Friday, August 4, 2017

Changes, Changes, Always Changes

Seems like July flew by, but that's probably because it began (for me) in Alaska, and when I got home from Alaska the month was pretty much 1/3 over all ready.  And, once home, I went back to work right away plus had a ton of work at home to catch up on plus did a whole bunch of blog posts about my trip.

There was even more that happened in July than that, like selling The Quarter Horse (who went to a 12 yr old girl who has ridden for years but has never, until now, owned a horse of her very own), and DD1 moving back home (with a kitten!) because she will be living at this little place here while doing her student teaching at a local elementary school this fall, and selling two wagons of hay and putting up another wagonload that was cut and baled (and thankfully stored indoors) while we were all away on our long Alaskan vacation. The owner of the eventing barn I've been doing morning feedings at for over 10 months now very hesitantly told me that with her current lack of boarding horses (several of her clients take their horses home in the summer) she was having a little trouble making ends meet, and did I mind having a month or maybe two off?  Oh, and my lease on the California Horse also officially began in July, so I've been riding him about three or four times a week since I've been back.

Now it's August all ready.  Since I am not heading out to the eventing barn first thing in the mornings Monday through Friday, I've chosen to use the early in the day coolness to ride the California Horse before I get down to the business of cleaning stalls at the dressage barn.  I'm loving beginning my day in the saddle.  He isn't so much.  The first day, he threw a humongous tantrum because I didn't let him go out to the pasture with his buddies, and instead groomed and tacked him up.  Seriously, this was an enormous fit; complete with getting loose when I went to bridle him, then throwing his head all around when I and two other people ushered him into a stall and commenced to attempt to get the bit into his mouth, then about an hour of being a total bulldozer and asshole while I led him around in the indoor arena until he was listening well enough and standing still long enough that I felt somewhat safe putting my foot into the stirrup to mount.

Once I was on his back, he was an angel.  But we've had to run through lessening degrees of this fit every morning this week while he gets over himself and accepts that like it or not, his daily schedule now includes a ride after breakfast instead of in the middle of the day or the late afternoon.  In the few years since putting down my (Holsteiner) mare, I had forgotten how stubborn Holsteiners can be, and how large their egos are. And honestly, if I hadn't had nearly 20 years of working with them I probably would have been totally intimidated when he threw his giant tantrum.  Instead, I recognized that I needed to be firm, and not give in because if I did he would just act worse and worse each time I went to work him.

Honestly, though, after having several years of working with 'little old' 15.3 hand the Quarter Horse (that I could push around pretty much anywhere), having this behemoth 18 hand Holsteiner California Horse hopping around and trying to sling me against the wall so he could get loose did have me shaking and in a sweat.  He had me backed into a corner and we both knew it, and it was only sheer stubbornness and determination on my part that kept me from throwing in the towel, taking off his tack, and putting him outside where he wanted to be.  I guess you could say our 'honeymoon period' in this new partnership was over and now was the time he was going to start showing his true colors and testing me.

I believe that now, at the end of a challenging week, we have come to an agreement and he respects me as much on the ground as he does when I'm in the saddle, and that the weeks to come will be more pleasant for both of us.  Even though he's always been good while I'm on his back (even the one ride, the first time I rode him alone, when he tried to tuck his head to his chest, dip his shoulder and was going to then attempt to buck--which I averted by giving a mighty upcheck with my outside rein while punching him in the barrel with both legs, was as much he's tested me in the saddle); our rides this week have gotten better and better.  He's more energetic and responsive to my aids, and we're doing some really fun lateral work, plus more and longer canter sessions (I could barely get him into a canter at first; he's a lot of horse to collect and motivate).

DD1's arrival back at this little place here with a truckload of stuff from two years of living on her own has brought it's own challenge.  Until DD2 leaves for college (next weekend), the two of them are grudgingly sharing what used to be their bedroom.  It is currently overstuffed and cramped and there are alternate fits on about who is pushing whose stuff around and being rude, and who needs to clean up their 'crap' so the other can walk through the room.  (Oh, how I'm missing my empty nest!)

Plus DD1 brought with her a now 7 week old kitten, and the Yarn Thief is deeply affronted by the little grey female with the bell on it's collar.  Her entire mood changes when she hears the jingle of the bell, and the Yarn Thief has been spending much time outside (her choice) sulking.  I am really amazed she hasn't torn the newcomer to shreds, as she is very territorial and has succeeded in running off both of my barn cats.  The kitten, however, is either very gutsy or very stupid and doesn't run when the Yarn Thief growls or hisses at her.  Instead, she stands on her tiptoes and sidles closer to the Yarn Thief, even getting the multiple times larger older cat to stand down and back away.  These two just might, eventually, figure out how to live together.  Actually, it kind of mirrors the way their owners (as DD2 was, technically, the one who brought the Yarn Thief into our lives) are squabbling over territory in the upstairs bedroom.

The garden is starting to produce in earnest now and every few days I am bringing in ripe veggies.  There haven't yet been enough beans at once to bother getting out the canner, but I've spent several hours shelling and blanching peas for the freezer.  Cucumbers, similarly, aren't enough to fill a quart jar and make pickles, but they are enjoyed fresh, peeled and sliced.  We've had zucchini in our shish kebabs, as well as in bread and a chocolate zucchini cake.  The sweet corn is not quite ready, but most likely this time next week we will be enjoying ears only minutes from the garden and I will be assembling jars to can cream corn and whole kernel corn in.  My tomato plants are heavy with lots of green tomatoes.  DD2 was hoping that she might get to enjoy a vine ripened red one before leaving for school, but so far it has been very warm at night and none of the tomatoes are showing any sign of turning color yet.  Typically it is mid to late August before I have ripe tomatoes, so I might have to find a way to ship a few to her at college.

It is amazing to me, and to her, that she is all ready entering her third year of college.  She's eager to begin the next semester, but she is also freaking out a little with all the things she needs to do this third year.  Like hopefully secure an internship in her field for next summer.  And start looking seriously at where she wants to attend grad school.  It has always been her intent to go right through to a doctorate, so she can do field research, but the college she is at does not offer a masters program in her field.  Which means unless she can find a faculty member to help her write (and get school approval for) her own masters program, she will need to go somewhere else for grad school and then (her desire) return for her PhD.  There are several schools with good masters programs for wildlife ecology, but most are far away.  After visiting Alaska and finding it not too very much different from the U.P. where she now attends college, she is considering going to grad school in Fairbanks.

With so much going on at this little place here, people moving in, people moving out, reorganizing of bedrooms and storage, the garden ramping up into full production mode, and wedding planning needing to be done (we've started dress shopping!!) August is sure to slip by seemingly overnight.

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