Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In Which I Discover That I May Be A One Trick Pony...

The General...
Today was blissful, as about 70% of my day was spent in a barn.  This is unusual, and I offer a big thanks to my employer for shutting the offices for the holiday week and allowing me this luxury.  Not only did I ride the Sainted Mare, who was her usual Sainted self, but I got to ride my friend Libby's horse Stratego (pronounced Strah-teh-go, as in the greek word for General, not Struh-TEE-go, like the game.)

If you've been following for a while, you may remember Stratego from this post.  Stratego is very large (think good sized SUV) and very aware of his status as a prey animal.  He's also a big lovebug, and his greatest goal in life might just be to become somebody's lap dog.  We used to joke that Stratego was special, as in "little yellow bus" special, with his own place in the "Statego-sphere" but really, he's matured a great deal and has been quite an amazing boy in recent months. 

So I was pretty darn psyched when my trainer asked if I had time to ride him today.  He looked as happy to see me as I was to see him (I am the Auntie who does "scratchies" for him every night), and up I climbed...and climbed...and climbed and off we went.  Well, maybe not "off we went."  Stratego and Sug are completely different models, with completely different acceleration and braking, different gears, and well, a completely different on board computer system. 

Have you ever gotten into a rental car and driven off, only to find yourself in a rainstorm and without a clue as to where the wipers were located?  That was the first 20 minutes of my ride on Stratego.  His head was so far up in the air he resembled a well fed flea-bitten giraffe.  Touch his face too much and he'd actually speed up.  Add leg, and he'd shoot off like he'd been goosed.  Subtract leg, and he'd stall.  The experience was quite humbling, really.  And fun, since I had to start from square one and re-introduce myself to him, and figure out which buttons to push and which to avoid.

For instance, I initially took the Supportive Auntie route when he had to give every fence in the ring VERY CAREFUL CONSIDERATION, despite the fact he'd jumped them all at least 56 times before.  After a while, though, I began to get the impression that I was being played, so I dropped Supportive Auntie in favor of Benevolent Dictator.  His reaction? "Oh, you're right, those fences aren't cougars.  We're safe. Off we go!"

I won't say our ride was a thing of beauty, but eventually it became less like that game of charades you see when you come across a tourist in a foreign land trying to communicate with a local and more like a somewhat halting but mostly comprehensible dialogue.  I'm hoping to have a few more rides on Stratego before Libby returns, so I can become more fluent in Stratego-ese.  He really is a wonderful teacher, and because of that, he got quite a few scratchies from Auntie Amy.

Thank you, Libby, for going on vacation!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and This Year's Holiday Card...

Thanks to everyone for following along with us. 

It's been a pleasure and a privilege to have you along for the ride,

and we wish you and yours the Best of the Season and a Joyous New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Feeling Brave and Going Bareback...

What Santa Needs to Bring Me If I
Plan to Keep Riding Bareback
Tee hee, I've had a glass of wine and just realize that headline's a bit saucy.  What the heck, I'm going with it.

I'm a bit ho-ho-hoed out, to the point that when my daughter asked "Don't you wish Christmas came twice a year?" my unedited response was a vehement "Hell NO!"  And there's more money spent on therapy for the progeny...Not gonna be bringing home that Mother of the Year statuette this year.  Sigh. 

Adding to holiday stress is the fact that this is my busiest season at work, and let's just say that I'm wound so tight I'm vibrating.  So the barn was necessary tonight.  I needed my mare fix like I needed oxygen. 

Sometimes when I feel like this I say the heck with serious riding and simply play.  My daughter and I decided it would be fun, and a good exercise in balance, to ride the girls around bareback.  Easier for Sophie than for me.  Cookie is a round pony with a flat back and mutton withers.  My Warmblood mare may be wide, but her Thoroughbred ancestry is apparent in her prominent withers and backbone.  You'd think the backbone would be advantageous in terms of holding you in place (don't want to get graphic here, but I'm sure you get the drift) but not so much.  Pretty much just makes things reeeaaaalllly uncomfortable.  I'm guessing the Native American's had flat backed horses with no withers, cause judging from all the pictures they weren't wearing all that much under those buckskins.

So, we rode bareback.  My mount was not exactly a thing of beauty.  Sug must've reverted back to instinct and thought she was being boarded by a ravenous cougar, as she shot forward and then stopped and looked back with a seriously annoyed WTH expression.  The walk parts were fine.  The trot bits not so much.  She's slippery, and I had a hard time relaxing and sitting into that backbone. Things would go well for about 50 feet, then Sug would feel me lose my balance a bit and make an executive decision to come down to the walk.

Naturally, if the trot isn't going well, you should try the canter, right?  Of course!  Actually, Sug's a lot like a big old cantering couch, so it was not an unreasonable assumption that the canter would go better than the trot.  So we cantered, around and around, and threw in the odd circle, and all went well.  I could relax and sit into her, and it was really neat to feel her back and side muscles moving.  I was feeling really good about myself, so just to keep me honest she shook her head and threatened to buck, and I humbled right up.

All in all it was a fun, easy, playful ride.  She was happy and relaxed, and walking with her head down low, snorting and sighing away. I was happy, and sighed a few times, but did not snort.

It was fun, but if I make a habit of this, I might have to invest in a bareback pad or a pair of breeches with a built in gel seat.

Hey, I might be on to something there!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crops as Props and Back to Basics...

Who needs a ShouldersBack
when you've got one of these?
 I love winter for a couple of reasons, namely big comfy sweaters and warm socks, and the fact that it's “Back to Basics” time at the barn. Call me nuttier than a Christmas fruitcake, but I love all the drill work and position fixing exercises, the cavaletti and the gymnastics. I’ll happily twirl around on the end of a longe line, lesson after lesson, because I know that soon after the immediate torture (awkwardness?) is over, I’ll see results.

I have a secondary reason for being so happy to take a step back this winter. My confidence, never great to start with, has been severely shaken since my fall. Sure, I can tell myself to “Suck it up,” or “Get over it already,” but that doesn't really work. I can also visualize perfect courses and good outcomes until the cows come home. I know I “CAN” go out and jump a 3’ course, and can remember times when I’ve done it quite well, but at the moment, I am not just not comfortable doing it.

So, I am putting my armchair psychology degree, obtained through my one college course (decades ago) numerous self-help books, hours of Internet research and a couple of Dr. Phil episodes, to work and have used my problem solving skills to outline a plan: I’m taking a step back until I feel comfortable going forward.

In essence, by working on the things I can control, such as my position, balance and strength in the saddle, and eye for distances, I feel I am minimizing my risk, enlarging my comfort zone, and better equipping myself to succeed when I AM ready to move back up. Make sense? It does to me.

Enter “Crops as Props.” The last couple of lessons have involved riding either with a dressage whip behind my back and through my elbows, or holding a crop in my hands between my thumbs and index finger. The whip behind the back thing has been great in terms of bringing my shoulders back, making me use my hands less, and forcing me to use my seat, legs, and core more (OUCH. Core? What core?) When we jump cavaletti and small fences, it prevents me from picking at Sugar with my reins in hopes of micromanaging to a distance, which pleases her no end, and since I can’t over-use my hands, I’m forced to utilize my other aids and work on my balance.

The lesson after the dressage whip lesson was the crop held horizontally between the hands under the thumbs lesson. Yes, it helps keep the hands still and together and eliminates piano hands, but even more importantly, it forces you to really rely on using your seat and leg aids when turning. One exercise had us spiraling in and out on a circle while cantering - easier said than done. Then we cantered in a small circle over a cavaletti. Holy crap – you may THINK you’re pretty effective with your aids, but these exercises will tell you in a heartbeat if you really are. The funniest part was when we were jumping a small course and had to do a rollback turn: I’m guessing I looked like the Captain of the Titanic trying to turn thr ship away from the iceberg. Not a pretty sight.

Trust me, these lessons are ugly as sin while they’re happening, but after each of these "Back to Basics" lessons my next ride has been great since my position and aids are stronger and more effective. While hacking the other day I did the canter circle over the cavaletti exercise and found myself getting 90% of my distances, landing on the correct lead consistently and maintaining a smoother, more consistent rhythm.

Coincidence? I think not. And the confidence thing? Slowly growing…

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Birthday Gift...

Birthday Flowers. 
(Note the freshly polished paddock boots in the background.)
 They say it's your birthday!  It's my birthday too!  Yeah, yeah, had to have the obligatory Beatles moment there.  What can I say, you just can't mess with the classics.

So, I'm not gonna bore you much today.  Got a lot planned - massage, barn time, decorating for the holidays and then the IMMENSE FUN of having my husband make dinner and a cake for me!  Yep, I pulled the birthday princess card.  Everyone else in this house gets their favorite meal and cake made for them, darnit, and I wanted my turn.  Yes, and I AM going to make everyone watch one of MY favorite movies tonight, and yes, it will probably involve either one of the Hepburns (Audrey or Katherine) or Jane Austen.  I've watched enough Clint, Disney, and Terminator. Again, today it's all about MOI.

Actually, it's not.  My first item of action, after the necessary morning latte, was to give a gift.  Yup, you read that right. I said GIVE a gift.  I'm a very lucky girl, and I know that, so I decided to pay a little bit of that forward and to make today a day about giving and not getting.  I may not know why I'm on this earth, but until I figure it out, I'm going to operate under the premise that it just might be to bring a little niceness into somebody's day.

So, in honor of my birthday, I just donated money to one of my favorite equine rescue organizations, Mylestone Equine Rescue. Mylestone dedicates themselves to abused and neglected horses, as well as educating the public about the plight of unwanted horses.  They try to find forever homes for their rescues, but if they can't, Mylestone becomes the rescued animal's permanent home.

If you'd like to make a donation, sponsor a Mylestone Rescue Horse for the holidays, or find out ow you can volunteer your valuable time in service, click here.  You'd be helping making the world a better place for those animals that make our world a better place.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sugar's Christmas Wish...

This is a post I originally did for a blog I am fortunate to contribute to occassionally, Horse Junkies United.  If you haven't seen it, you might consider checking it out, lotta great stuff over there.  Since some of you may have missed it over there, I thought I'd re-post it here on AWIP.

Madame Mare has made it known over the course of the last few lessons that she's a bit bored with the rinky dink jumps she's been doing lately.  She's been quietly carrying my son over cross rails and maybe a few 2' fences.  Since my fall I've been jumping smaller fences in order to rebuild my confidence, and the baby fences we've been doing have left her less than impressed and looking around the ring for something a bit more challenging. 

I'm not kidding.  In order to add a little fun to her day, she's been making a bid at even the smallest fences, although thankfully only with me, never with 'her boy.' She has also indicated she might consider a 'rider override' a few times by subtly attempting to change course in favor of a large oxer instead of the teensy cavaletti I was pointing her at.  During my lesson the other day we came out of a turn to a stacked cavaletti she was clearly bored with, and she poured on the gas and rocketed out of the turn with her head swiveling back and forth, clearly looking for a more interesting option.  So it was no surprise when I received this communication from The Sainted One this morning:

Dear Mom,
I overheard you talking about your Christmas list and thought maybe Santa and the Yuletide Powers That Be might be interested in hearing from me.

I'd like to point out that I've been a very good mare this year.  (Hence the name Sainted Mare, after all.)

I've been the model of equine partnership. I've carried your foals safely in lessons, hacks, and on trail rides, stand patiently and quietly when they groom me, and never, EVER mistake small fingers for treats.  I don't complain when they catch me in my mouth or come crashing down on my back, or do my mane and tail up in weird styles with those hair thingies the girl child has.

I am happy to go forward, backward and sideways whenever you ask me to.  I have acquiesced to your desire to go on solo trail rides, even though I know it is always safer to travel in a herd.  I have crossed puddles, streams, and other highly suspect bodies of water, against my better judgement (crocodiles and trolls and other Mare Eating Predators clearly inhabit all bodies of water).  I have jumped whatever you have pointed me at. (Except when you asked for ridiculously impossible and unsafe distances that would have endangered our safety, in which case I respectfully declined. It was NOT MY FAULT you decided to jump that one at the horse show without me.)

I have not bitten the donkey, although she plagues me no end.  (No, pinning my ears and threatening to bite is NOT the same thing as actually biting.)  I also have not bitten any of the annoying barn canines.  (Again, pinning my ears and threatening to bite is NOT the same thing as actually biting. No mark, no foul.)  The small punting incident with that canine nuisance Lillian was really not my fault.  She should not have been chasing me while I was on the longe line, and you have to admit, she hasn't come into the ring or chased a horse on the longe line since.

I also let you put embarrassing Santa hats on me and take pictures, which to my utter mortification you disseminate to hundreds of people via the mail and to God knows how many via the Internet.  If this alone does not qualify me for sainthood, I don't know what does.

I am an imported Royal Dutch Sport Horse.  Emphasis on Royal.  I am a daughter of Indoctro, consistently one of the top ranked jumper sires in the world, and a granddaughter of Nimmerdor, the KWPN Stallion of the Century.  My pedigree contains numerous international and national level jumper champions. I am bred to jump.  I am bred to jump respectably sized jumps. 

The one thing I would really like for Christmas is to be able to jump a course of jumps worthy of a mare of my stature.  It would be so exhilarating to test myself over a series of challenging obstacles again.  I know you're not feeling like that's something you'd want to do right now, so maybe one day before Christmas you could let Annabel do a training ride on me?  It would be so much fun, and would make me very happy.

Can we do this, please?  I have been a very good mare...


Sugar, aka Your Beloved Sainted Mare

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stoned Ponies...

Christmas came early for my girls.  No, I did not put anything "special" in their Stud Muffins! They were treated an early Christmas present,  a visit from Dr. Amy Peterson, DVM, our chiropractor/acupuncturist.  I'll blog (blather?) more about acupuncture and chiropractic at a later date, but just couldn't resist sharing these pics of the girls really enjoying their needles!

Stoned Pony: Cookie doesn't have a problem
with needles anymore!!!

Could that lip be any lower, Sug?

You attach the electric wire to the the metal bolt and POOF! FrankenMare!
What can I say? It's late, and I had to sit through a Holiday Concert. LOL! As you can see, both ladies clearly enjoyed this little spa session.  Dang, I really wanna be one of my mares -- a little needle zapping sounds pretty good right about now!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Guest Post from Bob Goddard: "Reality Bites"

My new blogging buddy, Bob Goddard, is a truly funny guy.  He's a parent of two horse crazy girls, whose equestrian exploits gave him the inspiration to write "Horse Crazy: A Tongue-in-Cheek Guide for Parents of Horse-Addicted Girls." I wholeheartedly recommend it, even if you're not a parent.  He's got a true understanding of the horse-addicted and his observations will have you rolling on the floor.   You may also want to check out his blog, Bob the Equestrian, which chronicles Bob's recent transition from observer to rider.  His descriptions of the agonies of learning to post recalled my own trials, lo these many moons ago.

Bob and I decided to trade guest posts after discussing our viewpoints on Christmas and Ponies, and the wisdom of combining the two. I am the forever 8 year old girl, dreaming of that be-ribonned pony.  Bob represents the dose of reality we horse crazy girls need!

I hope you enjoy Bob's guest post, and hopefully we'll see more of his stuff here on A Work in Progress!

A More Appropriate Indoor Present...

A few holiday seasons ago, a major auto manufacturer ran a television ad with a pony in it. I would like to offer a rebuttal.

The commercial featured a young girl in flashback mode imploring her future self not to forget “the best Christmas present ever,” a pony named Dolly. “Remember you yelled so loud the neighbors heard you?” the girl reminded her adult self. “Ann Marie was so jealous”.

Yes, Ann Marie was so jealous that she dropped her new Breyer model to the floor the instant she laid eyes on Dolly standing in her (former) BFF’s living room. You know how bad girls get.

The commercial concluded with the girl’s adult-self declaring that her brand new car was now “the best Christmas present ever”. Move over Dolly, you lost your blue ribbon.

We need to take a closer look at this. Flashback Girl was describing a singular moment, an instant of undiluted euphoria. A snapshot in time, if you will. While that snapshot gave her a lifetime of memories, there is more to this than a fantasy come true. If every picture is worth a thousand words, we should be able to deduce something about the before and the after of the Dolly Snapshot. You know, those gritty details of real life that make an island of such moments. Look out: here comes the Grinch with an ice-cold bucket of reality.

The Before is easy to figure out. As an experienced father of two horse-crazed daughters, I am absolutely convinced it was the dad, in the role of “hero”, who bought Dolly for the girl. And I’m equally certain that Hero Dad bought Dolly without the mother’s knowledge. And to complete the Before Picture, Hero Dad snuck Dolly into the family living room behind the mother’s back. All told, a monumental achievement. But not a smart one.

We know this about the father’s role in the Before Picture because Hero Dads rarely involve themselves or even think about the details of the After Picture. And if you know anything about the equine digestive system, you already know something about the After Picture of bringing a nervous pony into the living room. No doubt the neighbors heard two screams that special morning.

The Best Place for
"The Best Christmas Present Ever!"
 The problem with reality is that it keeps coming at you day after day. Dolly will expect to be fed. And probably soon. And then soon after that. Where will all the hay, grain and supplements come from? And where will it be stored? And what, pray tell, is this family going to do with the ever-expanding manure pile?

Someone will have to turn Dolly out every day. And bring her back in at night. Once the barn gets built, that is. Someone will have to groom her, pick her hooves, and muck her stall. Someone will have to schedule vet and farrier appointments.

Who is going to do all of this? In a Just World, Hero Dad would be assigned to these tasks. In a Smart World, the girl would have to learn how to do it all. In Our World, the mom would be doing it. Until (cue Carol Channing): Well, goodbye Dolly.

Meanwhile, next door, Ann Marie goes on to complete her Breyer model collection. Her future adult self puts the whole thing on e-Bay and this nets her a cool ten grand (important note: her boring parents made Ann Marie save the original boxes). And with the money her parents saved by not buying her a pony, they were able to send her to a nice college where she majored in marketing. Today, Ann Marie’s future adult-self makes a six-figure income producing TV commercials for major automobile manufacturers.

On the other hand, I suppose things could have been different for Dolly and her new family. With the right attitude and preparation, the parents could have worked together to use “The Best Present Ever” as an opportunity to teach their daughter about responsibility and dedication. It would have required a lot of work and sacrifice from everyone. But in the process of caring for Dolly, the girl would develop a bond with the pony far more meaningful than that initial rush of excitement on Christmas morning. With the New Culture of Dependency about to engulf us all, it’s nice to think that parents can still find ways to help their kids develop the confidence and self-reliance they will need in order to become fully functioning human beings.

Or maybe that’s just my fantasy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Best Part of Last Night?

This is the kind of fun you can have
with a Cairn terrier
It was NOT the joy of driving an hour (Each way. Uphill.) through horizontal quasi-freezing rain and snarled traffic whilst the offspring indulged in a game of "he said-she said" and Stooge-like eye-poking.

It wasn't the bliss of sitting in the comfort of a heated lounge whilst enjoying a glass of wine and watching the aforementioned offspring take a lesson, improve their riding skills and their bond with the horses. ( I didn't get to watch the lesson. My barn buddy Libby -- there you are in print again, Libby! - and I were huddled over her computer working on a Christmas project. Although there was wine involved, so that was good.)

It wasn't even the joy of hearing the kid's laughter as they played with Libby's adorable Cairn terrier Percy.  (Seriously?  You wanna have some fun?  Get yourself a Cairn terrier, a ball, and a couple of objects you can jump, and see what kind of giggles you can get up to.)

The best part of the night was going into my mare's stall, parking my butt in the corner on a pile of (clean) banked shavings, and just sitting there while she put her big ol' head in my arms and we just breathed each other in.  That, my friends, was the best part of my night.  As far as I can see, it just doesn't get much better than that.

(Oh, and if you thought today's post was going to be a bit racier based on the post's title, I'm sorry to disappoint. But since this is the Internet and my kids do read this blog occasionally, sometimes I gotta try to take the high road and keep it PG-13. LOL.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Wishes and Ponies...

Umm, I meant a REAL pony!
Is there a little girl in the history of the planet that has not at one point pestered her parents beyond the point of madness for a pony?  Christmas has to be the worst time of the year for the parents of horse crazy girls, because unless you can actually afford to make said be-ribboned pony magically appear in the barn or pasture, you know that no matter what other amazing presents you've placed under the tree, you are doomed to failure.  Because your little equestrienne would give up every Wii, Barbie Dream House, bike, or Aeropostale wardrobe for just one teensy weensy equine.

As you can see from the picture, I was such a girl, and even at the tender of age of not quite two I was less than impressed with the plastic rocking horse  Nance and Frank were trying to pass off on me.  Yup, I may have been a toddler, but I was no dope.  This was clearly a PLASTIC pony, and an unacceptable substitution when I'd requested a real, flesh and blood pony.

Maybe you are from my era  or are extremely literate and know of the book " A Very Young Rider" by Jill Krementz.  The book was one of a series of photographic essays done by Krementz that chronicle the lives of preternaturally talented and precocious young overachievers.  The rider who was featured was named Vivi, and I wanted to be her so badly it hurt.  She had a pony, her big sister trained with George Morris and she trained with one of his assistants.  The story followed a year in her life of training and showing, and at the end she outgrew her pony and had to sell it, but lo and behold, on Christmas morning there was another one waiting for her in her barn!  I'll admit it, on the one hand I was thrilled for Vivi, but on the other hand I was so jealous I could have spit. My parents HATED this book, and would roll their eyes and run for cover whenever I took it out of the library.

I'm older now, and although I did not get her on Christmas, my dream eventually did come true and I am blessed enough to have a horse of my own.  I think a part of me is still a small girl at heart, and able to immediately identify with the child when I see something like the video below.  Makes you wish all little girls and boys who wish for ponies could get them, doesn't it?  More importantly, it makes you wish that every pony or horse had it's very own child to love it. 

Go ahead, tell me you can watch this without full on bawling.  The little girl's excitement was precious, but what really broke me down was the look on the pony's face.  You almost heard that pony sigh, "FinallyFinally I have a little girl."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A "Back to Basics" Lesson...

My New Best Friend...
 My work schedule and my neck (post lawn dart trauma) have both calmed down enough to allow a return to more regular lessons.  The thing is, my fitness and my confidence aren't where they were before the fall.  Well duh, of course not, right?  So, what do you do when you're feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure of your abilities?  You retrench and go back to basics, of course!  In this case, the longe line.

I'm a big believer in function following form.  I feel that my horse's ability to do her job effectively depends largely on my ability to do mine correctly.  One of the issues I have when jumping a a course is that as the course progresses the more out-of-control I feel things get.  As identified in my lesson with Eric Horgan and in lessons with my trainer, one of the things I have a problem with is recovery after the fence.  Specifically, I need to stop congratulating myself on surviving for three strides after the fence and just sit up and ride.  We think that the issue is my core strength and tendency to jump ahead. 

Hence, the longe line.  Lots of work without stirrups.  Sitting trot, posting trot (owwwwww!) arms up in airplane position w/ arms still (as opposed to flapping like leaves in gale force winds) and two point (double owwwww!)  Rinse and repeat in canter.  Anyone care to guess what color my face was?  I'll give you a hint -we're talking somewhere north of fuchsia on the color scale.  I really liked the airplane arms exercises, as it really allows you to feel how your core and back can be strong and supple and completely independent from your upper back and elastic arms.

Another fun (and painful) exercise we did was the drop your stirrups at the posting trot and then pick them up again.  Sounds easy, right?  Umm, not so much.  At least not for me.  You know the phrase a monkey humping a football?  I'm imagining it looked somewhat like that. 

After that we did some work cantering a low fence with me putting my hands out in airplane position.  Again, working on my balance.  Let me tell you, you need a STRONG lower leg position and core in order to pull this off.  As I have neither, lets just say the silver lining here is that there's nowhere to go but up!  We then did some work over a small gymnastic to concentrate some more on keeping my body still, and wrapped the lesson up by sending me over a small course to see if the whole "keeping the body still and not jumping ahead of the horse" thing had gotten any traction.

I'm pleased to report that there was some progress.  Clearly I have a long way to go, and thankfully there's a long winter in front of me with many longe lessons and no stirrup work.

In the meantime, I'm off to go find the Tiger Balm and a hot pack.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Much Needed Equi-Therapy...

This pretty much illustrates how I felt about this past week.
Ever have one of those weeks where you just feel like you're the bug under somebody's boot heel?  The sense of helpless frustration when you're powerless to affect change of any kind?  That was my week.  Some people can handle that kind of a week with graceful aplomb. Not me.  With me there's lots of gnashing of teeth, hand wringing, occasional foot stomping, and fantasies of retribution.

Hey, I said I was an adult - I never claimed to be mature. 

So anyway, lousy week.  Between being wretchedly sick and issues at work I hadn't been able to get to the barn in 5 days, which added to my cranky factor.  I was able to go tonight, and was scheduled to have a lesson.  Part of me was tempted to schedule the lesson as it had been so long since I'd ridden, and adding that to my less than sunny frame of mind did not bode well in terms of having a productive lesson.  I seriously considered just bailing on the lesson and just hacking Sug.

I pulled Sug out of her stall and began to groom her, all the while griping to my best barn buddy.  As I griped and groomed, Sug kept turning her head and shoving me in my arm or shoulder.

Hey!  Where's my treat?  You forgot to give me my treat.  What's up with that?

Sorry Sug, can you wait a bit, I'm trying to tell Libby about my crappy week.

Wait?  Why?  For how long?  And how come you didn't do kisses?  We always do kisses when you come.  You hug me and kiss my nose and I lick you.  That's what we do.

I'm sorry Sug, I just needed to talk to Libby and calm down.

You're not calming down, you're getting worked up.  It's because we didn't do the kisses. I'm the best friend here.  You should be grooming me and talking to me and giving me kisses because that's what makes you feel better.  Must I tell you everything?  Give me my nose kisses and go get my saddle and we will go ride and then it will be fine.

So I did what I was told, tacked her up and went in to the ring for my lesson. Surprisingly, I didn't ride badly.  Thankfully, tonight focused on trot poles and gymnastics, which I love.  I love them because once I get her to the gymnastic, my job is pretty much to support with my legs but other than that, stay in the middle and out of her way.   I can't over think, definitely should not over-ride, and that is a good thing for a control freak /over-analyzer like me. 

The Sainted Mare pretty much took control and we bounded through the sets of rails.  A couple of times I had to correct for her right drift or add a bit more leg at the base, but most of the exercise was just letting Sug do all the work and take care of us.  About halfway through I noticed I was feeling way more relaxed and at peace with my world, and let out a deep breath while stroking her shiny neck.  She let out a big sigh immediately after I did and turned around to look back at me.

Took you long enough.  You do realize you clench when you're stressed, you know.  I'm going to need another massage after schlepping you around tonight.

Yes, dear, I know.  I'll work on you after we're done.

So after my lesson I groomed her and massaged her a bit, and getting rid of her tension got rid of the last of mine.

See, I'M the best friend.  You always feel better after talking to me and grooming me and kissing my nose.  I bet you'll feel really good after you give me some of those Stud Muffins and I tell you how much I enjoyed them by licking you all over.

You know something?  My Big Girl was right.

Of course I was right.  I'm always right. When WILL you get that through that tiny little cranium of yours?

Someday, Sug.  I promise. Good night, Mare.  I love you.  See you tomorrow.  And thank you.

You're welcome.  See you tomorrow.  Don't forget the treats.

Can I tell you how much I love that horse?