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

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Monumental news to end the year!

I'll eliminate the suspense.

Meet Umpqua Andromeda, my girl Stella, a 2016 Morgan. Rick did a basic pre-purchase exam on her for me last Friday (no x-rays, because she hasn't been handled enough to attempt those). She is a clean slate, basically halter-trained and able to have her feet trimmed and that's about it. My husband and son both seem to think I'm half crazy for taking on a project that may or may not turn out to be suitable for dressage; they don't realize how much I look forward to such a project! I picked her up on Sunday and we are starting to get to know one another and build a partnership. Lance is already being a great 'big brother'....

As I mentioned in my last post, I've done some tentative horse-shopping – mostly 'window-shopping' online. In early November I pulled up the Morgan sales flyer I got last spring, poring over it once again to see if there was anything of interest. In it was an ad I hadn't noticed before with some very reasonable young horses; I figured they were probably sold but I texted the breeder anyway. He still had young stock available, so I roped in a friend for a road trip and we headed down towards Roseburg. The location was beautiful but the situation was surreal; a vast hillside pasture with two mature stallions each running with their own mares (plus a yearling stud colt – and some cattle), and an adjoining pasture with two younger stallions. (It's a good thing the Morgan registry requires DNA testing!)

There were some very typey Morgans but none that suited me, so we thanked the breeder for his time and headed home. He did mention that he had a filly that might interest me at a place closer to home, so 11 days later I took a shorter drive to see her.

Now this one did interest me. I had two big obstacles, though – hay and husband. We didn't have enough hay just for the horses and sheep that we have, not to mention what we’d need if we added a third horse, and hay has been really hard to find around here. And my husband was predictably poo-poo on getting another horse, even though he had said he was keeping his eyes open for me. I wasn't asking Rick to buy me a horse (I had some money set aside), but I did want him to do the pre-purchase exam and I wanted his consent. (Many moons ago he bought a horse without consulting me 😡 and I was determined not to do the same to him.)

I figured I'd better tackle first things first, so I started looking for hay in earnest. No luck. A week after looking at the filly her owner followed up with a text, and I told him I needed hay and a husband's okay. He texted me the name and number of someone with hay for sale and all the stars aligned one afternoon to give me dry weather and an available son. I picked Brian up from school and drove on to the hay place, loaded up, drove home with 68 100# bales which we then stacked in the barn. (Rick was out of town at a veterinarian convention.)

The husband's consent didn't fall into place so quickly. In fact, Rick waited until Christmas Eve to tell me I could schedule a pre-purchase exam. (There may have been squealing – and tears.) As I said at the beginning, we did the pre-purchase the Friday morning after Christmas; here are a few more photos from that day.

I brought her home on Sunday and already have so much more to share. We've got a busy year ahead – hopefully many busy years ahead! Happy New Year, everyone. 😊

Friday, September 27, 2019

Happy anniversary of my last post ;-)

I've been riding, taking pictures, thinking thoughts, and chalking up new experiences . . . while my blog nags at me for my neglect. So for my own records, even if no one still follows me, I'm finally posting an update (which has taken even longer after a substantial portion disappeared in a Safari glitch 😒). There *might* be a lot of photos. 😉

When last I posted, Rick had ultrasounded Lance's neck and found arthritis. He followed up with x-rays (above); his machine was being cranky and he didn't get great images, but he did confirm the diagnosis. And . . . that's all that's been done about that. Giving Lance steroid injections in addition to the steroid he gets orally twice a day is risky, and Rick has said nothing else about IRAP (I need to remind him). Meanwhile, Lance started tripping as much or more in the back end, exactly as Terry demonstrated with her horse here. Terry's horse has documented S/I and stifle issues, so that could be be Lance's (additional!) problem, too. But while tripping with a back foot is concerning and disconcerting, tripping in the front end brings greater risk. At the end of August he tripped while we were walking around the neighboring lot and went down with me. All I got was 'road rash' on my bare shoulder and face from the hard ground (yes, I was wearing my helmet), but I am acutely aware that much worse could happen at any time.

That's why I almost adopted a horse. A friend in southern Oregon had sent me information in late April about a registered Morgan gelding taken in by a rescue in her area. At that time I thought he might be a good fit for Dinah's owner's husband, but he prevailed in getting my friend out of riding altogether after her New Year's Day accident. Then my southern Oregon friend contacted me about that Morgan again in late July; Irish was still available and she really thought I should take a look. After a flurry of messages with both my friend and the head of the rescue I shot off an application, which was accepted. There was only one problem: distance. Rick (who seemed surprisingly on-board with the idea) and I just couldn't work out the logistics of meeting Irish, doing a vet check, and hopefully bringing him home, and I had to step out of the way for the next applicant.

So Lance and I have continued our rides, although only rarely could they be called 'dancing.' We ride in the arena,

around the hill,

and down the road to catch sunsets.

We even made it to Perrydale Trails once to ride with a friend!

We've also played with different tack. The bareback pad makes my broad boy even broader, so I'll save it for narrower/bonier mounts.

I borrowed a Micklem bridle to see if Lance liked it better. Even though it fits well away from the bony lump on his left jaw, neither of us were impressed.

I even got a wild hair to try my rolled double bridle on him! (I had been looking at new bridles online and needed to remind myself of all the bridles I already own. 😏) Even though I'm quite sure Lance has never had that much metal in his mouth, or even experienced a curb bit before, he handled it like a gentleman.

Part of the urge to break out that double bridle may have come from digging out the rest of my upper level kit. You see, a funny thing happened on the way to the Oregon State Fair....

In mid-August, it was time for Brian to brush up on his driving skills, because Rick's draft horse client wanted him as a youth driver again (Brian has been doing this off and on since 2012). When Rick took him out to practice, the client asked Rick if I'd be interested in riding one of his Shires at the show. What?!? Apparently there were to be two riding classes in the Draft Horse Show. I looked them up: Bareback Equitation; and Riding, Walk/Trot. Well; why not? So the next time Brian went out to practice driving, I went along to try out Emma:
Miss Emma is one of the lead horses in Duane's hitches, so she's an energetic, forward gal. Let me tell you, sitting on a sleek, round KEG of forward can be a slightly intimidating experience!

I thought I'd get to work on our partnership again out at the farm, but apparently Duane thought we did just fine on our first date and didn't see the need. I had to show up at the State Fair and wait until the evening horse show was over to have another chance to ride her, this time in the arena where we would be competing. 

I knew I'd probably be conspicuously different by wearing a helmet, but did have a flowered purple shirt that would coordinate with it (purple is Duane's hitch color). What to do about footwear? I found the perfect pair of used Ariat boots on eBay that arrived the day before our class. 😁

Show day got a lot more intimidating when I learned there were TEN of us in the class. Gulp.

Double gulp!! I never suspected we might WIN!!! Afterwards, one of the other draft horse owners commented that he'd brought in a couple of 'ringers,' his wife and one of her friends who have both won national championships in some kind of riding, and was surprised I'd beat them.

The next class (which was several days later) didn't specify 'bareback' and I had seen a few people riding drafts around in Western saddles. So I asked Duane if it was supposed to be an under-saddle class, but he didn't know. I asked at the show office, and was told saddles were optional. Hmm; I was using my friend Debbie's draft-sized (and purple-lined) dressage bridle on Emma, so if my saddle fit and I had a girth long enough to encircle her, why not go all out? I had to search awhile, but finely found my long-idle shadbelly and we dressed to the nines (sans saddlepad, because there was not a smidgeon of extra room if the girth was going to buckle).

When 13(!) showed up for the class, seven were bareback and six of us had saddles so they split the class. Fine with me; 13 titans in the ring at the same time sounded crowded. Emma and I went in and did our thing, and came out with the blue ribbon again.

I was just glad we came out the way we went in – with her between me and the ground. 😳 When we had won the bareback class, Duane had called out from the rail, "Take a victory lap!" We only managed a teeny-tiny one, because I was taken by surprise and Emma was committed to leaving the gate with the rest of the competitors. So when we won again I was prepared – I thought. I directed  Emma away from the gate while everyone else left, then the gate was shut and we started around the ring at a trot. Emma got a little excited over being 'abandoned' like that, breaking to the canter and even humping up a bit. That felt like a whole lot of launching power, but we stayed together and she calmed right down when the gate opened so we could leave.

I must say Emma is a lot more forward and energetic than my compromised mustang, and really was a lot of fun to ride. Years (decades) ago when I first started showing dressage, there was a lady in the area who competed on one of Duane's Shires – One Mile Joey (One Mile Shires is Duane's farm name). I've told Duane before I'd consider one of his horses as a dancing partner; now I'm serious. But he'd have to run up a big enough vet bill that I could trade it out – if Rick would let me. 😉

Since then, like with bridles I've done some online horse shopping, but all doors have remained firmly closed. So for now I keep exercising my horse and my riding muscles; use 'em or lose 'em!

When I posted in May, Lance was shedding out his winter hair and itchy.

Of course, Lance is always rather itchy (as evidenced by his rubbed-out mane in various photos).

Now it's late September and he's shedding out his short summer coat, although he still looks fat and sleek.

Just like that, life marches on, with lots of complications and developments in family, farm, neighborhood, and nation. Who knows what our status will be when next I post!