Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hardcore Riding

With Christmas coming closer and closer I knew that Gus was possibly going to have between 3 to 4 days off doing nothing but eating and rolling in some dirt. But the 29th and 30th of December we're suppose to attend an intense 2 day clinic (if a small detail in scheduling will allow it!!!) and the last thing Gus needs is a week off! But the weather is making this task EXTREMELY difficult! Yesterday the rain came in and it's suppose to keep raining until sometime after Christmas... so how the heck am I'm suppose to ride???

Well I decided to brave it today and be "Hardcore". Thank goodness it's not freezing outside so getting a little wet isn't the end of the world. But getting so soaked that it takes hours to dry off isn't fun. Which is what happened today. I woke up to the sound of a steady downpour and then around 9 it stopped. I quickly jumped up, checked the hourly weather and saw that I had till 11 before the rain was coming back. So immediately started running around the apartment trying to get ready so I could "beat the rain". Unfortunately I didn't have a working bathroom quite yet (it was fixed this afternoon) so I was running up and down the stairs to the half bath right under my room. I'm not the most organized person especially when it comes to planning out the most efficient morning routine. I just wander back and forth between my bathroom and my bed putting a shirt on, brushing my teeth, digging in my laundry for riding pants while brushing my teeth, spitting in the sink and washing out the toothpaste, grabbing a quick bite of breakfast, finding some socks to wear, and then looking for my shoes and making sure my dog Jello is ready, looking for Jello's raincoat (since it's suppose to rain), finding my keys, finding my purse, making sure my phone is in it, oh wait it's upstairs.... ok now where is Jello- oh she's gone back to sleep- WAKE UP we have to GO!!! Aaaaand just as we walk out the door woosh! Instant downpour of rain. So back inside we trek only to hear the rain stop 3 minutes later! So back out we go and to the barn we're headed!

On the way the rain comes and goes but doesn't really rain all that hard so I keep thinking- ok, I can do this- think about the clinic, be hardcore, be hardcore, be hardcore!!! What is a little rain? It's not cold, suck it up, suck it up, BE HARDCORE! So as soon as we get to the barn I knew we were in a little trouble- the ring was SOAKED and it starts to downpour again! So plan changed, going to clean tack, after all I just drove out here, wasn't about to turn around... and then the rain stops! So I ran out to the field, grabbed Gus, quickly tacked him up and we headed out to do some "Road Riding" since that was the only place we could do any sort of fitness ride.

The good thing about the road that's right behind the barn is the lack of cars. The farm had been sold to a developer before the economic crash and they had paved a road for the trucks to drive on. They also put in a water system so there is a nice grassy flat space with man holes sticking up along the way, but plenty of space to ride on. It's not a long trail, but it has decent footing and paired with the road on this mucky gross wet day it was all I had to work with! The road has a perfect hill to walk up and down and really get the horses pushing uphill or sitting and really using their hind end/stifles to walk down.

So off we went towards "The Hill" and it started out just a little drizzly, nothing that we couldn't deal with. Gus was feeling great, my quarter sheet was covering up most of my saddle and keeping Gus's butt dry (since he's clipped I didn't want him getting chilled) We took the Man Hole Trail as a nice warm up to "The Hill". The footing wasn't that bad and it has a nice slope that isn't to steep but starts to get the horse pushing a little more than on flat ground. Finally we approached The Hill and Gus was ready- well he didn't have much choice ;) Now this Hill compares nothing to the Snowy River Hill, but it really gets the horses puffing 3/4ths of the way up

Scene from "The Man from Snowy River"

Now this movie is the definition of hardcore riding. Just look at the way Jim is balanced as he and his horse sail down the cliff edge after the brumbies. This is obviously the most famous scene, but Jim's horsemanship throughout the entire movie is hard core awesomeness. I think I'm going to start channeling Jim Craig and Denny on cross country now... Just look at this picture!!

Hardcore Downhill Riding

We ended up walking up and down the Hill 3 times to really give Gus as much of a work out as possible for the clinic. We could of done it more but by the 2nd loop my pants were soaked through and on the 3rd loop I was getting cold and was a little jealous of Gus under the quarter sheet. If I glanced down water cascaded off the brim of my helmet onto my already drenched legs. It was definitely time to head in. 

Even if the rain stops I'm still in a bit of a pickle. The ring is so soaked and with more rain in the forecast I don't see how I'm even going to be able to ride in it before the clinic. So Gus and I might be banned to the "Hill" for the next week, but I think I'm going to join him in walking up and down the hill- after all I have to survive the clinic too!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Under all that Hair...

It finally happened! Gus is now one super cute CLIPPED over grown pony!!!!

After much pondering and consideration to the future weather forecast, available "free" time, and future ride plans, I made the decision to bathe Gus on Sunday and then clip him on Monday (the day of the monsoon!!!) because those were the last of the really warm days before fall (and an inkling of winter) decided to set in.

So on Sunday- out came the shampoo and scrub brush! I'm not going to bore you quite yet with tips and tricks to get your horse so squeaky clean that you can pass a HA Formal Inspection at a Pony Club Rally (or rating for that matter!) That'll be for another post on another day! (Just for those that might not know- H.A. is the highest level of Horse Management in the Pony Club Rating system- check out
Just some of the "tools" needed to be "HA" clean!!!

Now it was Monday- clipping time!!! I opted to give Gus a little Ace to keep him from being bothered by the tickling from the vibrations of the clippers. I wasn't worried about Gus not letting me clip him, but I know he is very sensitive and I have to use the softest curry combs and brushes because he's so ticklish. I waited about 20 minutes after giving Gus some Ace and into the cross ties he went! 

Clipping a horse is kinda of like walking in the snow. Taking that first row of hair off with the clippers is like the first step into a completely unmarked area of snow. You can't help but look at it and think- I hope I don't mess this up!!! But at the same time I love it! Just like hearing the snow crunch under your boots and seeing your footprints follow behind you, there is something satisfying and thrilling watching the blades cut little paths into the coat. There is something exciting about transforming a shaggy pony into a work of art! I guess it's the same feeling that artist get when they start a new project? Taking a canvas and seeing it transform beneath the paint? When you reach the end you hope it's something that you can be proud of! 

Ok so remember in the last post where I was talking about Quarter marks? After some Google searching I came up with a fun little design that I was going to attempt to put on Gus's butt. Typing in "Augustus" (because that is his show name) I found a lot of marble faces staring back at me. Along with these stone faces were random pictures of faces on coins. So I thought, all coins have a tails side so maybe there will be an easy design on the back of an "Augustus coin"? Sure enough, there was!

Augustus Coin
So here's a little history lesson- Caesar Augustus is considered the first Roman Emporer. He was Julius Caesar's nephew/adopted son. Approximately four months after Julius Caesar was assassinated, a comet appeared in the sky. (Can't you hear it now? Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears...oh a comet!) Augustus declared that this was Julius Caesar ascending into the heavens. Apparently this comet was so bright that it could be seen during the day and was visible for 7 days. The comet became a symbol for Augustus and was printed on the back of these Augustus Coins. So there is your history lesson for the day! Thanks to Wikipedia's Caesar's Comet and other websites that I will not link to because they tended to be discussions about the religious context of the star and since this blog is not about religion, I've opted for you to search for yourself if you are interested. (Google image search "Augustus Coin" and click on any coin that looks like/similar the one above and it'll probably take you to the right page)

The "Practice" Side- eventually was shaved off
Well I am NOT that skilled with a fast moving blade to write out words or create the tail of the comet, so I opted for a little artistic rendition for Gus pony's quarter mark. Taking masking tape and a bottle with a round bottom, I traced the bottom of the bottle onto Gus's bum and then used the masking tape to make the rays of the comet. Originally I was trying to cut around the masking tape with small clippers, but that ended quickly because the blades were to close together and was cutting the hair sooo close to the skin that I was going to have a bald pony if I wasn't careful! Since I hadn't clipped the other side of his bum yet, I took masking tape and made a quick small version of the comet. Then taking the big clippers I buzzed over the masking tape and cut the exposed hairs. It ended up looking decent enough so I thought, might as well try it on the other side! Anything would look better than a bald booty!!!

As for the rest of Gus's body, I ended up doing a trace clip combo with a hunter clip. I shaved off all the hair on his body, but left the legs and a saddle pad (like the hunter clip) and only clipped off the hair from the bottom side of his neck (like the trace clip). The reasoning behind my motives is simple. Gus has plenty of blankets to keep his back warm this winter, but this doesn't help his neck out (even though all his blankets/sheets are high neck) So by leaving some hair on his neck he can stay warmer while he's hanging outside in his pasture pigging out on the dying grass and eventually hay (when the grass finally sleeps for winter). The underside has been clipped to keep him cooler when riding because that is where he (and all horses) sweat the most on their necks, henceforth why you clip that part of the neck!

Now it's time for the drum roll..... The end results of Gus's new haircut!!! After hours of scratching and itching from the hair finding it's way into my shirt, and straining my eyes to make sure I wasn't leaving clipper lines, I present to you, Prairie Augustus, ready for winter riding!!!!!
The Right Side

The Left Side (note Comet on hind end)

Closer view of Gus's Quarter Mark!
And on that note I leave you with a joke-

What is the difference between a good clip job and a bad one?

2 weeks!!! Grow hair grow!!!