A Peaceful Place

Last of the foliage
We’ve had the first real cold snap of winter this week with overnight lows in the teens. Today was a bit warmer and the light illuminated the last of the fall foliage.
A peaceful place
It’s been a stressful week. My father is recovering from a serious fall and every day brings new challenges. I look forward to the quiet time that I can spend with my horses where I can be in the moment and enjoy the quiet of the early evening. While admiring this spectacular silver birch, I heard a barred owl calling in the distance.

 

halloween colors
Although I haven’t had the chance to hunt much this season, I’m grateful to have these trees across the street from the barn.
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The reds of Fall

Autumn
This afternoon the air was heavy with the smell of freshly mown hay, tinged with the musty smell of fallen leaves. When I was a child I helped my grandfather rake leaves into large piles and then buried myself in them; the red, yellow and orange glowing like stained glass. Walking through the woods, the perfume sends me back to that time when fall leaves meant hot cocoa, cold noses and dreams that some day I would ride a horse through the woods in the splendor of a New England fall.

Owl Moon

Owl Moon
This was one of my children’s favorite books

When my kids were little they both loved the book Owl Moon by Jane Yoder. In it, a father takes his child (the gender is somewhat ambiguous) owling on a winter’s night.

This evening I left the barn for a short hack just 15 minutes before the sun set. As we walked through the woods, I heard the unmistakable call of a Barred Owl. Zelda and I got as close as we could to the sound, which of course was not on the trail! At one point, we were rewarded by the sound of an answering hoot. Not as deep and not as loud. The two owls talked to each other for several minutes while Zelda and I stood as still as possible in the woods, not wanting to interrupt.

There is definitely something magical about being in the woods in the dark, listening to the crunch of leaves under hoof and being serenaded by the owls.

Sunset
The sun set on the ride back was quite lovely. It was almost dark and, being on a black horse at night, I felt almost invisible!

 

Almost back to Normal

Freedom Hunter Pace
On Sunday, I rode Freedom in a Hunter Pace. So glad he felt good the full seven miles.

Last October, Freedom’s problem with intermittent lameness came to a head. I trailered him an hour an a half to a glorious hunter pace only to find that he was so uncomfortable that I turned around and hacked him home after two miles.

If you’ve been reading along with the blog, you’ll remember that I had his Sacroiliac joints injected. His symptoms were consistent with SI problems — sore back, difficult holding the canter. Unfortunately, the injections and mesotherapy made no difference. I kept him in light work and had him re-evaluated this spring. A new diagnosis emerged: Lyme.

Unsurprisingly, the Doxy made Freedom feel really good. After all, it’s a great anti-inflammatory. I do think it was Lyme because most of the benefits from the treatment stuck. He could canter on both leads and he felt a lot sounder. At least he did for about four miles of conditioning work. After that, he started to feel sore. He didn’t want to canter, he flung his head in the air. He was uncomfortable. [Note: this kind of soreness can come from an ill fitting saddle but I have my saddles fitted every six months, so I was pretty sure that saddle fit wasn’t the problem].

When he had his spring shots, I discussed this with the vet. Before another lameness exam, we decided to try Robaxin, according to Wedgewood pharmacy, Robaxin “is used for the treatment of acute inflammatory and traumatic conditions of the skeletal muscle to reduce muscle spasm and effect striated- muscle relaxation.”

Freedom’s been on Robaxin for about 10 days. He’s felt good for shorter rides and I’ve gradually been increasing the intensity, so yesterday I put it to the test: A seven-mile hunter pace. We moved along at a good pace and jumped the smaller fences. Even at the end he was happily cantering on both leads. I know Robaxin isn’t a long term solution, but it’s nice to have my boy feeling so good again. An added bonus? We came in second!

Hunter Pace
Yesterday’s pace event took us through Adams Woods, which abuts Walden Pond. It’s a lovely territory with views over Fairhaven Bay.

Have any of you had experience with Robaxin?

Fall is Here

IMG_2488

While it’s hard to let the warm weather go — after all, it will be winter before we know it — riding in the crisp fall afternoon is such a treat. The light is sharper, the air is clearer and Zelda has a lot more energy. We had a good five mile ride as we watched the shadows get longer and the last of the sun’s rays illuminated the trees. I can’t think of a better way to end the work week.

Getting Fit

Our Workout
To get my horses — and me — ready to hunt, we need to cover some miles. I track my rides on MapMyRun.

The end of my summer was busy. And it didn’t include a lot of riding. So now I need to get myself and the equines in shape for hunting. Pronto.

Zelda is happy to stop and enjoy the view.
Zelda is happy to stop and enjoy the view.

The only way to do that is to cover some miles. Right now I’m riding the horses about five miles per day doing walk/trot intervals. Zelda is a bit more “fluffy” than Freedom (who manages to keep himself pretty fit), so the ride above shows her intervals. Tracking my time per mile is something I find very helpful because it keeps us moving and it provides a fitness baseline.

I am hoping to hunt Freedom this Saturday; Zelda needs to be able to hold a faster pace over that distance before she goes out.

How do you leg up your horses?

 

Caution!

Caution
I swear that Freedom can read. He took that caution warning very seriously.

How do you know when you’re riding a thoroughbred? Well, first off, I think they can read. While I was traveling, a new gate and some very yellow caution tape appeared at the entrance to our trail system.

Secondly, they are very sensitive to new things. They remember exactly what the trail looked like the last time they walked down it. Freedom took one look at the tape and the gate and started to shake. He thought seriously about bolting. Can’t you see it says caution? He asked me. We need to get out of here!

Not wanting to escalate the situation, I dismounted and stood with him by the tape. The wind blew. The tape shook and rattled. Freedom snorted and jumped. Then he planted his feet.

No way
Two weeks ago he was afraid of the new cobblestones. They don’t seem so bad in comparison to the yellow tape.

We stood quietly and contemplated the new path and the rustling tape. I scratched his neck for awhile. He stretched way, way forward without moving his feet and sniffed the wood chips on the ground. After several minutes, he moved incrementally toward the path. In total, it took him about seven (long) minutes to walk through it with me in the lead. For several more minutes he jumped whenever he heard something rustle.

Coming home was better. I still had to dismount but he was content to follow me through. I love how he trusts me to be brave even when he isn’t.

Then I took out Zelda. Riding a draft cross is a completely different experience.

Zelda sees only grass
Zelda took a good look at the new gate and the glowing yellow tape. She was more interested in the grass.

Zelda looked at the new fence. She considered the caution tape. She looked long and hard at the grass growing behind the tape. She was mightily disappointed that she was not allowed to taste it. Then she walked through the gauntlet of tape onto the scary new wood chips like she had done it every day. I love this horse. She is smart. Sometimes she’s too smart, but she’s always thinking.

Coming home
Coming home was no big deal. But then again, she knew it was dinner time.