Monday, August 31, 2015


Well I did something idiotic and I highly recommend people do not follow my course of actions. When I got out to the barn a few people said they were going on a trail ride and I thought that sounded awesome so I said I would join. I got Stinker tacked up (saddle pad and surcingle). I waited for every one else to get on since waiting is not a strong point and I'm picking my battles.

I started to mount. Since he is rather excitable I try not to flop against him, so my standard flop and wiggle doesn't work for getting on bareback. I had one leg over his back and realized my reins were long and I thought I can make it. I pushed off and thought "you are an idiot". Sure enough he moved forward (pretty standard) and I flopped on his side half on half off. He spooked and since I'm six feet and he is 15.3 hands my foot wasn't too far off the ground, I decided the ground was a better option than clinging. My plan was to drop my foot to the ground and hold on to him.

Well my foot hit the ground on the side. I felt my ankle go. My other foot was still in the process of swinging off him I went down. I landed on the gravel of the driveway left forearm first, skidding onto my back. I felt my helmet hit. Stinker went off down the driveway and I sat up.

A checked on me I said I was fine, so he went to get Stinker. I laid there for awhile waiting for my ankle to stop throbbing. I glanced at my wrist and decided nothing was too bad. A hadn't seemed concerned about my shoulders so I decided they were fine plus they hurt the least. I started wondering where the hell my horse was so I got up and hobbled around the corner of the barn. The little turkey wasn't letting A anywhere near him. So I hobbled over growled his name and he was just like "oh hey there you are what's up."  At this point I'm pissed. I'm mad at myself for being stupid and mad that my ankle is hurt.

I take stock of my options which are turn Stinker loose or climb on and ride him. I vote for climbing. Keep in mind my left ankle is sprained my left wrist and both shoulders have road rash which has not been cleaned. But me being the stubborn idiot I am I take Stinker in the ring make A hold him and climb on. As soon as my butt hits him he is off. I'm going what the eff is wrong with me. Everything hurts but I don't want to quit.

I get him calmed (this is a relatively term. He is prancing and excited but I have control over trot vs canter). I have A turn us out and off we go on the trail ride. I'm fighting tears and still going. Who is an idiot? This one.

As we go along I can feel my ankle swelling my wrist hurts like hell and my right shoulder isn't feeling too great. And I discover the other girls want to go up to a pasture and gallop. I'm thinking "fuck fuck fuck if they all gallop I'm going to have to otherwise Stinker will have a fit and I can't stick that."

Thankfully they decided to gallop one at a time so Stinker is doing all right keeping his brain functional. At this point he is drenched in sweat since he won't stop moving. I watch them go around and I decide I want to give it a go. Yep that is correct I'm hurting, bareback, and already came off once and going to gallop. IDIOT

It started off rough. He tried to take me into the trees. For some odd reason (throbbing ankle anyone???) my leg wasn't being very effective. We got it lined out and he was really good. He let me dictate the pace. I did turn him loose on the one side. Super smart of me but it was fine and he came right back to me.

I probably have too much faith in this horse but he has never shown and desire to be bad. His biggest problem is he is too damn smart. He gets caught up in his head and can't handle life. I can sympathize with that because I can't handle life sometimes and I am *supposed* to be smart.

After every one got their gallop fixes we went to the creek to play in the water. Stinker wouldn't stop. Shocking I know. He plowed through the water. I kept thinking he would want a drink considering it was hot, he was drenched, and blowing slightly. But when I let him go to drink he would plow somewhere else. We went in the shallow water, the deep water, the soggy places, and everything in between. I think he had fun in the water.

At this point I was just done. Everything was throbbing and I was tired. He was s good boy on the way home and walked for the most part. I got him untacked and hosed off. I then went to the house and got myself cleaned up and put antibiotic ointment on all my road rash. I didn't do anything to my ankle because I was scared the boot wasn't going back on and I needed to go into work (requires shoes).

Once I got home, I took my boot off which hurt like hell. I had already lost a lot of flexibility. It was swollen but no apparent bruising so I took a shower and wrapped it. The next day it was bruising and was quite fat. I hobbled around a bit but mostly tried to take it easy. The following day it was so swollen that I couldn't bend my toes. I decided I needed to get a MD opinion instead of a PhD and a DVM/PhD opinion.

They put me in a boot. Which is probably going to speed the healing process. It has made work much more bearable. For some reason it isn't good to stand on a sprained ankle for long periods of time. I'm making myself finish out the week and I can ride bareback this weekend. I didn't ask the doctor about riding so I'm not breaking orders. Like I said I don't recommend this for other people but I'm an idiot who needs her Stinker fix.

Stop reading if you don't want to see pictures of my scrapes and fat ankle.

It turned lots of pretty colors and was quite fat for several days.  I still (9 days later) can't ride with stirrups.  I am hoping that I can by Thursday.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Well I finally got brave and let the Stinker gallop. I was supposed to have a lesson but Pongo had a loose shoe and it had been raining a lot, so I didn't really want to ride him. S suggested we take a trail ride and I decided to take Stinker.

It started off pretty standard. Him hollowed and prancing. For the most part I tried to ignore it and distract him by doing shoulder fores and I tried to concentrate on making my hips walk and blocking his legs from my mind. It sort of worked at the best.

We ended up taking a trail to an open field that has a galloping trail cut in it. I asked S if she minded if we cantered a little and she said no it's fine I'll gallop too. I *tried* to put Stinker in a nice canter and he decided to haul ass. I made him come back to me but then decided why not let him go. I turned him loose and that little Stinker is pretty darn quick when he wants. I was very pleased with him because when I asked him to slow up he listened.

I haven't had that much fun in quite some time. When I was a kid I was a speed demon and I guess it is still in there. I had been afraid to turn him loose before but I think it does him good. He is so anxious under saddle and without the gallop he doesn't have an outlet for it so it keeps building. This results in a tense hollow pony instead on a relaxed stretching one I get on the lunge line. I think a gallop twice a week is in our future and I'm going to start working in more canter work. Hopefully this will make our sessions more productive and I will have a happier pony.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Bareback and Saddle Fitting Woes

I am really sad I think my dressage saddle is getting too narrow for Stinker. I've noticed some puffiness around his withers after I ride. The only thing I can come up with is the saddle is too narrow and is putting pressure there. I'm working on getting a fitter out but they are few and far between around here. Fingers crossed that I will get something worked out.

In the meantime I didn't want to ride in the saddle as much but I also didn't want to stop riding so I decided to try him bareback. I lunged him first and decided to leave the surcingle on so I could have the draw reins still. For the most part they are loose but occasionally I use them to remind him that the left shoulder doesn't bulge out and if he puts his head in my face I will activate them. I realize some people equate them to the devil and I do not use them to put him in a false frame. But to each their own.

So off we went. At first he tried his normal saddlebred stuff and I was flopping all over. I think he didn't like that anymore than I did because he stopped in record time. And it was not because I was riding so effectively. Once he settled things went well. I'm still struggling at getting him to reach under himself. Everything is very short and choppy but it is being dictated by my pace so that is an improvement. By the end of the ride he was willing to stretch down in his next but that needs to come earlier and the longer steps need to happen.

I have kind of abandoned the walk for a bit since I think that will come when I get more relaxation. Right now we are still quite tense. It's not as bad as it used to be but a long ways from where it needs to be.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Age is Relative

I struggle with comparing Stinker to other horses his age.  He is such a baby.  He was started under saddle in December and then had a three month hiatus.  When I see other horses his age, I forget that they don't run as hot, have his mental issues, and aren't as green.  I really shouldn't compare him to other horses, but I can't quite help it.

This weekend a semi-local dressage judge was in Denmark trying horses and she found a super nice chestnut mare (swoon).  I love me some mares.  I was Facebook stalking (about all I do on Facebook) and discovered the mare was 6.  She already has flying lead changes, and is confirmed in a lot of lateral work.  This left me feeling like I was failing Stinker and he should be farther along in his training.  In reality even if they had been started at the same age they would not be equal in training.  My riding is not the equivalent to the riding that is found at a sale barn in Europe.  While mine does unasked flying lead changes (even with a far amount of jump), he still doesn't walk under saddle.

There are days that I feel like I am failing Stinker.  He is so talented and I don't do a good enough job riding him.  But then I remind myself he doesn't care.  He is happy being groomed and given treats and turn out.  Do not mess with his turn out time.  It is kind of funny if I get there right after he has been turned out he is fine coming back in and working.  But if I try to pull him out of his stall after the first group has been turned out he loses it.  It is pretty much impossible to get him to focus.

Long story short, I need to stop comparing my horse to other horses.  He is one of a kind in so many ways.  And in the grand scheme as long as we are both having fun where we are at in our training really don't matter.  I am not depending on his success to bring in my paycheck (thankfully otherwise I would be screwed).  It doesn't matter if we ever show, I am happy just having a horse to ride.  While, I would love to do some events and get my bronze medal in dressage, I don't have to do any of these things.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pingo Pongo

I am so proud of Pongo lately.  He is getting much steadier in the connection and I lunged him the other day and he was really stretching down and working over his back.  This is a huge difference from when I first started riding him.  I lunged him one day and he was completely braced with his nose stuck out as far as he possibly could get it.  Major improvement.  He will make a cute little horse for someone.

He got bitten last Monday, so my lesson got moved to Friday.  I gave him a couple more days off from riding since it was right where the saddle sat (of course).  We played in the sandbox on Thursday and jumped on Friday.  I really need to school down transitions.  Our up transitions are very good.  He stays steady and will bounce right up into the trot or pop up into the canter.  Some times the pop is a little larger than necessary, but I prefer that to trying to run into it.  Sadly our downs are terrible.  They are sluggish and braced when going from the trot to the walk.  Even when he is tired.  The canter to trot issues are mostly due to him losing balance and me not being fast enough correcting it.

Overall, I am very proud of the little pony.  I am slowly getting Stinker back into work, but I play to keep riding Pongo through the fall.  I really want to get him more confirmed and steady.  One of the girls that might end up with him is a super sweet 12 year old.  She is an awesome little rider and I want him to be a good pony for her.  Plus she tolerates my stupid nicknames for him.  I can't help but give animals silly names.  My dog got called chunky monkey more often than his actual name.  Then there is poor Stinker pony.  Back to the point, I have hopes of riding in a clinic this fall with a 4* rider.  That is all still in the works, so I will update as things progress along with a Stinker update.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sit Up and Leg On

That was the mantra of the cross country portion of the clinic.  As a side note, who decides it is a good idea to do a cross country clinic when they have never ridden cross country?  That would be this ding dong.  After stadium yesterday I was feeling pretty confident.  Pongo shot that in the ass when I walked him down from the barn and he started spooking at everything.  A stand of trees that he goes through at least twice a day suddenly became horse eating monsters.  We had to be led into them (oh the shame).

The look on Nick's face was priceless when he was asking us what we had done and I responded with, "My horse is spooky today and I have never done cross country."  He already knew that Pongo is rather green from the day before.  But he took it in stride and had us start off in the trot.  I have video, and it is quite obvious that we are both quite green and there are several rider errors.  Also please excuse my blinding white shoulders.  I also have a solid farmers sunburn going on from yesterday.

First attempt at cross country

After we did that set twice he had us move on to the ditch.  Pongo had never done a ditch either and he is really weird about changes in dirt.  I have seen him refuse to walk forward when the dirt changes from red to brown.  It is actually quite sad, I don't think he got out much at the racetrack.  Anyway, he refused the ditch a couple of times and Nick got another horse to lead us over.  Pongo jumped and it was ugly (mostly my riding), but we made it over.  We were led over it again and then did it on our own.  No more refusals.  Good pony.

We then did a series of combinations that included the ditch and the water (which is a little deep right now).  It rode really well, there was a cross rail coming down into the water that we glanced off of due to my riding.  I wasn't able to get him back to me quickly enough to get him straight and focused into the jump.  I knew it was going to happen, but I wasn't quick enough to fix anything.  We circled and came into it at a much better pace and it was much smoother.  My position leaves much to be desired, but I have only been jumping once a week for about three months.  I noticed on the videos that I caught him in the mouth several times.  I need to be better about getting my heels down, legs underneath me, and not get so far forward.  I think with time and practice I will get a better feel for things and I also need to work on getting my leg in a solid position.  I see two point in my future.

Next we moved onto another combination.  Pongo and I struggled with this.  All of our problems stemmed from him not being straight and from me not being quick enough to get the correction to get him straight.  In this combination, we would jump some black pipes then 4 strides (I think) to a down bank.  It was then one stride to a cross rail and two strides to a set of logs.  Going down this combination I would lose control of the shoulders over the down bank which would allow him to glance off the cross rail.  When we did it in the reverse order (logs, rail, up bank, black pipes) we were really good.  Hence our issues being a rider problem more than a horse problem.  More time will fix both of these.

Overall, I really enjoyed myself.  I loved the more "technical" challenges that require me to think and really ride.  I use the word technical loosely because I realize they aren't difficult challenges in the grand scheme of things, but for us in this moment they are.  I absolutely loved riding with Nick.  He is yet another one that is demanding but in a positive way.  It would have been very easy for someone to rip Pongo and I to shreds, but instead he focused on the basic issues and was very positive.  Pongo won a portion of my heart this weekend.  He is so willing to try for you and he is a fun ride over the jumps when he isn't Ping Ponging between the reins.  Who am I kidding, if he wasn't a bit of a challenge I wouldn't think he was as much fun.

Such a cute little pony face

Day 1 of a Real Eventing Clinic

So Pongo and I put on our big kid pants and rode in a clinic this weekend.  He was happy to not be playing in the sandbox.  I was tentative on how it would go.  I gave him last weekend off with the plan of dressage Monday and Tuesday, jump Wednesday, Thursday off, and dressage on Friday.  I got a text from S Monday saying he pulled both shoes.  He has super tender feet so there was no chance of riding him until they were back on which turned into Friday.  I hopped on him and did a little bit of flatwork to remind him that he did work.  It wasn't for very long because it was hot.  With the heat index we have been well over 100 F for a few weeks now.

Saturday rolled around and I had a dressage lesson in the morning and then stadium late afternoon.  The dressage went really well.  We really focused on straightness.  I need to stop over riding him, but overall Nick was very pleased with our flat work.  It didn't go the full 45 minutes but Pongo and I were both drenched in sweat and Nick didn't want to drain the tank since we were jumping in the afternoon.

I watched the other groups go and Nick set up some challenges (the prelim/training group had issues).  He kept just lowering the height and asking the same things from all the groups.  I thought he might let up for my group, but I was wrong.  None of the people in my group have jumped a lot, so the technical aspects were challenging.  I think instead of being at 2 feet we were closer to 2'3"-2'6".  Either way we all survived.

It started off with a grid that was a vertical, bounce, one stride, bounce, bounce, to an oxer.  Once we did that a couple times we added a right turn with a wide rollback to a pink jump then a sharp (to me) turn to a vertical.  Then we would swing around go through the grid again with another tight turn into an oxer and four strides to a vertical.  Pongo and I struggled with the turns.  We blew through several before we finally got it together and made them.  Unfortunately, we never managed to get a whole series were we got both turns.  With time, my riding will get better and his adjustability will too.

Sadly I didn't get any pictures or videos from this day.  Overall I was pleased with our effort.  My riding could have been better but Pongo was very honest and willing.  There were a few lines that I set up horribly and he still tried his little heart out.

Where are my cookies????