Monday, March 8, 2010

My FAVORITE Day of the Year!

Yesterday was a good day. You see, yesterday, our local 4-H club put on their annual tack sale.

Picture this: you are standing in the middle of a very large building with bumpy concrete floors. There are rows of tables to your left, and rows of saddles to your right. You look above you, and you can see the posterboard signs that label the different rows. All the tables are piled high with horse items, and you feast your eyes on the saddle pad table. There must be 300 saddle pads right there, and the clean white dressage pad stands out from the masses. But no! Someone else reaches for the pad and picks it up. You hold your breath as they examine it, hopeful that they might find one better, or the price two dollars too high. But no, they pick it up and carry it with them. Ah well, there are 299 more to choose from. Then, you decide to walk over to the table. Easier said than done, of course, because there are probably fifty other eager shoppers in between you and that table. So you shuffle and nudge and give some excuse me's in an attempt to appear civil as you shove your way to the table. Three minutes, twelve nudges, and twenty excuse me's later, you're at the saddle pad table. But alas! It's too late. The only ones left are dirty, ripped, or suspiciously furry. Maybe if you dig in the pile, you'll find a good deal, or some treasures that no one else has claimed yet. But if you don't find what you wanted, there's always next year...

This vision epitomizes the tack sale, in my mind. It's a 24,000 square foot commercial building, filled to the brim with any kind of horse tack or accessory that you can imagine. Need a tack trunk? They've got that. Or a driving buggy? They've got that too. Well, what about a saddle seat show outfit? Of course that's there! And a chair made out of cow hide and bull horns? Indeed, that as well! There is almost NOTHING you can't find at this sale. Plus, it's all inexpensive, consigned items. I bought a 3-pack of dirty-but-decent saddle pads for four dollars, a set of four standing wraps for a dollar, two pairs of nice brand name breeches for 10 dollars each, synthetic-yet-nice zip up tall boots for 10 dollars, and more! This is a semi-broke horse lover's paradise!

Hence, I love it. All in all, I got most of my show season necessities, and spent exactly $100. I also sold a bunch of my old, unemployed tack and got $450 for the lot of it. This means that I can pay for my upcoming schooling shows and finally shoulder some of the financial burden of my horse. I know my mom pays for my horse because equines are a necessity for my happiness, and I love her dearly for understanding my habit, despite the fact that she doesn't have the horse bug, but I still think it's about time I step up and start paying some costs. I figure this is a good step in the right direction.

A quick update on Bailey:
About ten days ago, she threw a shoe. I lunged her that very day, and she was sound and happy. Two days later, when I finally had time to ride, she had finally gotten sore on it. So we worked on our flexing and giving to the bit at the walk. The farrier came out two days later to put a new shoe on, and I tried to ride that evening. But once again, the trot was just not happening. She was, of course, almost perfectly sound on the lunge line, but not at all sound with me on her back (Did I mention my mare makes me feel fat?) Again, we worked on our bending and flexing, and actually had a nice time with it, but I thought I'd wait a few more days to let her foot feel better. Of course, an essay, an all-day-and-night field trip, the cleaning of my consignment items, and the tack sale (a combined total of 4 hours waiting in line) caused me to miss the better part of the entire week. I lunged Bailey last night and she looked pretty good, although I'm still suspicious. So tomorrow, one week after our last ride, to be precise, is the moment of truth. Ideally, she'll be sound and we can get back to 5 days of riding per week. I just have this lingering feeling that she's not going to be sound and then I'll have to investigate her foot and start thinking about abcesses (right?). Either way, I'll know for sure tomorrow. One of these days, I'll talk about my riding goals, showing plans, Bailey, and my riding experience, so please keep checking by and leaving comments. It makes me just giddy to read them! Thanks for tuning in, folks!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An Update on our Forward Progress

No, I did it again!!! Agh, I'm going to get this blogging thing down, I swear. I just have so much going on - essays, CBAs, more homework, pulled shoes, food allergies, sicknesses and ski trips - I'm barely getting to sleep at night.

High school for me right now is all about improving my life and creating habits that will stick and help me survive college and my future. I'm riding more, being more responsible for Bailey's care, doing more homework, studying for tests, and actually (kinda) getting to school on time every day. So I suppose I'll have to keep building on that. But that's not the subject I'm here for. This blog is about Bailey, and boy, do I have exciting news for you guys! It has officially been four weeks since this occurred but...


Albeit tiny, they were jumps and we did canter them. I measured them, too, in my excitement. The tallest one from our second lesson that included cantering crossrails (as shown in the picture) was a whopping 15 inches high at the center. That little fact didn't stop Bailey from launching over it once or twice, but she was actually really good about not over-jumping. It might be hard to understand, considering what little information you know about Bailey, but I was so proud of her when I heard her tap that fence once during our lesson. Not only was it a fence she had never jumped in previous days, but she felt comfortable enough jumping that she didn't over-jump it and even let her leg hang a little (She uber-launched over the next jump, but hey, she was just making sure after her "toe-tap incident"). Still, that's a BIG improvement from the days when she often stopped at single ground rails or any kind of striped pole. She still refuses somewhat regularly, but I'm finally learning how to jump a horse, so working with her isn't so scary anymore.

Now that I've conquered some of my fears, she's beginning to do the same. We still have our off days, for sure, but jumping a course is actually something I could see as a possibility due to our new development in jumping training.

Cantering jumps was special for me not only because Bailey and I can do it, but because it shows me that I have enough control of my mare now. The first lesson I had with my trainer, she told me straight off the bat that "no one has any business cantering jumps until they can easily adjust their horse's canter." I couldn't agree more, but at that point I could barely keep Bailey from racing off and cantering her, even on a circle, was nervous business. We've put in some hard work, and the canter isn't a scary gait any more. We have been working on cantering ground poles and elevated poles (at most 6 inches high) for a little while and that day it was just flowing well. (Now, my trainer has a reserved way about her, and isn't too quick to compliment or criticize. She tells you how to use your aids, and when it's right, and is in no way cold or mean - quite the opposite in fact. But she doesn't shower you with compliments either.)

So when I heard her say, "You know, I'm not sure if this will work, but why don't you turn and take the crossrail after the cavaletti?" I wasn't sure if I was dreaming or if I really heard her right, so I responded with, " the canter?" She told me to try it and see if it would work. Bailey was confused about the fact that she was cantering towards a crossrail, and I had no idea of what to expect from her, but we managed to get over it decently enough and repeated the exercise a few more times. At the end of the lesson, I was on Cloud Nine. It just made me ecstatic to see that my trainer approved of our improvement with cantering and jumping. In her own quiet way, I felt like she told me that I was doing something right and really improving. That just kept me beaming all night.