Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Step it up

Last month there was a fire that destroyed a home. Although it destroyed a home, it has not destroyed the family that lived there. They lost the family cat Squeeker, but no other lives were lost and nobody was injured. For this, many of us are thankful. Many of you may know MiKael and her family thru the blog Rising Rainbow. As with every fire, the investigators look for the source and it was the furnace.

I have spoken wih MiKael thru text messages as they were staying with neighbors who were gracious enough to open their home and take them in. One of the first things I asked- What do you guys need? The reply was- What DON'T we need? lol True. But is there anything in particular that they needed asap? She gave me a list. Storage containers, duct tape, gloves, sweat pants and the list went on.... It was a start. I headed to the store and grabbed things from the list, but also things I thought they could use. Stuff that you don't think about until you need it and realize you don't have it.

The package arrived on Thursday, just like the post office said it would. I received a text saying "Your package arrived today. Your timing is perfect. The weight of this challenge is definitely hitting me. It is reassuring to know that somebody still cares. Thank you" We texted back and forth some more and again I asked if there is anything they still need. She gave me another quick rundown of things and then asked if I knew she had also lost most of her tack? Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. No, I didn't know that.

With the excption of bits and her show saddle, she lost all of her tack too. All of it. I know how I feel about my tack. I know some of the blogs I read are posted by self proclaimed tack ho's. I know many of us covet our tack and can't imagine losing any of it, let alone all of it in one shot.

So far in the loss- 5 western & one hunt saddles, pads, 5 sets of Victor custom work tack, all of her clippers, show clothes and custom hunt boots... Bridles, reins, saddle pads, all gone. Although we are heading into spring and summer, I asked about blankets? Yep. A dozen or so of those that were drying on the back porch, plus another handful of them on top of the washer & dryer. Wormer. MiKael kept a full rotation on hand of 3 different kinds of wormer, enough for all 30 horses. Roughly 100 wormers- all gone in the fire. POOF!

I know one of the hardest things to do is ask for help. Believe me, I know. I know they need it and could use pretty much everything. Back in the days of Fugly, where most of us originally 'met', it was preached long, hard and often- Be prepared for emergencies. But how do you plan for somthing like this? How do you plan to lose everything you've busted your ass long and hard for?

On some level I can relate, because thru the sham of a 10 year marriage and then the divorce I lost a lot too. While I lost a lot, I didnt lose everything. I can also relate in that, thru trying times like these, you really find out who your friends are. You also find out how generous others are. How kind, genuine and sincere people can be. Those last three things bear a lot of weight with me.

Although there is a GoFundMe page set up, I recently learned that they take 25% of all money raised as payment for the service. Twenty five percent is a lot. Especially when you'e already in a tough spot. There is also an account set up with Chase Bank, (information on MiKaels blog) and donations are welcome there too.

While there are things they need, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, WD-40, etc., the weight of the liquids adds to the cost of shipping and aerosols are restricted. Instead, you might consider sending gift cards. Think of the places you shop- grocery stores (Safeway), restaurants, a trip to the movies for a chance to get out and away for a little while. A little time to escape the reality of what happened. MiKeal also mentioned they need underwear. To me, this is a personal thing and a check or a gift card would go a long way rather than sending a package of the wrong kind in the wrong size.

If you'd like to donate tack, please do. I know we all have horses of various breeds and sizes, and our tack rooms seem to have a strange way of accumulation when we aren't looking.... If you're not in a position to donate any kind of tack, then how about a gift card at Jeffers, Valley Vet, Horse.com, Schneiders, Dover or any of the many, many other online places to shop and find things. I know MiKael and her family would appreciate it. One of the things she asked for was Thank you cards and stamps. As another friend of mine put it to me once- "In the middle of her own personal shit-storm, she thinks enough to take the time and provide me with a Hallmark moment."

Friday, April 10, 2015

Timing & being quiet

Recently there was a post over on the Sprinkler Bandit as to things you look for and when it might be best to sell your horse and find another one. She had listed several valid points to consider and while I agree with many of them, there is one other thing that comes into play. Timing.

Sometimes we have the right horse for us, just not at the right time. I have one of those now. My WB mare is for sale as many people know. Between the divorce, moving and everything else, I just don't have the time to put into her or really the money to be spending on her either. What really sucks in all of this, is that while riding her and putting the time and effort into training her so she has a decent shot at a good home, I am finding I am not only remembering a lot of what I knew about training, but also learning a lot too.

While my friend had given me some pointers and I had a few DUH! and A-HA! moments, there are also times I have to think about things and come up with ways to make it work. How to ask more clearly, when to accept what I get and when to push for more. The other night I had another one of those A-HA! moments. Aruba kept dropping her inside shoulder, leaning into the turns as we went around the round pen on the rail. I thought back to all of the ways I knew how to 'fix' it. I brought my inside shoulder back, sat up straight, looked UP, put my inside leg on her to move the shoulders over to the outside (which made it worse by the way), pushed different body parts different directions and while at the walk it all helped more or less... As soon as we picked up the trot it all. fell. apart. Again and again, and again.

I had worked her on straight lines before and decided what the hell. Why NOT try it again? If I was riding her straight at a fixed point across the pen, there was less chance that I would be leaning or riding in any way that would signal her to let things fall apart. Well what do you know??? I would find a post on the other side, aim for it and ride her straight at it, stopping when we reached it. The first couple of lines I will admit, got a little wobbly. Aruba wasn't sure what I was doing, what I was asking for or if I even knew what I wanted?

Part of this exercise was also to quiet me. Quiet my hands, quiet my legs, quiet my seat and just sit on my horse, letting her do the work. I was riding straight forward, so no reason to half halt or signal for a turn. Hands nice and wide, give her room to work and let her go. Quiet my legs- no moving body parts in or out on the circle, just keep it all moving forward between them. Quiet my seat- no posting, just sit the trot and drive her up into my hands to guide her where I wanted to go.

After several straight lines, some shorter and a only couple panels across the pen, some longer and all the way across the pen, Aruba got it and really started to work like she should. No leaning into the turns, no ignoring my legs, no dropping shoulders or hips, soft, forward and awesome. We were both being quiet. She was quiet in the bridle and I was doing my best to sit quietly on her, staying out of her way and letting it all happen like it should. I would pick a post, push her into a trot and aim straight for it, stopping her at the rail, letting her relax for a few seconds while I praised her, turn and find another post, trot to it, stop, praise and repeat. Turns were made in both directions so there was no anticipating where we would go next.

When we had several straight lines, both of us quiet and it was all working, I let her walk on the rail and then asked for a trot. I would sit the trot and she would sart off slowly enouh and as we worked our way aound the pen I felt that sweet spot in her stride when she was balanced and forward in her movement. When her movement started lifting me out of the saddle and forward with her, only then is when I sarted to post. If she started to lean and things slid back into falling apart all wrong, I eased her back down and would sit the trot until it felt right again and picked up posting. Going one direction we did great. When we reversed to go the other direction, things went to shit again. No big deal, we just went back to doing some straight lines and that fixed it. Going around on the rail again, sitting the trot until she had it right, then posting... things just clicked for us.