Tuesday, November 9, 2010

lost in suburbia

I just got back from looking at another house for sale in Woodinville. This one is definitely "in the suburbs". But in back of the yard is a nature preserve with a creek and not far away is a big park with walking trails through the nature preserve. But you just can't deny it is in the suburbs. It looks like the other houses, there are houses really close to it on either side, but it's also next door to a bit of wilderness so it is nice. And I have to be honest, it's a really nice house. I think I could make it work to be happy there even if I can't go to sleep listening to elk. More like go to sleep listening to the freeway on the other side of the woods. It's hard to say. I could go either way so this one is up to my husband. It's pretty, it's by nature and it's close to our stable and it's in a great school district. If we can't live on a farm then I could compromise for those things.

Sunday I had an excellent day at the stable which put me back in a good mood after feeling very stressed out for the last couple weeks. I can't remember which thing I was stressed out about, I've just been kind of stressed and weirded out ever since the horror of my daughter getting her tonsils out and then quitting the PTA Board and shutting down my non-profit.

I went out with a couple other people who keep their horses there - M. with the wild Mustang, Atlas and I. with her school horse, Dalla she leases. We ended up playing musical horses and I got to ride my horse, Atlas, Dalla and Scandal who is very well trained dressage horse. I rode Dalla bareback which was good for me and we even trotted a little. I was feeling over confident and foolhardy enough to even want to try cantering bareback with her but then I decided not to push it because I am kind of old and don't need to be falling off any horses - especially not one taller than 15 hands going at a canter. I also rode Atlas without stirrups which was good for me. I did not try cantering without stirrups with him either because earlier I'd been trying to get him to canter and he was doing this strange gaited canter and I gave him a swat on the butt with the crop and to me it felt like he swerved toward the wall as though he was going to run straight into the wall, so I quickly opened the rein to my left and used my right leg (the one next to wall) forcifully and led him away from the wall, and I felt like during that moment that he must've lost his step or something because for a moment I felt like I was going to fly straight forward into the wall, then I caught myself and continued to move him out. It turns out that in that split second that I thought he'd lost his balance, he had actually let out a big buck - as M. said, "Both back legs came up off the ground!" But I handled it! I felt discombobulated and said, "I hope no one saw that!" but M. said that I rode it well. Yay!

Girlfriend had a tantrum with M. - more than I've ever seen her have a tantrum before. M. had just gotten on her in the middle of the arena and I was off to the side with Atlas, over at the mounting block adjusting his stirrups and checking his girth before I got on. Atlas is pretty big - both a bit tall and very bulky so I didn't really see what was going on in the rest of the arena. I heard M. ask in frustration, "How do you get her to stop!" and I said without looking up, "Loose reins, gentle half halts, say "Whoooa" in a quiet voice and totally relax your body and lean back." M. yelled, "I AM doing that!" and I turned away from Atlas and Girlfriend was turning in small circles bucking like a little rodeo horse. It was like a reining twirl except she was bucking at the same time. I asked M. if she needed me to come stop Girl and she said no, she just needed to know how she (M.) could stop Girl herself. I thought about it a second then said "See if you can back her up," which M. did. Then after they backed up, M. let her walk on and she did that just fine. In fact she did fine for M. the rest of their ride except when M. tried to trot with her and Girlfriend just took off - but then it took me months before I could get Girl to trot for me instead of cantering or galloping.

I've been thinking a lot about what prompted Girl's behavior - trying to figure it out because M. is a far more experienced rider than I am. I realize now that M. must have wanted Girl to actually stop, which is really hard to do when you first get on her, and unless I actually need to dismount I never stop her right when I get on her.

A little over a year ago I'd been told enough by some other riders with more time riding than me, that Girlfriend needed to be trained to stand still at the mounting block and to not walk or trot until I told her too. They said I was ruining her letting her get away with that. So, I tried one day to be very forceful with her and make her stop and stand still as soon as I got on her and she got really angry with me too. In fact she pinned her ears and bucked then too - although not as badly because she is a one-woman horse and tends to trust me and relax more with me than anyone else (except her previous owner).

Since my attempt to teach her to stand still at the mounting block was such a fiasco I had asked our instructor how to do it and she said that with my horse it wasn't worth it and would probably never work - she's too hot and she'll go crazy if you get on her and force her to stand still, so just get on her and get her to walk and let her keep walking until the loud buzzing of "RUN RUN RUN" slows down in her head. I should've told M. that - don't try to stop her when you first get on unless you really have to dismount. Because she will actually stop if you start to dismount. And she must've been turning circles because with a normal horse if you turn their head far to the side they will stop for you. I forgot to ask M. if she was trying to get her to stop by doing what I've heard called the emergency stop where you pull a horse's head off to the side and they'll stop running. Obviously, with Girl it doesn't work, it just puts her into a reining twirl (which she has been trained to do but I don't know how to do so we never do together).

Meanwhile, one of the newer guys at the stable who's been taking lessons is getting two new polo ponies this week! Weeee! I'm hoping he'll let me ride one of them eventually because polo ponies are also of the race horse mentality like Girlfriend and I bet they're really fun to ride! I've been looking up what polo is all about and it does look kind of fun. But not as fun as mounted shooting looks.

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