Saturday, December 20, 2008

New Horse to Play With


I have missed being around horses so much. Ever since I left Missouri in October I really have not had a chance to even see any horses, let alone work with them. This strange craving comes over me anytime I am away from horses for an extended period of time, it's a craving I often jokingly call my Horse Withdrawals. It's one reason I know that I am destined to work with horses. I am not content unless there is a soft mussel and a giddy whiny to greet me at the gate.

So you can understand how excited I was when a colleague of my mother's invited me over to play with their two horses. I went out on Thursday and had such a good time. They have two horses, an older Arabian mare named Rose and her 4 or 5 year old son, Pride, who is a Percheron cross. They are both beautiful and sweet horses, but I especially enjoyed playing with Pride.

Pride has never had any formal training before and so I eagerly offered to train him as much as I can before I leave for Indiana in February. Of course I cannot ride him yet, even if he were ready my doctor would have a fit if I tried to ride before my arm is completely healed. So for now I am going to be teaching Pride basic ground manors such as haltering and leading, tying, picking up his feet, giving to pressure, lunging, etc. I am really excited to work with him. He is so curious and I can tell he has an eagerness to learn. It's almost like he's just asking for someone to train him! I wish I had a longer period of time to work with him. I would love to saddle brake him. I think he has the potential to be a good dressage horse. He has the body and, better yet, he seems to have the mind for it.

I cannot wait to go out and work with him again, although that may not be until after New Years.

Here is a short video clip I made of him. It gives you a good glimpse of his personality. I hope you enjoy.



Miranda

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Chance of a Lifetime

Hello Again, the Few and The Fabulous who read my blog. I am hoping to update this thing more often so that I can keep all of you guys informed with what is going on in my life.

My arm is healing well, thank you very much. I am being put through torture right now - I mean physical therapy... sorry - it's going well and I am already making a lot of progress. Thank you to everyone that has been keeping me in their prayers. I cannot express in words how much that means to me. Please continue to pray for my complete healing. There is still a chance I may need another surgery in six months if I am unable to regain full movement of my arm. I am praying it does not come to that and that I will regain full motion and strength in my arm.

On a much more interesting and exciting note: I have recently been accepted to a horse training internship in Indiana. It is an FEI Dressage training and breeding facility, which probably does not mean a thing to you if you are not a horse person, but that is a pretty big deal to the horse freaks like me. Basically that means that they breed horses and train them for the very highest level of Dressage. The FEI is an international Dressage organization. What you see in FEI events would be like what you see in the Olympics.

I understand that many of you may not even know what Dressage is. To give you a basic idea, here is one of my favorite YouTube videos showing one of the greatest examples of Freestyle Dressage I have ever seen (Freestyle Dressage is performed to music, not all Dressage is done with music). It is going to be quite a while before I get anywhere close to what you will see in this video but at least you can see what my goal is. I hope you enjoy.




Pretty cool, isn't it? Anyways, what I will be doing in my internship will be learning how to ride and compete with Dressage horses, learn how to train Dressage horses from the ground up, and learn how to teach other people how to ride Dressage. They also breed American Warmblood horses so I will get a chance to learn a bit about how to run a breeding operation. I could not be more excited. This truly is a chance of a lifetime! The internship will be for one year. I will live in the home of the owners and work with them six days a week. It's going to be a lot of hard work but I am going to learn so much. I feel very blessed to be given this opportunity.

The place is called Forrest Hill Farm, it's located in Lafayette, Indiana. Here is the link to their website if you would like to learn more about where I will be spending the next year of my life.

Forrest Hill Farm and Kaiser Dressage Training Center


Please continue to keep me in your prayers,

God Bless and, if I don't update my blog again before the 25th, Merry Christmas!

Miranda

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Why Do We Fall?

... So we can learn to pick ourselves back up (to quote "Batman Begins"). Well, that is exactly what I did, I fell. While I was down it seemed dark and scary, I was uncertain of my future. But now that I am returning to my feet I see that I have grown through the experience and find myself stepping forward into a brand new adventure.

For the past three months I have been at William Woods University in Fulton, MO. It has been everything I hoped it would be. I have learned so much and have gained so much experience. I have grown so much in my knowledge as a horsewoman, and have simply grown as a person. I have also made many friends I hope to keep for a lifetime.

I was very fortunate to be able to bring my horse, Vega, up to Missouri with me. I boarded him at a place that was only two minutes down the road from school. This allowed me to work with him much more than I was able to back home. My new friends Marie and Erin were great enough to help me work on his training. They really pushed me to go for it and get past my fears. For this I am very thankful. At long last I was finally able to ride Vega; not just in the round pen but also out on trail.


This has been a process three years in the making. I first bought Vega as a terrified five year old who wouldn't allow any human within twenty feet of him. I have worked with him so much and got him to the point that he was no long afraid of people. I taught him to have excellent ground manors and got him trust me through anything I would put him through. But the thought of riding him terrified me, while I was never afraid to ride any other horse. It was like I hit a wall.

But thanks to Marie and Erin, I was finally able to ride him. It was magical, like from a dream. Though he still had much to learn, I was riding him! At long last he had reached the goal I had set from the beginning, the ability to be a good trail horse. And he is a good trail horse. He is excited and interested in his surroundings, he wants to move forward and see what is around the bend. Though hesitant at times, he is willing to overcome obstacles in his way and lead the other horses onward. At long last my dreams of him were coming true.... and then I fell... it changed everything.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, crisp clear autumn air, perfect for a trail ride. It was a little breezy, which tends to make Vega a little nervous but I didn't think much of it. I had arrived at the stables a little later than everyone else so I was hurrying to tack him up and catch up with Erin and Marie, who were waiting for me down by the road. I grabbed a rope halter and tied it to the saddle horn. A small voice in my head said, "don't do that" but I shrugged it off, I always take along a halter as a safety precaution. I put on my helmet, did a quick once over of my tack and then swung up onto Vega's back.

I walked Vega briskly to catch up with the others. I found them all in the field just across the road, each working on training their horses as they waited. Vega was happy to be back with his friends. We began to set off down the road when I suddenly realized that the loop of my reins was caught on the rope halter tied to my saddle horn, causing the rope to flap against Vega's side.

I asked the others to halt so I could fix it. For a moment I considered dismounting to fix it, but shrugged that off and decided to just do it from the saddle. Messing with the ropes made Vega nervous and he would not stand still. So I held back on the reins to steady him, this made him even more nervous. 'I should have prepared him for stuff like this,' were the words that flashed through my mind. Unable to go forward and unable to get way from the scary rope monster attached to his side, Vega did the next natural thing any other untrained horse would do: he went up.

He reared up three times, trying to rid the monster off his back, not realizing that the monster was me, the one he knows and trusts. I was able to stay in the saddle without falling, although I was thrown off balance. For a split second I was proud of myself for staying on a rearing horse, something that I had never done before; but that sentiment was swiftly replaced with terror when I suddenly realized what trouble I was in.

Completely stricken with fear, Vega went to his last resort, RUN HOME!!! I have never been on a horse going so fast, my friends said he was probably going 35 miles per hour. Instinct replaced all reason in me. My mind shouted at me, "Don't Scream! Don't Squeeze with Your Legs!" But my body would not listen.

This was the closest experience I have ever had to having my life flash before my eyes. I have never fully understood that saying before. I always assumed it meant that past life experiences suddenly returned to conscious memory, but for me it seemed more like the last remaining moments of my life were rushing past me at the speed of sound.

We were careening towards the road and I felt myself slipping. I knew that if I hit that road at that speed I might die or never walk again. I cried out, "Jesus Christ, Save My Life!" And then suddenly I felt my whole body relax just before we reached the road. I let go of my death grip and tumbled down the soft, muddy embankment.

I lay there, unable to move, praying softly "Jesus Christ, save my life," over and over again; until I realized that my friends were kneeling next to me, trying to get me to answer them. The next thing I asked was, "Where's Vega? Where's Vega? Is he OK? Is he hurt?" They assured me he was fine, that he had run all the way back to the barn. They urged me to try to move, to try to get up, to at least move my hands or legs. Slowly I wiggled my fingers, and curled up my legs. I moved my head, thankful for my now dirt smeared helmet. I slowly pushed myself into a sitting position, but when I tried to support myself with my right arm pain shot through me. I could not move my arm and my fingers were going numb.

My friends helped me stand to my feet and ushered me into Dan's SUV that had just pulled up to bring me to the hospital. I sang for joy inside because I could walk. As we pulled away Marie promised she would get back on Vega and work him for me, teach him he has nothing to fear. God Bless that girl. Vega stood next to her, caught once again. I looked in his wide, white, fear stricken eyes and told him, "I'm sorry Vega. I don't blame you." And off we went to the hospital.

I broke my elbow into several pieces, shattered my radial head. I remained in Fulton for almost two emotionally trying weeks until they determined I would need to return home for surgery. I packed up my stuff and my parents came to get me the next day.

Surgery went well, and I am recovering quickly. It is good to be back with my family and it has given me a lot of time to think. I am now reconsidering my educational path, exploring options over than college to get my Equine Education. It is still up in the air about what I am going to do, but I am hopful and excited about where God is going to send me. I'll go into more detail about this later.

As for Vega, he is still in Missouri. Marie has been caring for him and has ridden him almost everyday since I left. He has made much progress, and she says he is becoming a wonderful trail horse. I am so happy to hear about this, but I am sad inside because I know that I cannot do anything else for him at this time. I don't have enough training experience and I know I will always be a little afraid of riding him. So, I made the most heartbreaking descision I have ever made and decided to sell him to Marie. I know she will take good care of him and train him to be the horse I always knew he could be.

I love him dearly and he will always hold a special place in my heart. But I feel like this is the best for both of us. Now he we can both proceed in our training and progress without hindering each other. I feel a great peace about this and know it will all work for good in the end.

Miranda

Monday, April 7, 2008

New Horizons

I've been puting off this post for quite a while now... I'm not sure why... I guess I just don't know where to start. I'm very excited about it though. Let me just get to it.

My life is taking a new direction. I guess it was just over a month ago when I started to question what I wanted to do with my life. I love my job at the vets office because I get to work with animals everyday, but I began to relize that I really don't have any passion for medicine. I have watched the Veterinarians at my clinic very closly and I can not picture myself in their postions. I love animals and I really want to work with them; but, even though the vets are working on animals, really there focus is the medicine part. I thought maybe because blood, gore, and needles didn't bother me I was destined to be a vet....

I found myself day dreaming more about what I could do because I was a vet, more than thinking about actually being a vet. I was thinking, "Because I'll be a vet I'll have enough money to own my own horse barn," and "I hope I'll be able to have enough spare time when I'm not working to train my horses and go to horse shows," and "Wouldn't it be cool if I could give kids riding lessons on the weekends?" My thoughts where consumed with horses, horses, horses, and I rarely found my self thinking of my vet career in a positive light; in fact I found myself DREADING the next three years of college and the following four years of Vet school, very few of classes I'd have to take seemed interesting to me, I knew I would be strugeling through the whole thing.

After a lot of thought and prayer, and wise instruction from my parents who encouraged me to follow my passions, I decided to change my major from Pre-Vet to Equine Science.

Of course, Lee University dosen't have a major in Equine Science, so I will be transfering to William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri in the Fall. William Woods was the first University to offer a four year degree in Equine Science in the USA. They have riding concentrations in Hunter/Jumper, Dressage, Western, and Saddle Seat. They have a large riding facility right on campus with a couple hundred horses. They host horse shows on campus and the students also travel to nearby horse shows as well. It should give me a really good soild foundation to pursue practically any job in the horse industry (Of course that can be easier said than done). This will mean a lot of work for me, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. But I am determined to do well.

I will be goint to vist the school this weekend.

For the first time in my life I am chasing after a career that I REALLY want to do. I know that I will love every moment of it. I'm very excited, though a little sad that I will be leaving home (I wasn't planing on leaving home for another two years).

I would apreciate your prayers and suport durring this time of transition.

Miranda

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Brat!



Oy... I'm not very happy with Vega today. I went out to the stables today with my mom and my little sister Moriah, she has been dying to see Vega. When I went to go catch him he just ran from me, I don't mean the little games of keep away that he plays with me from time to time, I mean he was full out "You're not catching me today SUCKER!" I could not believe him! He has not run from me that bad since I first got him. It was a complete act of defiance. Lately he has been so good for me, coming straight to me most of the time.... Boy, not so today.

We played Mary-Go-Round around the round bail holder for probably forty-five minutes. Then he took off across the pasture at a taunting slow jog. He headed straight for one corner of the pasture and I was horrified to find that part of the electric fencing was down. I was certain that he was going to hop over that fence and disappear into the woods, I would never catch him then. I prayed out loud to God and miraculously Vega spun around and ran back the way he came. Thank you LORD.

He went back to the hay holder where the other horses were. By this time I had been out there for nearly an hour, I was exhausted and seriously thought I was going to faint. Finally, when I was beginning to think I would never catch him, I did. Thanks to a little misdirection from my mom, a little false security provided by Vega's buddy Tutle, and a little bribery by means of a treat (which I don't normally recommend) I was finally able to get a halter on his head. We were both drenched with sweat by this time, thankfully it was a pretty balmy, breezy day. I pet him all over showing him that he had nothing to fear and that, even though I felt like throwing my boot at him, I still loved him.

I allowed him to get a drink and then I lunged him in the pasture for a good five to ten minutes. Even then he stood in defiance against me! I could not believe what a brat he was being! I finally got him to relaxe and submit. I allowed him another drink of water and then brought him to the barn to feed him.

From that point on I continued our routine as though it were any other day, including a good half hour of lunge work in the round pen. I don't care if he worked himself into a racehorse's sweat while I was trying to catch him, being a brat isn't going to get him out of work. Thankfully he did pretty good in the round pen, though he did seem to be sulking and didn't want join up with me at first (for those who don't know, Join Up basically means that I get him to follow me around the pen without using a lead rope, this demonstrates that I've gained his trust and respect), he eventually did though. When we were done I groomed him and checked his legs to make sure he hadn't injured himself in the wild goose chase. He was good.

Then, when I thought all his antics were over with for the day, he pulls another one on me. As I'm opening the gate to put him back in the pasture he pushes right past me, I mean pushing me through the gate out of his way to get through, he nearly knocked me over! He has NEVER done that before! I'm telling you, I was not going to let him get away with that. I'll make it clear now to everyone that I NEVER beat my horse, EVER. Beating achieves nothing, only to further frighten the horse. But I will swing and bump a rope at him in order to get him to move out of my space, and that is exactly what I did. I schooled him in the paddock for another five minutes getting him to back up, back up, back up out of my space. I'd let him stand and think about that for awhile and then kindly ask him to approach me, petting him all over and rubbing him wherever I bumped him. By the end he was very apologetic, lowing his head and licking his lips (a sign of submission). I spent a few more minutes letting him know I still loved him. We ended on a good note.

I still can't believe how he acted today. I've never seen him so defiant before. My guess is that he was responding to all of the respect training I've been doing with him lately. Today he just decided "I don't want to work today, she can't tell me what to do! Let me see how far she will really go to be the boss of me." All horses test their trainers from time to time... I guess this was just one of those times.

To say the least, I'm exhausted. I'll be going out again tomorrow morning to make sure he's behaving himself.

I still love him, and I think he still likes me, but it's clear to me that we still have a lot of work to do.

Miranda

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Long Time No Post

Hey Everyone,

Man, it's been so long since I've posted on here. Shortly after my last blog I went through a rather depressing time with my horse that I really didn't feel like sharing with the world at the time so I stopped blogging all together. I thought I was going to have to sell Vega... in fact I DID sell Vega. But apparently God has other plans. The Lady that bought Vega decided she couldn't afford to keep him and so she returned him to me. I feel as though I've been given I second chance to get things right with Vega. I've been going out to the stables as much as I can, three days a week if the weather permits (sadly today is not one of those days). I've started going out and feeding Vega myself when I can and it has help us to bond a little better. I've been doing some natural horsemanship work with him and he is doing great. I think he is ready to be ridden again, but I don't think I'm ready to ride him. It has been so long since I've ridden any horse I've lost a lot of my confidence. I think I need to get some lessons somewhere to refresh my skills and regain my confidence. If only time and money weren't an issue. But God has a plan for me and Vega and I trust that his Will will be done.


In other News: I got my hair cut... REALLY short. I don't have any pics of it though... maybe later.

Peace and Joy to you,

Miranda