Monday, November 22, 2010


I admit I like orange. And it looks good on my horse. But I may have gone too far. Major's friends are probably making fun of how his mother dresses him.

My barn manager calls it his "Cal Trans vest."

This last storm has been very wet and cold (for Northern California). Temperatures are expected in the high 20s, low 30s for Wednesday. I'll keep his blanket on, it is just a waterproof sheet, for the extra warmth. He doesn't have much of a winter coat, though last year he was OK. But last year he had a friend to stand with, now he is in an individual pen at night. I know it is probably more about my concerns, but he also got a nice warm beet pulp mash last night, and slurped it right up.

The turnout is quite hilly, and Major has been climbing the hill and among the rocks like a goat lately. Now it is really slippery, and last night he seems a bit gimpy in his hock/stifle area. I am hoping he just tweaked it while playing around, there is no heat or swelling, so I'll give him a few days to rest and keep an eye on it. I know he hates being cooped up, but we're expecting two more days of rain then freezing. We did go for a handwalk last night, where we had to work on his manners.

Or maybe he was getting back at me for the orange pajamas.

Monday, November 15, 2010

two rides, very different

75 degrees in November, perfect weather. I had been gone for a few days and needed to get outside, though I did just hand-walk Major one day, I was too tired from traveling to do much else. Saturday I went to the stable, expecting to ride alone, but managed to bum a ride (I was invited of course) with some friends. It was a very quiet ride, all walk, tiny bits of trotting, and really good for Major. He hadn't been out in a group, even a mini-group (three of us) for awhile, and Major certainly didn't like it. He wanted to be in front, he wanted to of course he got to do none of those things. He thought everyone walked too slow, that the other way was home, and every other bratty thing. Eventually when he figured out that jigging behind the other very patient, good horse wasn't getting him anywhere he settled down, like a child sulking. We all eventually did lead and follow, trade places, etc. While it wasn't my typical ride, I actually know I need to do much more riding with others before I even think of an endurance ride with all those horses!

Yesterday I knew Major needed to get out and stretch his legs. I was actually more stiff from our walking ride than I am when we really move, so I thought he might be the same. We just did a quick ride, lots of hills and working on just trotting. Heading home I did see a bobcat bound across the trail, that was a treat. A large buck chased a small doe around, it certainly is the season. And I picked ticks off my horse, yuck!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


There are days when everything just clicks. The week had been a series of challenging rides, two steps forward, five steps back (or would that be two trots forward, five blowing-through-aids ahead?).

I decided since I was heading for an out-of-town conference for a week that Major and I needed to get out and have fun, safely of course. I was going to do a short forest ride, but the weather was so spectacular I wanted to see the lake. As we started off we walked and trotted, and I asked for the canter, and asked to slow, without any fits or fighting. Better already!

As we touched the sand we both felt it: electric. The wind was blowing enough to ruffle the lake and his mane, there was no one around, so I asked for the canter along the shore. It is sandy intermixed with rocks and turns, so this isn't a full-out gallop, but should be a nice canter. Major is a bit quicker than I prefer, and although a bit nervous (I know I have to work through this), off we went. I was smiling so much my teeth were dry, he was listening, we were covering ground, it was perfect.

We came around a bend and encountered a large horse-eating rock (that we've seen many many times). Major did a small spook to the side at a canter, I managed to stay on, heart in throat, but all was well! (A recent great post by Haiku Farm's Fiddle didn't cover horse-eating rocks). Going home we mostly trotted, the upper trail isn't safe for much else. In one rutted place closer to home he tried to canter, and while strong I was able to pull him back. We were having such a great time that a mile from home I pulled him up and just got off. He was very surprised, it was not the place where that usually happens, "We've got a while to go Mom," he seemed to question. But I loosened his girth and took out his bit, we walked and jogged home, ending on a good note.

A very good ride, I think because of compromises on both our parts. Major needs to work on listening, and learning that my suggestions are for our own safety. I need to remember that he has proven himself to be surefooted and (mostly) sane, and that going at speed doesn't need to be so scary. His nice canter is slower than his fast trot, but I feel so much more secure during the trot. We both have lots to work on, but this ride one piece clicked into place.

Monday, November 1, 2010

just wait a day

The saying "If you don't like the weather in California, just wait a day." That certainly proved itself today: yesterday was wet, overcast and misty, today was crystal clear and warm: a perfect Halloween. Started out to ride in tshirt, long sleeve and vest. Left to ride in just a tshirt. It was close to 80 degrees as we headed out on the trail. We started off following a new-to-Major trail, and found that the power company had cleared a long section of it (below power lines). That left a long nice stretch to canter, with Major and I both just enjoying the feel of the clean air, the smooth footing, the path ahead.

I had thought about another good long ride today, but partway through changed my mind. I was enjoying myself, Major was happy, it was a beautiful warm day to sit in the sun. So after we made it to dead-car point (people somehow manage to get cars all the way out here, then trash them, just lovely) and inspiration point (with it's beautiful oak tree) we headed home. Major was really sweating in the unexpected warmth (and just where does all that winter fur come from, I swear it just pops up). We had one bit of disagreement coming home, where we went back and forth about five times because Major just couldn't contain himself to a trot and kept breaking into canter. Still we both had a nice ride, and we got home where he got hosed off (sponge bath was just not going to do it) and a good messy roll in the wet sandy arena.

I let my my now dirty, sandy horse back into the pasture, where instead of trotting off he hung out with me back to the gate, then stayed around while I talked with some friends. I feel privileged when they make that choice, to be with a person, that I am part of his herd.

another rainy day

Went hiking with Major and SO. It was barely raining, just mist, but Major thought it was quite enough, and he was getting wet and should be back at the barn. Once reminded that being dragged is not the nice way to walk along the trails we had a nice three mile walk in the woods. Last year Major would have been running over anyone in his way, but he walked nicely, a bit confused when I was walking behind and SO was leading, "What are you doing back there Mom?"