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Top 5 reasons I love Corona

22 Jan

I really just want to be at the barn everyday. I find myself yearning for it more and more everyday. Today’s yearning made me think of the top five reasons I love Corona. In no particular order, here’s what I came up with:

1. His sense of humour: this horse is just funny, a real goofball. Some people hate that about him, but I personally find it endearing…don’t get me wrong, I could do without some of the horse-eating-monster sightings, but overall I find his sense of humour fantastic.

2. His expressive eyes: he has puppy dog eyes and I melt every time I see them.

3. His nickers for food: he sounds like an opera singer at feeding time, it’s a shrill squeal of joy at the thought of getting hay and grain.

4. His joie de vivre for work: I can honestly say that this horse enjoys working. Whether it’s a meander around the track, or a session in the ring, he loves it.

5. His soft side: it’s starting to come out more and more, dropping his head, closing his eyes while I scratch his ears, falling asleep as I braid his mane, cocking a hind leg as he gets groomed, looking at me as if to say “yep, that’s it human!” when I find a good scratchy spot.

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Fractured

5 Jan

The vet came out to see what’s going on with Corona’s leg on Wednesday. After much inspection, they did x-rays and discovered a very tiny hairline fracture by the wound! I wasn’t there at the time so didn’t hear what was said, but according to the Boss it is of “little consequence and will heal very soon.” While this does sound somewhat comforting, I can’t help but think perhaps it’s not as straight forward as it sounds. I’ve been googling it and, like anything you google, find 100’s of different prognosis and treatments. The vet said that Corona could continue to be turned out provided he stays quiet. I’m quite happy about this but wonder whether he really is capable of remaining quiet 100% of the time. He doesn’t rage around like a maniac in the field with the boys, but there are definitely squabbles and the odd chase of dominance. I guess on a positive note it’s usually Corona who pins his ears, bares his teeth and chases off the others, not vice versa. The vet also has put him on tetracyclin for the infection since the penicillin wasn’t working. I really hope this works and the infection is stopped. The tetracyclin can be given in his feed, which I appreciate because I know that he’ll receive it. The penicillin was given as injections and the Boss isn’t capable of doing it, so I was having to rely on the Trainer to do it.

I’m quite worried about all of this. It doesn’t help that I’ve got a crazy cold/flu and haven’t been able to get out to the barn to ask all of my questions. I emailed the Boss to ask about long-term consequences of this injury – is it going to result in permanent lameness?

I love this horse, I really see us having a long relationship together. It sounds terrible, but now I have to think about what I’d do if this injury wasn’t going to heal? Would I still take him on as my own to CG’s barn as planned? Would I be happy if my one horse couldn’t be used as more than a companion? At the same token who am I to give up on him? It’s not as if he wouldn’t have a good quality of life, even if he couldn’t be ridden, it would be my own selfishness that would be preventing him from having that if I decided not to take him when the time comes. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, maybe everything will be fine and I’m worrying for nothing. I’m not opposed to having a companion horse, but in the grand scheme of things, I was envisioning him being a companion horse 15 yrs from now…not from the moment I take him on.

 

An ounce of prevention would have been nice

19 Dec

Do you ever have those moments where you think the world is playing a joke on you just to see how you will react? I had one of those moments a few days ago…

As you can tell from my previous posts, I’ve been having mixed feelings about the barn as of late. We also have CG’s new farm, which should be fantastic, but of course there are the nerves that go along with such a big looming change, in particular I have nerves about whether or not I know enough about horses to be a responsible owner and provide Corona with everything he needs.

I got a text from CG late last week saying that Corona had been kicked while out in the field…by one of the racehorses who not only has back shoes, but also has traction studs. When I got the text, all I could think was, “are you kidding me!”. The kicker in question does not get turned out more than once or twice a week because of his training regimen. Is it just me or does turning a horse out with traction studs, into a paddock with other horses who he interacts with no more than a few times a week, seem a little irresponsible? Obviously the horse would be excited, obviously the other horses would be excited to see him, obviously there would be a lot of running around and leaps through the air and some battles for dominance…

So now Corona has a puncture wound on his right front leg, just at the side of his knee. His leg looks like that of an elephant.

At that moment, some of my nerves about whether or not I could hack it as a horse owner melted away. I realized that I do indeed have some proper horse care instincts and common sense. While I recognize that accidents happen, and that there are going to be bumps and bruises along the way, this is an example of something that could have been easily avoided if some common sense was used.

What’s that saying? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

BRFWA – learning to “be”

22 Nov

With the onset of winter and the subsequent decrease in the amount of riding I’m able to do, I have been looking for a new hobby to try out on a trial basis. I have a friend at work who practices Buddhism and has taken up meditation over the last few years. I always find talking with her a real treat and always refer to her as my, “wise friend”. I had always been curious about meditation but didn’t really know anything about it or where to even get started. Through my discussions with her I decided that perhaps it would fit the bill for a tryout. I found a yoga studio close to my house that was offering a 6-week introduction to meditation course. The course description outlined that we would learn the basics of how to sit, how to breathe, how to observe, and how to let go. Furthermore, we would learn how meditation helps alleviate stress and tension and how it helps cultivate inner peace and balance. How could I say no to that?!

I’m in week 3 of class right now and I really do enjoy it. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before, but I find it really interesting. I won’t lie, there are moments when I have looked around at some of the more seasoned veterans (yes, there are advanced people in the class too) and wondered what on earth I am doing there, but it’s a very comfortable atmosphere. To be honest, I was actually quite surprised at how non-hippy the participants are. There are a variety of people in the class – it’s mainly women, but there are a few men, I’d say the ages ranged from early 30s to 70. I’m definitely one of the youngest but it’s nice to be surrounded by such a variety of people with different experiences.

Since it’s an introductory class, we have been focussing on learning how to focus and to just “be”. Our instructor was discussing how, during meditation, many students experience heightened physical feelings (ex: pain, itches, stiffness) or emotional feelings simply because your eyes are closed and our other senses are heightened. The key is to recognize these feelings but not feel obliged to immediately “fix” or “change” them. The need to “fix” or “change” means that we’re not living fully in the present and acknowledging that we are not at one with what is happening to/around us (if we were content with it, we wouldn’t want to fix it). Our instructor brought up a good point – she said that all feelings have a beginning, a plateau, and an end. It’s a process that will occur and if you recognize this, then you will realize that there isn’t the need to fix things when they are uncomfortable for you.

One of the techniques we learned was BRFWA – Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow.

When you’re feeling something, continue to breathe through it. Then consciously choose to relax into it. For example, if you’re sitting cross legged and your hips start to hurt, instead of letting your body tighten up against the pain, choose to relax those hips instead. Then we feel – if it feels good, then great. If it is uncomfortable, just acknowledge that it feels uncomfortable and see it for what it is, a temporary sensation of discomfort that will eventually end because everything has a start, a plateau and an end. Then watch – watch what happens when you feel it, let yourself observe what it happening as the sensation changes. Lastly, allow – allow the sensation to be whatever it is, don’t try to change it, just let it be.

This is an interesting concept to me and I’m going to really try to bring it into my everyday life. I was also thinking that it is likely going to be a useful tool for my riding. I actually think it lends itself quite well to my principles, in particular Personal Principles #1 and #3 – respect the horse as a horse, and respect The horse as A horse.

Maybe the next time I’m getting less than desirable results from Corona, I can tune into BRFWA and just ride it out. I can accept it for what it is, just a blip, recognizing that it too has a beginning, a plateau and an end. Maybe I can use the technique when I’m trying to keep my heels down and I can feel my bad ankle clicking, or when I’m trying to sit up straight and keep my shoulders back. If I conscientiously choose to keep breathing, and choose relaxation over tension, then I simply feel, watch and allow the sensations to wash over me, maybe I will learn to accept them and my riding will progress as well.

A foundation of principles

9 Nov

Well, here we go…after brainstorming and trying to articulate the thoughts in my head into something coherent, I’ve come up with my personal seven principles of horsemanship. These represent principles that I’ve learned to date from my horse affair. They’re probably not written as eloquently as I would have liked, but you gotta start somewhere right?

So here we go, in no particular order:

Personal Principle 1.

Respect the horse as a horse – understand that they are not humans, they are horses. As a species, they have their own instincts, thought processes, learning patterns, and communications.

Personal Principle 2.

Always ask politely first – I like how the Parelli program uses the “suggest, ask, tell, promise” approach when working with horses.

Personal Principle 3.

Respect THE horse as A horse – each horse is different. What works with one horse doesn’t work with all horses.

Personal Principle 4.

Reward the slightest try – nothing is going to be perfect all the time (or likely the majority of the time).

Personal Principle 5.

Respect in life and in death – I’m not sure how to phrase this to capture what I truly mean, but essentially I believe that horses are not disposable once they have outlived their working lives, or when you get fed up with them. I do not believe in sending any animal to slaughter.

Personal Principle 6.

Check your temper or stay at home – taking out your temper or pent up aggression on a horse or any animal is never ok. Ever.

Personal Principle 7.

Commit to tomorrow – whether things are going well or if there is room for improvement, look to further your journey tomorrow.

As you’ve probably noticed, several are related to the natural horsemanship school of thought. My parents bought me Monty Roberts’, “The Man Who Listens to Horses” when I was 15 years old. As I read it, I had so many eureka moments, it was like things just made total sense. Of course, the frustrating part about having such moments when reading this book was that the only interactions I was having with horses was during my weekly riding lesson, where I wasn’t exactly free to experiment with these principles. I dreamed of the day when I could be given a “crazy” horse and a roundpen just to try things out. Lucky for everyone, I wasn’t given this chance as I can now see that I didn’t have the proper knowledge at the time and probably would have done more harm than good.

My latest (and pretty much first) concentrated efforts into the world of natural horsemanship has been over the last 14 months. Since riding with The Boss, I pretty much am free to do whatever I like. On the property, there is an outdoor ring, a stone dust track (to train the standardbreds), a 20m x 20m coverall, and a back field. There’s no indoor arena which can often make winter riding an exercise in creativity, but overall there are lots of spots to play in. In September 2011 I was at a local dressage schooling show with Corona. I also brought another horse named Ember there to show just for fun. Ember is leased by my friend at the barn, and at their last show together (the previous summer), Ember decided she did not want to enter the ring and had a bit of a fit of rage, throwing my friend into the dirt and galloping back through the onlookers (including my already-horse-terrified parents of course) to the trailer. Of note here is that once the horse was caught, my friend got right back and proceeded to win the class – she fell off outside the ring so wasn’t disqualified. Mad props to her!

Anyways, Ember is a fabulous ride but at times she has been known to take these notions and just throw her weight around, which mainly end when she throws in a quick buck with a half turn and you land on your butt in the mud. Been there, done that. Bringing the two horses to the show, I was convinced that if anything went wrong, it would be with Ember and worst case, I would just scratch her and only ride Corona for the rest of the day. My first dressage test of the day was on Ember and she was good – a bit full of it but I thought she did really well overall. I was then riding the same test with Corona – we’d had a great warm up and I thought all was well. We trotted around the outside of the ring waiting for the bell to ring. The bell rang and we entered the ring nice and straight – got to X and had a beautiful square halt. As I started trotting towards C I could feel Corona tense up, I pushed him on and then all hell broke loose. I’m not sure exactly what he saw, but something about the letter M scared the bejebus out of him and he recoiled like a spring and spun 180 degrees in the blink of an eye, leaving my hanging on to one side. I tried to get back up in the saddle but didn’t make it and ended up landing first on my feet, then on my butt in the dirt as Corona galloped towards the gate. I went to get up only to realize that my right foot couldn’t support any weight.

The verdict: I had fractured my right heel and torn several supporting ligaments around my ankle. I had never seen bruises and swelling before in my life. My entire leg from mid-foot to my knee was black and blue and looked like an elephant had jumped on it. I was told they couldn’t put a plaster cast on because of the swelling, so instead I was fitted with an air cast for 6 weeks and was on crutches for 3. I spent two weeks on my couch because I couldn’t support any weight on my ankle. This game me ample time for reflection and thoughts about what on earth I was going to do about Corona. I decided that this would be prime time for some ground training so one day I went (well – I was taken, let’s be honest, I couldn’t drive!) to Chapters and picked up Clinton Anderson’s book, “Downunder Horsemanship”. This started my practice in natural horsemanship.

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Since then, I’ve read, and read, and read some more about natural horsemanship and have moved on to having quite an affinity for the Parelli school. I found a local Parelli 2* instructor in my area and treated myself to a 3 hour session with her this summer. If I had more disposable income, I’d be doing this every week as I really enjoy it and I have noticed changes in Corona as well which I will save for another post!

Have a happy and principled Friday!

 

 

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