Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Rocking Horse Part 1: Getting There...

It's taken me a full 48+ hours to even start to put "pen to paper" so to speak about the show. A bit of it is exhaustion (see below), a bit is disappointment, and a bit is that I headed out of town Sunday night and am stuck with swyping on my phone to write this. 

Spoiler alert, we made it to XC, awesome since I pre-paid for the full package of photos

Please release properly.... Rouge right hand... 

Teaser pictures side, I'll start chronologically... Actually arriving in the dressage ring on Saturday was a bit of a cluster to put it mildly. 

To start, Friday I was scheduled to work 6pm to 2am. My coworker took pity on me and switched, so I was 5pm-12am instead. However, I live an hour from work and 45 minutes from JT's. I rode at 9am on Saturday so needed to be leaving JT's at 630. I made the decision to sleep in my trailer Friday night then to get a bit more sleep since her place is only 30 minutes from my work. I came out to the barn around noon and got in a light hack. I bathed LH and put him into his stall to dry, eat lunch, and wait for one of the working students from the barn to braid him. While he was eating/drying I set up my bed in my trailer and packed my tack for Saturday.

JT's working student braided LH. She's absolutely amazing. The braids were beautiful when she did them and just as beautiful Saturday. 

Sleepy pony napping as I tacked him up for stadium, he's so cute. But also, those braids 😍

After she braided we dressed him up in a sleazy and light Rambo sheet that I need to investigate... because in spite of the mud in the paddocks from the downpour on Thursday, he was totally clean Saturday morning when I undressed him. I actually skated out of work around 11 Friday night so was laying down in the trailer, now hooked up to the truck, by midnight. I didn't quite account for the kerfuffle my arrival would cause amongst the horses in the pasture by the trailer parking, so they were still trotting around and snorting a bit as I started to fall asleep. The temperature also dropped from about 65 when I got off work to 55 by 5 am. This meant at some point during the night I woke up freezing and had to zip up my sleeping bag and shut off the fan to fall back asleep. Super restful night...

Saturday morning then got off to an even rougher start. It was crazy foggy, and I was spooking the horses left and right as I walked out in my slickery pants over my white breeches to get LH. He hid behind his pasture mate, but let me catch him easily. Hiding behind his friend should have been a clue in, but I didn't pay attention... I was leading him through the gate, dodging a giant puddle, when I noted that his pasture mate was shoving through the opening on the other side of LH, pushing him towards me. I tried to stop him, but he was about 1/3 the way through when I noticed, so there was no stopping it. He cavorted merrily down the lane to see his former pasture mates. LH and I walked down that way, but as soon as I was within reach of him he took off again. I walked after him, prancing LH in one hand, but as soon as I got close he took off again. At that point I reassessed the situation, scurried to the front gate and shut it and then threw LH into his stall. I could only tell where his friend was by the squeals and occasional hoofbeats. As far as seeing him? I was totally SOL. I was cursing myself for forgetting to pack my head lamp. My cell phone light was useless so I just quit trying and did my best to let my eyes adjust to the cloudy and foggy pre-dawn darkness.

I debated but ended up deciding I should call JT. LH's pasture mate is her up and coming horse and I figured catching him sooner rather than later was better. I knew I could get him eventually by myself, but if he got hurt in the dark, foggy morning... 

JT lives about 45 minutes from the barn and I definitely woke her up. I felt like such an asshole, but I didn't have anyone on the property's number and FB messenger seemed like a poor substitute. JT called her mom who lives on property, and she came out to help. LH's pasture mate had found his way to the fence line with a few mares and was standing neck arched, squealing like a stud. He took one look at the halter in my hand and noped out again. JT's mom went around the other way to block one direction while I went and grabbed LH's breakfast bucket. JT's mom headed towards him which pushed him towards me. He initially went to take off again but paused when he heard the grain. I shook it again and set it on the ground and backed away a few steps. He took the bait carefully at first, eyeing me still, but after I gave him a few seconds to really get into it, he dug in and relaxed don't. I slowly stepped up to him and got the halter on. I rewarded him with another mouthful of the bucket and then we headed in to his stall. 

Then I looked at my watch. My hour of lead time had magically vanished and there were 10 minutes until LH and I were supposed to be pulling out of the driveway. I tossed his breakfast in his stall. He gets a LARGE amount of food and is also the most leisurely eater I have ever met. It takes him a solid 40 minutes to eat his meals. He chews each bite the recommended 20 times and often takes breaks to sip on some water or stare out his window. So he got roughly 2 bites of breakfast before I pulled him out and tossed him onto the trailer. Sorry buddy, blame your pasture friend. 

The drive to Rocking Horse was really delightful in the fog. I was so paranoid about hitting a deer or other animal (or vehicle!) on the way. I took my boots off to try to let my uber wet socks dry. Although I'd forgotten my head lamp, I had packed 3 pairs of socks for the day but still driving in squealching boots was no fun. About 20 minutes after I pulled my boots off I realized my calves were cramping because I was so tense I'd crunched my toes up and hadn't relaxed those muscles at all. I attempted to relax everything, telling myself the show day would be extraordinarily long if I was this tense the whole day. 

LH is not a good traveler in two horse straight loads. I am not sure what he does, but he moves around more than any horse I've put in there and needs his tail wrapped so he doesn't rub it. He did this even when he had a buddy when we cross country schooled last week. My friend hauled in her roomy two horse bumper pull with her steady traveler gelding next to him. I tried him in the passenger side the rest of the trips the show weekend and it helped, but not a ton. So next step is getting my husband to pull the divider out so he can ride in a box stall to see if that makes him a happier traveler. Regardless, this Saturday morning wiggling was also not helping me relax on my drive

In spite of everything, we arrived ahead of schedule, and I could feel myself loosen up a little as I got out of the truck. As I've said before I am not a naturally tense, anxious person, but the whole 24 hours leading up to arriving had been a bit trying. I grabbed my packet from the office and then set about getting LH and me ready. I opened up the back ramp but left the butt bar up and undressed LH in the trailer. I was not taking a chance with a second loose horse by removing his sleazy off the trailer. JT and I were texting jokes about the heavy fog and dressage back and forth "6, I think it was the right gait in the right area..." "Was that the arena fence coming down that I heard? Hello? Are you still here?"  I joked with her when she arrived that this was to keep me from getting on too early, but she swore it wasn't. 

Part two coming soon: dressage and stadium. 

1 comment:

  1. That sounds so stressful 😬 but I'm glad you arrived safe and sound, even if LH didn't get his entire breakfast lol.