Posts Tagged With: hard work

Life is good (so enjoy the ride)

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my life?

Although I do work very hard, the work I do is mostly fun – and I get to hang out with my Mommy and all of my friends just as much, if not more. I’m never lonely because there’s always a friend or two somewhere nearby.

Icchy and Olive

And now, thanks to my wonderful Aunt Bonnie and my best friend, Chief, I have a toy in my stall that I can play with when I’m hanging out and waiting for Mommy to come back! Aunt Bonnie brought a big orange cone for Chief, but he didn’t seem to want it… And, because Chief knows how much I love to play with the cone in the arena, he asked his Mommy to give it me!

I like to play with my cone during the day when I’m bored, after Mommy and I have already worked, before she comes back for an evening visit… But it’s also fun to play with my cone at night before I hit the shavings!

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I’ll be forever grateful to Chief and his Mommy, my Aunt Bonnie. They spoil me so much!

Honestly, I’m probably the most spoiled horse in the history of horses. My Mommy loves to spoil me, too – and so does her Mommy! In fact, last weekend, my Mommy and her Mommy went on a shopping trip just to buy me pretty things! (They said that their favorite tack store was going out of business and having a sale, but I know that was really just another excuse to buy me lots of cool presents.)

I got a cool, stylish new fly mask and a brand new lead rope…

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And I even got a tail bag! 

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This is the first tail bag that I’ve ever had, and I really love it. But I didn’t know what to make of it at first! Right after Mommy put it on me, I tried to swat away some flies with my tail – and I seriously thought that someone was smacking me with something! I kept testing it out, and I kept getting spooked when I’d hit myself in the side with the tail bag. For the life of me, I could not understand why someone would smack me just for swatting away flies… and I had no idea who was doing it, either – because I could see Mommy standing right next to me! Of course, she was laughing, and I did not find the situation very funny.

Finally, Mommy grabbed the tail bag and pulled it as close to my face as she could to show me that it was actually attached to my tail. When I found out that I had been spooking at my own tail, I felt pretty silly – but that feeling didn’t last too long. The wheels in my head began to turn, and I realized something very important: the tail bag was much longer than my actual tail. You might be wondering why that matters – and I will gladly tell you. With a tail bag much longer than my actual tail, I can swat away flies that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach! I can even swat them off of my shoulders if I aim well enough! It’s absolutely heavenly… especially because I have great aim!

Anyway, the presents didn’t stop there.

Mommy and her Mommy also bought me some brand new saddle pads. Our unanimous favorite is the one with cute little owls on it! Mommy loves owls. I’ve never seen one in real life, but if they’re as cute in real life as they are on the saddle pad, then I definitely want to be their friend.

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In addition to the favorite owl pad, I got a bright blue saddle pad, a bright pink one and one with a black-and-white pattern on it to match the fancy saddle bag that Mommy got before she and I moved out here.

Mommy also got me five different pairs of boots, all of which I love (but some of which I love more than others).

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IMG_1495Those aren’t all of them, but those ones are my favorites. (And, of course, I won’t wear a different boot on each leg while I work, like I do sometimes with colorful polos… I’ll probably only wear matching sets. But you never know!) It just figures that the boots I love the most are the ones Mommy wants to save only for special occasions… like jumping day!

Speaking of jumping day… (…I bet you already know what I’m going to say…)

That’s right, you guessed it: I got to jump on Friday! (And yes, I wore my brand new boots and one of my brand new saddle pads!) But I knew it was jumping day before I was even tacked up… because Mommy gave me marshmallows, my super-special jumping day treat!

After warming up on the flat and then over some small jumps, Mommy and I worked through a line that consisted of three jumps. The first two jumps didn’t have a stride in between (which is called a “bounce”). That means that I land from the first jump and immediately jump the second one. The second to third jump had one single stride in between. So it was a “bounce to a one-stride” line. It was only a little bit tricky, but a lot of fun.

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Every time we jumped through the line successfully, Mommy would raise the jumps up a little higher. Eventually, the last jump was set to three and a half feet, which is the highest I’d jumped since getting to California and getting back into shape. Once that last jump was set at 3’6, it was definitely much more difficult… but nothing that Mommy and I couldn’t handle.

When Mommy had determined that I’d jumped through the line enough times – and praised me profusely for being such a good boy – she decided that I deserved another reward. Mommy knows how much I love to jump really high, so my reward was getting to jump a four-foot-high oxer! 

Mommy moved two of the jumps from the line together to make an oxer and took the last jump out completely. As we cantered around the turn and started our approach to the jump, I could feel Mommy’s heart pounding and realized that she was a little bit nervous! Even though I wasn’t nervous at all, I understood why Mommy was. It had been about a year since we’d jumped anything nearly that big, and Mommy must have been feeling a lot of emotions.

First of all, I know she was nervous just because it’s been so long since she has jumped that big, too, but she was also probably really scared that I’d hurt myself and have to take time off again. I didn’t want her to be nervous that I would refuse the jump or knock it down, in addition to all of the other things she was feeling, so I made sure to canter up to it with confidence. I wanted her to know that I would take care of her, but I also wanted her to know that I was ready for this!

It was a piece of carrot cake. I didn’t even have to try very hard to jump over it!

Mommy told me later that she asked me to go a little too fast on the approach because she was nervous, and she also joked that she was “hiding” in my mane while we were in the air! I assured her that she did a very good job during her first time jumping four feet since last summer… and she assured me of the same thing! She told me about a thousand times how proud of me she was… and, of course, I got more marshmallows afterward as a special treat.

Anyway, I know I sometimes complain about the hard work that I have to do in order to get back into shape (…especially about the exercises from that “101 Jumping Exercises” book that Mommy loves to practice), but I really do have to admit that the hard work is paying off! Mommy said that if I keep working this hard and doing such a great job, she thinks we will be jumping five feet again in a matter of mere months! I know that we can do it. I can hardly wait!

So, I guess that’s about all I have to share with you tonight. Not because there’s not more – there’s always more – but I’ll have to share the rest with you another time. For now, friends, I have to hit the shavings and get some sleep. But I’ll write again very soon, and when I do, I’ll be sure to tell you all about the first trail ride we went on since moving to California! Until then, remember to work hard, listen to your humans and always ask for one more treat (because you just might get it if you ask for it)! I’ll catch y’all later…

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Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Adventures Never End

Friends, I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve written; I can assure you that it has not been for any lack of excitement around here! Actually, there has been more excitement than I’ve known what to do with. I have a lot to tell you and a lot to catch you up on… but first, I have to tell you about what happened the other evening when Mommy came out to give me my dinner grain!

As usual, I watched Mommy drive up and get out of her car. I waited (im)patiently for her to come over and say hello… but, to my surprise, she didn’t! She and Kimberly, Splash’s Mommy, were standing by the fence, staring at the horses in the neighboring ranch. When I saw some movement from the ground of the paddock by the hay feeder, I put my head over the top of my stall to get a better view of what was going on. I saw Mommy climb through the fence and run over there, and that’s when I realized that there was a horse down with his legs stuck in the fence of his pipe corral! He couldn’t get up!

Mommy went to the horse and tried to calm him down so he wouldn’t thrash around and hurt himself, and then she looked him over to make sure he wasn’t seriously hurt. I saw her get up and run all the way to the other end of the neighbor’s property where it looked like there was a little barn or a house, and I could hear her yelling for someone to help.

When she came running back alone, I knew that meant that no one was home over there. Before I could even make the suggestion to her, I heard Mommy say that she was going to go try to find the guys who work at our barn to help get the horse free. She asked Kimberly to go and keep the horse calm so that he didn’t injure himself by thrashing around, and then Mommy hopped back into her car and disappeared quickly out of sight.

When Mommy’s car returned, she was followed by Cassie, one of the guys who works at our ranch, and his brother. They all hopped the fence and ran over to where Kimberly and the horse were. Cassie had a knife and some rope, and I could see that they were going to try to get the horse free, even though the owners of that ranch were nowhere to be found.

Just a minute later, though, a big truck came driving up on that side of the fence and a guy and a lady hopped out. Everyone looked both calm and a little frantic at the same time. I strained my eyes to see farther (and by that, I really mean that I lifted my head – because, as you probably already know, that’s how we horses see things that are far away), and I realized that the horse also had his head caught under the raised hay-feeder!

Although this isn’t a photo of our neighbor’s property, their hay-feeder looked sort of like this:

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…and the horse’s head was caught underneath, with his neck resting on the bar on the bottom. It must have been so uncomfortable for that poor guy!

The first thing the “Rescue Team” did was to put a halter on the horse (Mommy got that part done), and then Mommy held the horse’s head up while two people moved the hay feeder carefully away from the horse’s head. It’s a good thing Cassie brought a knife, too, because the hay feeder was tied to the pipe corral fence with bailing twine, and they had to use the knife to cut it in order to move the feeder. Then, Cassie and his brother wrapped some ropes underneath the armpit of the horse’s front legs and more rope around his back legs, and together, Mommy and the two guys rolled the horse over onto his other side, with the other lady helping to make sure that the horse’s legs got out from under the pipe corral fence while they rolled him over.

Later, when Mommy finally was able to come over to me and give me my dinner grain, she told me that the horse had some big gashes from trying to free himself, but that he was otherwise unharmed. I was relieved to hear that! The only bad part was that the poor guy has COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – and that he was having a hard time breathing. The lady and the guy who work at the other barn were going to give the poor, sweet horse a shower and then clean his wounds and let him get some rest.

As Mommy was telling me all this, we saw the lady leading the horse out of the wash area. The horse was stumbling badly, and then we heard the lady start to yell to her co-worker. I don’t think he could hear her, because he didn’t come running. Mommy, however, did. She ran over and climbed the fence again just in time to see the horse fall down – hard. I saw the lady point up toward the barn at the other end of the property, and Mommy took off in that direction again. I assumed that the lady had asked Mommy to get the guy that she had been yelling for; sure enough, Mommy and that same guy came running back down toward the lady and the fallen horse.

The guy shoved something in the horse’s mouth – which Mommy told me later was a medicated inhaler – and then the horse lifted his head as though he was going to try to get up. He didn’t, though; I could see his sides heaving all the way from my stall. The poor thing had clearly blacked out from lack of oxygen! Once she knew the horse was okay and that she wasn’t needed anymore, Mommy came walking back over to me. She said that those nice people were going to let the horse lay there and catch his breath for as long as he needed to, and then they were going to continue taking care of his wounds. I was glad for the horse that he had people who cared so much about him.

When I didn’t see that horse for a couple days after that, I began to grow worried; but, as it turned out, the people had just been keeping him up in the barn so that he could recover from this traumatic incident. When I saw them walking him back out to his paddock, I wanted to cheer! Instead, I just shoved my nose into Mommy’s pocket and sniffed for carrots or treats.

So, that about sums up that bit of excitement… but there has been plenty more going on aside from that! Let’s see… Where do I even begin?

Well, the last time we spoke, I had just encountered my first rattle snake, right? Yes, I remember now… I was incredibly brave. I think it was Mommy who ran away scared, wasn’t it? Since then, I’ve done lots and lots of things. For instance…

Mommy has been stepping up the intensity of our workouts. She has this horrid little book – ummm, I mean… this awesome little book with A HUNDRED AND ONE exercises to prepare a horse for jumping, and she’s been pulling ideas from it constantly! That’s right. OVER A HUNDRED EXERCISES. And Mommy clearly thinks these exercises are great. Not that I don’t, of course… At least she doesn’t make me do more than one or two different ones each day. One if I have to practice harder before I can get it right, and two if I seem to pick up on one or both fairly quickly.

We did a pattern of circles with some lead changes thrown in…

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And we did cloverleaf patterns with tiny little circles in each direction at the trot and canter…

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And then one day we did some other squiggly pattern with lead changes thrown in…

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And we even did a crazy little circle pattern that took me the entire second half of our workout to perfect. First, we went over two poles on a circle to the inside, and then turned to the outside for a circle… and back over two poles on a circle to the inside… and so on. (If you still don’t understand what the pattern is – don’t worry. Neither did I!)

All of these exercises have been hard work, but I have to admit that they’re actually kind of fun. They really make me think hard about what Mommy is asking me to do, and they force me to pay better attention. Mommy said that she feels I’m behaving much better in general lately – and I guess she thinks it’s because of that!

Anyway, it hasn’t all been work without play… I got to jump a little one-stride line a few weeks ago, and it was pretty fun. We got up to about three feet high on the second jump, which was plenty for me. It’s a lot harder than you would think, going from one jump to the next with only a stride in between!

I also got to meet a bunch of Mommy’s family one weekend. I got to meet some of her second cousins, as well as one of her great-aunts and one of her great-uncles. And they were all pretty great!

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I even got lots of hugs, which was the best part! You know how much I love hugs.

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And a couple days after that, I got to meet Mommy’s brother and sister-in-law!

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Mommy’s sister-in-law is pregnant with a baby human, so – naturally – she wanted to go over and say hello to the baby horse!

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But, of course, she was much more excited to meet me than any of the other horses… because, you know… I’m a celebrity and all that.

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It was truly wonderful getting to meet Mommy’s human family – and not only because they all gave me a ton of treats! I love making new friends, especially when they’re humans who mean so very much to my Mommy.

The week following the excitement of meeting the family, I got to jump again! That time, though, we worked our way up to a vertical that was three and a half feet high! Now, as y’all know, that’s basically child’s play to me… Except for the fact that I’m still not in my top performance shape, so it was actually just a little bit difficult at first. But then it got easier and easier. I begged Mommy to let me jump higher, but she said that 3’6 was plenty high enough for that day.

Aside from all of that excitement, Mommy and I have just been hanging out together…

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…and hanging out with friends…

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Watching romantic sunsets together…

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Goofing around…

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And just enjoying life in general.

That’s about all the excitement that I have to share with you today, friends. I promise I’ll try not to wait so long before I write again! Stay cool, and I’ll catch y’all later!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star, Memories and Nostalgia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Fearless Princess

One of the things that I love the most about California – as I know I’ve mentioned before – is how friendly and outgoing everyone is here, and how easy it is to make friends!

You see, I’ve always been able to make friends with humans pretty easily, being that I’m super lovable and sweet (and handsome and charming) (and modest!). Most of the horses I’ve met have ended up wanting to be my friends, too… except for the ones who had a major chip on their withers (which honestly haven’t been that many). I’ve even made friends with some dogs – like Annie, the dog I became friends with when I lived at my Aunt Joyce’s house in New York.

But all my life, I’ve always wanted to make friends with a kitty. There’s just something about them; they’re so regal and independent. If you win the hard-earned love and friendship of a kitty, you know you’ve done something worthwhile. (Not like winning the friendship of a dog, where all you have to do is glance in their general direction and you’ve won them over. Don’t get me wrong, though; I’m pretty much the same way. I love making friends with dogs – because my friendship is just as easy to win!)

Anyway, I’m sure most of you remember Rocky the Kitty, right? He was a kitty that I became friends with in Tennessee. He was shy and a little nervous at first, but we quickly became buddies. The only bad part about my friendship with Rocky was that he didn’t like to hug or cuddle – and I love to hug and cuddle. 

Then, when I moved out here to California, I became friends with a kitty named Olive and also with her barn-sister, a kitty named Becky. They’re both wonderful and love to hang out with Mommy and me. But I have finally met a kitty who takes the entire carrot-cake. She’s probably my best kitty friend in the whole world, and I’ve barely known her a single day!

Yesterday, while Mommy and I were working, we noticed that we had an audience.

Look, Mommy! There's Princess!

Look, Mommy! There’s Princess!

So, when it was time to take a break, we went over to say hello.

Princess gave me the warmest, friendliest hello of any kitty I’ve ever met before. She gave me a “kitty hug” before I’d even had a chance to introduce myself!

Well, hello there, Princess! It's nice to finally meet you up close!

Well, hello there, Princess! It’s nice to finally meet you up close!

Mommy leaned down to pet Princess and say hello, too, and then Princess did something completely unexpected.

She climbed right up into Mommy’s lap… on my back!

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I stood really still, because I didn’t want to scare her – but I should have known better. Any Princess who is brave enough to climb onto a horse’s back is clearly fearless!

As soon as she hopped up into the saddle, I could feel that weird, happy vibration that humans call “purring.” (I don’t know how those kitties do it, but I sure wish I could purr. There are lots of occasions when I would purr if I could, like when Daddy used to massage my ears… Or when I’m eating my grain!)

Anyway, Princess was apparently so happy to be sitting on my back that she decided to take a nap. That was fine with me, though, because it meant that I could take a longer break and just hang out, eating grass over the wall!

You just sleep as loooong as you want to, Princess!

You just sleep as loooong as you want to, Princess!

Mommy thought it was absolutely hysterical that Princess just jumped up into her lap while she was on my back, but I thought it was really cool. I knew that Princess and I would be best friends forever!

Now THAT is a happy kitty!

Now THAT is a happy kitty!

Eventually, Mommy told Princess that she’d either have to ride double with us while I finished my workout, or that she would have to get back down and watch from the sidelines. After a few more cuddles and a big hug (and head-scratchies from Mommy, which made Princess purr even louder), my newest kitty friend hopped back down onto the wall and wandered off to catch some mice, or sleep in the sunshine, or whatever it is that Princesses do in their free time.

Yep, I think I’m really going to love it here in California… In fact, I already do!

That’s about all I’ve got for you today, friends. I’ll continue to keep you updated on my California adventures; I’m sure there are many more to come. Catch y’all later!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

California Culture

Well, I’ve been living in California for almost three weeks now, and I think it’s about time for me to report on what I’ve learned.

Important Facts About California:

  • This time of year, the nights get chilly (but not quite “Tennessee-cold”) and the days get hot rather quickly.
  • The sun actually does shine as much as “they” say it does, but so far it’s not as humid as Tennessee or Florida… or even New York. (I guess we’ll see what the summer brings!)
  • Psyllium, although I haven’t had any yet, is definitely a necessity here because there is a lot of sand – and Mommy told me that Psyllium will help to clean out the sand from inside my belly.
  • People (and horses and cats) are as warm and friendly as the weather here, which makes it really easy to make friends. I’ve made quite a few friends already; even the horses who were grumpy at first and swore they’d never be my friend have warmed up to me (and some of them even whinny at me when they see me coming!)
  • The Alfalfa hay here in California is like candy, it’s so delicious.
  • Palm trees look neat, but I can’t really form an opinion on them until I’ve had a chance to taste them… which I don’t think will ever happen, because they’re all really tall.

I guess there’s more, but that about sums up what I’ve learned thus far about the culture and the environment. I’ll share more of my findings as I learn more about this amazing state. (After all, I still haven’t gone out on a trail ride yet!)

The Most Important Ingredient

I’ve been getting into a pretty good routine here, but I know it’s probably going to change a few times. For now, though, I get to see Mommy twice a day (every day!) and I’ve already made a few friends, like I mentioned before. The best part is that I’ve made friends with a fairly wide range of species, including horses, cats and humans. And friends are the most important ingredient in the recipe of life… that is, aside from family!

My friends, Splash and Sally

The first friends I made, of course, were Ringo and Chip – but Chip actually moved on to a different barn to become a dressage superstar. From what he told me, he loves dressage and was pretty excited to pursue his passion. I’m happy for him, but I do miss him.

I didn’t get a chance to miss him for long, however, before a new friend moved in. This sweet, older mare named Splash now lives next to me in Chip’s old stall. (She’s the one who told me at first that she didn’t want to be my friend.) When I came over to say hello to her the day she moved in, she pinned her ears and squealed at me like I’d done something wrong. Of course, I’ve gotten that reaction from horses before (though not very often – I’m much too lovable for that), so I wasn’t really phased by it. I simply gave her a minute and then tried another tactic. I very casually told her how my Mommy loves to share my treats with my friends (and there are always lots of treats to be shared), so friendship with me definitely had a couple upsides.

After a moment’s contemplation, Splash said that she’d give me a trial period. But the first time Mommy came through with carrots for everyone, Splash realized that I hadn’t been fibbing – and I think it solidified our new friendship instantly. Now, after I’ve been out of my stall for a while, she even whinnies to me when I come back!

On the other side of Splash is a pretty little gray mare named Sally. I met Sally one day when she was running around in the arena and showing off how beautifully she moves. Mommy wanted to go for a walk, but I was too captivated by Sally; I just wanted to stay and watch her dance! Sally’s human is named Elizabeth. She and her Mommy, Shelley, are two of my other new friends. They’re both very sweet and always say hello when they see me. Shelley is also a trainer at my barn!

Khalid, I think you're my new best friend.

Khalid, I think you’re my new best friend.

Another friend that I’ve made is this older horse named Khalid. He’s not in the Mare Motel where Sally, Splash, Ringo and I live; he’s actually up the hill in one of the pipe corrals. I met him one day while Mommy and I were taking a walk around the property, as we do every so often (for exercise and a change of scenery). When I got to his corral, he came right over to the fence to say hello. I don’t know what it was about him, but he and I made an instant connection! We started grooming on one another and declared each other our new “besties.”

Khalid

Seriously, dude… Do you want me to take that off for you?

Khalid wears a big fly mask that I always want to take off for him. I’ve never actually asked him if he even likes wearing it – I just know that I don’t like to wear my fly mask (it makes my face itchy, even though it keeps the flies off of it), so one day I unfastened the velcro for him. He seemed to think it was pretty funny, and I bet he would have let me take the whole thing off for him… but Mommy told me to stop before I got that far. “Not everyone hates their fly mask the way you do, Icchy,” she said to me as she re-fastened the velcro. “Khalid might actually like having his on. It keeps the flies off of his face – and it’s like wearing sunglasses! You’d be a better friend if you left it on for him!”

I supposed that Mommy had a pretty good point, so the next time I saw Khalid I just shared my carrots with him instead of trying to take off his fly mask. (But that still doesn’t stop me from taking of my own fly mask whenever Mommy puts it on my face!)

Two more human friends I’ve made are Bernie and Lou. They are so nice! They always bring carrots and give everyone some as a special treat. I haven’t really made friends with their horses, Lady and Whisky, but I know I’m going to. Lady is also a retired racehorse – just like me! But she squeals at me when I try to come over to her and say hello, so I don’t want to make her uncomfortable. I know she’ll warm up to me one day soon, and then I’ll be able to make friends with Whisky, as well!

I love you, Aunt Bonnie!

I love you, Aunt Bonnie!

Anyway, I didn’t tell you about my Aunt Bonnie yet, or about her boy, Chief. My Aunt Bonnie is the one who spoils me the most (aside from my Mommy, of course). I love her! She’s always bringing me over treats and little buckets filled with the most delicious hay pellets. I mean, you’d think they’d be boring because they’re just hay made into pellets, right? Wrong! They’re scrumptious and I love eating them! Mommy said that they give me green lipstick, but I don’t mind – especially because Mommy said green lipstick looks good on me. (How could it not? Everything looks good on me!) I try to let my Aunt Bonnie know how much I appreciate her by giving her lots of kisses (without the lipstick). But I think she probably already knows that I love her. After all… she’s my Aunt Bonnie!

Hey, Chief!

And do you know what the best part is? My Aunt Bonnie’s boy, Chief, is another one of my good friends! We met one day when I was walking around with Mommy. We didn’t have to walk very far because Chief lives in the row of pipe corrals right next to the Mare Motel! It was another one of those instant connections; we met and began grooming on each other immediately. Chief is a big sweetheart and has lots of love and patience to go around. Do you know what Chief does? Among many other things, he gives lessons to children with disabilities. He keeps them safe and gives them confidence. He’s basically a superstar! That’s probably why we got along so well to begin with – we’re both superstars! (I know, I know… I’m supposed to try to be more modest… But come on, we all know it’s true!)

Now, I know I’ve told you about my kitty friend, Olive. (She’s the one who came over and hung out with me while I worked and then even stayed to graze with me afterward.) But I’ve made more than just one kitty friend; there are so many cats at this barn who love to be around us horses! That makes me pretty happy. Y’all know how much I love making friends, big and small.

So, aside from Olive, my next best-kitty-friend is Becky. She’s a pretty little Calico cat and she loves to hang out with me, whatever I’m doing. She even comes into my stall and cuddles with me sometimes while Mommy grooms on me. When she’s hanging out with me, I try to stand really still so I don’t accidentally step on her or scare her – but she seems to be very familiar with horses and knows when to get out of the way. She’s so fast! She can jump so high! And, from what I hear, she’s a really good hunter, too. Becky likes to rub her body and her tail against me, and Mommy told me that’s like giving a hug in kitty language. I love hugs; I’ll take all the hugs I can get!

My special little friend, Becky.

My special little friend, Becky.

There are a couple other kitties at the barn who I don’t know that well yet, but they still like to come and hang out with me. Sometimes they even watch me work in the mornings, which is awesome, because – as anyone who knows me knows – I love having an audience. It’s nice when my friends come and watch me work because it gives me a chance to show off a little bit – even when it’s just a group of my kitty friends. Having anyone there, though, gives me confidence and makes me want to work even harder than I already do!

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A lot of the time, on a hot, sunny day, I see the kitties sitting together on the patio of the show barn. They’re all such good friends; it makes me happy to see them enjoying their life. These lucky cats get to roam around the property during the day, making friends and hanging out with humans and horses and each other – and sometimes even catching the mice and rats who like to try to steal our grain. And then, at night, they get to sleep indoors, safe from all of the scary animals who lurk in the darkness at night, just waiting to catch a small kitty for a midnight snack. It’s clear that their humans give them the best of everything… just like my own humans do for me!

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Not All Fun And Games… But Mostly

Now, in case you were starting to think that my life mainly consists of hanging out and making friends… well, I guess that’s actually true. But I do still work very hard on a(n almost) daily basis. As many of you know, it’s my goal to become a “Grand Prix Jumper” someday in the very near future, and that means that I have to practice and get into the best shape of my life! Last year, I had a lot of time off because of a couple misplaced nails in my shoes, and then the winter in Tennessee was cold and rainy and snowy – so I arrived in California with very little muscle and even less stamina, because it had been so long since I’d had a consistent workout schedule. But that all changed the day I arrived in Sunny SoCal. It was time to get into shape and start really working toward my goals! Mommy said that she was out of shape too, though, so we would be able to get into shape together.

Mommy and I have both been working very hard. We don’t work more than 4 or 5 days each week, though – and never 5 days in a row – because Mommy feels that resting after a hard workout is just as important as the workout itself. She doesn’t want me to get degenerative joint disease, which is a real possibility for horses who work as hard as I do! So the days of rest give my muscles and joints a chance to repair themselves, which in turn makes me even stronger. Of course, “a day of rest” doesn’t mean that I just sit in my stall all day, bored and unfulfilled. Sometimes it means I get to go for a long walk around the property with Mommy, saying hello to all of the friends I’ve made.

All my friends

And it usually means that I get turned out in the arena, where I get to run and play and roll and buck as much as I want to! Mommy doesn’t chase me or make me run on my days off; I only run if I want to, but I almost always buck and roll and take some time to act silly!

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My workouts have been getting increasingly more difficult since landing here in California. We started out with light, easy workouts, just aiming to get back into the swing of things. At first, that was plenty; I was out of breath after a twenty minute workout… and so was Mommy. But we’ve been increasing the length and intensity of our workouts as we both get into better shape.

We work out at all different times of the day, too. Most of the time we ride mid-morning, but sometimes Mommy rides in the evening – and sometimes, we get up before the sun even peeks out over the hills of the canyon where we live!

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Because I’ve been working so hard and trying my best to focus and behave every time Mommy and I ride, I got rewarded by getting to jump a little bit! The jump was really small, though, and it made me frustrated because I miss jumping BIG jumps! I mean, I used to jump five feet high, before the “hot nail incidents,” so why can’t I just go back to jumping five feet again right now?!

Well, I found out the answer to that after jumping a little, tiny jump a few times in a row: I was sore! Even though the jump was small, I was using muscles that I hadn’t used in a while. Then I understood why Mommy was torturing me by making me jump something that seemed too small to be worth the effort. She knew I’d be sore the next day, and she wants to make sure that I work my way back up to those big jumps slowly. She even gave me a liniment bath afterward and wrapped my legs in standing wraps, which I was pretty happy about, because it helped keep my legs from “stocking up,” or getting swollen, when I went back to my stall.

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After another week’s worth of flat work, Mommy decided that I deserved another day of fun. So one morning, instead of riding me and doing our normal workout, Mommy turned me out in the arena and let me gallop around. Then, to my surprise, she set up a small jump and let me go over it by myself, without her on my back!

It’s been a long time since I’ve “free jumped,” and it was a lot of fun. Mommy actually ended up putting me on the lunge line, though, because she didn’t want me wasting too much energy by galloping all around the huge arena after each jump; she knew I’d be tired and sore enough just from jumping. I had so much fun! I even got to jump a small oxer! Mommy let me jump as many times as I wanted to, until I was so tired that I could only trot over the jump. I wanted to keep jumping, even at a trot, but Mommy said that it was probably enough for the day.

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Because I had worked so hard and I was so tired after free jumping, Mommy decided that I should walk on the hot-walker. Of course, she let me walk around in the arena first (and roll, because I was itchy and sweaty), but she wanted to make sure that I walked enough, so that I wouldn’t tie up or colic or get really, really sore.

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After walking on the hot-walker for a while, Mommy gave me a liniment bath and wrapped my legs in standing wraps again, too. Then we got to hang out and graze for a while before I went back to my stall and took a long nap! I’m usually pretty exhausted after my workouts, but it’s a good feeling because it means that I’m officially back in the game! 

Today I got two extra special treats. Not only did Mommy’s human parents come to see me, which was really exciting and fun, but they also brought me a scrumptious carrot cake cupcake with delicious cream cheese frosting that Mommy’s sister-in-law made for Easter! At first, I didn’t know what to make of it and I accidentally spat it out. But then I regretted that immediately! Mommy picked it up and took the dirt off of it before giving it back to me, and then I gobbled it up!

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Actually, those weren’t even the only two special treats that I got today. While Mommy and I were working in the lower arena, I was trying to be on my best behavior and show off a little for her parents (because, as I’ve said, I love having an audience). Since I was being such a good boy, Mommy decided that I would get to jump a little bit today, too! That made me very happy, not only because I love jumping, but because it meant I’d have a chance to show off a little bit more for “my audience!” We still only jumped a small jump – but it was still a lot of fun. And since I’d gotten to free jump a few days before, I didn’t feel the need to rush or get silly when I was jumping today! Mommy was very proud of me and I could tell that her human parents were, too!

Jumping!

Everything is Meaningful

Mommy said that the most important thing right now – in regard to jumping, anyway – is that I stay calm and listen to her, instead of getting excited and trying to rush over the jump or take control. She promised me that I’d get to move up to bigger jumps pretty soon, as long as I keep working hard on my flatwork and grid work, and focus on everything she asks me to do.

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She assured me that even the boring exercises have a purpose; if I try my best, even at the exercises that I don’t particularly enjoy, then I’ll be back into shape and ready to start jumping courses again in no time! Then again, I’m sure that “no time” means something different to her than what it means to me… I have to admit, though, I really don’t mind working hard when Mommy and I ride because she gives me lots of love and attention, and she allows me to have a lot of fun, too. I mean, I wouldn’t have been able to make as many friends as I have if she didn’t come to the barn to spend so much time with me and make sure that I’m not bored and lonely. She also promised that we’ll get to go out for a trail ride soon so that I don’t have to be in the arena all of the time. Although, I must say, having three arenas to work in makes the arena work much more interesting!

Anyway, I’m sure there’s more that I could tell you – as always – but I’m about ready to hit the shavings and get some sleep. So I’ll catch y’all later!

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Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Not all jumping days need marshmallows

Although I didn’t actually get any marshmallows yesterday, I did get to jump! And you know what I realized? Not all jumping days need marshmallows. It’s been so long since I’ve gotten to jump; now jumping is a treat for me!

We had a long warm up to start, and Mommy gave me lots of walking breaks. Even though the sky was covered in clouds, it was still pretty warm and humid. We stretched out for a while at the walk and the trot, too, before Mommy asked me to come into a frame. Plus, there was a lot for me to look at – and Mommy knew that I needed to take my time.

There is always a lot to look at these days!

There is always a lot to look at these days!

Even though I’m still in good shape physically – I still have great stamina and cardio and all that – my muscles are out of shape. Important muscles. The muscles I need to hold myself in the correct body frame, the muscles I need to jump… Unfortunately, because I had two months off, I’ll have to spend almost as much time getting back into shape.

You see, when a working horse like me has an injury or a setback, it can be devastating. At least mentally, if not physically. Because when you’ve already lived through it – having to take time off for an injury, that is, and having to come back from it – you know from experience how difficult it is. It’s difficult to stay sane, not being able to work; it’s also tough knowing that coming back from the injury – to where I was before it happened – is going to take about as long as the healing of the injury itself! You have to really try to stay positive, and it’s always a bit of trial and error on the part of my humans, figuring out how to “keep me sound,” or keep me from injuring myself again.

So, my advice to you is not to get hurt! 

Anyway, we had a great workout yesterday. I behaved like a gentleman on the flat.

Warming up at the canter.

Warming up at the canter.

We worked over ground poles for a while, and it was a good thing, too; I was being pretty silly, and I kept jumping over the poles like they were big jumps! So we went over the ground poles again and again and again (and again and again!) until I finally calmed down and cantered over them like a normal horse.

When we were done with the ground poles, Mommy and I worked over a bounce line for a while. She was trying to get me to jump through it with a forward, even pace, but still come back to her and stop afterward.

Working through the bounce!

Working through the bounce!

I got the “going through it at an even, forward pace” part, but I couldn’t contain myself enough to stop immediately after she asked me to on the other side. So, we kept working over it until I got it right.

It was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun! And I have to say, my butt muscles are pretty sore today!

As we were cooling down after our workout, I suddenly noticed that there was a bunch of farm equipment just outside the arena. When I took a good look at it, it was scary!!! So naturally, while Mommy was relaxed (with her feet out of her stirrups and taking a drink), I spooked. I took off at a gallop! Her drink spilled all over the place, and she reined me in. Then – because she’s Mommy – she made me open the gate, walk out of the arena and inspect every single scary thing out there!

Checking out the scary stuff!

Checking out the scary stuff!

We finished cooling out, and then I got a long, cold shower. It felt good since it was so hot out and I had worked so hard. icchyshower

I got to go out into my paddock after that to eat grass for the rest of the day.

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Mommy came back in the evening to wrap my leg and make sure I had a clean stall and plenty of hay, and my best friend, Rocky the Kitty, hung out with me for a while, too.

Chillin' with Rocky.

Chillin’ with Rocky the Kitty.

I got today off, but Mommy still showed up this morning to groom me and turn me out into my paddock. I spent the entire day eating grass, until the bugs started to attack me, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I decided that the best way to let everyone know that I wanted to come in was, well… to gallop! So that’s what I did, and sure enough, it worked. Jenna brought me inside, and I was happy to chill beneath my fan and munch on hay until dinnertime.

Tomorrow, it’s back to work! I can’t wait to see what Mommy has in mind… I have a feeling we’ll be working on ground poles a lot more these days… Oh well, we have to start somewhere!

Catch y’all later!

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Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Work hard, earn the reward…

It’s been a week of hard workouts, and I’ve been doing my best, because I want to get the reward that I was promised.

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Of course, there have been times when I’ve gotten a bit silly, and I couldn’t help but misbehave…

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But I think Mommy understands, because she forgave me. She knows that I just have a hard time containing myself sometimes, especially when poles are involved! And yes, those were supposed to be ground poles…

We even took a long walk after our workout today; I was nervous, walking so far away from all of my friends, but I just paid attention to Mommy and acted as brave as I could.

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And you know, it was pretty nice, after all. It wasn’t even all that scary. Too bad we didn’t have time to stop and graze for a while.

I still get to go into my paddock during the days, though, and I love it. I’ve missed getting to eat grass all day, every day.

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Anyway, if all goes as planned, I’ll be receiving my reward tomorrow during our workout.

Do you have any guesses as to what it might be?

I’ll give you a hint: Mommy said she might just buy me marshmallows…

I bet you know. But if you don’t know, tune in tomorrow and I’ll tell you!

Catch y’all later!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Earning my keep

That’s right, friends: yesterday, Daddy told me that I have to start earning my keep. That means I don’t get any more long vacations (not that staying in my stall is a vacation, but you know what I mean), and I can’t afford to have any more injuries EVER AGAIN. I have to train hard, get in shape, start competing and prove to the world that the underdog can win.

Mommy and I had another great workout today. There was a lot of noise, because some construction is going on near the arena. I was a little tense at first, but Mommy asked me to walk over to where the noises were and take a look for myself. When I saw that it was humans making the noises, I knew it was nothing to worry about.

Hmmm... I'm not so sure about all this racket...

Hmmm… I’m not so sure about all this racket…

After I got a good look at them, I went about my job without many more distractions.

Well, I did get a little excited at one point and take off bucking… but we don’t need to go into details about that.

We worked on some shoulder-in and haunches-in exercises, but Mommy wouldn’t let me do any flying lead changes. I got a little excited and anticipated them (and by that, I mean I tried to run faster and rush into one, when she wasn’t even asking me to), so we didn’t get to do a single one. I just want so badly to be back in shape and doing all the things I was doing before I got hurt. I want to jump again!!

We worked for about twenty minutes, and then we went for a little walk in the grass. There are a lot of improvements happening at the barn, so there’s a lot to look at.

Look at all this grass!

Look at all this grass!

Although we didn’t work for long, the workout was a tough one. Afterward, Mommy gave me a shower and then a liniment bath; I hate liniment, as I’m sure you’ll remember, so I was not happy about that. I danced and pawed in the wash-racks, just to make sure she knew it, too.

But, being the kind and all-knowing Mommy that she is, she took me down to the round pen to let me roll in the sand and itch my tingly body! It felt great! I even met a couple really cool kids who gave me treats and kisses!

I can’t wait to work again tomorrow! I’ll let you know how it goes. But in the meantime, my Mommy drew this cool picture for Daddy, because both of my humans love me so much that they can’t stop thinking about me and how perfect I am, even in the middle of the night when they should be sleeping. (*Ahem…* Mommy, I know you’re reading this… Go to sleep!)

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Yup, that’s me!

And that’s about all I have to say for tonight. Catch y’all later!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Working man, take three (or: Let’s try this again)

Friends, this was quite possibly one of the best days of my life.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t as amazing as the day that I jumped five feet for the first time, but it’s up there.

Why, you ask?

What happened today, you ask?

Today, Mommy and I were officially “back to work!”

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We were supposed to work yesterday, but when Mommy and Daddy got to the barn in the morning, it was pouring down rain. So Mommy and I didn’t get to ride yesterday, but I did get to be silly in the round pen. I was so excited not to be lame anymore that I galloped and bucked and jumped and kicked and squealed! It was fantastic! The only thing better would have been working under saddle, which I got to do today!

And it was GREAT!

We warmed up slowly with lots of walking breaks (and, of course, lots of breaks to go see Daddy, who had a TON of treats in his pockets). Mommy wanted me to take my time and stretch out because it’s been so long since I was under saddle. I was so excited to work, though, that I held myself in a frame without Mommy even asking me to!

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We worked on some lateral movements, like “leg yields,” and I tried my best, even though I was out of practice. It comes back pretty easily, though… some humans say that it’s “just like riding a horse!”

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By the time we were ready to canter, my muscles were loose and warmed up, and I felt like a million BUCKS! Mommy had to half-halt multiple times to slow me down, and I tried my best to listen… but I had SO much energy, that I couldn’t help speeding back up now and then!

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We worked through it, though, and Mommy even let me do a few flying lead changes across the diagonal!

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After a little while, Daddy suggested that Mommy let me stretch out at a hand gallop, and do what we like to call “GO GO.” (That’s where Mommy asks me to collect my canter, and then allows me to move up into a hand gallop, cueing me by saying… yes, you guessed it: “Go, go Icchy!”)

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I could tell Mommy was enjoying herself, because she was laughing out loud. I have to say, though, I was pretty happy as well!

So happy, in fact, that I got a little carried away… and when Mommy asked me to collect again, I sped up and started bucking!

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Mommy had been expecting that, though. When Daddy suggested we “Go go,” Mommy even said to him, “He’s going to get carried away and start bucking! I just know it!” And sure enough, she was right.

Mommy pointed me straight at the fence, and I stopped.

The rest of the ride, we worked on collecting and staying collected, because after that, I only wanted to EXTEND!

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Eventually, we worked it out. I came back to her, we collected and then extended, and all was once again well in the arena.

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So, even though I got a little carried away now and then, we had a great ride overall. Mommy gave me lots of praise… and Daddy gave me lots of treats!

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After Mommy and I were completely finished with our workout, Daddy led me up the hill and untacked me in the round pen. At first, I was nervous that they were going to chase me around and make me work again, but then I remembered that Mommy and Daddy would never do something like that.

When I realized that they put me in there so I could stretch and roll after my first hard workout in almost a month, I was so happy! I was exhausted and sweaty, and there was nothing in the world that sounded better than a good roll in the scratchy sand!

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I stretched and walked around for another fifteen minutes or so, and then Daddy brought me up to the barn for a shower, some fly spray, some more treats and LOTS of hay! It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

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Now that I’ve told y’all about my amazing day… I want to take a moment to give a shout out to my friend Bruce and his Mommy, Marlena, and my friend Troy and his Mommy, Kate. Bruce and Troy are two of my best friends in the whole world, and they’ve been away at a big competition this weekend. I can’t wait to see them again and hear about how well they did!

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Alright, friends. That’s about all I have to say for today. I hope that everyone is having a great weekend. Catch y’all tomorrow!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A long time comin’

Alright, this is just getting ridiculous. The days move by so slowly while I’m living them, but then I look behind me and it’s been more than a week since I’ve written! It feels like so much has happened, even though my life is the most uneventful that it’s ever been.

Needless to say, I’m still lame. And it’s awful. I sit in my stall all day and all night, and I just eat hay and hope that Mommy and/or Daddy comes back again.

Hanging out with Daddy and our friend, Holly.

Hanging out with Daddy and our friend, Holly.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: it’s inhumane to keep a horse in a stall all day and all night, with only an hour or two hour breaks here and there, right? Well, let me just say from experience that my Mommy has a very good point when she says that I need to stay in, instead of going out with my friends, or even going out into a pasture by myself. (Not to mention the fact that the vet specifically said “Stall rest, with hand walking and grazing… and you can let him get the sillies out in the round pen.”)

Don’t get me wrong; Mommy knows as well as anyone does just how important and good it is for a fit, healthy horse to be able to move around and stretch and eat grass and socialize. But she also has experience with her own crazy Thoroughbred (that’s me) being lame and uncontrollable with excess energy!

You see, because the laminae inside my foot is bruised (again), it will actually inhibit healing if I work too much or go too crazy… and especially if I pound my hooves down onto a hard surface. Since I’m only supposed to have a very limited amount of work, and I can’t help misbehaving whenever I get the chance, and I’m not allowed to be turned out until my hoof is healed (but I act stupid when I’m turned out, anyway), Mommy decided that it would be in my best interest to follow the vet’s orders precisely, and force me into “Stall Rest” with “Hand Walking” and “Grazing” and “Getting The Sillies Out In The Round Pen.”

It was actually a pretty smart decision on her part, like I said before. It’s just that I feel like I’m going out of my mind.

When Mommy lets me graze and we walk around searching out the best grass, I get really excited and sometimes pull a little too hard against her to get to my next destination. And then there was the time, a few days ago, when we were grazing, and I “spooked” and took off before anyone had time to catch me!

Woo hoo! Free at last!

Woo hoo! Free at last!

(Would you believe me if I told you that was the second time this week that I escaped? Nah, I didn’t think you would. I guess I’ll save that story for another day.)

My Uncle Jody came out to the barn again this past weekend with his daughter, Skylar. I was so happy to get to visit with them again, but I was sad that I wouldn’t get to have as much fun with Skylar as I did before. Still, Skylar got to sit on my back as Mommy walked me around in the round pen, and then she helped Mommy chase me around for my daily dose of exercise!

Mommy and Skylar!

Mommy and Skylar!

Anyway, even though I get to go into the round pen each day to get out my sillies, sometimes I get carried away and I just gallop. Those are the days that I’m sore and twice as lame the next day. (I was also lame the day after I galloped in the pasture, when Mommy wanted me to graze next to Cav and Isis. Remember that?) But at least I get to stretch and play for a little while every day.

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It really does make me feel much better to get out and stretch my legs. And it’s a good time to look around and see what’s going on that I would be missing if I were still in my stall.

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And the good news is that I’m doing a little better every day. The stall rest is driving me nutso, but it really is helping my foot – and I can see that, so I won’t complain too much. I must admit, though, I do get a little envious when I see my friends going out to work. Today I saw Bruce with his mommy, Marlena, and their friend, Bridgid. They were all heading out to the arena for Bruce’s workout, and I wished so much that I could go with them.

Bruce, Marlena and Bridgid!

Bruce, Marlena and Bridgid!

I’m happy that my friends still get to work, though, because I know it won’t be long until I’m out there working, too. I know I keep saying that, but this time I definitely mean it!

So, I guess that’s all I have to say for now. I promise I won’t abandon you for so long ever again! Just please, friends, keep your hooves crossed for me that I get to go back to work soon and resume my normal life. I haven’t jumped in over two months, and I’m starting to feel an identity crisis coming on. I just don’t think I can take much more of this! I may have to find a Show Jumpers Anonymous meeting to go to, because I’m wondering whether I ever actually jumped at all, or if it was all just in my head…

Anyway, I’ll catch y’all later.

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star, Memories and Nostalgia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life is a Roller Coaster

And you know what? I’m getting kind of tired of this roller coaster. Not that I don’t like it when life moves fast and changes a lot, because I do; life is anything but moving fast these days, and I’m so bored that I think I’m becoming depressed.

I’m not really sure what that means, because I’ve never been depressed before. But I have to stay in my stall all day and all night, and I never get to go out with my friends anymore, and I barely ever get to eat grass, and I can’t work with Mommy or Daddy, and all I can do is walk and walk and walk and I just feel like I’m going crazy!

I’m so lonely, I barely ever get to talk to other horses, except for Zii and William (who are in the stalls on either side of me), or the random friend I see now and then in the cross ties of the barn.

Saying hi to my friend, Rocky the Pony!

Saying hi to my friend, Rocky the Pony!

But wait, it’s been so long, you probably don’t even know what happened yet!

Well, last Thursday, the farrier came out to trim my feet and reset my shoes. I was a really good boy this time. (Okay, Mommy stood in front of me and played “Got your lip” to distract me… and it worked.) But either way, I was on my best behavior and tried really hard not to move or jerk away my legs. The farrier and his assistant took their time, and I was exhausted and cranky by the end of it… but we made it through, and I got to graze for a while as my reward.

Okay, here’s where the bad news comes in… On Friday, I was in a lot of pain again. Now, my front right leg has been swelling again (it may have had something to do with the fact that I went nuts when Mommy and Daddy turned me out last time, and in the morning my leg was really swollen and hot…) and Daddy was convinced that I was just limping because my right leg hurt me still. But Mommy pointed out that my right leg was no longer swollen and hot, and that it didn’t look like the limp was coming from the right leg anyway.

Well, Saturday, my friend Dr. Kara was there checking on Jack Frost, a pony, and she said she would check me out, too. She confirmed what my Mommy already thought – that I was limping on my left front leg, not my right front leg. So, she checked my feet with the hoof testers (deja vu, anyone?) and found that I was really sore on one nail in particular. She pulled out that nail, which definitely helped to make it feel better, but I’m still in pain… and still lame. Or lame again.

It’s terrible, I know. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself… Mommy doesn’t know, either. I wish life didn’t always have to be so hard.

Getting comfort from my Mommy...

Getting comfort from my Mommy…

Anyway, that’s about all I have to say right now. It’s raining today, which means that my limited “outdoor activity” will be even more limited today, and that’s a bummer. But I guess that’s just life.

Someday, I know I’ll be jumping again. And not just jumping, but jumping big. I just have to be patient a little while longer.

Catch y’all later.

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star, Memories and Nostalgia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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