Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Riding’ Category

We Spooked. We Survived.

T is for Tape. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]

Rodney is a high-strung Thoroughbred. I am not being redundant.

When I started riding him again, I knew that spooking and hopping and fussing was in our future. He’s not the sort of horse to take a phlegmatic view of the world [Looking for Rodney’s Silver Lining]. I was hoping to start small and build up a tolerance.

Well, yeah.

A bit of explanation. Our “ring” is a section of the pasture marked off at horse-chest height with plastic construction tape. The same stuff I use to differentiate my large brown horse from large brown deer [Don’t Shoot, Hunting Season]. The horses respect it as a boundary, and it provides them the reassurance of being enclosed. Go figure. Most importantly, the tape is not gonna hurt them if they get the crazies and charge thru it, which has happened. Milton more than Rodney. The alternative is to build a rail or wall capable of holding their weight. The worst thing is a flimsy fence. I’ve been meaning to do a blog post on the whole concept. But I digress.

Mr. E [Dressage Lesson] has Rodney and me practicing halts. We halted. We moved off. We LEAPT sideways. I had enough hang time to contemplate my imminent future as ground art. We stopped. The horse had the decency to be standing underneath me. Rodney had gotten the tape under his tail, which startled him, which made him levitate sideways, which pulled the tape after him, which startled him. As causative agents go, it was legit.

Mentally, it wasn’t a big spook. No snorting before. No prancing after. One short, sharp ‘Eek’, and it was over. Physically, yowza!

Fortunately, when it comes to talent, there’s a lotta jump in that horse. Unfortunately, when it comes to ill-advised cavorting, there’s a lotta jump in that horse.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott


S is for Self-Improvement. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]

State of the Blog comes early this month. [List of previous SotB posts].

10 Things To Post Before The End of the Year

Piece of Cake
1 Photo Essay. Easy peasey. My photo teacher [Meet Meg] has already suggested this.

The causative agent was the article “Family Recipes” by Celestina Morgan, a photo essay in the Spring 2017 issue of Gravy, published by the Southern Foodways Alliance. It is a black and white series of a pair of hands in the process of putting together a recipe. Simple, elegant, and, I suspect, way harder than it looks. (I can’t find a link and doubt the ethics of reproducing the photos. Trust me, it is amazing.)

2 Photo of Me on Milton. Piece of cake-ish. We have the ingredients. Need to bake the cake.

3 A Blog Adventure. Go somewhere interesting/amusing/engaging in order to blog about it.

4 AlphaBooks Z is for ? No reason I shouldn’t finish the project [Explanation]. Wanted to give myself a softball.

5 Eight Saturday experiments, one for each remaining month. Essays. Another referral Saturday [Horseback Reads]. The blog adventure listed above. Anything more thoughtful than Ack, it’s Friday. I need a post! Full goal is eight. I’ll be happy with five.

6 At least one image on which I have done some small amount of post production. Right now, my skill set is crop, watermark, and add a border. I’m not being a purist. I post images right out of the camera because I don’t know any better.

7 Daily Images. A stretch goal due to vagueness. I want to add visual appeal, but don’t want to make myself nuts, again [Where Do We Go From Here?]. I don’t want to get so busy checking items off lists that I forget to have a life.

Magical Unicorn Fantasy Goals
(Shout out to Ambitious for help with the category title.)

8 Photo of me jumping.

9 Show Report with Milton or Rodney. A Beginner Novice event would be awesome. Anything jumping would be great. A dressage show will meet goal requirements.

10 Writer’s website. The How is simple. I have a cousin in the biz. The Why is problematic. Before I make a website, I have figure out what I want to DO with it, which involves figuring out what I want to BE when I grow up.


Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

The Bratitude Increases

N is for Not Again. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]

As the confidence increases, so does the back talk. Remember when Rodney mutinied going up the hill [Rodney’s Hillwork]? and then about standing [Rodney Channels]? The rot has spread to the ring.

I got on. We started walking. Rodney became fascinated with a stand of trees at the edge of the pasture.

Who’s there?
(Dramatic Reenactment)

I booted him in the side and told him to keep his eyes in the boat.

This is huge.

We were having a conversation under saddle. Okay, the conversation concerned what a brat Rodney was being, but one must to start somewhere. He wasn’t putting his hooves over his ears and waiting for the world to stop bothering him.

I say “not again,” but really I’m tickled. I can cope with attitude much better than with a fragile flower.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Update: One reader said that the annoyed came thru more clearly than the tickled in this post. I was annoyed. Rodney was being a twit. He was being a bog-standard, work-avoiding, exasperating horse. The fact that we had reached a level of normality where I COULD get after him for being annoying, THAT has me tickled.

Rodney Channels His Inner Brat

B is for Brat. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]

To reward Rodney for being good the previous day (we recreated a tiny bit of our lesson [Dressage]. Yay!), I decided to have him stand at the side of the ring while Milton worked, We’ve done this before. It counts as saddle time, but is not mentally taxing.

Rodney was awful.

He was being driven mad, mad it tell you, by a few early spring flies. I don’t think he had all four feet on the ground for a minute straight. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. In between, he wiggled. He shifted. Stomp. Stomp. He tried to drift back to the barn. Wiggle. Shift. Stomp. Drift.

And yet, he did all of this without an ounce of tension. No head flinging. No teeth grinding. He didn’t get nervous. He didn’t tune me out. He knew exactly what I was asking. He responded with Don’t wannnnnnna. Ain’t gonnnnnna.

I have never been so simultaneously annoyed at and pleased with a horse in my life.

The next morning, Rodney barged past me into the stall just under Milton’s nose [Daily Routine]. I had to yell loudly to stop Milton from following. (Loudly enough that Greg heard me from the house.) If those two were to get in the stall at the same time, it would be frogs in a blender.

I tied Milton up, went in the stall, and chased Rodney out with prejudice. I wanted to be crystal clear that he was not to behave this way again. He did not run out of the stall screaming that the sky was falling. Instead, he sashayed out with a look that said, Well, ya can’t blame a horse for trying.

Who is this horse?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Graduating From Sam

Saddle Seat Wednesday

Sam has made it clear that the time has come for me to seek fresh fields and pastures new, or at least a different lesson horse [Looking Forward SSF].

In December, I sent Coach Courtney the following email:

I need to move past the Sam safety net. Therefore, my motto for the upcoming year will be to Embrace Challenge. You may need to remind me of this. Often.

Be careful what you wish for.

During Winter Tournament, I rode Robert [Forward, Photo]. Some shows went well [Reports]. Others, less so [Report]. Currently, Robert is being leased by a munchkin at the barn for the move to suit. It is an excellent match, but it means Robert is no longer available for Academy.

My new dance partner is Desi, an adorable little sports car of a mare. Have I mentioned that I prefer to drive a truck? She has the hyper-alert Saddlebred ears that have bothered me from day one [Sam I Am]. Upright ears make me think the sky is falling. In this case it’s not, but tell that to my gut. Plus, if she bounces around and my feet are on the ground, sure, fine, whatever. If she bounces around and butt is in the saddle, sky is falling. We are getting along better each time, but it’s taking longer than I’d like.

Furthermore, Desi is cute and sweet and for sale. I predict that one of these shows, she will go home with someone else. It would be good for her. She’s a one-owner kind of horse. But then I’ll have to go through all of this again.

It is good for me to ride other horses.
It is good for me to ride other horses.
It is good for me to ride other horses.

See the divot on the toe of the boot? That’s from Sam stomping my foot on the way into his stall a few months ago. Fortunately, this is not my first rodeo, and I was able to curl my toes back fast enough. Yet, since it was Sam, all is forgiven.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Rodney Suffers A Post-Lesson Relapse

I expected this.

I got this.


I’m not delusional. I knew I couldn’t waltz back into the ring and pick up where the lesson left off [Dressage]. However, I had expected status quo ante. Not so much.

Rodney has always had a strong ratchet response. Whenever he climbs a hill/works in the ring/jumps in hand, he expects the next hill/work/jump to be longer/harder/higher. We must drop back to little hills/essentials/crossrails until he winds down. I accounted for this. Or, I thought I did.

In the days before the lesson, I was entertaining the possibility that – eventually – Rodney and I might be able to venture out unsupervised. This went poof. Rodney was tense and quick at the walk. Ducking his head. Gnashing his teeth. Was the knot in his brain from having worked hard? Was the knot in his body from moving in a new way? Is there even a difference for this horse? We also had a cold snap, and Rodney has always been the opposite of Discworld troll, i.e. his brain works better in the heat [The Weather Outside Is Frightful].

On the positive side, 1) Rodney did not regress completely, say, 75% for quickness, but only 25% for head & mouth gyrations. And, 2) he continued to nail his halts [February]. He was able to come into the middle to get loved on and relax. There was a day he would not do that.

So, Rodney will make me pay for every step of progress. Rationally, I know he will come around. Emotionally, despair is not going down without a fight. Yes, my mental state is directly related to how my last ride went. This is not news.

Sigh. Slow progress is still progress.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Rodney’s Dressage Lesson

Breaking out the britches.

I trotted my horse! For the first time in 7 years! Said that way, it’s pitiful. Nevertheless, Rodney and I trotted for the first time since 2010.

I’ve had my eye on the dressage instructor Mr. E for a while. He seemed sympathetic to horse and rider. We (cough Greg cough) decided that now was the time. Even if we weren’t ready, ya gotta start somewhere. If I waited until I was absolutely ready, I’d never have a lesson.

I was expecting more of a consult than a lesson, heavy on the discussion. Instead, Rodney and I moved for 30 minutes. No need for stops to reset his brain, either. Mr. E maintained a steady flow of instruction that kept both horse and rider organized and – as a result – calm. Right now, I doubt I can recreate the conditions on my own. That’s okay. We did it.

Mr. E had me pick up a contact with an exaggerated giving motion to encourage Rodney to stretch his neck. We did a few halts. Mr. E saw something in the halts that made him think a trot transition was not out of the question. I said that when I trot Rodney in hand, he flings his head up and gets tense. Mox nix, I was told. That was in hand.

So we did a few steps of trot. Rodney picked up a quiet trot, shuffled along, then ran out of gas in a few strides. Kaloo! Kalay! We trotted a few more times. Rodney failed to get his knickers in twist. After once around the ring in each direction, we declared victory and stopped.

Mr. E complimented me on being willing to trust him and try the trot – which had NOT been in my lesson plan. Really, it wasn’t so much trust on my part, as ‘Well, you’re the new guy. I’ll give you some rope and see what you do with it.’ Same result, more cynicism.

Afterwards, Rodney’s back was mildly tight, particularly on the right – scar – side. This is something we will have to attend to any time he works.

Rodney was very, very proud of himself.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott