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True Grit: it’s what HorseGirls are made of

Last week, I reviewed one of my favorite books for Horse Nation.  You can read my full review HERE. Basically, Mattie, the main character and narrator is the epitome of a HorseGirl:  smart, witty, brazen, tough…  And the book is great (the Coen Brothers’ movie version ain’t so bad either, but I believe in doing things in the proper order, which is, of course, book First, movie Second).

Wake of Forgiveness

I stumbled across the book Wake of Forgiveness the other day.  If you’re a fan of Cormac McCarthy, Bruce Machart might just be his heir apparent.

I admit, the cover is what grabbed my attention.

But then I read the book, and it turns out the cover isn’t the only interesting thing about it.  

You can read my full review HERE, on Horse Nation.

I Like the Pictures Too (a book review)

Here’s my full review of a cute book for the younger set:  Shadow, the Curious Morgan Horse.  Even though this book is really intended for 6-8 year olds, The Kid (who is almost 15 months old) yells his head off and frantically points at this book whenever he sees it because he LOVES the pictures.  But it’s not like you need a kid to enjoy a good picture book.  You can pretend they’re for your nieces or nephews or friend’s kids or whomever, but really, you have my permission to collect picture books for yourself. They’re just so darn cute.

 

Ride the Horse You Have

When I mount up to ride, I pretty much always have a plan or a goal in mind.  As in, I’m going to work on leg yielding today.  Or, I’m going to force myself to practice posting trot with no stirrups.  Or, I’m going to do a lot of suppling exercises.  In fact, I’m so goal oriented that if I just want to ride “for fun” I either have to go for a trail ride with a friend (as opposed to a conditioning ride or a gallop practice) or I have to ride bareback.

But sometimes the goal I have in mind doesn’t seem so great once I feel what horse I’m sitting on.  As in, am I riding perfect project pony Lindy, or am I riding her ADHD twin?  Am I astride lazy Sadie or zippy Sadie?  Am I on Professor Clue or Racehorse Clue?  I’ve learned (and re-learned) it’s a good thing to check in with your horse’s mood and adjust accordingly, because it is just counter-productive to try to force an agenda.

For instance, the other day I rode Lindy for the first time in over a week (turns out I wasn’t feeling too hardcore when it finally decided to rain and rain the other week).  I really wanted to ride, but Sadie pulled both her front shoes (darn rain!) and the farrier and I decided to leave her barefoot since more rain is coming.  She’s still feeling a bit sore.  Anyway, Lindy got put into rotation since she needs to work sometime. I thought she might be too silly to even be worth riding, so I lunged her.  She was better than expected.  I thought cool!  We’ll be able to pick up right where we left off the last time I rode her.

Nope.

But that’s OK.  We managed to get some decent bending and some semi-coordinating work over poles done and then I called it quits.  It was a little bit of a bummer since the last time I rode her, Lindy was so fabulous.  As in, I came inside gushing about what a cool horse she is turning into and how nice she’s going be.  Those things are still true, but some days she still *really* feels  like a super green project pony.  If I’d stayed focused on the idea that Lindy was going to be fabulous every time I rode her, I have a feeling we’d both end up pretty frustrated.  But thankfully I remembered (and I don’t always) to adjust my goal to the horse I was sitting on;  we were able to get some good work done, and neither of us was frustrated by the end.

Now let’s hope I can squeeze in a few more rides in between the rain.  Because another thing that really helps with horse training is consistency.

Riding Lessons: we all need ‘em, Sara Gruen writes about ‘em

I got a little behind on posting my book reviews.  Here’s the one from the Wednesday before last, in all it’s glory.  It’s about Riding Lessons: A Novel, which was the first novel by Sara Gruen (of Water for Elephants fame).

My Favorite Mistake

I’ve been busy reading and writing book reviews!

Here’s the latest one on Horse Nation, about Georgina Bloomberg’s just-released YA Novel, the second in her series, My Favorite Mistake: An A Circuit Novel (Circuit Novels).  I’m still trying to figure out why that’s the title!

Why No Kid Should Read the Red Pony

To read my review on Horse Nation, click HERE!

(also, be warned, there’s a major spoiler in the review)

War Horse (the book) Review!

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I have read the book (which is the proper order to do things in anyway).  You can read my review of it at Horse Nation by clicking HERE.

Patience

Sometimes people tell me they think I am very patient.  This used to surprise me because I don’t think of myself as a patient person.  I have a hard time waiting for the things I want (then again, who doesn’t?).  But it turns out that I don’t mind explaining, and re-explaining, and re-explaining something if I think the horse or person I’m working with is trying.  It’s the try that is so important.

Case in point:  Last week I decided to practice trailer loading with Lindy.  It had been awhile since we’d gotten in the trailer and since she’s the stickiest loader of my three horses and I just happened to have the trailer all hitched up for our departure to the Bay Area the next morning, and there was a Horse Husband on hand to watch The Kid,  it seemed like a great time.   My plan was that as soon as Lindy got all four feet in the trailer and got some praise, I would just throw her back out in the pasture…  as in, Surprise!  Sometimes we just get in the moving box for kicks (not the literal kind)!

Except accomplishing my plan took two hours.

It involved a very sweaty horse.

And a very tired human (who was also a bit sweaty).

And a very curious neighbor, who looked over the hedges periodically to say things like:  ”Is that horse part mule?” (to which I said, “I’m starting to think so!”) and “Who’s going to win?” (“Me. I hope!”)

If Lindy had been scared, it would be one thing.  But really, she just didn’t want to get into the trailer.  I have to say, this was the first time she’s really tested my patience or resolve.  There were several points when I thought maybe I should just call it quits.  But I really wanted to make progress, and since very early on in our two hours (say, after 10 min.) Lindy had gotten her front two feet in the trailer, I felt very certain that I shouldn’t stop until I at least got back to that point.

The only modification I made to my usual technique (getting close to the trailer = rest, being away from the trailer = work) was that I started giving Lindy treats when she made a bigger effort to get into the trailer.  That’s because at a certain point, she just started getting right to the edge but then just wouldn’t step up.  I started to feel like she wasn’t trying any more, which made me think she just didn’t know what I wanted her to try.  That seems awfully dim-witted and she usually strikes me as pretty clever, but I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.

So, I don’t know if my patience did the trick, or the treats.  I’m not sure I really care.

I just hope the next time we try trailer loading, it takes a lot less time.

I Heart the Hearts of Horses! (new book review)

This week’s book review (of  The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss)

is up at Horse Nation.  You can read it by clicking HERE!