Thursday, October 27, 2011

Riding pants that ROCK

Sorry for the long delay, I've been busy with work (it's actually kind of exciting, many people are moving their financial lives over to credit unions and that means I'm one busy chick).

Any way, I've had to let my real life take a chill pill while I handled the work load.

(I recently realized that my work life wasn't my REAL life, although I enjoy it. My REAL life is family and horses. LOL)

As a result I've only ridden in these terrific pants once. But they are AMAZING. They are Irideons, just like my other riding pants, but I wanted to get a summer weight tights (I know, it's about to get cold, but with a birthday in October, that's just how these things go).

First I looked at every tight on the market, and picked these because they were boot cut, a brand I like, and have the knee patches and came in denim color. Having always ridden in jeans or my riding pant I wasn't sure if I was going to like the whole "tights" thing.

Color me converted.

First I got the absolute best email notification I've ever gotten that my order was on the way:

Today your order was lovingly removed from our shelves by Julie, our Product Specialist, and placed into our velvet-lined wheelbarrow.

Our 5-member equine team, headed by Royale Rouge, inspected your items to make sure they were in the best possible condition before mailing.

Stephanie, our Ordering Specialist, rang a bell and a hush fell over the barn as Boni, our Shipping Specialist, placed your items into the finest corrugated box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterward and our entire team waved goodbye to your package, on its way to you in our private A.R.T. jet.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping with us at Action Rider Tack. We certainly did. We wish we had a picture of you and your horse to hang on our wall as “Customer of the Week” and to add to our website photo gallery. We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to ACTION RIDER TACK.

Happy Trails!


I totally felt ridiculously special. (no, i did not send them a picture of me and smokey and lily, though I was tempted.)

Then I rode in them. No more hitching up my jeans to lift the leg in the stirrup. No more seam rubbing (which my riding pants are good about, but not my jeans). No more sliding in the saddle.

I felt a little silly in the store, but since they are a quiet blue, they're just like jeggins but better.

Yup. Love 'em. Planning on another pair for Christmas. :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I have the best horse in world

Actually, unfairly I have TWO!

I know, I know. YOU have the best horse in the world.

But let me tell you about my best horses.

Today I rode my five year old boy, who came up to the gate, practically wagging his tail. Seriously the flies were that bad. But he came up.

I've been doing this lately. I greet my horses, and if I don't have a specific plan, I ride the horse who walks up to me. A slight variation on riding the horse that shows up.

Smokey rode for the first time in a bosal. I have been riding him in a riding halter, but can't get his head down very easily, i get the feeling the signal isnt clear. I had read on mugs that horses teeth change a good bit betwwen 4 and 6, and that she rode horses that age in a hack more. I had a sense his mouth just wasnt as comfortable with the bit.

The bosal was perfect, a slight pressure on the reins and his head dropped. And he worked off my seat and legs in a way that felt seamless.

We rode with Stephanie and Cibolo, Janice and Lucy, Kimber and Cody (it was my birthday trail ride). We lead most of the time and he was so willing and easy going that I had that feeling bubble up like soda fizz.


I even went down a steep hill which has been nerve wracking for me lately. We both went down like it was no big deal. Which it isn't, of course.

That's the crux of it, isn't it. Since it was no big deal to me, he was fine. There were still moments when I had to work to convince him a bit, but they were tiny battles. Teeny tiny. Just enough to remind me he is young, generally trust worthy, but still young

This is one of the by products of joy, I think. It all feels so different.

Then there's the other best horse in the world. But I'll have to tell you about the remarkable Miss Lily next time. Plus I have a vendor/product endorsement.

I'm going to sleep to dream about riding.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I have no idea where this is from, or who the child is, but it makes me beam.

Now for something off topic.

During our very difficult time (of which elements continue, of course), everything felt like it was on fire, burning all around me, burning to the ground. Everywhere I turned things that I had worked for over decades turned to ashes at our feet.

At one point, when I was walking through the house late at night I felt there was only one thing left I had control over.


I could wait for happiness to come on the heels of some change in fortune or I could try to grow it in this rubble. I worked on finding positive things, even if they were extremely slight. I downloaded the "optimist's creed" and taped it to my mirror.

But every day the creed was there on my mirror. I'd take one line and try to live it during the day. I found it was harder than I thought to keep to it, and I failed often. Yet it was still there on the mirror the next morning.

After about 3 months I started to feel different. It wasn't always easier, but deeper. It didn't feel as forced, thnking and being positive came much easier.

Then in small ways our lives turned around. Very small things at first, the equivalent of finding a few extra dollars in life's sofa cushion. Happiness showed up unexpected around corners. And then the big change when DH landed work.

What I realize is that the job, while a blessing, is not our source of happiness. No question that it relieves the pressure, but the happiness arrived before the job.

The next step on the journey slowly bloomed. I recently decided that it is my role in life (well one of them) to spread joy. Sure I have a humor column and that's a start. But I've been (obnoxiously at times) working on finding ways to bring joy to people. Making the guy on the phone at the pharmacy laugh. sending thank you notes. Calling colleagues to check on their family. You know, daily nice things, hoping it'll be a brighter point in someone's day.

Not changing the world, not yet. But working from the inside out.

I've taken this approach with my horses too. I've presumed that they too could use some joy. It's not about cookies, it's mostly taking time, trusting my instincts, and becoming more quiet, gentle and consistent.

The change there has been gradual too. Only recently have I been able to even become aware of the shift. I don't have a name for it, but I know one thing.

It sure is more fun.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Smokey's Hat Trick

So you might know I'm big on clicker training. It's helped me bridge things with my horses like the noise of a plastic bottle, taking a bit, lifting hooves. It's not a cure all and things still require maintenance, but it's made a big difference.

Plus having trained dogs, I get the idea of this, so there wasn't near the learning curve.

Anyway, Smokey is very, very lippy. I figured given all the things he wants to grab, it might be useful to put this to use and teach him to pick up a hat from the ground. This video is step #2 in that process. Step 1 was getting him to touch it with our command "target". Step 2 is to hold it in his teeth with the command "grab."

I don't even want to think about step 3 yet.

(we did this today and he actually did really well, but more on that later.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lovely? Me?

Grey Horse Matters (of whom I'm a HUGE fan) passed on the Lovely Blog award and I'm so honored.

Thing is when I stripped down my blog back when I was laying low I lost my spot for awards. (Frankly I can't even remember how to post these things, so there's THAT too! LOL)

I promise to get it up here along with the requisite blog recommendations and odd factoids about me as soon as I can punch an hour into my schedule to get my act together.

Video of Smokey working on his latest "trick" coming soon as well!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ponying part two.

Hi there, it's me, Smokey.

There has been quite a bit of goings on.

Bit. Get it? Hehe.

Anyway, after all the fun at the place with all the sweaty horses, Mom said it was time for me to practice getting dragged around like a baby horse.

I thought it sounded kind of dumb. In fact in the orange sandy circle I tried to show Mom how to do it. We all walk. Now we stop. Now we walk. Then she and Lily started trotting and I said "No ma'am, you two slow down! Someone could get hurt!"

I worry about these two some times. Yesh.

I had to use all my massive muscles in my neck to get them back to the proper gait.

Silly mares.

But then I kind of got in the mood to trot. To the right, cuz that's my favorite side. Everything is way nicer on the right. Really no reason to trot going to the left. But you know Mom. She *insisted.*

Finally we got out of the sandy orange pen and walked on the road. It was all fine except apparently I'm not allowed to bite Lily on the butt.

It's not like I was going to do it hard or anything. Lily is SO sensitive. She actually pinned her ears at me! Twice! Did she get in trouble? No, not Miss Western Pleasure trained, grand baby of some doc at a bar or some such.

Then I couldn't rub my itchy nose on the saddle pad.


The next day we went all over like that again, but way further, with me being dragged all around. It's okay, I guess, and Mom says I got the idea. Then I got to be the lead horse and I was all "Woo hoo! I'm in charge! Let's go here! I'm rubbing against that cedar! Woo hoo...errr..."

Suddenly I was going in one of those itty bitty circles while Lily followed with an irritated look on her face. Sorta a reminder that Mom's in charge.

You know, *technically*.

It was fun, but not as fun as the Cookie time. But Mom got some movie of it paaqor something and she said she'll get to that.

Back to my hay, ya'll stay outta fences!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Storm Ranch Endurance Ride - one woman's perspective

As you may have surmised from Smokey's post, he was not my ride at the endurance race. He was just at the ride to gain experience traveling to such events. I didn't intend to ride him there, although I thought I might be able to around camp. I hand walked him around and was quickly convinced that riding him around this first time wasn't an option. He needs more travel time. And I need more experience getting him to stay focused.

I apologize for the photos, they are all out of my iphone. One of these days I'm going to get back to taking real photos!

Happy, happy horse.

We three - me, Smokey, and Lily - arrived on Saturday. Most of the 25 mile competitors were out, but due back soon. The 50s wouldn't be back for hours. Both horses loaded so well, I was taken aback. In fact, Lily right from the start seemed to be happy to be going somewhere. She self loaded and moved to the side for the door to close behind her.

I tied them to the trailer, Lily perky but constrained, Smokey a bit up, but not too bad considering. The BO's new trailer, the Taj Mah Haul, was in place. I'd be bunking there.

Jake (who had been at our barn for conditioning),
did great at his race, coming in 11th
The Taj is in the

One rider, J, was going to leave, but asked if I'd like to take a quick trail ride. Fortunately there was plenty opportunity to pleasure ride at this endurance ride, something I never thought of. I always thought that at a ride like this the most you could do is ride in the endurance rides or just hack around camp. I set up horsekeeping quickly and saddled Lily.

The BO returned - she got 3rd the
first day, 2nd the next.
She's always in the top ten in these events.

Since Lily has had so many soundness issues, I was hesitant to go far on her. J assured me we could turn back at any point if I grew concerned.

Lily headed out to the trailhead with ears forward, only one hesitation around the busy area where the endurance riders come in for the vet check. We hit the trail at a walk, but soon we were trotting.

Oh boy, I thought. This is really going to be a problem. We didn't trot much that first ride out, but that's usually where things get hard on Lily. Just a short bit of trotting used to set her head bobbing. She has improved, only occasional signs of a problem, generally gone once she warms up, but I still worry.People would remark that I was riding her
only in her riding halter, which is a modified
side pull. I never once thought of putting a
bit on her. There is no reason.

Most remarkably, she stayed sound - after 5 miles the first day and 7 miles where we trotted nearly 75% of the time!

It was such a nice set of rides that I wondered why I even had a horse like Smokey. No, no, I'm not letting my silly gelding go, but the carefree ride on Lily who I trust explicitly, was just fantastic.

Lily, of course, is 17. I've successfully brought her back to her best self. She has had a great deal of training and hauling. Smokey can be that kind of horse, but not right now, and not unless I give him chances to go to places, dance on the end of a line and teach him what I can. And to let Lily show him a thing or two.

So this week I gave Smokey his second ponying lesson. But I'll let him tell you about that - next time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Storm Ranch Endurance Ride - One horse's perspective.

Hi. It's me, Smokey.

Guess what? I convinced Mom to let me have this post all to myself! So no interruptions from you know who!

This weekend we went on a trip. First I got in my moving stall and got a cookie. Then Lily got in and got a cookie. Then we rode - ZOOM! I like the moving stall now, except when it stops. It stopped for a LONG time.

We had to stop at mom's home barn for a while. There were no cookies. So I kept pushing my special spot on the mat. I push and stomp on that spot and usually, before you know it, ZOOOM!

Lily said to quit it. She made a mad face at me. But I didn't care since she can't bite me from between the divider thing. So I stomp stomp stomp. Makes the time go faster. Seriously. Try it sometime.

FINALLY we were ZOOM again. We went down a bunch of twisty roads, one bumpy road and then we were at a new place with a whole bunch of other moving stalls and pullers, and other horses.

LOTS of other horses, mostly skinny ones, with the roundy middles. I kept it cool, though.

I might of shouted once, you know, just to say hey to everybody.

Once or twice.

Then Lily and I got our very own paddock with the biting white snakes. I hate those things. But there was lots of hay and water.

Some of the horses around us were all sweaty and looking tired. Maybe they had to run here instead of coming in a moving stall.

Then mom took me on a walk around. I didn't like it. No sir. Besides I had to leave Lily. And she was probably scared.

I shouted at her, just to let her know I was okay. Just a couple times.

Mom said there is no way I'm riding your silly nonsense.

Then I went back to the paddock and that was good. Then mom took Lily! She said "don't worry you have Tuffy to keep you company."

This is Tuffy. See? Like THIS GUY is supposed to make me feel better? Please. He doesn't even have a mane.

I tried to point out that I probably could just follow along, that they needed protection. I showed my big horse moves. Snaking neck. Couple bucks. Impressive stuff.

They left.

Crazy. I hollered at Lily for a while, just to let her know she'd be okay.

Then all I could do was wait.

Mom said she'd tell you about the next part. But she's all tired and stuff, so it might be a day or two.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cantering on a trail

Friday was huge.

I had taken the day off, but my energy and spirit was low. That weird malaise that creeps up on women of a ... certain age. Or maybe I hadn't had enough horse time in recent weeks while we adjust to DH's new schedule.

I went out to the barn not even sure if I was going to do much more than round pen and back trails.

But when I drove up I saw Stephanie was there. I tried not to get my hopes up. Stephanie works the night shift at an emergency vet clinic, and often isn't up to riding when I get there, understandably.

So when she said she was up for it, my malaise disappeared. We went on two great trail rides - one with Lily and then one with Smokey. She was on Cibolo.

And. I. Cantered. Both horses. On the trail. And she cantered on Cibolo, who was as quiet as I have ever seen him.

Lily and I cantered up a hill. Smokey we took to the dead end road (since I don't trust his brakes) and cantered there 3 times. It was an amazing mid morning ride, a gift of confidence.

And, as I'm writing this, we are camping at the endurance ride. I'm not riding the ride, but having horse adventures...which I will write up when we get home tomorrow...