Saturday, March 13, 2010

Looking at the World through a Black Eye

I'm not really in love with the way the world looks through a black-eye. Maybe when I smacked my face into Katchi's neck it jolted me into some other world. I'm hoping the time change tonight will launch me back into my real reality.

The first part of today's blog has the subtitle, You Just Can't Make This Shit Up.

Starting yesterday, my eye and face started to make real progress in healing. I can just about smile and laugh without wanting to cry. And the dimple on my left cheek has almost returned. Of course, I'm also turning this lovely shade of sick yellow - I look like I was attacked by (among other things) a yellow blemish concealer stick. In the midst of this, I keep finding my way into the most unreal scenarios. On Thursday, my work sent me to a conference at the Georgetown University campus. I've never been on campus before, and their maps were less than stellar. As I was trying to find my way to my conference, I stumbled on some other conference-type looking people, so I ventured to ask if they could help with some directions. As I headed off, I noticed a large sign announcing their conference's topic: International Prevention of Violence Against Women. If it hadn't hurt so much the second I smiled, I probably would have burst out laughing. Seriously?! Really?!

And then tonight, I had to call 911. I saw a car being broken into. So, I did my civic duty and called the po-po on that thug! Then I had to be interviewed by the cops. The first thing out of my mouth was - I have a horse - as I pointed to my eye and tried to smile. Seriously?? Really?!

You just can't make this shit up.

The next subtitle is: In Case of Emergency...

Please exit through the emergency exits located at the sides and rear of the aircraft, er, I mean horse trailer.

When I bought my new horse trailer, I fell in love with the extra large escape doors. They are so huge, a stall guard fits perfectly across them. I love them because when they are open, they make the trailer so bright and inviting for tentative horses. I also love them, because in case of an emergency where the trailer's back door may be inaccessible, I could feasibly actually get the horses out through the side escape doors. I did not, however, count on my horse learning how to open his door! SHIT! For the last 4 trailer rides, here are the incident reports:

1. After about 2 hours driving back from Phillip Dutton's place, about 20 minutes from home, I come around a corner of an exit ramp and I see Katchi's door flapping. I quickly find someplace to pull over, and run back to the trailer. Katchi's eyes were HUGE! I said, "what did you do?!" and closed the door for an uneventful return home. I blamed myself. I must not have closed the door properly.
2. Next day. Drive out for clinic with Boyd Martin. Arrive and go to open Katchi's side door. It's locked!! What the heck!? I go in through another door and find horse slobber all over the door latch, and sure enough, it's locked. Ha ha. How funny - after deciding an open door wasn't so fun, he locked it this time!
3. Driving out for the Combined Test last Sunday. On Washington Beltway. Guy pulls up next to me, honks, and points to the trailer. Panic. Look back - that S.O.B. Katchi's door is open again! Luckily managed to safely pull over ON THE BELTWAY and Adrianne, who was riding with me, ran back to the trailer, closed and locked the door. Before we headed back home, we duct taped it - because duct tape fixes everything. No further incident.
4. Coming back from lesson with Silva today. Rain, rain, rain. Duct tape apparently got wet and came loose. Just coming off the VERY SCARY (especially in wind and rain) Bay Bridge. Look back - the freaking door is open again! Are you kidding!? KATCHI! Luckily a closed weigh station provide sanction to re-duct tape and lock the door. This is no good.

Thinking about it, honestly, I think that crazy horse of mine is doing this on purpose, because he knows it will make me come visit him!!! I honestly believe that. I feel like a mom yelling at the kids, "don't make me pull this car over!" - but they just keep on misbehavin'.

And the final subtitle is: New Saddles and Skills with Silva

Today was a Silva Martin day. In explaining my pretty face, I told Silva that "HE happened to me" (pointing to Katchi), and funny enough, she didn't ask to ride him again today!

This past week has been really frustrating with Katchi. He's lost a lot of weight in the past few weeks as we haven't sorted out the right type/volume of feed for him at his new home. He's a horse who changes dramatically in his back and shoulders when he loses weight. And his dressage saddle just isn't fitting at all. This past week, I've been having a really hard time getting him to relax his back, neck and jaw. Of course, there are so many variables - lack of turn-out, different dressage work frame, saddle, my anger for my busted face, new feed..... I'm working to address all of these issues, but, regardless of anything else, it's clear that my saddle just doesn't fit him. I've had that saddle since I was about 16 - yep, that's over 15 years! And I love that saddle. Can I even ride dressage in another saddle? I mean, I KNOW that saddle and it KNOWS me! It's like home to me. Okay, yea, I'm being dramatic. And, I know when I get in a new and improved model, I won't look back for a second. Is there such a thing as a saddle slut? I guess having one saddle for over 15 years makes me pretty loyal, and I certainly got my money's worth. Would it be weird to have a bake sale at my barn to pay for my new saddle?!

I learned quite a bit from Silva today, and practically speaking it was a very useful lesson. But, I was frustrated. I felt like we couldn't do the things we really should have been doing, because Katchi just didn't feel good - pain, starving, I don't know. But, nonetheless, I have several new tools in my toolkit which should really help me in my competition warm-up, because, regardless of the reason, he felt quite a bit like he does to me at shows. So, I will write this down so I can look back at it before the shows and hopefully remember the lessons of today!
- Resist being suckered into thinking that Katchi has to unlock before he goes forward. If anything, send him forward first.
- Forget about the locked jaw. I can't fix it in my hands. Instead, stretch and coil him in trot and canter. Bigger and smaller strides, neck down a few inches then back up - then play with the bend. Rather than getting stuck being tense against each other, softly and slowly move in all directions together until the tension lessens.
- Leg yield from center line to quarter line, catch him with the outside, then into medium trot. (What a great exercise & especially with a full wall of mirrors facing us!)

Also today, my friend and student, Debi, took her first lesson with Silva. I help Debi with her jumping, and, when it goes well, she gets a cheshire cat grin across her face! She had that grin when she finished her lesson today, and I hope it lasts her days and days! She deserves it!

Okay - I think that covers it. My videos from today are ready for viewing, and I've got saddles to look at on the internet. I really do have my own personal furry money pit, don't I?

P.S. - Courtney King Dye's accident is being felt even way up here in Maryland - Silva borrowed my helmet today when she hopped on another horse.

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