I don't know how to remedy the situation. He seems to do it most when I drive him forward through my seat and legs and try to get more action from the back. Any suggestions out there in blog land? Books I can read on the issue of bit avoidance? I really have tried to leave his head alone and not ask for collection but focus on going forward, but now when I drive for that forward motion I am met with the neck curl/bit evade!

Aside from our episodes of "how can i avoid this thing in my mouth", Granite was pretty solid during Wednesday's ride. He is doing well with his trot transitions and I (fairly easily) got a few canter transitions out of him. I also got to ride with a new boarder. I generally don't like others, but she seems pretty dag on cool (the binder twine currently holding her spurs on make me give her my nod of approval-- that is SO something I have done!). Anyway, she is a freshman at my alma-mater (also, cool points) and she hails from Kansas. She has a little Morgan and they Event. The Morgan's name is Al and he is cool as hell. He will do lead changes on the straight-away every two strides. He collects, he bends, he will jump anything like a pro. I am in love with the little fella. To my pleasure, 'Kansas' offered me a go on him on Wednesday after we both finished our own rides! I happily accepted and even traded her mounts (She is only the 4th person ever to even sit on Granite's back).

This was so much fun for a few reasons. A) I got to ride the coolest little guy ever. B) I got to see my horse go under english tack for the first time. C) I got to feel some MAJOR differences between our horses (mainly that my horse has a gigantic stride and major potential) and D) Much of my issues with Granite are probably my fault.

I felt like I was riding a pony and we were going in slow-mo because Al is so small and I am used to such a gangly dude. I also noticed that HE (well seasoned super star Al) hesitated for a canter transition, indicating that I am off balance or really not asking in the most efficient manner. I felt myself go off balance a few times as well (I can never tell on Granite because he is so wobbly-- you know riding a green-bean like him is not unlike working one of those joined snake toys that never go all in one direction at one time). I really wish I could afford some lessons even on other horses, because I need to address these issues I noticed. But at least I am aware of them and can be mindful of them during my rides.

Al was a champ for me and I even popped over a little fence for the first time in decades. Thank god he is pretty "point and click" because I sure didn't help him out any.

Big Al doing his thing with Kansas

They Rock!

It was also great to see that despite the constant bit evasion going on, Granite looked like a rockstar under saddle. I have only seen Becky ride him (western, draw reins, training rides) and it was a world of difference to see him under english tack with a great little rider on top. It gave me a glimpse of how AWESOME our future can be if I ever get the time to properly devote to him.

Ok, Time to go BACK to work (I neeeeed new jobs!). 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Super Saturday

Can I just tell you that Saturday was... A-Freaking-Mazing!

Well, mainly Granite was.

I sent TK off to the Wake Forest game with his family (because I had an evening of dancing downtown planned with some girlfriends) and this gave me the whole evening to be at the barn. Hours of daylight left and nothing to do but be with my horse. I really like most of our boarders and certainly like my BO, but I was alone Saturday evening and I loved it! Just Daphne and Granite and I. It was perfect.
Plus, I was already super Zen because I spent the previous 3 hours cleaning my 1/2 of the apartment and I feel sooo much more relaxed when I know I have a sparkling bathroom and a spiffy room.

Any-whoo. I trekked out in the pasture to get the big-grey-man and bring him in. He had some pep in his step (a huge rarity) and he actually spooked and tried to kill me three times. I sent a text to TK proclaiming my impending death and asking that he please take the dog for me and tell my family I love them. But apparently the worst starts lead to the best rides. After arguing with Granite that he would, in fact, NOT swing his butt out at the mounting block, I got on and started on our merry way.

The ride continually improved. We did lots of trot work and trotting poles and changes of direction. I tried to stay off of his mouth, however, he collected pretty well when I did take up contact! I think this may be, in part, due to a new bit we tried! A french link, loose ring snaffle! I'd like to get those rubber stoppers (bc he is a baby and I don't want it pulling through on any occasion). He still chews a little (he chews on everything and has since I've known him) but he was much more focused and responsive.

I was really impressed with the way he felt in my hands, so I figured--'hell, lets shoot for the starts and see if he will canter'. And canter he did! 6 canter transitions, a couple of them within one or two strides of my cue! This is incredible considering that after his post-training breakdown, I could hardly get a trot and a canter was completely out of the picture. It felt like heaven and I fist pumped the air when I got it!

Granite continued on his path of awesome as I decided to work on lengthening and shortening trot strides. He was getting it! He didn't always answer the questions correctly, but he tried for me and he was listening to me. And that? Is a huge improvement.

Saturday, I saw the potential I knew he had (but I had started to doubt). I think the best part is that I haven't had his trainer on his back since late July. I started back at square one with him and its been shaky, ugly, and rough... but Saturday, we made progress. Just Granite and I together have finally made some progress. I know there will be some more steps back, but I saw a step forward and I know he CAN do it if I ask the right way. I was so impressed with our communication and our results!

After the ride, I gave G what I imagine was his last bath of the season. I whitened his tail and trimmed it and I scrubbed him good. I bathed the dog while I was at it. Then I hand grazed G, alone at the barn, as the sun set on our perfect evening!

The rest of the weekend was lovely too. I went out dancing with some long lost girlfriends, one of which is Hannah. Check out her blog, The Vitamin. She lives in the mountains and is a runner and a dog lover. I met her through Di-Aunt and she has ridden my old mare Karma a time or two. I had a blast dancing (I don't even like to dance) and drinking. TK came to DD for me and Sunday morning we headed to Charlotte for the Panther's game. You all know I'm a Redskin fan, but who can pass up free NFL tickets and a afternoon with family (TK and his little sister)?! It was HOT out and the Panthers are horrible this year, so we left during the 3rd quarter to duck into a bar and watch MY Redskins pull out a win in Over Time against the Packers :)

MK, TK, and Me in front of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC

When we got back home we met Eva for Mexican food and suddenly TK and I started feeling ill. By the end of the evening we were both miserable. We had managed to contract food poisoning (from what we can only guess was breakfast) and were sick all night and most of yesterday. Neither of us made it to work, but ended up feeling better during late afternoon. BLECH

I have the evening off tonight and literally, cannot wait to get my butt over to the barn. As luck would have it, I bet my ride won't duplicate Saturday's but by gosh, I can't wait to try it out! Then I hope to fit in a run before fixing Breakfast for Dinner (mimosas included). I also found out that my work meeting was canceled tomorrow, so thats TWO days in a row that I get to ride this week (even without making it to the barn yesterday).

This weekend has proved to me that despite my less than ideal work and living situations, I am blessed with: fun, beautiful and caring friends, an incredibly talented horse, a fun-loving dog, the best man in the world, and a lovely life.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I know, its been forever...

Well well, I know its been a while. Thankfully I have nothing too overwhelming to say. But no news is good news indeed. Last week I got 3 rides in. All were mediocre (thats a lie, I think Tuesday's was great and Thursday's was crap).

The vet came out last week ($$$) this time just for routine shots. But, I had his do an examination (lungs, nose, etc) just to make sure that Granite was completely healed. Reno has some residual snot and I heard Granite cough early last week. The vet gave him the all clear (and a handful of shots), the vet gave me a $150 bill. Blah! The farrier also came out. I LOVE my superfarrier. He said Granite's special hoof is looking great. There was also much less cracking as I have been applying pine tar to his hooves 3 times a week as instructed at our last farrier visit (the one where he had lost both shoes and his feet looked like hell). Granite did try to kick the superfarrier-- I was unpleased, so was Superfarrier. So Granite got nice new shoes (size 2 Light! yay for bigger hoofies), and momma got a $55 bill. Blah! THEN, Becky let me know that I owed her $155 for all of his meds over the course of the last month through his illness. So including board, Granite has cost me an arm and a leg this month and if he keeps it up he will cost me my sanity as well!

This weekend I brought TK out to the barn with me. Hes such a sport. He sits in the arena with Daphne and watches me and Granite do our thing (which is incredibly boring to a non-horse person bc all we do is walk and trot and turn and do more transitions-- nothing exciting or show stopping). This time, I threw him the camera to keep him entertained. And as a result, I share with you: new photos! The photos are from my ride Saturday. It wasn't great. Granite is chewing his bit non stop and really grabbing his mouth and head away from me and hollowing his back. I tried a new bit on Sunday and put him in the round pen under side reins and put him through his paces. About 1/3 of the way through the session he really started to soften and give! By the end of the work, he even stretched down a few times for me! I need to re-incorporate some on-the-ground work and see if it translates some of the softness to our under-saddle sessions.

Tacking Up (do you see how BIG he has gotten??)

 Not a great ride. Lots of bit chewing and back-hollowing.

 Sloppy hands on my part (trying to rectify the back hollowing/bit chewing)-- but lovely trot.

Me and My kids. 

<3 my family.

Well, thats really about all folks. I fed horses for the BO yesterday and didn't have time to ride, but plan to saddle up tonight!