Recipe for warm up

Warm up Ring…/ Practice Ring…. /Collecting Ring…./Hell…..whatever you like to call it yourself. 
That place you must pass through before you can compete.

  1. Take a dozen or so highly strung riders, mix them up adding a smattering of rude, nervous, loud or oblivious character types.
  2. Make sure the setting is turned to ‘nerves’ and ‘stress’.
  3. Mount said riders on a collection of horses who are all at the verge of a panic attack (afterall what horse isn’t always 3 breaths from a panic attack?)
  4. Now put the above in a small confined space.
  5. Sprinkle with an assortment of people shouting, loudspeakers blaring and dogs barking, don’t forget flag waving.
  6. Add ring stewards, don’t forget to also stress these out
  7. Bake at 100 degrees, if you would rather your warm up be slightly damp, add rain.
  8. Mix for anything from 10 to 40min
  9. Serve up with a grimace that can sometimes be mistaken for a grin…..sometimes.

The Universal Law of the Wheelbarrow.

I’ve mentioned the Universal Law of Wheelbarrow Tipping only briefly before.  There are many Horse Logic Laws that come into play in the world of horses, the kind of universal truths that are only encountered when you spend too much time with horses. This is where the nerdy science girl comes out in me. Apologies ;-)

A few variables come into place in this law. The length of time the wheelbarrow is unattended. How full the wheelbarrow is. The length of time the horse is unattended. Other influencing factors are the slope the wheelbarrow is on and the mood of the horse. Also Quantum Physics and Schrödinger's cat come into play as the amount of tipping and spreading of contents is also influenced by an observer i.e. if you can see this happening but you are too far away to stop it, then it is more likely to happen.

Simply put if I am standing across the paddock and Harry and the full wheelbarrow are on the other side of the paddock he is more likely to tip the wheelbarrow if he knows I’m watching but I can’t do anything about it. This can also be put down the perverse sense of humour of my horse of course. Yah Schrödinger had absolutely no need to put a cat in a box. He should have just filled a wheelbarrow and watched a horse.

Here’s a simple graph taking the two most important elements - Time Unattended V  Wheelbarrow Tipping.

Cirque du Soleil Lunging

Can someone please explain to Harry that behaving like one of the Cirque de Soleil acrobats on the end of a line is NOT lunging. That antics and displays are not impressing me, that bouncing off the ground like it’s a trampoline is not funny. That other horses can and do lunge beautifully and it can be helpful to their riders. That lunging is like a dance between a rider and a horse where the horse pays attention to the slightest cue. That what he’s doing at the end of the line is not lunging. *Sigh*

The Pièce de résistance to this particular grey horse is to buck and fart and generally carry on for 10 minutes, followed by producing about 30 seconds of nice work and then just on a horsey whim he turns in,  halts and gives me the horsey equivalent of a look that says TaaDaaa! “Are we finished now?”

Breathing while riding. Must remember to do that.

Breathing -  that useful thing that I seem to forget to do.
Once we enter the ring I’m concentrating on our canter, remembering to half-halt, keep the rhythm, leg to hand, keeping my outside rein, I’m looking for next jump, balance, turn, keep the canter etc. etc. 

But by the time we’re half way through the course I resemble some sort of bloated purple fruit that’s been left in the sun too long and my poor horse is thinking what the hell is she doing? Yup there’s something I’m forgetting. I’m forgetting to breathe. Basic stuff really. 

The Evil Shoe Throwing Fairy

Is the weather forecast good for the weekend?
Did you pay your entry fees?
Have you the horsebox loaded and everything ready?
Have you cleaned your tack and packed your bag?

Then prepare for a visit from the Shoe Throwing Fairy. This little evil individual will accost your horse in the dark of night and pull, tug, wrench and wrangle his shoe off. You will be met in the morning by a butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth expression from your horse. He will be standing there in all his show-ready glory. But no shoe. NO SHOE! And if you look carefully there will be little fairy dust sprinkled on his fetlock. Commiserations you’ve just been visited by the Evil Shoe Throwing Fairy. 

Don’t try to diffuse a bomb when my dog has a tennis ball!

April Fool came by her name because we picked her out of her many squirming siblings of questionable heritage,  on,  Yes you got it….April Fools Day!

I don’t think we grasped the significance of this at the time.

She has many delightful quirks but some of these extend into the realm of obsession.
One obsession in particular is Tennis Balls! 
Especially fun are tennis balls when you’re trying to do something.

Trying to do the laundry….you’ll get a tennis ball dropped into the basket and a hopeful expression from the Fool

Trying to muck out the stables…’ll get a tennis ball lodged in the pitchfork prongs and the fool waiting for you to do something fun about it 

 Trying to vacuum…yup….a tennis ball with April hopping around your feet.

Trying to diffuse a bomb…..Tennis BALL! 
Not a good mix
but it's ok, because we still love her :-)

Empty-Headed Dressage

“That lovely feeling of heading down the long-side with absolutely no idea of where to go”
Great comment isn’t it! And so true. Dressage is like that for us, once you enter that arena time moves differently and your brain doesn’t quiet respond in the way it should. Feeling light-headed? Feel like you're having an out-of-body experience....then you're doing a dressage test! Congratulations! That sinking feeling as you pass M wondering if you’re supposed to do something at B! But what was it?? Blue tweetie birds and floating golden stars are really no help at a time like that!

Wibbly Wobbly Spook

Harry has many spooks in his repertoire. One of the silliest is what’s called the Wibbly Wobbly Spook. 
This one only happens in special circumstances. There has to be something spook-worthy on both sides of the trail. So say you’re ambling along and you come across a rubbish bin. Ok yes spook-worthy I’ll give you that. But say mid-spook he also spots something spook-worthy on the other side of the track…say a rabbit. Then you’ll get the Wibbly Wobbly Spook. Also known as Existential-Crisis Spook or the just plain Friggin Hilarious Spook. When a horse can’t decide which item is the scariest they kinda wobbly spook along the track for a few steps. Makes you wonder eh?

Things that Harry eats that he knows he shouldn’t....

How do I know…cos he gets that guilty yet also slightly sniggering look.
Especially when he spots me a certain distance away.
Well Grrrr to you horse with your sense of humour. 

1. Reins
This his possibly his favourite thing to chew, possibly because it is my least favourite. 
Yup this has got to be the most annoying. It means the bridle can only go on at the very last minute or otherwise my lovely reins get chewed. I mean come on horse, it's not like reins grow on trees!!!

2. Brushes
All types and varieties. Nothing in the grooming kit is sacred. 
He especially loves to grab one, shake it up and down and then fling it!

3. Leadropes
Yup, whenever he's tied up and I go to get something I only have to glance over and he's reaching for the rope. 
If I catch him, a good holler will make him drop it with a guilty look.
If I don't catch him in the act I'll return to a sniggering horse happily chewing away. GrrrrrrAhhhhhhh Horse!

 4. Zipper pulls
If you're wearing it and it has a zip on it.....then he want it!
Zipper ties/pulls or those little bits of fabric attached to zips, this is especially delicious. WTF???

5. Wheelbarrows
Not so much eaten or chewed as played with really. 
If Harry's in the vicinity of an upright wheelbarrow and you're not in the vicinity of said wheelbarrow....then its some kind of strange law of the universe that the wheelbarrow will get tipped. The speed that this tipping happens is in direct relation to how full the wheelbarrow is. 
This. Is. Not. Fair!!!!
GrrrrAhhhh bloody horse.

Feeding Time

Length of time to make horses dinner.
Soak beet pulp - 12 hours
Wash out buckets in icy water  -  1min
Warm hands up again as they have frozen to feed bucket - 5min
Curse at feed bag string because it’s not doing that lovely satisfying pull through the top of the bag but instead is getting tighter -  5min
Find scissors  - 10min
Trip over buckets on the way back with scissors and hurt your knee -  2min
Open feed bag with scissors but try to make it look like you opened it by pulling the string  - 2min
Mix feed with soaked beet pulp and supplements -  1min
Wrestle veg oil bottle off the dog who is licking the lid and doesn’t want to give it back -  1min
Mix veg oil in with feed -  1min
Bring feed out to yard and feed horses  - 10min
Go find torch so you can see hay in hay shed, load up wheelbarrow with hay and bring back to horse who’s now kicking empty feed bucket around -  5min
Hay and change water in stables – 10min

Length of time to make my dinner
Boil kettle, pour into pot noodle, too exhausted to wait and just eat half softened pot noodle – 2min

I’m doing something wrong here?

Always end on a good note!

That’s the trick isn’t it.
Sometimes it’s hard to know when you’ve hit that note. If you did one more circle would it be better? If you have one last silly spook just before you untack does that cancel out the good note you hit just before you cooled down?

Oh dear…I wonder if I ever hit the right note?