Thursday, March 25, 2010

We are surviving

We were a bit anxious on Tuesday night, our first attempt without Anne present.  But her voice is still audible in our heads and we plowed ahead.  I worked him some on the lunge to be sure he was listening and then Allison ground drove him. That helped to clarify things for her and to understand why we were doing it.  Then she got on.  He's not perfect, he doesn't stand perfectly still, it took us 3 or 4 attempts but then he did stand perfectly still, didn't move off and waited for her to tell him to walk.  I kept them attached to the lunge for safety's sake and to get her to relax.  And then she said she was ready and I detached him.  At first I walked with him but he was better when I stepped away and let them carry on.  He had a beautiful free walk, little to no swishy tail and a long neck.  They did their serpentines and he kept moving his feet. She was able to change up his pace at the walk and he was perfect so we called it a night, tears running down my face.We actually did it.

Last night was the same thing although we got a later start than had planned.  We gave him every chance to come apart but he didn't.  I worked with him on the lunge while Allison rode Noah and that was a distraction.  Then she rode him after Noah got put back in his stall. Thinking about it, not such a good plan and we won't do it that way again.  He could have used that as a reason to let the evil out but didn't so that alone gives us more confidence.  Luckily Sarah was there and captured the ride on video.  Thank goodness we have our own documentary crew, it's our own version of reality TV, think we could sell ourselves and become famous? Things we realize, she almost forgot and let him pull his head down (we can't trust him enough for that yet) but caught herself and him and just carried on.  Sammy gravitates toward the mirror and she needs to initiate that turn sooner. (Although the mirror is a good thing when you need to capture a loose horse.  Don't ask me how I know.)

But here is the ride.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sammy's Next Chapter

Sammy, Allison and I had the most perfect weekend we could have imagined. Well, maybe Sammy didn't but Allison and I did. We picked Anne Kenan up from the airport on Friday and headed to the barn.  Sammy's life has been changed.  He proved to us Sunday before she left that he was definitely none the worse for the wear but his life has been set on a new pathway. (And by the way, sometime over the last few months when I last measured him, he's grown a couple of inches. He's just shy of 16H.  How did THAT happen?)

Sammy's world was rocked when he found out that my boundaries were not quite the same as Anne's.  What's a mother to do. Now my line has been reset and all will be well.  But Sammy could not believe that Anne was really serious about this stuff and he showed her everything he had.  He can buck, he can rear and he can do the buck and kick thing very well.  Anne says his crown as King of the barn has been removed and he didn't appreciate that much. He never gave in completely but certainly gave himself enough of a workout that it was time that he was sat on.  Anne got on first, walked a few steps, got off  and got back on. (And look, I actually found the reins to his bridle)

And then it was Allison's turn. She was a little nervous but Sammy just said come on up.
What a thrill to see her sitting on him and how casual he was about the whole thing.

And then he was done for the day.

We left him to think about things and we all wondered what horse we would have on Saturday.

Saturday was one of those perfect Florida spring days. It got up to 77 and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The barn was a hub of activity because everyone wanted to enjoy the beautiful day. Allison rode her boy Noah and Kendra's horse Venice that she adores and I even climbed on Kendra's Sebastian - no small feat since I think he's over 17H but I figured I'd better get back in the saddle and get in some sort of shape and Kendra very graciously persuaded me that Sebastian should be the tool.  And then it was Sammy's turn. Anne started out ground driving him a bit and Sammy was a different horse with her than he had been on Friday. He tested a little but gave it up quickly so we tacked him up. A quick check on the lunge to make sure he was listening and then it was time. Anne went riding.!

He was a good boy and was done for the day.  I think we all felt much better about our ability to be successful  after this.  I think Anne was thinking she needed to stay a while longer and I was wondering how I could kidnap her and not let her leave.  But Sammy showed us he wants to be a good boy and wants to be quiet and perhaps Allison and I together could do this.

Then we had to face Sunday and the fact that Anne would be leaving us that day. Allison and I took full advantage of having her to ourselves and tried to harvest any knowledge and experience she could give us.  We were selfish but knew we needed it. We did his groundwork first and we will continue to follow this pattern for now.  Then Anne climbed on.  Sammy was a tired camper probably more mentally than physically and his preferred gait was stand.  Anne says this actually made him harder to ride but Allison then took her turn.You'll see in the beginning, Sammy realized Anne had let go but I don't think Allison had.

This is the second part of the ride, I split it in 2 parts because it took so very long to upload.  It's more of the same and you won't miss anything by not watching but feel free.

And then we had to let Anne go back home.  I don't know who was more nervous about that, her or us!  But we are confident we have the tools to carry on...and we know where to find her if we need her!  Many, many thanks to you Anne, I could not have imagined this happening in a more perfect way and place.  Also many thanks to Greg, Laurel and Kendra for giving us such a wonderful home and sharing your 4 legged kids with us.  Tonight, Allison and I go it alone.  Anne is on standby.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

We're coming down to the wire

It was another beautiful day here.  As I drove away from the barn, it occurred to me that I won't see Sammy again until Friday and it will be showtime.  But I think he's ready, I know Allison and I are.  I had somehow neglected to spend much time with Sammy in the outdoor ring because I wanted to get him acclimated to the covered arena. (Does everyone know we have one of those at Bridlewood?)  So a week or so ago I thought I'd better get him in the outdoor ring some....and he decided to show me he has skills....not the ones I was asking for but he can sure levitate if he is so inclined. We ended on a good note that day but I was having my doubts that he was really ready for our next adventure.  Due to the weather, today was the first day I got him back in the outdoor ring and he could not have been better.  He cantered a few strides but that was the extent of the fireworks today.  The grown up version was back and I feel so much better.  I know we will have good grown up days and silly brat days, but now I think I can deal with the silliness, knowing the grownup is lurking inside.

Sammy has made good friends in his new home.  Greg and Joey pay close attention and they take such good care of all the horses.  Joey is more comfortable around Sammy now that he knows he just wants his butt scratched when he turns his butt to you.  I warned everyone on move in day but Joey didn't get the memo.  Ooops.  But now, Sammy has him trained just like the rest of us.

Some of you will remember that Sarah introduced Sammy to toes when he was just a few months old. Remember? This was Memorial Day 2007.

And this has lead to some unexpected results.  Sammy still has a thing for feet.  He is always looking for the toes that are hiding.

What we didn't realize was that somehow, Noah would be using this to his advantage.  He was going through bell boots at an alarming rate.  They were ripped in very odd places and very much destroyed.  Then Greg caught them in the act.  Noah was sticking is foot under the lowest board on the fence and Sammy was ripping off his bell boots.  No picture of that but Greg said there was Sammy, looking at him with Noah's bell boot in his mouth.   Somehow, I think this is Sarah's fault. Don't you all think she needs to contribute to Noah's bell boot fund?

They look so sweet and innocent but that Noah, the mature one, is a bad influence I tell you.
Every once in a while I get a glimpse of Lily in Sammy.  He is so much like her in attitude and personality but sometimes, he gives me a look that is channeling Lily. Here she is.

So that's where we are today.  Sammy and I are as ready as we can get.

And he is eager to get started.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Countdown Begins

There are no pictures for this post, no one is ever around when I need them but I had to share.  Sammy was a superstar today.  Thanks to our friend and mentor, we have been working a bit on the lunge getting Sammy to have slow feet and using his hind end to free up his shoulder.  As we know, I am his handicap and I am working on some coordination issues (I'm sure you all have trouble believing that!)  We don't lunge every time I visit him but try to mix it up a bit.  The  2 times before today have been, oh, rather exuberant on Sammy's part.  This is understandable, new home, cold weather, covered arena.  I get it.  But all I could think of was, uhoh, we could be dead soon.  Because....drum roll please.....he will be started under saddle in less than 3 weeks. (more on that later)  But today....ah, today.  How can I tell you what a good day today was.  I have been working for 9 straight days but got off early today and ran to the barn with Remy.  It was warm, 70 degrees, and sunny and blue skies. Sammy was the perfect gentleman in the crossties and tacking up. And what a good little man he was on the lunge line today. There was no playing, he walked politely, trotted when asked, slowly and with his back round and free.  It was a beautiful thing.  Several walk trots in both directions and then we were done.  He was a grown up today and somehow he knew exactly what I needed.  I don't care anymore that I'm exhausted from all the extra hours at work I've been putting doesn't really matter.  It doesn't matter that I have 3 more 12 hour days to go before I get 2 complete days off.  Today was a good day. Thanks Sammy.

Anne Kenan will be down for 3 days starting March 19 to help us get Sammy started under saddle. She has long been an influence for us both directly and indirectly through Kacee and I could think of no one I would rather have help us get him started.  Her philosophies on horsemanship mirror our own and truthfully ours were probably greatly shaped by hers. This was my hope when Sammy was first born but didn't really think it would be possible.  But here we are, less than 3 weeks away so I am now a believer.  (She has her flight reservations so I don't think there is any turning back now)  I expect there will be more pictures and video than you will ever care to see then.  So start your engines, Sammy will be carrying someone around soon.

I can't post without at least 1 picture.  Here is Remy and Bella enjoying the sunshine.