Meet Reen - one of our sponsored riders

Spring Fling Anyone? September 26 2013, 0 Comments


 
Well here we are: slap bang in the middle of the first month of spring, and what an amazing feeling it is! I didn’t think I’d really been hibernating over winter, but it is amazing how much extra time you can spend outside when the sun is a little warmer.
Coats are shifting, there is a little more “spring” in the trot and thoughts are turning to “Events Calenders”...I never thought I’d see the day.  There is still some trepidation but I’m feeling (almost) ready to take Jack out.  I’m going to use the age old line of “just for the experience”, but it really is the case – for both of us. I need to know how he is going to react to the excitement of a competition, and I need to know what my reaction to his reaction will be...if that makes sense? Of course I’ll be choosing smaller outings, and have my eye on one in particular being held toward the end of October. There will be a fair way to travel, but I think it will suit us nicely (I even popped into Aldi the other day and bought a blow up queen size air mattress for the float in case I need to “camp” the night...that won’t happen, trust me– I don’t camp). Oddly there is another comp being held only 20 minutes up the road, but it’s going to be huge, so I think I’d prefer to travel two and half hours!! Fingers crossed there is a really, really good coffee van at the ready when I arrive (and with any luck it will be one of those coffee vans that are happy to drop a shot of vodka in the latté). So it’s time to get the ball rolling...oh gawd!!!!!!
 
Jack has been just brilliant of late - no “spring fling” happening in my paddock! He is looking a million bucks too...healthy on the inside and happiness is showing on the outside. I’ve made a really big decision in regards to the way Jack is living here...his name can be added to the list of “stabled at night” horses. I was a little hesitant when I first made the call to stable him at night, and thought I’d just see how things went, but I am totally gobsmacked as to how well he has responded to the change. He is just a pleasure to deal with.  I haven’t had the issues with catching him that I had been, he has stopped the kicking out at dinner time (huge plus, if for nothing else but safety), and he is so calm to ride. I mentioned this to my instructor a few weeks ago and she mentioned a saying (from someone neither of us could remember) ...”quiet legs, quiet mind”. The more I think about that saying and watch the change in Jack, the more that rings true.  I will quite often drive up the road after work or whatever, and see him lying absolutely flat out in the paddock. Normally that would never have happened...can’t run away quickly if you’re lying down ;) He has also started making himself very comfortable at night in his stable...last night I actually had to work around him almost comatose on the stable floor to pick up those one or two “treasures” that get deposited in the stable after dinner. If you had of told me 6 weeks ago that stabling Jack would have this result, I honestly would have laughed...and laughed hard. But seeing is believing, and I’m super happy to get out of bed an hour earlier in the morning if this is the result (actually I’m not at all happy about the earlier starts, but I really do need to go to bed earlier to make it slightly easier)
I know I’ve been trying a few things with Jack in order to get his care just right, but now I’m confident that I’m 100% on the money. I’ve got him sorted, and I know I have because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have the horse I do right now.
Riding wise, we are going well...most of the time. There are still a few times when the bottom falls out, but I’m happy to report that those times are getting less and less, and that when they do, I know what I need to do. After every lesson, I know I’ve improved, and now I’m also getting to the point where I can say that after every ride, something is also improving. Perhaps my mind has caught up...finally. I still believe that lunging is the key with Jack, and not to take the sting out of him. It just seems to do him such good. We have been really consolidating the work on the lunge, and then taking that to his work under saddle. We are slowly bringing the circles in smaller and he is coping well – he is ready to really work. I’m so glad that my instructor was happy to take the extra time that was needed to show me the intricacies of proper lunging (as opposed to just running the horse around on a circle at the end of a rope). I’ve been able to watch the change in Jack from week to week – the change in the way he moves, looks, carries himself, and yes, also how he behaves. It’s an art form that when done properly, is really priceless.
 
And so now the school holidays are upon us, and I’ve decided to make some time for family, home and horses over the next couple of weeks (not necessarily in that order). I wonder what mischief I can get up to...I feel a trip to the beach coming up!! I just need to find a pair of Speedo’s that will fit Jack.

Sooo.... August 24 2013, 0 Comments

At the end of last weeks blog, I promised to give you an update on how things went with Jack after he had a two week break, and a play in a paddock with lots of green grass. Well it was interesting to say the least.

The silly boy got himself into a tizz even before he got on the float. He decided that he would much rather stay home, so he gave me a little bit of a challenge when it came time to get organised. This challenge consisted of tearing around the yard he was in at a million miles per hour...big mistake considering how slippery it is at the moment! But I won, and he was caught – nice!! Mind you he was in a lather of sweat, which is no mean feat considering it must have been about 3 degrees outside in the wind, which was blowing a gale!

As always, he spent some time on the lunge, and it was even commented on how calm and almost lazy he was...wolf in sheep’s clothing? Towards the end of our little session on the lunge he did decide to show us how good he can be at getting his back legs in the air, but settled so quickly that at the time I didn’t even think twice about it.

Hopped on, and off we went. At times it really does seem that we are going over the same things over, and over, and over again, but I accept 100% that this is my doing. If I could get my brain to switch on, I know that I would be aware of what I have to do to get him into a nice working frame of mind. But happily I’m switching on a little quicker every lesson.

Canter really isn’t such a scary thing anymore, in fact it is wonderful. I love the transitions into canter. For the most part they are smooth, gentle and just something I could sit to all day. He is also getting stronger and stronger, which means we can actually think about other things, like my stupid right leg!!! (Yep, I have a dumb lower leg with a mind of its own...it’s a disagreeable thing too)

So off we are going in the canter on our right rein. Jacks right rein is his “stickier” rein, but again improving. I always seem to start our canter work on the right rein, knowing that our “finish on a good note” will be a lovely canter on our left rein. This is exactly what we were doing last Thursday...we came out of a pretty nice canter circle, and my instructor asked me to change rein, so I chose to take a short diagonal...so off we go...trot, trot, trot....ping, ping, ping!!!!! The pings were NOT fun. He just propped and went for it. I know I was probably cramping his style, and I kick myself at that, I really should have just let him trot out like I know he wants to.

Anyway, I think it was the third “ping” and I was off...but I was off with style!!!! Miraculously I landed on my feet!! I think I was just unconsciously not wanting to get arena surface on my breeches. Some people say that coming off a bigger horse means it gives you more time to think about the landing – I wasn’t thinking about the landing, but I did notice I had my watch on, and really didn’t want to bust my watch!! The things you think!!

I think all 3 of us, Jack, my instructor and I, were a little shocked. Jack just stood there and I could see his thoughts “Oh Mum...what happened???” My instructor was thrilled at me landing on my feet, and agreed that my new found love for martial arts training was doing wonders for my co-ordination and balance. And me, well I was just shocked that it didn’t happen sooner. I probably should have been spat off plenty of times before...a lot of luck happens in life sometimes.

Anyway, I grabbed hold of Jack, and at that point my instructor asked if I could get back on, and just trot a circle or two. She knows that I have a lack of confidence, and knows that sometimes little things can put me off, so she was a darling and just asking me to do something small and manageable for my silly brain. However....I wanted another canter, on the left rein J  Back to our “finish on a good note”. At least that’s what I was hoping, and I got it. And I’m super proud that I did. My hands and legs were shaking when I was standing on the mounting block, but I was on, in control and more than happy to give it a whirl. As always...a lovely canter on our left rein. Hooray for me...I was so pleased!!

 

Sunday was Adult Riders Rally day, and it was one of the dirtiest days we’ve had in a while. The wind was horrid. It was one of those days that makes you feel uneasy about doing anything outside, let alone floating, then riding a horse. But once again, I overcame another of my demons...I did both. Go me!!

I’m not saying the riding was all that spectacular, in fact I was bad...really bad. I was tense, unsure of myself, I sadly had not much trust in Jack and that his reaction to things might be. I was so concerned that if something blew across the arena, or a small branch fell on the roof, then off he would go...but he didn’t, and it was only in my mind that it was possible for this to happen. He was wonderful. He was a little tense, but considering I was wound up like a coil on his back, I don’t blame him. Finally, after a fair old time, I just said to myself “OMG...just DO IT, you stupid, stupid woman”...and so I did. And guess what...we worked beautifully. He was able to use his amazingly flowing trot, our canter work was “da bomb”, and he was happy. The fact that he was happy made the day a success.

I really don’t give him enough credit, but sitting here thinking about it, he deserves such praise.

So what’s on for today??  **sigh** He has had an abscess come up over the past few days. I’m soooo not impressed, but what can I do? It’s winter. So I just treat him like royalty. Do what I can, and hope, cross my fingers & toes, rub my lucky rabbits foot, pray to the Anti-abscess Gods...anything I can to make him recover as quick as I can...we have to keep this good mojo going!!!!


Winter. Not so bad...much!! August 16 2013, 0 Comments

Winter has caught up with me and in a most nasty manner!
So sadly I can’t report that I have achieved anything of real significance over the past couple of weeks...unless you want a report on the softest tissues on the market? No, I didn’t think so.

Of course to coincide with the germs has come plenty of rain...and of course mud (back on the mud theme...I really need to build a bridge and get over it! Now there’s a thought – bridges!!)

So while I’ve been laid up in bed/couch, my 3 darling equines have been having a little Winter break...well Jack has anyway, the other two have been on that break for a while.
However Jack is back at this later this afternoon, so I’ll report in. It could be interesting – almost 2 weeks off and a change of paddock....3 words come to mind. O.M.G!!! Actually there are more than 3 words, but this is family viewing ;)

Lunging is another of those words that pop into my head. But I know he will be good (she says with no conviction at all!)

 

One thing I have decided to do, with mixed emotions, is to try and find a rider for Moo. But of course it’s one thing saying that, and another thing doing it. The last time my farrier was over he was dumbfounded that we were pulling her shoes off because she hadn’t been ridden, and I can see his point. She is a wonderful horse for anyone, not just someone who wants to poke around the bush. I’ve had a couple of phone calls, but of course chatting to someone on the phone is a long way from actually letting her go. Can I do it? I know I should. It will give her something to do other than wander about the paddock, and of course one less mouth to feed is always a benefit, but I just don’t know. What I need is a crystal ball to see into the future, and ask it some questions. Will she be ok? Will she miss me? (I already know the answer to that and I think it would be a “no”, as long as she has a dinner bucket, she is happy), will her new carer care for her as I do? I’d like to answer no to that one, but all I really do with her lately is feed her breakfast, dinner, scratch her between the ears and tell her “Hey Moo” whenever I see her. I really feel she would prefer it if she had the chance to get out and about...or do I just hope I feel that way?? One thing I do know for certain though is that this will always be her home...no question about that!!!

 

For something a little different, last night Miss 9 and I braved the Melbourne weather and went into town to see a performance of “Cavalia”.  Cavalia is described in the program as “a fresh mix of equestrian and performing arts, multimedia and special effects”, and it was just amazing. In fact I have very few words to describe just how wonderful it was. It was just breathtaking, exciting, beautiful...see, I’m lost for words!
Miss 9 and I treated ourselves to one of the VIP packages, so we did think we were a little special last night...bubbles, canapé’s, wonderful seats, an opportunity to have  a program signed by two of the artists, and a tour of the stables after the show where there might have been a little kiss from the gorgeous little mini stallion named “Troubadour”.

There is always a little hesitation just before you hit “submit” on such a large credit card purchase when you are trying to keep a family/household/paddock full of horses going, but I’m so glad I did. Honestly if I could go again tonight, I’d be there. So my advice to you is if you get the chance, GO!!!!

I have a dear friend who went on opening night and her words were “sell a kidney”...I say sell not only the kidney, but take options on the second as well!!!!!

 


Where's my Jack pony? July 30 2013, 0 Comments

 

Where is my Jack-pony..who took him????

Well I don’t know who I was riding on Sunday at my riding club rally, but it sure as hell wasn’t Jack!!!! He certainly looked like Jack, and came out of my paddock, but nope, wasn’t him!!

My goodness, the horse I was riding, or trying to ride, was a piece of work. This horse, let’s call him “Butthead”, was an absolute monster.

Thankfully, the instructor for this rally was my usual instructor, it was such a comfort - super glad I booked her!!  

Butthead wasn’t at all calm or attentive, instead he was boorish, had no concept at all of manners, wouldn’t listen, had no idea of any work I’d previously done and loved the feeling of having his back feet around his ears...to be honest, he worried me.

But he taught me so much 

I learnt that I can keep calm.

I can apply the concepts that we had previously worked on.

I discovered that I can also really ask for a response and get one.

I understood, at long last, how important it is to have a soft, supple horse.

I learnt that I have a really sticky bum!! Some might call it good balance, but I think it was more the sticky bum

I learnt that sometimes the horse you get out of the float, isn’t the horse you are going to ride...somewhere in between horses are swapped.

I learnt that I can breathe, even though my jaw is clenched shut so tight, I wake up the next morning with an ache.

I learnt that I can actually be quiet during a lesson...never thought I could do that...I’m a chatterer!!!

I learnt that sometimes taking the horse out for a 2 hour trail ride in the pouring rain the day prior doesn’t actually mean a nice quiet horse will appear the next day.

I also learnt probably the most important lesson of all, and that is to never doubt not only what I’ve learnt over the years, but also my own abilities. I got through that hour, and even though I was at times incredibly unsure of what I was capable of, and also what my horse was capable of, I did it...I finished that lesson with a canter on both reins.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t get off pretty quickly at the end of the lesson, I was off like a shot, but I didn’t bail half way through, and that is a massive win for me.

Funnily enough, as soon as Butthead was rugged and popped into a yard, Jack suddenly appeared...like magic (bloody Black Magic!!!!)

 

So after Sunday’s event, I was a little hesitant to climb aboard on Tuesday. I know they all say that you must ride the horse that comes out of the paddock on the day, but that is sometimes a little easier said than done. There is always a little bit of trepidation.  But I’m super glad I did “suck it up” and get on...what a dream horse!! It was a massive relief to get back on the horse I know, although there were some things I didn’t recognise this time, but they were very pleasant surprises...he was perfect from the start.

Geez he’s a superstar!!


An Interesting Week. July 25 2013, 0 Comments

 

What an interesting week it has been! And in so many different ways! 

I’ve come to conclusion that I am in fact doing something right. Jack is going amazingly well, even if we still do have our little “bumps” (or as I like to call them “learning bumps”)- I’m learning how to stay balanced and calm and not fall off!!

I’ve really made a concerted effort do go back to our groundwork sessions before each ride, and the results have been a real eye-opener. I had really taken for granted the importance of asking him for his flexions from the ground, and asking him to re-balance and extend his neck, but after one lesson where I was able to refresh my mind not only as to what to do, but also re-enforce in my own mind that I was doing them correctly, the results are speaking for themselves. 

So I had a “groundwork” lesson a couple of weeks ago, then in the week following I  worked on the techniques at home before a ride, but then when I came to last weeks lesson it was almost like I had a different horse. We were almost able to get a full lap of the arena in a lovely, soft and long frame – at the trot. Jack was just swinging along nicely, and it was an absolute pleasure to ride to. Our canter also benefitted, which is no surprise. I even shocked myself!! I remember sitting there, and thinking “Oh my lordylordy loo!!! Look at me!!!!”...at least I thought I was thinking it, in fact I was saying it out loud...thankfully my instructor agreed that it was pretty good!! 

When I think back 18 months ago, and I remember the new, very green horse that arrived at home, I’m really amazed at his transformation. He was a typical “teenage boy”, he was so disagreeable...if he was human it would be like taking the X Box off him, but now he is really becoming a young man. He is starting to fill out in the places he needed it, his legs don’t look as gangly as they were and he looks just ace...if I wasn’t so biased I’d say he is one of the most handsome beasts going around. Considering that last year he really didn’t have the chance to get regular work due to my illness, I think he has really proven what a good boy he is...most of the time ;) 

I’d love to find the courage to take him out somewhere into a more challenging environment, and I know I will one day, but I still have those moments where I think about it, and then feel my heart starting to beat just a little harder. Funnily, it has nothing at all to do with what I think his reaction might be...I’m more than happy to admit that it is all me, my insecurities. On the surface I come across as someone who is very confident, but underneath? Hmmm, maybe not so much. It’s all bravado. 
Perhaps I should mix some “bravado” up with some “Dutch courage” into a cocktail shaker and see what happens...that’s gotta be a good cocktail!!! 

 

Also over this past week, I have seen a few things which make me terribly sad and even a little angry. It seems as though this season is really proving to be a very difficult season for the oldies and even those younger horses to cope with, especially if they don’t have anyone in their lives to care for them...they are owned by someone, but not cared for...not by anyone’s standards!!! We all know there is a shortage of hay at the moment, it seems to be the topic of conversation in every feed store and every saddlery store in my area, but the thing is, that there are options for those who are having trouble sourcing hay. I know that sometimes it means that there is a little bit of wheeling and dealing and running around, but there are options and I just wish that people would explore those options before they decide to shut their eyes and pretend their horse doesn’t exist. There are just too many bones poking through dull coats on horses with sad eyes at the moment, and like I mentioned, it makes me terribly sad and angry. 

We chose to bring these creatures into our lives, they didn’t ask for it, so I just believe that we should do all we can to keep them comfortable. I’m not saying that every single horse owner needs to get silly with the care of their steed, I just think that the steed needs to be respected, and of course a part of that is to provide it with the basics...water, adequate feed, shelter. Surely that isn’t too much to ask? 

So what am I doing to help those in my area who seem to be struggling? Well, I’ve decided to make myself visible to the owners, even if I may not actually see them. By that I mean, I do something to hopefully make the owner take notice. Last week put my farriers business card into a snap lock bag, and tied it to the gate at a paddock where a lovely old grey gelding lives. He is in a really terrible state, and for a long time I’ve felt for him. He just looks so unloved. So I tied the card to the gate, left and just hoped that someone would pay attention to it. I drove past two days later, and noticed that the business card was gone. I knew it was impossible for it to have blown away, so I just hoped the owner saw it and collected it. I’m seeing my farrier tomorrow, so I’m hoping we can chat about his “new client” and the old grey gelding! 

I’m not saying that we need to become busy bodies and poke our noses into other people’s business; I just want to see all horses treated with dignity, and if that means I need to drop a hint every now and again, then I’m ok with that. 


Canter July 09 2013, 1 Comment

 

Canter, canter, tango, canter

 

My goodness it has been a busy couple of weeks, both in and out of the paddock!
We’ve had sick kittens, hospital visits, naughty ponies and just plain old day to day “stuff” going on...I’m exhausted!! (Kitten fixed, hospital visits sorted, and “naughty pony plan” in place, so all’s good there!)

In between all the “stuff” Jack has been going splendidly well. We seem to have found some real energy (sometimes a little too much energy for Mother), but I’m learning how to really embrace that energy as I mentioned in my last entry. And I’ve decided that I just love canter, a lot more than trot or walk...trot and walk just means we have time to not only think but also to see goblins hiding in corners. At the canter however, we motor along at a lovely clip, and it is a canter I can ride all day.
It’s been a couple of weeks since my last lesson, but in that last lesson, it was possibly the best canter work I have ever done with Jack.
We are still lunging before a ride, but that really seems to help him...it gets his mind ready, his body ready and also gives me the chance to really focus on what needs to be done. It also gives me the chance to gauge the mood he is in. After some time on the lunge if we still have some legs in the air, we just go around one more time...for luck!!
Although I admit that the other day there were still legs in the air, and I got on anyway...that day we practised some wonderful sideways dance moves. Sort of fun...sort of not! But even after the new dance steps, we are able to get our minds back on the task at hand.

What I’d really love to work on in the next few weeks, is some in-hand work. With the Lightness “system” that I use, a lot of emphasis is put on the importance of in-hand work, but I admit that I have been a little slack. So hopefully today during my lesson, we can get “back to basics”. 

 

Sadly, with all my attention on Jack at the moment, it means that dear Moo has been just left in the paddock. Thankfully she is just 100% OK with that. It’s me that feels bad. I know she is fine with it, because to be honest, what could be worse than being fed twice a day, rugged up all snugly warm and fed carrots. My God she has a fantastic life. I’ve always said that when I die I want to be re-incarnated as one of my own animals...talk about luxury. But I think that this weekend might be a good one to take her for a wander along a trail somewhere.

Little Munchie pony is just plain old naughty!!! Naughty, baby pony...and that is all! lol As I always say “lucky he is cute!!”  I wish I was as cute as he is, that way I could get away with anything!!!!

 

On a more personal note, in the past few weeks I have had the first anniversary of the day I was diagnosed pass by. I was actually looking forward to that day, thinking that it would be a day to celebrate my current health etc, but instead I had emotions that I can’t even describe. I’m not sure what I would even call them. Of course I was happy that I’m still here and annoying many people, but I was also feeling quite distressed inwardly that there are still so many people struggling to overcome the insidious disease that cancer is. And honestly I couldn’t express that to anyone, mainly because I didn’t know if I what I was feeling was normal or not...still don’t know!
But I am more than glad I’m here, but I still hope with every ounce of my being that those that are still dealing with diagnosis, struggling with treatment and unsure of what the future holds for them are doing at least “ok” ...sometimes “ok” is all there is.
Me? I’m doing just fine J


Hello Winter June 20 2013, 0 Comments

 

Well winter has well and truly hit, and it’s arrived in all its chilly glory! I often drive by paddocks filled with horses that have no rugs and think I should take them home, although I know full well they are happy in their paddock, and enjoying life with their herd. And to be honest, doing my own horses rugs twice a day can become a little repetitious as it is...imagine if I had 300 horses!!!

I often hear of people, especially “we” horse riders, that they seem to be lacking motivation at this time of year, and I can really understand that at 5:30 in the morning, in the dark and in the mud (again with the mud!!). However, I’m a little pleased to say that for the most part, that isn’t really me (except the 5:30 am stuff...bed is way too warm sometimes)
I seem to have found my mojo again – HOORAY!!!!
My lesson last week really helped, particularly as it was one of the few weeks that Jack decided to be a little bit of a handful. I’m putting his “mood” down to his clip, but who knows really...either way, I got a few points on the board, which was nice.

Oddly enough, our canter work hasn’t really been a huge issue this week. Jack is more than happy to just roll into his beautiful canter, which I can ride all day. This week we have needed to concentrate on trot...or to be honest, I’ve needed to concentrate on just letting him go, and riding to his trot, not the trot I think he should have.
I guess I have always thought his trot should be a plodding, rambling along trot, but truth be known it is actually a “mega-medium” trot, and I really need to accept that and go with it.
It’s a very strange feeling doing that however. I sometimes forget that not only is he a big, powerful boy, but he is also a boy that I really can trust to do pretty much the right thing all the time. I need to listen to that side of my mind that says “Wow, check out the motor in this baby...enjoy it”, however most of the time the other side of the brain kicks in and I hear “OMG...no way!!!!” Sometimes it feels as though the good devil is on one shoulder and he good angel is on the other...still not too sure which one I should be listening to however.

I guess that it all comes down to confidence, which as I may have mentioned before, is something we all struggle with from time to time. I do seem to be getting a little bit more, which I love. It means I really do go out and enjoy getting on the boy, rather than trying to find excuses not to.

Of course, greater understanding of how my mind works, and knowing exactly what I am capable of doing is a huge factor in this...as they say, a little self belief can go a long way.  In fact I may have even had my finger hovering over the submit button of an email I was about to send to someone to book in for a rather special clinic with a rather special rider/trainer...but I chickened out!!! Sometimes I just want to slap myself lol

But instead, I’ll keep plugging away...getting better, learning more, understanding more and trying new things (almost!!)


Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back June 11 2013, 0 Comments

 **Warning...I'm going through a "woe is me" stage**

I don't think I've had a more frustrating week in a long time!!
It isn't often I go through things like this, but it really seems as though the "horsie gods" don’t want me to get points on the board.

Thankfully all of my little herd are in tip top shape, so I can't blame my troubles on injuries or illness.  Sadly, it is just my own mind that I'm battling against, and of course we all know how powerful our minds can be, especially when we get even the tiniest of negative thoughts in it. All of a sudden that teeny, weenie little problem becomes a problem that you really should be broadcast over the evening news "Good evening, and welcome to Ten's News At 5...first up tonight, Reen's struggle against the odds".  Of course Mal Walden will go on to explain that "the odds" are something as traumatic as not being able to help Jack out when he disunites during canter work...the rest of the news watching public will be shocked and dismayed, and shake their heads and "tut tut" under their breath...but they will be with me in my struggle.

Hmmm, maybe not....instead, I sit here and wonder where the bloody hell I went wrong last week.
Part of the issue is that Jack is still lacking a little bit of strength and fitness when it comes to canter work, so what we do is small bursts broken up by quality trot work, then back into a bit of canter. But this week, I just couldn't seem to get there! Our canter has been going so well - smooth, lovely strides that you can really ride all day...but all it has taken was a "mini-meltdown" on my part, and I know that it was my mind playing awful tricks. Honestly, I'm sure my life would be simpler if I didn't have a brain!! Just call me Tinman...no wait...Scarecrow!!! That’s a little funny...I couldn't even get that right (Reen makes a mental note to sit down and watch The Wizard of Oz tonight!!)

When I sit here and analyze the issue, I know exactly what I need to do, but when I'm out there, on the odd occasion, something in my brain flicks and I just lose it...I forget what to do, even though I know what I should do!! Talk about frustrating!!!! Of course this is where that old vicious cycle begins...the self-doubt! I don't know how many times I've said to myself " Just stop, don't do anything, you'll only mess things up".  In actual fact, what I should be saying to myself is "Oi...woman!!! What are ya doing??!! Do it properly!!" I know if those words went through my head, then all would be fine and dandy...in fact they are probably the same, exact words my instructor would say to me!! Perhaps I should ask her to record some insightful words of encouragement/bum kicking. Or perhaps I should just have a little more faith in my own abilities?

I sometimes wonder if these little "hiccups" are a result of pressure we put on ourselves...I know I had given myself a little bit of a challenge and had penciled a competition into my diary...I'm still trying to decide if it's a bad idea going...I'm pretty sure I'll make an absolute meal of that. I know I'm not the only one out there who has a little moment where we truly believe we suck.

What I do know is that all will be fine for the next ride. I will approach things with an open mind, I will not allow what happened last ride dictate what I do this ride, I will have confidence, I will listen to the good side of my brain, and not the devil sitting on my shoulder, and I will totally have a fantastic ride with the equine dude I have chosen to be my partner and friend


Don't Ya Just Love The Mud? June 04 2013, 0 Comments

 

So Winter has arrived which means rain, mud, cold, mud, soggy toes if your boots spring a leak, mud, clipped coats, mud, constant worry about rugging, mud, short days and mud!!!

I went for my first "muddy skid" through the paddock over the weekend...again watched by many who were more than happy to have a laugh at my expense...they'll keep ;)

I've decided I'm mud phobic - I loathe the stuff, every single thing about it!! But of course I can't get away from it, no matter how hard I try. My boots are actually out on the front step and I'm sure they weigh 3 kilos more than they did before they were caked with the sticky stuff, surely lugging those things around on the end of my legs will mean I end up with a killer pair of calves at the end of Winter... Won't I??

There are actually some things I do enjoy about Winter, and on top of that list is being ouitside in the morning, just before the sun begins to rise, especially if there is a misty rain falling.  I stand out at the stable with my cup of tea, and just listen to Jack chomping away on his breakfast. Every now and again he also stops to listen to the pre-dawn noises, but not often...the boy does love his breakfast.

Jack is back in a paddock on his own, so away from Moo and Munchie and he is loving being the King of his own paddock again. Remember the Daffy Duck cartoon where he was in Aladdins cave and he was surrounded by all the jewels saying "mine, mine...all mine"?  Well that's Jack right now...everything in the paddock belongs to him!! He is in on his own because he is another mud-phobic soul...the poor boy would just stand in the one non-muddy spot in the paddock all day and look miserable. 3 horses in one paddock means a fair bit of mud is made and pretty quickly too, so to make him a little happier, he was moved. That probably sounds quite silly, but I really did feel he was unhappy. He is also a bigger horse, and a lot of the time not so sure of where his own body is...there were many, many skid marks made by him and he hasn't even been blowing off steam by running around.  Jack is certainly a lot happier now...which means a happy, harmonious life for all!!

The other 2 are literally like pigs in mud!!!! It is just horrible! Munchie certainly isn't as bad as Moo, she is filthy, and that won't change until Spring.

Dear Jack has been going amazingly well...I say "amazingly" because it seems that every time I get on him he improves in so many ways!
Last lesson, for example, we had a wonderful canter happen. I will admit it was a little bit of an accident, but I was glad to go with it. Mind you, that wonderful canter came after probably 40 minutes of asking him to listen, but we got there in the end.

I'm so thankful I have a wonderful instructor who has an uncanny ability to read not only the horse, but also the rider. There have been many times over the past year or so that I might not have had my mind on the job, but with a gentleness that is almost imperceptible, she is able to get my mind working on the task at hand. I will admit I do have an issue with concentrating, and she gets that now...thank goodness!!
The one single thing that I absolutely adore about my lesson on a Thursday afternoon, is the amount of confidence I have in myself, and my abilities when I leave that arena. There are some days I think I can do anything, and it certainly isn't because my instructor has told me what I want to hear...she actually makes me do it, so that I can see for myself what I am capable of. Sometimes I'm hesitant, sometimes I say to myself "NO WAY!!!", but do it anyway, and then I'm actually doing it.

I would consider my instructor not only to be a great riding instructor, but also a personal trainer and psychotherapist...and all that is rolled into one awesome, knowledgeable package! So I think I'm pretty lucky to have an instructor who will guide me, train me and put up with me  lol


Brrrrr May 29 2013, 0 Comments

 You might remember that previously I have mentioned that I am lucky enough to live in the Yarra Valley, pretty much smack bang in the middle of it actually. (Sadly not the glamorous part, but still only a short drive to a good winery!) One of the best parts of living in "The Valley:" would have to be Autumns...they are simply stunning. Crisp mornings and blue skies make you just want to get out there and get busy with the "Neddies". Some mornings I have trouble getting Jack out of bed, he does like his stable on those cold nights.

Dear Moo has been doing some miles out on the trails. Once again I'm lucky enough to have many trails in the area. The Warburton Trail, once the rail line from Melbourne to Warburton, is only a very short ride down the road, and just perfect for getting out there and running the km's up on the clock. I know I always go on about how good this horse is, but out on the trail she is a gem - nothing worries her at all (not even the "city cyclists'who wizz by) One of the great things about the "Warby Trail" is that it is a perfect place for everyone to ride, it seems that you can see a little bit of everything at one stage or another, so it really is a great place for riders to take young horses.
Last weekend Moo was a "helping hand" for a young baby horse. This young man was heading out on his first ride out on the trail, and he did wonderfully well! I actually think I was more concerned than anyone else, but I can be a worrier. Of course we decided to ride out on a Sunday afternoon, and any local will tell you that Sunday afternoon is NOT the time to take a horse on the trail, but we did lol. Young "Jim" just took it all in his stride, he encountered cyclists, an echidna (which made me go all "nawwwww"), some deer, the odd dog here and there and a selection of odd older people who like to walk with sticks they have picked up off the ground. I've always wondered why they do that, but who am I to judge!! Our ride kept us out on the trail for a couple of hours as we really wanted Jim to feel comfortable with everything he saw. This young man is going to be an absolute superstar of a horse for his rider, they will be a great team.

Jack has also been doing some trail riding miles, although his miles have been a little bouncy...in fact everything about Jack over the past week has been bouncy. I suspect he is also enjoying the weather...sometimes a little too much. I'm afraid that I did use the ejector seat over the weekend, it was simply a case of he went one way, which was left, and I went another way, which was up, then down...with a thud!! Being as big as he is, there is time to think about your fall, but sadly there isn't enough time to call for a mattress to land on, and I really wish there was because the ground is HARD!!!!! Once on the ground there are a few things that flash through your mind of course "where is the horse (I let go of the reins)...can I feel everything?...was anyone watching and are they laughing?" Last question was answered when I noticed my dear daughter standing by the fence in stitches...hmmm, she'll keep,. And of course I could feel everything and in the days after I could feel every single bone in my body, and they weren't happy! I didn't pack Jack away after the tumble, I got back on, a little tentatively, and off we went again, and we had the best ride at home ever! I certainly won't be making a habit of tumbling in order to get good work from him however; I'll leave that to the trick riders.  It's at this bouncy time of year that I'm glad Jack is a great horse on the lunge...I think we will play on that for a few minutes before I climb aboard.

But as wonderful as these gorgeous Autumn days are, they'll soon end and we will have Winter here...Winter and its cold, wet, muddy days that just don't seem to end and horses that look like yaks direct from Tibet, so I'm going to continue to make hay while the sun shines and cross my fingers that Autumn stays around for a little while longer. Please Autumn stay!!


I should join the Circus! May 15 2013, 0 Comments

 I think I might have mentioned before how difficult and time consuming being me can be sometimes!

At the moment, I have both big horses back in work and the little pony, so if you combine that with working, and trying to be a good Mum and trying to keep a tidy house, there just arent enough hours in the day (truth be known that one of those things gets pretty much ignored...hence the prehistoric dust bunnies hiding in the corners of almost every room in my house!) so I've become very good at juggling. Throw cold Autumn mornings and early sunsets, and there are some days where I just don't know where to begin!

 

Bringing Jack back into work after his 6 week break as a result of cellulitis has been the highlight of my past couple of weeks. He has come back so kindly that he has not only surprised me, but also made me realise what a wonderful horse he really is.

The poor boy was lunged once in the two weeks prior to me taking him back to lessons, and after a very quick lunge before my lesson began last Thursday, I was back on and feeling fantastic..as was he!

I was most surprised as to how willing he was.  He can at the best of times be the "difficult teenager" - we see a little bit of head tossing every now and again, but this day there was nothing!! Those big Clydie X ears were listening and attentive the whole time...big sigh of relief!

I mentioned to my instructor how surprised I was, and she pointed out that there wasn't really anything to be surprised about...the training we have put in over the past year is paying off...there wasn't any need to remind him of the basics of "lightness", off he went like he had never missed a day. If you haven't picked it up before now, I'm a rider who follows the training set out by Philippe Karl...yes, yes yes, you can roll your eyes now ;)

On reflection, I can absolutely see that it is the result of the training we have put in..he has never been "forced" to work in a "proper" frame, he has always been asked, shown how to and as a result agreed. There are still of course many things we can work on, but training as we do, doesn't give instant results, they are results that take time, patience and understanding, all of which I have plenty.

I have also booked us in to a clinic that is happening in November...but I really wish November would hurry up and arrive...I'm busting to learn!!! And he looks just amazing right now too...there is something to be said for a month and a half of pampering and no work!!! I really wished that I looked as good after being fed, groomed and lounging about in the paddock!

Moo has been going along swimmingly as well. We haven't had much of an opportunity to fine tune any of our jumping "skills" ("skills" lol!!). Her flat work is also going well...she is another horse that has the ability to pick up from where she left off. Moo has managed to gain herself another fan however; a young girl has been popping by every now and again to help out a little bit around the property and has fallen head over heels in love with Moo. This young girl is sadly indicative of many young girls these days; she has body issues, a lack of confidence, some family troubles. The first day she came, she looked just miserable...but after a short while I asked if she would like to give Moo a brush for me. The change in her after half an hour brushing Moo was amazing! I finally got to see a smile, and not a forced grimace. Since that day, she has come with a real purpose, and you can tell that she wants to be here. She is learning a lot too...hopefully the love of horses can help her find her way through the fog which seems to be her life at the moment.

Little Munchie is still believing his own hype....I've lost count of how many people have said "ohhhh he is just too cute!!". That line is usually followed by me saying "Yeah, too cute for our own good!!!!" He is still as cheeky as they come...but that’s the way we love him!! (Most of the time anyway).

All in all, things are going well...I know I have happy, healthy horses, and to me as an owner that is all that I can ask for.


Move Over Edwina T-A May 07 2013, 0 Comments

Move over Edwina T-A....   I feel as though I should be writing this weeks blog from a hospital bed...or at least in traction! Reason...Moosie-Moo and I went showjumping!!!! Yep, I thought I’d have a bit of a play with the painted poles for a bit of a change.   Silly me also thought “won’t be that bad...haven’t done it in a while...the instructor will only want to see a little of what we can do”. How wrong I was!!! Two days later and I still can’t manage to walk up or down stairs, and putting on socks is not without its challenge. Showjumping is definitely not my preferred discipline...I’m more of an “all four feet on the ground” sort of girl. But I do enjoy it, and Moo loves it, which is the most important part. It has been a couple of years since we last went over a jump...in fact I think the last time was when I decided to see up close and personal what the surface of the arena was like, actually I remember thinking “never again”! I feel we have a certain style...I call it style, others would call it...actually I have no idea what others would call it, but I am certain it would be described between fits of laughter...when I think of it, I just roll my eyes and shake my head. Where I live, I’m really lucky to have plenty of great instructors close by, and some amazing facilities. The instructor I visited lives only 15 minutes up the road, so super convenient. The day on Tuesday was stunning too...perfect weather for getting in the saddle and giving yourself a bit of a challenge. As usual Moo was totally non-plussed...she didn’t care about the new venue we were at, what we were going to get up to, and that is another great thing about Moo, I can take her anywhere and know that she’ll be the same level-headed horse she is at home. After a quick look around the new indoor arena, I hopped on, then thought “oh c#%p...what have I done??” I was there, in my dressage saddle, totally unprepared...that’s when I began to shake.  All of a sudden my legs weren’t even there, it was very hot, my mouth was dry and I had no idea how to ride a horse!! Moo on the other hand had her ears pricked, a little bit of a spring in her step and mischief and fun on her mind. You need to remember it had been well over two years since we’d done anything like this!! The jumps were massive...at 45cms (yes, 45cm...even I can laugh at that height)...and the poles on the ground looked to me like they had the fabled horse and rider eating troll living under them. We started off “slowly” with some trot poles...I began to relax and stupid me thought “if this is it for today, then I’m a happy camper”...but we must have done the poles really well, because all of a sudden we were cantering over these poles. Now Moo isn’t the easiest horse in the world to canter...it is all just too hard...but a switch was flicked and we had canter...and lots of it!!!! The poles on the ground were more than enough for me, but my instructor (bless him), took an opportunity to just pop a little cross rail up, when I wasn’t looking...I’m pretty sure the colour drained from my face then, but over we went. At this point, one side of my brain was telling me this is enough...however the evil side of my brain was saying “oh yeah baby...let’s do it!!!!”...so we kept going (I’m not known for doing what the good side of my brain tells me!) By the end of the lesson, we were going over a little combination of 3 jumps at 60cm...More than enough I thought (which is why we finished the lesson 15 minutes early...but we were pooped!!)   It was honestly the best fun I’ve had in a very long time. If I were to sit here and list everything that is sore, the list would be long enough to go around the earth once or twice...everything hurts lol Yes I was exhausted, yes I was sore, yes I needed a stiff drink and a lie down, but Moo and I overcame another “jump” on our way to getting back to where we once were as a team...a confident, happy team.

Marvellous Moosie Moo April 12 2013, 0 Comments

What a week!!!! This house has certainly had its fair share of horses with ailments, but that is of course having horses for you!! Jack has had a run in with infection, as a result of a stone that has made its way up the hoof wall over the past year or so!! The stone was found only a centimetre form his coronet band, and of course the infection was making trouble with a capital T!! Things were a little hairy for a few days, but he is thankfully on the mend now, but loving having a little bit of time off. Little Munchie is also out of action, so I have  a very sad 8 year old girl here! Mix school holidays, a sore pony and a cancelled show, and the 8 year old and you get what I'm saying! :-) Thankfully I have Moo here to save not only the day, but also my sanity!! So because I've been spending a little more time with Moo, I thought this was a great chance to share her story with you :) I was lucky enough just over 4 years ago, to take Moo, or Miss Mickey Moo as she is really known as, on lease. She is a 12 year old Clydie cross Arab, Quarterhorse. She is a big, strong mare with the most magnificent tail you could ever imagine!! I can remember the day I first met her as though it was yesterday...I remember driving up her road, and seeing this big, beautiful Clydie Cross hanging her head over the fence looking at us - almost "I know you're watching me, so I'm going to watch you". From the minute I saw her up close I was in love! She has the most beautiful eyes - eyes that just look straight into your soul and make everything all right. Her gentle nature was just what I was looking for! She was kind, aware of everything happening around her and a willing girl. I had no hesitations at all...I was on for our test ride, but didn't even need to ride her, I just knew she was the one! I picked her up a week later. From the moment we got home, we didn't skip a beat. The whole family was totally in love, and we all trusted her implicitly. She of course had, and still has, her moments, but they are easily forgiven. After a year on lease, the opportunity to purchase her came up. At that time, we didn't have a great deal of cash available, however my husband, who had always said she was staying here, sold his dirt bike and we had the cash!! I tell you, that is love!!! Suddenly in November of 2011, all came crashing down. On a Thursday afternoon after a great lesson, I noticed her bottom lip was all droopy. At the time I thought nothing of it...she often had a droopy lip after a lesson - I put it down to a good lesson and she was tired/relaxed. The lip was still droopy the next day, but if you know Moo, you really wouldn't think anything of it, and I didn't. I'm actually ashamed to admit that we went away for the weekend, and I didn't worry at all. However when we arrived home on Sunday afternoon, her lip was still droopy. I began to be a little concerned then, but didn't notice anything else out of the ordinary. I decided to just keep an eye on her. By the Monday morning, things had changed. Not only was her lip still droopy, but she had lost control of her ears, and her eyes were slightly swollen. Apart from that, everything else seemed OK. A vet was called, cortisone was administered, and both I and the vet thought that this would be the end of things. She was monitored very closely for the rest of the day, but by Monday night, she seemed fine...apart from the swelling and ears. By Tuesday morning, things had gotten worse, her breathing was laboured, there was no feeling in her lip, she was struggling to keep her eyes open as the swelling was making it difficult and I could see swelling making its way down her neck. Vet was called back, bloods were drawn. After a sleepless night, the morning didn't bring any answers. The bloods came back negative to all toxins that she was tested for, there was nothing out of the ordinary, but there was no mistaking that something was wrong. Her breathing was close to normal, so she was reasonably comfortable. Specialist were called in to look over her results, and the best they could come up with was a brain tumour. My heart leapt out of my chest when I heard that. I simply couldn't comprehend that information. In fact I remember driving home for the school pick-up telling the Vet that "That is just stupid, and I'm not even going to acknowledge that!!"...but I did. The next Monday we were on our way for a full range of tests, including scopes, x-rays etc. That would have to have been the worst day I've ever had with Moo...the uncertainty, the not knowing, however everything came back clear. I can't even describe the relief. We put her on a course of antibiotics, but were also told that all is ok. The rest of the week was reasonably uneventful...until Friday, when she came hobbling up the paddock...she had foundered, and foundered badly. What she, and we, went through for the next 2 months, I will never wish upon my worst enemy. It was the most horrifying period of my horse owning life. The pain this darling mare was in was almost criminal...we reached the point that the vet would come and just say "I don't know what else to do for her". She was on massive doses of pain relief, as well as other medications. Summer was also well and truly upon us, and even a change in temperature would mean another episode. We ended up hiring industrial fans to place outside her stable in an effort to keep her cooler. Her legs and feet were iced 8 times a day, but nothing seemed to be helping. There were days where she would simply not get up...I would quite often go out in the morning and find her lying there groaning, and not getting up. I lost count of how many times I needed help to get her up and moving even a little bit. The amazing part was that in all x-rays that were done, very minimal rotation of the pedal bone showed. Although she had foundered in all four feet, the rotation was negligible...we had won one battle in the war. Just after New Years Day in 2012, I made the decision to ask for a second opinion. I felt that the Vet I was trying to work with wasn't really on the same page as I was. It's a difficult thing to do, to call another Vet. I think we place so much trust in not only the professional, but also our own gut feelings, but I had reached the point where I knew she wasnt going to survive if I continued along the same path. My next Vet arrived a few hours after he was called, took one look at her and I'll never forget his words..."I've destroyed horses in less pain than this...I'll continue with her, but I expect to be back tomorrow to let her go". That was the most horrifying sentence I could ever hear. At this point my husband took over, as I just lost it. I was handed a glass of water and told to go away. The next thing I knew, Moo was in the garage having more x-rays and after again showing minimal rotation, a plan was put in place by both my husband and vet. The farrier was also bought into this new plan, as the relationship between my previous vet and farrier wasn't one that was working in the best interests of the horse. 20 minutes later the farrier had arrived and he, my husband and Vet were all working for Moo. A slight change made by the farrier gave her relief, but then the decision to use a product called Equiphane on her feet made a huge change. Her breathing had slowed, an indication that she was in pain (even IV pain relief wasn't working at this point). By the time the farrier, vet and Craig had stopped for a cold beer a few hours later that afternoon, Moo was walking around her yard and she had life back in her eyes. From that point, nothing would stop her. She made slight improvements every day, and a warm day could pass without the fear that another Laminitic episode would find her again. Late in March she was able to go out into the paddock..only a few minutes at first, but then gradually she was spending more and more time out. I left her turned out over Winter, and although we battled against the odd abscess on occasion, she recovered really well. Her feet were the only indication that she had been so gravely ill. I remember the first day I hoped back on...and admit that I cried. In fact every single time I get on her I want to cry with relief, happiness, joy...she does nothing to make me feel otherwise. She is strong, willing, sometimes a little feisty, but still here and loving her life!! Moo taught me a lot during this time. She taught me to trust my own gut, she taught me patience, but most importantly she taught me not to give up on something you love.

Baby Steps March 29 2013, 0 Comments

 Hello once again fellow Rubies!!


I must firstly apologise for taking so long to get the next thrilling instalment of my life to you...but again, things have been super busy.
Sometimes it seems as though I'm busy running on the spot, but every now and again I can fall into bed and feel as though I have managed to get everything crossed of my "daily list"....time management is NOT one of my strong points!!
And sometimes I know I'm busy, but can't tell you what I'm busy doing...but I must be doing something...right??
Sadly my health hasn't been able to keep up with my busy schedule, so that's something that is going to have to change in the next couple of weeks..thank goodness Easter is here so the batteries can be re-charged. And a little "reality check" every now and again is always good - apparently I'm not Wonder Woman, although I would like her plane so that I can impress the school kids at afternoon pick-up!
Thankfully things aren't as full on as they were over last Winter, but I have learnt I do need to slow down...just as everyone has been telling me - yes...I know!!!!!

Paddock-wise we are achieving small, but important things.
The pony has finally worked out that he needs to stay away from Jack...Jack has huuuuggggeee teeth!!! But nothing some Betadine and Equi-skin couldn't fix!

Moosie-moo finally made it back to riding club - 16 months after she was last there. Thankfully it wasn't a "strenuous" lesson, but it was an important one none the less. Important to me because this meant she was back in town...kind of...if Moo really wants (I suspect she doesn't want though lol)
Moo is like a pair of comfy old slippers on a rainy day..although I did notice how much more open my hips were (That is a nice way of saying "sitting on that horse is like sitting on two wine barrels sitting side by side"....or imagine straddling a Volkswagon)
Moo was only in the arena for about 45 minutes, but that must have been too long for her because about half an hour after getting home she was snoozing away, flat out in the paddock - I'm not ashamed to admit that I thought I'd killed her, but no, it was just a nap to "recover".
 
Jack has been able to make  a few more baby step in the past couple of weeks. I almost wet my pants with excitement when he cantered all the way around the arena a couple of weeks ago, although to be honest it's been me believing he couldn't...in actual fact I was holding him back with that irrational fear a lot of us have about cantering - doesn't your mind have time to hit overdrive when you let it!! At the time I think I may have been wetting my pants with fear, but you do forget that afterwards.
 
His lesson at riding club was also good, he was terribly well behaved, but I shouldn't sound surprised, Jack usually is.
During our lesson we spent a lot of time maintaining a nice rhythm at the walk, and asking him to stretch his neck...he did well, so he got an extra sugar cube.
He is still doing very well when it comes to "paddock relations" too...unless you're a grey pony that is! He can still be a little cheeky, and does know how to push my buttons sometimes, but I think that is a reason I love him.
 
One little thing that did have me smiling the other morning is worth sharing just for a giggle I think.
Quite often we have hot air balloons taking off from the local footy oval which is just on the other side of the hill. On this particular morning, one of the balloons was having some trouble getting up, and was floating really low over our property...low enough for me to regret not putting a pair of tracksuit pants and a bra that morning.
Anyway, over it comes....Moo and Munchie go ballistic, snorting, galloping. Now, Moo and Munchie are my nice quite types, they are the "sensible" ones, Jack on the other hand, is very sensitive....to everything somedays.
Well, over comes this balloon, I'm standing outside with a bucket in one hand and a hose in the other with what I can only imagine was a pretty dopey expression on my face (but it was before 7am!!)
The balloon is getting lower, and lower...the two "sensible" horses are going totally off,  I'm by now thinking "DON'T LAND IN MY PADDOCK!!!!!"...then down it comes in the paddocks directly across the road...I hold my breath, waiting for Jack to explode as I was sure he would and as the other two were...he pricks his ears, turns his head, looks at me, I go white....he puts his head back in his dinner bucket!!!
At that moment the other two take a look at him, and go "Oh...okay then...nothing to see here, back to brekkie".
About half an hour later the balloon people came over and apparently the passengers were very excited to see the horses galloping! I personally think I would have been a little more interested in where I was going to crash land not a pair of silly horses running around lol
 
That has been the extent of the excitement lately...but I guess that isn't a bad thing!

Watch This Space!! March 13 2013, 0 Comments

Over the past few days I’ve been really watching what’s going on in my paddocks. All 3 horse are now living together, which was a little scary at the start...I worry about big feet and big kicks, but seeing how the three of them have settled into a real mini-herd structure is quite interesting. Sometimes I think I can describe the personalities by comparing them to television characters...for example Moosie-Moo is so much like “The Freak” from Prisoner it’s a bit of a worry!

Luckily Moo is a horse that is so cool, calm and collected and she handles change really well...as long as there is food I think I could get her to skip along a tightrope. Munchie has been happy to go with what she does. He looks to her as though she is his Mummy...very cute, but I think in his mind, if it is ok in Moo’s eyes then it really is ok!

Jack is a little different. I wouldn’t have ever called him a loner, but he is certainly a horse that seems as though he isn’t fussed about anything either way. He can eat or not, be caught or not (grrrrr), be ridden or not, and socialise or not. He has his place in the corner of the paddock under a big river gum, and at times it seems as though he is oblivious to what’s happening, and will rarely leave that corner.

This was especially the case early on in the shared paddock scenario. He wouldn’t even look at what the other two were up to; I’m not sure if it was just a case of “I’m not looking at you, so you’re not there”, or if he just didn’t care. This sort of thing went on for almost a week...he was always by himself, but slowly things started to change. He started following the other two around a little more, not too close, but closer than he had been. Then last week, he was a real horse!!!! He and Moo were actually grooming each other...something I had never seen Jack doing (Moo loves a good mutual scratch). They went on for maybe 10 minutes before Moo felt she needed to squeal and make a fuss...old bag!!

Now we are at the point where Jack is really one of the “normal” horses lol I’m not saying he was abnormal, he was just...different, but the change within 2 weeks has been huge...living in a mini-herd has really helped him, and me! He is now happy to be caught, which is a huge thing as many people will tell you (I couldn’t count on my fingers and toes how many times I gone into the paddock and been unable to get a hold of the bugger!!), and he is even happy for me to give him a scratch in a special itchy spot, again that’s something I have never been able to do.

Jack has been with me now for just over a year, and unfortunately that year has been a little up and down. We started out going great guns...we were motoring, however then I got sick – too sick to ride and the wheels fell off. I was still able to go out and feed and rug him through winter, but that is pretty much it. One thing I was adamant about was being the one to actually take care of him...I really needed to do it...be with him one on one, so those nights after a long day of treatment, there I was, out in the paddock, in the cold/rain/mud tending to Jack. I annoyed a lot of people...my in-laws especially (but I am the daughter in-law so I like to think that goes with the territory) But now I can really begin to see the benefits of pushing myself like I did. He will come up to me when called, and will stand nicely for a pat...carrots help by the way ;)

Another huge change has been under saddle...all of a sudden we are getting somewhere. Our walk is almost perfect, our trot is rockin’ and we are getting there with our canter (all IMHO of course;))There has been a definite change in trust between the both of us...I don’t know if he appreciated the change I made within the paddock or if we have both gotten our “stuff” together (I suspect the latter), but the part of my mind which would like to humanise the mind of the horse would like to think he just loves me more.

In fact, I think we have gotten our “stuff” together so much that it might be time for an outing...yep a real, live outing...WATCH THIS SPACE!!!!!!!



Decisions, Decisions... March 05 2013, 1 Comment

Well fellow Ruby Riders, I have come to fairly life changing decision over the weekend. It's a decision that is going to change not only my life, but also the lives of those around me, and I guess I should apologise now...sorry!! I'm giving up dressage and becoming a "showie", but I'm going to be a showie with a difference...I'm going to become a "Topsy Professional" - a showie that only competes in the Topsy Ring!! Go on, ask why....... Well, on Sunday I took my daughter Sophie and her sweet little pony, Munchie to their first ever outing. We travelled to Beverage Pony Club for their annual Open Show, and if I had of known how much fun it was going to be, they would have stayed home and I would have taken Moo. We had an absolute ball!!! Being reasonably new to showing (not totally new, but the last time I ventured into the show ring, Moo and I certainly couldn't say it was one of our finest moments), I guess we were a little lost, but the whole day, and days beforehand were so enjoyable...especially the shopping part! We went nuts - poor old Horseland in Lilydale had shelves pulled apart (but we did tidy up afterwards), and the sales team managed to decifer the blank respones to the questions they asked with ease. Our small but overflowing shopping basketrs were filled with many things we needed, and wanted. We came out with bibs and bobs, lotions and potions, but the best thing was the purple glitter hoof polish - LOVE IT!!!!!! Show Day Eve was a busy one. There were lessons to be had, floats to pack (and repack), and grey ponies to be turned purple (Yes, I finally have realised that a "touch more for good luck" should NOT apply to purple highlight rinse after washing pony with a whole bottle of Glo-White shampoo) Clippers were clipping, rugs were sorted and one grey pony was dying to do what he does best which is roll in the biggest, dirtiest roll patch he can find! But we were super lucky, and we got away with him not rolling at all...at least untoil about 15 minutes before we were leaving **eye roll**. Thank goodness for green spot remover!! I mentioned at the time that 5am starts on a Sunday to go showing is for crazy people, but because that’s what time my alarm went off, I guess I'm crazy! All that action in what is still the middle of the night in my world leaves a lot to be desired, but thankfully the excitement made the sun rise a little quicker for us. Miss 8 was out of bed at 5:30 (she is less thrilled in mornings than I am), but she was more than happy to help with giving Jack his breakfast and putting on flymasks (a necessary at the moment as there is some nasty conjunctivitis going around). 6:30 hit, and we were off - right on time. After a brief stop for breakfast, we arrived at the pony club grounds a little under 2 hours until the Topsy Ring was due to commence. I was a little concerned about the heat that was forecast, but very relieved to find that our ring was under some beautiful, and huge trees...ahhhh shade...how I do love you!!! We really arrived at the perfect time, we were able to take a stroll around the grounds, find our ring, find the office, buy our tickets and just have a good old sticky beak at everything there (except the toilets...they were an after thought...until....) After some last minute polishing of boots and pony, we were making our way to our ring (do you like the way I say "Our"...like I was there to compete lol). The ring was buzzing with the excitement. Lots of happy, excited kids, on much loved ponies that were scrubbed and polished, but most importantly, their riders best friends. Sophie and Munchies first class was "neatest and cleanest" - a class she might have done quite well in...If it wasn't for the smear of horse poo across the front of her crisp white shirt (she really is her Mothers' daughter!), but a red ribbon was wonderful. Being an overprotective Mumma, I decided to lead her in, but soon realised that Munchie was going to take extrra good care of Sophie, I just wasn't needed - the kid had it happening and little Munchie was a darling. By the third class she was on her own, and I was super proud. She has such a lovely bond with Munchie and I was pretty sure that all was going to be ok. I did however go in with her for the walking race and trotting race, but againh I wasn't needed - I should have just stayed outside and continued socialising. By the end of the day Sophie and  Munchie came away with 9 ribbons -  a couple of blue, a couple of red, and a few green thrown in for good measure, but the ribbon we were most proud of was the blue ribbon awarded to the Topsy Trooper - awarded to her for showing good sportsmanship. A little girl riding just in front of Sophie in the trotting race took a tumble and Sophie made the decision to stop to see if she was ok (thankfully she was). It was wonderful of the judge to recognise that, and I am so thankful to that judge for making Sophie's day not only enjoyable, but also a good learning experience. I guess every one of us have differing opinions on the different disciplines and of course there are some stereotypes that are maintained by those who choose to, but I think that at the end of the day, we all do what we do because we just love our horse/pony. How we show that love to them again is an individual thing, and I have no doubt that a horse just says "whatever...just feed me", but from what I saw on Sunday, there are many young people out there, that are in it just for the fun, the camaraderie, and the pride they have in their mount...oh and it doesn't hurt being rewarded for that with a pretty ribbon every now and again ;)

The Best of Summer... luv Reen February 25 2013, 1 Comment

I bet I'm not the only one who thinks that this Summer has been mighty unpleasant...not friendly at all.
As much as I don't want to wish my life away, I really wish the end of February will come quickly and at least lull us all into a false sense of Autumn (even though we all know that we will get our fair share of stinky, hot days in March)
 
To celebrate the "almost end of Summer", here is a little list of MY Top 5 things that I'll be glad to see the end of when Summer wanders off:
1. Dry, brown crackly grass!  At the beginning of January we popped up to QLD for a few days...when we left we were still green and even a little lush here in the YV, but on arrival back home only 3 days later, we were confronted with paddocks that look as though they've been covered with cardboard...and they just haven't gotten any better! I'm very lucky that I have horses that are very "fuel efficient", and only Jack is being hard fed to try and get a little bulk on him, but I'd hate to be one of the owners out there that are going through the drama of feeding due to the lack of pasture! Love my CC's just for that reason!
2. Flies!!!! If I swallow or suck up my nostril one more little bush fly I'm going to go insane! I was "lucky" enough one day last week to pull off the double whammy - a fly in my mouth and seconds later, one up my nose. I was loading the pony into the float, so Miss 8 could ride after school, and as I was walking Munchie to the float a fly flew straight into my mouth (probably because my jaw is always yabbering!). As I was coughing and spluttering in a most un-ladylike manner, I managed to snort a fly up my nose...I have never felt so ill! So tiny little bush flies - BE GONE!!!!!!
3. Dust...arrrggghhh dust!!!! Our property is beautifully positioned on the side of a hill, a hill that gets a fair bit of wind as it rushes up the Valley...combine that wind with an arena that has been cut out, and we get dust!!! And of course all 3 horses think that rolling in that dust is the bestest thing in the world! One pat on the neck and your hand is black!! I know that I could make those dust rolls less attractive if I rugged the horses, but to be honest, I really can't be bothered. Every now and again I get serious and pop a rug on, but they are naked for most of the time.
4. Sweaty, stinky bits, especially sweaty, stinky bits after a ride...yuck!!!! I think there is a saying along the lines of "ladies don't sweat, they perspire", well I bloody sweat!!! Sadly I also sweat a lot. It seems that every single Thursday during this Summer it has been horribly hot. Thursday is also my lesson day...rain, hail, shine or stinker! I am totally over sweaty hair, sweaty skin, sweaty clothes (even knickers!) Thursday is also Miss 8's martial arts class afternoon, so I bet you aren't glad you don't sit next to me at martial arts! Although now that I think about it, nobody sits next to me at martial arts on Thursday afternoon, and Kyoshi and Sensei aren't up for a chat either!
5. Fires...goes without saying! 
 
Now for my Top 5 things that I will actually miss about Summer (yes there are a few)
1. Looonnngggggg days! We'll all miss daylight savings when it goes, so I guess the best thing to do is "make hay while the sun shines"...get out and ride, enjoy the opportunity that DLS gives us!!
2. Hot afternoons spent at the swimming hole in East Warburton. Our special place by the river has become a really wonderful place to spend those hot afternoons/evenings. We make our way up there with an esky filled with cool drinks & snacks, towels, Aeroguard, an excited black dog called "Tilly", and a few of her best tennis balls to chase. I have lost count of how many hours we have spent there, and we just love the coolness of that beautifully clean water that comes straight from the mountains. Miss 8 can splash about, Tilly the black dog can have a splash about too, one or two cold drinks on the river bank can be consumed (responsibly of course ;))...and at the end of or visit, we all enjoy a stop at the ice cream store in Warburton for a treat on the way home. Just a beautiful way to spend an afternoon
3. Twilight trail rides. Jack has decided that he only wants to trail ride at twilight, he is beautifully behaved and I can see that he really, really enjoys the chance to get out of the arena and stretch his legs on the trail later in the day. For a while I was taking him out on the trails early in the morning, but he was a little uptight, distracted and not really enjoying the time, but a busy day forced a bit of a change one day, and the evening was the only time I had to take him out, and what a difference it made! So now, every third evening out we go...and hope we get home before darkness falls!
4. Short coats on my horses, although I have noticed this week that there is a little more hair coming out of them when they get a scratch, particularly Moo...that can only mean one thing...Winter coats are on their way!!!
5. Sunny Boys!!!!!! This Summer I have rediscovered the joy of the good old Sunny Boy, and I'm glad I have. Last Friday I had some guys over to do some fencing, and me being me decided to help them, so the 3 of us were all outside in the heat putting up this fence, and I tell you, that Sunny Boy went down like a treat.  Pine Lime is pretty awesome ;)
 
When I was writing my Top 5's, I found that there was more on my list of things I will miss about Summer, than there was on my list of "Seeya Summer"!
Isn't it funny how when we really sit down and think about things we can always find more of the positives in life than we can the negatives..at least I can anyway. Perhaps that's just me, or perhaps its more that my perceptions on life and the world in general have changed over the last 12 months. This time 12 months ago I was mourning the loss of some very good friends, trying desperately to save Moo's life, trying to please everyone I could and ignoring myself. 
Today I'm still mourning the loss of those friends & Moo is about to be entered into the Gembrook Riding Club Time Trial. But I have also come to realise that I'm the only one I should be pleasing, and it is something I need to work hard to do. I think we all do.
I guess on the outside I haven't changed all that much, but I know that on the inside I have. I know I'm strong. I know I can see the positive in life....but the next question is "can I take my positives and help someone else with them?"
Time will tell.


A little about Reen February 14 2013, 0 Comments

So here I am, sitting on my lounge, attempting to write my first ever blog entry.
"Who are you and why are you doing that?" you may ask, and they are a couple of really good questions!! So let me introduce myself and tell you a little bit about me, if you're interested that is;)
 
I'm Reen Lidden and for the most part, I'm a mum of one who has only just hit the big 4-oh!!! (ouch!!). But I guess what separates me from a lot of the other Mums at the school gate is that I am totally in love with horses, a love that like with most horse riders/owners, has been there since I was a little girl reading Black Beauty and watching The Black Stallion at the cinemas on the school holidays...many, many years ago.
I live out in the Yarra Valley, a lovely part of Victoria (wine country, perfect life - I can combine more of my loves!!).  We, as in my husband Craig and daughter Sophie, are lucky enough to have a few acres so that I can indulge in my, and now 8 year old Sophie's passion. Thankfully I have a husband who is happy enough to spend weekends fixing fences, picking up poo and listening to me telling him all about the weekend adventures I have with my "hairy children"...at least I don't see him pull faces when I'm chatting away!
 
These "hairy children" are 2 Clydie X's, "Jack" and "Moosie-Moo", and a darling little Welshie affectionately known as "Munchie".
I've been pretty blessed with these 3 horses...each one has come into my life when I have really needed it, but I'll get more into why at a later stage.
Moosie-Moo has been dubbed "The Princess", she runs the place - if she isn't happy, then nobody is happy. Although in saying that, she certainly isn't a stereotypical mare - she is just special and she knows it!
 
Now, how would I describe Munchie...hmmmmmm....ok, picture "Merrylegs" from Black Beauty and you have it in one (great, already made my second reference to Black Beauty and its only my first blog!!)
A pony every little girl dreams of. He is just a baby himself, but proving himself to be a young man beyond his years - except for the teeth, hence the name "Munchie"!!
 
Jack is the big boy - the Main Man! Having only just turned 6 and just hitting the 17.2hh mark he is a big imposing lad with a heart of gold and an eye always on the feed bucket - typical Clydie X!!!!
Jack is the boy that I can only hope to do what I feel is deserving of him and his talent. He is a big moving boy, with an ability to learn quickly and tries his big heart out for me. The problem I have is that I lack a certain amount of confidence, and being only 6 is what Jack needs - a confident rider.
 
Why am I lacking in confidence? Well, here's the answer, and I'm guessing I'm not the only one out there who can answer this question like this. I'm not confident becasue I'm a little on the "sturdy" side(**sigh**) Yep, thats right, I'm chunky!!
I'm tall at 5'10", I have boobs and I have a tummy to match...lets just say I'm NOT browsing the petite section in Target!
And this is where Rubenesque Rider comes into the equation. For years riders such as myself have either had to squeeze into tops and breeches that are a little on snug side (always an activity that is destined to put  aspiring in your step - NOT!!), or quite simply go without, but then Rubenesque Rider was developed, and all of a sudden people like myself were actually able to by things that fit, and look good!!!
 
So now here I am, sitting in my lounge writing a blog...but WHY???????????? Well, I have been given an amazing opportunity by the team at Rubenesque Rider...the opportunity to become a sponsored rider! OMG!!!!!! A sponsored rider!!!!! NO WAY!!!!!!!!!
I never dreamt something like this could happen to me...I'm not a particularly good rider - probably never will be, but I guess my passion all through life, especially last year (which again I'll get into at a later stage) prompted the team at RR to give me a shot.
I'm so grateful for the opportunity and am really looking forward to a wonderful partnership...and I'm even excited about getting out and about and helping promote Rubenesque Rider!! At least I'll look awesome!!!!
 
So that's just a little bit about me. I'm not particularly special, but I guess somewhere I can have something to share that might make you smile when you're down. I could go on for many, many pages, as many of my friends could tell you, but I don't want to send any of you to sleep. But I'll be updating weekly even if it's boring stuff like how I hung out 5 loads of washing before 7am, then cleaned my bridle (The bridle clean won't feature  - that never happens)
 
Keep well fellow Ruby Riders...and love who you are!
 
Reen xxx