Monday, November 16, 2015

3-Day Weekend

I randomly took this past Friday off since I had extra PTO days that were use-it-or-lose-it before the end of the calendar year. It's always around this time of year I start to feel run down and sluggish despite trying my hardest to keep up the energy. It's a vicious cycle though so this year I'm trying to do things differently by taking care of myself BEFORE the total burn out happens. What a novel idea.

My friends A and T also managed to get Friday off as well so we decided have a fun random adventure day and it was a blast! We met up at the barn bright and early, piled into T's car and first headed to Lakota Wolf Preserve to hang out with British Columbian, Timber, and Arctic wolves. I've wanted to visit this facility for the longest time ever. Wolves are one of my favorite animals and I actually got started in art/became popular in online art communities by drawing wolves years ago. I still find them quite inspirational and took a ton of photos that I will be basing some future paintings on.

It was early afternoon by the time we finished at the wolf preserve so we hustled our way out to our next stop. T is good friends with a lady named D who boards her horse at a barn that offers trail rides so we stopped by to visit and go for a ride. Having an insider helps because we got our pick of the horses they had. When D asked us what kind of horses we wanted, I asked for forward so they hooked me up with a gelding named Chester who was supposed to be their most forward-est horse in the barn. Spoiler alert: I did not get forward.

It was pretty much this the whole entire ride. The trail guide seemed genuinely surprised and pleased that "naughty and rowdy" Chester was lagging so far behind in the hack line. While albeit extremely slow, I was happy enough if he was content just to plod along if uppity fast was his norm.

Saturday morning was my mareface time. The sky was bright blue and sun was shining but the wind was gusting so strong that it was swaying the trees. I don't know if I am brave or stupid but I still saddled up for a trail ride regardless. Quest made it down the end of the road before deciding there was too much going on around her. I asked her to whoa, hopped off and lunged her in the field off the road to get her head back on me ( riding with rope halters and yacht rope reins for this very reason). When she settled down, I handwalked her the rest of the way to the trailhead and mounted back up. The rest of the ride went mostly without incident. I stayed alert because the wind created a lot of spook-worthy things but Quest was fine once we started moving out and we were even able to do a few canter sets since the trails were totally deserted. It was really good to see that she is getting confident enough to pick her own pace as the terrain allows and felt balanced enough to canter along open fields. I also discovered that mareface has apparently never seen alpacas before. One of the barn properties by the trail had a whole herd of them and they all came right up to the fence to say hello. Quest wasn't too thrilled about that. I had her take a few steps toward them and then parked ourselves there until she figured it out. Don't think she is fully convinced that they don't eat horses though!

Yesterday I got a late start driving up to the barn since I met a few friends for lunch after church. There wasn't  be enough daylight to fit in a trail ride so I decided to do an arena session to revisit ground poles and introduce cavaletti. I tacked up with the treed saddle though used the snap-on headstall/rope halter and rope reins. Must remember to clean and bring the bridle and leather reins to the barn next time.

It was painfully obvious that we have not done any arena work in a long time because we were ALL over the place the first 10 minutes of the ride. It did NOT help that one of the neighbors decided that it was a fantastic time to begin shooting his gun. Between the messy, abysmal riding and the ringing gun fire at random moments, I seriously half-thought about hopping off and just calling it a day. But of course, we rode through it and I'm so glad we did.

We focused on transitions to regroup and once that was in place, we started the ground poles and then the cavaletti. Once Quest realized what we were doing, just like that everything clicked and we had so much fun zooming nimbly over and between ground poles until daylight ran out. I hopped off a few times to adjust the pattern and Quest stood quietly ground tied in the open pasture while I dragged poles and shoved cavalleti blocks around. At the end of the ride, mareface actually decided to hang out with me for awhile before heading back to the pasture after I untacked and dispensed treats. She has always been/might always be somewhat aloof but it's certainly nice to see more of her sweet side.

Best mareface <3

Wednesday, November 4, 2015