It’s a very important thing, occasionally a bit delusional.
This is how I see myself when riding Nevel:
It is interesting that I seem to want to be doing dressage when I ride western, I guess I need to be doing western dressage. So maybe I can picture us like this:And very soon we will be doing this:
I was so excited when my husband showed up the other day and obliged me with some pictures so I could see just how graceful Nev and I looked together. Imagine my distress and dismay when I discovered I looked like this:
In my defense I was trying to lower my center of gravity in hopes of being less likely to fall off with the green horse, open space, semi and pay-loader stuff going on. It is a little sad to discover it working so very well. Apparently the helmet doesn’t automatically make me elegant and graceful like all the enlish riding people always look. Maybe I should get a pair or breeches? No,bad idea. Diet time.
Nev is still pretty at least.
We very seldom go out, just the two of us. Finding a sitter is such a hassle. But this was a big deal, a rare chance not to be missed. Marty Stuart was coming, if not to town, close enough to count.
Fortunately my equally Marty Stuart loving husbands very young sister isn’t old enough to share our love and agreed to babysit, on a weeknight even. We promised her we should be back by ten, easy. We weren’t. Then we kept her up even later telling her what a great concert she had missed. I think she thinks us old folks are crazy.
We got there before the seats filled up too bad and sat five rows back in the center. Perfect seats. They opened with some of his hits. The whole band took a turn singing. They were all great. Watching a concert with my brilliant husband is more than listening to music, I get to learn the history behind it. My favorite piece of trivia this time was that the base player, who also played an upright base, so awesome, was the lead singer of Exile when they recorded my favorite song of theirs, Keep it in the Middle of the Road.
They played the upright base, the mandolin and of course guitars. The instrumentals were spectacular. Then they slowed it down and closed with some good old Gospels. They came down for a meet and greet after the show and we wanted to stay so bad but it was already after nine and we had a good hours drive back to pick up the child we had promised to retrieve by ten so we very reluctantly headed home.
So, We Had A Little Storm
Just a little one, mostly wind a bit of rain. We laughed together at the weather radio, they said a few times that anyone outside in the path of the storm WOULD be injured. We heard rumors that some corn fields up on the highway got hailed pretty good and thought we would drive past to see them when we headed to town for milk. That’s big excitement out here in the middle of no where.
Imagine our surprise when we got a call asking my computer guy husband to put a note on the school web sight that there would be no school Tuesday. “Why?” he asked. Well apparently there was a storm and anything outside in its path was injured. It ripped the roof right off the school auditorium.
I immediately texted a friend who lives in the path this storm took. She responded that no they had not come through alright. They got six inches of rain and three inches of hail, and hauled a horse to the vet who tried to jump a fence in the storm. He didn’t clear it and needed stitches the length of his belly.
Everything in the storms path was destroyed. Trees were stripped bare, grass was pounded into a pulp. Water stood in fields and had washed over the roads. The corn field had been hailed alright all that was left was stalks and ears, they looked like sticks stuck in the ground.
Friendly Festival and a Reunion
I have mocked that name for as long as I have lived out here and heard it on the radio, but now that I’ve been, really it’s a nice little festival. It helps to know what things are before we decide to hate them.
This year my old,old husband celebrated his twenty year high school reunion at festival. He and a whole three other classmates that showed up. The class celebrating their fiftieth had the whole class there except, I hear, for the dead one and the one in prison. But for the twenty only four showed and one of those missed riding on the float because he was announcing the parade on the radio. They had a great float. A hay wagon pulled by a beautiful team of Percherons. It was a good time, but hot.
We got a cat.
I don’t know how happy I am about it. It certainly wasn’t on purpose.
My husband was headed after a load of hay. He turned a corner and saw, at the last minuet, as he ran astride of it, a kitten in the road. A little grey, Siamese, colored kitten in the middle of the grey gravel road. Fortunately the wheels went around instead of over and the cat didn’t move.
He of course stopped and picked it up.
It is a fat little kitten, well cared for by it’s mother until it somehow ended up in the road. At first it hissed at us but with a little petting has become quite friendly. We are feeding it milk with a dropper until we convince it to drink from a bowl. Elly wants to name it Bwuh. She gets very excited about the whole thing and really wants to pet it or drag it around by its head. It would be nice if it were a good month older. Bwuh wisely spends most of her time running away.
This is just what I need two small un-house broken creatures crawling around the floor getting into everything.
To The Goblin Child,
It’s hard to believe a year has gone by but on the other hand it seems like two or three. When you haven’t slept for this long things start to blur. (True, very true…you really need to start sleeping through the night. — the daddy)
It was the last day in July when we went to the hospital and the first day of August when we got into the hospital in Rapid. It seemed like I was in there forever when it must only have been a couple of weeks. They expected you to come on your own so we spent the first days in big comfortable delivery rooms. When you waited they moved us to a small cramped postpartum room. We didn’t have a car up there, your dad rode up with me in the ambulance, so we were pretty helpless stuck at the hospital. Your aunt Shannon arranged to have Oreos delivered. They were the best Oreos ever. (The first night was the worst of course, neither of us knew what was going to happen. We were scared we would lose you. — the daddy)
Your dad was with us for the first few days until he managed to get a ride back home. School was starting and they couldn’t live without him. Someone had to keep their job for the insurance to pay for you. He worked long days and late into the night so he could get back up to see us as much as possible. (It wasn’t something I enjoyed. At all. If I could have, I would have stayed with you both. — the daddy)
It was only August and you weren’t even due until October. I was on complete bed rest trying to keep you in as long as possible. I must admit I didn’t take it well. I had been working full time, ten hour days and riding, gardening and helping with cows on weekends. Doing nothing was amazingly difficult. I just wanted to go home. (I just wanted you both to come home. –the daddy)
One weekend when your father was up to see us we were watching a movie and the monitors started going off. That wasn’t too unusual they were constantly beeping; it was awful. But this time the nurses all came running, milling around the room frantically. I wanted them to go away so we could watch the movie but this time the alarms were for real. You were laying on your umbilical cord and your heart rate was dropping. They began prepping me for the c-section. (SCARY! — the daddy)
Speaking of not taking it well. I nearly got in a fight with the nurse doing the “prepping”. She was horrid and mean, I know I yelled at her a bit I wanted to deck her. Your dad ordered me to behave and remember that I was tougher than that. After the IV, catheter (that hurt), and the epidural, we were off to cut you out. It was nearly midnight. (gasp! — the daddy)
The anesthesiologist was great, his name was Paul, he wanted us to name you Paula. I can remember that but don’t know the doctors name and she was there for the whole stay in the hospital. They let your dad in just as they pulled you out and then he went with you up to the NICU. (You were a fighter right from the start. Don’t ever give up! — the daddy)
I didn’t get to see you until later the next day. If they had told me how much I was going to like you I wouldn’t have been so difficult about the hospital thing, but who knows these things. You were teeny 3lbs 11oz but healthy despite all the tubes sticking out of you and the horrible IV in your head. You had been on oxygen overnight but were only getting room air by then. Once you started taking milk they gave it to you through a tube down your nose kind of like tubing a calf. (I think maybe the doctors and nurses got tired of us trying to relate raising a child to raising a calf. All except for Dr. Benn and Dr. Kovaric who both lived on ranches too. — the daddy)
After being forced to be there all that time they kicked me out as soon as I wanted to stay. Leaving you there was amazingly difficult. We got up to see you as much as we could but it was a long drive and right in the middle of Central States Fair and Sturgis, so hotel rooms cost a fortune. Finally I started driving up every other day, that worked fairly well. It was kind of nice in a way to have you up there, we got lots of training. The nurses taught me to change diapers. I really had never changed one. I learned how to give baths, feed and got answers to any questions that came up. There was no getting a new baby home and panicking. (Yep, it was nice that we got to ease into the whole thing. I think your mom and I are pretty well practiced now, so if you ever have a baby brother or sister, I think we will ask if we can bring it home right away. — the daddy)
It has been quite a year. You went from a tiny baby mouse type creature to a big beautiful healthy girl. You still spit up on your dad all the time, though not as violently. You seldom sleep through the night. Don’t you think it’s about time that you start doing so? You are walking, a few steps by yourself or for miles holding a finger. You have said “Hi” for a long time now, you often say “Hi daddy” and “Yeah”. I think you are brilliant, but I understand most parents think that. (But you are. — the daddy)
Happy Birthday, my little Goblin Child, I can’t wait to see what the next year brings. (Happy 1st Birthday, Elly! — the daddy)
It was short, way too short, but better than nothing. We got to go see my parents and my brother and his wife and son. It even rained so my combine driving husband was able to get away from the wheat field and come with. I think he would have preferred to be in his combine but I liked having him along. (While it would have been nice to get the wheat harvested, I enjoyed seeing all the places my wife hung out as as a child. — the husband)
We all met in Omaha since it is conveniently in the middle. For two very quick days we celebrated The Goblin Child’s birthday, just a little early. She had a blast with her Grandma and Uncle. They are like baby whisperers or something. I don’t think the two small children knew the rest of us were even there. We went to some of the old hang outs, Louisville, the town and the park, Platte River State Park and the fish hatchery. It was a whirlwind tour but we got to climb the tower and walk to the water fall. (My favorite part was the paddle boats on the lake…very pretty and very fun! — the husband)
When we were kids we spent a lot of time swimming at Louisville, the park not the town. It was amazing how small it looked now. We stopped for ice cream in Louisville, the town not the park, it was as good as ever. (*Some* of us stopped for ice cream… — the husband)
After spending the morning seeing my new nephew we headed for Nebraska City. We girls stopped briefly to tour my dads hometown, Plattsmouth. I love it with its big hills and beautiful old houses. We saw dads old house. He thinks it’s one of the oldest in town it was an old homestead that got added onto. Learn something new every time.
The guys went to the SAC Air museum. They missed out on all the fun. (Yep, we didn’t have any fun at all did we guys? That’s our story and we are sticking to it. — the husband)
We got to Nebraska City with a couple of hours to spare before everything closed and spent them at the Arbor Day Tree Adventure. It was cool. Mom got us an affordable rate at the Lied Lodge it was beautiful. I remember going there right after it opened. We had to go check it out because my grandpa had helped build it. (Nebraska City is just awesome…all the way around. — the husband)
Before we knew it it was time to head home. We didn’t get to spend near enough time but what we had was great. The Goblin Child was fascinated by her cool older cousin, and of course his overactive father. Her grandpa has all the important qualities: facial hair, glasses and a hat. Then of course there is her grandma, I wish we lived closer so they could see each other more often, they had so much fun together. Sorry Stephanie She really liked you too but it’s hard to compete with Justin, I think she liked him better than us.
We had really wanted to visit all the rest of the family while we were down there but the whole time thing always gets in the way. Hopefully next time.
A Reflection on Collection
Nerd alert, non-horse people stop reading now or be bored senseless. Horse people may be bored just as senseless. Beware.
I had an “Ah Ha” moment the other day. I was on Coyote bareback as usual but with a bridle for once. It was a muscle building exercise for me as much as anything, preparing to bring Nev home. Coyote was a little rusty and we were working through the basics: haunches in, leg yields, turns on both quarters, flexing and bending until I once again felt that I could control every inch of his body with him remaining supple and calm. I took contact with the reins and squeezed with my legs to push him forward and then IT happened.
I have read about IT forever. Everyone is always talking about IT. I know that I have achieved IT before, at least I sure hope so. But never have I really gotten IT.
IT is true collection. The kind that comes from behind not from pulling on the horses mouth until they drop their head. That kind I know, it’s not all bad. My horses have always had soft mouths and would give nicely to the bit. We, my horses and I, have accomplished a fair bit in our lives. They have done well at our chosen events we must have been getting IT? Maybe now it’s just that I can see IT so much more clearly.
It sounded so voodoo when they would talk about IT. All this about propulsion and forward movement, the most common statement I’ve heard is about pushing a horse into IT not trying to pull them into it with the bit. I worried all the time that I was doing it wrong but could never quite grasp what right would be. Then Coyote rounded up and reached for the bit his hind end clearly coming underneath. I stopped pushing and felt his top line drop. Such a little thing and so amazing.
Knowing what that felt like but maybe not consciously looking for it I started riding Nev. He was riding nice starting to soften and beginning to yield, well to yield all his parts, when asked. I was not asking for any type of head set. I was asking for softness, to give instantly when I picked up the reins. Not when I pulled back but turning him and in circles. It was in circles that I started to get IT. I picked up the inside rein and asked him to pick up his inside shoulder and step to the outside. He stepped up under himself and rounded his neck giving me the proper head set because he was collected not collecting because he had the proper head set.
All that voodoo was making sense. I and most people I know are going about this backwards. Collection should cause the head set. The head set does NOT cause collection. It’s a fine line, a horse needs to give it’s head to achieve collection but pulling on a horses head does not cause collection. I feel like such a nerd getting so excited about this.
We were working circles again. This time working on spins. I would get him going, say, to the left getting off the inside rein then apply the aids for a spin to the left for one step. When we had lots of forward he would reach clear across with the outside front leg and that one step of spin would flow. When he was dragging and trying to stop I could feel his withers drop, his head came up, he would hang on the bit and the step was not graceful.
I have been trying and failing to explain this amazing, to me, revelation to my mom for the last week. I think I’m not doing a very good job I just keep saying that it’s amazing dropping my chin to my chest and doing rounding motions with my hands. Every horse person does that right? Dressage people at least? This is probably not any better an explanation but it is so amazing to me that I have to keep trying.