Friday, August 16, 2013

An ex-racehorse named Calabar and his spotty friend Lena

Lena Rey was our first horse. She is big and beautiful and knows it. She likes to run fast but it is good for her mind to slow down and focus. Her friend Calabar is the opposite. He needs to speed up to get his mind pointed the right direction.

Oh, he looks good in black and white
Funny we have ended up with two such different horses, but then again maybe not.

Allie and Lena moving slowly--Lena is listening very hard
When Lena starts to amp up--usually by the gate and almost always before I've asked her to--I turn her. We do serpentines or circles, sometimes across the whole darned arena for awhile. Because once she starts going, you've lost the concentration battle and there will be no more learning thereafter for either of you. Sometimes this is okay. Steve likes to just go out and ride and enjoy each other and the freedom of the gallop. I tend towards a little more work on my part and that requires a little more concentration on Lena's part. I can't work on my position and my posting if we are galloping. She can't work on her long trot and transitions if we're galloping. "It's good for you," I say. "Pbbbbbbrrrth," she says, blowing air out in a big sigh of resignation. Actually, I hope it's relaxation but my guess is it depends on the day.

Calabar rarely amps up. He would prefer to stand in the middle of the arena and watch other horses do all the work but he is always willing to be saddled and--once we get rolling--he works for me. And he works pretty hard. He is learning collection at the ripe old age of 13 and it's not so easy for him. "Why can't I balance with my neck, it's what I've always done??" he snorts. I explain that it's much better to use his whole body and he says that would be easier if I wasn't such a spaz in the saddle, but okay.

Beautiful boy, goofy rider
Yesterday, I felt a more balanced horse than I've ever felt. We long trotted over a pole both ways without even the slightest hesitation or hitch in his stride. Then we cantered over it both ways without hesitation. He flowed. I mostly went along with him and must not have gotten in his way too much.

He's not perfect. I have to get him moving and then ask for collection and contact, but that's okay. He's building up his muscles and learning to support himself (and me) and we'll get there together. He is trotting lovely circles in frame and his canter (yep, still cantering in the outdoor, woo!) is beautiful. It's better when I remember to bend and relax, but he is tolerant of my stiffness in a way he hasn't always been. I think that means that somewhere along the line, this horse and I have bonded.

I know it means we're moving forward on our journey together.

And as for Lena, she and I are remembering how to ride together, too. That's good for both of us and is probably good for Calabar, too. Lena teaches me to slow down and focus. Calabar pushes me to, well, push us both.

What a wonderful thing to have two such amazing horses in my life, each of them showing me something different about myself.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Long overdue update

Well thing have moved along without me documenting a lot of it here, but that has become the theme for 2013.

Dixie, my almost-horse, has found a much more suitable home with a young woman who is so delighted with her it shines through in every email update she sends me and in every photo I've taken of them since the day they picked her up.

Dixie and the right owner
Clyde has moved to a new barn with his sponsor and future adopter, Mary Sue. We are hoping the move helps clear up his hives (his immune system is figuring things out), but mostly it's a better fit for him and for Mary Sue.

Big handsome brown horse
So we are currently between Neigh Savers horses which means--gasp! I have a lot of time for my own horses and maybe to do a little writing, too.

Calabar is coming along nicely with his Dressage work, sometimes despite my input. I rode Lena recently, too, and realized what a different horse she is from Calabar. I knew this, of course, but it was good to practice the difference. And to sit a trot. That was a nice change. She needs more work than she's getting right now--Allie is in Scotland and then is going off to get her Masters in the East Bay. Good for Allie but kind of a bummer for us. On the other hand, it will be good to ride Lena more often if I can make that happen. The balance between the two horses is interesting and instructive.

AND we have a new-to-us recycled cat named Simon. He is a Siamese and talks like one. He is ten (we think) and has so far exhibited only a minor interest in the outside sometimes. He loves sitting in Steve's lap wherever Steve happens to be seated. I don't think Simon has interrupted any meetings with his distinctive meow, but I'm not here all day with the two of them so I can't swear to that.

Simon warming Steve's spot on the sofa
I'm still busy, still working hard and enjoying whatever runs through my days. Life is good and full of slobbery horse kisses. What else would I need? Oh, right. A perpetual supply of fresh carrots.