Friday, October 26, 2012

Horses and Storms Ahead

In a little bit Jess (AKA Rabbit on the blog) will be here from Ontario, and arriving after a 9-hour drive south into the States to hang for the weekend. She, Melina, Robert, Elizabeth, Joanna, Mark, Darcie, Tom, and a bunch of other friends and faces from the Cold Antler Farm community will be here this weekend to celebrate the working horse. They are all equine enthusiasts and everyone has different levels of experience. Some have just dreamed of horses and others have a few in the backyard. Patty will be co-hosting the event and sharing our stories about Merlin, Steele, Jasper and Ellis. Trainer/Farrier Dave will be also showing to talk about finding the right horse and answer any questions Patty and I can't. Folks coming for the day will hear about horses from a beginner, intermediate, and advanced equestrian. I'm the humber beginner but anyone who has read this blog this past year can see where I started and where I am now. It's a beautiful story, horsefeathers and all.

The weather is a bit tricky, with rain on the way, but I think we'll just have a proper Scottish day of overcast skies and the occasional shower. If the campfire gets canceled then so be it. I think everyone will be happy to touch harness leather and long manes and ask questions and learn about the way to act and be around horses. Some folks just want to be here to learn more of our stories, and some are serious CSA farms wanting real experience with the animals before they decide on a team or a tractor for their own farms. It's going to be such a grand time.

I took Merlin out yesterday for some ground work and a nice ride and while out on the mountain I realized this was the most comfortable I had ever felt on him, or any horse. He wasn't at his best. A little jumpy and nervous from a few days off and construction equipment near the road—but I felt I was at my best. I've learned how to ride, really ride. And when I say that I don't mean I have amazing form or dressage-ring elegance. I mean I know my horse and how to be comfortable with him and together we are travelers without fear. I used to be scared of him, always scared on some level. I'm not scared anymore. Not of him, and not of many things that used to make me shake. But I think it took the forest and the black mane to show me that. And the friends, teachers, and trainers along the way.

That's not to say I don't respect him and the dangers of riding a thousand pound animal in the forest. Of course there are risks and safety precautions. I never leave the farm without his saddlebags containing emergency gear like a halter and lead line, first aid kit, rain coat, hoof pick, and a cell phone in my pocket. But I don't ride expecting there to be a problem. If a problem comes like a spook or a bucking halt I know what he's thinking and how to solve it. These are the kinds of things you learn through miles in a saddle, not through books or lessons. I think for me and horses the recipe just needed enough time to simmer. That, and the right horse. Merlin is nothing short of a gift from the Almighty and I'm thankful for him every single day. I'm going to be riding Fell Ponies the rest of my life, I'm quite certain, and he may be the one reason why.


Blogger Lisa said...

HI Jenna.
I rode your post before I went for my ride this afternoon. You are right, there is a lot of inherent risk in getting on a large animal and trusting it for your well being. My "new" horse and I have been on a similar journey as you and Merlin-getting to know each other, working through fear, having others come alongside to help us out. Whilst riding him this afternoon, he started to move in a way that made me spook a little and that little voice of concern came up that made me think about being finished with the ride, but my next thought was that this could be an awesome ride-so we kept going. Risk or no-we went through and had a good time! You are a absolutely right on when you said "But I don't ride expecting there to be a problem. " If you expect it, it will come! :)

Enjoy tomorrow! Were I closer, I'd stop by!
Lisa in Maine

October 26, 2012 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sounds like you are doing well with your animals! Glad you are getting a better understanding of your horses. And honestly that is what it takes with each one - time, because they are often very different.
Take care with the storm. I hope all you have to do is dodge the rain drops while you tend the animals and then cozy up inside and watch mama nature work.

October 26, 2012 at 11:32 PM  
Blogger Lorie Hyten said...

My first horse was a pony mare with an attitude. I had her for several years, unsupervised, and she had my number but good. Scared the puddin' out of me.

Followed by my adult first horse, an off the track racing bred Quarter Horse, young, green broke and inexperienced. Lots of miles of heart stopping anxiety and tears of frustration.

Finally came River - my Merlin - green but honest and kind as the day is long, not a vicious or conniving bone in his body. Just green and full of life. This time I proceeded with lessons whenever I could afford them, hanging out at the barn to watch lessons and soak up any horse education I could. Probably acquired several thousand dollars worth of "audited" lessons. As we built our partnership, I felt fear and anxiety slide off me, replaced by sheer joy.

Yes, he bucked, but not in a vicious way and never hard enough to unseat me. As we began to learn canter he would throw in a buck EVERY TIME before he stepped into it. It so filled me with euphoria...I could ride a buck!!! And it didn't mean the end of the world!!

Finally one day my instructor frowned and shook her head.
"Lorie, you've got to stop laughing when he does that or he will never stop."
Well, he did stop those bucks for the most part. But I never did stop laughing!

Just had to share that...your post about Merlin reminded me.

October 26, 2012 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger high st farm said...

looks like us east coasters are in for a real storm, the likes have never been seen in these areas.

hope you sured up the basement from flooding or have invested in the proper equipment to mitigate the problem.

try and stay dry, enjoy your workshop!

October 27, 2012 at 12:45 AM  
Blogger Katie Falkenberg said...

What a special thing that is to share that comfort and confidence with a horse. Beautiful description! Hope you all stay semi-dry this weekend!

October 27, 2012 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Margie said...

Do you have the shelter ready for the horses? It could be crazy weather for you next week.

Keep the fire going and the soup pot on.

October 27, 2012 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Folkways Note Book said...

I don't know much about horses but I do know a spirited woman when I hear her voice -- you are one spirited woman -- barbara

October 27, 2012 at 5:47 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Totally inspired by your tales of Merlin and Jasper to learn to ride and eventually purchase a horse:)

October 29, 2012 at 9:32 AM  

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