Monday, February 28, 2011

Granite Conquers the Trail

Sunday was day two at Granite’s new barn. He slept easy during his first night in a stall. There were shavings in his tail and on his side to prove it. He ate every ounce of his hay but seemed to have enjoyed himself.
We decided that day two at the new barn would be the opportune time to invite some friends and hit the trail. Haha. There are a few miles of trails adjacent to the barn and Little Rachel (Barn manager’s daughter) and her pony Logan offered to show us around. Jen and her expert Hunt Horse, Pickle, and D and her Master Trail horse, Jay, both trailered over to join us. We were also joined by another boarder (Harriet) and her horse (Nacho). Of course, I have no visual for you, but there were 4 chestnuts… and Granite.

We tacked up and headed off. Granite apparently has a rather large stride because we migrated to the front of the pack rather quickly. We stayed there for the majority of the time. We went by bright orange ribbons, a windmill, no fewer than 2 tree-stands, many puddles, culverts and inclines. Granite only balked at the first puddle, but after some encouragement from Nacho, he went right through. He didn’t think twice about crossing the puddles on the way back! Granite even took the lead for a while. The trail is right next to a huge interstate, so it was loud. But, Granite handled it all like a pro. We even took a loop around the lake that scared Granite to death on Saturday. He didn’t seem to mind since he had company.

After the trail concluded, we took all the horses in the outdoor arena. I put G through his paces. He hates the bit I currently have in his mouth (a new one has shipped and should be here any day now) and he is still very looky at the new barn, so the ride wasn’t great. BUT, he rode with 4 other horses in a new arena and gave me all of his transitions. He was really a champ. Little Rachel got on and hacked him for me as well. She loved him and it made me smile.

After hosing Granite off, we went to lunch. We got back (Granite had rolled) and I decided to take advantage of the 77 degree weather and bathe the monster. This was his first bath in 4 months! I washed him twice and still could have gotten more dirt out. He stood for probably 45 minutes in the new washstall while boarders sat around and chatted with me and I bathed him. Everyone is so impressed with how patient and calm my young horse is. He has made me so so proud this weekend. I clearly don’t give the big guy enough credit.

Taking all of this into account, I think I’m ready to take him to some Hunter Paces and Schooling shows next month. Little Rachel does a lot of these things and when there’s and open spot in the trailer, I think I’ll try to catch a ride. I know he will do fine competing in a hunter pace (slow or moderate division) and I think I’ll take him just to ride him in the warm up ring at the first couple of shows. I don’t think that actually competing In a show is too far off for us! I just need to get a few more lessons, get the biting issue fixed, and save enough money for a pair of decent tall boots. We will be there so soon!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Moving Day

I left my man all snuggled in his new stall, munching on his hay and generally ignoring me.

He got his new shoes on this morning and then Becky loaded him up (first try!) and we took him out to Oak Meadow Farm. It was a bittersweet goodbye with Becky but shes been amazing and I am so fortunate to be able to leave a place on such good terms.

We were greeted by lots of happy faces. They all oooed and ahhhed over Granite and I felt like I owned the most amazing equine on the planet. He suddenly grew to about 18 hands and his eyes doubled in size during the ride over. He looked and snorted, but he gets an A+ for how well he handled the whole experience. We led him into the big barn and the "annex". We took him in washstalls and down driveways. Then we put him out with 3 other horses and they played and sniffed and then happily went to grazing. So... Tyler and I were invited out to lunch with 7 others from the barn. It was so nice! I've never really had a "barn family".

Then, I got back and the Barn Manager's daughter (also named Rachel) convinced me that Granite would be just fine to go for a ride. So, I tacked up and took him for his first ride in an arena that wasn't Becky's! He was spooky and looky and all of his energy was up-and-down, but he was sane. There were 4 other horses riding with us and he really handled himself well. Then we walked around the open unfenced land behind the barn with 3 other horses! He was a pro. He also dwarfs the other horses and walks much faster (who knew he was so big!).

I unpacked my stuff into 2 huge, lovely tack lockers and tucked Granite in and then left barn. It took me ELEVEN minutes to get home! AHHH-MAZING. Tomorrow, I'm meeting Jen, D and "Little Rachel" (I'm "Big" Rachel, which is SO not cool) to go on Granite's first trail ride (on the property). My horse is so figgen amazing.

So is my boyfriend who helped me through most of the process then drove an hour round trip to go get a blanket I left at Becky's barn. He also took tons of photos of the whole process.... so, enjoy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

1 more big change for me...

Hello blog-world.

I’ve been in my new position for 1 month today. I absolutely love what I do. I stay extremely busy but I am learning new things and I feel like I am making a difference. The job is everything that I hoped it would be (although I wouldn’t have been disappointed if the job came with a few thousand more dollars a year, but that’s just greedy). I was out of town last week (fortunately, I was in Eva’s city) and I’m there again next week (for 3 days) then next month I’m at another 3-day conference. I also have some deadlines staring me down in the next two weeks! EEEK. Fortunately, my boyfriend has been a saint and he has dinner waiting for me and keeps up with laundry to take some stress off of me.

Getting to see Granite has been difficult. His barn is over an hour away from my office (some of you won’t feel sorry for me here, but that’s a LOT for me). Then, the drive from the barn to my house is another 30 minutes. It makes it difficult to get much accomplished when, on the best of days, you get to the barn by 6 (and we don’t have lights). I don’t get home until nearly 8 and then I zonk out by 10 because I get up at 5:30 every morning. I try to work out in the midst of all of that, but it often falls by the wayside.

But when I DO get to the barn, I have seen MAJOR improvements in my horse. I’ve been averaging three rides a week (not too bad, considering). His go-to bit broke and I bought a new one from D. It fits well but its too harsh (Dr. Bristol) and he HATES it. All of my others are “normal” sized and are too small for Mr. Big-Head. So, he has to deal with a bit that makes him unhappy, but our transitions are snappy and we are getting beautiful stretchy trots. We has 3-stride simple lead changes with regularity last night.

The biggest news of all is in regards to the barn situation. You remember the Dream Barn. Well, they worked out a way to take me on at a rate I could afford. We will be in the “old barn” (I shall lovingly call it the “Annex”). There are 2 horse stalls and a ‘run’ like area for their mini horse and 2 mini donkeys. There is a washstall with hot and cold, a laundry room, bathroom, tackroom (tack lockers from floor to ceiling—and I get 2). There is also a nice concrete breezeway under the overhand of the barn with cross ties. AND we are able to use all of the facilities of the rest of the barn which include a lighted indoor with synthetic dust-free footing (also a plush lounge overlooking that ring with a flat screen tv, leather couches, fridge stocked with soda and coffffeeee maker). There’s a lovely outdoor ring with jumps. There’s a field for hill work and trails. My trainer, Jen, lives 20minutes away and I’m on the way for D to pick me up for trail rides. They show there…often, and claim that I can hop in the trailer when we want to join. BEST. OF. ALL. The place is 37 minutes from the office (my house is 35 min from the office) and then 13 min back to my house. So, if my math is correct, going to the barn will take an additional 15 minutes (not the hour its taking me now).  

Now the cons. Granite will be stalled. He has to stay in sometimes (you know, snow, rain, night time—day in the summer). I HATE that. I want him to be a horse and eat hay and grass all day. Now, I’m sure he’ll need more grain and he’ll have too much pent up energy from the extra grain and the lack of exercise. Then, he’s more likely to get injured. The barn just feels like more of a rider’s barn instead of a horse’s barn. I just feel like I'm making a selfish decision here... or, I'm just trying to find something to worry about bc thats how I operate
But, regardless, we are giving it a shot. We are moving Saturday. Becky is taking us over. She has eased my mind by telling me that I am always willing to come back. I LOVE my barn and I would never leave if it were conveniently located. I commute to work 70 minutes a day and that extra hour is just enough to make me not want to go to the barn somedays (and that makes me sad). So, we’re going to give this a try. Granite can put on his big-boy pants and learn to be a show horse (the whole reason I got him). Hopefully he will just continue to wow me and be the most tolerant and well-meaning baby horse ever! We have our trainer and the facilities to allow me to ride much more often. We also have a way to get to horse shows and other activities to help Granite become a more well-rounded equine citizen.

I’d say that I’ll take pics, but Granite pulled my camera out of my back pocket 2-weeks ago and threw it on the concrete… so, time to camera shop again (if anyone’s counting, that’s THREE cameras that I’ve been through this year). Until, then, check out every inch of the Dream Barn’s website and imagine a big, goofy, grey guy with huge ears in the pictures J

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Busy Bee

I haven't had a moment to breathe let alone write and even more upsetting, I haven't kept up with anyone's blogs in the past two weeks. Sad to say the least. BUT-- since I'm really good at bullet point summaries, I thought I would share one with y'all.

-Saturday the 22nd: most amazing lesson ever. Jen is awesome! She reads Granite and I and I understand and agree with her suggestions. Dianne got to see me ride Granite for the same time. Best of all, they were both really impressed with Granite and how far he has come and his potential for success in his future career. I'm dying for another Jen lesson!

-Monday the 24th: first day of work. I am slammmmmed. They put a lot of stock in the position there. I get to be in on departmental head meetings (15 folks out of a staff of 600 or so). I have already had tons of meetings with different department directors about how I can help them get the word out. I've worked late most every night or brought work home when I do get home on time. Theres a 3 month backlog in addition to a steep learning curve (Adobe InDesign WILL be the death of me). BUT, I know I'm going to absolutely love my job. Its exactly what I've always wanted to do. I'm sooo fortunate and excited!

-Rest of the week: A blur including a toilet incident and a flat tire on top of work work work.

-Saturday 29th: go to barn, find Granite's knee looking more like a balloon. He got kicked Friday night. Heartbroken because I was supposed to go to my first trail ride with the guy off of the property. Jen, Dianne and their friend. Cheri were going to haul us to a local park and it was going to be amazing. But, it didn't happen. Instead I ended up going to the barn two times a day to cold hose and bute the big guy. My non-horsie boyfriend has been sainted because he went out on the two nights I worked late to cold hose him for me this week. He's looking much better and I'm hoping for normalcy before next week.

-This weekend: Winter Horse Health Seminar and SuperBowl party!

Alright. Now, if you'll excuse me, its time for Ben and Jerry's and Greys anatomy (with the work Laptop in my lap of course.)

Cheers and I miss y'all.