Friday, February 5, 2010

The Story So Far

Reveille, the first day I got her, in SC's arena in Tennessee.

So, a quick introduction: I'm [rinsie]. I like to say I've been riding all my life, and to a certain extent, I have -- started lessons at 8 or 9 at a hunter/jumper barn in Texas, riding calm and well-trained school horses, moved on to working at a pony farm in California when I was 12, riding stubborn ponies and later a speedy little Arab/Hackney pony, then bouncing around from horse to horse and experience to experience. I worked at a couple's Appaloosa ranch for a while, and I have to say I wish I'd been older or wiser when I did it, because there were SO many opportunities to learn that I didn't take advantage of. I was young, trying to figure out what I needed and wanted and could do, and ended up not making good choices. Sigh.

From there to Georgia, where I worked at a snooty dressage barn for a bit -- it wasn't a very good situation for me, since the teacher believed that only tall, slender people could be good riders. I'm neither. *shrug* From there to Tennessee, where I met some great horse people and really got back into riding for good. I learned how fun Tennessee Walkers, Spotted Saddle Horses, and other gaited horses can be.

And then, in July 2006 ... I bought my first horse of my very own, Reveille. Her breeding is something of a mystery. I met her dam, a 15.1 hh bay Quarter Horse mare, that probably has papers somewhere out there. Allegedly, her sire was Izar, an Orlov-Rostopchin stallion imported by Alex Chterba, who somehow got loose and met Missy in the pasture for a little pasture accident. I can't get complete confirmation of this, but it's the best story I have so far. Her looks back it up -- she's QH size, with a big ol' block head and a QH butt, but her neck, back, hind legs, and general conformation are more warmblood-y than not. Overall, at 15 hands full-grown, she looks like a three-quarter scale warmblood. Moves like one, too.

She was 2 when I bought her, and she'd only ever had one person on her back before -- and that just a kid, while Rev's owner ponied her. I was the second person ever to ride her. I decided to buy her based on her natural gaits -- big trot full of suspension, rhythmic canter, good walk -- and her conformation. She also has a very kind eye.

What I didn't know at the time was that she was extremely smart -- I mean, I knew she was clever; I figured it out the first time I got on her. But I didn't realize HOW smart she is, and how opinionated, or willful. I'm blessed and cursed with a smart horse -- cursed now, while she's young, and blessed later, when she's trained and we're doing higher-level stuff.

I also didn't know at the time that she'd inherited her dam's bad habit of bucking. She doesn't buck under saddle any more, really, and she isn't bucking on the longe line much either. But for a while there, it was a real issue. The first time she bucked me off, I broke my left pinky finger. The second time she bucked me off, I shattered my collarbone. She hasn't bucked me off since, mostly because I freaking refuse to fall like that again! At 34, I just don't bounce like I used to. I've fallen off, but I haven't been thrown since. *knocks on wood*

So far, she's turning into the fantastic little horse I thought she'd be -- her gaits continue to improve, and her jump is super-cute.

So now we're in Idaho, working with one of the best eventing teachers available in the Northwest. I love My Teacher (MT) and his wife (TW), but it can be very, very difficult, being the least-skilled and least-horse-educated person on the property. Lately it seems like I can't do anything right, and it's terribly discouraging. I want to do well; I want to compete and do well in regional three-day events, eventually. I want to make MT proud and have TW be able to say "she's doing well." And nothing like that's happening right now. But -- excelsior, yes?

Right now Reveille's issues are all centered around one thing: lateral flexion. More to the point, the lack thereof. She's weak in her right hind, so she finds it very difficult to bend right. And because she's herself, she really tries her best to avoid bending right. She bends left easily, but right ... it takes a lot.

Especially for me -- my right side is weak, and I realize exactly how much I need to work on my seat and my legs. With an old ACL replacement on my right knee and never quite getting the mobility back, I am pretty sure that I overcompensated for years for that injury. Then, after shattering my right collarbone and landing quite hard on my right hip, I've been out of alignment for going on two years now. In a perfect world, I'd be able to go to physical therapy and a chiropractor regularly and work the hip issue out. But in the real world, it would cost me $30 a session for each, and I simply cannot afford that every week. When I win the lottery, sure, but ... alas. :) Until then, I have this right-side weakness. But I'm working hard at fixing my seat and leg position.

So all that plus the realization that I haven't been using the correct part of my leg to give aids to my horse for as long as I've been riding have made this journey difficult. Plus the fact that I have zero immune system -- if a germ comes along, I get sick. *shrug* It's always been that way, so I'm used to it, but it doesn't help at all when I get so sick I can't ride for two months in the winter. (Next year, I will be planning for this and put Rev into half-training for the months of December and January, just so I can be sick and not worry about her.

But -- MT does his best with me, and I work hard in practice. I sometimes succeed a lot, sometimes a little, and sometimes not at all. Right now I realize that a lot of her issue is lack of strength -- she'd been down for two months, maybe ten weeks, before I got back on and started riding regularly again in late January. So she needs to build up her muscles, stretch, and just generally get back into work. And so do I. So ... onward, yes?

More soon, now that I've got the backstory done.

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