I had the most delightful Thanksgiving weekend. After the stress of the actual day, it was smooth sailing afterward. The husband and I were invited to spend the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving at a private residence on Mackinac Island.
Here was the view out my window, toward the Grand Hotel’s golf course.
The tourists are long gone; so are most of the horses. There was a set of horses pulling a dray for supplies. There was also a set used for the taxi service.
There is a Christmas tree set up in the middle of Main Street. It’s in a barrel, held up by four large ropes tied to streetlights.
And yes, there ARE cars on Mackinac Island.
They were getting ready for a craft fair, which is this coming weekend.
Alas, our weekend was over far too soon–and yet I couldn’t wait to get home. We drove home in a snow-ish, rain-ish storm, but arrived safely. Dusty’s owner volunteered to do chores in the evening, so I had a little more relaxation time. I was on vacation at my house.
Monday, I woke up invigorated. I was thrilled to be back and working at Firefly. I finished chores and then decided to work with Senorita. She and I worked on not windsucking and then I rode for a while. She wasn’t sure about the leg cues I was giving, so by giving her a small amount of pressure, waiting, giving more pressure, waiting, and more pressure yet, she eventually came to the conclusion that she ought to walk. She was so much fun! Once she got moving and understood what I was asking for, she moved right off my leg. She is not dead sided, nor does she need a whip. She’s smart and a quick learner. She just doesn’t know what to do sometimes, and instead of freaking out about it, she freezes and waits for more guidance. I’ve trained horses like that before (Licorice) and worked with others who appeared to need more force (Lewis) but I know she’s exactly like these horses. What it comes down to is clear communication and patience. One of my favorite memories from Brighton Riding Stable is a woman who insisted on kicking the horses to make them walk. She kicked and kicked and kicked Lewis, and he didn’t move. I told her to squeeze him gently in order to walk on. She kicked him a little more, threw up her hands, and glared at me, but she gave him a soft squeeze with her legs. Lo and behold, he walked on. Sometimes the communication breaks down and that’s why the horse doesn’t respond–not because you need more force, but because the horse is confused and waiting for the correct cue. It’s hard to follow directions in Japanese, for example; Horses do not speak English–though that is our expectation from day one.
I also had the extreme pleasure of seeing Lexi under saddle. She’s a fun horse. Her owner has done wonders to make this horse a totally different horse than she was when she arrived. This is not to say that Lexi had anything wrong with her; quite the contrary. She showed some ribs and wasn’t very muscular, but she had great potential. Under the owner’s care, she’s filled out and has put some beautiful muscling on both her neck and haunches. She was side passing during the time I watched. I probably stare whenever I watch someone else ride. The reason for that is I don’t often have the opportunity to observe these horses under saddle, so I don’t always know how they’d react to a situation when they have a rider. I was entertained when I watched Lexi do a beautiful half-pass at the walk.
Tuesday was a blast. I did all the chores in the morning, and prepared the barn for this crazy weather. I moved the tractor into the garage, moved the hoses around, plugged in all the tank heaters and stall bucket heaters. In the evening I ran the girls in and took off the blankets for stall boarders. They were able to move freely in their stalls while their blankets dried. All the girls ate their two and a half flakes of hay in the stalls, since I knew the wind was crazy, and then I put Senorita and Lexi back outside. I gave the indoor boarders an extra flake because of the cold, and fed the boys five flakes. They seemed happy to have some form of shelter, but their happiness didn’t last long. They went outside to play after about 10 minutes.
Ah, Wednesday. We went from this on Tuesday:
Wednesday was fun and interesting. I wasn’t feeling well, but I pushed through it so I could enjoy the sunshine. I fed the ponies and put on mid-weight blankies. I then filled all the water buckets, mucked the stalls, and was very glad to have Go Green Landscaping plow my driveway. We don’t have the Toro back yet, so we don’t have any way to plow the driveway–unless it’s man powered. Or in this case, woman powered. I didn’t want that at all. We have a landscaper who will do it for us.
After mucking and buckets, I swept the aisle of the barn and swept and mopped the tack room. It’s a never-ending job, but it’s not so bad. I have a deep sense of pride in my work and my barn. I’m overjoyed at the prospect of having the barn with no clutter (nearly impossible) and neat (possible.)
I bought some solar-powered Firefly Green Christmas lights, and I started decorating. Hopefully Firefly Farm will have some Christmas cheer.
I also put Lexi’s blankie on. It looks GREAT with her coloring—that dark mahogany bay with the black and purple is gorgeous.
This morning, Thursday, I fed everyone extra hay. They’re getting three flakes each in the morning, now, and I’m planning to keep the hay nets in the stalls full. After I finished feeding the girls, I started working with Senorita again. She’s moving so nicely off of my leg. We walked, trotted, and cantered both ways; reversed on the haunches (like a turn on the haunches, but very slow, with some pauses after each step to give the horse praise. It isn’t as clean, neat, or fluid.) She’s also giving her head and relaxing a lot more. She seems to really enjoy herself. I’m having a great time, too!
When I put her away, Honey came right over as if to say, “Am I next?” I haven’t worked with her this week and I’m feeling guilty. She’ll be next on my list, after buying feed and shavings later.
For now, I have to eat lunch.