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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Thanks, friend!

Last Wednesday Kate came over for a visit sans horse, (no) thanks to asthma troubles. But she was willing and able to man my camera while I schooled Lance, and blessed me with a bunch of nice photos to document our progress. And Lance blessed me with a good ride!

I'm also blessed with a faithful canine friend who waits nearby whenever he can.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Best buds

Dear friend Kate (doesn't she look great?) is officially cleared to ride again, so this morning she collected Dinah from the trainer's and hauled her to my house so we could ride together. Lance
l-o-o-o-ves Dinah; he kept trying to sidle closer to her and acted downright silly at first.

If weather and family commitments allow, we will probably form another "trail ride trio" with Kate's daughter and Breezy this Sunday and haul to Willamette Mission State Park.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Prancing through the puddles

At least that's what I visualized doing with Lance after watching this video today! Wow, what energy and animation!

I really didn't think I'd get to ride today; it was supposed to be another wet one, with the addition of fierce winds. The wind came as forecast, but not the additional rain (2 1/4" was enough, thank-you). I hated to miss my Sunday saddle time so decided to brave the conditions. Turns out, neither the puddles nor the gales provoked prancing from my pony; he was his usual energy-conserving self except for one very brief spook/spurt. He's no Zonik, but then again, I'm no Edward Gal – ha!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Slaying dragons

Yesterday afternoon I had just enough time to shoehorn a ride in between all my obligations. I opted for a road/field ride because the arena sand is already dry and shifty (we're supposed to get significant rainfall this weekend which will improve the footing greatly). After passing the winery, I decided to head downhill between the winery and the vineyard, a route we haven't taken in a long time. Normally at this time of year the ground would be muddy and slick, but with our unusually dry, warm weather, it was solid and safe – important should Lance decide to bolt or buck. He was a little worried about passing a different side of the winery, but didn't lose his nerve.

About halfway down the first 20 acres of grapes, Lance spotted danger – men pruning the vines. He "stopped, locked, and loaded" – a perfect description of his mental and physical reaction. At this point, when he's gone as rigid, immobile and unheeding as a marble statue, I know I won't be able to ride him calmly past the dragon(s). My two options are 1) waiting until he launches and hoping to keep him between me and the ground (I haven't failed yet but it's always a possibility), or 2) dismount quickly before he moves and lead confidently on foot. I hopped off and lead him to the end of that vineyard, remounting to ride between the next vineyard and the peach orchard just starting to bloom. I thought about snapping a photo or two from the saddle, but Lance was still on high alert so that didn't seem wise.

We made it to the end of the peach orchard, did a couple turns on the haunches, and started back up past the peach orchard. The workers in the vineyard ahead were closer to our end of the rows now; Lance stopped, locked and loaded again. Oh well; that gave me a reason to get off and take flower photos!

Lance was a horse kite as I lead him past the workers, so we walked up and down the hill beside the dragons until most of the fire had left MY dragon. Then I remounted and we proceeded up the hill towards home. There was one more planned dismount to lead Lance past a man with a clipboard standing at the gate in the fence line between the winery property and the vineyard who hadn't been there before.

We were both sweaty at the end of all that hill walking on a warm day – although I'm pretty sure some of Lance's was flop sweat!

Oh, and shedding season is now in full swing. Don't wear Chapstick to the barn!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A little too much excitement for one afternoon

I hadn't yet gotten around to my planned ride Sunday when my neighbor friend called and asked if I wanted to go for a brisk walk around nearby Willamette Mission State Park. I'll admit to briefly wondering if she'd mind me riding Lance while she walked, but thought better of asking.  ;-)

It was a little hard to see how many people DID show up at the park with horses!

When I got home I saddled up and Lance and I headed to the arena for a little schooling session. For "dessert," we headed out the gate for a road/off-road ride in the soft evening air. We took a different route than last week's outings, riding beside the paved road for part of it. I opted for the side with a broad, disced field rather than the narrow, hole-pocked margin between pavement and fence. Good thing, too, because Lance took exception to a pick-up that passed us, bolting and bucking for a brief instant before settling down again (mostly).

He was sweaty when we got back to the barn, so I hosed him off before turning him out for his daily grazing. He took a few bites of grass, then found the only dirt in the pasture to roll in – which, unfortunately was right next to the arena fence (see arrow). As I stood there powerless to stop him, he rolled completely over, legs to and through the panels. Terrified of what could happen should he struggle and panic, I raced to his side while screaming for help, hoping Rick or Brian would hear me in the house. No luck there, OR with looping the lead rope around a back foot and trying to pull him back over to his other side. I put the halter on his head and tried to pull him perpendicular to the fence, but there was no chance of me having much affect on his considerable frame. I felt desperate – and helpless. Thankfully, Lance didn't thrash much. Finally, after I decided to sprint closer to the house to roust Rick, Lance managed to push himself away from the fence enough to get up. I couldn't find a scratch on him, although for a short time he really favored his left hind leg. He was caked with mud, so I led him back to the barn, hosed him off a second time, then lead him out into the MIDDLE of the grass before removing his halter. There were no further incidents, and my heart recovered.

Lance did cough some when we picked up the trot in our warm-up, so Rick gave him a second Eqstim shot Monday morning.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Sir Lancelot is not longer Sir Pants-a-lot; I am happy to report that his breathing is back to normal. We tried a variety of things – anti-inflammatory, broncho-dialator, steroid – without noticeable improvement. What seems to have turned him around is the immune stimulant Rick gave him Wednesday night. That's good news as it seems to indicate an infectious agent rather than allergies, which can be tough to manage and can lead to permanent difficulties.

Lance has been getting pasture time every day, and we've even gotten three rides in. Since he was feeling even less energetic than usual, I decided it was a good opportunity to ride down our gravel road. The first time we did it, Lance was really good until a couple of yappy little dogs ran out to greet us. That made him "stop, lock, and load," so I dismounted, lead him past the unwelcoming property, then remounted and rode on. When we rode by the place on the way back, Lance went on high alert, but between the virus and the hill we were climbing, I correctly judged that he'd handle the situation better. As we approached the paved road I could see and hear a dump trunk rumbling up to meet us, so I dismounted as it passed in case Lance took exception to it as he has in the past. He stood calmly, I remounted, and we moseyed the rest of the way home.

The second time we went down the road Lance was even better; I didn't dismount once. I was so pleased with my boy; I'm hoping this means we've vanquished the boogeymen he'd decided had moved into the neighborhood.

Friday we did a short school in the arena, working in all three gaits for the first time in over a week – and without coughing at the beginning of trot/canter work in a long time; woohoo!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Special treatment

Friday afternoon after getting home from work I headed down to the barn for my jealously guarded riding time. Lance hadn't finished his hay, which is unusual. As I started groomed him he began coughing – and kept coughing. Sounded like he was trying to clear an obstruction; I wondered if he had some of those nasty grass seeds caught in his throat. He has coughed occasionally for awhile now, usually while we're warming up, but then it stops. Friday he coughed a LOT, and it left him breathing hard – or at least I thought the heavy breathing was caused by the coughing. I led him out to the arena and got on, but when his sides continued to heave I threw in the towel. Between the unfinished hay and the coughing, I decided some tender spring grass would be more welcome than a ride.
Lance got a half-hour to eat, and probably didn't move 20 feet – not because he was so eager to graze, but more like he didn't have a lot of energy.

That evening I had Rick look at Lance, who was still breathing heavily. Listening to his lungs was inconclusive and he didn't have a fever, but Lance did have the little viral ulcers in his mouth again. Rick couldn't say the little ulcers had anything to do with the heavy breathing, but advised against much if any riding. Lance got a dose of Banamine to help him feel better.

On Saturday afternoon, I turned him out again while I spent some time with Brian at his "campsite." Again, no bucking or playing, just eating in one area.
I guess it's a good thing I was too broke to enter our chapter's League show today, or I would have had to scratch again. No thank-you; I had to do enough of that last year! I just want my big red goober to get better. He looks and acts perky (except that he isn't interested in running and playing), but is still breathing hard for just standing around. I'm going to go turn him out for another 30 minutes of grass this afternoon. Our March has definitely come in like a lamb!