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post #1 of 46 Old 05-20-2014, 03:05 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 251
• Horses: 2
Talking Road Apples

Written by Jenny (dernhelm1984)
I am 29 years old, female, and have loved and ridden horses since I was a little kid. The end!
Just kidding. I should mention that I am an Aspie and have also struggled with treatment-resistant major depressive disorders and an anxiety disorder my entire life. Over the past four years I've struggled with my weight due to emotional eating and medications and I am currently on Nutrisystem and trying to get back into shape.
Horses have always been a gigantic part of my life. They don't care that I am a little different, and that's a beautiful thing. I am sure a lot of you folks taking time to read this understand.
Anyway as of today, May 20th of 2014, I'd like to record my horse riding experiences for fun and hopefully to learn too!
As of now I own two Tennessee Walking horses:
Traveller, a 13 year old, 15.0 hands, stocky bay tobiano with a bit of an attitude. My other TWH is black and white tobiano Reb, who I just bought in December of last year - Reb turned five in March. He is 14.3 hands and very narrow compared to Traveller. He is my "Mr. Congeniality."
I live in the Texas Panhandle. The last few winters have been pretty brutal. We are in the middle of a huge drought and to top it all off, my city was crowned "America's Windiest City" a few days ago (take that, Chicago! What a minute... that's not a good thing....).
Although I got a few rides and groundwork sessions in with Reb (Traveller is one of those horses you can leave out in the pasture for two years and then ride him, and he'll act perfectly), I didn't get nearly as many as I wanted the past five months due to weather.
That changed starting today.
(Figured I would do a short introductory post - will write about today with Reb later.)
PS: Why on earth am I not being allowed to space out paragraphs??

Last edited by dernhelm1984; 05-20-2014 at 03:09 PM. Reason: Formatting
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post #2 of 46 Old 05-20-2014, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 251
• Horses: 2


I *think* I've got it. Sorry - I am anal about formatting. ><
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post #3 of 46 Old 05-20-2014, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 251
• Horses: 2
Today was my first time out to actually ride since early April.

My plan was to continue to get acquainted with Reb and vice versa. Since I hadn't been able to spend nearly as much time with him this year thus far due to weather and my other stuff (I shall just try to refer to my Asperger's Syndrome, Major Depressive Disorder, and anxiety disorder as "my other stuff" from now on) happening.

From my past riding/ground work experience with him, Reb had clearly not accepted me as the boss horse in our little herd of two. He had always listened well enough under saddle (and he is a FUN, peppy little guy to ride) but on the ground? Oh, that was a different story.

On the ground Reb would constantly neigh and look around for other horses. I gave him his first bath earlier this month and while he stood still and was a gentleman, he also spent the entire time neighing and looking around for the other horses.

I was irritated. I was giving him a bath and moving around him all over the place, and his attention needed to be on ME and where I was. Not his fault since I hadn't been able to work with him very much before now. I knew basic groundwork was in order but didn't get a chance to do it until earlier today.

Didn't know how well it was going to go, mainly because last week I had a change in my anti-depressants and am still dealing with side effects, including feeling a bit "wired." However I was stable enough by today and have been desperate to get out and work with my new horse so we can start bonding as a team so I got myself out of bed this morning and had my mother drive me out to the barn (I am extremely high functioning when it comes to my Asperger's. I live in my own house. I feed myself. I take care of my pets. I run a little business on eBay even. But when it comes to driving myself places, I space out on the road and just can't do it because it's unsafe. So my mother, who you will be hearing more about if you follow this journal, gets me out there).

Reb and Traveller were mulling around near the gate as usual; Reb immediately came over to see if any treats were to be had. I caught him using my rope halter, groomed him, saddled him, and off we went to the big arena for some serious "I am the one in charge, Reb" work.

The few times I've worked with Reb on the ground before, he would pull that neighing to the others business, stop paying attention to me, and would freak out when I made a move because he wasn't watching. Today was going to be different; I was extremely determined to get this partnership moving and I had walked out of my house with the most dominant, "I am the boss" manner and was ready to get that horse's attention, no matter how long it took.

I know my demeanor made a difference. It's been a while since I've had a newbie and really had to establish dominance with him so I am pretty sure I'd been too lax in the few ground sessions I'd done with Reb before that hadn't gone as well as they needed to. So gold star for me! Yay!

Reb was in the habit of not listening to my verbal commands while on the ground. Under saddle? He listens. But on the ground he just wasn't there yet (again, my fault).

So we started with "whoa." I lunged him around me and would firmly say "whoa" - for the first few times, he would just run even faster around me until I pulled him to a stop to face me. I had my new treat bag (Reb responds really well to treats) and that reinforcement along with stroking his neck got him to catch on quick! I was very happy. He got to the point where he was stopping and letting me move all around his body from the length of the rope without moving.

The best part? He didn't neigh once. His attention was completely on me. I was so proud!! It was like he was a completely different horse than the one I'd last encounter who thought a fly more important than me.

We worked on bending and flexing on the ground for just a little while before I decided to end the groundwork on a good note.

I changed out the halter for the bridle and got on the little bugger. We went around the arena several times, and it was clear he was in a very lazy mood... so I decided it would be fun to challenge him by reintroducing a few elements that he balked at on our first trail ride a few months ago. Namely: a big scary decorative plow, a big scary pile of rocks, and some big scary cattle.

He was particularly hesitant at the big scary pile of rocks but soon realized that figure eights and circles were a lot less fun than just going by the rocks without a fuss. Around the cattle he did well - he wasn't sure what to think of the little calves running around which was pretty cute actually. We herded a few of the steers; Reb is still not horribly impressed with them because when I stopped him, he gave me a looong snort.

We also went down a not-very-steep trail because I wanted to see how well he watched his feet. On the way back up, Mr. Reb couldn't decide which path he wanted to take and ran me smack through a tree on accident; it was one of those awkward moments in which your butt lifts out of the saddle and when it lands, it is way too far back in the saddle. I wasn't in danger of falling off, but it was amusing.

Still no neighing for the others! I was thrilled!

We headed back after that; I took him past all of the scary stuff again and he did very well ignoring it. He was clearly ready to go home but he listened when I told him to slow his walk down and relax. I decided not to make it easy for him and we went out of our way to go around some of the buildings and pens between us and his pasture.

By the time we ended the ride, Reb was the most relaxed I've ever seen him. He didn't throw his head up in surprise when I was walking him back to his pasture and reached out to stroke his neck; he simply let me do it. He had his head down, his ears floppy, etc.

So Operation: "I Am the Leader Here, Reb" was a success today! My confidence is up again and I am so proud of Reb. He did fantastically. Our groundwork adventures are not over yet but this was a wonderful start!
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post #4 of 46 Old 05-20-2014, 09:30 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: SE TN
Posts: 4,636
• Horses: 3
They're beautiful. I've got a walking horse too...its a little different terrain here in E. Tennessee but hey.....T for Texas...T for Tennessee....

Please, keep us updated...
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For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
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post #5 of 46 Old 05-20-2014, 09:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2014
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Congrats on your good day with Reb. Hope you get to have lots of good days with your pretty boys.
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post #6 of 46 Old 07-20-2014, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 251
• Horses: 2
Thanks to those who look the time to post here! :)

So the ride on Reb in the last post was the last time I'd ridden this summer until yesterday. That was over two months of no riding! And the last time I'd ridden Traveller was in April since I'd been getting to know Reb. Needless to say, these past two months have not been the best ever.

What happened? Well, to keep it short my psychiatrist took me off of a strong medication that I'd been taking for a year or two now early in Jun, and I have been going through what has been the WORST withdrawal I'd ever experienced in 16 years of taking antidepressants. It is nearing the end of July, and I am *still* fighting it. It has been hard to even get out of bed.

I had been planning to ride a lot this summer and my plans didn't come to fruition. It has been green and beautiful here in the Panhandle, probably one of the best summers we have had in a while, and I've been spending it in bed. ARGH! Anyway, I'd seen Reb and Traveller a few times to love on them and check to make sure the fly situation has been under control but hadn't been riding.

One of my biggest concerns was Reb. I know Traveller like the back of my hand and wasn't too worried about him not being worked because he is the kind of horse who stays trained even if you don't ride him for a year. Since I'd only had Reb since December, and the dust storms made it very hard to ride this spring so I don't know him nearly as well as I would like to by now.

One of my biggest horse owning fears? That my horse(s) will manage to completely forget all of his training if I don't ride consistently and turn into a complete hooligan who need to be retrained to get back to where we were the last time I rode. I used to own horses that did this to an extent when I was younger. Every horse is different in this respect, I know, but I was fretting that Reb, being only five and neither of us being nearly as acquainted with each other as I think we should have been, might have some respect issues or something since I hadn't ridden him consistently. Not that this couldn't easily be fixed if it happened, but for some reason the idea that I was guilty of letting Reb down somehow was lodged in my already crazy brain as I was in bed for weeks.

Yesterday something unexpected happened. My twin sister who I didn't think enjoyed horseback riding anymore wanted to take some pictures with her new camera for a photography class she is taking and asked me if we could go see my horses because they are very photogenic and the landscape is beautiful at the moment. Although my brain was and is still foggy from the withdrawal, I realized that it would be a great opportunity to fool around with Reb, especially since my sister would be there to help me saddle up (my body has gotten ridiculously weak over the past two months). And if I got there and didn't feel up to riding, I could do some ground work with him at least.

We drove out, and the boys were glossy and bright-eyed as usual. They both immediately came up to see if we had treats when we pulled up (they know my car ridiculously well). I got Reb out and saddled him up, and my sister suddenly mentioned that she didn't think she'd ever ridden Traveller (she had a few years ago but that's all). I hadn't counted on her wanting to ride but I offered to saddle up Traveller for her and was glad when she agreed.

The outdoor arena was empty, and I took Reb inside to see how he was going to act. After several times around the place, it was VERY apparent that my horse wanted to be lazy - I had to really put the pressure on to get him to do his running walk which was interesting because if he is feeling a little frisky, he loves to try and go straight into that gait. It was pretty obvious that I wasn't going to need take him to the round pen before riding, and I was thrilled.

(My sister took this picture in the arena. Featuring Traveller's head and Reb's butt!)

My sister had been following us around on Traveller and said she would be up for a ride out in one of the big pastures around the ranch if I want to do it. I agreed, and we left the arena and took off onto the trails (well, the pasture; we followed some cattle trails but mainly forged our own path since you can easily see the terrain).

Both horses were *fabulous*! Traveller took care of my sister like I knew he would, and I led the way on Reb who I hadn't taken too far out into the pasture before then. Reb was mostly concerned about when/if I would let him forage a little bit and, although he was a little unsure about the cars as we moved towards the fence between the pasture and the highway, he followed my cues perfectly and was just a happy little dude in general.

I cannot tell you how finally riding and finding that *BOTH* my horses are excellent mounts even when they haven't been ridden in a few months took such a big load off of my mind!! I really shouldn't have been worried in the first place but as I said I just had a weird fear about not riding them for such a long time and then having them be testy due to it since I have had a lot of horses who were that way.

Particularly I was proud of little Reb! We only walked the pasture with a little running walk here and there since I didn't want to make him do anything too hard as he hadn't been ridden for a while. Plus I could tell that I need to regain some strength I've lost in withdrawal because while I wasn't flopping all over the place, I know I wasn't nearly at my best on his back.

So that's my second journal entry - it took a while to be able to write here, but it was worth the wait. I will get back into teaching Reb a few things in the round pen and hope I can fully recover and get my strength back soon too. Even though yesterday was just a simple, quiet trail ride, it was just what I needed!

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post #7 of 46 Old 07-20-2014, 11:52 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Kansas, USA
Posts: 2,956
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They're both beautiful! I love Paint horses, particularly bay/brown but black comes in a close second! If they ever get on your bad side I'd buy them, lol. I like TWH also because the one I rode had the greatest canter ever!

Great job with the ride!
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post #8 of 46 Old 07-21-2014, 12:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: An English Girl living in beautiful Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,606
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Dernhelm1984 - I have just discovered your thread. Congratulations on getting through a tough couple of months, and way to go for riding today!

I will come back here to look for updates :)

Get up, get going, seize the day. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and thunder. Getting on your horse is always worth the effort.
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post #9 of 46 Old 07-21-2014, 10:00 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: SE TN
Posts: 4,636
• Horses: 3
I hope you're past the worst part and able to ride when you want to.....

I've decided to give my horses 8 weeks off to get past the hottest time of the year.....and darned if that polar vortex didn't cool things down to near September weather.

I take it the sames been true for Texas?

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
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post #10 of 46 Old 07-30-2014, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 251
• Horses: 2
Sorry it's taken me so long to reply!! As of today my psychiatrist wants me to try a "medical supplement" instead of Abilify... but I am hesitant to try it. This whole fiasco has really made me leery of getting on anything new since I am understandably put out from the last two months. I know antidepressants help a lot of people but they honestly haven't really helped me in the 20 or so years I've been on them.

Roman: LOL I will tell Traveller you said that you like him the best. It strokes his little ego!

Shropshirerosie: Thank you for the encouragement! It means more to me than you know!

gunslinger: Actually when I wrote my last blog here, the weather was still up in the high 80s to high 90s in Texas... but over the past three or four days, things have gotten really overcast and nice!! If only it stays this way! *crosses fingers*
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