Tuesday, March 20, 2012

first day of spring, a birthday, and a ride


I had completely forgotten that today was the first day of spring, but one of our November Hill rites is to bring the horses, usually two by two, or sometimes in groups of 3, into the backyard so they can help us graze down the sudden burst of growth (about 18 inches worth) that happens almost overnight when spring arrives.

We did this yesterday, and this morning I realized it was officially the first day of spring - and even more importantly, Cody's 9th birthday. It's hard to believe that he is already 9 years old. Cody is big and such a gorgeous deep red. He's a good friend to every horse in his herd, and he's a joy to ride as well. Happy birthday Cody!

It's been crazy around here the past week. Salina went into season. Redford's seemingly absent male hormones suddenly woke up and it became pretty much instantly apparent that our idea to keep him intact was not a good one. (for various reasons he has not yet been gelded - the past year we were thinking intentionally of not gelding him, mostly b/c of the metabolic thing that seems to happen to geldings - the difference between he and Rafer Johnson in this regard is quite astonishing)

But this week it became clear that life will be easier if all males are geldings. Tomorrow morning that becomes official.

In the midst of much braying and herding and posturing and all the mare stuff that goes along with the spring season, our well broke yesterday. A switch went out and we had no water. Thankfully that was fixed more quickly than the above situation! But it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride here lately and I'm ready for some lazy, quiet, boring days.

On another note, Keil Bay and I are doing morning rides now, working on some exercises from Thomas Ritter's recently-published book called Dressage Principles Based On Biomechanics. I'm participating in a study group and reading through the book, discussing it, and hopefully advancing as a result in my understanding of dressage and the actual biomechanics of the dressage journey. It's a gorgeous, beautifully illustrated book - I highly recommend it.

Today Keil and I did an exercise we often do, which is one exercise that illustrates what Dr. Ritter is calling the Ping Pong Principle. It involves ping-ponging back and forth from left to right side aids. We did what he calls zig zag leg yielding - going in to the quarter line and back out again, and going out from our dressage markers to the rail and back in again. In addition to reminding both horse and rider that there are two sides, this exercise forces me to see the crookedness in my own body when giving aids. If I can do it without torquing into a pretzel, I consider it a success.

We also brought the image of the four corners of the arena as pieces of a volte into our ride. I haven't counted strides in a long while but today I did and we are riding three strides (of the inside hind leg) through each corner. I think I should say that Keil Bay is doing that with no real assistance from me. All I did was count. As seems true in most of my lessons with Keil, he knows more than I know, and he is pretty good-natured about letting me think I know more than I do.

We will take up work on the small track tomorrow to see if we can make our figures (probably just ONE figure to start with) so accurate that I could erase them with one sweep of a broom at the end.

Today, though, I decided to end with a dressage test as my brain was tired and I just wanted to do something easy. We entered at A and halted at X, not all that straight, and I said out loud to Keil Bay that we were not going to do very well if we didn't straighten up our act. As soon as we tracked right at C, he pulled himself into high gear and went onto automatic pilot. He did that test all by himself!

I had to laugh. I know there are trainers who would insist that I needed to change things up or not let him take over like that, but you know, I have no problem with the Big Bay driving when he's doing it so perfectly. In our little arena, in the November Hill Spring Equinox Classic, we brought home the blue. A nice way to end our first ride of spring.


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

KB probably enjoys driving - don't you think?!

Happy we have only one version of hormones around here. (in the horse department)

Mr. Seven is still intact pending the vets decision on how complicated his surgery will be - he has a umbilical hernia to close and a congenital chest malformation which may play into it all...

Hope that Redford recovers quickly from his adjustment. Give him a hug from me.

That Thomas Ritter book sounds really good. May have to add it to the collection! Thanks for the recommendation.

I recently got Jane Savoie's Program Your Position CD/DVD collection recently and plan to post about it once I've given it a run through.

Sounds like everything is good on November Hill - happy spring! :)

Grey Horse Matters said...

Your ride on the Big Bay sounds wonderful. I'm all for letting them do the driving if they know more than me and most of them do. The book and exercises also seem like a good way to practice certain movements. I'll have to look into it.

Poor Redford, I hope he heals quickly and gets with the gelding program soon.

You've certainly had an eventful week but it's nothing that you all can't handle. Here's to some relaxing boring days to come. Happy first day of Spring!

billie said...

Thanks, C. Enjoy Jane - she's terrific!

billie said...

A, with the help of husband and daughter, we did manage to get through yesterday.

It started with the vet call and ended at dark with another vet call. A piece of fatty viscera pushed through the opening of Redford's incision and daughter found it (she was terrific about keeping a close eye on him all day yesterday).

Husband took photos, emailed them to the vet, and she felt it was not a piece of intestine but the on-call emergency vet came out anyway and ended up sedating the poor little guy again so he could remove the piece of tissue and make sure everything was okay.

We ended this long day with daughter breaking her little toe!

My confession in all this is that I was completely unable to be part of the vet calls in the AM or PM. Husband and daughter managed all of it.

The interesting thing is that sitting inside our house, trying NOT to transmit my anxiety about this, I noted that each time during the surgery that I even THOUGHT about how it was going, Salina would whinny from the front field. When I became absorbed in writing something and stopped thinking about it, she went all the way down the hill with the herd and was quiet.

This is why I stayed away from the barn - she feeds off my anxiety and I think there is something about the mother/child thing in me that is also in her that gives this almost exponential "power."

Another interesting thing is that the on-call vet was comfortable letting Salina stay right in the barn aisle with them while he did the work last night - and she was perfectly calm and watched the whole thing. Maybe by always separating her we have really notched things up.

Victoria Cummings said...

I have that kind of vet anxiety too, so I know what you're talking about perfectly. Hopefully, the little patient is doing well now and things will calm down. I agree about letting the Big Bay drive when he gets your message too! Spring has arrived here at our barn in full force, and with it comes all kinds of new things to worry about. Ticks, too much sugar in the sweet new grass, furry coats that aren't shedding out normally. I think I'll take your lead and stay in the house and write so I don't stress out the girls unnecessarily.

billie said...

V, I never had this kind of anxiety until Rafer's gelding (which went well, but was traumatic for all of us) and Salina's same day joint injection that I knew in my gut she did not need or want. All of that angst got rolled up into one big vat of anxiety and I have mostly gotten over it but the repeat of the gelding brought it all back up again. :/

Fortunately I have family members who will step up to the plate when I have to hide in the dug-out. :)

Enjoy your spring!