To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Checking in

Taken during a sunset ride in September
The squirrels are squirreling!
Hey-ho, it's autumn! The days are getting shorter; we've had a little rain but mostly glorious, perfect weather. The fall colors, the angle of the light, the cooler air all make me feel positively effervescent  at times – like yesterday afternoon. I got off work early and didn't have to drive to Salem to pick up my son (he's away on a junior/senior camping trip), so I called a friend to go for a trail ride. Unfortunately my truck battery was feeling puny, so Lance and I went for another ride around the hill, which is getting surprisingly better instead of worse. Even though grape harvest is in full swing, the vineyards aren't using as many noisemakers this year, and apparently none of the propane canons. Lance is handling the 'tweety birds' just fine. We also found our way through the logged area shown in my previous post, and ended up at a postcard-worthy vantage point.

Lance is coughing a bit more; I should probably start steaming the hay again now that the horses are mostly in their stalls/paddocks. They do get out to romp, though:

The coughing could be from the dust generated by the tractors working next door (where the boulders are two photos above) and/or the smoke, also from next door and neighbors. It is especially bad at night; I like to sleep with our window open but the smoke has been so strong it keeps me awake (so I close it and get too hot 😖).
Lance got a new High-Neck Ultimate Turnout Sheet after damaging yet another one; I think this is #3 – or maybe #4. SmartPak's 10-year replacement guarantee on the Ultimate has been the best deal on the planet for us. I also got another helmet during their annual helmet sale; it's the same model as my current one, just a different color.
We should be set for awhile!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Still dancing

With no "up-and-comer" in my foreseeable future, there's no excuse whatsoever for Lance not getting his recommended 30 minutes of forced exercise nearly every day. With no lessons, clinics, or shows in our foreseeable future, we can do whatever we want for that exercise. Some days I bit Lance up and lunge him,

some days we ride where we can on our hill,
Whelp, I guess we found the timber harvest area!

The trail beyond is now a hazard,  so there goes more access.

and yes, we still "dance." Yesterday we schooled in the arena, and cantered more than we have since the canter crash. I'm exercising great caution, staying away from the arena rails and cavaletti, and I always wear my helmet (and have a new one on order). Still, there are no guarantees with horses, even 'able-bodied' ones; I realize that if I landed badly – or Lance did – in another crash-and-burn, the results could be serious – or deadly. But . . .

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Sweet September

Fall weather arrived with September. We've had cooler weather, cleaner air, rain, and lovely skyscapes.

The trade-off? Shorter days! But since I'm no longer trying to avoid the heat and sun, I don't need to wait until the end of the day to ride, and our arena's sand footing is safely packed and dust-free so we can utilize it more.
Look, Ma; no dust!
We still go out and about, too. Yesterday after warming up in the arena, Lance and I headed down through our eastern neighbor's lot. A doe and fawn were hanging out on their lawn, so we skirted wide. The doe never got up, but we caught the fawn as we were coming,
and going.
We rode down the gravel road past changing trees,
and back up the hill through the vineyards, enjoying the fruit on the vines and the beautiful views. With the grapes getting ripe, I suppose noise-makers will soon keep us out of these areas for awhile. Those propane 'cannons,' injured deer distress calls, and screeching bird sounds can be unnerving to a horse!

Rick is taking a firm stance against my getting another horse, so what I have is all I can work with (except for occasional brief rides on students' horses). I'm disappointed, but Lance is doing well, has lost a bit of weight and isn't tripping nearly as much. I've even cantered him – very carefully for very short stretches well away from the sides of the arena in case he crashes again.  I am thankful for every ride, and I love my big red goober.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

I can see more clearly now...

...the rain smoke is gone. Still hoping for a good, cleansing rain, but at least Lance can exercise again!

It's tough when conditions prohibit applying the best recommendation (30 minutes of forced exercise daily) for one condition (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) because of another condition (Inflammatory Airway Disease). Exercising Lance when the particulate matter in the air from wildfire smoke was off the charts would have been devastating to him, so my meaty mustang just hung out. Thankfully, his breathing didn't seem impacted by the air quality.

Now that the air quality is much improved, we are back to work. I planned to climb back on last Thursday, the first cooler day in ages, but the smoke was actually worse, if possible. On our way back from Salem (DS had wisdom teeth removed), this was the view west towards the hill on which we live; couldn't ride in that!

But Friday was much clearer, so Lance got the whole enchilada – a thorough grooming, a photo shoot to document his current condition, and a sunset ride about the hill.
rubbed-out mane; check

fat pads; check

lump on jaw; check

handsome anyway; check
"What did you say?"
"What do you mean, 'Handsome anyway'?"

About that lump on his jaw. I first noticed it at the end of the apple-eating day of the last post; when I mentioned it to Rick he joked that it must be apple poisoning (he thinks I'm a "horse hypochondriac"). When the hard, tender lump didn't improve, I finally got him to x-ray it. Rick couldn't see a fracture, so apparently Lance bruised it badly somehow. It's still tender but fortunately sits behind the bridle's cavesson; Rick said it may never go away. 😕

We rode again Sunday and Monday. After last night's ride, I timed his respirations for the first time in months – perfectly normal at 10 RPM. Unfortunately, he also stumbled dramatically at the beginning of our ride, so we just walked up and down hills to minimize momentum.

In other horsey news, during last week's lesson my youngest student got bucked off her Haflinger. The mare was protesting the canter depart (I think she's uncomfortable) not trying to unload her, but it really shook the student's confidence and I don't know yet if she'll be continuing lessons. With Brian back in school as of today, I'll have to figure out a different time to teach students 2 and 3 (if she continues) anyway; gotta pick up the boy from school every afternoon.

Tomorrow I'll be picking him up early so he can drive in the state fair's draft horse show again. On Sunday he won the youth driving class with a wagon and team of two; tomorrow he drives in the youth cart class. I'll post photos of both his classes when the dust settles.

Monday, August 13, 2018

An apple a day....

Yesterday our local dressage chapter got together to visit with one of our former members who moved to South Carolina (the mother of trainer Julie, who also moved to SC). I brought her up-to-date on Lance and mentioned that I was cyber-window-shopping for retiring TBs after being swayed by students' mounts. She has had several OTTBs and had nothing but good things to say about them, even though she has also had some lovely warmbloods. I was pleasantly surprised, and encouraged in my daydreaming.

Today student #2 had a lesson with her OTTB mare (above, after lesson), and towards the end of the lesson asked if I wanted to ride her. So I borrowed a helmet and climbed on in my jeans (I was wearing my paddock boots), and once again had a "color my day happy" experience. So everything seems to be nudging me in a certain direction . . . except a resistant husband. 😒

Said husband and DS have worked very hard to create beautiful permanent fencing around our upper pasture (keep in mind we have a total of five acres, so each of our three pastures is pocket-sized). When I expressed concern about my two loaded apple trees at the north end, they moved all the assorted panels we have that aren't enclosing the arena and made a barrier to protect the trees (and my horse from foundering on them!). This morning the horses got to go up there for the first time since work began. When I got home this afternoon, Lance and Ollie were standing around the one apple tree still available to them. Oink!
Fresh (relatively speaking) turnout

Temporary panel fence on the right, horses at remaining apple tree dead ahead

Lance helping himself – hopefully not to his detriment!
And here are the two trees that are protected:

I need to starting picking from that first tree and putting up applesauce!