A Moment of “Oh No” Turned Around

I decided to start taking horseback riding lessons.  Last Saturday the girls had a make up lesson so I was able to get back into the saddle after 9 months of not riding.  I had forgotten some of the saddling details, but felt more comfortable in the saddle than I had previously.

Monday was a regular lesson day for the girls and because hubby happened to be home that day, I was able to ride with them again.  Two lessons within 3 days!

When I first started riding I thought all I would need to do was give the horse a little kick , say giddy-up and off we’d go.  Pull the reins right, the horse goes right.  Pull the reins left, the horse goes left.

Those of you who have ridden are probably chuckling about now 🙂

It’s much more of a work-out than a little kick and a pull of the reins.  My legs need to do a lot of work guiding the horse.  My core works hard keeping me balanced and in the saddle.  If I’m not using my core appropriately, I will end up out of the saddle and laying on the ground.  The reins are used, but not nearly as much as I originally thought.

My first day back in the saddle was spent getting used to riding again.  My second day I was able to do a lot of trotting, which I really do enjoy.  Trotting requires more of the legs and core though, so by the end of the lesson I was feeling it.

The next day I was in physical therapy.  I have arthritis in my knees and am trying to do everything I can do to get some improvement in my knees.  My PT session requires more and more leg work and during this week’s session, I could really feel it in my back as well.  I knew I would feel it even more within the next couple of days and yesterday morning I woke up feeling it in my back.

I got up and started my day as usual and while bending over to pull clothes out of the dryer, I felt something pop in my back.  It was then that I said, “Oh no”!  I could barely stand up as pain shot across my lower back.

All day yesterday I was in pain.  Sitting down hurt.  Standing up hurt.  Walking hurt.  Laying down hurt.  There wasn’t anything I could do to alleviate the pain.  All I could do was try to find the most comfortable position and go about my day as best I could.

Sleep was minimal at best last night.  Every turn caused pain and I couldn’t find a position that was totally pain-free.

Unfortunately, I could barely get out of bed this morning.  My back was in so much pain that I was on the verge of tears, wondering how I was going to manage getting thru the day with 4 kids.  FS2 was especially concerning as he requires a lot of lifting and carrying throughout the day.

Now let me brag on my girls for a moment.

Knowing that mommy’s back was not good, Naomi came downstairs before I did this morning.  She turned on lights, let the dogs out and cued up Sesame Street for FS2 to watch.

Lili has helped me change diapers, put FS2 in his high chair and has done the majority of the heavy lifting and even did most of the work making lunch today.

Naomi helped serve lunch and cleared off the table after lunch.

They have really stepped in to help and I’m so proud of my little girls.  They are showing me a level of responsibility I wasn’t sure existed yet.

My back problems have caused me to think about the future in some very different ways.  Hubby’s back problems were a primary reason we put homesteading on the back burner  and yesterday I was a bit sad to realize that my back could be the reason homesteading never happens for us.  How can we run a farm of any size if we are down in the back?

But today is a new day and as the day has gone on I’ve become more and more determined to do what I need to do to get my back in better health.  The girls have reminded me that homesteading is a family affair.  It will take all of us working together and I believe we can somehow get there.  My moment of “Oh no” has turned around.  As I sit here in pain, I feel a level of optimism that things will work out in the end.

Until then, we will make plans, enjoy our RV travels and camping.  It will be an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors as we work hard to build strength and stamina that will one day be needed on the homestead.

The physical problems we are dealing with now don’t have to be an obstacle that stands in the way of achieving our future goals.  As long as we have the right attitude, we can take the challenges before us, work hard, and turn these difficult moments in great opportunities.

 

 

 

 

It’s a Family Affair

Well not quite the whole family, but Lili, Naomi and I all went to our horse backing riding lessons today.  Lili has been riding for almost a year, but this was a first for Naomi and me.  Not the first time we’ve been on a horse/pony, but certainly a first lesson.

My lesson was a huge success!!!!  I’ve ridden 4 times in my life.  Two of those times were trail rides at camp and the other two I fell off the horse/pony.  No trail ride today.  I was actually learning to be in charge of the horse and telling her what to do.  I also didn’t fall off, therefore, SUCCESS!!!!

Naomi has been on pony rides at a few places, but it’s just not the same sitting on a pony connected to a metal bar walking in a circle with all the other ponies and riders.  She too was learning how to care for, saddle and ride.  Since I was busy with my lesson, I wasn’t able to watch her do much riding, but was told she did an awesome job.  Most of all, she loved it!!!!

Hubby went along to watch and take some pictures.  Unfortunately, he didn’t get many good photos, but just so you have some proof of us being on horseback, I’ll share what we have and try to get better pictures in the not-too-distant future.

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Naomi brushing Cooper. Cooper is the pony Lili has being riding for the last year and now it’s Naomi’s turn.
Lili and me brushing our horses.  Lili is brushing Shatan and I'm brushing Oprah.
Lili and me brushing our horses. Lili is brushing Shatan and I’m brushing Oprah.
Look, I'm on the horse and not on the ground!!  Yee Haw!!
Look, I’m on the horse and not on the ground!! Yee Haw!!
Lili riding Shatan.  No more pony rides for her.  She is on a horseback.
Lili riding Shatan. No more pony rides for her. She is on horseback.

Sorry I don’t have any pictures of Naomi riding.  They all came out very blurry, but we’ll get more soon.

We had another special treat today.  One of the ewes on the farm gave birth to twins about an hour before we got there.  So after our lesson we were able to go see the momma and babies.  The girls were thrilled to see the lambs so soon after they were born and it led to some great questions like, “Why do they have blood on them?”   ‘What’s that red stuff hanging out of the momma?”  Our trip home included some education on how babies live inside mamma’s and what happens after they are born.  Based on their curiosity and the fact that they were not the least grossed out by what they saw, I’m think both our girls will make fine homesteaders one day.

Weeks Homestead Part 4 – Horses

Lili, my 6-yr-old, started horse back riding classes almost 9 months ago. She loves her class and adores Cooper, the Shetland pony she has primarily ridden since starting.  And when talking about our future homestead, she will occasionally talk about having her own pony.

Riding has been a wonderful thing for her.  She loves learning about ponies and horses.  She has horse toys and is starting to build a nice library of fiction and non-fiction horse books.  

Her interest has allowed me to learn along with her. I’ve sat and observed hours of riding classes and have asked questions which has allowed me to continue discussions about riding between classes.  We’ve spent many evenings reading her horse books and learning about different breeds of horses.  She talks about the Missouri Foxtrotter

She recognizes the Pinto

the Apaloosa

and looks for the Clydesdale on one of the farms we pass on our way to her riding class.

There is also the Saddlebred

and the Arabian

Horses she is learning about more and more all the time.

They are big, beautiful and fascinating animals, but unlike the other animals we have talked about having on our farm, we feel a higher level of knowledge and responsibility is needed before we would even consider bringing horses onto our farm.  Neither hubby or I have that knowledge base and without that knowledge, we don’t want the responsibility that comes with owning horses.  And of course there is also the cost of owning a horse. 

But Lili does love horses.  She has expressed an interest in having her own horse one day.  So while we are far from committed to adding a horse to the farm, we are committed to learning all we can. 

This spring, the riding academy she attends is starting a new class that Lili and I will be attending.  This class provides an opportunity for the student to learn about horse care, horse training, ground work and general horse knowledge such as first aid and judging.  No riding, but some very good education about horses and their care.

This spring, Lili will also be moving off Cooper and on to other horses.   She needs to gain more experience, understanding so she can enhance and improve her riding skills.  She can’t do that riding the same pony/horse all the time. 

While she’s a little sad that she will be moving on, she also very excited because Cooper will most likely have a new student riding him – Naomi.

Yes, Naomi will begin her riding lessons this spring.  She’s been talking about the day she will be able to ride for months now, but she has also a little apprehensive.  She’s been very concerned about which pony or horse she’ll be riding and was recently told by one of the instructors that she’ll likely be riding Cooper, which makes her very happy.  After all, she knows Cooper.

Lili and Naomi will have their class at the same time, but that’s not all.  Another new student will join them in class – Me!  Mommy is going to saddle up and learn to ride!! 

It won’t be my first time on a horse, but will be my first time actually learning to ride.  My first experience was on a pony and lasted all of about 1 minute when the pony promptly ran over to the fence and knocked me off his back.  My second experience lasted a few minutes longer, but I again ended up on the ground.  My other, more pleasant experiences were group trail rides, and there isn’t much learning involved in that.  So this is going to be a very new experience for me, but one I’m very much looking forward to. 

The Weeks’ girls on horseback!!!!  I’m quite sure I’ll have stories to tell, along with some pictures to share from time to time. 

It will be a great way for me to learn, to experience, and to do what I can to make a well-informed decision on whether or not our homestead will one day include horses. 

Until then, I hope to stay in the saddle this time around, creating wonderful memories with my girls.  

 

 

First Horse Show

Lili has been horseback riding for about 5 months now and today she participated in her first horse show.

For those who are not familiar with a horse show (because I didn’t know what it was), this is an opportunity for riders to participate in different events in front of a judge.  The horse show world can apparently be quite cut-throat, however, this event was held for the students and was intended to do nothing more than allow them to experience a day of fun and learning.

The weather was a little iffy at first, but all the participants were inside preparing for the first event which was Paint Your Pony, so no need to be concerned yet.

Lili getting her pony, Cooper, decorated with paint.
Lili getting her pony, Cooper, decorated with paint.
Still working hard.  She wanted him to be very colorful.
Still working hard. She wanted him to be very colorful.
She was done painting and had him saddled and ready to ride out to be judged on Paint Your Pony.
She was done painting and had him saddled and ready to ride out to be judged on Paint Your Pony.

 

The rain cleared out and it was time to head outside for all participants to be judged on Paint Your Pony.

Lined up and waiting for the judges decision.
Lined up and waiting for the judge’s decision.
Lili was #95 and patiently waiting with Cooper to here the results of Paint Your Pony.
Lili was #95 and patiently waiting with Cooper to hear the results of Paint Your Pony.
Lili and Cooper on their way back to the barn with her 3rd place ribbon and a package of finger paints.  She was thrilled!!
Lili and Cooper on their way back to the barn with her 3rd place ribbon and a package of finger paints. She was thrilled!!

Her next event was Beginner Walk Trot.  During this event, the judge would give the rider instructions to walk, trot, reverse or halt.  They were judged on their posture as well as their ability to control their horse.

Walk Trot event - Lili and Cooper
Walk Trot event – Lili and Cooper
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Cooper was calm in this picture, but shortly afterward got spooked by something and actually bucked a bit. Lili kept control and kept riding. I’m so proud!
She turned Cooper nicely and headed back the other direction.
She turned Cooper nicely and headed back the other direction.

She walked away with 3rd place in this event as well.

Her next event was Leading Trail.  In this event, she had to lead Cooper thru an obstacle course, both walking and trotting.  There were 6 riders in this event.

Because I was helping Lili get ready for each event, I wasn’t able to take any pictures.  No one else in our group took pictures either, so no photos – bummer.  However, she did very well and placed second.  Woo Hoo!!  Go Lili!!!!

Now, on to her next event – Barrels Walk Trot.

In this event she needed to have Cooper either walk or trot to each of three barrels, in a specific order, going around each barrel in a specific direction and then trot back to the finish line.  This is a timed event and Cooper is not the fastest pony.  In addition, he was obsessed with stopping and eating grass today.  As a result, one of the trainers had to hold the lead rope to make sure he didn’t stop to eat.  The trainer was doing nothing more than holding the rope in case Cooper decided to stop to eat, so Lili had to do the work and did a really nice job taking 6th place out of 8 participants.

Barrels Walk Trot event
Barrel #1 right hand turn
Barrel #2 left hand turn (I should mention that our niece Maya took over photography duties and got creative with this shot.
Barrel #2 left hand turn (I should mention that our niece Maya took over photography duties and got creative with this shot.  It’s a good picture!
Barrel #3 left-hand turn and now it was time to head back.
Barrel #3 left-hand turn and now it was time to head back.
Trotting toward the finish line.
Trotting toward the finish line.
And now crossing the finish line.  Good job Lili and Cooper!
And now crossing the finish line. Good job Lili and Cooper!

Next event – Flag Race Open

There were 11 participants in this event.  It was another timed event requiring the rider to ride around the ring taking the flag on one side and placing it in a sand bucket on the other side of the ring.

Approaching the flag.  Steady!!
Approaching the flag. Steady!!
And she got it!
And she got it!
Heading around the ring with the flag.
Heading around the ring with the flag and to the sand bucket.
She placed it in the bucket perfectly!!!
She placed it in the bucket perfectly!!!
And over the finish line!!
And over the finish line!!

Of the 11 participants, only 6 qualified and Lili got 6th place!!!!  Awesome job!

Now onto the Poles Open event where riders must make their way to the end of a line of poles then ride their horse back weaving thru the poles one direction, then back the other direction, then trotting back to the finish line.  There were 10 participants in this event.

Getting ready for Poles Open.
Getting ready for Poles Open.
Riding Cooper down to the end of the poles.
Riding Cooper down to the end of the poles.
Almost to the last pole.
Almost to the last pole.
Now time to weave.
Now time to weave.
So far so good.
So far so good.
Still looking good with no poles missed, hit or knocked down.
Still looking good with no poles missed, hit or knocked down.
Got thru all the poles and is now trotting back.
Got thru all the poles and is now trotting back.
Almost to the finish line.
Almost to the finish line.
And finished!!!  Awesome!!
And finished!!! Awesome!!

Lili and Cooper – 3rd Place!!!

Her last event of the day was the Ribbon Race.  In this event, she and another rider ride their horses side-by-side while holding a crepe paper ribbon between them.  They ride down the center of the ring, around a barrel and back to the finish line.  The goal is to complete the event as quickly as possible without breaking the ribbon.

They are ready to go!
They are ready to go!
So far things are going well as they head toward the barrel.
So far things are going well as they head toward the barrel.
Ahhh!!  The ribbon broke as they rounded the barrel.
Ahhh!! The ribbon broke as they rounded the barrel.

Still, they finished with a 5th place ribbon.

I would like to point out that of all the kids who participated today, only one other little girl had less experience than Lili.   Most of the kids had been riding at least 1 year with one participant who has been riding for about 12 years.  She was also the youngest participant in the horse show.  I think that’s pretty darn good for a young rider and she is very proud of her accomplishments today.  I’m also one proud mommy as well!!

Good job Lili!!

Lili with her Horse Show awards.
Lili with her Horse Show awards.

Still Here

Sorry for the lack of posts.

Things have been a little busy in the World of Weeks.

I now have one shelf almost full of home-grown produce, canned and stored – tomatoes, salsa, tomato sauce, pickled zucchini, cucumbers, Serranos and jalepenos. I also have about 40 cups of shredded zucchini in my freezer.

Today I’ll be canning more tomatoes and have several more zucchini to freeze.

Other than gardening and preserving, I’m doing more and more with the girls homeschool program. I just ordered more curriculum for both girls, but primarily for Lili. Pre-schoolers don’t really need much in the way of curriculum, but Naomi likes being able to do something similar to big sis. This year I’m introducing geography and history to Lili’s curriculum. We also got a globe, which has already created a lot of excitement. Both girls have loved looking for Guatemala (Lili’s birth country) and Ethiopia (Naomi’s birth country) on the globe. Lili has also enjoyed the discovery of new places on the globe. It’s also giving her more opportunity to exercise her reading skills.

In addition to what we do here at home, Lili is continuing her horseback riding lessons and Naomi has started a gymnastics class. We will also be participating in a homeschool co-op which begins in a couple of weeks.

My organizing and downsizing projects continue, although very slowly.

I’m still here and will eventually get around to creating posts for all the ideas floating around in my head.

How to Keep Naomi Busy

Lili has one hour horseback riding lessons every week and during that hour Naomi needs to be entertained in a quiet way.  So far, she’s been entertained by taking pictures during Lili’s lessons.  Here’s an example of her work.

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She actually managed to get some decent pictures 🙂

While Naomi is happily snapping pictures, Lili is very much enjoying her riding lessons.  Except for the little scare she had during her last lesson when she almost fell off the pony.  She is learning how to ride during a trot and doesn’t quite have it down yet.  The pony was trotting and Lili starting sliding to the side of the saddle.  Despite her fear of the almost fall, she stuck with it and is counting down the days until her next lesson.