Sometimes, you just have to laugh. Although really, this is no laughing matter.
I went to the farm Tuesday after work to ride my gal pal Cheetah and let Lito stand tied for a while. You know, send him back to Kindergarten. Sometimes we all have to take a step or two back before we can move forward, so this is where we are. And I am OK with that.
Hey look, he has not completely forgotten!
It was a luscious and luxurious day. The sun was out in full backed by the big Texas blue sky. The air was soft and comforting as it softly caressed the bare skin on my arms and face. Almost pillow like making my long curly hair flow like the wind through the trees.
Or the grass that hasn’t gotten long enough yet. And really, more realistic would be the wind through the pollen pods. Are they pods? I do not know, but man the pollen this year. Is it me or is it in overdrive production? Almost makes me reconsider a black car. Almost. I am still going to get one.
Anyway, yes, the sun, sky, and breeze. Lovely, take my word for it. Be jealous because you should be. There is no better place. With or without the pollen. It was great.
My original plan was to go on Wednesday, but I just could not wait that long.
Darcy did her normal farm thing while I rode. Or so I thought. Such a naughty, scrappy girl. A lady she is not. Dogs will be dogs I guess.
She really got into something this time. Whatever that something was, which I am sure was what was left of the drippings on the ground of this heritage breed pig we roasted on Saturday (which, I still do not get because that was forever ago),
was good enough to also eat a bunch of dirt and sand. And cause all bodily functions to go awry. Big time.
A day at the vet and big bill later, poor little Doolittle is a little worse for ware. And so am I, but who cares about me.
Here is hoping everything keeps, uh, moving along. Cough. There really is not delicate way to put that.
So Darcy is my work companion at my feet today so I can monitor her.
I just had to look up at the sky, shake my head, and chuckle. Some people say, when it rains, it pours. That may be so and sometimes it sure feels that way, but I am just going to laugh.
Why? Because laughing is better than any other option! Focus on the positive. She is eating, drinking, and resting.
That is something I always say, even when it is hard to do. I know you have been waiting for the rest of the story.
But let me go back a little first.
…to when Lito would not load in the trailer to come home. Complete with GIFs. Because GIFs make everything better.
We had just wrapped up a great clinic experience and I decided to go ahead and load up to head home before the last lesson. An hour and a half haul back to the farm to unload and then another hour’s drive home makes for a long Sunday and an early Monday. I loaded all of our stuff and got Lito ready.
As we were walking to the trailer, the evening barn help arrived and started feeding all the barn horses early.
What I should have done in hindsight was just turn around, put him back in the stall, given him some feed, and then loaded when everyone was finished.
Gotta love that hindsight.
However, being the dull minded human I am, I continued forth with the plan. He will load just fine, I thought to myself as he kept trying to look back at all the happy barn horses being fed.
I could belabor the specifics, but that would go on and on just like that fateful evening. I also do not want to focus on that negativity.
Long story short, it is a good thing the clinician, Mark, was spending the night there and not hauling out. He eventually stepped in to help get him loaded. It was a long night that had us unloading at 9:30. I am so grateful for trailer lights.
I think the long weekend combined with the feeding fiasco just all added up. We also had a little bit of drama before we loaded up to go to the clinic, but he loaded just fine to go so who knows.
The positive in all of this was he unloaded like a champ. I opened the door. He looked at me and stood stock still. I stroked his neck and softly whispered in his ear as I untied and gathered the lead in my other hand. When we were both ready, I asked him to back out and he slowly, calmly backed out and off the trailer.
I left him alone for the week and forced myself to focus on the positive. He did really, really well besides the loading. Tomorrow is a new day and we will just go back to practicing trailer loading the next weekend. If he has an issue with it, we will cross that bridge if and when we get there.
Fast forward to this weekend. We crossed that bridge. Or rather, we are on it. We will see with time if we have crossed it.
I was sure he would just load like he always has in the past and that last weekend was a fluke. Just walk right on. Well. That was not the case. It was almost a repeat of last Sunday!
Was it all pretty? No. But neither was last Sunday. Sometimes you just have to work through the ugly and the suck to get to the other side.
And we did just that. We worked through it.
I also had to have an open mind about it. Horses are good at making us do that.
During the more ugly parts, I kept thinking to myself. He’s locked up and he’s stuck. I don’t know why, but he is. I should put another horse in there. But there was also this old thinking part of myself that thought no, that’s cheating. He needs to get his butt in that trailer.
At that point I stopped myself. Wrong attitude. We walked away, I tied Lito up, and went to grab Cheetah. I loaded her in the first stall and closed the divider.
After just a few minutes, with Cheetah standing calmly in there letting him know there was nothing wrong, he loaded and went all the way to the front of the second stall.
I loaded and unloaded him several times. Then I loaded and locked him in there several times. Then I loaded, tied, and locked him in there several times.
Then I took Cheetah out and tied her to the side of the trailer and repeated the process. Each time he walked calmly right on.
Then I took Cheetah and tied her somewhere else and repeated it all again. Again, he calmly loaded right on and off.
Sometimes, you just have to try something new. Do it from a different angle. Fresh perspective.
Part of me wonders if something happened on the way to the clinic. There were no signs other than the refusal to load. The only thing I can add is that tying seemed to cause him to worry when it has not in the past. All he wanted to do is look under the divider. Anyone have any advice for me?
I won’t call it redemption just yet, but we are getting there.
Sounds like a good enough ending? Ya, I thought so too.
There is more.
If all of that was not enough, Lito then decided he does not like to tie and is scared of kites.
That right there? I believe is actual footage of me watching my horse forget how to horse.
So. That is what we will be working on in addition to the trailer loading. Back to square one. But you know what. That is OK. We will work through this just like everything else and be better for it.
Maybe he is just in a phase. They all have their moments. We have had a very smooth road up until now. He never really had terrible twos. Some say they do it again, and worse, at four. Maybe this is how he wants to spend the last month of his four year old year. Throwing tantrums.
It is now my turn to throw the tantrum. You guessed it, it is not yet the end and there is more!
The fun is not over yet. It is like the infomercial that never ends!
I have to get a new car too! Too bad it will cost me more than $19.99.
So for all you bottom line folks, here are the AHA moment bottom lines…on the bottom lines. Haha get it? Bottom lines? No?
Today is a two cup of coffee kind of day. What about y’all? It seems every day this week has been a two cup day.
It appears as though I have been surprisingly void of any real, seemingly conscious thought to share. The truth is actually, probably the opposite, but we shall worry about that another day. I have not even taken very many photos. Weird.
But. We did do a thing last weekend. More than write home worthy. It has taken me a few days to digest the experience. And well, life keeps happening and has left me with not as much time for this space. Anyway.
See what I did there? You will soon find I have only four photos of my own to share with you from the whole weekend. I did get a few from one of the other participants of me riding on Sunday, so that is something. I also took zero notes. I intended to take notes, but when you are actually riding in a clinic, it is a lot going on. I did not get to watch as much as I wanted to either, but that is OK because hey, I got to ride!
We arrived on Friday around 4:30 PM. A little bit later than I had planed for, but all is well that ends well, right? Right. We unloaded and got settled in a stall while the last rider of the day finished his lesson. When the arena cleared out, I took Lito for a little stroll to have a looksee at the surroundings.
He was unimpressed by the pretty painted sticks.
After our stroll, I gave him his evening feed and tucked him in for the night to go check into my hotel and rustle up some dinner for myself.
Saturday morning I arrived at the barn at 7 to feed, take another walk around, and get some grooming in before the clinic started at 9. My ride time was at 11 so I watched the first lesson and part of the second before going to tack up.
I did a good job of keeping my anxiety in check once I got mounted in the area. It has been a long time, and a long time over due, since I have ridden in a clinic or taken lessons.
First order of business, bitting and conact. Lito has never really liked any bit I have put in his mouth and has always been fussy and worried about it every time we attempt contact. I have never really had or ridden horses that had bitting issues. They all just seemed to go happily in whatever you put in their mouth. Not the case with Lito and his fat tongue. I have tried different bits with no luck. It is one of the main reasons we have not really done much work towards getting collected and ‘on the bit’ and learning what all that means.
After going through a few transitions from the walk to the halt, back to walk and some turns, he suggested I try, if I wanted, a different bit with some tongue relief that he had for his horse that has a similar mouth. I replied in the affirmative. We gave him a minute to get used to the feel and then it was like a night and day difference. One minute he was shaking his head with his mouth gaped open and tongue flailing about and the next he was light as a feather and just there in the contact when he figured it out. Like floating on a cloud. Now we can start to build from there. Granted he still has a way to go and still has moments of confusion and worry, but nothing like before and I believe most of that will iron out with time.
By the way, I ordered that bit. I hesitated to do it a little because I did not want to be sold by a salesman trying to sell his own product. However, that really was not the case. He never once said, “buy this and it will fix all your problems.” He said, “hey, if you want to try this you can. Or I have a Myler you can try. Whatever you want. If you like it, that’s great, if you don’t, no worries.”
The rest of the lesson we focused on getting a soft and solid contact (mainly me being consistent and keeping my reins shorter and being there for him, closing the gap. My reins seem to always be too long.) and soft and solid transitions. Halt to walk to halt to back to halt to walk to trot to walk to halt. Maintaining that contact for a few strides and then letting him stretch and relax. Building that strength. Feeling that softness and openness of the transition from inside me and allowing them to happen. This is something that Mark is so great at. Getting everyone to be soft and open, mainly by being so himself. Searching for the feeling of what we want so the horse can meet us there. To achieve the same feeling in everything we do. He did not speak down to anyone or make anyone feel small. He wanted everyone, no matter the level, to achieve that inner softness and openness and to get better.
After a break for lunch, which I couldn’t really eat because I was just still a little high, I worked with Mark’s student to reestablish the level we got to during my lesson and take it a little further.
By the end of Saturday, Lito and I were a bit exhausted and hungry and ready for a shower and bed. I brought a pizza and a bottle of wine back to the hotel and crashed.
On Sunday I did the same morning routine as Saturday and settled in to watch the first lesson.
Then at 10, Lito got a Masterson Method body work session! Y’all. That was amazing to watch and Lito was very responsive and gave big releases. Mark’s wife, Crissi is certified in the Masterson Method. It was fun to watch her work because she is so quiet, soft, and confident like Mark.
I do not have any photos or videos of his session, but this is an introduction on the method. There are many videos out there to watch. I wish I had videoed his session!
It was about this time that the wind picked up and changed the energy of the day.
My lesson was at 2, so I watched what I could and then got tacked up. While I was waiting outside of the arena, a gust of wind made one of the standing tents take flight and every horse thought it was going to eat them. Unfortunately, that set the tone for the rest of the afternoon, but it gave us a chance to work through that tension and get his attention back on the task at hand by changing direction and going to do something else. Redirecting the energy. Not reacting to his responses.
I used a Myler bit that was similar to the bit I used on Saturday to see if Lito responded differently. I think he liked the bit from Saturday more than the Myler as he was a bit mouthy the whole lesson, but we got to a good soft place faster than we did on Saturday. It is all still new for him and with the tension/reactiveness caused by the wind, there was a lot going on. It will take a little time I think for him to break the habit of worry and tension created from the previous bits.
We did more transition work and building on what we did the day before. Being better about my consistency and defining the expectations. Teaching him where the boundaries are. Towards the end we got some really nice downward transitions keeping the energy, momentum, and push all the way through.
Afterwards we worked again with Mark’s student, G, but I probably should have opted out of that because he was just fried at this point. And I guess so was I.
All in all, I was quite proud of him. He handled himself very well. And. I will say. So did I. I am proud of the both of us. It was a great clinic and I am glad I did it. We have more to build on and a next level to reach now. We both received compliments and I am over the moon.
The afternoon was wearing on, Monday was fast approaching, and we had a ways to go to get home. I packed and loaded everything and lead Lito to the trailer…
I saw a young, male Cardinal this morning when I was taking Darcy out. I heard him before I saw him. He fluttered up from the branch of a hedge bush behind us and landed on my empty planter pot by my front door. I turned my head and could not help but smile as he looked at me. Then, he took flight across the lawn and went on his merry way. A vibrant spot of red color against the green grass and golden morning light. It was then that I noticed all the birds out on this fine morning were singing their happy songs.
I love all birds, but I think Cardinals are my favorite. Some say they are lucky. Some say they are God winking at you. I believe both. This will not be a surprise to some as I have written about Cardinals before.
Friday night’s sunset at the farm was quite spectacular. An array of colors all its own. I feel like I forgot what they looked like with the sun being constantly veiled behind the clouds.
There is nothing like having them all out there in the pasture grazing. With or without the painting in the background. So peaceful. Out of this world, really. It immediately transplants me.
Saturday started out sunny and the sun stayed out long enough for me to get a little color on my skin while Lito acted like he left his brain in his stall. Which is frustrating because that is not normal for him, but he is a horse and they have off days too. He just has less of them. Really, you can not blame him. It has been a while since I have really been able to work him because of all the rain. I was also riding like poo and was way too heavy handed on the reins. We were both having days I guess. I kept reminding myself that tomorrow is a new day.
Darcy enjoyed a serious nap in the sun before it went into hiding. I wish I could nap like a dog! Do you ever think that?
Sunday my Lito man tried to redeem himself which makes this gal a happy gal. Hopefully, we will make some good progress the clinic this coming weekend. We have done what we can with what we have to prepare. Here is to learning and bettering.
Today I am headed out on a quick overnight work trip. Actually, I’m sitting in the car on the road now. Starting to get car sick, so I must wrap this up. I already miss my Darcy and am ready for Friday to come so Lito and I can head out to get learned!
Because there are only a few more hours between me and this…
You want to know what else is yay? I get to find out if I am going to have a niece or a nephew on Sunday! I am thinking pink. I just have a feeling.
I have one more yay. I think spring has sprung. There is pollen everywhere! This is not so yay for allergies, but this is yay because things are going to get green and it is going to get warmer. That is reason enough for a happy dance. All that rain can finally get to work and grow some grass.
By the way, thanks for yesterday. I just needed to get that off my chest. It has been developing for a while now. I will let you know when I know.
A little dose of cuteness for you on this fine Monday.
The ever dirty, but awfully cute Darcy Doolittle. She can brighten any day.
I am choosing to believe this Monday to be fine. I am imagining the sun shining.
No clouds. No rain. We have not seen the sun shine for more than an hour at a time in I do not even know how long. ALL WINTER like this.
Riding this weekend was a little like a slip and slide at the walk, so that is what we did. Walked around bareback and trotted where we could. One of these days, I will get some real riding in. I won’t think about how long that will be. It all makes me long for the days that I had access to an indoor arena.
It also makes me think of that Kid Rock song. And this song, for a matter of fact.
Let us go to Mexico for the rest of the season.
Dreaming of Mexico, dear readers. Is that why I have eaten an exorbitant amount of Mexican food in the past couple of weeks?
I am not so sure, but I do not really have another answer.
So there I was at work yesterday, just working along, like you do. Hoping the afternoon just flies by. My phone starts to ring around 2 PM, well really buzz…but that doesn’t sound as nice, and I look over at the read out and see my mamma’s name.
I answer the phone. Always answer the phone when your mom calls. AHA moment. It is always worth it. I learned this long ago. The sooner you learn it the better. Anyway, back to aliens.
She had received word from someone that was doing some work out at the farm that the cows and horses were not where they were supposed to be and my dad could not be reached.
Naturally, the image of four horses colicing from eating cattle feed popped into my head. Or wrapped up in wire. Or impaled by fence posts. Or all three at the same time. You just never know. I grabbed my keys and ran out the door without another thought.
I stopped to pick up Darcy on the way in the case I could not get back to her. That hour long drive becomes exponentially longer when there is the possibility of something wrong.
FINALLY I arrive. I discover the majority of the cows two fences past where they are supposed to be, but luckily the horses were safely in their pasture…not colicing on cattle feed. Or wrapped up in wire. Or impaled by fence posts. After taking a minute to thank the Lord and take a breath, I put the horses in the stalls so I could move the cows back and go investigate.
Naturally the cows were looking at me all innocently like they themselves did not know how they got in there nor how to get out. Cows. I tell you.
Luckily for me, all I typically have to do to get the cows to move is open the gate and shake a bag of feed. Luckily for them, they listened and went back to their pasture.
I checked all the gates. They were closed. I checked the fence line of their pasture. No different than when I left Sunday.
I guess I will never know! It is a mystery. It was either aliens or they just wanted that clover really bad. Or my neighbor’s heifer, the naughty one that likes to jump. Definitely not what I expected to be doing yesterday, but then again, that is what animals are good for. Part of me is just waiting for another phone call today or tomorrow to tell me that the cows have learned to fly again. Oh well, any excuse to see the horses. Even if it is in my work clothes. And rainy.
Another day in the life. I do not think I will trade it for anything.
You know how when you were younger and smaller, innocent and wide eyed, how things appeared big and they stick in your memory that way? Then time goes by and you grow up and see those things again, but somehow they are smaller than you remembered? And you wonder just how in the world you ever thought they were that big?
That happened to me yesterday.
So there I was in the cloudy, windy, misty river bottom where the sun apparently does not like to play anymore. I spent the whole morning mucking out the barn and paddock around the barn. With the weather these days, the horses have been spending an exorbitant amount of time in there instead of out in the pasture. I really do not think I have ever scooped so much poop as I have in the last month and I have been riding and caring for horses my whole life. Anyway, that is not the point.
So there I was trying to decide what to do next. “I should be riding,” I thought to myself, but I do not like to ride when the ‘shoulds’ show up.
“Shoulds be darned” and I grabbed Cheetah’s bridle. We are going to go play and have fun. I bridled her up and headed to the fence to hop on.
Just then, H called. She was on her way to put in some work at the office. She likes to talk while she drives, as do I. We call it the dialies in our family. Anyway, I decided then and there that I would ride Cheetah for me and I would ride Lito next for her because she could not ride that day. She has not been able to ride in a while because of work. AHA moment. Always ride when you can. Life is too short and you never know when you won’t be able to and there are plenty of people who can not.
I stuck my phone in my pocket and talked to her on speaker phone for my whole lovely ride. Cheetah was lazy and behind my leg. Dare I say sluggish, which is somewhat of a nice change of pace. Then the sun showed up and I almost didn’t know what to do with myself.
For Lito, I decided to saddle up and ride my neighbor’s big pasture behind the barn.
I had not ridden that pasture in years. I used to ride it all the time on Fresca, my little palomino mare. She was quick, fast, and fun and I loved her. She had the best little jog and I could do anything on her. She was the best horse to grow up on. We rode all over the place bareback, nothing between me and her, feeling every thought. We had some amazing times, that mare and me. Whenever we would ride the pasture behind the barn, we would ride down to the river first and loop around to the clear frontage to have a look down the river and see if anyone was on the beach. Then we would continue up river and follow the tree line towards the big hill.
The hill was our favorite. The two track dirt road lazily meanders around to the low spot with rusty culvert before it goes straight up the hill to the little white church across the fence. The culvert was the starting gate in our games. We had different games in different places all around the river bottom, but here at the hill in the big pasture behind the barn, it was a race and she was the best race horse of the day.
Calm as could be, Fresca would walk up to the culvert as if neither of us had a plan to gallop to the top wearing red and white silks. As if we didn’t do it practically every time we came to the hill. An onlooker would not know what was about to happen, but the ones in the grandstand knew. Then, the bell would ring and in an instant, we would take off and fly to the top faster than all the greats.
Once at the top, we would come to a stop right by the church and listen to the church goers sing. I thought it was so cool that you could hear them sing when they were inside. By about that time I would start to feel hungry for breakfast so we would turn and head down the hill, cross the bog, and make our way back home where my mother was making pancakes.
Lito and I pushed our way through the overgrowth at the gate and then made our way down to the river. I will conveniently leave out the part where a crazy, lone cow chased followed us for a bit, so we got in some extra trotting before we got to the look out. After marveling at how the river bottom has changed since the two floods before Hurricane Harvey and then after Harvey, we tracked up river along the tree line towards the hill.
I was looking forward to a good lope up the hill for old time’s sake. I remember it being a bigger hill as hills go down here. At least big enough to lope for a bit. You know, feel the wind in your pony tail, or something like that. I had to laugh when the culvert at the base of the hill came into view. The big hill, in all its glory, looking back at me. I realized how small the hill actually is. Maybe ten strides long. Laughing, we went for a big trot up the hill instead. Being a Saturday, there were no church goers to listen to, so we turned and walked back. Half way there, the sun went behind the clouds, the wind picked up, and a few drops fell from the sky, but that didn’t dampen our spirits.
Funny how you remember things as a kid. I guess it is all just a matter of perspective. Back then I was little and more imaginative. Fresca was little. Today I am grown and Lito is quite a bit taller than ol’ Fresca. I think I will remember that hill as a big hill.
When the fog finally burned off this morning, it turned into a beautiful day. Cheetah and I had another ride in the pond pasture.
Now I am back at home. I did a very adult thing and sacrificed my day off tomorrow to do adult things instead of staying at the farm. I mean, look at those faces. So hard to leave them!
Naturally I did another very adult thing and procrastinated some of those things to clean and do laundry all afternoon and evening. Nothing like cleaning and laundry to procrastinate. Makes you feel like you got so much accomplished (which you did, so that is something) and takes enough time to keep you from doing what you need to do.
Looks like it will be a late night! Oh well!
Walk in love, dear readers, tomorrow is a new day!
And you just have to make the best of it. Conjure up your own rays of sunshine.
Most everywhere is too slick to do much ridden work faster than a walk or do much more than straight lines. So we plod through puddles pretending we are kids in rain boots. Well I am a kid in rain boots. Just enjoying what little time we get together. There is so much rain on the forecast, I just have to laugh and be grateful. I may not be able to get much riding done, which is unfortunate because I am riding in a clinic in about a month, but we will get some great grass growth whenever the sun decides to come out and play.
It all has me longing for spring and everything it entails.
All of this if you too need help remembering what it is like.
The Sunday blues rode in on that same grey cloud, as unwelcome as ever, pressuring me to do something about it. Just like always.
The end of last week brought some interesting…things. Dare I call them signs. That is a scary thing to admit. That they might be signs. It means you have to do something about it.
Most people would probably call them coincidences. I do not really believe in coincidences though. I am pretty firmly in the everything happens for a reason camp.
So here I am, or was as it were, over there, lost in the going through the day to day. Dazed and confused on the inside. Deep in this season of waiting. Longest dang season of waiting. Wondering if I missed the signs long ago. Ya, so there I was, and…Bam. Bam. Bam. One thing after the other.
Guess I need to go investigate and find out. I have no idea where or if they will lead to anything, but I will learn something.
You know, I generally think of Christmas and Thanksgiving as the best time of year. A close second has to be starting about right now.
It is glorious, wonderful, exciting and yet, at the exact same time, tortuous and agonizing.
What is it, you ask, that could possibly be all of those things?
Foaling season, my friends, foaling season.
Every year people all around me are sharing pictures of their cute and furry wobbly bundles of legs. A culmination of a year of waiting and even more planing.
It all brings me such joy! However, it absolutely turns me green. I mean, you might as well call me Irish.
I either want to go back to Lito being born or breed my Cheetah again!
It makes me crazy and jittery to see all these foals popping out. To see the images of them meeting their dams for the first time and getting to their feet for their first nurse. Exploring the world and figuring out miles of legs.
I all but have to sit on my wallet so I do not go out and book a breeding. Yes, it could be that easy! I already have a couple studs lined out if I am blessed enough to be able to breed again.
Does this all make me certifiable? Probably, but hey, I am more than OK with that.
Alas, until I can do what I call ‘the greatest experiment ever’ again, I will just relive the last one. And you have do that with me too. It is the perfect thing to do while waiting for my work conference to start.