Saturday it was 71 degrees and sunny. The baby girl got a ride on ponikins and I rode in the arena. Today, the high was supposed to be 52 (about a 20 degree swing) and sunny until after dark. There was a storm that was predicted to move in about 6 pm, with the possibility of snow. K and I had planned to try the Draw and even though the day might not be as warm as Saturday, there was supposed to be a lot less wind, which is always a bonus.
When J and I were getting ready, I told her I was opting for the bibs, because I wanted to see how they worked with the saddle. The little voice in the back of my head suggested liners, but I opted not to put them on, since I was really afraid I would overheat in just the bibs. When J asked me what I would do if I started sweating and I told her I could zip up the pants and expose some lower leg to the air, if I needed to. I didn't put on the new base layer (Costco) under my thermal shirt, because I was really afraid of overheating, although I did want to try the base layer (it's new). The voice in my head recommended my insulated North Face boots instead of my barn boots, but again, too much. As we walked out of the house (I was already sweating) I thought about grabbing my Sherpa-Lined Carhartt jacket and throwing it in the truck, but then recognized that I had my windproof rain jacket, a North Face hat and gloves if it got cool. The weather was supposed to be similar to when we went to Chatfield last weekend. I did that ride in short sleeves. I wasn't worried and left the coat hanging on the backside of the door.
(Note to self: listen to the voices in your head.)
When we got to the barn, the temp in the truck said 52. We loaded the gear and I loaded Ashke. We went to load Eddy and Eddy was a little bit of an ass to K. He pushes her around (big, heavy head and stocky Hafflinger attitude, IMO) and ended up pulling the lead rope out of her hand and running off with the lead rope trailing behind him. Ashke, who was still loaded in the trailer, almost lost his shit, especially since one of the TBs in the stud pen was bucking, jumping and rearing in excitement. I got Ashke calmed down, while K caught Eddy, then I went out to help K. I took the lead rope and wrapped it around Eddy's nose, turned him and walked him to the trailer. When he pulled back this time, the rope tightened and applied pressure to his nose. I did pressure and release to get him to move forward and after testing me one time, Eddy walked on the trailer.
We headed out. The sun was shining, it was beautiful and the wind was just barely blowing.
As we crested the ridge overlooking the parking lot, we saw the wall cloud. It was dark grey and looked like the kind of smoke created by wildfire. From ground to sky, dark grey cloud.
It was grey and much colder when we got out of the truck. I jokingly told J we should just turn and head back, but she told me we had come this far we weren't going home yet. I put on the raincoat (I was shivering already), my hat and gloves.
The Flatirons were gone.
There were cows in the area where the trail goes.
We were all cold but willing to do the shorter upper loop on the Mesa.
Those black spots just below the skyline are cows.
In the same area as we were going to ride.
Ashke was very snorty and Eddy was spooky.
Got to love Haffie hair.
J on Coyote.
That kind of hanging grey behind J was cloud.
W, K's hubs, on his first horse-bike ride.
Thankfully, we had an extra fleece hat in the truck or he would have been very unhappy.
K wanted her fleece lined jeans, though.
Haffie being Haffie.
I mean, the hair!
This was Eddy's third off property trail ride. He did really well, with only one major spook. K handled it well and Eddy stopped quickly, rather than bolting, which I thought he was going to do. I think as we continue to put miles on trail, he will get more and more steady.
The camera didn't pick it up, but the clouds were floating across the road and through the trees.
This was the point in the ride where I suggested we keep going and do the 9 mile loop.
J was much more level headed about the ride and how cold her feet were already.
(I am an idiot. I would have died.)
This is the edge of the Mesa looking down into the valley toward Eldorado Springs. Usually you can see the bottom of the valley and the trails leading to Eldorado.
The trail forward leads down the draw and we turned to the left.
As we rode through the trees, K and Eddy trotted around them, practicing their neck reining.
Coming out of the trees for the long downhill, which was tempered by the cold wind and cows.
K couldn't feel her legs at this point.
There be cows in dem trees.
Ashke saw the cow. His head came up and his ears went forward. When we got close enough, the cow started to move away and Ashke figured out it could be a game of chase. We "chased" three cows and all three times he locked onto the cow and moved it where I told him to. He liked it a lot.
Eddy tried to crawl out of his skin.
Trailer and truck in the parking lot.
By the time we got there, my toes and fingers were numb with cold, and I was shivering very deep.
We pulled tack and threw blankets on the horses. Thank goodness I had them in the trailer, including a fleece cooler Eddy could wear. Ashke seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when I slipped it on him. Ashke walked right on the trailer. Eddy took two tries and then he was loaded as well. The humans jumped into the truck and were not at all surprised to see the temp gauge saying 19 degrees. With the wind chill, it was probably 15.
That was a 33 degree drop in temp in 10 minutes.
I have been cold for the rest of the day. Good trail ride, though.
Dan Craig came out to trim feet today. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Saiph for finding him and recommending him to me. Best Farrier Ever.)
Ashke has developed some concavity in his front hooves (which I called cupping, but Dan corrected and called concavity) which is new this year. Dan said that what we are doing with his hooves is working and he obviously likes what we are doing as far as the trims go. He said I had made his day.
He is more and more sure footed, even on the gravel in front of the barn on the way to the outdoor arena. We haven't had a bout of tenderness since the spring of 2013. I am hoping to spend time on trail without boots this winter, especially in the snow.
Dan asked what we were doing and I told him we were working toward our first Endurance race, doing a lot of trail riding and also doing Working Equitation. I told him there was a possibility of a demo at the Expo this year. He asked me if a particular woman was involved in the decision at the expo, and I said she was one of the key driving forces in WE in our region. He trims her horses and will ask her about WE next time he sees her. He has two Polish Arabs and his eyes absolutely lit up when I told him it was a thinking horses game.
After the trim, I took Ashke in and saddled him up, then headed for the round pen.
My BFF and her daughter came out to visit from Oregon. This is my Goddaughter and the child I purchased the ride on pony from National Western for her first birthday. She is finally big enough to ride him and has named him Aengus (from Brave). She was very excited to sit on a real horse.
Ashke. . . .not so much.
This little girl will tell you her color is pink.
She has pink boots, a pink cowboy hat and pink shirt with darker pink ponies on it.
Ashke was a good boy, although he was not very pleased about being a pony ride. He nipped at me several times (which he only does when he has made his displeasure known and I have ignored him) and I finally told him that even a Prince of the Desert has to give young girls pony rides.
He was better after that.
This is the face of a girl who is going to want her own pony some day.
We just walked in circles in both directions.
Jay walked next to her daughter and kept ahold. Ashke was very careful.
He did it only because I asked.
We went in both directions just to give her a little variety.
Baby Girl say the song from Rapunzel (because she rides a white horse) while we were walking.
Best day of her vacation, according to her.
This is indoctrination at it's best.
Do you remember this moment? I do. I was three. I have never forgotten.
Ashke was much happier to have me ride.
He was somewhat sideways, but still willing.
I have no idea if this is a canter depart or a whoa.
Or the ending of a capriole.
We had some nice canter. He is really good at the smaller circles or a canter on the trail, but kind of all over the place still on the long sides of the outdoor. We are working on it, though.
We worked on picking up the correct lead on the straight away.
We are still a work in progress, although I already see so much development in his stride and my riding ability.
We are still working out our communication.
It was a good ride.
I love how muscled his butt looks. Although, that crease is somewhat strange.
Hard to find any motivation when you arrive at the barn to find this. OMG. My white (technically grey) horse has no intention of staying that color during the winter. It was way to cold to hose him off, but I did manage to get him a kind of smeary beige by the time I was done grooming him.
To back up, on Monday when I arrived at the barn I was flooded with a lack of motivation. The thought of cleaning the mud off of my horse (yes, he was muddy then too), tacking up and riding was just too much. K was there (not intending to ride) and was feeling as unmotivated as I was. I suggested we let Ashke and Eddy run in the outdoor arena for a bit. K agreed and as she went to get Eddy, I walked Ashke down and turned on the arena lights. As we waited for Eddy and K to make their way down from the field area, Ashke began to self-lunge around me with his elevated, floating trot.
It does my heart so much good to watch him move that way. It tells me his haunches and RH are strong and his rehab is progressing. I love seeing him move so effortlessly. He really enjoys being able to blow off steam in the arena.
When Eddy got there we turned them loose and let them get to know each other. They sniffed and lipped a little, but there was no squealing or striking. Then, between one sniff and the next, they were off. They raced up and down the outdoor with their heads in the air, stiff legged turns and head tossing, and then the flattened, all-out, scootle butt Arabian race horse in full flight back up towards us. K and I started cheering them on when they made the far turn and began racing toward us. At one point they both stopped at the end closest to us and snorted, the big blowy snorts that sound like little horse explosions. I conversationally asked Ashke if he was done, and his answer was a huge leap in the air and once again they took off running. Finally, after maybe ten minutes of wild play, Ashke began lunging around me in a huge circle. I turned and asked him if he were done. He answered by turning to me and trotting up, slowing at the last instant, and then burying his head against my chest.
I took that as a yes. He was warm but not hot, not even breathing hard, and he still danced on the way back to the barn.
Weds night, I was not motivated going to the barn and even less motivated when I saw his muddy state. I, however, refused to miss a ride just because I am feeling lazy. And experiencing some pain. I have an issue with my right hip, at the top of the iliac crest. It feels like a muscle bruise and I suspect I pinched that particular muscle between the bottom of my back brace and the side of the Alta Escuela cantle on my last trail ride. The cantle of the Alta curves around a lot more than the cantle on a western saddle, and the ends of the cantle are designed to flex with the movement of the rider (they have high tension springs that bring the ends of the cantle back into place). The saddle is designed this way to allow a rider who is bull-fighting the flexibility to move the garoucha pole but also the stability of having the cantle wrap around to hold their butt in the saddle. Anyway, I am feeling the pain of that bruised muscle and it would have too easy to just turn around and head home.
Instead, I groomed the muddy beast, and once I got that done, I decided I had spent enough energy doing that it seemed a waste not to ride. We rode in the indoor, since it was blowing and I didn't want to fight the wind and the energy that Ashke would bring to that ride. We started with walking both directions for two circuits, then trotted for four in each direction, then moved to the canter. His canter to the right is still faster and rougher than it is to the left, but both are improved. I may have to bring a dressage whip with me to encourage him to pick up the canter in a stride rather than trotting into it. I worked on moving his haunches in prior to asking, which helped him pick up the correct lead on the straightaway. We did two sets of three circuits each direction, with a walk circuit in between each set. Then we worked on turns on the forehand (awesome in both directions), turns on the haunches (better when he steps to the right, since he is pushing off with his LH) and sidepassing without the pole. I had to snap at him a little moving right to left, since it is harder for him to push off on the RH and he wasn't entirely sure what I wanted him to do, but by the time we moved the other direction, he was more willing. We finished up with serpentines and circles, working on neck reining, and I might have actually gotten my first couple of steps of a walk pirouette.
I left him in his stall, gobbling down big mouthfuls of TC Senior and carrots. I love it when he stretches his jaws as far open as he can to bite huge mouthfuls of the stuff, then closes his eyes in blissful joy, green mash dribbling from his lips as he chews. I will try and remember to take a video one of these days.
Hope you all have a wonderful holiday with lots of love, laughter and family, in whatever form you define it.
I felt mostly relief at the thought of being hospitalized for an induction (that was before I knew how incredibly fun that process was). By my timeline since insemination, we were at exactly 40 weeks (280 days) on Wednesday. The doctor sent us home and told us to report back to the hospital at 12:30 am.
At home, we packed a bag and called my mom, telling her that the next day was it. She said she would come first thing in the morning, driving from Idaho by herself to meet us at the hospital. (This was years before we got our first cell phone, so our communication was limited.) I knew from past experience, that if she left her house by six-thirty and only stopped for gas, she would be at the hospital by 5 pm or so. At about midnight, J and I left for the hospital, starting to come to the realization that we wouldn't be returning as just the two of us.
We should have brought food. Really. Or had friends who were lined up to deliver food. Or arranged to have some type of feeder hand us food on a long stick. It would be an issue later.
Check in went as you would expect and it was almost 2:30 before we were in the hospital room. The hospital was really full, so all J had to sleep in was a recliner (and a ghastly uncomfortable one at that). For me, they administered a suppository to soften the cervix, then put a monitor on to track T's heartbeat. The rest of the night went like this: I would get comfortable and just fall asleep and the nurse would come in to adjust the monitor, because every time she left T would move. You would think from the way they acted, that something grave would happen if they couldn't hear the heartbeat. They would adjust, they would leave, I would just fall asleep and the nurse would be back messing with the monitor. It left both J and I extremely exhausted by 6 am, when they administered the next suppository. Within 30 minutes, my water had broken and I was starting labor.
We walked the hallways and looked at the premmie pictures they had on the walls. I hoped that the labor would intensify, but by 10 am we were sure it wasn't progressing. Hospitals can't have that so I was taken in, hooked to an IV, and pitosin was administered.
I went from small, infrequent contractions, to contractions that were off the monitor, within half an hour. They kept turning up the pitosin amount every 30 minutes, which never really allowed me to catch my breath or figure out how to get outside the pain. By 1 pm, I was sitting on the edge of the bed, in more pain than I can coherently communicate, holding J's biceps. Every time I contracted I clenched her arms. She had bruises for a week afterward. I would tilt my head forward and rest against her shoulder in between contractions. The nurse came in to check on me and I told J that if I wasn't at least dilated to 3, we were unhooking me and going home. He could just stay there.
I was at four.
I was in tears. I told J I didn't think I could keep going without an epidural. We (I) had really wanted to do labor without an epidural, just because I didn't want to aggravate my back pain, but it was too much. I couldn't find my way in the sea of pain. J heard me out and agreed we should do whatever would make me the most comfortable. She left to tell the nurse. I think she was very relieved and although I felt like a failure, that only really lasted until the next contraction, which was about 30 seconds. It was the best decision of my life.
It took awhile, but once the epidural was in, I was euphoric. Partly due to the lack of pain and mostly due to my very strange reaction to painkillers. My cheeks were numb. I was laughing hysterically at the fact that my right leg would not obey my mind. I could feel nothing below my shoulders. They tucked me into bed and covered me with blankets (I was suddenly cold). Sometime around then, my mom showed up. She and J conferred while the nurses checked me.
I was fully effaced and dilated to 10.
It happens that way sometimes. The epidural will allow the muscles to relax and labor progresses much quicker than expected. They smiled proudly at my progress and told me it would be an hour or so before we would push. J and mom asked it they had time to run to the cafeteria for food. The nurse said yes. They left to get food and I wallowed in the feeling of no more pain. And the euphoria of the epidural block effecting my entire body. Mom and J, neither of which had eaten all day, came back and settled into chairs to eat their sandwiches.
Just as J took her first bite the nurse rushed back in the room and asked them what they were doing, we needed to push. I swear the look J gave her could have taken paint off the walls. J said, "You told us we could eat." Her voice was deadly. My mom mirrored the look, only more hungry than angry. The nurse said, "Fine. Eat. You have 10 minutes." They ate quickly and were almost done when the nurse was back in the room. She told us the baby was coming and we couldn't wait any longer. They put down the last of their sandwiches and came to help me.
The head of the bed was raised. The end of the bed was removed. I put my feet in stirrups with J on one side and Mom on the other. I was given oxygen and the nurse positioned herself. By this time it was about 5:20 pm. The nurse told me to push. I closed my eyes, focused my will and bore down. One time. Then the nurse told me to not push any more, to lay back and breathe. I thought J was about to take her head off. The nurse looked up at her and said, "I need to call the doctor. She needs to stop pushing unless you want me to deliver this baby."
The doctor was there about twenty minutes later. I pushed. Mom and J watched in amazement and a bit of horror, at the pin-sized head I was pushing out. They were both afraid he was deformed. The doctor ended up giving me an episiotomy and then told me to sit up and look down. His head came free and the doctor rotated his head, which finally made what I was seeing make sense to all three of us. He suctioned the mouth and nose, then I pushed to free the shoulders and he was out.
I have tears in my eyes reliving that moment.
They laid him on my belly, skin to skin, and then covered him with a blanket. Looking down into that little face was a defining moment of my life. I was given the opportunity and the gift of being able to know someone from the moment of their birth until my death. My heart was filled with joy and love and overwhelming terror. I looked up to see J crying with me, her soft voice welcoming our son.
This Saturday the weather was supposed to be sunny and in the upper 50's. So different from a week ago, when both Ashke and I were squinting to avoid the blowing snow. We originally were going to ride Dowdy Draw and Community Ditch, but Boulder closed the trails and locked the fences to the trailheads on Friday due to mud. We found this out when L pulled her horse trailer into the driveway for the parking lot and couldn't turn around. She had to back out onto Hwy 93 (I can't even imagine) and thank the Great Creator, it was still very early with little traffic to speak off. She drove over to the barn and caught us before we had left. We opted to do Chatfield instead, since both us and L have a pass to the State parks. It took a minute to load Eddy (who was being resistant) and we ended up putting him on L's three horse trailer. He is a halflinger and kind of pushy, plus K was feeling stressed about him acting up, so I got him on the trailer. We pulled out and headed down the road.
As we turned into the park, the tack room door on L's trailer swung open. We tried to get L's attention by honking and hoping the park attendant would say something. When we got close, I jumped out and started running toward L's truck, waving my arms over my head in the universal "Hold on, there is something wrong" sign. Thankfully, she stopped before the saddle rack flipped open and sprayed her saddles all over the place. I was panting and staggering by the time I had crossed the 200 feet of pavement between where J had stopped and L had stopped. L met me at the door and after double checking it for security, I told her where we normally parked. (Our normal parking lot has two entrances to pull through the horse trailer and be able to exit without having to turn around.) But L opted for the first one we came to, which was entirely empty. It was big enough to turn the truck and trailer around in and park pointing out.
L brought Amaar down and tied him to our trailer, just so all three were in close proximity to each other. We got tacked up and after I tore two gaiters getting the boots on Ashke's feet (he is due for a trim on Saturday next, and I had to use my hoof pick to get the gloves over his very flared hooves) we were finally ready to ride out. It was to be another W/T trail ride, due to the fact that both Eddy and Amaar are very green on trail, K has just started cantering in the arena, L is riding in a saddle that is great for Amaar, but throws her forward at a canter, and not wanting to get the horses too sweaty for the trailer ride home. Although, Ashke did throw in four strides of a canter piaffe out of excitement.
J and I are fairly familiar with the trails at Chatfield, so it was pretty easy to work out a loop to ride from where we were parked. It's always more fun to ride a loop than to ride out and back, plus it gives the horses more new terrain to look at and experience.
All of the horses were up to begin with and both L and K took advantage of the large parking lot to do a brief lunge before getting on. Ashke snorted at everything, plus spooked at the little pockets of snow buried in the grass.
There were some men working on what looks like a drainage system that runs through the park. There were several large earth moving machines we had to walk past.
Okay, so it is good to note: when working with green horses, expectation is a good thing, anticipation needs to be tempered. When we first noted the excavator, generator and large water pipe a man was standing in and attempting to beat into submission with what sounded like a jackhammer, K got really stressed. You could hear it in her voice. I said something to her along the line of we are going to ride by like nothing is out of the ordinary, and you are going to let your stress go. If we have to, we can dismount and hand walk them past, but first we are going to act like nothing is wrong. We moved Eddy up between Ashke and Amaar (once again, we were riding with just geldings) and walked past. Ashke (you know, the seasoned trail horse and also the one closest to the action) stopped to peruse the ongoings to make sure nothing was going to eat us, then calmly continued. After that, the earth moving machines were no big deal.
Now, it can be different on the trail when you are by yourself. And it could have been different yesterday if the horses hadn't trusted their riders to get them safely past. I think that Ashke takes his position as herd leader seriously, and in cases like this one, having J out in front helps give him confidence. (As an aside, this was our second ride with K and Eddy and Eddy has already begun looking to J as his herd buddy and companion.) As Mark Rashid points out when he talks about the six degrees of separation, our response and expectation are communicated to our horses. Sometimes the spookiness is rider generated. If we react to something we see, it will reinforce what the horse is fearful of, rather than we (the rider) focusing on the task at hand and what we are trying to accomplish with our horses. Which, in this case, was riding confidently down the trail.
It really was a perfect winter day. This picture is proof that snow doesn't stick around (S and C) and that we have lots of great riding weather during the winter here. I know it's not technically winter until Solstice, but once we have a snowstorm that leaves measurable snowfall, I think it is winter.
J says this is her favorite picture from the day. I looked so happy and Ashke even wrinkled his nose at her.
It was really a lot of fun riding with a group (both the Teller and this ride) who obviously enjoy trail riding. I think both L and K had ear to ear grins all ride.
Although K and L rode in sweatshirts, I was pretty comfortable in my thermal shirt with the sleeves pushed up. It was mild until about the point we turned back toward the trailers, and then the wind picked up. It wasn't colder, just really windy, which isn't a lot of fun for J.
One of the things we discussed on trail was Eddy cocking his tail to one side, especially the left, to compensate for something. He peed three times while we were riding and I asked K when the last time his sheath was cleaned. She said it had been a while. In watching his urine stream (we got that treat three times) it seemed less streamy and more spritzy. I suggested she have his sheath cleaned before moving to chiropractic assessment. By his third stop, K was in agreement. It seemed to me that a bean could be a possibility. K is going to get her vet out after Thanksgiving to do a cleaning.
The Arabians walked at a faster pace than Eddy. We did better at the trot, when we could keep the three horses next to each other. Even though most of the pictures show Ashke in the lead, we did all take turns leading.
The awesome part of a four season environment is the changing colors. And although they don't look as vibrant or varied, it is still incredible.
The water was so blue. The shades of yellow, brown and beige were peaceful and resting.
There was some spooking at mud and small patches of snow, but for the most part, the ride was mostly uneventful.
Getting close to the tree line.
We moved out at an effortless (for Ashke and Amaar) 9.5 mile trot, but it was hard on Eddy, so we slowed down. K said she was posting faster than she ever had.
We got close to the end of the trail and then turned left onto singletrack. Ashke has started acting more dominant in respect to his space on trail with other horses. Mostly ear flicks and pinned ears, but still . . . . maybe Saiph is right and being out on trail teaches a horse self-confidence.
We meandered back by the lakes (there are several lakes on both sides of the Platte River) and had our only real spook of the day. As Eddy, who was leading, walked past a tree, a small, horse-eating rabbit burst through the grass and scared the crap out of Eddy. He spun and then stopped. K rode the spin and got control back. Amaar tried to spin but L stopped him. Ashke did the start and stop thing.
We got to meander through the trees along the Platte River
K had permagrin
Still living her dream.
We left the river and headed across the field following a singletrack trail. We put J out in front of us, since the trail was muddy and I was watching her back tire as she rode. The mud on the tire got thicker and thicker, until it was two inches off the tire. We have a lot of clay in the soil here. The bike got unwieldy and J slipped. She managed to get her shoe out of the lock on her pedal without crashing, but she pulled over to the side and let us go by. At that point the singletrack had a verge on either side that allowed both J and the horses to walk on drier ground. J moved her bike onto the verge and rode through the grass.
Do you know what happens when you take two inches of clay mud and mix it liberally with dry grass and straw-like weeds?
It bricked the bike.
The mud and grass created a brick to the point where the bike tire did not rotate. I had looked back and realized J had stopped and was doing something with the only small tree in the area. I turned back (followed by the others) and went to see what J was doing. She was trying to remove the mud from her bike via a small stick.
The brick was in the derailer, the spokes, matted between the tire and the frame.
J's little stick wasn't working so I rode Ashke over to a tree and broke off a branch, which I brought back for her. It worked better, but slow.
I went over and broke off another stick and went back to help. The two of us managed to get the six inch by four inch brick that had formed between the frame, the tire and the derailer out of the way, which allowed the tire to turn. Once both tires were free, J was able to get back on and by staying only on the grass, was able to keep the tires turning. It took 45 minutes of work with a stick and the hose back home to get the bike relatively clean.
When I went to get back on I positioned Ashke next to a downed tree. I stepped up on the tree to use it as a mounting block. When I put my foot in the stirrup and cued Ashke, he shifted and braced. I bounced on my back foot and went to step up. As I stepped up the tree I was standing on came up out of the grass and Ashke spooked. Then he jammed his mouth and threw his head up, back peddling away from me as I hopped after him with one foot in the stirrup. He finally stopped moving and I got my foot out of the stirrup. We repositioned and this time I made sure he understood he should stand. He still spooked but I was ready for it (finally realized what was spooking him, since I didn't figure it out the first time) and I managed to get back in the saddle. We made our way to the trailers, untacked, loaded Eddy with Ashke that time (K had to stand behind him once he had figured out he wasn't going to get to pull back and encourage him to walk in) and headed for home.
It was a great ride and another 6 miles to our November mileage.