Tuesday, February 9, 2010

wide awake at 3am

I woke up at 3am this morning and was completely awake. It was really annoying. I think the problem was stressing about everything I have to get done. Now, that I have two free hours I'm wondering "What was it I have to get done again?" I have a board meeting for the non-profit that I am (volunteer) executive director for tomorrow evening and I have to have a bunch of workshop materials ready for approval by the board. I actually have most of that all ready, I just apparently like to stress about it at 3am anyway. I also had a horrific nightmare which in retrospect was not as scary as it seemed in the dream.

I was living in a big open warehouse space with a bunch of people and my bedroom was a little tiny loft space off in the corner, underneath the open second floor loft space. There was a big party going on and I was walking up the stairs to the bathroom on the second floor when I passed a guy standing on the landing. No one else noticed him except for me. He was standing in the corner of the landing wearing a wind breaker with a hood and it was zipped up all the way to his face and the hood was pulled down and tied around his face. I immediately knew he was there to kill me. I ran back downstairs and he walked up the stairs (in a lurching Frankenstein sort of way) and I knew that he thought I was asleep in a bedroom up there. I felt safer for a second knowing that wasn't my bedroom, then thought, "How long will it be before he finds my *real* bedroom though? Certainly only a couple hours at most!" Then I woke up. See - doesn't sound very scary does it? But I literally woke up in a cold sweat with my heart beating really hard.

Girlfriend has been doing really well the last couple weeks now that she has been getting ridden at least a couple times a week. This morning I got there at an inconvenient time. Juan had just put her halter and lead rope on to take her out to the pasture with Doc when I got there, so he didn't take her out because I was going to ride her. She's extremely herd-bound with Doc and being a sensitive girl she got very upset and was stomping and whinnying in her stall.

I went and got her tack then came back and took her out of stall. She did a little dance at her stall door as though testing where I was at with my authority and if she could get away breaking away from me to go see Doc. I stood my ground and calming and firmly said, "You're ok. We're going to do a little work now then you'll see Doc. You're fine." I took her down to the cross ties and her ears were straight forward and her eyes were wild with that intense, "Where is he? Where is he? Am I safe? I don't know if I'm safe!" way that she gets when her routine changes. When I got her in the cross ties she tried to turn around in a circle and when that didn't work, got anxious and tried to turn the other direction. I know the thing to do is to stay calm and calm her down, which I did. I gave her a treat and talked soothingly to her and gently, but firmly touched her all over to help ground her. But in the back of mind I was thinking, "She's getting really upset - what will I do if this escalates? I don't know how to handle the situation if her anxiety escalates!" but I kept pushing those thoughts aside and telling her she was fine and went about my usual routine of grooming her.

By the time I was done grooming her she was totally back to her normal self and was fine when I took her in the arena to ride. She tried to take off when I mounted and I yanked back the reins and said "Whoa" right when I stood up in the stirrup (I'm trying to get the timing down like Sheryl showed me but it takes practice) so she stopped long enough for my butt to hit the saddle then she started trotting. I gave the reins a firm pull and said, "Whoooa," quietly and she ignored me. So, I let her trot about a quarter of the way around the arena and then tried again and this time she relaxed to a walk (and I was finally able to get my right foot in the stirrup). Then after a couple laps walking in the arena she had totally calmed down.

The rest of our ride was really great except for the canter. She's doing a lot better at the trot and I'm doing a lot better going to the right with the trot and keeping her in a circle without her dancing off into the inside of the circle. But apparently I am really over-signaling the canter because the two times we tried to canter today she'd lower head, buck and bolt and it would take about a minute to even her out to a slow, steady canter. It definitely is NOT a graceful English transition! I really don't think I could ride another horse as crazy-hot and sensitive as her. At least I don't think I'd have the confidence too. But I've been surprised lately how well I ride her.

One of the students at the stable just adopted a rehabilitated wild Mustang who is 4 years old and I said to the instructor, "Hey, now my horse won't be the hardest horse in the stable to ride!" to which she just shook her head and said, "Don't count on it." I said, "But her horse was a wild Mustang," and she said, "There's nothing wrong with your horse. She's just not a beginner horse and she's not a lesson horse. There is nothing wrong with that." I wonder if I'd be a better rider if for the last 18 months I'd been taking lessons on a beginner horse, or if I'm a better rider because I've been taking lessons on "the hottest horse Sheryl has ever seen in her life"?

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