December 9, 2010

two years, penniless

hi, I'm pretty

I bought Cookie two years ago today. Unlike last year, I can't say we've been on TV or we've improved our collection; in fact, in my lesson last night, my instructor said, "Wow, I can't believe it's been two years," and I replied, "Me neither. I kind of thought we'd be better than this?"

We had a rough ride on Saturday, which was very blustery here in Portland. Horses don't like wind, because they're prey animals who rely on their sense of hearing, which wind distorts. In the absence of that sense, they rely on each other, which on Saturday meant that every time one horse spooked, everybody spooked! Good times. And since I ride #1 Spook Master, I was often the accelerant to disaster. Every time we reached the far end of the arena (which overlooks the front field of the property), either my mare or the other mare in the arena would jump 4 feet toward the inside of the arena. The other mare was slower about it and more prone to simply balking. Cookie prefers what I like to call the "Arab teleport" method. Arabians seem singularly able to travel faster than the speed of light at times of even minor distress. Keeping the horse between you and the ground can prove ... challenging. In a fit of impatience I grew tired of shying predictably in the same place and made her stand still in that place, resolving to let her move from it only when she'd relaxed. So what did she do? She stood stock still at high alert for about 45 seconds before jumping off all four feet, scaring all four horses in the arena, and causing one seven-year-old girl to fall off her horse.

Classy.

(The little girl is fine, and bravely got right back on).

Last night in my lesson Cookie had her danger ears back on, but to her credit she trusted me enough to put a lid on the spooking, and she was actually a very nice ride (although she was constantly dipping her inside shoulder, wanting to avoid the scary dark world outside the rail, and I was constantly having to hold her up/boot her back to the outside of the ring). It's exhausting to have a horse constantly on edge, but it does make for a nicer ride than she is on the days she's lazy. At least I don't have to work so hard.

Things I have taught her:
- to pick up her feet on verbal command ("foot") and likewise to hold them until I say "down"
- to stand still while mounting. finally. almost.
- peppermints = good
- how to recognize the peppermint wrapper sound
- to never ever ever be in my way while I'm cleaning her stall
- likewise to never ever ever be in my space. ever. unless invited. (pushy horses are a big pet peeve of mine)
- the verbal cue "blanket," which I say just before sticking her turnout blanket over her head. (she stops what she's doing and drops/raises her head)

Things she has taught me:
- how to sit a buck
- how it's important to have the courage to get on and stay on even on scary days
- how to ride the Arab teleport
- how to sit the world's bounciest trot
- what being a proud mama feels like. she's so pretty that I always get compliments from strangers, at home or away. just Saturday, the mom of a little girl taking lessons came over to say, "that is a very beautiful horse."

I got a big kick out of looking at her sale ad earlier today, which I saved to my computer after I bought her. Under "Activities" she's listed as "Show/Trail/Cow Horse." Cow horse! Hilarious. She probably is, but she hasn't had a Western saddle on her back since the day I bought her. Maybe some day.

what I'd like to do with her, someday:
- jump real fences
- take a dressage test
- teach her to smile (working on it)
- ride an endurance race
- hack out on more trails
- gallop
- go on a hunt (this is my lifetime bucket list goal)

so! here's to one more year of not falling off my horse.

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