Thursday, March 6, 2014

And Then Life Happened

...but mostly I work 2 jobs currently and live a full life and thus am struggling to get *all the posts* posted.

Things are good mostly good though. As I write this (on Tuesday), we are in what will hopefully be our last arctic snap of the season. (Polar vortex sounds stupid to me, thus I coin my own terminology.) I'm sick currently, so I've got time to catch up on blogs and schedule posts of my own! In all honesty, I do keep up pretty well with reading everyone's blogs - but commenting from my phone *never* works properly, so I try to save that for later and mark posts as "unread". It slows the process some, but I'm doing my best!

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This current snap of arctic air was preceded by rain --> sleet --> ice --> snow. In preparation for the drastic drop in temperatures + the precipitation, Mike and I hustled out to the barn Sunday afternoon to stall Griffin and Q for awhile. I didn't want to leave them in, but I couldn't blanket them until they'd dried off either.

Messy eaters.
We nestled them into the barn with water and hay and left for a few hours so they could dry out.

When we returned at 9:30p, we had friends in tow. We'd all been hanging out participating in our typical "Sunday Funday" shenanigans when they'd expressed interest in some horse time.

Q and Griffin played pony-ride for the three of them while Mike and I supervised.

Griffin was a superstar! It was the first time I'd let someone else ride him since Saiph's July visit. He's been so reliable lately, especially in the barn, that I felt 100% okay with letting someone ride him around. My friend is my size and while she has zero riding experience, I knew that the probability of issue in that small space (30' diameter round pen) was minimal.

I put a bareback pad and side-pull halter on Griffin, gave her a leg up and sent them to walking around. Griffin tried to follow me around for awhile until he deigned to listen to the feeble requests his rider was making. She got the hang of communication though, and before long they were walking hither and thither around the round pen.

Q also had a very green rider on, too, with a her sidepull halter and the Ansur saddle. Q's rider was much more exuberant in her requests, to which Q made many angry mare faces about. She tolerated things well enough though, polite as could be considering the circumstances.

Looking pretty good at the tail end of winter!
Both girls had a blast riding around and "racing" at a walk around the pen, cutting one another off and heckling. Mostly my horses chose their own paths, redirected time and again by Mike or I giving a gesture from the ground to move out.

My friend that rode Griffin was exceptionally funny with her commentary to Griffin to, "C'mon, lets race! No, no, no, don't do that. Yes! Go over there! Lets goooo! GO OFF AND DO HORSE THINGS! Lets stop here so you can kiss him [Mike]. No, Griffin, kiss him! Do you want beer? No, MIKE, he DOES want the beer! C'mon, Griffin! LIZ! Why won't he drink beer?"

No, she wasn't drunk, I swear.  Its honestly just the Irish heritage/New Yorker in her that just makes her raucous all the time. Quite a hoot, really. At one point she tried to make a ridiculous gesture with her upper body from his back (after about 20 minutes of riding) that sent her off balance. Griffin, feeling this imbalance stopped walking while my friend *slowly* tilted to the left. She lost balance so slowly that she had time to say, "I'm going down! I'm going down!" Twice before she plopped unceremoniously on the ground beside Griffin, bouncing back up immediately with exclamations of, "I'm okay!" Mike was at Griffin's head before my friend had even hit the ground, so no one was any worse for the moment. We were all doubled over in laughter at the absurdity of the moment.

My friend hopped right back on Griffin after that "incident" and the night continued.

Relaxed Q-mare is relaxed.
Once our friends had departed, Mike and I hopped back on the horses to "reset" them. Mike, walking and trotting Q around bareback while I walk-trot-cantered Griffin bareback. I seriously have the best, most tolerant horses.

We blanketed and turned them out prior to leaving - steady sleet falling from the sky upon turnout.

Monday morning afforded less snow than predicted, but a nice layer of ice beneath it that made roads a bitch. My office was closed due to the conditions, so I had another snow day.

I spent much of the day sleeping, which I think was my body trying to ward off this sickness that has plagued me today.

By Monday afternoon though, I was feeling chipper and headed out to the barn to play with my horses and to give K another lesson.

Ice that was cemented to blankets
Mike, I, and K all arrived about the same time to the barn. Mike brought my two in while I prepped hot mashes. He planned to take Q on a trail ride while I gave K a lesson. (I love that both horses are getting work on the same day! Training is so much easier when there are two butts to sit astride two horses!)

I was so happy I'd blanketed my horses when I saw them come in from the field. Ice was plastered on the blankets and each horse had icicles frozen hard and fast along their neck and chins. I had to cut them out because they'd formed so close to the skin that they were pulling it in an uncomfortable way. Fortunately, they were all small (no more than 3" long and a half-inch wide) so it wasn't an impossible task. Their legs had some ice dusted/crusted around their coronet bands and fetlocks, but nothing that wouldn't brush right off.

Look at that huge icicle!
K's horse Tempest was much worse for the wear. I imagine all of the horses were, though I didn't
march out to the field to inspect them! Tempest's tail was full of muddy icicles along the bottom 10". The hair along his legs from the knee down was caked with ice and icicles. His chin, neck, and especially his belly were covered with icicles. His belly had icicles from 3" to 10" in length. The worst of them was a 10" icicle that was easily 1.5" to 2" in diameter. It was heavy, it swung with each step, and it was adhered TO THE SKIN.

I did my best with scissors to shave off and slowly nip off as many of the bigger icicles on him as I could to relieve some of that pressure and pain they were inevitably causing. He threatened me once as I tried to remove the big one, but stood stoically after I verbally reprimanded him...I still couldn't avoid drawing blood! The icicle had adhered to his skin. =( I was a gentle as I could be in removal of the icicle after he warned me, and he was such a doll, but I still ended up making him bleed. I treated it immediately with betadine and some salve. He was licking and chewing after I'd removed that icicle - so I can only hope that he felt some relief from its removal.

The worst of the ice for my guys
I was *so* happy I'd blanketed my two!! Not having shelter out of the elements this year has been tough. I'm so, so happy I bought blankets for them.

While I gave K a lesson (she is really coming along well! learning lots and her position is improving!), Mike took Q out on a trail ride. They ended up covering 5 miles in an hour's time. =)

I've been incorporating some "trail" riding around the property to K's lessons lately. Twice now we've been out (K, Mike, and I with the three horses) ponying K and Tempest around. It's been great for boosting K's confidence in herself and her horse since we have to cross some frozen puddles and a creek. She's learning to trust her horse more (she's worried about him jumping the water all the time since he jumps the small creek in the pasture when she's leading him in on foot).

Tempest ponies very politely. Though, this may be in part because I'm ponying Tempest from Griffin! Q *hates* Tempest. Absolutely despises him. Evil mare faces are made whenever he is in a 10-foot proximity! He adores her though, which only fuels her spite for him. Its amusing, but not conducive for ponying!

Griffin has been a CHAMP about it though. For shorter rides on familiar ground he has REALLY become reliable. The first time we ponied Tempest and K was very impromptu. It was only for a few minutes, and as a result of the unplanned moment, Griffin and I were bareback with only his halter and lead rope! He was a doll. (It should be noted that the only reason I decided to take this calculated risk was because Mike was there to chaperone, K and I were properly attired and helmeted, the horses were all very calm together, we were on familiar terrain going a quarter mile AT MOST.)

Happy, relaxed pony. And Kenai's buzzcut butt.
The second ponying session with K and Tempest + Griffin and I was last night. It was a bit lengthier in time, though the distance wasn't much greater than our first jaunt out the week prior. I'd saddled Griffin this time, and he was more forward about things, but very well behaved all the same. K and Tempest really seem to enjoy the little loop we make that crosses the creek, circles some trees, and returns to the barn. Its nice to get out of the ring and experience new things. Its a fun 15 minute exercise for all involved.

Oh, and its worth mentioning - K's lesson last night was given in teen temperatures that swiftly descended into single digits with the setting sun! We're trying to make the most of what's around and have a blast where we can!

I realize also that we've arrived into March, leaving February in the dust! I hope to have another post reviewing February's goals and introducing some for March ready to post over the weekend while I'm at the AERC Convention in Atlanta with Saiph meeting Mel and Ashley - and anyone else?!

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