Monday, September 22, 2014

Horsey Bachelorette Party

This weekend I participated in a horsey bachelorette party - I've been tagged in a lot of the photos on Facebook but wanted to "interpret" them on here for those of you who may be interested.  My friends Belén and Cynthia organized it all and I thought it was so original and fun that it needed to be immortalized :)  The blushing bride is my friend and stablemate María José whose wedding is next Saturday.

Since we always have a riding lesson on Saturday morning, we figured it would be easy enough to start the party there and just continue on for the rest of the day.  So while we were saddling up, we called her over and gave her her first test - she had to wear a garter, gloves and a veil during the lesson - doesn't she look cute?!  Lots of cries of "Viva la novia" (long live the bride) ensued, and made our lesson even more fun than usual.  I broke out my helmet cam and my brand new helmet strap Sergio gave me for my birthday (no more ribbons y'all!) and video'd the entire thing which you can see here.

After the lesson we went our separate ways to muck out stalls, groom, mix food and whatnot and then took María José up to the bar for a coke while some of the girls hid the rest of the tests around the stable.  Basically each test was tied to something around the stableyard with a ribbon and had the test itself as well as a clue as to the whereabouts of the next test enclosed in a brightly colored envelope.  First she had to succeed at the test and then she could read the clue to get to the next test.  The tests were organized as though she were preparing for her wedding - so the first one was "practice wearing your veil".

So once everything was in place, we called her back and gave her the clue to find her next test (rehearse the procession), which was that she had to make the stable's star stallion Chad walk with her 5 steps.  This was easily accomplished with the help of a few carob beans.  Then we all trooped to the paddock of Compay, the horse María José leases, where she had to "make sure they were soulmates and prove their complicity" by convincing him to lift one of his front feet for ten seconds (this is a "begging" habit he has which María José tends to scold him for).  At first it seemed like it wouldn't come off, but with Marina's advice she was able to get him to hold up first his right leg for a count of five, then he switched legs and held up the left one for another count of five.

She then had to prepare a "special meal" for "her guests" (in this case a couple of ponies) using three different kinds of feed which they had to eat up completely - this wasn't much of a test since we honestly don't have any very picky horses at the stable.  Then, since our stable's in an old orange grove, she had to find three oranges "since they've run out at the bar and can't make any more cocktails".  They weren't ripe yet so we just let her point three out to us.

Her next test was to "make all her guests feel welcome" and get the two potbellied pigs at the stable to come to her and stay still long enough for a photo, at first she was a little worried since they tend to be really screechy (the horses certainly seem to think they're carnivorous monsters) and she thought they might not be very tame but they are sweet, if morbidly obese, pigs and behaved very well.  She didn't even need food to get them to come to her.  After that, she had to "get the party started" by leading us all in a disastrous conga line to the parking lot where her next clue awaited.

Then we had an even sillier test - María José had to "make sure the party was jumping" by giving each of us a number from one to ten and then we had to invent a jumping course one by one to do on foot.  In other words, person # 1 (yours truly, thank God) had to choose one obstacle to jump, then person # 2 had to jump the first obstacle and then choose another one, then person # 3 had to jump the first two and choose yet another one and so on and so forth.  And once all of us had gone, the bride had to jump all of them as well as another of her choosing.  We had lots of fun imitating the horses we normally ride, with bucks, spooks, zigzagging before the jumps, etc.... although it was around 90º and superhumid so most people got over those kinds of capers after about the 4th jump ;)  It did make us all a little more aware of what we ask our horses to do for us in the summertime.

The last test was to "immortalize the moment" by arranging all her guests with the ribbons that had come with each test to make the outline of a horse - as you can see this was easier said than done especially since once again, it was like 90º out and humid, and staying in the sun holding ribbons after dancing the conga and jumping over obstacles felt pretty sucky compared to getting in the pool.

After all this, there was a fun "ending ceremony" where she had to match up photos of the horses at the stable to be "maids of honour", "groomsmen" and "guests" and finally we went to Belen's house for a dip in the pool and some pizzas.

All in all very silly and the most "G-rated" bachelorette party I've ever been to, but really a lot of fun and a day to remember fondly.

Monday, September 15, 2014

We're Baaaack

Me and Starbuck and my Daddy

Well the last month or so has been pretty hectic for me and I haven't posted in a while - this is in part because I haven't been riding much, but also because my parents came to visit! :D :D :D  We had a really good time and I was so happy to be able to share a little part of my life with them, as well as pretty much pretend to be a tourist for two whole weeks.  So I guess it's all for the best that Starbuck wasn't quite up to snuff during their visit - that way she got a nice long rest and I was able to focus on spending time with my folks without worrying about not riding.  Let me rewind a little:

Shortly after my last post a month ago, Starbuck started to do her not-extending-her-right-hind-well thing enough that I could feel it at a trot, so I only rode her at a walk for a couple of days working on lots of stretching and extension (leg yielding, shoulder-in, walking over cavaletti and through tire obstacles and whatnot) hoping she just needed some rest.  But she didn't get better so I called in my vet, who recommended a massage session.  Out came Pascual to give her a massage, who said she definitely had some lower back pain and showed me some massage techniques to use in the future.  The first few days after the massage she was visibly sore and didn't want to trot at all, but the first day my parents got here and came out to see her she was apparently feeling much better since she bucked and farted her way around the roundpen at an all-out gallop when I asked her for canter - the expression "full of beans" comes to mind.

So there I was, all optimistic that I might be able to ride her and show off in front of my parents, when the next day I came out and saw that she hadn't finished her breakfast and seemed kind of down.  So I took out my trusty thermometer and sure enough, she had a light fever.  Panic ensued, since I was going to the other side of the island and knew I wouldn't be back for a few days.  But my vet calmed me down (it's SO nice to have a vet who always answers your calls on Sundays without any complaints) and after giving her some bran mash with EQZone (Spain's answer to bute), clearing the rest of her breakfast and her hay out of her paddock and asking Marina to not give her anything more than a little bran mash for dinner and re-check her temperature in the evening I was able to leave without feeling too bad.

When I finally was able to come back to see her after a few days, she hadn't had any more fever issues (I got a friend to check her temperature every day while I was gone) but she still had some residual leg-extending stuff, which I had hoped would clear up.  She was still a little gimpy a few days later after my parents left, so I asked my vet, who told me to give her another week of longeing with as much extension as possible to see if she improved or not.  The first few days were pretty un-promising but finally on Saturday she really started to move well and by yesterday she was nearly back to normal - she would put in a gimpy stride every now and then but when you asked her to extend she did it well.

To celebrate, since it had been a month since I last rode her and I've been seriously jonesing for some Starbuck, I saddled her up and rode her at a walk to cool her down from her longe session.  Man did that feel good! :D  Marina's suggestion (with vet's blessing) is to intersperse light riding (mostly walk, some trot) with longe work in the deep sand at the end of the arena and over cavalleti and tire obstacles to work on extension and picking her legs up.

In other news I will participate in my first show jumping contest on October 5 - not with Starbuck since I don't want to push her recovery, but with Marina's feisty little pony Vent.  And if all goes well, Starbuck will have her show jumping debut a month later at the beginning of November.  Keep your fingers crossed for us!