Ugh! I hate being sick! I'm home nursing a severly swollen throat with chills and stuffy sinus'. Double ugh!
Duke, on the other hand, is healthy and happy. Yesterday the farrier pulled his shoes for the winter so now he's barefoot. He's put on his teddy bear coat...getting all fuzzy and turning from summer slick red to winter rich chocolate brown. I love running my hands across his long neck and feeling his plushy thick coat. Think I'll forego blanketing him this winter, unless the temp drops down below 20 degrees; let him go au natural! The cut above his eye from three months ago healed nicely and is no longer visible, thanks to Vetricyn. Anyone with animals needs to keep it on hand! Seriously.
Been getting several rides a week in, bareback and with a saddle, working on upward and downward transitions, leg cues and side passing. During a session last Sunday I realized the problem with side-passing was me...I wasn't using my seat properly. So I set Duke up to side pass to the right over a pole, only this time using my left seat bone to push him. It took a couple of tries but he did it perfectly, without any bend in his body or neck. Each time we accomplish success like this, I am reminded that Duke already knows everything he needs to know when I'm in the saddle, and I'm the one who needs training.
Last Saturday night I thought I'd try my hand at team penning, but in the end I wasn't quite ready. I was tense and nervous (this was my first rodeo!) and didn't set it up to succeed. Had I been thinking properly I would have taken the time to warm Duke up in the little arena, away from all the noise and other riders before we headed to the larger upper arena where the event is held. So for me, I'll be taking baby steps toward this goal. Next time we'll warm up like we always do in the lower arena, then just hang out and give myself time to get used to the sights and sounds of the upper arena. It's all very fast paced and as a Level 2 student I'm not quite there in my training. However, my friend Debbie (who has been there for me through it all!) expressed an interest in riding Duke for one of the rounds; he is after all a former ranch horse who spent the first eight years of his life on a cattle ranch. She offered to pony him during the warm up after I realized I wasn't ready for this. Duke took to it like milk to a cookie as I watched from the sidelines. He ponied great, never rushing ahead of Debbie and Ringo, nor dragging behind them. He showed interest in the cows and moved with them whenever Debbie stopped by them. Funnily enough, everytime he'd pass by where I was standing, he'd look my way as if he was searching for me in the crowd. At least that's what Debbie said...I think he was looking for the gate.
Met up with my brother Mick and sister-in-law Char on Sunday while they were visiting from their home in the Portland area. Turns out they are both into horses and have two beautiful Arabians named Bay (short for Baythoven) and Boo. Who knew!!! One day I receive a friend request on Facebook and lo and behold, it's my brother. I have to admit when I saw Mick's photo of him wearing a cowboy hat, holding Bay you could have knocked me over with a feather. At first I honestly didn't think it was him. My brother...into horses?! Cool!!!! We spent two hours swapping horse stories at a local Starbucks. Sam was a real trooper, and if all that horse talk bored him, he gave no outward sign of it. It's been a long time since I last saw Mick and Char (1998) and seeing them again was a real heart warmer, and a great way to start the week. BTW Char has a blog too, cleverly titled Canterbalance...pop over and check it out!