In which the best-laid plans are somewhat waylaid by the stupid weather

I really shouldn't complain too much about the weather this year.  It's been wet, but not any wetter than usual, and it mostly hasn't even been very cold.  The trails are a mess, of course, but the logging roads have been just fine for riding.

As usual in winter, Fiddle and I have been taking lessons. 
A lesson on one of the warmer, non-rainy days

We had a big set-back a few weeks ago, and it was almost entirely my fault:  instead of asking Fiddle to do something in the arena, I was ORDERING HER TO DO IT NOW.  The whole thing turned into a spitting contest, and nobody ever really wins those things. 

Sigh.  I should know better.  She really does TRY very hard for me, and when I get impatient it always takes longer.  So, it was two steps backwards, and we regroup and try again.

The problem is that, although she's forgiven me for MY bad behavior and I've forgiven her for HER bad behavior, she still worries that I'm going to start spitting again, and she's defensive.  And when Fee gets defensive, she gets nasty:  she throws those back feet around, pins her other words, she exhibits all the bad behaviors I saw all the time when I first got her. 

She never gave those up entirely, but she has learned other, better behaviors.  And now the badness is back, and it's my fault and my responsibility to fix it (again). 

I know (because I have been through the process with a lot of animals) that she will return to better behavior.  I know that getting good behavior will be easier now than it was five years ago.  I also know that my best option with this mare is to not react when she has a defensive tantrum, but instead to continue asking (not demanding and not punishing) her to move forward.  When she's in her defensive mode, she can't listen to me very well, and the thing that works best is soft hands, soft legs, and a steady, calm, asking posture that makes "going forward" the easiest thing to do.  She also gets lots of praise for doing things correctly and calmly. 
Dory coaches me on "opening my hips".  Lisa is riding Guy in the background.
One of the ways that I wanted to practice all this with her was to take her to our first dressage show!  I've never showed with any horse, so this would be a new experience for both of us--good practice, I figured, in "being a beginner", since that's the audience I'm writing for in the Endurance 101 book.

(UPDATE ON THE ENDURANCE BOOK:  the publisher who expressed interest is still on vacation, but I'm writing like a mad fiend anyhow.  I hope to have at least half of that book in rough draft by the time she gets back in mid-February.  Meanwhile, the proposal spawned from my other blog has been offered a book contract by VOYA Publishing.  So I'm also frantically writing that, as well!)

It's been a long time since I've been a beginner at a horse sport.  I've done what I've been doing for more than a decade now.  I'm familiar with the process, and it's comfortable for me. I'm comfortable taking dressage lessons--I trust Dory to challenge us without facing us down impossible roads.

 Dressage shows, by contrast, are completely new, and now I remember what starting out in endurance was like:

Did I fill in the form properly?
Did they receive my entry?
What if people are mean?
What if I do things wrong?

Oh yeah, NOW I remember all those emotions.  Urgh.  This really IS good practice for me.

So, I was all set to go to the show this morning:  last night I set out my clothes, packed my lunch, hitched my trailer, and cleaned up my horse (and was glad that she's mud-colored, btw). I set my alarm for 5am and went to bed early....

And this morning, there was THIS:
Swamplanders really don't like sn*w. 
Also, our roads become treacherous really quickly, because we don't have
good equipment to clear them properly.
I called the ride manager, and was pleased to learn that she isn't mean.  She's nice!  And she totally understood why I didn't want to drive my truck and trailer on icy roads.  Apparently, a lot of people had already called her to cancel, but she was still nice to 6:30am.  That's impressive.

So now I have an entire day to write stuff on both books....

...but first, maybe I'll go back to bed.  At least until the sun comes all the way up.

Life is (unpredictable) Good.


  1. Hahahah, you called the head DQ a "ride manager." I can't think of what you call the head DQ off the top of my head, but I bet it's not RM... ;)

    Have a safe and productive snow day tucked in at the farm!

  2. I also laughed at calling the show secretary a "ride manager." LOL. I did that, too! You are going through EXACTLY what I went through in 2010 when I went to my first dressage show (which was also the first show of any kind that I'd ever been to.) The show entries were baffling! I was soooo afraid of filling it out incorrectly.

    I quickly found out that while dressage shows are VERY different from endurance rides, there are also many similarities. Having done endurance makes dressage shows a piece of cake. While everyone else has "will my horse behave at the trailer jitters," I simply had to worry about not falling off or looking stupid. Endurance horses think dressage shows are cake. Scary ... I'll show you scary! I know that's what my endurance-turned-dressage horse was thinking!

    Good luck at the next one!


  3. Just be sure to keep the chapter drafts in the right pile... Just sayin'. 8-)

  4. Congratulations on your progress toward publication! It ain't easy--and I can say that, having been there. I've had the pre-show jitters, too--and I don't envy you those. I guess that's one reason I quit showing (among others). You are one brave lady. I hope you and Fee are back in harmony soon--I know just what you mean about the not-in-harmony spells and how they pass. We all go through them--and they're not fun.

    So was that road sign for real? Or am I just showing my naivete here?

  5. FUNDER: whatever she's called, I'm pretty sure it isn't "Head DQ".

    SPEEDY: "show secretary"? Srsly? What a dumb title. Well, okay.

    EVENSONG: gotcha. yes, mixing up the files could be awkward.

    LAURA: I want to try dressage showing as a new experience. I don't give a rat's patoot about points--if I want points, I'll just go ride 50 miles. But I need to push my boundaries a bit, and this seemed like a good way to do it.

    I'm pretty sure the sign is photoshopped, but it looks a lot like our 520 bridge...!

  6. I love looking through your blog. You post such good info (and stories!). I'd like to request a post, if I might - your chicken tractors are really neat. Would you do a post on them and your chickens? I would like to start keeping chickens (for eggs mostly) and in the 'wilds' of Oklahoma they look like a really good way to safely have 'free range' chickens. Thanks!

  7. That freeway sign is freakin' HILARIOUS. That's exactly what would happen if it every snowed in central california again.

    We are scheduled for DAYS of rain starting tonight, so very soon I shall join you in swamp land. Except mine wonderland isn't going to be nearly as frozen.


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