I had a serious to do list today. I was going to work in the yard, clean up around the house, and catch up on some tv shows I have taped. Instead, I abandoned it all and headed over to the barn to ride. I spent most of my weekend over there in between rain storms and I can’t stress how therapeutic it’s been!
I read the quote below the other day… I’ve searched high and low for the author, but can’t find him/her.
“Religion is a person sitting in a church thinking about kayaking. Spirituality is sitting in a kayak thinking about God.”
As I sat there on Sue’s back and just looked out at the lake, I felt a calm come over me. Call it God, call it relaxation, call it just enjoying the moment. It was great. I could even feel Sue relax under me. There was something so spiritual about being out there, one with my horse, in the great outdoors.
The housework will always be there, but moments like this are far and few between!
Winter is a tough time for cowgirls, especially cowgirls with day jobs. It’s dark for what feels like most of the day. It’s cold. And don’t even get me started on the rain…
Knowing that I hadn’t done much ride over the period of a couple weeks (only once, actually), I decided that a wise move would be to turn Sue out for a bit in one of the pastures to run his jollies out.
And run he did.
It was amazing to watch. I love nothing more than to just stand there and listen to his thundering hooves and watch him romp. He ran around for about 20 minutes until he was covered in sweat. It was such a beautiful thing to watch and just made my heart sing.
I’ve been waiting a while to get my hands on these… pictures of baby Sue being born!!! Warning that some of these pictures may be considered a little graphic for some! I actually squealed when I started scrolling through them! He looks like a very tiny version of my now big boy!!!
Today I had the very unique opportunity to take Sue out to a nearby ranch to learn to work cows. I’m not gonna lie… I was pretty much terrified. I had no idea how Sue would react (the one other time he was around cows was BuckFest 2014, but I think it was a combination of a lot of different things) and I had no idea what I was doing.
This horse loves cows. Apparently so do I because every picture that shows me head on shows me with a great big grin on my face. Honestly, it was so much fun!!!
We started the day by reviewing the basics – backing, turning, stopping. Then, they brought in the buffalo. Yeah, you read that right, the BUFFALO. Apparently they’re less aggressive than cows are and are a bit easier to learn on. Each of us in the class had the chance to chase the buffalo around the round pen twice. Once I pointed Sue in the direction of the buffalo, he was off! I swear, it’s like this horse found his purpose in life today!
After everyone worked the buffalo, we headed into the covered arena to start working on the cows. Sue and I got to practice cutting a cow from the herd – which sounds easy, but there’s definitely an art. You want to walk your horse in (the goal is to not disturb the herd) and chose the cow you want to separate from the rest. Once you get it out, you want to keep it out:
All of the hard work that my trainer, Sue, and I have been putting in really paid off! In fact, we were actually complimented for our stops and turns today! Here are a few more pictures of us chasing cows around. Also, I learned that a good cow dog is a huge help as well!
Today really was an amazing day! I’m so proud of my Sue and absolutely love taking him new places to try new things!
Five years ago today, my sweet boy Sue was born. I wish I would have been there and could have seen him as a foal!
As always, as I walked around the corner at the barn and called his name, Sue popped his little head over the stall door… he was hanging out by the fan that he shares with his BFF Cooper in the next stall because fly bites bother them both. I had already decided that my gift to him was a day without having to haul my butt around.
Seriously, how cute is his troll hair? At first I was a little bummed that my horse didn’t have the long flowing mane and forelock, but I have fallen more and more in love with his tiny little crazy hair! I helped give Banshee, his mama, a shot the other day and she has the same thing!
I pulled him out of his stall and took him down to the round pen for a frolic and a good roll. Because of the flies he doesn’t get much turnout time in the summer, so I figured today would be a good time to play around a bit. He chose not to run (it was HOT!) but did get a great couple of rolls in:
I bought a carrot cake cupcake for him… I’ve heard of people making their own horse treats, but read in several forums that horses also like regular carrot cake – probably because of the sweetness. I had a sneaking suspicion that he wouldn’t like it (he only really likes actual carrots), but had to try.
I ended up with cream cheese frosting and arena dirt all over me. I gave him an extra scoop of grain before I left to make up for it. We also walked the property for a while and ate some grass.
All in all, I think it was a pretty good birthday for him! I love that boy! Back to our training tomorrow… we head out on the 20th to work cattle for the first time! I can’t wait!
Yesterday was our third schooling show and I had one goal going into it… to not get disqualified. I know it sounds a bit silly, but we’re so new to showing and still learning so much that in both of the first two shows we went off pattern (first time was my mistake, second time was Sue’s). I honestly am not going to these shows to win ribbons (although it would be fun to get one), but rather to expose Sue to as much as I possibly can. My goal with him is to make him the best trail horse ever, which means that we need to see as much as we can and learn how to be calm together when faced with new and seemingly scary things. A show is a great place to do this – from the nervous energy of other horses and their riders to new sounds, smells, and things. I’m proud to say we made it through all three classes without getting disqualified!!! Sue definitely had his game face on:
Over the last three shows, we’ve made huge strides. He will now stand quietly while all of chaos moves around him. He doesn’t try to bolt across the arena when he realizes we go in alone like he did the first time.
Just before I did my trail class, my sister and the kids showed up… I got to take Chloe for a quick (about 3 feet) ride. Day made!
It was a great day! I’m so proud of my little fella!
A year ago today, a little redheaded gelding named Sue came into my life.
He’s taught me patience, he’s taught me strength. He’s taught me to remember to breathe. He’s taught me how to have a conversation without saying a word. He’s taught me what an amazing gift whole hearted trust can be. He’s taught me that I can’t muscle my way through life and that sometimes I just have to relax. He’s taught me to face my fears (and his) head on.
I’ve been bloodied, I’ve been bruised, I’ve laughed until my belly hurt. We’ve run from lightning and toward puddles. We’ve even competed in two shows. My car smells like a barn, especially when it gets hot outside. I do too… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I am so happy that I became Sue’s person on March 27, 2014… I can’t imagine a better horse for me! I’m also amazingly lucky to have a wonderfully supportive husband who has backed my adventure 100%. I truly do have the most fantastic life! I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!
This morning I had my first experience with equine dentistry. I had tons of questions, and the veterinarian was super nice and actually a little excited that someone wanted to hear about what he does for a living. He has a cool trailer hooked to his truck that expands out and has everything he needs from tools to a portable stall, to the sling you see below to hold the horse’s head.
The very first thing the vet does is to tranquilize the horse… for fairly obvious reasons. Sue got pretty mellow, pretty fast. I walked him over to the trailer and we put him in the stall. He immediately leaned both on the stall and on the little chin rest.
The vet then explained everything he was going to do… basically, if a horse’s teeth do not wear evenly (tons of reasons why they wouldn’t) it can cause eating problems, tooth loss, ulcers in their mouth, etc. So once a year, the vet has to basically grind their teeth down to smooth off the sharp edges and realign the bite. He started with the front teeth, or incisors.
None of this hurts them since the “pulp” in their teeth is buried down inside. Yes, that’s his massive tongue just hanging out. He was way mellow. The vet then had me look inside Sue’s mouth and feel some of the sharp edges of the molars. He had one little spot that was ulcerated (similar to how the inside of your cheek feels when you bite it).
It’s kind of a terrible picture because my camera wanted to focus on the wrong part, but you can see how far back it goes if you look closely. The scary looking contraption on this head/mouth is just their to hold it open for the vet.
He also had to file down the sharp canines. Only stallions and geldings have them and in the wild they’re used to fight. In domestic horses, they are the most sensitive teeth and can cause pain if the bit hits them and they’re too long.
This is his setup… it was really neat!
I absolutely love this vet! He answered every question I had, was happy to let me take pictures, and was really great with Sue. Once he was done, I took Sue back to his stall. He had to wait about an hour to eat (and to come out of the drug haze) but is doing just fine!
Yesterday the group I ride with got rained out. We decided to head into Ione for a ride under their covered arena… which, once we arrived we discovered that there was a show in progress. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining there and we had miles of trails to head out and work on. This arena is a bit scary for some horses, and sometimes Sue gets sucked into the energy. I don’t know if it’s because it’s covered, or there’s cows, or what, but something just makes them all a little on edge. I was so proud – we warmed up and he was doing great – definitely alert and paying attention to his surroundings, but listening and responding to me. Same thing when we headed out to the trail. He loped when I asked him to and when he got a little crazy (ran a bit faster than I was asking for), responded to my cues to slow down.
We came around a bend on the trail and I spotted a puddle. I thought “we’re having a great day and he’s scared of puddles… since he’s listening, let’s give it a try”. It was about 10 feet long and about 2 feet wide… I went to the short side and asked him to cross.
You would have thought I was asking him to step off the edge of the Grand Canyon.
We fought. My trainer and the rest of the group watched and coached and encouraged me. I got more and more frustrated and I could feel Sue doing the same. We’ve crossed puddles and creeks before and while he’s been nervous, it was never a fight like this. I started to feel like all of our trust was disappearing.
Finally, my trainer asked me to step off so she could work him on it. It took a while, but she got his mind back and he finally did it. At this point, both he and I were covered in sweat and exhausted. I was a little embarrassed that I wasn’t able to master something that was seemingly so simple, especially since we had done so well on what seemed like more advanced stuff earlier in the day. I hopped back on and we spent the remainder of our ride just chilling and reconnecting.
I think the day was more traumatic for me than for him. It reminds me that every time I get comfortable and feel like I’ve got this, something new will pop up. He’s young, I’m new(ish), and it’s all part of the process of learning and growing together. I got so focused on the “bad” part of the ride (which in reality was a really good learning experience) and didn’t focus on all of the really great stuff we did.
We’ll conquer the boogie man in the puddle someday!
I say “our” first show instead of “my” first show very deliberately. I could do none of this without my horse. Sometimes I take a step back to think about how amazing this sport is – an animal that weighs ten times what I do allows me to climb on his back, poke him in the ribs, and make him run when he would otherwise rather be grazing. He has the opportunity to kill me at any moment, yet he doesn’t.
Our show was a couple of weeks ago and I honestly could not have asked for it to go any better. It was a schooling show, so the idea is that people and horses of all different ability levels can compete in a safe, non-stressful environment. Everyone is there to work on something and have the experience of a show without some of the pressure.
The first chunk of the morning we spent getting ready – the horses needed to be brushed and cleaned up, as well as tack. Then I had to get dressed and get my number pinned on.
There was a lot of waiting around, which was awesome for Sue. He (and I) had to practice sitting, watching other horses, and just generally being calm. The same thing happened in the warm up pen – tons of other horses doing their thing and we had to practice just doing ours.
We competed in three classes. The first was a walk/jog class – the horse and rider are judged on how nice their gait is, how well they work together, etc. We had a really good time doing that and it was nice because there were 16 other horses in the class, so it wasn’t a solo thing right off the bat. The second class was our pattern – you have to move the horse through a series of walking, backing, loping, jogging, trotting, and galloping. Sue was amazing… he did absolutely everything I asked him! I missed the right lead (horse speak for making him run but starting with the right front hoof), which automatically disqualifies you. It was a great experience and was the one thing that went “wrong”. Needless to say, we’re going to keep working on that right lead!
After that, we played around on the trail course – basically a series of obstacles that you and the horse have to navigate. Not once did Sue do anything bad (there were other riders there that had horses try to buck) and I could feel that he was really trying hard! I love that horse!