Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Maryland Adventure Part I: Conquering Minis and Lateral Movements

This past weekend Mike and I, along with Q and Kenai, headed to Maryland to visit, ride, and play with Saiph and Charles. The below is a day-by-day chronicling of our shenanigans.

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Thursday: I had prepped the trailer and packed all I could earlier in the week in preparation for our departure Thursday evening. Mike and I both left work a bit early so we could get out of town by 5p. I met him at his apartment, loaded him up, and we headed to the barn to hook up the trailer and get Q loaded.

Mike struck off for the field with lead rope in hand to fetch his girl (seriously, she likes him more than me), while I hooked up the trailer.

By the time I was hooked up and ready to depart, Mike and Q had reached the barn. He and I tag teamed Q to get wraps on her legs for the trailer ride. Once she was wrapped up, Mike stood at the front window of the little trailer while I encouraged Q to load. She loaded with minimal issue on the second try, seemingly eager to get on and greet Mike at the window. As the door was closed, however, she still turned around. She was calm about it though, so I just left her be, "Whatever, mare, just ride backwards," and we departed.

Overall, the trip took a solid 5 hours from barn to barn. We stopped briefly for gas and food along the
way, managing to get Q to face forward at one of the stops (yay!) - though she still refused to eat much (if any?) during the ride.

When we pulled in at Saiph's barn, we offloaded Q immediately. She was a little shell-shocked after the long drive. I think the tail end of of the drive that involved some speed humps kind of freaked her out; we took the first one too fast (at 30 mph) because we had very little time to slow down for them! I can only imagine how those translated to Q in the trailer, in the dark, without the ability to read the road signs and anticipate anything. *shudder*

We took Q straight to her stall to get her settled, but she was still acting off. I opted to take her to the arena for a bit to see if I could get her to move out and stretch her legs some.

She trotted a bit for me, but mostly she stared in shock and awe and confusion at the black and white mini horses whose paddock abuts the arena.

After failed attempts at lunging (and meeting the minis), I trotted her out a la vet check and took her back to her stall for the night. She grabbed a few feeble bites of hay to reassure us she was okay, and we departed for Saiph's apartment where we indulged our appetites with a Puerto Rican dish she'd prepared for us + some beer. Mmm.

All wrapped up in her stall.


Mike and Saiph hadn't met prior, so they got to know one another some in addition to she and I catching up. After an hour or so of this, we called it quits until morning. Mike and I both passed out quickly, dead to the world.

: : : : :

Friday:  Charles arrived home from work somewhere around 7a. Shortly after, we all rose (albeit a bit grudgingly at first...five more minutes...). Saiph and Charles prepared breakfast for Mike and I and we discussed the plans for the day.

After breakfast, Charles headed to bed and Saiph, Mike and I headed out to find a consignment tack shop to see if there were any breeches that fit Mike because I told him he'd be happier in breeches once we start riding longer distances (yes, he wants to ride endurance with me!). We had a slight snafu trying to find the place, but we did eventually get there. Unfortunately, Mike didn't find any breeches that fit him, but we did figure out what wouldn't work - which is also helpful for future shopping pursuits.

After shopping, we all struck out for an Ethiopian place I'd found online that sounded promising.

SUCCESS! It was scrumptious!

Neither Saiph or Mike had eaten Ethiopian before and they both enjoyed it.

With full bellies, we headed back by the apartment to grab warmer clothes (the fickle spring weather was being evil) and then headed out to the barn.

The plan for the barn was to work in the arena with Q and Lily a bit, and then pursue a short trail ride with a third horse so Mike could come. We weren't certain how things would progress with the fickle weather, but we charged ahead all the same and gathered Q and Lily from their respective locations at on the property.

But then we were met with an issue: when I went to my trailer to get things out to start getting ready I realized the trailer was locked...and I'd left my keys at the apartment...30 minutes away. *sad face*

Saiph asked, "Can you pick it?" To which I gave her a bewildered look. But then Mike stepped up, with one of his many random skills (seriously, he can do a little bit of everything), "Yeah, probably. Do you have a flat head screwdriver and some needlenose pliers?" *cue further bewildered look on my part* Saiph brought him the pliers and a set of Allen wrenches; in less than 3 minutes Mike had the lock picked and the door to the tack compartment open. *swoon* I was in disbelief at this point. Thankful disbelief, but disbelief all the same. I received a short lesson on the mechanics behind basic locks and how to properly pick a simple one.

Once Saiph had returned from the field with Lily, the two mare *finally* got to meet! Something Saiph and I have been excited about for months. The meeting is best represented by the GIF below:

Q had been eating grain and was rather annoyed by Lily's presence - hence the bitchy mare face. Lily on the other hand was all, "OHAI! Friends?!" We laughed. Overall, the meeting was quite uneventful - which is WAY better than it being eventful because both extremes of eventful are never good (infatuation/hate).

Saiph took Lily to the barn to get her cleaned up and tacked up while Mike and I tag-teamed getting Q prepped for some arena work. And bonus, by the time we were done, the spitting rain had ceased! *cheers*

Saiph and I both began our arena escapade riding our own horses. I was initially excited to have a true arena to ride in, but that excitement was smashed into the ground as soon as I realized that said arena was going to provide a slew of new things for Q to spook at. *sigh*

It went something like this:

Like owner like horse: Distracted
You have those at home, Q.
Seriously, Q, you have them at home, too.
No, he's just trying to play sexy-time with the peahen. Trot on.

We also have those at home. Trot on.
Another item we have at home, ours is white, not red. TROT ON.

-_- Q. You lived with a mini your first summer with me. TROT. ON.
And Charlie was a palomino with stallion-tendencies. But you were cool with that. Besides, you saw these things last night. Trot. ON.

Fuck you, Q. TROT. ON. (The first part of this statement I actually did say aloud while riding.)
LAWLZ JK. I've seen it before.

Q was the counter-bend queen her whole time in the arena as a result of her spookiness as she eyed-up all the potential monsters.

So, with my newly adjusted back in order (uugghhh horizontal teleport), I asked Saiph if she wanted to switch horses. In reality it was more along the lines of, " Here. *drops reins with a disgusted sigh* Its yours. Take it. *indicates towards Q* I don't want it any more."

And with that we switched horses. I hopped on Lily to lateral every direction across the ring (weeeee!!!), and Saiph hopped on Q to see if she could get her to respond to requests for contact/lateral cues. (OMG, SAIPH WE STILL HAVEN'T TESTED OUT ALL OF YOUR BITS ON HER. DAMNIT!)

In a "yay I'm not crazy" sense, Saiph also had difficulty getting Q to accept contact and respond to lateral cues under saddle. She did better than I do, but Q was still a pill about it. So while, "yay I'm not crazy!" is good, its also sad because it means I've got a lot more work to do. But I suppose a blank slate is better than a cracked one that needs to be fixed. Still time to figure out if she'd prefer another bit to what she has (French link D).

Enjoying Lily's lateral movements while Saiph experiments with Q
Saiph and Q
Saiph narrating what she was doing

Saiph did have great luck getting Q to do lateral movements from the ground - so I'm going to do my best to work on her with those in coming months. Maybe by fall we'll be doing it under saddle!

By this time, the arena was getting busy. The sun was out and other boarders were taking advantage of the weather, too. I've never been one for arena work to begin with, so with the influx of people and horses I happily exited stage left with Saiph and Mike to head on a trail ride.

Saiph snagged a QH mare, Diva, for me to ride and we tacked her up in Mike's Aussie stock saddle while Mike swapped Q's bridle out for her halter-bridle.

Once everyone was tacked up in the appropriate accoutrements, we headed out on a 6 mile ride.

It was great to get to see so many of the places Saiph and Lily ride that are featured on the blog. All three of us and all three horses got along really well through the beginning of the ride. We were all talking and laughing as we walk, trotted, cantered, and jumped logs in the woods.

Within a mile though, we'd crossed a road into a whole new landscape - from forest to farmland. Riding in such wide-open territory along and through farmland was a newer experience for me.

Both Q and Diva were feeling pretty frisky, so while Lily and Saiph walked, Mike on Q behind them and I on Diva in front of them did trotting serpentines. Saiph was giggling at our ridiculous shenanigans. It was fun though. Diva's forward attitude channeled well into the serpentine exercise. She was light and responsive with a trot that was more akin to a gait than a 2-beat trot!

After our trotting serpentine shenanigans, we passed by a field where a percheron stallion is sometimes turned out. Fortunately he wasn't on that day! As we came to the edge of the property Diva had her first "moment" with me riding: she threw a double-barrel kick at Q, skittered around in a flurry, and then I pulled her into a one rein stop. It all happened so quickly. Mike and Q weren't even very close to us! From that moment on Diva decided she couldn't be near Q at all, which made for a tricky rest of the ride.

We continued on for another mile-ish to the infamous "Four Corners" where we stopped a moment before turning and backtracking home.

Sadly, for me, the return ride wasn't nearly as enjoyable. Diva is pretty green about being out on the trail and she turned into a hassle to deal with on the way home. If her feet were not moving forward in the direction of home, she pitched a fit.

Her fits were reminiscent of things Griffin does, except she has a penchant for throwing her head. Left. Right. Up. Down. Everywhere. HIGHLY irritating. That, coupled with her distaste for Q, made things incredibly frustrating.

She made a few attempts to kick out at Q and a few attempts to take off for home - one of which nearly put me in a tree....the only tree around as we were in a damn field. I'm an alert enough rider that she never got away with any of her nonsense, but her attempts were incredibly annoying all the same.

I kept Diva (who was really living up to her name by this point, lol) on a tight rein the whole way home, turning her into circles or serpentines when she just couldn't handle forward movement in a civil manner.

When we crossed the road on our way home, Diva immediately began calling to "home" and to her friends. I immediately dismounted.

I have never had great luck with a horse on the way home when they begin calling. She'd already been jigging like a mad woman, so the calling just ended it for me. Walking and remaining uninjured was higher up on my list than trying to teach her a lesson from the saddle.

When Mike saw me out of the saddle however, he offered to walk instead noting that he was a bit stiff and sore from working all week on the mountain (ski patrol). After he'd insisted several times and had dismounted, I passed Diva off to him and hopped aboard Q for the last mile.

Saiph and I traipsed through the woods jumping all the things while Mike led Diva. We would loop back to check on them every few moments before blasting off again through the woods to jump more logs.

I didn't hear Diva call again the whole way home. She seemed forward, but considerably calmer. Every time she would try to walk ahead of Mike while he was leading her, he'd circle her around a time or two until she stayed in her "box". So even though she didn't end the adventure with a rider on her back, she did gain some valuable schooling along the way. Overall, I think her issues can be resolved with some mileage, a running martingale, and a patient rider.

Once back at the barn, we untacked all of the horses and turned them out to their respective fields or stalls before headed back to the apartment to pick up Charles so we could run a few errands.

Our first stop with errands was to REI. We don't have one in WV so it's always fun to drop by them when I'm near one. I do so much of my shopping online, so its really nice to actually see the product in-hand to better assess if I like it/will like it. (However, I still purchase things via the interwebz later because its cheaper that way for a variety of reasons. #noshame) I didn't escape REI without spending a little money though: snacks for Saturday's adventure and shorts for Mike.

After REI we headed on a brief quest for alcohol before heading to the big Asian market <3. Mike hadn't been to an Asian market quite like this before. My response was much calmer than my first visit last fall, and as a result I was much more driven to get in, get what I needed, and get out.

What did we *need*?



Because we were going to make a lobster dinner!

Lobsters at the market are $8.99/lb. which is really quite fair. When I was last on Mt. Desert Island inMaine in 2010, lobsters were $7/lb. from the working dock we like to eat at in the southwest harbor. So being much further south along the Atlantic coast and finding lobster for only $2 more per pound was pretty solid.

We acquired the lobsters quickly along with veggies to accompany dinner. I was ready to grab my green tea ice cream and book it, but Mike had that kid-in-a-candy-store look about him, very reminiscent of me a few months prior. We spent an additional 15-20 minutes in the store while he wandered hither and thither collecting a myriad of ridiculous things to "try". *sigh* It was a blast though, and we still managed to escape with a pretty cheap bill at checkout!

Back at the apartment, we took turns cooking dinner and snagging showers. Mike took over most of the lobster cooking because of his comfort in the kitchen from prior jobs in kitchens. I was losing it laughing at him and his conversations with the lobsters as he prepped them to go into the pots, "Here you go big boy. That's it. Nope, nope, no use fighting. Its futile now. Go to your home! *puts lobster in pot*"

Dinner turned out wonderful. I loved every bite of lobster. So, so good. Especially with the garlic-butter-lemon sauce Mike concocted for us to dip in. Mmmmm.

All in all, a great first half of our Maryland adventures!

Have some more photos from Days 1 & 2:

Me on Q with Mike watching
Lily falling in love with Mike....

More love...

And even more love

Q holding her lateral movement...forever

Me looking at the peacocks playing sexy time
Always big grins - even with the spooking
Smiling while riding is a necessity
See? Huge smile.
Good eye, Mike! Fox in the field with the geese.
Discussing turn on the haunches
The evil blue-eyed black mini *trembles in terror....jk*
Q and her man

On the trail

Mike and Q-bee

Diva's dorsal stripe
Yay lobster!

Arguing about why I'm taking a photo of the men being confused about the oven


The four of us.

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