Tuesday, March 4, 2014

As I sit here listening to the predictions/guesses for the latest upcoming snow/sleet/rain/ice event, I am struck by how exhausting this winter has been.  Not just physically - plowing snow, walking horses up and down slippery paths, forking hay, running back and forth for hay and fuel every few days, riding while shivering (takes WAY too much energy) - but mentally as well. How many days have I spent (at this point still WILL I spend) planning the week days in advance.  If it snows, what do we need to do?  If it rains, what do we need to do?  And ice - that's the worse thing.  No power...all of it has drained the energy out of me.  So THAT's my excuse for not writing in a few months :)  For sure at the end of the day, my brain is not trying to be creative, it's trying to shut down.

But there is a lot to think about for the season that is only a few weeks from starting.

...Well that was about a month ago.  Since then, two more big snows, lots of ice, power outtages, and frozen pipes are still plaguing Maryland.  I, however, am waiting for the weather to change in Southern Pines.  I came down just before the snow that came yesterday, and enjoyed a wonderful first hack in the Foundation in 72 degree weather. That was Sunday...today it is 24 so far....What a crazy winter this has been.

We are all sick of the weather so enough about that.  This show season promises to be interesting, to say the least.  Ari is continuing to get his act together, which is no small feat since he won't quit growing.  He's over 17 hands now, a full two inches taller than this time last year.  I think he is finally slowing down, though, because he seems much more coordinated in all that he does.  Since we've been stuck in the indoor since November (sorry more weather) I think all my horses are a bit ring sour.  This has manifested itself in Extreme Spooking Games.  The pigeons, who are with us 365 days a year, have morphed into carnivorous birds of prey.  The sunbeams on the floor are certainly white hot laser beams.  Spectators are aliens here to hurt horses, of course.  And I don't know WHAT Ari thinks the jump blocks are in the corner, but if they move from day to day he is sure they are evil, and they will catch him if he goes anywhere near that end of the ring.  Has developed some amazingly quick lateral movements, none of which I ask for.  Sigh.  At least he's fit. 

After our lackluster dressage test at the AECs, I've been working really hard to sharpen Ari's flatwork.  He is much better, and doing some of his best trot work ever.  I have to say, I do prefer the feel of a TB in general, but when that big trot shows up - WOW.  He's gotten sharper off the ground to the jumps as well and really seems to want to leave the rails up now.  This weekend we will show at Novice - haven't jumped a course or XC since fall - then on to Training at the second Southern Pines, and my first time at The Fork.  We will be working with Bobby Costello and Mark Weissbecker again this year, I'm really excited.  If all things go as planned, Ari will go to the AECs again this year, and hopefully move up to Preliminary in the fall.

Toga...the "big" horse is going blind in his left eye for real this time.  LONG story short, he's had an issue with that eye since I've owned him, maybe his entire life.  It's never bothered him at all (obviously) until last summer.  Things started just getting weird with him, and after the eye specialist looked at him it was pretty clear that between the cataract and the massive number of floaters in the back of his eye, he is not going to be able to compete with that much distraction.  The doctor said every time he moves his eye it's like dark things jumping at him. Poor guy.  There are a lot of options, from surgery to fix the cataract, to removing the eye entirely, to "killing" the inside of the eye. In the meantime, the eye doctor told me to put a cover on  and see how he dealt with life with one eye.  Well, Toga took a deep breath (a sigh of relief actually) and has settled into life with an eye patch on very happily.  So I've decided to just ride him with the cover, and let his eye do what it's going to do.  He is happy to put it on, and is confident and LESS spooky.  He knows where his feet are, and jumps straighter.  It is a bit heavy since the cup has to completely cover the eye and has to be opaque, so it rubs him a bit, but I hope to have something custom made for him that won't be an issue.  Now we just have to start at the beginning again and school him to see if he wants to compete again.  I have permission to compete with the eye cup, so we will start at Novice and see how it goes!  Toga has gotten me farther than any other horses I've ever ridden, so he owes me NOTHING.  If he doesn't want to do it any more that's fine with me....but I think he will :))  He is here in Southern Pines to get fit and have fun - we'll see!

Here's to Spring coming SOON, to a good start to the eventing season, and to keeping up with this post a lot better..... :))  Good luck to everyone!!