Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In Which The Sainted Mare is a Complete Twit...

He may look cute and harmless,
but Sug knows he's a deadly mare assassin.
Yep.  Normally she's as bombproof as horse gets. Today, however, the Sainted One's halo slipped. Big Time.

Okay, she's just coming back into work after some time off on the IR so she may be feeling frisky.  However, before her recent boo-boo she was on light duty with the kids while I was sick.  Long story short?  She's fat as a house and very out of shape, which normally makes her lazy as heck.  Portly mares should not be on their toes and on the muscle.  Just sayin'.

It was hot as blazes last night so we did our serious work in the shade of the indoor and she was fine in there.  Lazy, even.  No surprise. Then my son and I decided to cool the horses by walking them in the field.  This will be nice and relaxing, I thought.

I thought wrong.

We were approaching the first field when I noticed the deer.  I turned in my saddle to remind the Boy, the one who was riding the Sensitive Thoroughbred, to keep his weight in his heels and a steady contact with Jame's mouth.  I'd planned on offering additional advice, but before the words had passed my lips The Sainted Mare snorted and did an abrupt 180 to the left, which had my yap snapping shut and forced me to concentrate on staying in the saddle.  Our Mach-1 turn on the haunches left us facing Noah and James and, God help me, the deer that had materialized about 20 feet behind them.  Sug saw that deer and whirled around again, this time to the right.  Somehow I managed to stay in the saddle through this spin as well.  (I've always been really impressed by reiners, but after these spins, they've been elevated to new heights in my estimation.)

The Sensitive Thoroughbred behind us? Stood like a stone the whole time, clearly wondering what the fuss was all about.

Smart people would probably have given up at that point.  Well, I'm not too bright, so onward we went.  We got about 20 yards before we saw more deer; two adolescents were grazing contentedly about 50 yards away.  "Awww, look at the cute deer," we said.  The cute deer were clearly also Rabid Kamikazi Deer, as they took one gander at us and decided to Gallop. Across.The. Field. Directly. At. Us.  Sug took that opportunity to crap herself and do a 360-plant-snort maneuver that had Baby Buck Rabid Kamikazi deer doing the same. Sug snorted and planted her feet again. So did BBRK.  I kid you not.  This really happened.

What did James, the Sensitive Thoroughbred do?  Nothing. Nada. Bupkus.  Just stood and and watched the deer like he was watching some kind of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom re-run.

You'd think I'd have wised up and headed back by now.  You'd be wrong.  I'm a special kind of stupid, it would seem.  A glutton for punishment, even.  By golly, I was gonna put a stop to this spook nonsense and enjoy myself a nice trail ride.  We continued on into the next field, where Sug decided to spook at a tire fence she's seen at least 3200 times.  So we spent some time sight seeing around the tire jump making sure there were no trolls, cougars, or alligators lurking about. 

I finally lost it when she spooked at a crow that had been in our line of sight for-freaking-ever.  At that point I announced that I was officially done with the drama llama crapola and I asked her do shoulders-in and haunches-in and leg yields the rest of the way back to the barn to keep her overactive pea-sized brain concentrating on something other than imaginary predators.  She expressed her displeasure by grunting and huffing, but settled down and refrained from further silliness. 

The Sensitive Thoroughbred followed us quietly home, his halo firmly in place right over the top of his handsome Thoroughbred head. 

The very good Sensitive Thoroughbred
sharing some love with his Boy

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Chance to Help Out...

Have you ever been overwhelmed?  In a situation where life knocks you around and swamps you, and you dream of just one hand reaching out and helping you on that first step out of difficulty to better times ahead?  One of our fellow equestrians needs that helping hand.

From Horse Junkies United:
On June 9th at 6:30am, 22 year-old Virginia eventer Talia Czapski was on her way to work at the barn with a friend, when their car was hit in a head-on collision by an unlicensed, speeding, 19 year-old drunk driver.

Talia had to be airlifted to Inova Fairfax hospital with two broken femurs, a broken hand and a broken foot. She successfully underwent surgery and is now in the rehab facility at Mt. Vernon Hospital in Alexandria VA. Her injuries are debilitating, and faces a painful and long-term convalescence.

Her trainer Lee DiGangi said: “This is a lovely, kind, hard-working, decent and wonderful young woman (only 22, working her way through college AND working full time to support her horse Aria), she has toiled for everything she has and is the opposite of an “entitled young person”. She got her mare for free (after she failed a PPE and no one wanted her), and nursed her back to soundness. She has been patient and tireless.”

Without the ability to work (she was holding 2 jobs to afford her riding expenses), the long recovery and medical bills, it will be difficult for Talia to care for her mare so her friends have set up a fundraising website (click on this link) to help cover Talia’s horse bills: “We are all pitching in to help so that Talia doesn’t have to worry about Aria’s care while she is healing. If we are able to raise enough to cover Aria’s board, farrier, vet and other misc expenses, this will greatly ease Talia’s mind – and will be a Godsend not only to her, but to her family and friends.”
Patricia Da Silva, founder of Horse Junkies United and ECOGOLD's Marketing VP said, "I asked the big boss at ECOGOLD (aka – my father) if we could organize a fundraiser where a percentage of sales would be donated to help Talia. And… he said YES!"

So, here are the details for the ECOGOLD fundraiser - please feel free to share!  Remember, if you don't need anything from ECOGOLD you can also donate here if you are moved to do so.

ECOGOLD will donate 20% on ALL ORDERS placed in the EVENTING SECTION of the website, which has been renamed Talia’s Fundraiser, until June 25 2013 (one week).

If anyone would like any item in another section (Dressage, Hunter/Jumper) to count towards this fundraiser, just write “Talia’s Fundraiser” in the comments and it will be added to the total.

Thanks you for reading, sharing, donating, or offering good thoughts Talia's way.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Holy Flying Feathers!

OMG, one of my Facebook friends posted this and I had to share.  If this does not put a smile on your face, well, I'm at a loss.

How can you not smile at the sight of a herd of Shires galloping down a race track, feathers a'flying?

The gentle giants were ridden by professional jumps jockeys (a bit different from a normal day at the office for these boys, I'd wager) and the race was put on to raise awareness of the Shire breed, which is considered "at risk" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

Congrats all around to Joey, the winner, and all his connections.  To read more about the race, and to see adorable pics of the big horses getting all dolled up for the big event, click here.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Day of Firsts...

Yesterday dawned bright and early for Noah and I, as we were up at o'dark thirty putting the final touched on our preparation for his first show of the season.  Not only was it the first of the season, it was his first in two years (he was injured last year).  Add to that the fact that it was the first time we were to show James, so there were a few nerves bouncing around as had breakfast and got ready.

Seems like most of the nerves were on my side of things.  James is an OTTB, and can be a little forward, and likes a soft ride.  He's very tolerant of my kids and their mistakes, but the kids do have to be mindful to give him the subtle, soft ride he needs.  I was having all manner of Mom Moments, worrying that James would be overly worried about the show surroundings and a bit too keen for Noah to handle.  Rationally, I knew we had plans in place to handle things - we could longe James, our trainer could ride him, we could always scrap showing and just school - but well, I'm a Mom, and I worry. End of story.

Noah is much better about these things.  When I asked how he felt, he admitted to feeling a few butterflies, but mostly because it had been so long since he'd shown.  He was more concerned with making sure James felt as comfortable and relaxed as possible; he was worried that being in the trailer alone would cause James to think he was being sent off to a new home or to race again.  Noah's goal, he said, was to make sure James felt secure and that he gave James the kind of ride that would make the show a good experience for James.  He added that getting a ribbon would be really nice, but that he really wasn't expecting much.

Seriously, where does this child come from????  If I wasn't driving when he said this I would have reached over and hugged the heck out him.  Very.Proud.Mom.Moment.

We arrived at the grounds just as our trainer unloaded James, and James surprised us all by looking around his surroundings alertly, but showing no real signs of serious apprehension.  I went off to the show office to sign them up.  About 10 minutes later I happened to look outside, and noticed a tall, gangly boy schooling a tall dark brown horse.  I did a classic double take once I registered it was Noah on James, as I'd expected to see our trainer on him, or at least that he would been longed.  James had been so relaxed back at the trailer that Jenny told Noah the plan was to have him just hop on and school James, as it made no sense to work the horse more than he needed.  James trotted and cantered around the muddy ring with no problem, hopped over a few fences, schooled a course, and Jenny decided it was best to leave it at that.

She and Noah discussed their strategy for the flat classes.  As James had been a racehorse, Jenny felt it would be best for Noah to keep him out of traffic as much as possible in order to keep from arousing his competitive instincts.  Noah followed her instructions to the letter, circling or cutting across the ring to keep James away from the other horses.  This worked well in their first class, where they placed second.  In the second flat class James became a little strong on the second canter trip, but luckily the judge did not ask them to canter for long and James came back immediately when Noah asked.  They placed fourth in that class.

Then came the jumping classes.  This is the part where Noah's lack of experience can hurt him, as when he gets nervous he gets stiff, and can hang on James' mouth, which makes James tense and fast.  Noah has been working really hard on his issues and their rounds at home have really been improving, so this was a big test.  Noah looked intent, but calm.  James looked fine.  So did Jenny.  I looked like I wanted to barf. 

Noah and Jenny chatted about their plan.  The lines had ridden in 6 strides during schooling, but since James had gotten a little "up" in the last class Jenny told Noah that they would probably ride in 5 during the class.  Noah headed in to ride his course, and Jenny turned to me and said, "He's really serious today!"  True, the kid looked as though he was riding an Olympic course.  He went down the lines and we could hear him counting out loud, "Land-1-2-3-4-5."  Jenny laughed again, saying she loved how well he listens. 

The first round went well, and the second went even better.  James got a little exuberant on the ending circle, as he was justifiably proud of his efforts, but again he came back immediately when Noah asked.  They left the ring and we fussed over James as though he'd just brought home a gold medal, showering him with pats and mints.  Off they went back to the trailer, where James made it clear that, while horse shows were fine and good, he was ready to get back home to his field.

Turns out that James and his Boy had impressed the judge enough to place first in both classes, which combined with their earlier second place earned them the Reserve Champion ribbon.  Noah was extremely proud of his ribbons, but what struck me the most is how, for the rest of the day and to anyone he spoke to, he talked more about how good James had been.

I'm so proud of both my boys.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bringing a Little "Pop" to Our Barn Time

My father-in-law has a construction job by us, so instead of driving the 2 hours back and forth to Philly he spends a couple nights a week at our place.

We've really been enjoying our quality time with Pop, and I think he's having fun, too. Tonight he came down to the barn to watch Sophie's riding lesson. 

Pop's an animal lover- I never fully realized how much until years ago when he let it slip that as a child he'd dreamed of being a vet. So it was really cute when he asked a lot of questions about why the trainer had Sophie do certain things, or about stuff we did while grooming or tacking up. 

He clearly enjoyed getting to know James and Sug and was tickled pink when I asked him to graze Sug while I cleaned tack. He was amazed at the way she demolished every blade of grass in front of her. "Does she ever stop eating? Does she even breathe?"

We're looking forward to bringing Pop back to the barn. I think Sug and James will be happy to see him. He's pretty free and loose with the carrots, if you know what I mean .

Sug wants to come out for a wee nibble.

She's not gonna go anywhere, right?

It's just like walking a big dog!

Does she ever stop to breathe?

Friday, June 7, 2013

It's All About Class...

As you know, we're pretty top-shelf and high brow here at AWIP.  We hold standards high and all that fancy stuff.

As you can see from this recent pic shot on laundry day:

Doesn't everybody dry their polos by hanging them from patio umbrellas?  Looked like a great big ol' funky Octopus when the wind kicked up!

I live in a very suburban neighborhood and there's not a horse to be seen around here, but the neighbors have gotten used to seeing horse stuff all over my yard.  One was walking her dog with a friend on a day I had my mare's blankets drying on the hedge and saddle pads strewn all over the table.  The friend asked what they were, and the neighbor said they were horse blankets.  I heard the friend ask, "Blankets for horses?  Do they sleep in her bed, too?"

My buddy Cheryl sent me this pic from Facebook.  She asked if this was a picture of me.  I told her nope, this is to classy to be me. If this were a picture of me I'd be riding astride, my shirt would be covered in green horse slobber, my face would be bright red and sweaty, and I'd be reaching out for a big glass of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale!

'Cause that's how we roll here at AWIP!  Just keeping it real, people!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Lessons from George...

Hey all!  Hope this finds you well.

If you are interested, there's one last post from my time at the George H. Morris Gladstone Program.  It's a series of George-isms in flashcard format to help remember some of the important words of wisdom he passed along.  I'm planning to print some out to tape to the lid of my tack trunk.  (I know- DORK ALERT!)

Oh yeah, and some of the funny bits, too.

If you'd like to read all my recaps, you can access them here.

The USET Foundation’s mission is to support America’s elite and developing athletes by assisting them with their competition, training, coaching, travel and educational needs, partly through programs like the Gladstone Program. If you would like to help support those efforts, and become a true partner in the US team’s success, you can learn how by following this link.

Thanks for reading!