Ponies have arrived!

This weekend was pony weekend (but isn’t every weekend?). On Saturday, Richal, Audrey, and I headed to Tulsa to pick up Moe and Gina. After admiring my ingenious tuna can bridle hangers, they helped me load my meager possessions into the trailer. We caught the horses and both of them loaded into the trailer like total pros. Neither horse has ever been bad about trailering, but I am always grateful when they hop right on without any fuss.

They unloaded quietly and were quickly led to their new homes: two stalls with dry lots off the back in the breezy shedrow. They aren’t next to one another- between them is a mare and her cute Paint/Fresian foal. Both horses spent some time pacing and whinnying; Moe was also terrified of the foal. (He’s terrified of all tiny equines.) They settled down after a little while and were munching hay when I left.
“GINA OMGZ WHERE GINA, NEED SOMEONE
TO BITE ME ON THE BUTT”

On Sunday, I went out to see how they were coping; both horses were turned out in a big field. I rode Gina in the small indoor, just to see how she’d do. 

“This looks a lot like work…”
Gina was good; she didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking around or calling for Moe. She put in some really excellent trot work, let me open the gate to the outdoor from her back, and walked around the outdoor arena sanely. (It was a nice change from Fred, let me tell you.) I gave her a good scrubbing after our ride, which she desperately needed. She was grimy with sweat and dirt and general grit. She pulled back once and broke her lead rope (sigh), but I just grabbed the spare in my tack trunk and proceeded as usual.
Monday I rode Moe, who was delightful as always. The minis, Peanut and Charlie, were hanging around in an aisle close to one corner of the arena. Moe was completely terrified of them and spent a few minutes standing completely still, staring at them. He refused to go very deep into the corner (lest a mini attack) and spent the entire ride in the indoor giving the minis some serious side-eye. For their part, the minis ignored him. I took him out into the newly mowed hay meadow and we cantered for a bit; it felt good to have space to run. It also felt good to just ride my favorite old horse. I gave Moe a bath after our ride and turned him out, where he thoughtfully rolled in the grass.
“Did you need us for something?”
I also rode Freddie on Saturday and Monday. Dear old Fred has pulled her right front shoe again, so we are continuing the ever-exciting walking routine. I rode her in a borrowed dressage saddle on Saturday, which made her feel super downhill. She was good, though, and I felt like I was using my seat and legs better, so we’ll keep it in our rotation. On Monday, I dug out my breastplate to see if it fits her; it does, and she looks extra legit in it. 
The best at looking like a majestic creature.

Fred was good. She’s starting to respond to halt requests more readily and seems to be beginning to understand bending. If only we could keep her shoes on!

One last note: Carson has found a new home! A couple of weeks ago, I accompanied Audrey and Richal to a nice hunter barn in Tulsa who was interested in trying him for their lesson program. They thought he was too forward (again, LOLZ) but thought he’d be a good fit for one of their students. He stayed there on trial, and his new owner recently commented on one of my posts about him that she’d just bought him. I wish her the very best with Carson (who is now renamed Moose); he was one of my favorite horses and I won’t say I didn’t shed a few tears when we dropped him off at that barn. 
Back to the work grind today; I hope y’all had a great Labor Day weekend!

Cascade Carson

For a few months, I’ve been accompanying my friend Holly to her riding lessons; she rides at the barn of local dressage queen and mutual friend Richal. I’m always happy to go, because Richal seems to have an endless variety of horses who need to be ridden and a slew of barn rat children to fetch horses, muck stalls, and even untack horses. It’s like paradise sometimes.

As much as I enjoy hanging out with my horses, I really love the social element of riding. Horse people understand horse jokes, encourage you to lay on the Theraplate because it’ll totally loosen up your back, and don’t judge your disgusting fingernails. It’s something I’ve missed at the barn where Moe and Gina currently live; I rarely see other people out there. I’ve only ever seen two other people ride.

Derp derp horse

For the last month or so, Richal’s right-hand (wo)man, Audrey, has let me pack around on one of her Thoroughbred geldings, a gigantic bay horse named Cascade Carson. Carson is 7, has been off the track for 3 years, and is very lovable and pleasant. If I could afford to board another horse, I’d buy him, as Audrey doesn’t ride him often and prefers her other mount Mojo.

As it is, Carson and I have been having a blast for the last few weeks. I hauled my jumps out to Richal’s place last week (as I plan on moving my horses there by the end of August) and Carson happily zoomed around a 2′ course with zero problems, even hopping over some crazy colored barrels. Today, we worked on dressage in the indoor arena; he tries very hard and I have the feeling he could turn into a very fancy horse.

I’m hoping to take Carson to an event derby in early September- provided, of course, I can find a trailer. (Which I don’t think will be a huge problem this time.) I think he’d make a good eventer, and I always enjoy getting horses new to the sport around courses.

I haven’t forgotten Moe and Gina; Moe is being ridden a few times a week by my student. I’ve been hopping on Gina about three times a week. I’m looking forward to moving both of them to Richal’s at the end of the August (the barn’s policy is for boarders to give a 30 day notice before leaving), where I know they’ll get good care and I’ll have some friends to ride with!

The pole incident

The barn where I board Moe and Gina has exactly one set of jump standards. I brought two sets of jump standards, eight ground poles, and four sets of jump cups with me when I moved there. I am very diligent when it comes to moving the jumping equipment. I always take it down when I’m finished, it’s always set out of the way, and the few times the barn manager has requested I move the whole lot to a different area, I am quick to comply.

While I was setting up jumps for a lesson I was giving last week, I noticed I only had seven ground poles. I was running behind and in a hurry, so I thought maybe I’d simply miscounted or missed a pole that had rolled away from its pile. After the lesson, I was putting away equipment and recounted the poles: seven. I searched around for the missing pole and couldn’t find it. I was puzzled.
Then I noticed the bowed section of fence that Moe and I like to jump had been replaced. With a pole that looked suspiciously like one of mine.
I thought through several reasons the barn manager would have used a pole he knows belongs to me to repair this fence. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. There’s another guy who occasionally works on repair projects around the facility; he knows I use the poles for jumping, but I don’t think he knows they actually belong to me. I thought perhaps the other guy had fixed the fence, using my pole because he assumed it belonged to the facility. 
Yesterday, I saw barn manager for the first time since The Pole Incident; I was holding Moe while the dentist was working on his teeth. Barn manager greeted me cheerfully. I said hello and politely said, “I seem to be missing a ground pole, [name redacted].”
He said, “Oh.”
I crossed my arms, leaned back against the barn, and replied, “The new pole on the fence looks a lot like one of my ground poles.” 
The barn manager turned red and mumbled, “Well you know, I had to fix that section of fence, because it was sagging so bad that you couldn’t even nail the old pole back up there, you know? Haha…”
I said nothing and stared at him in what I like to think was a cold, calculating fashion.
He looked away and mumbled something about replacing my pole that day.
Now, I am not an unreasonable person. I’m pretty laid back, and I don’t often get my knickers in a twist over things that are ultimately trivial.
But I am fucking pissed about this.
I am pissed that the barn manager used something that belonged to me without my permission and didn’t immediately ‘fess up when confronted.
Did he think I wouldn’t notice? Did he think I wouldn’t care? If it was an emergency (which it wasn’t- no horses were motivated to hop over the 2′ fence- not even Moe or Gina), I could understand using my pole. If he just wanted to use it, I could understand doing so, then notifying me with an offer of replacement. I wouldn’t have been pleased, but I wouldn’t have reached the level of fury I am currently seething in.
Some part of me thinks I’m overreacting and shouldn’t be upset about something like a $10 ground pole. But this incident, combined with a long-simmering (and unvoiced) suspicion that the barn manager isn’t feeding my horses twice a day (as agreed when I moved them there) has prompted me to begin the barn search anew with plans of moving Moe and Gina by the end of August.
What do y’all think? Have you ever been in a similar situation? 

Home

I’m very pleased to report that I’ve found permanent housing for my two brats horses! Hooray!

As you may recall, a few months ago I quit my job as a therapeutic riding instructor. I’m happy to report that life has gone super well since then. I am less anxious, less stressed, less depressed, and am much more pleasant to the other members of the household. Johnny and I are in the midst of making home repairs/renovations; since I am indefinitely unemployed, I have the questionable luxury of spending large blocks of time on these projects. It’s nice. Being unemployed has also allowed me to pursue other activities I enjoy, like cooking. The house is also cleaner than it’s been, ever. A hiatus from work has certainly been a marvelous improvement for everyone.

Except, uh, the horses. When I left my job, I needed to move my horses. They were living at my boss’s farm. While I didn’t leave on bad terms, it seemed inappropriate to keep them there. It was also inconvenient to everything except work (e.g. my house, grocery stores, etc.). My friends graciously let me ditch the ponies in one of their small paddocks on their ranch. The ponies were out on good grass, being neighborly with my friends’ cattle. I’m eternally grateful to have such wonderful people in my life. I think the horses secretly enjoyed living there; while there was zero shelter from the howling Oklahoma winds or frigid winter temperatures, both horses stayed hale, hearty, and in good weight. They grew extremely thick coats; the only time I’ve blanketed them this winter was when the wind chill was -20.

I didn’t want to infringe on my friends’ hospitality for too long, so I doggedly searched to find a boarding barn in the Tulsa area that offered full-service pasture board for a reasonable price.

And that’s why it took me two months to find a place. The good people of the Tulsa area apparently value their facilities much more than I do; I’ve seen pasture board offered for $650/month/horse. Now, for most of my life, my horses lived at my house, so perhaps I am just not up on the costs of boarding a horse. But $1300/month was way out of the question.

Happily, I found a nice facility that doesn’t cost nearly so much. There’s plenty of pasture for Moe and Gina to roam. Hay and feed are included. Someone will see them every day, twice a day (in addition to living on-site), so I know if they’re missing a leg or an ear or an eye, I’ll get a phone call. There’s no arena, but there’s a huge flat area and I’m welcome to bring jumps. Everyone I’ve met is very pleasant, and no one has advised me on how to ride or care for my animals. The place is smack in the middle of Tulsa, so I can easily incorporate errands into a visit. There’s a QuikTrip half a block away. (If you don’t know the joy of QuikTrip, I am so sorry.)

My horses have found a home, y’all. I couldn’t be happier.

Settling In

Princess G has been settling into her barn very nicely. It seems like she’s been there her entire life, what with the way she’s ruling the paddock. She’s in with her old frenemy Cal (Kyla’s TB gelding), an elderly Trakehner gelding named Atut (the grey horse tied up behind G in the above picture), and an older grey Thoroughbred mare named Minnie. Gina has decided she is Boss Mare, which seems to be okay with everyone except Minnie; she’s still giving G a little bit of trouble at dinnertime.

We went for a ride in the arena last week. Gina spent a couple of minutes looking curiously at the horses in the adjacent pasture (especially Xeta, the gigantic pinto Oldenburg) but focused on work very quickly. The footing was slippery, so we stuck to a walk and trot. Gina was a superstar- light, forward, working in a nice contact. I think my riding has been improved a hundred times over by the Ainsley saddle. My leg and seat are secure. I feel balanced. My improved position has translated to better rides and a happier horse.

Working more has left me less time to ride. Since it’s freezing cold and dark by 6 PM, my winter riding goals are pretty much limited to “getting on the horse to ride” and “acquiring ground poles”. I’d like to go foxhunting in January, but we’ll see how time and money play out. In the mean time, it’s going to be fun hacks on fuzzy mare!