Arizona Goes to the Beach!

I’m ashamed to say this is another delayed post, but better late than never. A couple weekends ago on Sunday October 12th my friend Krista and I finally made it out to the beach with our horses after numerous failed attempts. The weather was against us and it would seem even so that day…

The road to the beach was not an easy one. The morning was a complete mess and all us brave souls on the freeway were going at a crawl because we could not see ten feet in front of us. A search of the rain radar said that our area of Padre Island happened to be cleared up, and sure enough when we got far enough to see through a bit of the darkness we spotted some blue! And brightness! There was sky to be seen after all! When we got there we found ourselves a nice spot on the side of the beach the city doesn’t care about (so we didn’t have to worry about leaving poops behind ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and retrieved the horses.

Just unloaded and tacking up. They got a bit wet from the rain on the trip down there. Those rainclouds came in fast!I took my boots and socks off and stashed those babies away and the sand was cool and squishy between my toes. I remember noting the horses weren’t as wet as I figured they would be given what we’d just driven through. Arizona was a little antsy about the experience initially after unload, looking up and down the beach with curious eyes. Zoni moved around as much as she could after I tied her up and began grooming her off but it didn’t take long to do since she wasn’t that dirty to begin with.

Just as we were about to pull the saddles from the trailer those black clouds we THOUGHT were behind us crept up and released rain upon us. Again we were getting soaked by the second. A certified downpour threatened to ruin our ride once again even though we’d already “won” by reaching the beach. We talked a bit about leaving but neither of us wanted to forfeit like that – again! We stood huddled next to the trailer, freezing, blinded by the run-off from our eyelashes and just waited. I don’t know how long we gave it but eventually Krista said “Well we’re already all wet, can’t get any worse, let’s just do this. Let’s watch for lightning and ride.”

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If you click this picture open you should be able to clearly see the giant raindrops as they fell on us. We could barely keep our eyes open against them!

So there I went, hopping around for body heat and in spirited rejuvenation. We saddled on up and even though there were a few prominent thunder crashes we didn’t see much of the lightning. When it came time to get on I found that with the sinking sensation of the sand and the lack of my inches given from my boots I couldn’t get on her the old fashioned way. Krista had to get down and help me mount up using the trailer tire hub — and then shorten my stirrups! #ShortGirlProblems

And then off we went!!!

10671341_10205225323657349_1392977036589967712_n10357830_10205225324057359_8492295241616624834_n 10678816_10205225331337541_6879333088109570908_nThe first and second time the waves touched her feet Arizona made little jumps back. After that she was in LOVE! She would veer to toward the water constantly asking if we could go back in. Krista and I rode for a good while up and down the beach, trotting and loping some, going into the water and back out of it and Krista was able to get a lot of neat pictures for me. Shout out to my Lifeproof case for iPhone for providing us with photos even during a storm!

1601299_10205225328097460_9209926507185109288_n 10641078_10205225325537396_5362419682532368967_nEventually the rain stopped completely and the sky was as vibrant and friendly as ever. The last time I took Arizona into the water during the ride I let her lead the way. She went in so deep my feet were starting to disappear. The water felt amazing to me even as little as I felt it, I can only imagine how it felt to her. When I finally took her back out again Krista and I explored a little bit of the sand dunes before heading back to the trailer. It was a lot of fun letting her take care of me. It was liberating to only have to hold on and trust my horse. She’s a great mare. “They know their feet better than we do,” Krista summed it up nicely. “Trust them to take care of you.” Next time I definitely want to ride up and down those some more. On that final stretch back to the truck I dropped my reins, threw my arms up to the sky and closed my eyes and just felt. “This feels so amazing!” was my personal understatement of the day.

After tacking down we let Arizona and Betty have a good roll.

10420371_10205225334377617_1752725117141018220_n 10670199_10205225336057659_8531973052994882852_n1653914_10205225336697675_1891223049685409019_n 10689806_10205225337257689_4830489472041489143_n1779124_10205225337657699_9015777830165733087_nThe second Arizona was up after she’d gotten two solid rolls in she was headed straight back to the water. I cheerfully plugged along side her, recording the experience and feeling happy to share it with her. It’s so fulfilling to see such a happy animal!

10675528_10205225338817728_8068110258186122492_n1972546_10205225342257814_8703256615784415951_n 10632765_10205225343537846_993815586904356288_n IMG_3969This day was one of my greatest experiences in horse ownership yet. The fresh air blew any negative thought I could’ve possibly been having away and the waves took it out to sea for me. It was a very much needed bonding experience for Arizona and I, and a healthy, exciting break from the day to day back at the barn. I know I am truly blessed.

Thank you Krista for not only your kind offer to go riding but your generosity in taking me and my girl with you. You’ve been a great horsey friend and it has been my pleasure getting to know you better! You rock, girl!

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Arizona – The Good, The Bad and the Mareish

Today I enjoyed the rewarding splendor of what consistency and patience can provide a gal and her horse. I also received an uncomplimentary reminder that my horse, not unlike myself, is a female.

What I mean by this is…

The Good: I had intentions to ride today, however I happily settled for some bareback ground mounting practice. I know I can get on her just fine with the proper leverage, but in order to improve my body awareness properly I need to work both on and off the horse. Just riding around bareback isn’t enough for me. I finally have to learn this too. Since she was standing much better than times previous I really felt proud and confident that she could take a bit of banging around.

Arizona, showing me the fruits of my labors. Standing quiet, no chewing, no fidgeting about, no trying to pick at the grass... Very good job, girl!

Arizona, showing me the fruits of my labors. Standing quiet, no chewing, no fidgeting about, no trying to pick at the grass… Very good job, girl!

I wasn’t having success actually getting my leg up onto her back enough to get on but I didn’t get too discouraged. I quickly rubbed her down in the areas where I was putting pressure after each attempt and I just let myself focus on the movements I needed to be making. My clumsy self even threw my shin into her hip bone a time or two and she stood like a champ. I was very impressed with her, more than enough to keep me positive about my failures.

The Bad: I wanted to reward Arizona for being such a good girl for me all morning and turned her loose to graze for a while. Sabrina and I took to the hitching post next, for further practicing my form. Just like a horse, a little success builds confidence! And it worked great. Sabrina gave it a try for fun first and third time was a charm! She hit it every time after that.

Well… When it was my turn I greatly underestimated the necessary momentum because of how much shorter the post is than Arizona’s back. I didn’t want to throw myself clean to the other side so I dropped my effort down a notch. Up and over I go only I begin to realize I’m not going to make it. My legs were already hooked around but my upper body didn’t follow enough, and I was dragging myself down. I just held on and let it happen, refusing to accept it, and when I had reached complete upsidedownness Sabrina was laughing hysterically and my arms were in pain. She shouted, “You’re a sloth! You’re a sloth!” between strong bouts of laughter. It was pretty funny to me too but my arms had lost their steam and down I went. After this initial try though, I stuck my landing successfully each time.

And what would my practice fail be without a picture?

Horse life fail.

Horse life fail but practice makes perfect. I’m only glad this didn’t happen with Arizona instead. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A slight wood-burn as a result of scraping my arm down the post to hang on. Some bruising, popped blood vessels and torn up skin but it was worth it.

A slight wood-burn as a result of scraping my arm down the post to hang on. Some bruising, popped blood vessels and torn up skin but it was worth it.

And now…

The Mareish: I guess Miss Zoni just wouldn’t be true to herself if she didn’t give me the horseverbial finger every once in a while right? But really Arizona, on such a GOOD day?? She decided that when it came time to get put up she wasn’t going to take it. I’ve never had so much trouble catching her than I have today in all this time. She made both of us run and exercised us good! When I finally caught her (you could just tell she was thinking “Fine woman, whatever”) I made her arse run circles up and down the small hill beside the barn. It’s enough of an incline to wear her out but hey I figure she wants to run, I make her run. And we’ll build up some toplineย  ๐Ÿ˜‰
I was positively exhausted by this point and it took me a good [sad] while to fully catch my breath. Darn her, making me sweat and stuff. Unfortunately there are no pictures of this. To help make up for it I’m going to share a few pics from our last two rides instead!

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Sabrina and Oreo. Her first time out on the roads! They both did amazing . Tuesday, 10/7.

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Sabrina and Oreo leading the way back to the barn. I think they look good together ๐Ÿ™‚ Tuesday, 10/7.

Sunday, 10/5.

Letting Zoni dry off some after a really good 1.5 hour ride out on the country roads. It was a good day to be up early. Sunday, 10/5.

Arizona Practices Her Patience

Training time: 2 hours

Today was a much needed day of easy to grasp lessons for Miss Zoni. We worked on patience and to sum it up: she did great.

I started by tying her up at one of our hitching trees. I groomed her right away because she still had week-old caked on mud on her and I wanted that off pronto.

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After she was as curried and brushed as she was gonna get I simply let her stand there. I pulled my chair and water bottle out and sat in the shade, either on my phone or just sitting there, but ignoring her bottom line. We remained this way for a time before I put her saddle on, cinching to varying degrees of tightness as a time, and then the bridle, and then I let her stand there again for a good long while. And I sat ignoring her. Unless she felt like biting at the bark, then I made myself loud and uncomfortable to make her stop.

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Something like an hour passes by time I messed with her next. I pulled her onto the wash rack and tied her close so she couldn’t reach any grass, and I sprayed down the post so she wouldn’t chew it. If ever she tried I made the same annoyance of myself to her and it was a nonissue. Once she was good and chilled I ended this block of time by tightening up the chinch good at finished.

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After a semi-brief while I began putting weight into the stirrup and pretending to get on. Granted, she was still tied at this point, but she remained still – with her feet and body. She could have still danced about with what space and slack she had but she didn’t.

I decided I was going to try mounting her from the ground solo as well. And as luck would have it after two solid tries I stuck it! It’s maybe a trivial success, but a success to me none the less. She is 15.1 and I am 5″3 and stout! This mounting from the ground stuff isn’t new to me but with her it is. I’ve always used a step ladder, mounting block, fencing, a leg up – whatever was easiest just to get on with minimal strain on her back. Well I wanted to take my lesson further by getting into the saddle and what better day to practice doing it from the ground than this?

Yea. It was a success.

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When I got up I patted her down; neck and rump, and told her what an awesome girl she was. I just stayed out and enjoyed the view, and the amazing 80 degree breeze. It’s as cool as it’s ever been since I’ve been here and it was much appreciated after the rotten humid heat. It was a great day to build on my relationship with my horse and her abilities!

When I was satisfied (and now running on a schedule to pick up the kids from school) I dismounted and undid her tack as structured as I put it on, albeit a bit faster. She stood quiet while I put things away and grabbed a few pellets to reward her with.

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Thank you to my girl for being amazing and receptive. I love her. She is a girls best first-horse-since-childhood hands down.

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“Flash back Friday” to the day I truly bought my girl. Signed paperwork and handed over my final dollar and she was 100% MINE!