Sunday, May 24, 2015


The little Stinker has been off since Thursday.  I am not sure if it is because he got his feet trimmed on Wednesday or if there is something else going on.  Awhile back he put his hind legs through a fence (electric tape) and scraped up them pretty bad.  I didn't think that it was bad enough to warrant calling the vet out.  They didn't need stitches and I figured I could do the first aid and keep them from getting infected.  One of them has some scars and it is the one he is off on so I have been questioning if there is a lingering issue.  In all honesty I don't think there is one but I am neurotic, so the vet is going to check him out this week.

Stinker says "LET ME OUT ALREADY!!!"

In the mean time I scribed for a show today.  It is a lot of work and makes for a very long day, but it is very interesting.  I highly recommend scribing if you get the chance.  I have now scribed for three different judges and it is very interesting to see all of their approaches and pet peeves.  All of them are excellent judges and are very consistent in their scorings.  One of the judges is very generous with  her scores and all of the judges at the barn love her.  The other two are much more stringent and aren't as well liked.

Each of them seem to have a theme in their comments.  One absolutely hates to see a horse behind the vertical or low in the poll.  She is extremely harsh in the scoring, which is really good.  But dang Stinker and I have some serious work if I am going to ever ride in front of her.  I am pretending like I have a horse that can walk (and yes I am in some serious denial right now).  I have tossed away all contact and he has stayed behind the vertical.  It is a two fold problem right now.  One he is super tense and two he doesn't always accept the leg which is necessary to get him reaching.  But we are working on those things and we will get there.  The second judge is big on bend.  Everything is more inside leg to outside rein.  Which is a totally standard comment but it never occurred to me that it was such a problem until I wrote it on every test for eight hours straight.  The third judge loves relaxation and a large majority of her comments are geared towards getting the horses to relax.

All of the judges are correct, but it is interesting to see what different judges tend to pick as the leading theme in the test.  The funniest thing is hearing the girls talk they sound like the judges love to pick them apart, but in reality it is the opposite.  All of the judges are hoping for an excellent test and practically beg to be able to give higher scores.  It is interesting to be on the other side of the clipboard.

Also, if the judge takes you to task at a schooling show for being late PLEASE PLEASE  PLEASE don't go 15 feet away and start telling people that the judge is a total bitch.  True story, I honestly admire that judge because she just laughed.  Also, when the lady came back into the ring for another test, the judge was not any harsher to her than any other person.  I am not sure I could have been that nice about things.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Two Good Rides

The little Stinker has been a good boy lately.  S rode him Friday and he was so so.  He wasn't bad but wasn't good either.  He got Saturday off, because we had two horses colic and they had to be taken to a University.  I went along for the ride and didn't sleep for 30+ hours and was totally nonfunctional Saturday evening when we got back.  Both horses are home now and everything is fine.

Sunday I was too sore to really ride so I got the bright idea of taking him on a trail ride with two other girls.  He was good for the first half and then he flipped the switch and the prancer came out.  We were in the woods, so there wasn't really any room to send him forward on a circle.  So once we got him back into the open I tried to fix the switch but it was too late.  He was drenched in sweat from his mental panic.  I got off and walked him for a bit, then got back on him.  He calmed down for a bit, but then went back to prancing.  We were getting close to the barn and I will be darned if I let my horse prance all the way back to the barn.  He can walk his fancy butt there.  So I broke off from the two girls and we had a come to Jesus moment.  I finally got through his mental block and he walked nicely on a loose rein.  He got told he was a good boy, I got off, and ended the nice easy trail ride.

Monday was our first good ride.  I rode him in an arena right behind the barn.  I haven't ridden him in there before and S was giving a lesson in there, so I wasn't sure how it was going to go.  He got a little sticky in the beginning.  This is where he wants to prance in place or lunge forward with his legs going as quickly as possible.  When I try to slow his legs, he shortens his steps, when I try to lengthen his steps he speeds up the tempo.  The best thing I have figured out to fix this is to put him on a tight circle, put my leg on, and hope I don't get dizzy and fall off.  This isn't the most dressagey way to fix things, but it works for now.  He quickly worked out of the stickiness.  And we had bend both direction, which is a huge accomplishment for him.  But best of all we had a lifted back!!!!!!!

When Stinker lifts his back it is amazing!  His trot is springy and floaty and all the wonderful dressage things you can possibly want.  It is the most addicting feeling ever.  It was just for a few steps at a time, but it happened both ways.  He was stretching for the contact and it felt fantastic.

Today I had a lesson with S.  I decided not to lunge him and to just get on and see what happened.  It started off pretty rough.  There was a lot of tension and wanting to canter.  He actually left the ring, which was a first.  I informed him that was not ok which increased the tension.  BUT we managed to work out of it.  And he was willing to bend both ways and was stretching for the contact.  It was not consistent, but we are working on baby steps.  At this point I will take what I can get and I am so proud of my little Stinker.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I Jump!!

Well, Charlie jumped and I stayed on.  It wasn't anything big (he could have trotted over it if he wanted), but it was my first time jumping something in a jump saddle.  I used to jump everything that my horse would in a Western saddle.  I also accidentally jumped in a dressage saddle before I got Stinker.  Hazard of riding an ex-jumper in the stadium ring to do a dressage lesson.  Anyway, I learned several things today.

1)  I am horribly out of shape.  Seriously one circle in two point while trotting and I was huffing and puffing.  I guess I need to add in more two point and either running or swimming.  I much prefer to get my exercise riding Stinker.

2)  Two point in canter is a hell of a lot easier than at the trot.  Everything is much more balanced and I don't flop as much.  Charlie is a saint and doesn't seem to mind when I start flopping around.  I think it helps that he loves to jump.  I am pretty sure he would do anything to jump.

3)  Charlie loves the long spot and I have no concept of timing.  If I wasn't precise with my aids and left things up to him he would launch himself from the looooong spot.  Sadly this resulted in me not releasing in time.  Poor Charlie.

4)  While jumping is fun I don't find it as interesting as dressage.  This may change, but I think there is a dressage queen hiding out somewhere.  And by dressage queen I mean a totally redneck dressage queen.  I love dressage and quite frankly the thought of big jumps terrifies me.  I might be a horrible eventer but I am game for trying.

Now I leave you with a terrible picture of Stinker.  It is quite difficult to get a picture of him when all he wants to do is lick you.  How do you end up with a horse that licks??? It is so weird, but he is my little weirdo.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Oh Baby

I absolutely love my baby horse, but he tries my patience.  I keep telling myself we are making progress and moving forward in the right direction, but it is hard to see on the day to day basis.

This weekend he was fantastic.  I rode him in the dark on Saturday and he was a champ.  He got a little spooky when the idiot brigade (aka teenage boys) were honking their car horns.   I rode him Sunday with some horses that he had never seen before.  They were schooling at the farm.  He was good.  Only one real freakout moment where he almost bolted into the trainer's horse.  She was very nice about it and I was very ashamed.  But overall it was a good weekend for riding.

This morning that was not the case.  He likes to brace through his left shoulder and contract his right side.  Usually if I make sure he starts out correctly it carries over through the ride and he just needs a reminder here and there to give that shoulder.  Nope it was popped out like a chicken wing.  If I tried to move him off of it, he would swing his haunches and try to spin on his front.  Needless to say any leg pressure on that side resulted in bulging of the shoulder and attempts to run into the pressure.  I can handle these physical shenanigans, but on top of them I am dealing with a lot of mental games.

I don't know what was done to him in the past.  The lady I got him from doesn't know his early history, but I think he had someone ride him when he was super young before she got him.  If I accidentally push him too hard he turns off mentally and just wants to go.  Thank god he doesn't try to buck because he is athletic enough he could easily dump me.  I am really struggling with the mental roadblocks.  I am hoping time and consistency will work them out.  Until then I need to remember not to pick big fights.  Little ones are ok because we can work out of them.  If the correction is doesn't happen quickly I need to move on and then come back to it.  I think if I can remember to do this in the moment we will make more progress than if I force the issue.

Oh baby horse problems....

Friday, May 8, 2015

Baby Struggles

It has been one of those weeks.  I worked too many hours and don't feel like I got anything accomplished.  When I get stressed I start doubting everything.  I was halfway convinced that I am ruining the little Stinker.  We were looking more like a saddle seat pair than a dressage pair.  Not what I am aiming for.  Luckily I have a fantastic support system in S and D.

(He decided legs touching him were bad...)

I made S get on him for my lesson on Wednesday.  He was the same with her as he was with me.  Although I wasn't impressed with his antics it did make me feel better that it wasn't just me.  It was a confidence booster that I needed.  I sent D the video and she gave us some tips to get the little turkey out of his head and back to where he was focusing.

I haven't ridden him yet, but S rode him today.  She said that he was super ADD when she was lunging him and she thought it was going to be another rough ride.  When he got stuck (like in the video) she would take his nose toward her knee and send him forward.  This way he can't bolt but it gets him out of the prance.  She said that he was really good and she got some nice stretchy trot at the end.  I guess I will see how he goes tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

First Jump Lesson

I had my first jump lesson today.  It wasn't on Stinker.  It was on this handsome fellow.

 Please excuse my horrible picture

This is Charlie.  He is the opposite of Stinker in many ways.  First Charlie is giant 17+ hands compared to Stinker at 15.3.  Where Stinker is always forward Charlie can have his lazy moments and he is totally ok with ignoring my leg and me flopping around.  Stinker tends to over react to everything.  A little leg allow me to half pass 40 feet before I will realize nothing is getting me. But back to the point at hand.  Charlie is very different and will help my riding.

Charlie has a very interesting (and sadly probably not that uncommon) story.  He was ridden by Phillip Dutton and Kim Severson and has run up to either Intermediate or Advance, or so I have been told.  He was then sold to a movie producer and eventually ended up with bad feet and very out of shape.  The barn manager was told to go look at him and took the trailer to get him without any idea of what the horse had done.  When he got to the barn he was in rough shape and I wasn't sure they would ever get him sound.  Fast forward six months he is sound, fat, and sometimes quite sassy.

Anyway, today he was a total gentleman.  He let me flop around in my attempts to do two point and didn't take advantage of my lack of balance or finesse.  We worked on two-point (which needs a lot more work) and went over a few ground poles.  I think I am going to try to bum a few rides on horses that aren't spastic to practice (I am only lessoning on Charlie once a week and that won't be enough to build up my strength).  I also really need to work on doing fitness outside of riding, but that isn't as much fun.

The highlight was I finally got to wear my jump vest!!!  I might have fallen off of the oldest horse (that is still being ridden) at the barn last fall.  I bought the vest shortly after that but due to some swapping of the horses I was riding I never had a chance to use it.  I have had it for about 6 months and if I was going to pay $$$$ for it I am going to wear the darn thing.

I leave you with the Stinker looking adorable in purple.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


I struggle with tempo.  I dance like a white boy. Possibly like a middle school white boy.  No rhythm at all.  One thing I am great at is following, which doesn't help me in this case.  A following seat is great in an established rhythm, sadly the only thing we have established is a steady increase in tempo.  The problem is tempo is the basis of everything; dressage, jumping, you name it I can relate it back to tempo.

Now I have a horse that begs to go faster and I get sucked in.  His nimble little legs get going and I start following instead of maintaining the proper rhythm.  Since I suck at controlling my hips I end up getting tense all over trying to slow the tempo.  Pretty soon I realize my shoulders and elbows are locked and I am not following with my hands.  Shockingly, it makes the little Stinker super tense.  When he gets tense his solution is to go faster, which puts in a vicious cycle.

Our last few rides have been ugly at the best.  So, I am going back to ground zero to figure out this tempo thing.  I think I am going to start riding with a metronome.  Hopefully this will give me something to follow and we can break the cycle.