Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon

I learned from the weatherman that this is a Blue Moon, and ever since I walked the dogs in the moonlight last night I have been dying to ride in it. Betsy sent me a photo of her riding in this eastern seaboard storm we are having, and she looked like a Mountain Woman. I was dying to ride even more…but perhaps you know how much my AhD just loves snowstorms (snicker)….I headed out to the barn anyway. AhD was still wet from being out all day, but I was determined to have a go of it, so I thought I would use the bright pink saddle blanket on his bare back to keep myself dry and keep Harold entertained.
It even stopped snowing, and the moon was out! It was beautiful. At first, AhD pretended that the deer or turkeys or whatever it was (or wasn’t) across the stone wall, but I kept up the groundwork. Lateral flexion, lunging, backing him out of my space. AhD’s companion Mister Man just hung out and watched us. I used our water tank to hop on AhD’s back, foregoing the blanket, but I didn’t mind the dampness at all. I was mostly watching those Curly ears to gauge his temperament and that beautious curly mane, well, just because it is beautious! We did lateral flexion and backing exercises. We practiced turning using seat and legs, and I was very pleased to note that AhD’s attitude was quite willing and cooperative! I am psyched for the noontime ride tomorrow, and I am looking forward to reading everyone’s blogs. Happy New Year, and AWAY WE GO!

New Year's Eve Snowy Ride

Tonight is supposed to be a blue moon - and Zoe and I thought it would be fun to ride out in the dark in the blue moon -- BUT... stormy and snowy-- there will be no visible moon tonight - so we rode this afternoon instead.

Here's my beautiful girl waiting patiently on the hitchrail for me to get myself together and ready.

We decide on the route up my little mountain and over toward Zoe's house - then down the other side - to exit out the other side and trot home on the road. Now - last week I ended up sliding down this little roadway with my tractor because of the ice - we have so much running water still that is freezing it will be a difficult winter if it keeps up. We tried to keep the horses to the middle or the edge so they had some purchase in the crispier snow.

Up into the pine woods.

Couple of good views of the RAC jacket which by the way is, according to Zoe, very cozy and very durable ! :)

Oh no-- what is this.. I knew there was logging going on but where is our trail and everything in here is SO different now. We also find out they are working in here today, cutting some huge trees. We have to figure out an alternative route out.

We'll follow the skidder tracks down to their landing and change direction down there.

My farm is diagonally across the valley from here.

Operation Central..

They are even hauling logs today ! The little stuff is being chipped for the large chip furnaces that are popular now in Vermont.
Supposedly very energy efficient and acceptably "green".

We crossed the road, zipped into another trail and wound around out to this field and barn, which makes a nice somber winter photo.

After some time on the trail we are wet and beginning to feel a chill.

Here we are - Keri and me... trotting home. I am not sure what is up with my chicken elbows.. but it could be the many layers. I am even wearing my new insulated overpants. That's a lot of clothes !! I asked Susan if I looked like a red snowy weeble wobble.

And you can see Keri is a snowflake icicle queen too. You can't see it because it's partly cropped out- but the charm Michelle made is still on Keri's bridle. We won that for something with the RAC.

I hope the roads clear up a bit- because the ice is terrible this year and makes for slow going. The trails are wet and muddy and slick -- challenging for sure. Riding is still fun but there is little chance to really move out much --- treacherous everywhere. BIG SIGH.
I hope Zoe and I will be able to join in the New Year's Day ride with denise and others. We always ride on New Year's day- a tradition.. so if the weather holds out we will be out in the saddle again :)
Enjoy ~ and Happy New Year !

New Year's Day - Ride with Me?

HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE everyone!!!

Would anyone be interested in joining Reese and I for a "Ride with Me" ride tomorrow, New Year's Day, say around 12:00 p.m. EST? If not then, when is good for you all?

What is a "Ride with Me" ride you ask? It is where we all pick a distinct time and ride our horses AT that precise time, no matter where we live. If you want, we can call each other....and say, "I'm heading out....are you?" --- Or if your horse is good about cell rings, you can call each other on the trail too. Talk briefly about where you are and what you are you were riding together.

Just knowing that there are maybe hundreds of people on their curlies at the same time you are.....all across the country is a pretty cool feeling!! Diane Robertson, if you are reading this, I WILL have my phone charged up and ready for your call, Girl!

You don't really have to tell anyone, just go out, ride and report back to this blog on what you did!! Of course, it is always more fun if you give your cell to someone so they can call you. =] Non-RAC'ers can chime in too, by commenting to someone else's post or this one.

Let's start the New Year off RIGHT! =] And get this blog buzzin!!!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to my fellow RACers!

Merry Christmas! Happy Christmas! Celebrate today! I wish my fellow RACers a wonderful holiday filled with love and joy.
-Susan and AhD from Maine

Merry Christmas everyone !

Christmas day 2009...busy with tradition/family and friends..including our four legged friends..equine and feline...Merry Christmas to everyone at RAC and bring it on for the RAC 2010 year!!! Merry Christmas everyone from Creekside Curlies...Linda and the gang!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Greeting

Zoe and I had our Christmas Eve ride tonight.. in search of holiday lights and displays. Sparse indeed... I did get some photo's -- tricky in the dark. Those who are close to me know I have had a horrendous week.. and the weather -- well .. it's been brutal - so it was SOOOO de- "light" -ful to be in the saddle tonight. I am too tired to post any photo's other than my Season's Greeting from me and Keri -- Zoe photo'd and helped me get de-lighted :) Then we had our ride around town seeking cheer. I'll post a bit of that in the morning.

In the meantime -- Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night :)

PS - Harold - it's great to see you posting. Glad you are planning to get back in the saddle.
Enjoy ~

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This year is coming to an end and I am gaining strength every day, I have not been on a horse since my trip to the bad lands this spring, but I think now I am strong enough to try and saddle up.
I guess we are supposed to get up to 20 inches of snow tonight tomorrow and Sat. so I will have a lot of snow to land in.
When I came home from the hospital in Oct. I was very weak and in the process of learning to walk again, I was so inspired by the blogs I read that I gained a lot of emotional strength to get where I am today, A special Thanks from me to Susan and AhD, you can't know how much you done for me.
A very very Merry Christmas to my fellow Curly Riders and a Happy New Year. Also thanks to Denise and her Contest.

Denise & Reese wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

...AND Happy New Year!
As this year draws to a close, I ponder so many enjoyable moments while reading all your stories and sharing in your adventures. I know so many others have too. November showed almost 1,000 visitors to this blog and in December close to 800. So if you think no one is around, I am hear to say, we are! =] I know there is a ripple effect due to your enthusiasm and it has triggered many to get out any promote, ride and enjoy their curlies. So Thank you ALL who participated, shared and joined with us in 2009 as part of the Ride-A-Curly. You have and ARE making a difference!!
Thank you too, to Sophie in France, our ONLY overseas rider in 09 and huge supporter of Curly Horse Country and the RAC. I am hoping this group will spread to those abroad in years to come, because I think it's the coolest thing to see Curly shirts being worn around the world, don't you? Betsy, Zoe, Susan, Angie, Heather, Linda...- thank you for being such diehard bloggers! Many others of you promoted quietly in your own backyard or while doing promos and shows. And although we didn't hear from you, we know you were out there just the same, making your own waves too! I thank all of you! Some found 2009 a difficult year, either due to illness, hardship or family struggles and I want to thank you for hanging in there and leaning on the RAC to brighten your spirits and keep you going. Every single member of the RAC is valuable and I just want to tell you that. You all inspire me by showing your support for this program. It makes it all worthwhile to see it's purpose being fulfilled through all of you.
For those of you joining us in 2010, this is going to be an amazing year. I have some new MINI contests planned WITH prizes! So GET ready..along with of course, the Grand and Reserve prizes for end of year as well in all 5 divisions. Maybe a surprise contest too -- ! But, for many it isn't even about the prizes, it's about supporting each other and being part of a team...sharing goals. So what do you say, Let's do this thing and get ready for another year!
I invite you all to share your thoughts here on this blog in this last week of the 2009 year. Maybe it's just Holiday wishes, maybe it's more...whatever you wish. Right now, this blog is your stage, have at it! You are unleashed!! LoL.
Blessings to you all,
Your side-line cheerleader, Denise Conroy and RAC's curly mascot, Reese. =]

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advanced lunge work

I have simply been having a blast doing some advanced lunge work with our mare Izzy....We have progressed from learning voice commands, to a little faster work, such as trot, whoa, trot, and canter, whoa, will take a bit more time to do canter, whoa, canter. Izzy is building muscle and coordination too. She is awesome in the crossties now, she clips without issue and today, we start long lining work.

My right hip has been giving me fits....I should mutter something about getting older, but I won't! So, I have not been riding her yet. As soon as my hip settles down a bit, I will be riding.

I have been totally impressed with the way this mare has progressed into advanced training. When we first started if she got confused, she got, if she gets confused, she just waits to find out more info, so she can make the right decision. It is highly rewarding to see her mature. I have no doubt in my mind she will make a wonderful riding partner. Did I mention she *is* for sale..LOL....

Our outside riding footing is horrible, so we will stay in the arena for now....we got 6" of snow, then about 2" of are lucky if you do not sink above your boots!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pure Pleasure Riding

Monday - we had to take a break from MORE snow removal and go for a ride. Zoe took Zoe's Day Dream - who we call Reverie.. I am -- of course-- astride my gorgeous Keri. Hunting season is over so we can trot trail.. we travel down the back road a bit to get to the opening. It's a bit gloomy but fun to get out in the saddle after the second storm in a row.

What else can I say - but the woods are beautiful and trotting in snow is so much fun !! We had some canters as well.. and the movement as the horses lift their legs higher to plow through the deep flaky white stuff is exhilarating. We travel through hemlock woods and hardwood forest -- each with a differing wintry feel.

For winter - there is an abundance of water ! Under all this white powder, is LOTS of mud as the ground never froze. Reverie is somewhat suspicious of these melt areas... leaves at the bottom of the openings.. brown/black holes ??

When she gets to the really deep water - she does not hesitate though - perhaps because it was covered in ice and blended in more.. this was deep, muddy and nasty !!

You can see how deep the puddle was by the high mud mark on her legs.

We trotted home and stopped in the big ring for some more vigorous snow trotting..

We've always loved Reverie from the day she was born. She has been a broodmare for many years and was only trained last spring. She is such an outstanding riding mare - and Zoe has been working with her for summer shows.. either along with Elektra or instead of Elektra, in the event that Elektra might sell. However-- Reverie is also listed for sale.. she will make someone an awesome mount - and so beautiful too- more so without all that mud though :)

This was a very refreshing ride - Today - Tuesday, we are planning to return to the trails at the end of Graham Road .. for more exploration. It will be fun.

Enjoy ~

Monday, December 14, 2009

Like a Bike

Rode Lyra this evening, first time since last March or so. Like a bike, who seems to remember how to be ridden between times without any accidents, so was Lyra... or something like that. She was wonderful. Quiet, well mannered, easy going, and holy cow!, I forgot how incredibly responsive she is!! You put a tiny bit of leg forward or back, and she's bending around your leg, you ask for a walk or a whoa, with your seat, and she's doing it! Who needs reins, bit, bridle with a horse like her?! Ok, so used them, but still, she was incredible! Couldn't believe how well behaved.
It snowed last night, had melted some by this afternoon, ground is solid as a rock frozen underneath a layer of mud from it beginning to rain late afternoon. I rode in my new Wintec Dressage saddle, I can't say enough how happy I am with this saddle! And that my plans to ride don't have to be curtailed due to some rain, just have to go slow and steady, avoid any slips on the terrible condition of ground. Sadly, while I'd hoped to get a couple of pictures, due to the rain, the camera staid in the house. Hopefully next time, it's supposed to snow again, so maybe in the morning, in the snow.
Since Lyra made it abundantly clear that she hadn't forgotten a thing since our last ride, Dorothy rode second. Dorothy is relatively new to riding and we are still working on her mounting up by herself. Lyra stood stock still while Dorothy struggled with it. After Dorothy was up, Lyra continued to just stand there, waiting for Dorothy to adjust and ask her to walk on. Dorothy got to do a few direction changes with just her legs and seat. Very rewarding to already be able to do that! A couple of times Dorothy found herself continuing a turn or stopping and asked why Lyra was doing that. I asked Dorothy to think about what she was doing at the moment Lyra was doing something other than what Dorothy wanted to be doing, where was she looking, what was she thinking?, what was her body actually doing at the time?, like a light going off followed by "oh!" that's why she did that, I was doing...(fill in the blank), so I asked her to do that!". To me, Lyra is an invaluable gem school horse wise, she is thoughtful, patient, kind, looks out for her rider, and does exactly what she is asked to, which is a fantastic teaching tool for the most part.
While riding Lyra, her filly, Rogue, who isn't weaned yet, of course, so we rode with the herd (I know, not recommended, but it's time for Lyra to start riding again, and well, much easier to just stay with the group, then try to figure out what to do with Rogue). Rogue was not happy about the idea of her Mommy being ridden, she was WILD! Ran and jumped, reared, bucked , leapt into the air, ran some more, stood up, sprinted around some more, and then got Rora (Epona's filly) in on the action. Rora did Caprioles, a few of them, effortlessly, it was amazing!! I really, really wish we'd had the camera out there! Rora also ran and jumped, leapt, bucked, reared, etc..., but seriously, her airs above the ground continue to amaze me, not to mention both of her trots were incredibly fluid and ground covering, just beautiful.
Xandra followed Lyra about, trying to participate in everything. I had to promise her she'd get to try out the whole riding thing in the not too distant future. Maybe late summer, will see how well developed she is by then, I'll have my Vet take a look at her first. I'm a little worried I'll a) start her too soon and hurt her for a successful long lived riding career or b) always see her as my baby and never actually start her. So trying to balance that. I'm in no hurry though. She literally just turned three, hard to believe!
Dinner beckons. The fire in the wood stove feels wonderful. I'm looking forward to riding Lyra again tomorrow! :-)
Hope this note finds everyone well.
Happy Trails!! :-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sage's first canter under saddle

Sage and I had a few more lessons after the video I posted back in December. The very next week we did his first canter under saddle!! When he was started under saddle a few years ago he was only at the trainer's for 3 weeks and she got him started walk-trot pretty well, but felt that being very tall she wouldn't be able to do a first canter on him without getting top-heavy and falling off. Then Sage was lame for a long time, I was sick, and we didn't get to ride much at all, let alone trot or canter.

It's been a long road getting him back in shape and sound enough to canter with a rider on his back. He's needed to be on a dry lot this year and lost a LOT of weight, which really helped his overall soundness but has NOT been good for keeping him in shape. That just meant prioritizing riding has been all the more necessary, which certainly isn't a bad thing. :D

I also worked hard this year on getting *me* back in shape. With my health issues mostly behind me I could focus on strengthening my muscles and becoming a good enough rider to do a first canter on my green horse. This spring I started out feeling shaky just posting the trot, but by this fall I was feeling much more secure.

I'm going to college part-time right now as well as working, but the nice thing is that my college allows non-traditional students to participate in campus activities. And...there's an equestrian club!! So this fall I started going out to the college barn and doing chores in exchange for lessons. That was in addition to taking lessons on Sage with our trainer. The great thing about the college lessons was being able to ride steady-eddie lesson horses and practice cantering again. I was really nervous at first! The ground seemed so far away and cantering felt really fast. But the more I did it the easier things got and now it seems like not a big deal.

The biggest surprise for me was that cantering on my lesson horse is actually *harder* than cantering Sage for the first time ever was. Sage is much narrower and my saddle fits him well...and he has a nice rocking horse canter. It was so much fun! The crazy part was that I had Swine Flu and was in bed for a week with a fever...and the first day I got out of bed was to go canter my horse!

The other big news is that Sage has moved to a new barn. He's lived at my mom's house with her horse for awhile now and my mom moved to a new house, that didn't have a barn. So her husband designed one for her and it was built at a blinding pace starting late this fall.

It was a bit nerve-wracking when we first moved Sage there because the construction guys were still finishing details on the barn and Sage kept *helping*. Everyday the construction guys had new stories for my mom. They thought Sage was great! The new barn is absolutely gorgeous. Here is Sage out in his new dry lot, exploring the barn;

(This area has been fenced off for our muck pile now--very handy to be able to just dump the wheelbarrow over the edge!)

Here's Sage's new stall;

And where the stalls lead out to the dry lot for Sage;

So, it's been a very exciting fall and will hopefully be an even better winter now that Sage is on a dirt road and near lots of trails. Here's to winter riding! :D

Friday, December 11, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my Curly friends! Though I haven't had much to blog about the past 6 months, my New Year's resolution is to get BACK IN THE SADDLE! Custer is scheduled to head back to the trainer in January for some reining training and to knock the rust off, so that "Mom" (me) can enjoy some adventures with him and stop reading about everyone else's! So hopefully by February/March when he's done and when our weather here is becoming nice and warm - I can start blogging of our adventures together!

Curly hugs and wishes for you all and peace and joy during the holiday season!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Two Very Different Rides

The air was damp with impending snow during our ride today, but I was dressed for it with fleece, toasty socks and flannel lined jeans. AhD was full of vim and vigor again today, and I enjoyed it thoroughly! This time, we scampered into the woods behind the house, and took my trusty Lab Grace, who was PERFECT. We bushwhacked over to Back Street, taking a route that we could probably only manage in Nov or December when all the leaves are off the trees and the ground is fairly dry. Still it was tight, and AhD wound his way around saplings while I ducked under limbs. When AhD charged up a couple of small hills, I was wishing he had more mane to hang on to, because I had to duck and bend this way and that to avoid branches. Once out on the road, I ran into my nephew Jason, who said I had scared up three deer towards him in the woods. Cool! AhD outdid himself and stood quietly while I chatted with Jason and also with another neighbor. Wow! I was proud of my boy! We crossed the road and headed into an apple orchard and then on into another orchard that was brand new country for us even though it is only a mile from my house. The open gate was just too inviting, and we meandered around in there for a while enjoying the landscape before finding a break in the stone wall and heading towards home through the woods. This was a lovely, lovely ride that left me feeling comfortably tired and completely satisfied.
A Change of Mood
WELL! The snowstorm hit, and I brought work home and decided to take a break for a ride in the pristine beauty. Remembering my last jaunt in a snowstorm with AhD, I figured I might be in for quite a ride…. I saddled up in the barn, and my first clue was when AhD bowed when I asked him to back up. Hmmm. Still longing for pristine beauty, I shoveled out the front barn door, led him out and saddled up. He was a good boy for mounting, and a good boy heading down the road. He was even a good boy to let me admire the beautiful red berry bush! I could tell his mood was souring, though. We hit an icy patch under the snow, and I decided to turn him around rather than risk a bad ride. Well!!! I could tell he wanted back to the barn NOW and the heck with the snow blowing in his face! Honestly, he was so grouchy, I got a kick out of it. I dismounted and took a few pictures to share his rotten mood with you all. Oh, he was giving me a piece of his mind! He tickles my funny bone; I can't help it. Back at the barn, he gently laid his full face on me. Perhaps he was telling me he forgave me for being such a dolt as to take him out in a snowstorm. Guess sweet snowstorm riding isn’t in the cards for me and my Curly pony!

A Little Bragging and a Rather Dreary but fun ride

I'll get my bragging out of the way first ! :)

I know I already announced that Elektra is one of the ICHO Horse of the Year... she also earned a nice ribbon and prize from the CSI for 2009 HOY for her Intro level showing this past summer !

In case you were wondering -- Elektra's CSI registered name is Thia Elektra, because of their naming regulations - I needed to start ner name with a "T".. and since Elektra is named after a great aunt who lived on the isle of Crete -- I chose Thia (aunt).

If Elektra is still with us for show year 2010, she will compete in training level. As I have mentioned in past posts, Zoe is building up to side passes... Elektra can now hold shoulders in for almost an entire 20 meter circle, both directions.. pretty good !! But-- don't forget... Elektra is listed for sale and someone else can ride her to a win

In between lessons, Zoe is schooling Elektra in the indoor (the big ring is too smushy right now) and as usual, I am following her around with Keri.. Keri is also doing well with her shoulders in, haunches out. But we are not ready to trot a circle with that simultaneously going on yet.. (possibly never). That's not really due to Keri's shortcomings-- more mine. Here is another exercise we do a few times at the start of our work out. This is supposed to build back muscles and help get the horse using the hind end more. Can't hurt to keep Keri's back strong as she is coming into old age. :) At any rate-- it's fun.

Tuesday - we had all day free.. so in spite of the damp, cold, snow and icy roads -- we wanted to get out for a nice long pleasure ride. There are 4 more days left of the last segment of hunting.. and hopefully we can get back into trail exploration. We decided to trot through Stone Village in Chester.. it's been awhile since we sauntered the entire length of Trebo Road and perhaps Stone Village will be all dressed up for the holidays and make for some pretty photo's.

The back roads were not well sanded and very slick.. so we did not get much trotting in. Keri and Teasel like to be side by side -- but we quickly discovered that we were going to have to go single file way to the side, where there is more traction. Even with Keri's studs - she was slipping. The single file thing made both horses cranky ... but it did give me the opportunity to work on the shoulders in and out as we walked along the side of the road.

Right here is where we turn left up Crow Hill Road to trot home if we are going the 12 mile loop... but today we stay straight - to get down on Route 103 and into Stone Village.

Route 103.. you can see it's a rather dreary day.

Into the Stone Village -- where we are dissappointed -- hardly any decorations or lights. Is it too early or are people just discouraged this year ?

This house was once a one room school house.

Per usual, I have more photo's on my farm blog of the trip into the village.

You might have noticed in so many of my photo's and video's - my neighbors across the road from my farm have several greenhouses - this is their Stone Village Farmers Market- where they sell flowers, their own vegetables and holiday items.. like pumpkins and trees. Even this did not seem that festive to me this year.

Right about now, my feet are more than a bit chilly. But now we will be on tar for awhile and can trot and canter some to warm up. The horses are ready to move after all that tip toe-ing on ice for many miles.

We trot up over Crow Hill - and then back on dirt road to homebase.

Zoe and I have decided, since we did not see much for Holiday decorations... we are going to try a night ride in search of lots of Christmas Lights ! That will be fun ... so watch for that :)

Today -- we are having our first big snowstorm of the year. A complete white out.. school cancelled. So that's one reason why I am here posting instead of outside :)

Enjoy ~