jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
I have had such a wonderful day today!

My riding club had arranged a Pay&Jump. That's essentially a non-competition jumping meet - there is no placement list or winner, you don't get any rosettes or anything, but you do get to jump a proper set of fences in a new environment, so for many people it's good training before the season begins. The rules are a bit more lax too, in a regular competition you aren't allowed to continue if the horse has refused a fence more than three times but at the P&J it's up to the judge how long they can be allowed to try. Also you can get help to get the horse across (e.g. by someone leading the horse or egging it on), or get a fence lowered a little. Since quite a few horses have learned to count to three, knowing that after the third stop they get to go out and won't have to jump anymore, it's very useful to let them continue on. Some of them looked very surprised indeed...

There was one incident with a horse that kept baulking at the fences, where the rider got frustrated and started using her whip too much. You're allowed to use the whip as an aid; that is, to indicate with a light touch that the horse should do something. This rider got frustrated and unhappy when her horse refused fence after fence and gave him a sharp touch with the whip after he'd refused. I told her to use the whip only as an aid and not as a punishment, and she got over the fence on the fourth try. When she rode up to the next fence she started whipping the horse on the way up to the fence, and as she did it without switching the reins to one hand, she was also pulling on the rein on the side where she held the whip. The horse, unsurprisingly, refused, and she used the whip again. At that point I had to tell her that since she kept using the whip in the wrong way I was excluding her. I let her jump one more fence - without using the whip - so they wouldn't end with a refusal, since that is a bad memory to leave the horse. She was of course very unhappy, but I feel very sure that I ddi the right thing. After all, she will want to go to actual competitions later, and that sort of thing will get her thrown out of those, too - better to learn early and in a non-competitive environment!

When it was all finished, I got a ride back to our own stables (the event was held in an arena several kms off). I got to meet my darling Diamond again. I wasn't sure he'd remember me, after all he's still young and it's been five months since I saw him. When I came to his stall and opened the door, he walked up and put his head against me and demanded to be skritched behind the ears and on the throat, just as I've been doing since he was a few days old. He kept bumping me with his nose and wanting more skritches and seemed very happy to see me again. So was Skutt, by the way. He was at the P&J, and while he and [personal profile] gnapp were in the collecting ring he heard my voice, and immediately turned towards me. That was nice.

The horse I fell off of five months ago also remembered me. When I went to her stall, at first she came up and was all "oh, there you are, cuddles now plz!" After a few minutes of that she decided that no, she didn't like me because I'd abandoned her, and went off to the other corner of the stall to sulk. I do look forward to being able to work with her again - so, I suspect, do most other people in the stables as she's been getting to be difficult to handle due to her being bored from not getting to work. Her owners have started working her a little, but they really don't have enough time to give her the attention she wants, so it'll be nice for everyone when I get back.

After that, I went with [personal profile] gnapp and her husband to have dinner at one of our favourite hamburger places. One of the staff also rides and she came over to talk about horses and accidents. Then they drove me home and I got back shortly after 8 pm, having been gone for twelve hours.

In all, it was a lovely, lovely day!
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
Last Sunday, the 11th, I was booked to have a jumping lesson on Melanie at the stables at 9 am. I think there were six riders in all, and Eva, the owner, was holding the lesson. I got there in time to help carry out the fences. Melanie had a small wound on her left shoulder but Eva said it didn't seem bad and she wasn't lame.

I took her out, and she felt very good. For once there was no problem keeping her at a collected trot, she responded very well to my hands when I asked her not to rush on. [personal profile] gnapp showed up to take pictures and I asked her to hold my new iPhone so I wouldn't risk it falling out of my pocket or something. When we were all warmed up, I started trotting towards the end of the paddock to make a turn and come up to the first fence.

That's when it happened. Melanie stumbled and was almost down on her left knee. I was sure she'd go over and I'd get her over me, so I let go of the stirrups so I could get away if I needed. Instead, she righted herself with a jerk - and I flew off, landing on my left foot. It broke. Or, rather, the leg broke close to the foot. People were asking me how I was, and I remember yelling that this was Not Good. Gnapp came running up and I told her to get the shoe off quickly before the foot would swell up. She did. Eva came up and they both agreed that the leg looked really broken. Eva got a bale of hay to put my foot on (by this time I was lying on my back - fortunately it wasn't raining, as it had been when we were carrying the fences out) and Gnapp called an ambulance. They took turns staying with me and fetching blankets and things to pile all around me. I borrowed a phone and called Calle to tell him what had happened.

The ambulance showed up within ten minutes I think - it felt a lotlonger, but I don't think it really was. One of them gave me morphine and I was ready to marry him on the spot. Gnapp went with me in the ambulance because I really didn't want to be alone. Once we'd gotten to the hospital they put on a plaster cast and took some X-rays. Gnapp had told Calle where I was and he came shortly after I'd gotten back from the X-rays. They had had to cut my riding trousers off of me, so it was a really good thing that I'd made Gnapp take the boot off at once - it would probably have been very painful to have it cut off, not to mention a waste of a good boot.

I got a bed at the orthopaedic ward and was scheduled for surgery during the afternoon. This turned out to be the hospital term for evening - I got into surgery around 8.30 pm and they weren't finished until it was past 10. I got a spinal block instead of general anaesthesia so I was more or less awake during the procedure. Then I had to stay in the post-op ward for several hours while they made sure I got the feeling back in my leg (while I wished I didn't), so I wasn't back in my ward until it was almost 4 am.

On Monday I was allowed to eat again, but we also found that one of the fast-working painkillers (Oxynorm) makes me throw up, so I didn't actually get all that much food down. I had to keep my foot elevated and it's really hard to eat when you're in that position.

On Tuesday they took some more X-rays and a CT scan and then there was a second operation. This time they took off the plaster cast and put on a Hoffman's brace, like the one I had on my arm a few years back. They also adjusted one of the plates that had been put in on Sunday. I got back up to the ward around 5 am.

On Wednesday they told me that they needed to make one more operation but that the foot was so swollen they couldn't do it at once. They said I would have to wait for 7-10 days and I would not be allowed to go home in the meantime, they didn't want to risk my being without medical attention and maybe the swelling getting worse without my noticing.

Thursday was uneventful. On Friday I was told I would be sent to a rehab home for a few days while waiting for the swelling to go down. I called Calle who rushed over with some clothes for me, and the transport people showed up around 2pm. The rehab home, Furuhöjden ( turned out to be a very nice place. Everyone has their own room, the food is cooked there and not transported from somewhere then heated in a microwave, the furniture looks more like a nice hotel than a hospital, and it's all very comfortable. I got a wheel chair that I can use to go down to the dining room, and I can get into and out of it without help. There should be wireless internet access to all rooms, but on my floor it's broken and the people who can fix it aren't back until Monday, so I've still only used the iphone for net access.

Yesterday I got a lovely bouquet of flowers and some very nice chocolate from my brother in the U.S. I have the bouquet in my window where it looks very beautiful with the autumn colours of the bouquet set against the yellow leaves of the birch outside and the blue-grey of the sky.

As I type, it's almost exactly one week since I broke the leg. I was very lucky - it might have been the back, or the head, that hit the ground first, or Melanie might have gone down and rolled over me in which case my rib cage and other stuff would have been crushed or broken. A broken leg is just a mechanical problem; broken back or neck or head is bad.

Anyone who's on facebook can read my updates there - it's easier to post a small update there from the iphone than it is to write a livejournal post, so that's where the day-to-day stuff will be while I don't have net to the laptop. My gmail account also works to get in touch with me.

Now I shall get into the wheel chair and drive around the hospital until I find a spot where the wireless net works, and then post this. Oh, and the wheel chair is a metallic purple - how cool is that? And I've learned how to steer it by turning the wheels in opposite directions to make a neat turn, feeling like a pro wheelchair driver :-)
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
The cats have stayed well, so we're satisfied it was the rowan berries that caused the problems (thanks [ profile] artela for telling us about it!). The girlfriend has fetched her new kitten, who is awesomely cute, as he should.

This weekend we've been having competitions at the stables. They're members-only, but we had a fair number of participants (there are quite a few people who join the club in order to be able to compete there). These competitions were at a reasonably low level, they're mainly set up to be practice for inexperienced horses/riders or just a fun thing. We didn't have winners as such; in the jumping part (which was today) everyone got a rosette if they got around all the fences in the right order without any faults.

The dressage was on Saturday. We'd also announced a "flea market" for horsey stuff, since we need to get some money for our new riding paddock - we really need a second one for the warmups when we're having competitions. I came early and helped set up the market, pricing some stuff that had been delivered late, and so on. Then I took Melanie for a walk, to see how she'd behave when there were so many other strange horses and people around. She seemed more curious than scared, which is a very good thing. Hopefully I'll be able to ride some practice competition on her next year, if she doesn't go lame again. Then I helped out at the food stall, where we didn't have much actual food to serve as the electricity was gone for several hours - not only at the stables, but in a fairly large surrounding area. The closest shop and gas station didn't have any either...

When the guest riders had left, I fetched Prime Diamond in and started picking burrs out of his mane. He was really bored and wanted to chew stuff, preferably me or my clothes, but I got a lot of them out. Of course he'll pick up new ones, but I made a start cutting the burr plants in the field. I filled the largest wheel barrow, but I couldn't see any noticeable change in the field... still, if the others who have horses in the same field help out, and we all do a little each day, it should help.

Today I was the judge for the jumping part of the competition. It's really fun, but also a bit exacting. I refreshed my knowledge of the rules of competition, and even brought the laptop with the PDFs of the rules so I could check things up as necessary. Since it's such a small show I was lenient where possible, though I did make a couple of mistakes that I had to correct immediately. Still, it all went fairly well and people seemed happy. The weather was OK too, no rain during the actual events, and we got quite a few things sold at the flea market. I bought the first head stall for my horse - it's one he'll grow out of within a year, but it's nice to have something to start training him with, and I can always sell it on at the next flea market.

After the show was done, I fetched Melanie and spent some time combing through her mane and tail, which I've neglected to do for a long time. She seemed to appreciate the attention. Then I went riding, which started out well. I was practicing making her listen when I pull the reins, basically by first making a very small pull, just closing my fist around the reins. If she didn't listen I'd give her a sharper pull, and if that didn't help I'd have her stop and back up. Basically this makes her realise that if she reacts properly at the first gentle pull she won't get the harder and more uncomfortable one. She understands this perfectly well, she's just been ignoring me and I need to work on that.

After a while we got into the woods, and she started freaking out. She'd jump sideways and try to spin around. I thought she was either scared of something, or she was upset that we'd gone away from the other horses - either way I didn't quite feel safe going on into the forest, so I just took her a few meters further on (in order to not teach her that if she starts jumping I'll let her turn around), and then went back. It was just as well, because I was really tired, and I still had a stall to clean. Before doing that I spent a few minutes lying in the clean straw with three kittens purring in a pile beside me. I almost fell asleep there...

So, that was the weekend. Now it's bed time.
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
The cats have now been free of symptoms for about 36 hours. [ profile] artela said that rowan berries may cause these symptoms - I really hope that's it, because then this is over. It might also be something in the dry food they've been having, so we've got a new bag of another brand waiting.

We're still keeping them to only my bedroom and the living room. Arthas is busy trying to dig through the glass of the living room door.

I did go riding yesterday. Melanie now shows no lameness at all. She doesn't like to gallop on the right lead, so we'll have to work on that, but she's very happy to be ridden at all. I was very nice to not have to clean out stalls - I'd spent the night waking up every time one of the cats made any noise at all, or moved around on the bed...
jennyaxe: (dexter)
I've not posted much about Dexter. That's the horse in the icon of this post, and I've been riding him for about a year now.

Dexter is owned by Eva (who's also the co-owner of the foal) and her sister. He's basically got two modes - the one where he just lazes along nicely, and the one where he's got a rocket under the tail. In lazy mode I have to work on getting him to lift his legs; in rocket mode I have to work to not get thrown off (which he actually did once, on purpose...).

I've not "clicked" with Dexter the way I did with Melanie, or with Skutt. He's nice enough, he's just not my horse in the way Melanie is even though I don't own her. But I have learned a lot from riding him. Eva rides him in dressage competitions, and she's a very good rider. She uses her seat a lot, so he's sensitive to weight distribution and movement of the abdomen and seat. This basically means that he doesn't listen to me unless I'm firmly seated. That took me a long time to get used to. I had the problem that when we'd go in a trot, he'd speed up more than I was comfortable with, and then I'd get nervous and want to slow down. I'd haul on the reins - but at the same time I'd be leaning forward, and he listened more to the weight than to the reins, so to speak. So I've had to teach myself to first sit down properly and only then take the reins. It works, when I do it right, which is far from every time.

When we do go at a trot or a gallop, he usually wants to go faster than I'm comfortable with, and when we trot he wants to gallop. Part of this is because I lean forward too much; the other part is that he's not strong enough to carry himself at a slower pace, especially with an not-completely-balanced rider like me. Needless to say, Eva doesn't have this problem.

So, in short, I've been having some difficulty and have been a bit wary of riding him alone. But a while ago I had a lesson with Eva which pretty much changed everything. We basically created the situations where I've felt uncomfortable, and then she explained what was actually going on and how I could handle it differently. Previously I'd basically just slowed down or made a complete halt - now I learned to continue working while bringing him down to a pace where I felt comfortable.

And it worked. Since that one lesson a few months back, I've taken him out alone a couple of times, I've trotted outside of the paddock, and I've been to two jumping lessons. True, it's been scary sometimes, but it's worked, and I've learned!

Yesterday I got the clearest proof so far that I've learned a lot. There was a jumping competition going on when [ profile] cdybedahl and I got to the stables. Lots of cars, lots of people, lots of strange horses. It was hot enough that Dexter wasn't quite in rocket mode, but he certainly wasn't calm. I took him down to a path in the wood, beside a small water-filled ditch. The footing is good there, and as he was being a bit skittish, wanting to turn back to the other horses, I started to trot - that means he needs to focus a bit more on going forward and less on looking back. And so he did - in fact, he was forward enough to start galloping instead of trotting.

And I did exactly the right thing. Instead of freaking out and hauling on the reins, I simply sat down and thought "hey, trot, not gallop". This made my body move into the right position for trotting, and he just followed and switched gears back into a trot. It took me at least half a minute to realize that a miracle had just occurred. I had done the right thing, and it worked.

Now I just need to keep my head in the space where it just lets the body get on with the job instead of interfering by trying to think everything through...


May. 22nd, 2008 08:26 pm
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
At 2.45 I was called by Eva who owns Melanie. It was foaling time. I got up, threw on the riding clothes and made a cup of coffee which I drank in the car. I got to the stable five minutes after he was born.

Newborn Newborn
This is before he stood up the first time. Melanie was a bit confused about the whole thing.
And a few hours later he gets his first view of the outside

There are more images in my scrapbook.
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
Two pieces of news.

This morning, my (paternal) grandmother died. I will miss her. I can't really grieve, though, because I know that she was tired of this life and wanted to move on. She was in pain, she was unable to walk more than a few steps, she couldn't stay in her own apartment any more, and she missed my grandfather who died seventeen years ago. I'm glad she's no longer in pain - but I'll miss her.

Day before yesterday I took the day off to go with the owner of Melanie to the breeding station. They did an ultrasound and we saw a tiny blob in Melanie's womb. If all goes well, there'll be a foal by the end of May. Next Friday we'll be going there for a second ultrasound and by then there should be a heartbeat.

Horse news

Jun. 23rd, 2007 03:13 pm
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
In my last horse post I wrote that Melanie was getting inseminated. She's back now, hopefully impregnated. Eva, one of the owners, has asked me to go with her to the vets in a couple of weeks to check whether the insemination worked. I'm very happy that she asked me, it shows a level of trust and that she wants to let me be involved.

Ownership of the foal, if there is one, still isn't settled. I've told her that no matter what, I'll help out with some of the work, but I'm not willing to spend any money unless I also get a part ownership of the foal. There's certainly a risk in buying a foal, even part of one, but there's also a possibility of a reward - whether by eventually buying it out or by selling it and getting some money back.

Last week there was a dressage competition at the stables. Our small club has managed to scrape together a team for the division III league, and it was our turn to host. I was speaker, which was great fun - I got to say "Rider #XX is invited onto the course, and we ask rider #XY to be ready. The horse "Foo" is a mare, born in XXXX and owned by Bar. The rider Baz competes for the Gazonk club. And we now have the result for Bar Bazson, they got XXX points and YY.YY percent. Also there's a green car with registration number XXX YYY with the lights on in the parking lot." Being as how I love to hear my own voice, it was the best job I could get!

It would have been nicer if it hadn't been so cold (about 12C) and wet (rainy or drizzling most of the day). I was sitting under a roof, but I was still very cold. I felt very sorry for the people who had more outdoorsy duties!

One of the horses in the competition was son to the same stallion Eva's used for Melanie. He was a beautiful black, with a star, had great moves and came in fourth. But I expect that if Melanie's foal is anything like that good I won't get to ride it much - still, if she gets one that good they're more likely to keep breeding her, which is good in itself.

She's still very affectionate when I come to see her in the field. Ylva, the other owner, says she's like that with everyone. She must be imagining things; of course the horse likes me best.

New life

May. 31st, 2007 02:48 pm
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
The lovely horse Melanie, the one who isn't rideable any more, won't be put down. At least not yet.

Today she's away to be inseminated. If all goes well, there'll be a foal next year. The sire is a very qualified dressage horse, dark brown, whose offspring has done very well. So if we're lucky, Melanies mother's genes and the sire's will combine to create a good foal. I've offered to buy a part in the foal, and promised that I'll help with it regardless.
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
So, it's been a month since the last time I updated. Stuff has happened.

Tusse got well, but we both have the feeling that he got a lot older during his illness. We don't really expect him to be around for more than a year or so.

Work has been hellish but is getting better now. We finally got the $BIG_PROJECT into production. There's still some mopping up to do, but at least the time-critical stuff is over and we can breathe again.

And then there's the bad news. Melanie, the mare I've been riding since January, has been lame a lot. She was taken to the vets yesterday and got X-rayed. It turns out her hind legs are basically shot, and she has a problem in her neck that makes it hard for her to use her right front leg properly. So she won't ever be well enough to be ridden again. At best she might be good for breeding, but given her physical problems - she was born with one eye missing, as well as having had the leg problems - it mightn't turn out that well. In which case she'll be put down.

I'd gotten so very attached to her, I was planning on buying her in a few years, and I'd started considering how to arrange stuff so I could ride more often. I'm devastated. There's the practical side of it, too - I'll have to find another horse to ride on weekends, because I really do need to ride twice a week. But most of it is just grief that I've lost her.


Mar. 10th, 2007 12:42 pm
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
Finally, here's some pictures of Melanie. Also of how I look with riding helmet/hat hair. [ profile] gnapp was kind enough to take the pictures last time we were out together (also the second time I fell off Melanie - I probably should stop making a habit of that). There are more Melanie pictures at my gallery, and there should be an icon at some point.

Me and Melanie heading out Me and Melanie heading out
Me and Melanie in the stable Me and Melanie in the stable
When I started riding Melanie she was still recovering from a kick to one leg so she was slightly lame. She's a lot better now and up to galloping. I've had nightmares that she was lame again and it was my fault for working her to hard. Very irritating, because I can't get the thought out of my head, even though I've not been working her hard and last time I had her I only rode for about half an hour due to this cold coming on. And she was walking perfectly well when I got off. Also I am quite sure her owners would let me know if I did something wrong, they certainly are not the type of people to let anyone hurt a horse if they could prevent it. Still the stupid mental image won't fscking go away.

In other news I still have a cold but am no longer coughing up phlegm, which is probably a good thing. Calle says I cough more often now but at least it doesn't sound like death rattles any more.

Tusse is also ill; he's had a fever and been very withdrawn for several days. He's getting better though; his nose isn't hot any more and he's slept in our bed tonight for the first time this week. He still isn't interested in food, but at least he drinks a lot of water and he seems to be moving around more, so we're trying to not be too worried. But if he doesn't get better it'll be the vet for him on Monday. This is a threat that should scare him into eating, I should think.

jennyaxe: (house/wilson)
On Sunday I went out riding Melanie. This time I was accompanied by L on her 25-year old mare Ellie, and A on Melanie's brother Elliot who's eight or so. We walked along the road until we got to a nice meadow, where we first trotted a while and then took a gallop. Melanie behaved very well; she was calm on the road even when an idiot driver honked his horn at us - damned lucky none of the horses got scared! She was very good at keeping a quiet pace when trotting, and when L started galloping I had no trouble keeping Melanie at a trot for a while before I let her start galloping as well. (I did this mainly to see how well she'd listen to me and how hard it'd be to keep her back - that's a fairly good thing to know when you're out on an unfamiliar horse...)

We turned back and decided to gallop back across the meadow. This wasn't really the best idea we'd had so far - the horses knew they were headed back to the stable and their food, so they were very eager to run. L's mare was off like fired from a cannon, and I wasn't far behind. I heard later that the mare had taken the bit and refused to slow down... Melanie at least kept listening; I could slow her down, so I kept changing the pace - reining in to slow down a little, then letting her get her speed back up, a couple of times. That's when it happened. Ellie stepped on a six foot long branch that was hidden in the snow. It flew up right in front of Melanie, who naturally shied away from it - and I lost my seat and went down in the snow. Melanie kept running until she caught up with L and Ellie. I'd managed to fall well enough that I didn't hurt myself, I just was a bit winded, so I got up and walked over to L and Ellie. L got off and caught Melanie.

Looking back, A had also gotten off her horse and was walking towards us. It turned out he'd been so eager to catch up with us that he'd started bucking and jumping, and A was smart enough to get down and lead him instead of trying to stay on when he was in that mood.

We walked back towards the stable. After a while I found a stone I could use to get in the saddle from - Melanie is 170 cm high and there's no way for me to get up from the ground. A kept walking her horse, L was already back in the saddle.

So, that was my most recent adventure. Not a bad one as falls go; I'm a bit bruised but I didn't break anything. And it wasn't really Melanie's fault - anyone would get a bit scared by a big branch flying up right in your face like that. She's a good horse and I feel every bit as safe on her as I did before.

It's obvious that she hasn't had much experience of being out in the fields like this, but she has a lot of coolness and good sense and doesn't get frightened easily. She's also very affectionate - when I went to bring her in from the field, she came up to me and started nuzzling. And she whinnies if I leave her alone in the stable while fetching her saddle or something.

I still don't have a picture of her so there's no Melanie icon so far. We'll go with my other current obsession instead...
jennyaxe: (riding2)
1 point to anyone who knows where the subject line is taken from...

It seems the stupid cold has loosened its grip on me. I spent the whole day sitting or lying down, mainly because every time I tried to stand up I got dizzy. I'm sure Calle was as pleased as I was that the shower stool was still around, as it meant I could get clean without falling over in the shower.

About an hour ago something changed - I couldn't sleep so I got up and didn't feel like the room was spinning around me. It makes a nice change, I must say. If this keeps up I might even be able to go riding this Sunday, which would be nice (and also good for my health). I still miss Samurai, but I also like Melanie, the new horse a lot. It's a very different experience riding a six-year-old from riding a well-schooled elderly gentleman of nineteen. But Melanie is affectionate and very calm - I tried riding in skirts last week, and she didn't bat an eyelid at them, even though it was very windy. That's a bit surprising in such a young and comparatively untrained horse, especially as she is blind on one side. I feel very secure with her; we seem to understand one another reasonably well and I'm sure it'll get even better.

I still love Skutt, though - he's the one I've ridden the longest, and though he can be a bit of a stubborn donkey at times, we have a lot of fun. I think he does some of his tricks just to mess with me and liven things up a little.

It's strange, being all clear-headed again. Though I did get a lot of thinking done during the past few days - as long as I kept sitting or lying down, I was reasonably OK. I've been making some notes about dealing with chronic pain, from various perspectives. I might even post some of them at some point.
jennyaxe: (samurai)
I can't sleep. I don't know why, because I'm really tired, but I can't make my body relax enough to let me drift off.

Today I was out with Samurai again. I timed my arrival to the stables so I just got finished cleaning out his box when the stable owner started bringing the horses in from pasture. I helped her a bit, then when she was finished bringing them all in, I put Campero in the stable corridor and cleaned out his stall. After that I washed his wound - he's still got some seepage around the site of the fistula. He doesn't like it when I press to hard around it, but he was very well behaved anyway - amazingly so for a four years old stallion.

I took Samurai out on the country roads, where we had a few gallops, and then took the path through the forest back. There were lots of insects which was irritating, but Samurai behaved very well. It's hard to believe this is the same horse who bolted with me the first time I was out with him - the past month or so he hasn't even tried to take the bit and run. Sure, he's still eager and he wants to go faster than I feel comfortable with, but he doesn't argue when I tell him to slow down.

Since it's hot outside he was very sweaty when we got back, so I gave him a wash. Then I walked back to his box, without holding him - he followed like a dog going "heel", never trying to move past me even though there was food in his box, never even trying to look or go in the wrong direction. I feel that he's really started listening to me and accepting me as a leader. Or perhaps he's just tired from the heat...
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
I've been having a back ache for a couple of weeks so I haven't been riding much - in fact I've been doing very little except for working and lying in bed watching TV series. It's better now, though, so this weekend I went out to Samurai. I'd settled with [ profile] jegra that she'd book someone to clean the stalls so I could rest the back a little.

Samurai was being very careful with me. He tends to notice how I'm feeling and he's always on his best behaviour when I'm unwell. It was nice to basically give him the reins and let him pick his own way through the forest, and he seemed to enjoy a lazy walk as well - lucky for me, because when he's eager for a run it can be very hard to control him. But it worked fine.

Yesterday [ profile] gnapp was at a showjumping contest. I went along to help with the loading, fetching and carrying. Since the class started at 9 am, we needed to leave the stables before 8 am. That meant I had to be there at 7, which means leaving home at 6, which means getting up at 4.30. Which I did. On a Sunday.

Gnapp did well - she and Skutt got around the course with no stops and no fallen fences, and all of 3/10ths of a second to spare to the maximum time allowed. They got their first rosette and Skutt got to graze for half an hour before we went back home. That was at half past eleven, and it'd already gotten very hot. I was glad to be wearing a cap, and I felt sorry for Gnapp who had to wear a dark sweater when riding.

The cap I've got is one with the text "Everyone knows I'm gay" and a rainbow on it. I got it from a friend some years ago when I was working with the Stockholm Pride parade teams - I ran along the parade and tried to make people stay in the part of the road where the traffic was blocked instead of running out in front of the oncoming cars.

Today I left the car for repairs - she's got a bad scratch on her left rear side, probably from someone trying to park too close to her. I'd planned to stop by at the inspection center by 8.15 and then drive straight to the repair shop (which is very close to my work) so I'd be at work by 9. But for some reason the traffic was horrible and I didn't even get to the repair shop until way past 9. I then had to wait for the mechanic to come back from an errand, and then it turned out they didn't have any rental cars free so the mechanic had to drive me to the nearest gas station with rental cars. I got a Volvo S60, which feels awful to drive when I'm used to the Toyota Prius. This one's heavy and has a very low-tech instrument panel - it's got little needle gauges for the speedometer and stuff. And I have to look down from the road to see the speedometer. Oh, and did I mention that the wheel's heavy? Also it takes about twice as much gas per kilometer as the Prius does. I want my car back, dammit!

Still, I'm glad I've got insurance that covers a rental car. Also I'm glad to have a nice boss who didn't get mad when I didn't show up until 10 when I'm supposed to be in by 9 at the latest. Not that he was happy about it, mind you, but he understands that sometimes shit happens.

It's really hot here today - it's been almost 30˚ here (that's around 85˚ for you Fahrenheiters). That's rather unusual this early in the year; generally we don't get that until July or August. Still, this apartment doesn't get too hot - it's got thick walls, and even though we have a lot of south-facing windows, most of them are by the balcony which gives some shade from the balcony above ours. So as long as we keep the bedroom curtains closed, it's not too bad here.
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
No, not the US immigration variety. Not the golfing type either. This is the card that shows I've passed the tests and am allowed to compete in e.g. dressage or show jumping. In order to get it one needs to take a course and pass a riding test, a practical horse handling test and a written exam. I did the practical test last week and today I did the written one - and I went away with a shiny new green card in my wallet!

To compete at anything above club level one also needs a riders' licence, which costs money - and to get the riders' licence you must have the green card and be a member of a club which is a member of the Swedish equestrian sports association. So the green card isn't a license but it's a prerequisite for the license.

I fully intend to take part in at least one dressage competition, even if only at the club level, this autumn. And even if I don't, at least I've got a major sense of accomplishment out of getting the green card!
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
As I wrote earlier, I've decided to participate in a dressage competition this year. I've had lessons both on Samurai and on Skutt, and I've learned a great deal. I've got a much better seat and I'm much more relaxed, much more able to communicate clearly with the horse.

On Sunday we had a competition training day. For a dressage competition, the arena should be 20 x 40 metres (or 20 x 60). Our arena is 30 x 60. So we had to start by putting out small fences to make a 20 x 40 arena. There were five of us and we were supposed to start at 9. I hadn't slept well so I didn't get there until 9.20 (after having had breakfast in the car - how's that for a good start?). We still got the arena done by 10 am as planned. Monika rode Skutt first, then the stable owner rode, then it was my turn to take Skutt. I didn't quite make the round properly, mainly because I didn't know the course completely by heart and so sometimes I took the wrong turn, slowed at the wrong place, stuff like that. But it did feel as if I can take part in a competition without embarrassing myself too much.

Then I took Skutt out to walk him a while and cool him down. We went along the small road for a few hundred metres and then turned back. That's when we heard the motorcycles. We moved off the road and waited on a patch of grass some metres away. The first six motorcycles weren't a problem, but the seventh made a lot more noise, and Skutt took off like he was fired from a rocket. It took maybe fifty metres to get him down to a reasonably collected gallop rather than a wild bolting, and another hundred metres before I got him to stop. By then the motorcycles had also stopped and turned off their engines. I thanked them for doing so and got Skutt to walk past them with only a little prompting required. They didn't start up until we were well past them, and Skutt danced a little but didn't try to bolt again. I don't think he was really that scared, he was probably just taking the chance to get to run a bit...

I got back to the stable, Monika took care of putting Skutt back out in his field and I sat chatting with the stable owner while her sister rode the course. Then we all pitched in to move the fencing back to the outhouse. Once that was done I was very hungry, so I invaded [ profile] jegra and her housemate's place to get some lunch.

After a large helping of spaghetti, Jegra and I went off to the stable where her two horses, Samurai and Campero, live. I got to sit and take it easy while she started mucking Campero's box and we let Samurai eat. Then I started caring for Samurai while Jegra did his box. Once the horses were ready we went off, Jegra riding Campero and I riding Samurai. It was lovely going out in the sunshine, it was about 10 C (50 F) and just a small breeze. Of course, both horses were eager for a run, so we had to be careful... Samurai did try to take off with me a couple of times but I got him to slow down without too much trouble. When we got back Jennifer cleaned the saddles and the girths which had gotten rather muddy; I helped a bit and learned a bit more about how to care for the tack.

After all this I drove home, took a shower, sat by the computer for a while, then fell asleep as soon as I turned the light off.

If anyone had told me two years ago that I'd spend a day riding a dressage course, getting bolted with when riding out, carrying fencing, riding another horse - in all spending a couple of hours on horseback plus doing some heavy carrying - I wouldn't have believed that I could do it. I'm deeply happy to feel so much better. I still have some bad days, when I can't get much done, but they're so much fewer than they used to.

Also it feels very good to know that when Skutt and Samurai were being difficult, I managed it. I didn't let Skutt run straight out into the field as he tried, and I got him to slow down and stop. I didn't let Samurai run off with me when he wanted to, and I did manage to keep him at a reasonable pace even though he was bursting with energy and really wanted to take off. These are greater victories even than having managed the dressage course...
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
So today was the first day of riding lessons on Samurai. I got to the stables at 12.15 for lunch with the other participants, which was nice. I cleaned Campero's fistula (he still has a hole going through his cheek by the fracture) and mucked out Samurai's box. At 14 I brought Samurai in so he'd be able to eat while I mucked out Campero's box. I got him ready on time to get into the riding house and start warming him up ten minutes before 15, when my lesson was to start.

We started with simply walking around and I got some tips on how to improve my seat. Eva saw that I tend to not notice if I'm not sitting centered on the horse and she helped me with tips on how to avoid listing to one side. Then we did rising trot, where again she helped me get a better seat - I tend to fall forward a bit too much and she had me practicing my balance by standing in the saddle while Samurai was standing still, until I could stand properly without losing my balance. Then I did some more turns doing rising trot so I'd get it fixed in my mind.

After that it was time for the seated trot. As I wrote yesterday, that's something that's always been a problem for me. Part of it is that with the abdominal pains from the endometriosis, the incessant movements required for the seated trot can be very painful, but the greatest part is that I'm not supple enough or relaxed enough to follow the horse's motions.

Eva helped me with this. She had me relaxed enough that I could do seated trot for several minutes, with change of pacing and speed, without losing the rhythm. Part of it was simply learning how to deal with losing the rhythm - I've kept trying to get it back while keeping the horse at a trot, but that's uncomfortable for both of us and has never been successful. Eva told me to instead slow down to a walk and get my seat back properly at walking pace, and then try again. This worked wonders!

Then we did turning on front legs and hind legs. This is stuff that Samurai knows very well but I have never tried it before - and that's an occasion where it's abundantly clear what a good thing it is to ride such a well schooled horse. Every time I managed to do my part correctly, he responded immediately, so I got an immediate feedback telling me if I was right.

After that we did some gallops, which went well, and then the lesson was over. Samurai seemed quite pleased with finally having me riding him better; he had some of that white foam around the bit and he rubbed his head against me thoroughly afterwards - always a sign that he enjoyed the ride. For me it was lovely - not least knowing that I was in the saddle for an hour, doing some rather strenuous stuff, and I made it through the whole hour without having to ask for a break!

I'm very tired and in quite a bit of pain - but happy, content and looking forward to tomorrow.
jennyaxe: (samurai)
Yesterday I was back to [ profile] jegra's stable for the first time since December. Originally I'd planned to start riding Lemkje, the horse I fell off from, but for various reasons that's not likely to happen any time soon, and as Samurai isn't going to be hired out he's still available and Jegra still needs help.

I got to the stables at about three in the afternoon. All horses were still out in the fields. I mucked out Campero's and Samurai's boxes (Campero's fracture is now completely healed, BTW) and then went with the owner to bring in Samurai and the other horses sharing a field with him. I let him eat and went off to the nearby gas station to get a hot dog for myself.

When I got back I started brushing and cleaning hooves and all that. Samurai was reasonably nice about it. It took some time to fit the saddle properly (Samurai got very upset when I didn't get the saddle right at first!) as it's a bit different from the ones [ profile] gnapp uses.

The weather was lovely, but as Samurai hadn't been ridden in a week or so, and he can get quite hot and hard to hold when he's too frisky, I decided to stay indoors. It's nice to have a lovely big place to ride in, as opposed to the half of a barn we've got at Skutt's stables.

I kept to walks and trots, not feeling quite up to galloping yet. Samurai was a bit disappointed and tried to get away with claiming to be afraid of certain parts of the walls. When he found that all that happened was that he'd get to walk slowly past the same spot several times, he gave up on that, and the rest of the ride was uneventful. I'd forgotten how lovely it is to have such a well schooled horse - not that I don't love Skutt, because I do, but they are so very different and I really enjoy being with both. But I'm starting to feel the need for some lessons if I'm to progress and be of use to both the horses and their owners.

After I'd put Samurai in his box and put away the tack, I went up to get Campero from his field. He hadn't been let out until 12.30, so the stable owner and I thought he'd appreciate staying out longer than the others. He was a bit difficult walking down from the field - tried to run past me and then snapped in the air above my shoulder. I gave him a whack with the halter rope, whereafter he looked immensely sheepish and as if he was greatly surprised at what he'd done. He's a four year old stallion and it's spring... no wonder he's acting up a bit - but that's precisely why it's so important to deal with it immediately or he could become dangerous both to himself, to other horses and to humans.

I stopped for food on the way home and got back some time after eight. Didn't fall asleep until eleven, so I've been pretty tired today - not to mention achey! Mucking out two boxes is no mean chore, and both the wrist and the back are complaining. Also the hedgehog is being a bit prickly - I hope it'll get better soon now that I can ride twice a week again.

I do love riding Samurai, though I don't (yet) have the same connection to him as I do to Skutt. Of course I haven't been riding Samurai for as long, but I think it's also the fact that Jegra's had him since he was born, while Skutt was ten years old when Gnapp got him. So he's not got as strong a connection to her as Samurai has to Jegra, giving him more room for other connections with humans. Skutt is more affectionate towards me than Samurai is, though of course Skutt is far more affectionate towards Gnapp - she's with him five days out of seven and she works a lot more with him than I do. Still, he shows that he likes me, too. And yesterday Samurai appeared pleased with our ride - he has a habit of rubbing his head against his rider if he's enjoyed the ride. He hasn't done that with me before but yesterday he did. Of course, he'd not been ridden for a while and so would have enjoyed it even if I wasn't very good, but it did cheer me up.
jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)
Just spoke to a coworker, one of the developers, about some work stuff. I mentioned that I'd not been involved in some stuff around Christmas due to having a broken arm. It turned out he'd grown up in a horse-raising family and he was very interested in what horses I ride. So I finally got around to putting some of my riding pictures up at my LJ scrapbook - they're at All of them are two years old or more; I hope I'm a somewhat better rider by now.


jennyaxe: Photo in black and white. I'm in profile, looking to the left, with a calm and content half-smile. (Default)

November 2016



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