Monday, December 5, 2016

Enter the Short, Cold Days of Late Fall

November, and the last flush of bird:

Quail, winging their way to land,
And the Canada Geese, so low overhead,
You can feel the vibration of their flight,
A tenor of simultaneous swushing,
The bleeting sky made more joyous
by the ripping apart.

On the third day, the doves, too, arrived.
Drawn to the pasture by salt blocks. 
Their synchronized flight to the west,
Then a quick turn over us to the east,
Finally, landing further off, 
A safe distance.

We were amazed at the bounty--
Moments we added to our list,
The one we fall asleep to, 
When we can't sleep.

Thank you for the quail,
Thank you for the geese.
Thank you for the doves.

Late fall, early winter, is a mixed blessing.  In some ways, it slows us down and draws us closer to home--family, friends. In other ways, it shuts doors--less horse time, for example.  I don't like that shutting of horse doors, and I'm doing everything I can to resist it.

To help stay warm, I purchased this base layer at our local equestrian store, Foxy Horse and Hound.  It's made my by Kerrits, and it is WARM....and soft on the inside.  Fits like a blanket, but you will get hot if you wear it in the house--at least, if you're like me.

(A base layer that can stand alone, this versatile, hard-working piece can migrate depending on the weather. Keep the super-soft microfleece next to your skin and layer on a Horse Play Quilted Vest or Flip Tail Fleece Jacket. Or, wear it on top of your Ice Fil®, the durable exterior repels dirt and horse hair.)

I wore it Saturday for our monthly clinic and I was warm with it, my vest, and gloves.

The clinic was another successful day with horses.  In fact, I LOVE these clinics.  I hope they never stop!

We worked on the same basic things--leading without a rope, tying, loading in a new trailer, massage, but we added canter work and backing through the maze.

Leah seems to love these clinics and takes pride in her accomplishments there.  Her walk and whoa are solid.  Her trot, which was a struggle last month, is turning out to be smooth and beautiful now--even on a loose rein.   She backed through the maze (above) perfectly on her second try--really looking to me for direction for each step and--most importantly--highly cognizant of where she was placing each of her four feet.  (Being aware of her four feet has been an issue we've worked on for years. The more we work together, the more she keeps calm, and that calmness translates into more thoughtful movement of her feet.)

Not that it was Leah's fault at all, but there is one thing we couldn't perform--the canter.  As I asked for it, she gave me lots of warning that she wasn't ready or willing.  She pinned her ears and then she grinded her teeth.  I asked my instructor to get on and see if it was a real issue or just me not riding correctly. It was a real issue, so we stopped asking her.

She has come so far in her recovery from laminitis--her trot, as I said, is beautiful now.  But she is not physically ready for the canter.  She does it in pasture, but it seems difficult for her on the circle.  In the future, I'll be working towards the canter on a lunge line in small increments.  

(You can see her pinning her ears here--a warning that she is not ready for the canter.)

One thing about this clinic that I appreciate is that we don't push our horses to do anything they can't do. It's a partnership.  Rebecca applauded Leah's willingness to "tell me" she wasn't ready.  That's the kind of communication she is looking for from our horses.  

The hollow, white polls in the above picture bothered Leah in our first clinic and it took forever to get her to go over them.  If her hooves hit them the tiniest bit, they roll, and the rolling scares her.  This clinic,  however, she went over them like a pro--even side passed over one.  I highly recommend them in anyone's arena.  They really do make them more honest and interested in foot placement.  It's one thing to nick a board with a hoof--quite another when the THING starts to chase you!

These clinics give me so much joy because they allow me to be with my daughter and granddaughter--and my new horse friends.  It's magical watching them become partners with their horses, too--independent of me.

Rebecca is not only a thoughtful, sensitive instructor, but she also brought us all gifts for Christmas!  There were treats for us and our horses in those bags.

During our break, my younger granddaughter came over to watch and her big sister gave her a ride.

Good times--even in the dreaded LATE FALL, EARLY WINTER.

Oh, and I also got a trail ride in with my Cowboy last week.  We came upon this herd of deer and they let us get about 20 feet from them before disappearing into the trees!

Kicking back with some wine.  


  1. Nice poem. I like the idea of having someone with an indoor arena putting on regular clinics at time when us horse people desperately want to ride, but can't because of the weather. Here in AZ, we'd need an air conditioned indoor arena during the summer, and then when I lived in the Sierra, I would have needed a heated indoor arena during the winter. Both of you have such nice, straight teeth and pretty smiles.

    1. I feel incredibly lucky to have access to these clinics. Rebecca is a rare trainer--she's all about the relationship with your horse. The indoor arena is great, but the weather is expected to drop into the 20's and there's no way we'll be warm enough--even inside. You need AC, we need heating.

  2. That clinic sounds fabulous and your ride after- sigh. Some day.
    FYI- I answered your question on my blog.

    1. Thank you. I'm going to look into getting some.

      Yep, the trail ride is the icing on the cake.

  3. The clinic sounds ideal for the winter months. By the time Spring comes you and Leah will be so much further along in your partnership. Like that fleece shirt too,looks comfy and warm.

    1. That's the hope. It keeps us going through winter, even when we'd rather not, and that will make a big difference in spring.

  4. It's been about a week since I swung my leg over - looking outside this morning I see that trend continuing for a bit - so add me to the list that envies that deer-filled ride. I've been seeing whitetails & mule deer mostly in pairs, sometimes triples, quite a lot lately. My favourite base layer is UnderArmour - it was what all of us wore on the racetrack.

    1. There were 5 in that herd, which seemed like a lot.

      Under Armour is a great brand.

  5. What wonderful progress you have made with Leah this year!
    And there is nothing like a relaxing trail ride on a good horse.

    1. Thanks! I'm happy with the progress. Now to get her 100 percent sound.

  6. HI Linda I went riding at a place called Saguarao Lake Ranch Stables: and it was nice. I had more fun riding at the San Tan Mountains regional park but that might too far away for you.

    1. Thank you. Before I heard back from you I made reservations at Cave Creek Outfitters. I'll share my experience after.


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