Thursday, 11 December 2014

Miss Tea's Christmas Wish List

Contrary to what my mom says, I am a simple horse. I don't want that many things...

But there are a few items that would be nice to see Christmas morning!

So I have made a list:

1. I want a new moving box of death. You know those things. Yet get in, mom closes door, (shake-shake-shake) and POOF! You're somewhere different. I hear from my friends there are nicer, quieter, less shaky ones.
My blender on wheels.
How about this mom! Then we can see each other while we shake-shake-POOF!
Well, mom says that doesn't exist in Canada (whatever Canada is) so hooves crossed for anything better.

2. Now this one I know my mom can do. My mom helped me learn all my human/horse manners and I think I am quite a good girl. Now how about mom shows my sister some of these manners? Really, she is such a brat. Now I love her and all, but she just doesn't know when to quit!
Out of my space, sis!

I said MOVE!

Such a pain in the hindquarters.
Please mom! Give her some lessons!

3. My next wish would be for a large bowl of scrumptious, mouth-watering, brain-exploding OATS!

Mom won't let me near the stuff! She says it makes my brain fall out. But, just. one. bowl!!

4. My last item (yes, just four things. I told you I was easy to please!) is kind of for both me and my mom. You see, sometimes she's scared. I know she tries to hide it, but I can tell. My wish is for her to be brave and trust us. When she's brave, I feel like I can do anything and it feels so great! So mom, like our T says, "Ride me like you stole me!".

Friday, 5 December 2014

Won't Do's Blog Hop!

Equestrian Journey Hop: What won't you do?
Blog Hop topic from Equestrian Journey

        "We all like to share on our blogs what we do with our horses and what we would like to do, but I want to know what you will NOT do.  For example I will not carry a bag of feed into the middle of a herd of horses, especially if I don't know some of them.  I will not teach my horse to rear on purpose.  I will not ride my horse into a field full of loose horses that could kick me in the leg and break it.  Things like that.  I look forward to hearing what you have to share!"
When I first read this I laughed and thought more like what will I do because that would be the shorter list! After a bit of consideration though, I realize perhaps I have come further than I thought and that blasted list of things I won't do (or can't yet) is getting a smidgeon shorter.
I did not always have a huge list of "won't do's". When I was a kid growing up on a farm with my super little pony, I did everything. In fact, all the things that would give parents heart attacks and lived to ride another day.
As a teen, I still had that fearless nature and had no trouble working with difficult horses in all sorts of riding situations and the "won't do" list was non-existent.
Enter adulthood, a couple of very unsuitable horse purchases equaling is some very scary riding situations. Add on top of that a knowledge that my bones are indeed breakable and my family needs me around (at least they seem to need me when a school lunch needs to be made or the laundry hamper is full) and then you have a pretty big "won't do" list in your midst. BUT, I'm working on making it smaller!
So here is a look at my list two years ago (at the height of my fear) and now. Let's see just how much progress I made! 
My "won't do" list - THEN:
  • Lead a young horse out of the fenced-in yard area.
  • Ride on windy/chilly days (because horses be crazy!)
  • Allow the horses to run around in the pasture without panicking inside and running to throw them some hay to stop that dangerous shit!
  • Ride out in my hay field.
  • Take my horse on the trailer, anywhere.
Okay, you get the idea. I was officially completely terrified. I almost quit horses at that time. But I didn't. After mucho work at concurring my issues, here is my list today:
  • Canter in the hay field is still a firm no. I got over my fear of being out there in the open with my spooky mare. We can now walk, trot and do somewhat concentrated work out there relatively calmly without thinking I am going to die.
  • Heading to a jump without a nice good warmup over at least one pole first to see where my girl's brain is at.
  • Jump when I am shaking afraid. I firmly know my limits now and know when to push myself. 
  • Finally, I WON'T let a coach push me to do anything I know I am not ready for. Only I can know my own limits and even though most coaches are amazing, I know myself best!
That's it for my list! That "then" list is pulverized! I can't wait to see where I am at in the future. Here's to dreaming of safe canters in an open field...:) 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Work dat ass!

My horse and I are both lacking something. And I hear it is the key to all things great. When you have it, mountains move, you may even hear violins...

The result of it is a horse working from behind and you not pulling on reins like some first-day-of-lessons newbie. It's called muscles y'all. I have none and Miss Tea has none, and it sucks.

So many muscles involved--maybe I should switch to trail riding.

Lesson Monday was all about working this issue. Miss Tea is kind of like riding a plank; straight, long and rough. And then there is me; kind of like a bag of Jello, jiggling and wiggling along on said plank. My goal was to bend that darn plank and keep the Jello in the bag!

We started with exaggerated flexion at the walk, inside bend and counter-bend, and once that felt soft we moved on to trot with the same exercise. I discovered her right bend was much more of an effort for her and subsequently for me and my weak legs.

Then the canter. I am ashamed to say both Miss Tea and I can only make it about three quarters of the arena in good form and then fall apart. After two laps of canter (with most of it looking like ass) both Miss Tea and I were huffing and puffing and needed a break in the middle. This is where having a group lesson comes in supper handy--the other person goes out for a turn while you get a nice long break (collapse on your horse and die a little) before heading out for more torture much-needed practice.

We didn't get in any jumping this lesson, but really, I don't think I could have even managed to hang on over a jump by the end.

We ended the lesson with a lovely blow-dry for the girl as it was -10 outside and she was quite lathered from our workout in the heated arena (Yes, HEATED!!XOXO). She had never seen/heard a blowdryer before, but she stood beautifully for it--scared to death, but willing to be good for me--love her!

Now who thinks I will work any of those muscles again before my next lesson? Silly girls, I don't use muscles outside of lessons!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Winter play

This morning as I sat down to start work, I got a lovely little email from my boss not to log on this morning as work was know what that means! Horse time!

When I had fed horses an hour earlier, it was cold for sure, but no wind, no snow. With news that I had some free time, I ran to bundle up and head out to full on snow and wind. *^&%$!!.

Too stubborn to be defeated, I grabbed Savvy girl from the paddock and brought her to the outdoor to play.

Isn't she beautiful!? :)

But even this attention-loving beast was a little pissed at being out in the nasty weather, so I brought her into the cozy little tack shed for some loving up.

So happy to be inside!

And just when my fingers were frozen solid, the sky started to clear.
Right. &*%$ you winter.

Snow baby. XOXO

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Marathon struggles begin

I hate you winter. Go away!

It is now no longer about my horse's training. Forget the jumping. Don't even think about cantering. The ground is frozen and slippery.

I just want to riiidde!

It is now all about keeping water from freezing. Storing hoses in the house to keep them thawed. Freezing my fingers trying to do barn yard maintenance.

Feeding and feeding and feeding the beasties and swearing at them when they eat the wood fences if there is a two-minute gap in hay being available.

And this is just the beginning! The snow will get deeper and temps will get much worse.

The struggle gets harder and harder every year.  All I can do is feel so defeated today.

Maybe tomorrow I will buck up, bundle up and play with the horses. Or maybe I'll just keep all my fingers and stay the heck inside.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Know thy self, know thy horse

Many of us who ride come across times where issues will come up with our horses where we are unsure if we are dealing with a physical or a behavioral issue. It can be incredibly frustrating not to mention expensive to sort it all out. If praying for the anomaly to magically disappear doesn't work, we are left with endlessly analysing the issue in our minds, annoying anyone who will listen with the details and then perhaps bringing in the specialists.

The dilemma is, if your horse is misbehaving, you may need to push through the behavior, but if your horse is sore, you really need to stop and fix the issue if you what if you are not sure?

My Miss Tea has left me wondering what the heck is wrong with her more times than I can count. To my own defense, I am dealing with a hypochondriac of a horse--she can be seriously over dramatic.

Melman and Miss Tea would get along fabulously.

She will definitely not hesitate to let you know she is uncomfortable, and quite possibly dying. When her teeth are floated, she will be found with her head in the corner of her shelter, leaning on the wall, and will not move for TWO DAYS.

If I change her tack in anyway, lunge first or regret my fool heartedness. Seriously. Different saddle = buck. Different girth = buck. Different saddle pad = buck(just to let me know she's paying attention).

I have had this horse since she was 6 months old, and 7 years later, I can say I am catching on to her form of communication. It was actually quite simple--uncomfortable in any way = buck. Great, I like simple math. But then there was the overwhelming task of figuring out what nuances in her bucking style meant so we could possibly, oh I don't know, something like MOVE FORWARD with her training?!

Who me? I don't know what that human is talking about, I'm perfect.

When I was first training her, bucking happened when introducing the canter. Not that uncommon in horses and we got through it after a few months. From there she was fabulous for about a year, and then came up sore. The soreness first presented itself as bucking in the canter. She would initially start to canter just fine, but then it would feel like a moment of panic and then bucking. I eventually discovered it was a back issue and was luckily back to riding after about two months.

Another type of buck I have come to know is the "you are not riding good enough" buck. Usually this presents itself after a jump where my timing was off.

And then the "I think I would rather just trot today" buck where the tail gets involved and she basically gives my legs the finger.

At the end of the day though, I feel encouraged to know I am better equipped now to tell when she is hurting versus being naughty, when to push and when to back off. This horse just keeps bringing on the lessons!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Hear comes honey bee bee

This weekend I attended Diversity Horsemanship's Halloween Fun Show. It was a perfect way to wrap up an incredible year of hard work, successes, fails and progress. I came away from this show with a better idea of where Miss Tea and I are at, and I feel I can move forward with a more clear plan of what I would like to work on for the future.

I started the day off with Hunter Line class (for those of you who say what the heck is that like I did, it is a hunter course with rails on the ground to show how good your lines are and horse's way of going, etc.)

Boom! First class, first place...can you say "sqeeeee"!
Then Hunter Cross off course. Boo.

Jumper Cross Rails was hot mess because cantering a course is still new to us, but oh so fun! That was followed by Hunter 2' and Jumper 2' where we both improved and managed to squeeze in an 8th placing and a 4th.
Super gorgeous pony being very brave for me over the "severed hands" Halloween jump 
We then had the Hunter Flat class that was huge! I think there were around 16 or 17 horses in it! And I got 2nd!!!!! VERY PROUD OF MY PONY!!!

So then I got to relax and start breathing by around lunch time for the Costume Class. So much fun! There were a lot of really creative costumes to look at. My favorite was the horse dressed as a Pinata that kind of reminded me of a giant snuffaluffagus. :)

 I finished my day with an attempt at barrel racing...more like barrel trotting with a leisurely canter at the end.

This show had such a positive vibe and I was so happy to be a part of it. It was especially fun to watch good friends doing an amazing job with their horses. I'm so proud of them!

I left the day exhausted, so happy with my horse, and pretty sure I have some work to do with canter. Canter departs, lead changes, extended canter, oh ya...and my hands! Still need to work on my release.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

stomach flips

I'm not going to lie, these past 6 years have been filled with a whole lot of fear and hard work trying to get rid of it.

Some days, just the thought of riding fills me with dread and I wonder what the heck I am even doing with a horse. Horse agility saved me from giving up. I spent a year and a half building a solid relationship with my girl, working together to build trust and courage and the both of us growing more confident together. It also allowed me to get her out and about, fix the trailering issue with lots of play days, seeing new places and having fun without the stress of "riding".

Just when I thought we were both in a good place, learning to jump fences brought us both back to insecurity, doubt and wondering why to bother.

The most important lesson I have learned through this journey is to trust myself and do what I feel is right for me and my horse. I may not be a great trainer or even a good rider, but I do know my horse and how to get the best from her. She's an incredible girl and will try so hard for me, as long as I am there for her in a strong, confident yet compassionate way and give her time to think things through.

I just finished up a ride this afternoon that made my heart sing. It was just a light warm up, a little soft long and low, easy canters and without any stomach flipping or debate, aimed her at the jumps and cantered around like air time ain't no thing! She even through in attempts at flying lead changes, bless her heart!

There is a fun show this weekend at the barn I take lessons at and I am feeling optimistic. A little scared, but more excited. It feels like a great way to measure how far we have come this year and also a chance to just have some fun and enjoy horse time (of course I am entering the costume class, and yes I am doing barrel racing in an English saddle!). Wish me luck :P

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tuesday Lesson

I have always been leery of addictions. Besides its obvious negative associations I have always simply been too stubborn to allow myself to be seen as controlled or driven by something outside myself.

Horses brake that rule for me. Namely jumping! This addiction is so strong, it outweighs my intense fear of things going wrong and getting hurt.

Last night I felt the high I remembered from years gone by and it happened over a 1-foot cross rail jumping course!

Our lesson began with a course set up, but with all rails on the ground to get situated, work on our lines to and from the jumps, using our space and being good little hunter riders. Then the cross rails went up and we road it at trot, hunter style. My girl did a great job and it was a lovely little stress-free jaunt.

We all were practicing for the upcoming fun show at the barn, and most of us were planning to enter the jumper class as well, so next coach talked to us about the difference between hunter and jumper rounds and how to change our ride.

My first time out was so timid and I missed all the tight turns I was supposed to attempt. On my second try at it something came over me. I small glimmer of the fearless competitive gymkhana girl showed up and off I went! Coach said "ride her like you stole her!" and I certainly tried. :) There might have been some extended canter here and there.

That. Felt. Good.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Poker Derby

Who doesn't love a crisp fall day ride mixed in with a little gambling?

I learned:
 Traffic, tractors, wagons are not a problem for my girl
 Quads, a bit scary.
 Potluck trail rides = mucho food! :)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Letting go

I had such a great lesson last night and experienced a whole new feeling of riding towards and after a jump. It was one of those after lesson feelings of "YES!!" I can do this people!

First of all, I have to say this fab lesson was on the heels of a not so stellar ride last week where I jumped Miss Tea the first time since her back problems started. She was wonderful and didn't show me any signs of refusal or discomfort, nada. But me...I was so afraid on that first approach that I pulled her from canter to a trot and was actively looking for escape routes! My poor girl jumped it anyways, all on her own with no backup from her terrified rider. All jumps thereafter were me holding her too hard and coach telling me to RELEASE.

So, approaching this lesson, I was determined to redeem myself and do right by my horse. I did a full hang-on-to-mane release three strides before jump and worked very hard at picking up contact softly not before at least three strides out. All I can say is WOW!!!! Giving my girl her head and letting her think her way towards and over the jump was terrifying (I like to micromanage like no other) but so freeing at the same time.

I am so proud of my mare.

Cheers to everyone out there trying to be a better rider for their horse. The road training yourself and your horse may be long, but what a beautiful ride!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Surviving horses

Over all the years I have been caring for horses, I can tell you that a horse can certainly get creative in finding ways to hurt themselves. I have been through many an injury and being the overly anxious type, when I see a way to prevent something, I will darn well do so.

I have been working very hard on managing my stress and trying to become less freakishly worried about everything horse related. My confidence was severely shaken a few years back and it has been a lot of hard work getting it back. At my worst, I was looking out the back window of my house at the view of the horses in their corrals with heart racing and palms sweating, praying they wouldn't be running. If they were, my gosh, certainly they could get hurt. If it were muddy they could slide into the fence (yes, that has happened, and more than once).

If I were planning to ride, I would be shaking already before I even got out of the house. It took a decision, a commitment to get over this, that began a long struggle back to enjoying horses again.

I have come a long way and no longer panic when I see the horses playing around. I don't even look out the back window much anymore, and I certainly don't feel the panic I used to.

View from my window :)

Tonight was one of those fine evenings that gave me a glimpse of how far I am coming along. After putting the kids to bed, I headed out to do the evening feeding. My 1 and 1/2-year-old filly, Shiraz and the pony, Silver had been in the arena for the day to do some "mowing" for me. As I entered the barn yard, I could see the metal arena gate on the ground, bent in a U shape, and the fence post it was hinged to was broken in half. Hm. Interesting. Now, this is where in the past I would have filled with fear, wondering how bad the injury would be to the horse that did this, running, shaking to find her.

Proudly I can say I did not. Instead I paused and considered the situation. As I was going over it in my mind, gaping wounds or not, I knew I would be able to handle it. And moving forward with fingers crossed, I saw Shiraz. After examining every inch of her, there was just one little mark on her knee. No swelling, no bleeding, and nothing else. What a lucky little horse.

My anxiety is still there. Like when I am approaching the first jump of a ride, or thinking of taking my mare on a trail ride, but I can feel myself improving all the time, in small ways. With a commitment to baby steps and "doing what I can do, until I can do more", I know I'll get where I want to be.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Fall riding

I love fall. It would be my favorite season if I could only forget it is a precursor to winter...

After pausing momentarily to soak in the beauty of the colours,  I resume my spot in panic mode over prepping for winter, is there enough hay, is everything in a spot I can find it once 3 feet of snow is here, will my de-icers last one more winter, will I really survive -32 yet again...!
love her!

My focus with Miss Tea these days is all flat work getting her to think about using her hind end and maybe perhaps lifting her back.

It is so hard for her. She would much prefer to drag her back legs along and hollow out, but we are getting a few steps here and there of magic!

When we get it, it feels so elevated, light but powerful! She still looks downhill, but she is a Quarter horse and aren't they bred to be downhill?
Less downhill than usual :)
Much better reach for her with the hind end

Taking time to smell the daisies

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Ups and downs

What a summer. After the up of Carman fair came the down of a horse with a problem. Even though Miss Tea had been doing so well, all that forward momentum came to a screeching halt when she started to seem sore, started bucking at the canter, and losing weight.

Just give me a carrot already woman.

Figuring it all out was a bit tricky. The ground at home was very hard after weeks of no rain. Maybe sore feet? Another possibility was her back--she is ridiculously long-backed and has always had trouble using her hind end. Perhaps all the riding we had done thus far had taken a toll?

Even lounging her was a mess. She would trip over her hind feet a lot and buck at the canter. She was just not happy.

So, step one was to just give her a brake for a bit and see what evolved...meanwhile, my sweet little Savvy girl was waiting and ready for some much needed attention! I had started her lightly last summer, but no where near truly broke to ride. A few weeks in with her and I was able to take her over to a friend's arena for our Sunday horsemanship practice and she was fantastic! She is such an amazing girl and learns incredibly fast. Her only issue is she gets VERY excitable in unfamiliar situations, but that is something we will work out by just getting her out and about more.

Smart little mare picking up on this riding thing like a Boss!

I discovered Miss Tea's issues were back related, so after time off, I purchased a riser for my saddle to make that as best a fit as it could be, started her slowly with lots of ground work and now we are cautiously back into riding. So far so good! The aim is to strengthen her top line and see if I can help prevent this from happening again.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Me, Myself and Miss Tea

This weekend I packed up the truck and headed off solo to a horse show in Carman. I had shown there before when I was a teenager and had lived close to the area. Now, 20 years later I was excited to give it a go. There were enough English classes to make it worth it, so why not?

On first arriving and unloading, we were greeted by giant, jingly heavy horses and carts -- something Miss Tea has never seen before.

Then down the road in search of our box stall, many, many cows.

Her eyes were pretty bugged out, but she was still okay. Finally arrived at the horse barns and had a nice look at the show arena...
Yup, full-on Ex right there. No sweat.
It was a noisy night, but I managed to get a few hours sleep eventually. Show day was fantastic. Miss Tea handled everything surprisingly well and the best part is---WE MADE IT THROUGH THE WHOLE JUMPING COURSE! Twice. Cross rails went beautifully, except for one refusal that was really just a spook at the puddle of water in front of the jump.
Next was 2'6" jumper class and she was amazing! The sheep didn't even stop us when they made an appearance right beside us during our round.
Overall I had a great time. This venturing off on my own isn't so scary after all :) I love my horse!


Friday, 27 June 2014

Back to square one?!

After the Stonewall show, I was so excited for what the summer may bring and feeling like finally progress. I joined some friends with weekly lessons at a new barn with a great coach that can cover all the basics and help us do a bit better with placing at shows. She has been helpful so far and I am hoping to continue with that.

Riding at home has been impossible because of rain, rain and more rain. My outdoor arena was a sloppy mess and so the once-a-week indoor lessons were really extra important as my only riding time. Last night my arena was finally dry enough so I saddled up just hoping to do some simple walk/trot/canter, work on flexion and stopping. (I have NO stop currently).

It was a fight from the start. Miss Tea was head up and eyes over-focused on everything she could spot in the distance. It was all I could do to bring her mind back to me even existing on her back. It was a hallowed-out back hot mess for half an hour. And since things were going so badly, I think, Hey! Lets canter now! HA! Step-wiggle-BUCK and BUCK some more for good measure. Ugh.

It took me a year of hard work to get this horse to canter without bucking in the first place when I was training her. It had been a distant memory for just as long. And here it was. I tried to tell myself--don't panic! I got off, took off the bridle but left on the saddle and sent her for some work around the arena to buck without me. WTF?!

Why can't I just have a nice normal horse? Some days I am grateful for the challenges she gives me because she has helped me to learn so much. But some days I just want to fall to the ground and cry "Why Me!!!".....Okay, I'm up. Done pouting. Back to training this crazy mare. :)

Horse Show!!

Well this was it! Here was the moment I had been training all winter for...Stonewall horse show! Hmm. It is such a small, unassuming fun show for ammies. Not even a blip on most horse people's radar. However, for me it is my mountain to conquer.

You see, two years ago I took my young, inexperienced and ridiculously green Miss Tea there in hopes of getting through the Walk/Trot class. Our class was well after lunch time, so I had plenty of time to ride and relax and get her familiar with the place.

The morning warmup ride went alright. She was nervous of the other horses around her, as she was not used to working in a crowded ring. I brought her out again for a second warmup after lunch to get ready for our class. So there I was, about to mount in the open field where the warmup area was and as I put my foot in the stirrup the saddle slipped. A lot. No problem right? I had my foot out and I was back on the ground to fix the saddle right away. But wait! Miss Tea has never had a saddle on sideways before, and she was still frightened about being away from home. She started to panic and pulled back. Moving now made this sideways saddle even more frightening and in slow motion I watched her pull away from me and go bolting/bucking across the fair grounds. She luckily ran into a large fenced second arena that was not being used and was caught. I even managed to go in my "Walk/trot" class right after it happened!

This time around we did much better. Placed in Halter and did quite nicely in our flat classes.
Miss Tea and I the second time around :)
Cross rails was a fail -- refused the very first jump and left it at that. But overall, very happy with the day! And for jumping, I am setting a goal of at least getting over a jump or two at the next show.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Jumping fun!

I dutifully made the great treck over to my coach's arena this morning. I luckily managed to trick Miss Tea into thinking it was feeding time rather than travel time, and got her haltered without any chasing for a change. Usually when she sees me go anywhere near the truck and trailer on my way out to her, she is gone to the far corner of the paddock. Trailering is VERY scary for her.

It was -22 this morning as I headed out, but dressed so warm that I could barely tell what temperature it was, and I am very fortunate that the barn I ride at has a heated tack-up area.

Miss Tea was quite frisky and jumpy when we started. She hit an empty box with her tail in the hallway on the way into the arena and leapt like a Lipizzaner and kicked out at it with both feet. Great start...

After apologizing for our disturbing entry, we got started and soon were trotting and warming up our horses and ourselves. I was riding a group lesson with a lady I had never ridden with before. Of course, I had to steal moments to see her riding ability and position, just to be sure I wouldn't be the worst rider. Turned out, we were both about the same. Phew!

We trotted poles in a circle, which Miss Tea had to look at and practically jump over every time, worked on leg yields, serpentines and then canter. Why is cantering SO exhausting? I can make it around the arena maybe twice at the canter before I am huffing and puffing and wanting to cry uncle. You would think I was doing the running rather than my horse.

Finally jumping! First ground pole, two strides and little X, then one stride, pole. Good. No spook, kept my eyes up and it felt nice.

Then coach added a second X to make a bounce. This would be my first bounce with Miss Tea. Survived! Not great, but went through. Next few times were much more smooth.

Finally added third jump, two strides off of bounce. Miss Tea had a HUGE look. She started gawking at the last jump before she hit the first ground pole and we ended up having one big sloppy stride before the first X and then I managed to just push her through with a lot of mane grabbing, clucking and very huge jumps. Ack! So ugly to watch, I am sure. The subsequent trips through went much better and left the lesson happy.

Can't wait for next week!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Nasty weather seems to exacerbate horse madness...:)

I must get my rant over this winter's never-ending bombardment of snow and unusually extreme temperatures that just seems to go on and on with no relief, has left me in a quite a funk. Every degree it drops, so does my mood. However, I am just crazy enough to wave my middle finger at all that snow and try to get in my horse time regardless of frozen hands, frozen tack, frozen ground and very fluffy horses! It seems the more things get in my way of doing something, the more I want to be doing it.

I have been taking my Miss Tea over to a local indoor for lessons once a week (or as weather allows). Miss Tea is doing very well in lessons and I am having so much fun getting real riding accomplished. It is all so very basic at this point. I am a total mess in the saddle and have discovered my legs are ridiculously weak! Between my weekly lessons, I find I am walking true cowboy style, hobbling along trying not to look like a complete moron, but simply unable to walk normally because of my sore muscles.

Miss Tea is a seven-year-old Quaterhorse, but does not look it at all and I am hoping to make her into a nice little hunter-jumper. We don't canter very well yet, and collection is still not there, so lessons are tons of trotting, working on my position along with her flexion and use of her hind end with leg yields, serpentines, and the dreaded no stirrup work (possibly for my coach's personal amusement).

The end of the lesson is some jumping work over small cross rails with ground poles so I can start learning to control the length of her stride. We are also doing a combo so I can learn to count strides. Alright, now here is my problem: I have discovered my ability to count to five goes out the window while on a horse cantering toward a jump!
My mind fills up fast on a jump line:
Keep weight in my feet!
Don't grab the mane like a sissy unless I really have to!
Is Miss Tea going to spook at that second jump...?
Don't swear too loudly!
Oh, right, One, Two, ...five-I mean, what number am I at?!

Multi-tasking is just not my thing. But in this crazy world of horses and dreams we all have to improve, I have to believe deep down that I will someday learn to count!