Monday, September 8, 2014

Love, Like and Dislike

I love summer.  I love sitting on a patio with friends having a cool drink.  I love BBQs.  I love sitting with my feet in the pool, hypnotized by the shimmers on the water.  I love the brightness of the sun.  I love the colours of the gardens.  I love the birds.  I love wearing linen and sandals.  But I am not a huge fan of summer riding.  I don’t like the bugs.  I don’t like the fact that, with temperatures hovering around 30C coupled with high humidity, I have sweat dripping down my face before I even get the saddle on Gem!   I don't like the feeling of sweat-soaked clothing sticking to me after I ride.  In addition to heat, this summer we had the added bonus of severe storms…..nice to watch through a window, but not great for anything else….  

Gem has been enjoying his life of leisure.   He loves his private turnout area, where he spends the day munching on hay or lounging under his tree.  DH, his roommate of 5 years, was turned out with the herd in June and now has his own little harem.  I thought Gem might miss him, but he took it in stride.  Besides, Gem is not alone; there are five other turnout areas bordering on his that have one or two horses in each.  They are separated from each other by electric tape fencing but are still able to socialize.   LA lunges him once a week, just to keep him loose.  He looks big and shiny and in spite of the heat and the horrific number of flies, his humour is generally good.  When I see him, we enjoy each other.  Maybe it’s an age thing (he will be 14 in October), but he seems content.  You would think that my inconsistent riding schedule over the summer would cause him to be impatient with me when we do ride, but it hasn’t.  I like the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any anxiety for either of us. 

There were a few times that I just didn’t want to ride out in the fields; too hot, too many bugs, etc. etc.   So Gem and I did short sessions in the front paddock.  We hadn’t really “worked” in a while, and I really enjoyed communicating with him this way.  He was patient and responsive.  One time, we actually did Keyhole with a young lady getting ready for a competition.  What fun!   Of course, his turn wasn’t tight after he went through the barrels, but he sure enjoyed loping home.  :-)


I actually love riding in a soft rain.  I love the quiet that comes about when it starts to rain, I love the sound of it on the leaves and I certainly love the coolness of it on my skin.  A fellow boarder and I were out on the trails last week and it started to rain, soft at first and then a little harder.  We ended up going into the forest.  We stood and watched the golfers on the other side of the wall.  It was refreshingly cool in the forest.  We were quite dry under the trees and it was peaceful.

I went out with DH’s Mom recently.  We had had quite a storm the night before and I wasn’t too happy about going out on the trails…..there’s mud after it rains…..mud.  Anyway, I sucked it up and off we went.  The forest is great, but for a big guy like Gem, it can be confining.  Some of the trails are too narrow, some have trees that are too low.  I have to be careful and remind my riding buddies of Gem’s size.  It’s happened more than once that we had to back out of a tight spot.  The forest is also a great place for deep mud….it never gets a chance to completely dry so when it rains, the mud gets deeper and squishier.  After walking through some deep mud without issue, I relaxed.  Yay!   We were on a narrow path and I was gabbing to DH’s Mom over my shoulder.  Then…wham!  Gem swerved to avoid a puddle and my left knee was slammed into a tree, pulling my leg out of the stirrup and half unseating me.  It hurt!!!  I iced it as soon as I got home.  My knee did swell a bit and I still have a really nice black bruise covering my knee cap.  The reality is that I should have been paying attention to where we were going in the forest, not turned in the saddle having a conversation.  Lesson learned.  It seems that I always end up with one injury every summer….I am hoping that this is it.

 DH’s Mom, TS and SS have gone on quite a few off-sites over the summer.  In general, the excursions have been good.  I guess you really get to know someone when you travel with them.  :-)  There were a couple of scary incidents, including TS experiencing a runaway.  DH’s Mom mentioned that she didn’t like the fact that SS believes that it’s OK to let his horse graze untethered…apparently, he believes that he has trained his horse to “stay”.  I agree with DH’s Mom.  If something were to spook the horse, he could take off and be a danger to himself and others.   The three of them did manage a camp overnighter mid-summer and said that although it was stifling hot, laying out under the stars and hearing your horse munching next to you was pretty awesome....I agree.  :-)

My plans to do an off-site trail ride this summer sort of went by the wayside.  The weather was a major factor for me.   LA and I talked about it on and off, with plans to do something the end of August.  Then LA sustained an injury to her forearm.  She was loading a usually calm mare, a mare that she knew well and had ridden, into her trailer.  This mare had trailering experience, but for some reason freaked out and kicked.  Her hoof narrowly missed LA’s head; fortunately her forearm happened to be positioned in front of her head and took the brunt of the kick.  It was confirmed after a visit to the hospital, that no bones were broken, but skin was broken (in the shape of the hoof!) and her arm was so swollen that her fingers were numb. Her arm looked like Popeye’s.   She was on pain medication for a week and had to take it easy.   She did not have an unkind word to say about the horse....stuff happens when you are around them and some things cannot be predicted. 

 The flies have been horrific this year, but for some strange reason, Gem only has a very, very small smattering of bot fly eggs on his legs.  What’s with that???  I am not complaining!  I like the fact that his legs don’t look yellow from the knee down!

Lady - May 2014
Lady is doing well!  She has put on weight and is loving her life.  She's now 35 years old and I like that she has found a forever home that allows her to mingle with other senior horses.  She is at a peaceful stage in her life and looks great.

I don't like barn politics and I certainly don't like being involved with barn nastiness.  There was  unrest at the barn this summer.   My understanding is that a boarder had LA look for another barrel racer for them.  The thought was that this second horse would also be boarded at LA's.   LA put time into locating a perfect horse for them.  They waffled back and forth, then bought the horse, did not pay LA a finders fee and then set the horse up in a out building on their hobby farm.  Then the boarder took her daughter out of lessons and started coaching her on the new horse at home.  WTH??  This woman doesn't even ride!  Her thought was that because she had sat through so many lessons that her daughter took with LA, she could do the same at home and save the money.  Then, to add insult to injury, this boarder started encouraging others at LA's barn to take gaming clinics at another facility; some boarders did, so there were two camps - the loyals to LA and the betrayers.  Sigh.   Disappointing for LA from a business perspective, yes.  But also devastating to her personally because this boarder and LA were friends!!  Well, not so much any more.   I am not sure if LA asked her to leave or if she did on her own but her other barrel horse is gone and so is her tack.  I like that the tension seems to have been lifted....and I also like that there is more space in the tack room!

I like the fact that the temperatures will start to become cooler.  My favourite time to ride is the fall and winter.  I love the colours and breathing in crisp air.  There are predictions that we are in for a mild fall.  If it means that I don't have to seriously layer-up clothing-wise until the end of November, then I will like that.  :-)


  1. Wolfie!!! Great to read about your summer. I'm not a big fan of high temperatures either; I usually tend to mooch about indoors when the sun's high in the sky. And the flies - ugh! Difficult to leave the back door open, the ruddy things fly in and refuse to leave.

    Liking the sound of chilled-out Gem, who's looking as gorgeous as ever. Obviously 'age' suits him ;) Good to read that you two have well and truly settled into your relationship, and are enjoying one another's company; I'm so happy and excited for you :)

    I like your description of riding in soft rain; and the image of you and Gem in the forest sitting out the rain sounds magical. But I winced big-time, reading about you whacking your knee, hope you're better now. It's easy to take your eye off the ball, though, when trail-riding.

    Thanks for the update on Lady; she's looking great and good to hear she's enjoying life.

    Politics anywhere is a royal pain in the behind! Some 'friend' that woman turned out to be. A non-rider giving lessons?? The mind boggles! Situations like this, you find out who your true friends and supporters are; sounds as if LA is better off without these people at her barn.

    1. Hi Joy! Heat and I don't mix well. Sweaty with big hair is not a good look for me. :-) Gem has really been awesome. I am sort of excited about the possibilities of what it will be like for us after I retire....which is coming up fast!! Yikes!

  2. I agree with you about the heat and bugs. They don't mix with me and riding either. I don't get big hair I get the straight plastered to my head look. Haven't been riding much either. Seems when I have the time it's miserable out and when I don't it's gorgeous. I can't believe that our horses are happy when we decide to put a heavy saddle on them then mount up when it's so hot and miserable either. Oh well, I live for fall and winter rides anyway.

    Gem is looking as handsome as usual and Lady looks awesome. Glad to hear they are both doing so well. I find that if I don't ride regularly they seem to behave better for me. I'm sure they never forget what they've learned or their bond with us.

    For as long as you are at any barn at any given time there will always be drama involved. People are people and they just can't leave well enough alone it seems. That was really a rotten thing to do to LA but she's better off without them. I've seen trainers who shouldn't be teaching students so I hope this mother isn't in for a shock when something goes wrong. Hope LA is feeling better from her injury soon, as you say things happen unexpectedly when you're around horses.

    Hope there are some nice cool rides in your future.

    1. You know, I get the business from some boarders for not riding more in the summer..... but these are the same people that don't ride if the temperature dips below zero!

      I agree with you regarding barn drama. I really felt for LA. To have a friend do that to you is really crappy.

  3. So nice to hear from you! I'm so impressed that Lady is 35 years old. Fabulous!

    1. Hi Terry! I know!...doesn't she look great?! She doesn't have any teeth left, but she manages just fine with her gruel. :-)

  4. Great catching up post, and I agree completely with the bugs and sweat of summer. I love these nice cool fall days we've been having.