06.08.20: Challenges and Beginnings

The page has a name! I'll explain that further down though...

Saturday was a great day. I managed to get myself up and together at a reasonable hour and headed down to the corral to put my saddle on Roscoe to be sure that it was going to fit ok. I pulled everything together and put it up on him. As I suspected the western girth converters didn't work, the girth was just too long. I had the English girth that I purchased from Diane with me, so I put that on and it worked fine.

I took him down to the arena and snugged everything down and climbed up on him. The saddle seemed to be plenty tight, and didn't shift too much. I began by walking around. It felt decent for the most part, and so I moved into some trot work going through some of the tasks we worked on with Dana in our lesson. The trot felt ok; better than it had in the saddle while riding Major, but still not great. I was able to post, but again it wasn't easy and I didn't stay very balanced doing so. I switched to working on some pushing passenger lesson, which went pretty well. Roscoe was a bit unsure since I was not directing him at all. He had a tendency to try to run straight into the corners, I suppose to get out of trotting, but I continued to ask him to move forward with my leg. He was doing ok, and I was alright posting though it still did not feel as fluid as I desired. As I continued to work on the pushing passenger, Roscoe took to making 12 foot circles in the middle of the arena, likely from lack of direction. It was a little interesting, and I wasn't as balanced on such a small turn.

I worked for about an hour before I took him back up and unsaddled him. He wasn't sweaty so I couldn't tell if there were any pressure points on his back, so I put everything away and organized all the gear for the afternoon ride. I headed up to the house and grabbed a bit of time on the porch and ate lunch enjoying the view. The breeze was quite cool and the clouds were slowly piling up.

Michelle arrived home shortly after that and grabbed lunch herself before we headed down to get the horses all loaded. It took no time before we had everything ready and we were all off down the road.

We were heading to the San Juan National Forest at the Saul's Creek Access. It wasn't until we turned off the road that I realized that it was the very same road that Tonnie and I explored the previous year while looking for a place to take her dog Rum hiking. I discovered that if we had only gone about a half mile further we would have found the gate to the forest. We turned around after driving several miles past houses and small farms and were unsure of where we were.

It was a beautiful place, with easy hills through lots of scrub oak and pines. The wildest thing for me was to be able to ride through a controlled burn area from several years ago. The pines still stood tall and black against the sky, but the scrub oak was all growing high as my hip again, with some tiny trees in between. It was beautiful to see the forest regenerating itself. It was also dramatic to see up close how random the burn patterns really are. A whole stand of trees might be lost, but yet less than 50 feet away stands full grown trees untouched.

Michelle and Ralph's friend Ginger met us there with her huge horse King and she rode along. Unfortunately King had his shoes removed so he could go barefoot and his feet were still really tender so he took it really slow the whole way.
We finished up after about an hour or so, and headed on back
home. Michelle and
I grabbed her saddle plus my saddle and my pad and headed back down to the arena for a quick trip. I wanted to have her look at me in the saddle at a trot to see if there was anything I was doing wrong, and she wanted to sit in my saddle just to feel it. She also wanted to put my Theraflex pad on Winston to see how it fit with her saddle and see how Winston felt about it.

I put my saddle on first, and she watched me move, and then she got up in it. It was then that we started talking about the sensations and came to the conclusion that my saddle is just simply too small in the seat. The front of the saddle is way too close to your thighs, and it puts a lot of outward pressure on your hips. When you attempt to post in the saddle, the front of the saddle actually gets in the way of the movement. We agreed that it would be ok, just a challenge to ride in. I decided then that I would try to sell the saddle when I got home. There is no point in keeping a saddle that doesn't fit you.

We swapped out the pad and put it up on Winston and I hopped up on Roscoe to sit for a while bareback while she moved around a bit. She decided that the pad will probably work well for Winston, and decided to buy one at the conference. We headed back up to the house to get cleaned up since we had plans to go out for dinner that evening. Michelle and I took showers and I continued to pack my things. I called Mom to check in with her since we were off of east coast time by two hours.

When we left to head to dinner there was rain off in the mountains and we ended up driving into it when we got to town. We had a delicious dinner at the Red Snapper restaurant. I had tequila shrimp which was shrimp in a lime cream sauce over pasta that was really good. We had a great meal and ended up talking to our waitress a lot because she was also into horses, having shown Arabians since she was very little. She became burned out on the politics and stresses of showing so she finally quit. She missed riding a lot though and was looking for a way to get back into it without getting into showing.

We finished up dinner and headed back outside to find that it was still drizzling but off to the west the sky was patchy with golden sun streaming through. I looked up over the car to find a gorgeous rainbow with a second reflection above it, and surprisingly a third band just beneath the brilliant purple. It was stunning arcing across the deep purply sky just over the green and brown hills. We watched it fade all the way home.

We all sat down and chilled out for a while after dinner, eating a bit of ice-cream. Michelle got out an extra suitcase for me to be able to pack all my clothes in since I shipped everything here in boxes. It was sitting on its side in the middle of the floor and Edgar started to explore it and discovered that it made a fun place to play. I looked up at one point to see nothing but his white leg with his pink toes sticking up over the top of the suitcase as he groomed himself. It was so funny to see only his leg that we all started dying of laughter.

I thought I was no good, but then Edgar popped his head up and looked at us with this total expression of, "What is your problem!?" all the while his foot was still sticking up over his head! I lost it at that point and could hardly breathe I was laughing so hard.

We finally calmed down and I headed to get more of my stuff loaded up and give Mom another call.

Sunday morning came early likely due to my energy about the day. I finished up with my packing and Michelle told me that we'd go out to breakfast. We decided to go to the Durango Diner which is owned by a friend that Ralph has known for a long time from when he lived in New York. Michelle told me that they had great blueberry pancakes and she was right. She warned me to only order one, and that was a smart move considering it was the size of the entire plate. Their hash browns were really good as well. I didn't have enough room to finish everything!

After stuffing ourselves, we returned home and Michelle and I gathered things together to go take a ride. She was interesting in trying out my Theraflex pad and we planned to just ride quickly around the neighborhood. We grabbed brushes and started to groom the guys because they of course rolled since it rained last night. It was then that I discovered that Roscoe's back was sore. She checked it out and we both agreed that the saddle was likely the culprit. At that point it was pretty much decided that my saddle will not work.

At the moment we decided to pull Angel out and just ride out on her since we were no planning on going far at all. I began brushing her, and it was then that I discovered that her back was tender too, though likely from being in heat, and not any physical problems. Michelle and I just looked at each other and decided it was time to call it quits. We put everything away and headed up to the house to finish loading things up.

We told Ralph about the whole situation when he asked us about our ride. They told me about a feed store that will put things out on consignment and suggested that we put my saddle there. I agreed that was probably a smart idea as I don't even want to take it home at this point. We loaded up everything else and picked up Roscoe and got on the road.

When I arrived at the ranch and started to check in they told me that I wasn't slotted for a cabin, so they had to add me in. They gave me my pen number and then my cabin number and everything and tagged all of my things to go to the appropriate places. Michelle and Ralph helped me to get Roscoe up to the pens where they showed me my pen: right at the top of the hill. Not the same pen I was in last year, but still the last one in the back. I was highly amused by the situation, and put Roscoe away and got him some water as well.

We took the rest of my things to my cabin and got me settled. Lunch was right after that so Michelle and Ralph headed off down to Pagosa to make their appointment for their massages and hot springs visit.

It turns out that two of the other girls in my cabin sat down at my table for lunch, Lillan and Emma. They drove all the way from Washington State to get here, with their horses. They are right out of high school and are very nice. I think I will have fun with them. We headed up to the cabin after lunch and got everything settled in and then returned to orientation in the lodge.

It went well and it seems that class is going to be really interesting this year. We met our instructors for this course, John and Don, plus were introduced to the rest of the faculty. They went over the plan for the week, and then we watched the Stephanie Burns DVD on learning and being in the special environment at the ranch to learn. It was the same DVD as last year, but no less informative. I am looking forward to getting started tomorrow.

I need to go feed Roscoe and walk him around a bit before dinner and then its shower and crashing for me. Hopefully I'll get the time to update tomorrow as well.

Next Page: Monday, August 21, 2006: First Night