Monday, June 29, 2015

Clinic Fun

Let me start off by saying I absolutely love this clinician.  She is superb at being critical, but also keeping things very positive.  For me having a positive feeling is very important.  When I am paying someone for their opinion I appreciate them being honest, but there is a line between tactful critic and straight up rude.  It would have been very easy to be rude about Pongo and I.  I have only ridden him a handful of times and he is very green.  While I am a good enough rider that I can stick with small shenanigans, but I am not a fantastic rider by any means.  The point of all of that is we were rough and I appreciated the clinician keeping things positive.  I have had asshole coaches that were just straight up rude to me and I shut down.  I do what I am told, but the longevity of learning is not there.

Anyway, Pongo and I were very rough.  (I don't have pictures and I am in the process of trying to figure out how to pull clips out of the long video to post).  We looked a lot like drunk sailors staggering across the short diagonal.  The first problem we worked on was getting him to supple and bend.  This was something that I was struggling with in the beginning.  I had tried this technique before, but I wasn't as aggressive and demanding as I needed to be.  In the end I got him to start working over his top line, instead of being braced and barging everywhere.

The second thing we worked on was with the canter.  This horse is WEIRD!  He canters with his head tucked between his knees.  I have ridden enough young horses that I assume when they tuck their head like that I am about to be in for a ride.  He just likes to do it.  Does it in the pasture and under saddle.  So, in an effort to keep him from having time to get tucked and all balled up, I was to canter the short side, bring him back to a trot in the corner, trot across the short diagonal, and then canter going into the corner of the short side.  Wash rinse and repeat.  Sounds simple right?  I thought alright we got this.  Transition up.  Check.  Canter short side.  Check. Transition back to trot.  Check.  Turn and trot across the diagonal.  ?????

Somewhere along the line I lost steering and the supple horse.  He would try to barge through all my aids and brace up.  We started putting in some circles (I use that term very loosely) to help supple him and get him back on my aids and it did help.  But it was all a hot mess.  We need to work on that.  On the bright side while the steering and geometry was about a -10, we did accomplish the goal of keeping his head from tucking.

The plan for Pongo is to do a two week flatwork bootcamp.  Then add in some jumping and hopefully do an eventing clinic at the beginning of August.  Stinker won't be ready and the girl that half leases Charlie is probably going to be riding him.  So Pongo and I need to get our shit together so we aren't an embarrassment to S.  She claims we can't be, but I saw the video...we can be.

I am going to try to get some pictures of Pongo and figure out how to get clips out of the long video to add to this post.  Overall, we improved and I have new techniques and a game plan, so we can keep improving.  Which dressage is all about improving over time.

Stinker Update

The vet came out to check on Stinker today.  He was very please with the progress.  The movement still isn't 100%, but he was more active and his coat is looking better.  Stinker got another heavy dose of the meds and the vet is coming back next week to check on him again.  The best part is I am able to do ground work with him.  Maybe I will be able to start getting the top line built back up.  I am crossing my fingers that we will be ready for the clinic with D in two weeks.  I will write a post about the clinic this weekend, which was very good.  In the mean time here is a sweaty/sleepy Stinker (the sedation makes him sweat like crazy when he is waking up).

Poor little guy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Vet Update

Stinker has been diagnosed with a minor case of EPM.  While this sounds scary the vet believes he will make a full recovery.  It is not uncommon for horses here to show symptoms after they have gone through a move.  I was reading today and around 50% of horses have been exposed of that number only 1% show clinical signs.  I am staying positive about things and only reading information on veterinary websites.  DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT read forums about this disease! They have the worst of the worst cases and it all sounds horrible.  The vet will be back next week to check on Stinker again.  In the mean time we need to figure out how to get him to eat his medication.

In other news, I obviously won't be riding Stinker in the clinic this weekend.  I have two ride times, and hopefully I have given one away to another girl.  I rode Pongo again today.  He is a good horse, but we just aren't clicking and I am not sure what to do with him.  I am going to try another horse tomorrow and see how it goes and then decide which one I am riding for the clinic.  One of my biggest struggles with Pongo is my dressage saddle doesn't fit him, so I am trying to ride in a "all purpose" saddle that leans more towards jumping.  I can not for the life of me keep my legs underneath my hips.  I am fighting for my position and that makes it hard to concentrate on the horse.  Tis the struggle of not having a custom saddle for every horse in the barn...a girl can dream.

Stinker is sorry he can't provide more stories...

Saturday, June 20, 2015


I think I am finally starting to figure out this whole jumping thing.  Charlie is a fantastic horse, because he is so steady.  I can flop and flail around on him and he just keeps jumping.  His only fault is he rushes sometimes, but we are really starting to click.  I am more confident and this helps me not be as tense.  When I relax so does Charlie and I am getting some control over the tempo.  We still have rushing moments, but it isn't as bad.  In the beginning I felt like I was just hanging on and trying to get my butt out of the saddle.  Now, I can feel when the take off is going to happen and I am getting more balanced.  I still have a long long long way to go, but it is a start.

Most of this improvement started when S set up a grid for us.  It finally gave me a chance to just focus on me.  Once I got the hang of things I started getting my balance.  And since then I feel like I have been making progress every lesson.

One of the most frustrating things for me is the regression in my riding.  When I went of to college I was in fantastic shape and a good rider.  I had awesome stickability, oodles of balance, a very still leg, and a light steady hand.  Now, I am far from fantastic shape, ok stickability (Stinker hasn't dumped me yet so I still have something), my balance is kind of meh, my legs swing all over the place, and my hands have a mind of their own.  My legs are what make me the most crazy.  A lot of it has to do with my hips and ankles.  I played basketball all through college and destroyed them.  When I was in grad school, I started sitting a lot more and exercising less and learned my hips are jacked up.  I started having back problems and this led to getting my hips x-rayed.  The doctor took one look at the x-rays and said, "Wow, you have a lot of wear on your hips, even for an athlete."  Thanks doctor...  Back to the point, my hips are super tight and contract my hamstrings, they also .  In addition, I have sprained my ankles so many times that I have a drastic reduction in mobility.  All of these add up to the fact my heels like to creep up and my legs like to creep forward.  None of this adds up to good riding.

Back to the point at hand.  My riding isn't where I want it to be, but my jumping is improving.  I am lucky to have access to Charlie, because he is a great teacher.  As much as I like him I really miss my horse.  The little Stinker sees the vet on Monday and I hope that I get a game plan.  Right now I feel so lost since I have no idea what is wrong with him.  I am crossing my fingers that I will be able to ride him in the clinic next weekend, but I have a sinking feeling that will not happen.  I will most likely be riding Pongo.  He is a good horse, but not my style.  I like them a little hot and he is more on the lazy side.  Plus his gaits feel really weird.

Since I don't have any good pictures, I leave you with this video of my little idiot.

Monday, June 15, 2015


I have discovered it is really hard to write about riding when you haven't been riding to generate new material.  I have been sitting on this post for about two weeks because I haven't been able to decide what to say.  Stinker is actually lame and it is a bit of a puzzle.  The vet saw him over a week ago and got his hocks injected.  That helped with the super lame problem and now I am back to the sort of lame problem.  I have another week to wait until the vet comes back.  Hopefully I can get this sorted out since I have a clinic I am signed up for at the end of the month and another one towards the middle of July.  I really want to be able to ride Stinker, but if not I can borrow one of the barn horses. But right now I am crossing my fingers that Stinker will be good to go.

It is really hard to take pictures when he follows you everywhere...

In the mean time, Sinker has had about three weeks off and he is very bored.  He has started piling his hay in his food bucket.  No idea what that is about other than my horse is a giant weirdo...but he is my weirdo.  The other day I walked into the pasture to check on him and he tried to put the halter I had in my hand on himself.  Poor little guy gets 8+ hours of turnout and still wants to go to work.  I am hesitant to ride him since the last time we did that he came up super lame the next day.  I don't like lunging him, because it is all on a circle.  I tried free lunging him and that was a disaster.  He gets distracted very easily.  It was working OKish until a cat ran through the ring.  Stinker pinned his ears and lunged at the cat.  He then proceeded to try to pounce on the cat when it tried to dart away.  I wish I had it on video.  After he discovered he could jump he proceeded to give several bucks.  I had a fake Pessoa lunging system on him (not my brightest idea) and I was terrified he was going to get a foot through the lines or something.  So no more free lunging for the Stinker.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bad Technology

So...I am apparently terrible with technology.  Not surprising since I regularly manage to make equipment go on the fritz at work but that is another story.  I was out of town for a conference and I thought I had things set for posts to be posted....they did not get posted and now I can't seem to find them.  Oh well I will just have to rewrite everything.

So the short version is Stinker has been off.  Not truly lame but something hasn't been quite right.  I have been trying to decide if he got trimmed too short or if something is really wrong.  He had about a week off when I left and when S got back from a show she lunged him and thought that he looked better.  She rode him today and he was really good.  I mean really really good...he walked for about 20 min which is unheard of.  I am a little jealous it was for her and not me.

In the mean time I have been picking up some rides on Pongo.  He is a super cute off the track thoroughbred.  He hasn't had a lot of retraining rides on him, but he is a good horse.  The first day I rode him, he felt super funky.  I guess I have gotten spoiled how smooth Stinker is.  Also he spent most of the ride trying to drift towards the barn (which he couldn't even see).  He was either throwing his shoulder out and trying to drag or dropping it and falling in.  It was rather frustrating since he pretty much ignored my legs at the beginning.  I ended the ride when he started responding.

The second ride on Pongo was fairly similar.  This time I was in the dressage ring and he was dragging towards his pasture.  He would fall in on the one side and try to run out of the arena on the other.  It took less time to get some semblance of straightness but it was still the majority of the ride.  On the bright side it was a shorter amount of time and he didn't feel quite as funky.

The third ride on him I had a different problem.  He was easy to keep straight (YAY!), but he was really behind the leg.  The walk was sluggish at the best and the trot was more like a western jog.  I tried cantering him to get him in front of my leg, because I thought if I could get him up and push him forward then bring him back and push him forward again it would translate into the gaits.  For an ex-racehorse, he wasn't really into the whole cantering thing.  I could get some nice extension on the long side but every time I brought him back he wanted to drop into the trot.  I had to be really strong with my seat to keep him in the canter but it work so I was pleased with him.  Unfortunately it didn't carry over quite as well as I hoped.  I could get about half a circle of a nice trot before it got sluggish and behind the leg again.  No amount of leg could fix it.  I ended with some nice trot and made him do some ok walk.

My jump lesson on Charlie was rather interesting.  He was super forward and was locking on to any jump he could see.  When we were doing flat work to start I could feel him lock onto some jumps and he would try to drag me to them.  This was really apparent in the canter and the steering didn't feel like it was quite there.  When we were suppose to be trotting the small cross rails it was a struggle to keep him from launching into a canter before the jump.  My position was terrible mostly because I forgot all about myself in my attempts to control the speed.  I am doing a better job of feeling when he is going to take off.  That is about the only positive thing I have to say about my riding.  He is a pretty awesome horse because he only stops when I accidentally half halt him too much that he gets confused.  Otherwise he is going to take any jump you point him at.

It is really hard to get a picture when he won't stop trying to eat.

Or stop following you