Monday, January 31, 2011

The Arabians, the Quarter Horses, and the Journey Part 7

The story begins here

His name was Made By Monico, Koalt for the barn. He was 17 years old and a real bulldog of a horse, a very classic example of a Foundation Quarter Horse. He stood at 14.3hh and was a beautiful dark bay with golden highlights. But originally, I didnt see all that the day that I met him. Originally, I saw a mean, angry, scary looking horse.

He stood in the cross ties with pinned flat ears. The owner cinched him up and he tried aggressively to bite the handler, fortunetly being resisted by the cross ties. I did not want to be within ten feet of the horse, and I certainly did not want to ride him as LF had suggested.

The girl looking to buy him climbed aboard with small blunt english spurs and equipped with a crop. We watched her go around the large indoor arena with him, jabbing with the spurs and smacking with the crop frequently to keep him moving. He had pinned ears all the while and was very resistent to doing anything. LF asked if I would get on next so she could determine if he would be suitable for her lesson program. No way no how was I getting on that monster. I blamed it on the English saddle, stating I had never ridden in one before, and I didnt have spurs. The owner insisted we could change the saddle to a Western one. I persisted that I did not want to ride.

Turns out, the girl didnt buy him, but instead he was donated to LF's lesson program. The day he arrived, the former owner rode him up the driveway bareback from the trails where she had her last ride on him. He compliantly came up the drive in a halter and lead rope and looked around at his new home. He didnt look near as mean, but I was still nervous about the horse I had seen at the Hunter facility.

Made By Monico, aka Koalt

LF decided to put him into one of her smaller pastures by himself for a while and help him learn how to deal with living in a large space. At the Hunter facility, he was confined to a very small paddock area with only a bit of tree coverage for shelter. No one knew if he had ever been on a large pasture before.

Koalt would stay in the nearest corner of the pasture next to the horses in the pasture beside it. He would only occupy about a 12x12 area of the pasture, always that small corner. If he ventured out past it, he would turn sharply around and beeline it back to the safety of the corner.

LF soon told me that Fawn would not be available for our lease anymore, instead she was going to have me use Koalt as my lease horse instead. I was upset. I did not want to ride his angry confused horse and it was totally unfair to rip Fawn out from underneath me. But LF sternly said that Koalt was the only horse I was able to work with and if I wanted to lease one, he was it. I sighed and dreaded what would come for me.

Part 8

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Arabians, the Quarter Horses, and the Journey Part 6

The story begins here.

The new program down the road from my home was a non profit, aimed towards providing horseback riding lessons for the local Native American tribe. Normally, this program was only for the Native American youth, but white volunteers were accepted as well. The bargain I had striked up with LF was cleaning, feeding (since I lived so close) and helping babysit the group of kids while they each got a lesson. In return, I had access to ride when a horse was available after lessons, and possibly a lesson from LF. This wasnt the greatest deal and didnt always give me very much time in the saddle, but I was happy with it as it provided me my horse time.

LF had a small breeding program. Not as selective or even as successful (in terms of breeding stock quality animals) as J's, but my uneducated knowledge of a well conformed horse or even bloodlines back then were slim to none. LF had one breeding stallion named Tuff Design, Joey was his barn name. He was a red dun Quarter Horse and stood about 15.1hh. He was a seemingly nice stud and was gentle with the small children. A few years later as my own horsemanship knowledge expanded I learned that he was not only poorly conformed and didnt deserve his stud status, but he also had a serious breaking point when it came to training him. If you pushed him just past easy peasy riding and asked for more consentrated work, he could get a bit aggressive.

But to a young teenager with no stallion experience, I thought he was a nice guy and I loved seeing his babies.

Tuff Design, and Maggie in the background.

I spent all that summer helping LF run the lessons. I would pack a small sandwich for my lunch, and meet LF at the barn (really, the facility was a barn used for hay and tack storage, the rest was all pasture. A few of the pastures had shelters but not all of them). I helped her feed and get ready for the day's activites. I started to even get saddle time on group trail rides on one of her broodmares, Maggie. I was in teenage horse crazy girl heaven. My entire summer consisted of all day horse time and I thought I was getting a pretty good deal.

I was foolishly enthralled with LF as well. I believed she was extremely knowledgable and took nearly everything she said to heart. Her program was considered "Native Horsemanship" basically a spinoff of natural horsemanship. I liked her ideas of forming a relationship of trust with the horses, and in honesty, I did learn how to use a progression of pressure (moreso, how to be very light in my hands) and how to ride off of my seat. I rode bareback a lot at her program, and emersed myself in this new theory of "Native Horsemanship."

I developed an interest in one of her first foals (at this time now a three year old). Her name was Fawnie, Berts Tuff Bunny on the registered papers. She was an Appendix Quarter Horse and was a classic example of a dun. I thought she was not only beautiful but a sweetheart and I began "leasing" her from LF. I paid $50 in cash every month (amazingly, got my parents to agree to it) and it was in exchange for riding her whenever she wasnt needed for lessons. Fawn was a bit bull headed at times but I loved her. I believe she was the first horse I rode bareback in fact.

Bert's Tuff Bunny, aka, Fawnie

This was the time when that Pixar movie, Spirit Stallion of the Cimmaron had come out, and naturally every kid had seen it. Moreover, everyone wanted to ride Fawn because she looked like Spirit with her dun markings. LF also liked using her for lessons. Not too long after we started leasing her, I was getting less and less time with her, and was instead appointed riding time on some of the older (boring to me) lesson horses. There was Joker, a 22 year old leopard spotted Appaloosa (a really opinionated guy), and Snowy, a 26 year old Grey Arabian mare. But she was being leased out to a girl who jumped on her. So I had more time on Joker's back then Snowy. I did get to ride Maggie, LF's broodmare as well, and sometimes Joey, but I was upset that I was paying money to lease Fawn and never had access to her. LF always brushed me off about it when I would ask her, and would play the guilt trip on me that I wasnt paying for a "full" lease (apparently, it was a 1/4 lease?).

Then one day LF took myself and the girl leasing Snowy to the same Hunter facility I had taken my first lesson at. The girl was trying out a jumping horse there and if she and her parents liked him, would purchase and keep him at LF's place with her allowed access to use him for lessons. LF had me come along to later ride him and get an idea of if he would work for their lesson program.

That was the first day I laid eyes on the gelding that would soon become my first horse.

Part 7

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Arabians, the Quarter Horses, and the Journey Part 5

The story begins here

With J's place being split in half and a new house to be built, that didnt allow my Brother and I access to his property or horses for who knew how long. I wasnt sure where I would get my horse fix from. Mother was still adament that they would not pay for lessons. I was only forutnate that J let me ride horses in exchange for help around the property.

Months went by and no word from J yet as to when we could come back. I sadly went about my school work, and sat around the house bored after wards. On a neighborhood bike ride, I noticed a few blocks away that a huge amount of property was being cleared. It revealed a barn and fenced pastures.  In an adult conversation I listened into once, I heard there was rumor of a horse program moving into there. I was excited for this notion and eagerly waited to find out more.

More months passed and I began to give up hope of a program opening up. But one day, I saw horses in the first pasture.  I stopped my bike on the side of the rode and watched the horses for hours. It was a small herd, a red dun, a brown one, and a spotted one.

I got lucky one day as I peddled by, there were people up there with the horses. I parked my bike at the road like usual and watched as the woman gave a lesson. After maybe twenty minutes or so, they took notice and waved for me to come up the driveway.

I peddled my bike up the dirt drive to the barn and fenceline. The woman, LF approached and said she saw me watching, was there something I needed? In my usual plea, I asked if I could exchange some work for riding lessons, to which she agreed.

I was so excited. Now there were horses only two blocks away from my house. There was no way I could not go and ride them now.

Part 6

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Arabians, the Quarter Horses, and the Journey Part 4

The story begins here.
Old Cowboy was in his eighties and was gruff. He was very stubborn, opinionated, and determined. Before he would give me any horseback riding lessons, he wanted to sit down and talk to me. We sat in lawn chairs by J's backyard pool. Old Cowboy looked me in the eye. He always wore a cowboy hat, a button down shirt, and worn jeans and boots. His face was creased and hard from years in the California sun. All that I remember from our first conversation was his gruff words, "Ive made people cry in my lessons. You will probably cry." Well I was already scared of the grumpy old man, hearing these words didnt boost my confidence going into our lessons. But I so badly wanted to ride, I agreed I would listen to everything he told me to do and would try my hardest. If that meant tears, then it meant tears.

Our lessons consisted of my inability to tack up as he saw fit. He showed me how a bosal functioned and had me always ride in one with horse hair reins. He also didnt think I could longe a horse worth a damn, and re-taught me how to do these to his perfection. When I rode, it was always, "Put your heels down." I remember Old Cowboy causing me to cry on mutiple occassions, always telling me how I was doing something wrong. It saddened my perfectionist heart. But still I persisted. I wanted to ride.

J was always the kind helper, and was always present at our lessons. He helped keep Old Cowboy from being too mean to me. In fact, if J saw he was being too gruff, he would either tell Old Cowboy to stop, to send him out of the lesson and finish up with me himself.

Months went by and I was developing a strong seat, and steady legs (always with a heel down). J would comment on my soft hands and say that I was a natural. Eventually, J sent me out on the trails that my Brother and I would travel to get to the property. He would give me twenty minutes. I could go any direction I wanted but I had to be back in twenty minutes. J would wait for me at the trail head, usually with my brother.

It was the first opportunity I ever had to be with a horse alone. I rode my trusty Rocky who carried me through the trails easily. I soon only wanted to ride on the trail. There was no Old Cowboy to bark orders at me, tell me I was doing something wrong, or make me cry. I learned more how to ride in those twenty minute trail rides then any of my time in the arena with Old Cowboy. Thats not to say I was ungrateful, because I was very appreciative of his time for free in the arena, but being a kid, I loved having the freedom on the trail.

Eventually, our twenty minute trail ride allowance grew to twenty five, then thirty, then forty, to finally, J would let me out on my own with my own time constraint. I learned those trails to exact strides. Rocky and I knew the best stretch to lope, where to slow down for a turn, and where we could straight out gallop. It was one of the best memories of my life riding those trails.

I decided I wanted to own Rocky for myself and saved ten dollars and some change. My sister and I put this money into an envelope and handed it to J one day, asking if we could buy Rocky. While my sister was never interested in horses as I was, she still thought it was kind of cool to come out with us once in a while and definitely wanted to be in on it if we got to buy one. J smiled at the bills and coins, but handed it back to us. He said he couldnt sell Rocky to us, but we were free to ride him whenever we pleased. I was sad, but agreed.

About a year went by, and nearly every day after school, my Brother and I would continue going to J's. We had formed a great relationship, and we even considered J our Grandpa. My Brother got to learn how to drive and oporate a tractor, work the manure pile, clean the pool, and help garden with J. While I spent my time grooming, feeding, and riding whatever horses J would allow, mostly Rocky. I learned each of his eight horses by name and certain quirks associated with each. I also got to enjoy other farm critters including two fat pygmy goats and three wether sheep.

We would spend our whole summers at J's house. Swimming in his pool, playing on the basketball and tennis court, in his kids' old tree fort, and then of course I got to ride later on. But J then laid a bombshell on us; he said he was selling half of his land and building a new house on the other side of the property. It would be too difficult for him to keep an eye on us and deal with all of this at the same time. He said we would let us know when we was ready for us to start coming out again. I was heartbroken. How long would it be, if ever, that I could ride again?

Part 5

Thursday, January 27, 2011

That Smell Only Indicates One Thing

A happy Milo greeted me on my lunch hour when I went to soak and repack Milo's hoof.

His hoof appeared (lots of black gunk that was not there when I packed last night) to have blown, and the smell certainly indicated that it had.

I soaked him again with epsom salts for twenty five minutes, scrubbed out all of the nasty crud, then reapplied the Mag-60 Paste and booted up. Milo was feeling good and trotted alongside me as I led him back down to his pasture. Im sure hes about as ready to get back into work as I am!


The Arabians, the Quarter Horses, and the Journey Part 3

The story begins here.

An older gentleman opened the door and greeted us with a questioning smile. He said he had seen us feeding the horses and asked what we needed. I played with my small hands and asked if there was any way I could exchange barn chores for some time with the horses, explaining my one lesson at the Hunter facility as reference. He kindly said he thought we could figure something out, and led my Brother and I to the barn.

He would let me groom horses and learn how to lead them, but I didnt get to ride just yet. I was happy with that. Just filling my nostrils with their sweet scent and spending time with the amazing animals was all I could bargain for with my empty pockets.

He toured his private facility for us, even saying he could find something for my Brother to do. My Brother wasnt interested in riding, but figured it would be fun to hang around the farm. J showed us his big beauifully custom built barn. It had about eight stalls on the perimeter and in the inside there was a tack room, a large open area for the tractor and a hay loft.

Almost every day after school my Brother would drive us through the winding trails and to this gentleman's farm. I was learning how to take care of horses, but more excitedly, how to lead, groom, and pick out hooves.

My Mother naturally started taking interest in where her children where going to almost every day, and from a landmark at the end of the road, we barely were able to navigate her to the property via roads. My Brother and I had only known how to get there from the trails.

Mom met J and his wife and decided they were safe, kind people and we were allowed to continue going there.

I continued to learn more about his beautiful Arabian horses, and J soon decided that I could learn how to ride them. I was ecstatic. He had me learn on a gentle, yet sparky, gelding named Rocky (LJ Shai Prince). Rocky was a chestnut with roaning on his sides and a large, broad, dished face with a wide blaze down the center. He was about 14.2 hands high, and had an adorable white patch just where his tail tied in. I learned how to longe Rocky through J's help, and how to tack up a horse entirely on my own. I always took great pride in not only the cleanliness of the horse before I rode, but also the precise location of the saddle and that everything was rigged up properly. If anything was incorrect, J had me re-do as necessary before riding.

J was able to teach me the basics of riding, but he was really no equestrian - it was his wife who rode. But they had an Old Cowboy who resided with them. Old Cowboy trained Arabain horses in California, and was hired by J and his wife to come to Washington and train their Arabians. They had a very modest breeding program and had a few young horses (including Rocky) to be broke. Old Cowboy came up and started the horses. J and his wife discovered though that Old Cowboy had no familiy living, and no one to look after him in his old age of mid eighty. They decided to have him live with them and help look after the farm. And as it where, teach this young horse crazed girl to ride.

The only problem was, Old Cowboy scared me.

Part 4

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Arabians, the Quarter Horses, and the Journey Part 2

The story begins here..

I bounded out of the car and we met my instructor. She was young, in boots and a sweatshirt, and had blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. She led me down to the small older barn (at that time, there was only one barn, about eight stall if I remember correctly. Now the facility has grown exponentially into an additional twenty stall (if not more) barn and covered arena.). It was dark and dank, but I didnt notice as we came around there corner. Horses heads poked out of the stalls and there was my mount in the cross ties.

He was a dark bay Appaloosa with a white blanket on his rear. I honestly cannot remember his name, but it was fitting for his Appaloosa heritage. My instructor helped me tack him up and I learned how to lead a horse as we walked him down to their outdoor arena. She taught me basic ground safety and finally helped me aboard.

As she depicted correct head and footwear, I felt embarrassed as I looked down at my feet which were sporting socks in sandals. Not the correct heeled boots as she described. But my head was safe in a provided helmet. She told me to keep my heels down, and taught me how to correctly hold the reins and steer. The old lesson horse was a champ and quietly ignored my uneducated hands and legs.

She took us out of the arena to their trail head. My instructor, my Mother, and my Sister all walked alongside me and my steed as we wound our way through the short trail. My instructor taught me how to lean back down hills, and lean forward going up. I took everything in that she told me and tried my hardest (did I mention I was always a straight A perfectionist student?).

Quickly the lesson was over and we were back on our way home. I was eladed and had experienced the best birthday I had ever had. I thought I had cracked my Mother finally, and that I would be on schedule to finally get consistent lessons from this facility. But my Mother firmly told me that that was not going to happen. This was just a birthday present, horses were too expensive.

So my doodles and dreams of horses continued. And I ponderd other ways that I could have horses in my life. My brother got interested in dirtbiking and would explore trails for hours. One day he came home and told me he found a place with horses, he would take me the next day if I wanted. I was excited. We scrambled off the schoolbus and let the dog out. My brother had another motorcylce helmet for me, and we loaded up on the little Yamaha and took off. We wound through the trails for about ten or fifteen minutes, with a plastic shopping bag filled with grass rippings from our yard for the horses.

We arrived and there was a beautiful black horse holding his head over the fence (I later learned his name as Ammadan [pronounced Ah-mah-dawn]. I hand fed him the grass and soon a few more horses came to the fence to investigate. I enjoyed those few moments before my brother got bored and wanted to go back home. We continued this sherade for another month or so. Each time I brought a plastic bag filled with grass. Soon, we got the courage to go up to the big farm house and ask for what, we werent quite sure. I chickened out the first three trys or so, always having my brother take us back home. But finally, one day I decided I would approach someone.

There were two girls riding white horses (actually, a fleabitten one and a grey) in the indoor arena. I approached them asking who the owner was and where I might find him. The rider told me his name was J (this is what I will call him) and pointed me in the direction of his house. My brother and I nervously walked up to the front porch and knocked on the door.

Part 3

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This Too Shall Pass - Right?

After checking on Milo on Saturday, and even having the chance to round pen him a bit to watch him move at all three gaits, I believed he was on the road to recovery, and even told Boyfriend I suspected he would be sound enough to ride on Monday.

Boy was I wrong.

I found Milo standing in the mud with the left hind leg relaxed. Hmm. Well hes been relaxing both of them so no biggie, I thought. I haltered him up and led him out of the pasture. He was oddly different in demeanor - I suppose you could say "down". He just wasnt his happy upbeat self. I asked for a trot up the driveway and there it was - those lame steps again. Oh man. I felt down his leg: the fetlock area was cold and tight, his pasterns were cold as well, but the coronet band was quite hot.

So I led him to the barn anticipating a hot epsom soak for what I could only assume actually is an abcess. As he soaked, I tried to find a digital pulse, but could not. I thought that was rather strange. After the soak, I ditched the Ichammol and used a recommended minty green Mag-60™ Paste, the active ingredient being magnesium sulfate, or epsom salt. I had used it before, but could not find my own stash (nice), but the BO allowed me to use hers.

I diapered, duct taped, and booted Milo up and led him back down the dark driveway to his pasture, grain awaiting.

Im dismayed. I thought we had ruled out an abcess after having my farrier check on him. But I suppose at that time it could have been benign or deep enough that the hoof testers didnt show anything?

In any way though, I really hope that the daily salt soaking, paste packing, and booting will help draw out the abcess quickly so we can all move on with our lives, and Milo wont look at me so sad and depressed anymore.

But on a brighter note, here are some adorable photos I took of Milo on Friday. Enjoy.

Coincidence that those buckets are Jake's? I think not! Bad Milo!

I didnt do nothing, Mom! Honest!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Arabians, the Quarter Horses, and the Journey Part 1

Ive been thinking about depicting all of this for a while now. I suppose a part of me needs to get the entire story out, and to put my readers on page with how I am who I am and where I am at as a horsewoman. This story will probably end up being long, emotional, and possibly boring for the reader, but here we go nonetheless.

As a kid, I was always horse crazy. Barbie horses, stuffed horse, but I didnt have the luxury of the Breyer horses, they were far too expensive. Instead I played with the cheaper horses and drew doodles of them in school.

My first memory of a real live horse was of my aunt's in Utah. She had two horses and on a family reunion trip I got to sit on one. Years later I found out my real first pony ride was when I was about three and I got to partake in those carousel pony rides common at the fair. But back to my Aunt's horses. I remember she had a red dun and a liver chestnut, but at the time, I knew her color as brown. This was the mare I was going to be able to ride. She extended her long neck down and sniffed my hand. I admit, I was scared of such a big creature, but somehow I was still intrigued and wanted to stay around her. My cousin hopped up on her and was going to let me sit in front on the saddle. My Mother sensing my anxiety, said I didnt have to ride if I was scared. But being stubborn at a young age and knowing I wanted to ride, I just had to overcome the fear, I was lifted aboard.
Nerves quickly drained out of me as I felt the mare's footfalls. She was a powerhouse and I was sitting astride a mountain top. I still remember my fasination of her stride, and the hard, sticky Western saddle in the Utah heat. Quickly, the ride was over and we left to whatever the next activity was on schedule for the reunion. I had the bug. And I was not going to let my parents forget it.

Where we lived, we drove past a large Hunter Jumper facility everyday. And everyday I would wait for that exact moment when the bus drove past and the trees cleared from the road where there was about a one second window I got a glimpse of the barn, and possibly, a horse. And every time we drove by when my Mother was driving I would remind and insist upon her how much I wanted to ride. I was always told the same thing: "Horses are too expensive" but I knew I would find a way to make my one desire a reality.

Still I drew horses, played with my stuffed ones, and insisted and pleaded for another ride. Finally, my Mother headed my pleas and scheduled me for a surprise lesson at the Hunter facility I stared at during every car ride. It was my eighth birthday, and though it is July 29th, the clouds were out and it was an overcast day. Unusual for even Washington weather. I remember driving by the facility with my Mother early on my birthday and giving her the never ending question and plea for a lesson. But we drove right on by and headed home. I thought it was so unfair. Here it was, my birthday, and Mom wouldnt even head my wish then. A few hours later, Mom told me to put some shoes on, we were going someplace. Confused, I did as instructed and we loaded up into the car along with my twin sister.

As we neared the facility, I prepared myself to wait for that small window through the trees to see the barn. But the car was slowing down. And Mom turned the car into their driveway. I dont remember what exactly I said, or Im sure, screamed in joy, but I do remember the wonder I had as we parked the car and I opened the door.

Part 2

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A New Kind of "Training"

Heres a little background before I continue: As a teenager, I got enthralled in the "Natural Horsemanship" techniques. I approved of the ideas of a horse being respectful (aka, human in dominance), submissive (that may be caused by fear or pain), and obedient (I always liked to believe it was willing on the horse's part, but through a lot of self analysis by what I actually believe should be correct, I have come to find my previous "training" methods were in coercive attempts to "make" the horse do what I wanted).

I was a good follower of Clinton Anderson methods, and believed in his statements like "Whoever moves their feet first loses" with the idea that we need to constantly keep our horse's feet moving to ensure "respect" or dominance from the animal. It seemed like a correct idea to me at the time, and thats what I did in working with horses. I also followed the progression of pressure in his methods whereby you ask first with say a raised (or pointed) hand, cluck, lift the stick, and spank with said stick it needed.

Now, my thoughts on this method are changing. I no longer agree with "needing to move my horse's feet first" or a series of pressure progression through the idea that at the end there will be pain to force the horse into submission of what the handler wants. My idea, or what I would like to see and change towards, is a horse of willing compliance, or a better term as a willing partner. I want to work with my horse where we are both willing to work together as a partnership. I believe this cannot be successfully accomplished through the threat of a reprimand, mind games of dominance, or any other method whereby the human or handler makes the horse comply through force or aggression.

Im evaluating my own work with Milo (or any other horse) I would use that threat of reprimand, or pain, to say make him stay forward on a longeline. I would use these mind games of dominance, respect, and submission to consistently tell my horse that I am in charge and you must do as I say. I dont like this idea of a forced partner, because that isnt a true partner. While I may agree that the horse should see you as a leader, it is in a different definition. I want my horse to look to me for guidance, security, and direction. But not because Ive forced him too, but because he wants to and sees me as that safe protector.

These new ideas for me have become more apparent since my last lesson with Sarah. Where she noted that I was overriding and pumping with my seat, and my response was that I felt as though I was constantly telling him to go, go, go. And once she had me ride in a quietly secured and soft seat, my horse very willingly stayed forward - it didnt require me constantly telling him to keep going. This is where Ive made a connection to how Milo mustve been thinking through all of my riding like this: it's like when your a teenager (or even an adult) and someone tells you to do something, so you do it, but they continue to keep telling you long after you are already doing said thing. Clearly, you are going to get frustrated, or aggrivated because you are doing what they are saying but the nagging continues. This is what I believe was going on with Milo and I. Simply because I kept telling him to do it, he wanted to "rebel" against it and not do it (and trust me, this is the type of thing Milo would most certainly be capable of, as it is evident that he was). But when I finally just asked for forward and once he did, I quit asking, he very willingly kept going forward. Milo mustve had the biggest relief when I finally stopped repeating myself.

So back to the topic, I want to change my riding habits. In my mind, I already know that I no longer agree with these ideas from "Natural Horsemanship" training that force, coerce, or inflict any demands from the horse. I want a willing partner to work with me, not for me, or against me. And I believe that this can not only be accomplished under saddle as referenced, but I want to see to it that my groundwork methods are altered to accommodate these new ideals. I will just have to learn now, how to longe or perform groundwork in ways that I dont know, as my only knowledge of groundwork are through methods that I no longer agree with. Hopefully Sarah can shed some guidance on this, and I am very interested in reading Peggy Cummins book on Connected Groundwork and placed an order for it. I cant wait until it comes, but it releases February 11. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I was going to post about how Milo seemed sound at the walk and trot last night, and how he was turning with all his weight on the left hind. I was going to post how it made me sad that I couldnt go to the show this morning. I was going to post that I think Milo may be on the fast road to recovery.

But at 3:30pm as I was cleaning the horse pastures, I got a call from Boyfriend.

His cousin, Jason, who has been clearing the property for us, and who we are close to as a family, lost his house to a tragic fire yesterday morning.

Suquamish Home and Contents Destroyed in Fire - North Kitsap Herald

I cannot even fathom this happening.

You hear of it happening to other people, but to someone in your family it really changes.

Suddenly, Im not feeling such self pity.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Confused, but also Progressing

I called my farrier last night to ask if he would be in the area this afternoon and if he had the chance, could pop over to Milo and check out his hoof. I was curious after I saw Milo last night, if indeed he did have an abcess. As stated in yesterday's post, he isnt exhibiting the usual abcess traits. I even saw him bearing his weight onto the effected leg and relaxing the other. So having the farrier out might help decide a course of action. If he could find an abcess, great, and even better if he could dig it out. He got back to me this morning and said he would be out to see Milo at about 1:30. I am not off of work until 3:30 but the great thing about my farrier is he is so willing to see Milo even if Im not there (though I try to be).

So I got a phone call from him saying that he doesnt suspect that Milo has an abcess. He too saw him running around like a psycho on Saturday and believes that he twisted his fetlock during his crazed running in the mud. He said he felt down behind and below his fetlock and could feel a slight amount of swelling. He also felt his digital pulse, but also said that Milo was extremely sensitive to pressure (he pinched) to his hind fetlock area. He even ripped his head around to bite him and threatened to kick! Bad Milo! I apologized to the farrier when I heard this, but he kindly shrugged it off and said I didnt need to be sorry for anything, Milo was simply exhibiting his extreme displeasure to the stimulus. Better Milo told him about it (Milo is very good at expressing his displeasure) then to not and have us believe nothing is wrong.

So his suggestion was to soak his hoof anyways, because it wont hurt. But also to wrap a hot dish towel around his fetlock area and let it sit until it is cold again. Then to wrap with a polo wrap for some compression to the area. Im a bit nervous about leaving a polo wrap on him out in the pasture. Granted, I know how to safely and correctly wrap a polo, he used them at the rodeo and its events, but Im still nervous about it staying on without my supervision. Maybe Im just overly cautious.

So this week's time out of the saddle has made me think about things. My last lesson with Sarah was all about my body position and riding correctly and effectively. I was bummed that I couldnt be working on this this week and was worried it might "go away" before I could ride again. Then I realized, I dont need to be on a horse to practice this! If I can work on my position at any time and adopt a new posture as the constant, I wont have to think about it that much in the saddle. Doh!

So I raised my chair up a bit at work, which keeps me from slumping over onto my desk front. I remind myself to raise my sternum to the sky and image my shoulder blades touching each other, but maintaining a soft lower back.

Ive also been working on rolling my hips in a downward transition. How can I do this when I havent been riding? Well, when I put brake pressure in my truck to slow down, I use that opportunity to continue holding my correct posture, and independantly roll my hips in the same fashion as I would in the saddle. The more I work on this and teach my body how to do it through repitition, it will be much more natural when Im back in the saddle.

I can already start to feel my posture getting better without having to think about it. Score!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


You know, the idea of Milo having an abcess has been in my mind since the day I pulled him out of the pasture lame. I have had three abcesses with him, and none of them fit the mold for the "typical abcess" symptoms. You know, feel the wall of the hoof for heat, use hoof testers to locate the abcess, etc. My horse never seems to fit that mold.

Thats right, I think Milo has an abcess. And yes, we just had one in August, and yes, the last one was in the same hoof as well (weak, suseptable hoof? I think yes). My first abcess with him didnt exhibit any of the "usual" signs, and I hauled him to the vet to check it out. Turns out it was an abcess, and Dr Hills just dig it out. Second abcess showed a "pop" to his step just below the fetlock. Where when Milo puts weight down on the hoof for a step, there is a moment that looks as if it "popped" into place (for an example look at yesterday's post's video). Again, took him to the vet, it was an abcess. Last August, Milo didnt seem to have a pop, but was non weight bearing on the hoof. After Apple Cider Vinegar soaking, it blew right above the coronet.

So here is what I have come to find about what an abcess looks like for Milo: no heat in hoof, no real sensistivty to hoof testers, or poking around on his hooves, no obvious abcess location, and generally, a very minimal amount of puss when it finally surfaces.

Now, since the "popping" abcess episode, I have observed that even when sound, Milo's hind exhibits that popping appearance in the same location. No noise, and like I said, hes sound, but popping nonetheless. So when I found Milo lame on Monday and saw popping, I first thought "Oh its an abcess, just like that time before" but then looked at the other leg, which had a pop to it as well, so I tried to rule out the abcess. But clearly, the popping is greater in the left hind (abcess suspected hoof).

I brought Milo up to the barn for a good grooming session, and talked to the BO about whats going on. I love my BO; she is highly intelligent about horses including care and medical attention. She is always there when I need to talk to her and is always willing to give some advice and/or help. Anyways, I just love her. So she bent down to investigate his hoof and took his digital pulse on the cannon area. She said that he exhibited a higher pulse. I hadnt known about taking a pulse reading there, and she graciously showed me how. Indeed, I was able to feel the pulse, not rapid, but consistently there. She tested against it with the front cannon, and sure enough she couldnt detect a pulse there. So clearly, his pulse rate was higher in that hind leg, pumping blood down to the hoof (or abcess) for healing.

So that about did it for me, Im quite sure it has to be an abcess now. I bought a ton of Apple Cider Vinegar from Wal Mart last night and stopped at a friend's for her hoof boot for soaking. I will soak twice a day (once at lunch, once after work) until something happens. At worst, it isnt an abcess and my efforts are for not, and at best, it will draw out the abcess. Hoping for the best.

Now I know that an abcess will not blow in two days time, and even if it did, Milo would need a few days rest from it. So, Im quite sure the show is out the window. Im really disappointed as we have attended every show this season and were sitting on lead if I could attend the last two. If I do really well at the last one I might be able to take the series, but thats a big if. Oh well, there are other shows and next year's series. Its just a real bummer to be working so hard for months to have an ill timed abcess effect our series status. While I have been doing the shows to measure our improvement and for fun, I didnt want to take it too seriously, the fact that we are sitting on top right now just makes it that much harder, when the sweet taste of victory is so close.

Oh well, I guess.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I arrived at Milo Tuesday night totally surprised to see him resting with both hind hooves on the ground. He wasnt favoring the left hind like he had been the day before. 

I took him out of the pasture to the outdoor arena to get a better assessment out of the mud. He was still favoring a bit, but was hugely better then the day before. If I could estimate, I would say 70% better:

Yes I know, my videography skills are non existent. Sorry for that. I didnt have anyone else to help me as I did the day before.

You'll note that he is not only walking on it nearly sound, but he even pivots on it for the turn. Thats a fantastic sign! Not to mention, the heat and swelling where totally gone as well. And thats not just wishful thinking, it was truly gone. Now, why arent I scaling him at say 100%? When I asked him to trot on the line, he complied, but favored the left still. Not horrible three legged lame type favoring, but trotting on like the toe area. Which almost leads me to think of an abcess, but there is no heat on the hoof, nor could I detect any soreness through the sole area with my hoof pick (I know, not a hoof tester, but its something).

And what do you see here? Thats right, Milo is resting his weight onto the left hind. Im not sure if its because the cold water was numbing, but in any case, that is a really good sign.

Boyfriend says that if Milo is sound we should go to the show. Boyfriend is also not a horseperson. But even last night chatting with a fellow horse owner, I will call him D, he too agreed that if he's sound we should go. Im torn on this simply because while I would love to go and stay in the lead for the series, I would really really hate to cause any harm.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Safety Concern

While yesterday was upsetting due to Milo's new lameness, I did get the chance to be home earlier and get stuff done such as laundry, cleaning, and even washing my truck and trailer. I make the habit of washing my trailer every time I use it. After Milo is unloaded, I scoop out the manure then and there, and hose off the mats. Call me crazy, but if I wash after every use it not only keeps it clean and nice to look at, but easier to wash each time and, Id like to think, keeps the integrity of the trailer in tact because green Washington slime doesnt build up on the corners and creases. The point is, I just like to feel that I am taking the best care of my investment as I can.

That being said, I had extra time yesterday and had not yet washed my trailer since the last show a week ago. Not to mention it was 50 degrees out and sunny. Perfect day! Ho hum, I washed the trailer and even figured out that I could hold onto the tie hook and stand on the wheel well to reach the top (formerly, I was standing on either the quad parked next to it, or jumping up and down repeatedly to suds the top). I washed the rims, then went to scrub the underside of the wheel well (lots of mud caked on under there), and SCRAPE. Ouch!! I had cut the underside of my wrist right across the veins. I looked at my wrist and saw a cut but didnt think much else and finished my washing. The suds running into the cut stung, but I finished it out thinking if anything, the soapy water was helping to clean it out.

I finished and washed up in the house. My wrist was still bleeding. It was about a three in long cut across my veins and somewhat deep. I held a towel to it and it eventually clotted and stopped. But it is sore and tender.

This got me thinking: if it was really that easy for me to cut myself on the edge of the wheel well, how easy might it be for my horse to injure himself when tied up there? All he would theoretically have to do is put his head down to nibble grass, then unexpectantly bring it up and potentially hit his head on the diamond plate edging. It was that easy for me to cut myself, an injure prone horse could find an even easier way to hurt himself Im sure.

So now the question is, how can I avoid that from happening? Save from applying a rubber or soft edging to the diamond plate, I really cannot think of anything. Any ideas?

Maybe Im just oversenstive especially to the fact that my horse is currently lame and its making me hyper sensitive to anything that could cause injury.

Edit: I found this weather stripping from Home Depot, here, that I believe might do the trick:

 It is weather stripping that is designed to be put around door frames or windows to keep air and moisture out. It is self adhesive and waterproof, so it should (in theory) go right onto the diamond plate edging and stick in place without coming off. It is a rubber foam so it would act as a great bumper for the edging. My only concern is really if it would "wrap" around the edging well or not. Now I think I just need to go to the store with not only measurements of the wheel well edging, but also to talk to a CSR at Home Depot and find out if he/she believes it would be a good solution and stay in place. I think I will take Boyfriend along too as he is much more of a handyman than I am and would most likely know if it would work for the job or not. I will keep you posted on this project!

Aha, this seems to be a better option, in fact. This is a foam tubing, usually put over pipes to prevent freezing. Amazon has them here for only $6.65, plus it is pre slit. So, this would cover the edging better than the above stripping I believe. But I would need to find some sort of adhesive to keep it in place that will attach well to the diamond plating as well as the foam tubing. Home Depot has this as well on their website, so I should be able to feel it and compare to the stripping above. Again, Ill keep you all posted!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Well That Plan Was a Bust

Today I had the day off in honor of Martin Luther King Day. I promptly texted Heather and asked if she was up for a trail ride. It was clear and sunny out and in the 50s, great day for a trail ride! I got some chores done around the house and headed out.

Milo followed me down to the far corner of the pasture, where he ditched his neck cover (it is warm out, he doesnt necessarily need it, but hes a stinker nonetheless!).

Wait, was that a short step?
Hmm. I continued walking to retrieve the neck cover. 

This horse yawns more than any other horse Ive ever met. 

And he even had the nerve to stick his tongue out at me upon retrieval of the soaking wet and crumpled neck cover. 

I haltered him up and led him over the the gate. He felt odd at the end of my line. I turned around and there it was before me: my horse was lame.

Milo was lame on his left hind. You can even see him favoring it in the above photos. Oh no.

I tied him up to the fence and stripped his blanket off, then promptly ran my hands down his legs. Cool, cool, cool, warm and swollen, cool. Ahh. The fetlock. It couldnt have just been a hot hoof that I could then treat like an abcess. Nope. It was definitely his fetlock that was hot and swollen. There was a boarder turning out her horse, Scout, in the outdoor arena, so I got her to video him walking:

I made a call into the vet, who isnt available until Friday. So, Friday it would have to be. Im hoping that by then Milo may just "walk it off" and I can cancel the appointment, but if not, at least we are penciled into his schedule now.

Im not sure what happened. He was fine on Friday when I rode, and a fellow boarder said he was running along the fenceline of the outdoor arena with another horse on Saturday. So he must have done something Sunday (yesterday). It is muddy, so he could have slipped, or, doubtedly, Jake could have kicked him. Maybe I will get a better clue on Friday when the vet sees him, if not hopefully Milo is better before then.

I gave Milo 2 grams of Bute, reluctantly, and two cookies with a pat (btw, my horse is so awesome, I can bute him (even worm him for that matter) off the halter. He takes the syringe like a champ). Of course, now sitting here at home I realize I should have cold hosed it, but I can do that tomorrow I suppose. Dumb, shocked me, not thinking clearly when I was there with him.

It just wrenches my heart out to see Milo like this. :(

I made a call into Boyfriend to let him know he can open up his schedule for Saturday. Oh yeah, remember? The second to last reining show is this Saturday. Boyfriend asked if I could use another horse. Haha, what? My standings are with Milo, if I were to go on another horse it wouldnt count towards series points on another horse. Besides, um, I dont have another horse. So here is where my agenda has to get out of the way for Milo and his health. Boyfriend asked if he got better this week if we could still go. Whats the point, really? To possibly make something worse or re-injure, if that be the case? Or to go on a newly sound horse and not perform well? As it stands for the series, I am in the lead, and if I went to the last one in February and did really well, I could still manage to take it. But right now, Im focusing on my horse and how I can get him better.

Oh, Milo. :(

I am a "Stylish" Blogger.

Oh the prestige! My first "blogger award". I was received this award from R Lil Bit of Cash, thank you!

There are 4 duties to perform to receive this award:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

On to the "7 things about myself", here we go:
  1. I am a very creative person and love to stay busy. Be that crochet, painting or drawing, decorating my home, or anything else that keeps my mind busy. The hardest part about this is finding the time. 
  2. I am not very good at cooking. My downfall: never actually learning (or practicing). Im getting better at making real meals, but am best at deserts. Fortunetly, Boyfriend is a fantastic cook. 
  3. I love my truck. It is old and gives me grief, but I love it. I dreamed of having my own truck and absolutely love driving it. When the day comes to replace it, I will be very, very sad. 
  4. I get attached in inanimate objects (see #3).
  5. I have many ambitions and goals. I want to learn how to be my own farrier. I also want to become an Equine Massage Therapist. I am fascinated by all that Sarah does and wishes I could have her job and abilities someday. While I wish horses could be my occupation, I know that it isnt entirely feasible, and truthfully, I do love my office job (Im a total combination of creativity, and meticulousy).
  6. I am a bit OCD and very, very detail oriented. Some might call it controlling (this ties in from #5). Micro Management is one of my biggest downfalls as a horsewoman. 
  7. Finally, I really, really want to get a Corgi, but Boyfriend won't let me. I hope to weasel one in sometime...
And now, for 15 fellow bloggers to receive the award (in no particular order):
These bloggers have already received the award from R Lil Bit of Cash, but I need to re-award them as well (plus, I dont have that many blogs that I follow!)

Congrats to everyone, and remember to nominate those bloggers you follow!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Benefits of a Walk

"Have you listened to horses walking on concrete?" They have a distint footfall pattern, Sarah explained, "1 2 3 4, but sometimes you hear 1 2 34, 1 2 34."

"Yes, I've heard that last one a lot. Is that common?" I questioned.

"It is. It means a horse is crooked, and it is very common to hear that."

Hmm, I thought. I should listen to my own horse's footfalls when walking him in the aisle now, and compare it to others and the correct beat I know in my head.

This conversation was sparked in my lesson with Sarah Thursday night when I was getting frustrated that my horse wouldnt move out in the way I wanted at a walk. He was on the bit, and straight, but not walking off briskly from my leg.

Sarah reminded me that Milo is a pleasure horse, he is bred to go slow. He doesnt really want to get anywhere in a hurry. But he does have a nice pace and a good rhythym.

"This is true," I agreed. "The first forty seconds of our reining videos are of us walking into the arena."

"A judge knows a good moving horse by the way they walk into the arena," Sarah advised.

So a judge can determine who their "favorite" is or which horse they know will be a good mover based on their even cadenced walk. Interesting. But makes sense. Suddenly, I wasnt so displeased with my horse's slow yet even walk. Suddenly, I liked my horse's walk.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I Have to Get Out of My Horse's Way

I walked into the pasture with Milo's halter and lead rope. He stared at me but approached, then bypassed me and went straight to Sarah. "What the heck, Milo??" I asked. Sarah just laughed and we loaded up. "Wow, look at his neck," she said. "Wait until you see his back!" I exclaimed back. As I unloaded at Diamond Hill Ranch, the cows were mooing and carrying on over their empty stomachs. Milo was tied on the side of the trailer next to the cows and kept looking them over getting a little antsy. I felt bad knowing I would be disappointing him yet again on not working with cows especially when he can see and hear them.

Sarah checked over Milo. His body is definitely changing since my first official lesson with Sarah in November. He was being very vocal (but its Milo - hes vocal with his mouth) flipping his head around to his side and showing her what needed fixed. His rib was off again, not out by what I understood, just off. Probably from the Cowhorse Equipment Saddle, we concluded. It fits nice, but not as nicely as the About the Horse. After Sarah put his body where it should be and even mentioned his shoulders being in better alignment, I tacked him up with her now familiar saddle.

"Do we want to start with any groundwork?" I asked.

"Lets just get on and see what we've got."

As instructed I climbed aboard. She had me right away back him up and lift his back because he was standing with his shoulders thrown forward. "Alright, now walk him forward."

I honestly dont know what I was expecting to get out of the lesson. I just knew I wanted Sarah to look us over and let us know what was needed next. I've known for a while now that my position isnt what it should be, but of course, riding alone doesnt give me the eyes on the ground. Right away Sarah corrected my posture. This lesson was going to be my position. She said I was doing a great job with Milo, but now we had to fix my position and get me out of the way to continue.

She had me scoot forward in the saddle a quarter of an inch and round out my lower back, something that is very difficult for me due to not only my lower back pain, but also the years and years of "equitation" riding telling me to arch that area and poke my butt out. Next she told me to lift my sternum to the sky and imagine my shoulder blades touching each other behind my back. "But keep your back soft and round," she encouraged at the same time. "This is hard," I replied. Sarah laughed.

She had me push Milo into the bridle and walk straight. Soon, Milo began stiffening to what was the inside, or the left side. He felt like he was not wrapping himself around my leg. So she had me bring his nose to the inside and push his butt to the outside. Hmm. After a few attempts then finally getting my body to comply with her requests, he seemed to straighten out again.

Focusing on a soft back and a raised sternum, Sarah then said, "You dont need to" ephasizing each of those words. Meaning, that I was pumping with my seat - basically over emphasizing the natural motion with my horse. "Well, I feel like Im constantly asking him to go, I guess thats why Im doing that." Sarah explained very well that with my over riding on Milo, hes down below going "Geez lady are you ever going to stop moving up there?" and he hollows out away from my excessive movement. Hmm. I pondered this. "Engage your core like you just blew out 21 birthday candles. Now hold that. And lighten your seat. A light seat is not a tense one, its just taking your weight off of his back." Sarah then handed me a dressage whip. She instructed that I should stop aiding for "faster" with my spur. Spur is for lifting, leg is for speed. If I wanted more forward I was to squeeze with my legs, cluck, then tickle with the dressage whip if needed. Wow what a concept to not use my spur.

As I attempted to follow these new riding guidlines, I suddently got it for a few strides. Then a bit longer. "Do you feel how Milo is reaching up farther underneath himself?" Yes, I could. It wasnt a longer stride really, he wasnt moving any faster, just engaging and reaching up underneath himself farther with his hind legs. Wow. If I do put myself in the right position my horse really benefits.

I moved up into the trot per Sarah's direction and worked on my position at that was well. She reminded me to hold with that outside rein and to direct a turn with my body and my outside rein. I was not to aid with the inside. This was a concept I had been working on since our last lesson. But what was more engrained into me last night was that it is OK to pick up on this bit more then I was. She reminded it is only a snaffle and will not hurt him. Once I figured that out and picked up my reins by about a mile, he really started to work with that bit and carry it nicely.

I was finally getting that new position. But then, "Stop wiggling. You're moving from side to side. Engage your core." I blew out my birthday candles and rengaged my core and sat with a quiter seat. "There, very nice Nina." Woo! A compliment from Sarah. My inards made a happy dance. Ahhh, so this is what it is supposed to feel like. We trotted around a few more rounds each direction, then Sarah said we would work on our downward transitions. I dont know if it was that she saw a bad one, or if I mentioned something, or if she simply has been following my blog, but I knew it was something we need to work on and so did Sarah apparently. I know that our downward transitions are my fault because I cannot seem to soften my lower back, and I will freely admit that, as I did at our lesson.

Sarah had me trot around her then on the quarterline ask for a halt. Which I did in my usual way: slam my seat down and back, and throw my legs forward. Milo responded as usual, an attempt to put his butt down but hopped (as has been evident in our last few reining videos). Sarah said I needed to keep my leg on him, or at least, to not throw them away, and to simply soften my seat and lift my hand straight up. On the next attempt I tried, but still threw my weight back and pulled back on the rein. Sarah really tried to explain to me what I was doing wrong and I wasnt getting it. She made it clear by a simple hand gensture.

You see it with those big time reining trainers. They appear to be leaning back with the horse's slide. In reality, if you were to put that horse's butt back out of the dirt, the rider would still be straight. I was leaning back but not with the motion of my horse. Instead, this jammed by weight into his shoulder and gave Milo no opportunity to come up underneath and causes him to hop down to a stop. Another way she explained it, was when you see jumpers throw themselves up over the horse on the jump, not letting their horse put them in the right position. I was doing this in reverse. Ohh.

Ok, so I know what Im doing wrong. How can I do it right now? Just soften my seat, say Woah at the same time, and lift my rein. I tried again. I very much over exageratted my lifted hand but still had a stiff back. On the next attempt I got a somewhat softer back and a better stop. Sarah instructed me to try at a lope now.

Well this gave another lesson in the lesson on how to correctly aid him into the lope. I had always been under the impression, from whom I got this specifically Im not sure, but to push his shoulder out, push his hip in, and cue for the lope. When I went to do this, Milo got all sorts of fishtaily and drifted out with his shoulder. Sarah instructed to just ask for it in a straight manner. Straight? This was a new concept. I focused on getting his body aligned, staying soft in my back, lifted at the sternum, and engaged with my core, and asked for the departure. He did it, not beautifully, but hey I havent asked him to lope off straight in, well probably ever.

We tried the Woah again. I brought my hand back in what I thought was a lift, and again did not soften my back but rather tried to lean back again. I could start to sense by the next attempt that Sarah was really trying to find a way to get me to understand. She and I both knew that I knew what I was supposed to do, I just could not get my body to do it.

"Try to just let go of your rein, forget about his head, grab your horn and just soften and say Woah," Sarah suggested. That attempt was really bad. I was thrown forward and jammed my toes down.

She then showed me via her own body what I was supposed to do. It was simply, soften your back and Woah, and lift my hand. It looked so effortless when Sarah demonstrated. Alright. Into the lope again, and soften, Woah with a lift. Holy crap. I softened my back. I didnt lean back. I lifted my hand. And Milo gave a nice stop. More compliments from Sarah! *Happy Dance*

So that is what I am supposed to do. I think we tried it the other way, and I softened by back and we stopped well again. "I feel like all I did was kind of rotate my hips back." I said, a bit confused. Sarah let out a sigh and raised her hands in the air. "My work here is done!"

I walked Milo out and gave him pats. Still thinking about what my body finally did. I think I got it.  Sarah said she wanted to get on him for a moment, so I softened by back and asked for a halt. "OMG! Did you see that??" I asked. Sarah's back had been turned, but Milo stopped soft and lifted underneath me. Omg! I did it right?! We stopped correctly? Sarah said she believed me and good job. I got off and patted and patted Milo. Sarah didnt get on afterwards because since Milo stopped so nicely it was a perfect place to end the ride. I joked saying Milo heard she was going to get on so stopped well to avoid it.

We loaded up and went home. Sarah asked if I had gotten enough to work with until our next lesson. Oh boy do I. I need to get out of my horse's way. Famous words I have heard before.