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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Steady

Stinker and I had another lesson this past weekend and I finally feel like things are coming together.  He is slowly figuring out the trot and settling into the bridle and staying rideable.  My position needs to get steadier, but it is a lot easier to fix when he isn't inverting and trying to speed off every time I shift my weight.


He still wants to lock up and zip off on straight lines, but I am slowly getting the tools to catch it earlier and redirect.  I can't get over how good he feels when I use shoulder in/haunches in to prevent him from locking up.  I can really feel him lift his back and use his hind in.  I think that as he continues to build strength the trot work will only get easier.


I also can't believe the progress he has made with the canter.  After the EPM it was four beat and felt terrible.  The better he gets in the trot, the more the canter is just there.  Trainer loves his canter and is so impressed with how adjustable he is.


There is always so much to work on and sometimes I feel like I am not getting anywhere because there is no way we could go ride any test yet.  But the reality is he just needs more time and strength (story of our lives).  The potential is there and slow and steady work will get us there.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Bye Bye Brain

I was going to write about my lesson from last weekend, but it wasn't all that interesting.  Stinker was a little more frazzled than usual and I was struggling a bit, but we did do some canter work.  I have come to the conclusion that I need to get his bodywork lady to work on me again, because my right hip is not coming forward enough even when I am on the ground.


On Sunday I went for another trail ride.  It was just under 11 miles with just over 1600 feet in elevation gain.  I found a spring that I hadn't seen before and Stinker was delighted when I let him munch on some grass.  The last time we climbed that much his butt came up sore, but this time I made sure he took some rest stops and walked part way instead of letting him power his way up.

I was brushing him and he was sure I was murdering him

I love being able to get out on the trails and not think about things.  Stinker is getting really good by him self on the trails.  He is a little harder to manage when Cowboy is along because Cowboy can't walk as fast.


The only almost misadventure we had was on the way home.  I typically follow a jeep path that runs along a creek back and there are frequently people shooting along it.  With the smaller guns it isn't a big deal.  He puffs up a bit and gets a little nervous, but doesn't really do much else.  I heard shooting but it wasn't anything big so I wasn't too worried about it.  We passed that group just fine and I thought I was good to go.

The end is near

Then all of a sudden there was a loud BOOM BOOM BOOM from in the willows.  I am not sure who jumped more, me or Stinker.  Luckily we both jumped in the same direction, but he tucked his butt and was ready to leave the country.  I yelled out rider in hopes that he didn't have ear protection on and would actually stop shooting, because while Stinker hadn't bolted yet, I think one more boom would have tipped him over the edge.


Luckily the guy heard me and he was very apologetic.  I was very happy and assured him I wasn't upset.  It wasn't like either one of us could see the other and he was super nice and immediately stopped.  It took me awhile to get Stinker's brain back in his head, but eventually it came back and he started walking calmly again.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Flashbacks: Learning To Ride

I had a very unique childhood because I grew up on a ranch.  I didn't learn to ride through lessons.  I learned to ride by getting tossed up on a horse and getting told to stay in the middle.  In fact I can't remember not riding and I only vaguely remember when I wasn't riding my own horse.

My mom has worn her hair the same way my entire life

My mom was riding right up until I was born and after I was born she frequently packed me around with in a backpack.  Once I was too big for that I started riding in front of her or dad depending on who was riding the steadier horse #safetythird.  Eventually I graduated to lead line, and occasionally they would have to drop the rope go chase cows and then come back for my sister and me.

I am the wee little midget on the front of the paint

After I got big enough that I could be trusted to follow along behind the halter rope got tied to the saddle (just in case) and we were always left at the back of the herd to push the cows along, while mom and dad worked the front and middle.

I wore that floppy old hat so much

The country we were in was rough to say the least, I am quite certain as an adult I would not be brave enough to tackle some of the trails that were used to drive the cows up to the national forest.  We also had to drive the cows up a two lane highway each spring and fall.  At the time I was too young to understand those added dangers, but I do remember my mom being very upset about some near misses.

Riders had to be scattered throughout to keep the cows moving steadily 
so there weren't any build ups that could cause cows to be pushed off the trail

We also did 4-H and the one year my sister was trying to date a guy and she discovered that if she showed horses she could see him weekly instead of once a month.  So she begged and begged and begged to show horses.  I wasn't interested in it, but my mom insisted that if my sister was going to do it I had to do it too.  I am sure my mom knew that my sister wasn't interested in horses and was determined not to haul the daughter with minimal interest in horses around and leave the one that actually liked horses at home.

I guess I always was all about the matching.

So in middle school (oh the ever awkward years) I started having my first pseudo lessons.  Really the guy didn't have much to say besides slower, because I was a bit of a speed demon.  My first serious lessons didn't happen until much later as in about six years ago.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Prince And The Liners

I’m sure anyone that has read a few posts has picked up on the fact that Stinker is a little quirky and quite sensitive. I think this story might be the icing on the weirdo cake.

All pictures by the lovely SB

It all started a couple of months ago when I bought some liners because tack ho. I don’t wrap very often but I had been wanting to try them and I had a coupon plus hadn’t met the free shipping limit. So in the cart they went.


After they sat around for awhile while I admired how pretty and white they were, I finally got around to testing them out. After much doubt and fussing I got them wrapped and was admiring how pretty they were. Stinker immediately started trying to bite at them. So off they came. I decided I didn’t wrap them correctly so back in the bag they went.


When SB came to visit I was like “heyyyyyy wanna wrap my horse for my lesson so we can be all cute and matchy?” She kindly agreed but wanted a practice run. So I dug out the liners and a set of white polo wraps and she poked fun at how tiny his legs are. The end result looked great and I was super excited for the pictures.


The ride was less than great. He felt like he was scooting through my aids and was ducking the contact. After working him through things without any change I asked her to take off the hind wraps. He was slightly better but still not great and she said it looked like he was trying to bite the front wraps. So we pulled those off too.


After they came off he was a totally different horse. SB was shocked at the difference and I was crushed because I had to come to terms with the fact that he hates liners.
SaveSave

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hiking and Trail Ride

When SB came down, I drug her on a trail ride.  You know you have a great friend when they let you toss them on a strange horse and drag you out into the hills.  I even got her to trot and canter a little and everyone behaved.  We kept it pretty light and easy, but it was a fun day with lots of pictures.




This past weekend, I decided to drag my mom on a hike.  I have an obsession with waterfalls and think they are basically the best thing ever.  So I found a trail that went to a waterfall and off we went.  We even brought Socks (her dog), who is a total creeper and almost as unphotogenic as I am.


It was a short loop (about a mile), but I realized I am not in as terrible shape as I thought.  I have been having a lot of issues with my asthma lately (breathing seems to be optional) and I wanted to keep it short so I didn't die.  But I was totally fine.



SaveSave