Monday, January 30, 2012

Jumping Joy- at it again

I really think that my assistant and I have too much fun at the barn! If you would have walked into the end door of the barn around 2:30pm today, you would have heard shrieks and giggles. I swear Achilles just rolls his eyes at us!

Now that Achilles and I have worked on jumping for several days, I've got a great idea. I'm going to do it BAREBACK! yehaw! I ask my assistant to longe me over the jumps. As Achilles and I near the jump, he feels like a cobra ready to strike. He jumps with beauty and grace as we go sailing into the air as my assistant shrieks. As we land, I giggle uncontrollably and my assistant says wide eyed, "Did you see that???" Now that really makes me laugh and I say, "No, but I FELT it!" I think Achilles and I won a gold medal for the olympics! Oh, wait- did I mention the jump was only about 6 inches?!

The next time over, Achilles was much more relaxed and jumped it for the height is actually was. I love Achilles so much. He is capable of much and even more willing. Look out Achilles, who knows what we'll have in store for you tomorrow! It's hard to actually call what I do "work" because it sure is fun!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adventures of Achilles

With a week of much warmer weather and Achilles' wolf tooth now removed, Achilles and I are off to an exciting week!

Yesterday's temperature was in the 40's, making it an amazing 60 degrees warmer than last week's coldest day that registered -21 in the barn. Being so "warm", my assistant and I hit the trail. I had a blast on Achilles. It was our 2nd official trail ride and he rode like a pro. We walked up the slippery hill that was still iced over in the shadows, barely glanced at the crazy herd of deer bounding over the fence, manuvered through the field of holes, walked calmly across the "land bridge", trotted and loped while remaining very relaxed and responsive to my cues. I was very proud of Achilles.

Today we began to conquer a series of jumps created by my assistant. I love it when my assistant or others create obstacles for me as they tend to challenge me more when the obstacle is not something that has come from my own mind. The series of jumps was three jumps in a row, none probably over a foot high. Two included tires that we found laying around the barn and the other included the funny pink mounting block. Jump #3 was no higher than jump #2, however it was interesting to see that Achilles over-jumped this one every time, whether we jumped it first or last.

I made the comment to my assistant that Achilles is my soulmate, a comment I have found myself stating more than once. I really feel that he is. My passion for horses expands beyond just the typical one discipline riding that riders often persue. I love cross-discipline riding and Achilles seems to also. I love how willing he is to try anything I give him and how he finds a renewed energy rather than uncertainty as we change up our daily routine.

My best friend, also a horse lover, will be visiting next week. Strangely enough she has never seen me ride Achilles and I am excited to show her our progress! She has been an excellent motivator in preparing for my competition. She regularly asks me and quizes me about what Achilles and I will be doing next to prepare for the competition. Thanks to her and all the countless others for helping me stay on task!! :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Staying Warm

Riding horses: warm
Cleaning stalls: warm
Breaking ice out of water buckets: warm
Instructing riding lessons: COLD!

As the temperature dips down below 0, I'm thinking that I am definately horse crazy. I'm actually enjoying being out in the cold cleaning stalls. I'm surprised that my hands are actually warmer after my gloves freeze. I guess it's like having an igloo on each hand insulating them... If you have to actually use your fingers, it is quite a different story!

Breaking the ice completely out of the water buckets took my assistant and me about an hour and we had a great time laughing at ourselves. Spending the last 7 years in Washington had allowed me to forget what breaking ice out of buckets is like; perhaps during my previous time in Montana I was smarter than to use buckets.... We do have heated water troughs and I appreciate them very much, but for some purposes we still use buckets. My assistant and I had our assortment of "tools" to break the ice in each of our buckets. We laughed at our caveman-like manner using rocks and sticks to chop the ice. It almost became a race to see who could break their ice first. Freezing water was splashing us in the face, ice chips were flying, etc! At one point my pigtails were even white with ice chunks hanging from them!

Riding is such an athletic activity that we sometimes find ourselves sweating and shedding off layers. It seems strange that you can get so warm in such cold weather! Don't get me wrong-even though I am shedding layers I do still have little warmers in my boots!!

Instructing riding lessons is where I find myself getting very cold. I move less as I find myself directing others in the action. Once you get cold it's hard to warm up. My assistant and I are at the barn for 8 hours each, so don't be surprised when you see us in our big, warm, insulated coveralls tomorrow!!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Little Buckaroos With Heart!

Today as I was getting ready to go to the barn I took a look at the temperature. A whole 1 degree! I reevaluated my clothing and added one more layer!

At the barn I turned the horses out and fed them their breakfast, wondering if anyone was going to call and cancel.

I sure love those kids who will let nothing stand in the way of their horse time! They showed up with layers on layers, hand warmers, several sets of gloves, hats, etc. I'm so proud of each of them! They each spent time walking and warming up their horses. One little cowgirl in particular always impresses me. She was out there running with Kiwi keeping herself warm, and even stayed late to help me feed the horses their dinner!

Keep it up Buckaroos! Keep riding and don't let anything stop you... you can accomplish anything!