Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Super Trooper

Stinker and I set out on an adventure.  After my misadventure last fall with following the endurance ride I decided I wasn't going to do that loop again (white line on the map).  But there is a lot of country in that area I haven't covered yet.  So after stalking google maps satellite images and putting together what I knew from both ends of my loop that I had covered I came up with a plan (blue line).

Misadventure vs adventure and yes that one place was quite steep on the misadventure

I honestly wasn't sure how far it was going to be or how big of a climb it would be, but Stinker is in pretty good shape and I could putz along on some of the steeper climbs to give him a breather.  Although he gets very frustrated with my omg can't breathe I'm dying pace.  He will put his head on my back and push.  I really should figure out how to tail him.


It ended up being a really pretty ride and we could see quite a ways in all directions.  Stinker got a little tired on the second climb (the first is cut off the map), but it is a pretty long and steady climb no matter how you slice it.  Essentially all of the climbing is in the beginning and it was about 2,300 feet.


It took us about 4 hours to go just over 15 miles (mostly because I am too much of a chicken to let him trot).  I keep telling myself that we can start adding in some trotting, but the paranoia is still too strong.  I try to remind myself that he is a healthy horse now, but I still treat him with kid gloves and I am really over protective about his legs and the wear they get.


There was lots of sign of the wild horses, but none of it was fresh so I think they hang in the area a lot in the spring time, but as the water sources dry up they drift into other areas.  I am still pretty leery and prefer not to get up close and personal with them.


By the time we got home I was very much omg so hot and tired.  Stinker was not the least bit tired.  He got hosed off and then I turned him loose.  He immediately rolled, tanked up on water, and then started chasing Cowboy around.  After he got bored with Cowboy, he dug into the hay and looked quite happy.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Logic or Emotion

I had two very good lessons (all the media is from one of them) and then I had a very rough lesson.  Logically, I know Stinker is a very tough ride.  I have watched trainer get on him and have similar issues (she is much better at correcting them more quickly, but the problems don't magically disappear).  Emotionally the lesson left me feeling totally incompetent.


After the fact I realized it was essentially all a physical issue on my part, which didn't really help with my emotional butt kicking.  His back used to curve to the right, so his hips were always trailing to the right.  My tendency is to collapse my right side and I really sink my right seat bone into him.  Which was magnified when I was trying to correct the haunches.  Now that he is straight, I can't break myself of the habit.


Sometimes I do better than others, but when I sit too much at work (especially when I am doing technical things that require full focus) I start sitting heavier on the right seat bone and it spirals from there.  Poor Stinker was suffering from me telling him to move his hind to the right while shoving it to the left with my seat bone.  He did not appreciate my mixed signals and got quite frazzled (I don't blame him because I get quite frazzled when I get opposite instructions).


I got a lot of inverting and flailing as my poor horse tried to tell me he wasn't capable of doing what I was asking.  If I get my butt out of his back and give him room to work he is totally capable.  But he is not the time to ignore one signal in favor of another one, he tries to do any and all plus some extras most of the time.


After much struggle we finally got some semi ok work and let him end.  After we talked a bit I suggested that the next time trainer gets on him, since she is crooked in the opposite direction going to the right is much easier for her.

On Tuesday I schooled at home and really focused on getting my right hip lifted and coming forward and the work felt really really good.  Hopefully I am able to recreate that feeling this weekend and find out if it looks as good as it felt.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Progress In Pictures

In all of these pictures he is standing on level ground and I tried to take them from a similar angle.  Keep in mind my pictures are not the best because I don't have a lot of patience for taking pictures and someone *ahem* Stinker lacks patience at standing still and reasonably square.

May 2015: I knew something was wrong but didn't get a diagnosis/treatment plan for almost another month.  I stopped taking pictures after this point because it was not rock bottom and he continued to look like shit.

July 2016:  We had been on the walk program since the beginning of the year and he was starting to settle down a bit.

September 2017:  He was really settling in after the move and had started gaining weight with all the hay he wanted.  We had been taking lessons with trainer for about two months.

July 2018:  We've been here for a year and I had three separate people on different occasions tell me he wasn't as dropped in his pasterns.  I didn't believe it really until I put these photos together.

I am totally amazed at how much he has changed and recovered.  I still feel like there is a long ways to go, because he would prefer to prance around like a giraffe (side effect of having your neck and withers tie in mid back?).  But it is nice to be able to remind myself that yes we have made a ton of progress even if it feels like we are light years behind the curve (maybe because we started way way way back there).

Friday, July 6, 2018

Quiet 4th of July

I decided earlier in the week that I was going on a trail ride on the 4th. Poor Stinker wasn’t nearly as excited as me. In fact my excitement made him quite skeptical. But I gleefully strapped on my camelback and tacked him up. He was pretty reluctant and tense to start but after a couple of miles he settled into his normal stride.


I have been wanting to try a new road but I wasn’t sure how long my adventure would take me so I had been hesitant to try it when I had a deadline. Once we were four miles in we hit a long steady climb and he was huffing so I started walking. Pretty soon I was huffing and he was trying to hustle me along. But I made it to the top.


I double checked google maps satellite to make sure I was on the correct road (there were four options to take and two were in the direction I knew I wanted to go) and off we went. After a ways we popped around a corner and there was a water control pond and storage tank. I was quite surprised by that but the biggest surprise was a little further on.


The wind had picked up because I was on top of the hills but I periodically thought I could hear faint livestock calling. Sure enough once I got around to the other side there was a massive herd of sheep. They were mostly past but I waited for about 10 minutes for all the stragglers to get caught up. I needed to cross their path and I wasn’t going to be the asshole that scattered sheep by trying to ride through them.


Poor Stinker was convinced that he was going to be murdered by them. Granted they were making a lot of noise and kept popping out from behind bushes. I mostly laughed and teased him that he was going to suffer from a death by lambs. I kept thinking that I would see a herder or dogs or something but I never saw anyone/anything with them. Eventually we got a break and I cut across.


After that he realized that he was headed home and got super excited. I tried a new way to get down off the hill but it was pretty rough and I don’t think we will take it again. We did a little over 10 miles and he wasn’t even tired. In fact he was so excited about going home that he earned a few minutes in the ring. He gave me some very nice trot work and the canter was excellent. The trail ride had taken the edge off enough he wasn’t pulling as much as usual and I was able to maintain a softer contact and steadier rhythm.


When I hosed him off I discovered that both hind shoes were loose. Thankfully my farrier said he would come out this morning. Hopefully they will still be on since we can actually hear fireworks. The county I’m in doesn’t allow them but unfortunately the sound is carrying over from the next county and it sounds like a professional show.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Vacation and Staycation

It has been forever since I have taken a true vacation.  What time I was able to get off work last year was basically all directly related to moving myself or my parents which is decidedly un-vacation like.  Before that I typically used my time to visit family and with my dad's health it wasn't exactly a relaxing vacation.

Breakfast on the deck

But this year my mom and I went on a real vacation.  She has a long time friend that lives up by Flathead Lake in Montana which is really close to Glacier National Park and Rebecca Farms (for all of you eventers).  Sadly we were there during the week and there was nothing going on at Rebecca Farms.

Somewhere before St. Mary's Lake

Originally, my plan was to hike from Logan Pass (at the top of the going to the sun road) because my mom is obsessed with mountain goats, but we didn't get up early enough to get parking up there.  Plus by the time we made it up there in our borrowed behemoth vehicle I was kind over going to the sun.  The road is narrow and the drop offs are steep steep steep.  I have been over some narrow winding steep roads, but this one beat them all.  The views are stunning and well worth it, but I don't suggest doubling your vehicle size for the trip.

Starting up the going to the sun road

Once that plan was shot, I decided to try and find a place to park along St. Mary's Lake and hike from there.  We were lucky enough to secure a spot at Sun Point and hiked along the lake to the falls.  It was only a little further to Virginia Falls so we decided to go there too.  The trail was packed and there had been a fire in the last couple of years (actually allowed for more viewing).

St. Mary's Falls

The next day, we were too late to park at our original plan (my mom really really really wanted to see Quartz Lake because she loves rocks I think?).  I am really not sure at the reasoning behind it, but I aim to please.  We headed down another road that had several trails coming off of it and didn't look like much traffic had been down it.  Eventually we settled on the Logging Lake trail.

St. Mary's Lake and a shuttle boat dock

There was basically no one on it, which was a nice change but I was also quite nervous about bears.  We did see some sign that horses had been up the trail not too long before us.  The mosquitoes were so so so terrible and my hands (the only part showing) had tons of bites.  Sadly, there were not the amazing views because the forest was quite dense.  We ended up hiking for about 4.5 miles before we turned around.

There were tons of flowers along the Logging Lake Trail

I actually wore my mom out that day, so our final day we hung around Flathead Lake and actually went out on the boat.  I love boats, but my mom can't really swim and doesn't love being out on the water.  Luckily she is a good sport and after the initial nerves I think she had fun.  I was too big of a baby to actually get in the water and try out any of the toys.

Restaurant on Flathead Lake

After we got back, I did boring things like routine maintenance on my car, laundry, sleeping.  I did squeeze in a lesson and a trail ride.  I did not give my horse a bath or get all of my tan cleaned like I had planned.  I am very glad I went ahead and took the extra time off to recharge from my vacation.

Lake house on Flathead Lake

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Under Pressure

One of the things that continues to amaze me is how well Stinker responds every time I ask him to step up to the plate and try something new.  In my last lesson trainer said, "Turn down centerline and ride a half pass to the left."  To which I said, "uhhh what?"

All the pictures courtesy of Aimee

I hadn't ever ridden a half pass nor have I ever studied/read much about them because in my mind that was one of the mythical movements I didn't have to worry about yet.  Apparently I need to start worrying about more things.  So after trainer explained to me how I should ride the half pass, off we went.

I bumbled my way through things and Stinker kept saying, "Do you want this? No? How about this?"  We finally stumbled onto the right combination and got a few strides of half pass.  I am sure it was far from ok, but the feeling was there.


And my favorite part was he never said "No."  This is from the horse that had strong opinions about legs touching his sides, and if I could bring my leg back, swapping from tall boots to half chaps caused a meltdown.  I used to think of him as pressure adverse, because we could not have a conversation about what I wanted.  Any sort of correction resulted in OMG CAN'T.

What we really had was a lack of communication.  I am pretty sure in the past he had been beaten for giving the wrong answer, so basically anything resulted in blind panic.  Slowly I was able to work through the blind panic and start to have a conversation.  As he realized that nothing was going to happen (seriously I used to get off and sit on XC jumps and read on my phone until he calmed down and then I would get back on and carry on) he became more accepting to pressure.


I used to be absolutely militant about how much pressure I would put on him.  The majority of our rides were spent walking and asking him to stretch.  Twice a week I would ride in the ring and at least one would be only at the walk.  I didn't want him to associate the ring with pressure.  Now I am able to judge things based on how he is feeling.  We still do rides in the ring just at the walk, but I am not worried that trotting two rides in a row are going to make him anxious.

I started rehabbing him from EPM just under three years ago, but I am quite proud of the horse he has become.  While he still has his quirks and he is not going to be a horse for just anyone he has turned into a very fun horse.  Physically and mentally he is not the same guy I had three years ago.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Weirdo Wednesday

Sometimes I wonder if my horse just likes to screw with me.  He is so sensitive about somethings (liners I am looking at you) and other things he totally ignores.


I cleaned my bridle late Friday night before my lesson, I had a great lesson and then on Sunday I went for a trail ride.  I quickly noticed that the anatomical crown was on backwards.


While I bitched about being an idiot for not putting my bridle back together correctly, Stinker did not care in the least.  It seems to me that the cut would be quite annoying when it was put together incorrectly.


So the moral of this story is I am an idiot and my horse just doesn't want to look pretty in liners.