Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reunion of my two white pets

I've been dogsitting my boss's dog, Keiko for the last two weeks and because of that our kittens, Nermal and Snow have spent most of the time under our bed.  The last two days though they've been venturing out into the rest of the house and snarling viciously if Keiko comes near them - which causes him to slink away in terror which is bolstering their confidence.  Just now Snow was sitting on the back of the couch looking down at our big, white pitbull (who she normally snuggles with when there isn't a big black interloper dog getting in her way).   Snow was leaning way over trying to get the pitbull's attention with no success, so she finally slid down the back of the couch onto the pitbull's head and started rolling around on top of her.  Still no response, so she started licking the inside of the pitbull's ears.  That woke her up so the pitbull tried to lift her head so she could lick Snow, but since her head is as big as Snow, it accidentally flung Snow off and onto the floor.  So now Snow is back on top of the back of the couch staring down at the pitbull who immediately went back to sleep.

It has not rained in our area for something like a month now which is annoying.  I keep having to write myself notes to remember to go out and water the garden - especially the three new trees we planted last Spring.  Oddly enough the plants up on the strip by the main road that I planted last fall seem to be doing fine even though I am unwilling to cart buckets of water up the hill to water them.  Hopefully they will live through this dry spell until it rains again.  Someday.  The weather forecast doesn't show it doing that in the next week or so.

Up until yesterday I didn't get to ride Toad because she needed five days off while she took a five day course of wormer (last time she had a wormer it gave her a mild colic and that was only a one day dose so I was pretty worried about this five day dose).  Then my trainer had the day off to go to the Mariners game for her birthday, then Toad was too wack-a-doodle for me to ride her first day back at work, so yesterday was my first time to ride her in 12 days.  And as always happens when I haven't ridden her for awhile I decided I was terrified to and wasn't going to. 

What made yesterday worse in that regard was that last Friday when Toad was too out-there for me to ride, I asked to do a practice ride on Misty.  I feel totally safe on Misty because she's pretty bomb-proof and doesn't spook at anything (a good, solid quarterhorse!) and although she can be a little bratty and occasionally super hot, she's that Western barrel racer hot that I am so used to with Girlfriend.  The whole dancing, bolting thing isn't scary for me with her because it's just like Girlfriend.  And she doesn't always do that.  But Friday I got up on her and as soon as my butt was in the saddle before I even had my foot in the stirrup, she jumped and ran backwards.  Then she paused for a second, and ran backwards again.  I have NO idea why.  Something must have startled her? Hurt her? Maybe she got bit by a big horse fly? I don't know.  I stayed on just fine and never felt like I was going to fall off but it was the unknown - why are we flying backwards? She's obviously lost her mind - is she going to start bucking bronco until she gets me off?  Then as quickly as it came on it stopped and we stood there a moment, I gathered my wits about me and then asked her to walk on.  The rest of our ride was completely uneventful (except Trainer K. did have to scold me for going too fast and told me I can not canter on Misty anymore because she's been trained to go slow and I apparently do not know how to canter slowly and I make Misty backtrack every time I let loose and go roaring around the arena - and she's not my horse so I'm not allowed to ruin all of Trainer K's hard work to make her a slower horse for her owner - which makes sense!).

Anyway, that and not having ridden Toad for almost two weeks and of course all the "Toad horror stories" from when I bought her last year still have not completely left my head - I was in the bathroom just before my ride and I distinctly thought, "I am NOT riding her today. No way. I am not up for getting killed today and this is too dangerous and I'm crazy to be a middle-aged woman riding a green OTTB and what am I thinking? I'm going home!"  I didn't even have it in me to talk myself out of it, I just resigned myself to it.

Then I walked in the arena, looked at Trainer K. and thought, "I don't have the energy to argue or get that "you have to ride your own horse or what's the point of having her? If you want to be safe get a guinea pig for a pet" lecture" and dutifully put on my half-chaps and helmet and eventing vest and gloves and thought, "I'm not going to ride today. This is a crazy hobby. I'm not going to do  this anymore."  And next thing you know I'm up on Toad and saying, "I'm feeling really insecure today so I need lots of babysitting while I'm riding."  And we ended up having a great ride!  Well, maybe not a technically great ride as far as my form and using my aids properly goes, but it was fun for me and I had quite a few times where I felt really in-synch with Her Toadness.  I even had to carry the dressage whip (which freaks me out because the times she has spooked the worst have been because of seeing the dressage whip out of the corner of her eye when I didn't keep it exactly flat on my leg).  But I had to carry it because she was not listening to my leg and Trainer K. is training her to listen only to light aids and does not want me desensitizing her by using my legs really strongly or god forbid kicking her.  So, if she doesn't listen to my leg the first time I use my leg again very lightly but give her the lightest touch with the dressage whip down by where my leg is.  And she HATES being touched by the dressage whip.  And we're talking just the lightest tap so that if you were me and spacing out you wouldn't even notice it if someone touched you with it.

I actually really appreciate her being so green and being trained with me because when I'm not stressing out about her spooking she is actually easier to ride than the lesson horses I do practice rides on - Tasha and Misty.  When I can relax and not clench myself all up out of worry and am doing well in my riding, Toad does really well.  She relaxes and has a nice rhythmic walk and trot and she will easily stretch her neck and then everything feels like it falls into place.  Someday in twenty years or so I have a feeling she's going to be a sweet, old schoolmaster who will teach little girls how to ride dressage and no one will ever believe she was "the crazy horse no one wanted".

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