Monday, February 29, 2016

PS of Sweden Poll

I have fallen in love with the PS of Sweden Bridles.  I am blaming $900 Facebook Pony, Sprinkler Bandit, and 'Fraidy Cat Eventing, so thank you ladies for yet again getting me to part with more money ;)

What should be put on this fancy face?

My problem is I can't decide which one I like the best, since I haven't been able to find one used on Facebook at a good enough discount (if you know of a used cob for sale please let me know).  My policy is if it isn't at least 20% off retail, I would rather buy from the source rather than risk getting screwed.  I had initially decided on the Elegance Revolution, but I was too slow on the Christmas sale and they are still out of stock of the combination I want (black cob).  I emailed PS of Sweden and they said it is discontinued, but if I am patient there will be "a beautiful newcomer soon."

Elegance Revolution

Since then I regularly go to their site and drool.  I can find pros and cons for nearly all the bridles.  I want something with a removable flash, so that eliminated the jump off and high jump.  I am curious to see what the blogger world thinks would look good on Stinker.  Because I quite frankly have zero sense of style.

Flying Change Revolution

Flying Change Deluxe Revolution

Flat Out Revolution

Winning Round Revolution (Bling on noseband)

Top Notch Revolution

Olympic Revolution (Stitching on noseband)

All In Revolution (Extra wide noseband ~5cm)

Get Set Revolution (Crocoprint and buckles on both sides of noseband)

You may need to view the page in web form in order to see the poll.  I couldn't figure out how to fix that one (I am seriously on the struggle bus with this poll).

What PS of Sweden Bridle

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Horse Habit

So, this happened...
Bye Bye You Wonderful Chunk of Leather 

I was in my office at work sulking over sending the saddle back (while it was the correct decision, it still made me sad) my coworker commented he wished his wife had a hobby.  This is the coworker that rolls his eyes every time some one asks about my weekend, because it is pretty much always ponies.  I cracked a joke that he could send his wife to the barn with me and I would get her a horse habit.  He must be desperate, because I think he was actually considering it.  I *might* have told him how much I have spent at the vet in the last year.  Pretty sure that killed the desire for her to pick up a horse hobby.  Oops :)

Then as I was wasting time on the internet I saw a thing about bad pickup lines and horse girl responses.  I am still chuckling over this one.

Guy:  I have more money than you can spend.
Horse Girl:  Oh really?

My response:  Challenge Accepted

Sadly, I have not had anyone try to use that pick up line on me, but I have decided what I get to buy since I sent the saddle back.  I have been extremely good this year and I haven't bought anything since my dressage saddle (so basically nothing in two months).  I am pretty sure that is a record for me.  And to make things better you guys get to help with the decision making process, because well I can't decide.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I Want!

I am blatantly stealing another post from Megan at A Enter Spooking.  Last week, she wrote about should be's.  I often think, "I should be doing this with Stinker."  Never mind the fact that I am comparing him to $50,000 horses with professional trainers that have not had any health issues.  He is never going to be a $50,000 horse, I have no desire to be a professional, and he has had significant health issues.  What I really liked was she decided to focus on the I want's instead of the I should be's.  I decided that I needed to make a list of I want, since I am also suffering from the should be's.

Alfalfa always makes things better.

I want a sound horse.  We are getting here, and I am hopeful that he will continue to improve as he builds muscle.

I want a happy horse.  Some where along the line, my horse became a bit of an asshole.  I don't know if it is because he is finally comfortable in his environment and he is letting his true colors fly or if something is actually causing it.  But I would love it if we could get him to stop remodeling.

Not so cute buddy...

I want to have fun with my horse.  This is happening.  I love my little Stinker and always look forward to seeing him.

I want to continue to learn.  This is also happening.  I am learning.  It may not be what I initially thought (I was hoping to working on first level stuff and starting to jump him at this point), but I am learning other things.

I want to continue to improve.  We are improving.  Sometimes I forget how bad we were to start with so I don't see the progress.  But I have video evidence that we are improving.

I love this face.

I want my horse to continue to improve.  See above, because one of us can't really improve without the other.

I want to be able to jump with him.  I am ok if I don't ever do this.  I want to do it, but his health and longevity take precedence.  Plus I have access to other horses if I want to jump something.

I want to do right by my horse.  This probably should have been the number one thing on the list.  I want to be able to put my own goals and desires aside and be able to make the best decisions for him.

I want to be able to take him places and have fun.  I think we are getting to this point.  When we went to Florida in December, he was a total rock star.  While the trip was over shadowed by me having to face reality, it was a very good experience.

Maybe we can ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.

Now, I just need to remember the things I want when I starting thinking about what I "should be" doing.  And maybe stop trying to compete with the $50,000 horses and professional trainers.  :)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Decisions Decisions Decisions

Remember back in October when I said I ordered a new jump saddle...It arrived at the end of January and it is amazing.  I love it, end of story.  But nothing can be that simple when Stinker is involved.

So pretty!

My first ride in it was a total disaster to say the least.  He was totally frantic.  I couldn't get him to halt much less walk or get anything productive done.  I panicked and promptly sent a very panicked message to the saddle fitter.  She told me to breathe and that she couldn't do anything until she came down to evaluate it.  I tried it again in a lesson with S and it was slightly better, it was still ugly.

I made the decision that I wasn't riding him in it again until the saddle fitter was here.  It still needed time put in on it to get the flocking to settle, so Pongo got volunteered to break in the saddle.  Pongo went well in it, so I rode him in it to get the flocking to settle.

Pongo Doesn't Care

The saddle fitter was down this weekend and I tried Stinker in it again.  I was honestly expecting the worst, and Stinker was remarkably better.  It wasn't perfect, but he was willing to walk.  He doesn't offer the stretch and lacks a half halt in the trot, but it wasn't a total disaster.

Here is my dilemma, I can still return the saddle and just be out the shipping charges (not a big deal) or I can keep the saddle and hope he continues to improve in it.  Because I am me, I have made a pro con list of keeping or returning the saddle.

Who Doesn't Love Post Bath Alfalfa?

Reasons to keep the saddle:
- His current dislike is most likely a training thing (the more forward position and shorter stirrup vs the straighter position and longer leg)
- I will have a jump saddle that fits Stinker
- I love the saddle and it puts me in a fantastic position
- I can continue to use the jump saddle on Pongo (I have an older Stubben that fits him and works for me)
- It is already paid for.

Reasons to return the saddle:
- I don't know when/if Stinker will be physically strong enough to jump
- I don't know if Stinker will be fun to jump (I like jumping Pongo, but I also know my enjoyment of jumping will be very horse dependent.  I am very aware of my mortality and have no desire to have a major accident by trying to jump something that is outside of my skill set.)
- If we get to the point where we can start jumping, I can always purchase the saddle again.  S has the same saddle, so I can borrow that one in the beginning.
- It is a very expensive chunk of leather to have sitting around without the guarantee of ever using it.

So any input on the keep vs. return would be appreciated.

To Keep Or To Go?

Friday, February 19, 2016

How D Earns Her Keep

AKA why I am a nutty client and I am pretty sure I should pay her double.  We were having a conversation today about a problem I have been noticing about Stinker (sadly these are pretty normal).  It went something like this...

Me:  Be prepared to laugh.  I drew you a picture of what Stinker feels like he is doing.

I was trying to do a circle to the left...

I want to get him to where he has some semblance of left bend, but I will be ok with just straighter.  When I try to swing the haunches in, the head/neck compress, the back hollows, and everything tenses.  I've tried adding more outside rein and inside leg, but that has a similar result.  I am at a bit of a loss.

D:  This seems backwards, but take the nose neck and shoulders right and push the haunches left.  So make a diagonal right but stay on your circle.  If he seems uncomfortable (which is kind of the point) release it and see if he stays straight then.

Me:  Like this?  Maybe not quite as extreme...I can't draw.

D:  You are probably going to have to make it extreme or you will still feel like he is crooked, but yes.

Me:  Should I mostly ignore the tension?  Obviously I will try to keep the head out of my face but the instant I start moving his haunches Mr. Saddlebred wants to come out (choppy, tense, braced in his neck).

D:  I would fix it but within the exercise.

Me:  WTF, I struggle with that when he is all kinked up how am I going to manage this plus the exercise????  (Inner dialog...I spared her that thought.)

Me:  Gah I need a lesson (or 50) with you.

D:  You are doing fine.  And you do lesson with me.

Me:  I meant one where you could yell at me.  Those fix things more quickly.  I miss the yelling.

D:  Most people would find you strange.

Me:  Most people would be right.

I love the fact that this conversation does not phase her at all and that she can decipher my post it note scribbles.  Because let's face it, I can not draw well.  And quite frankly I am not very good at describing issues.  I am getting better (saying something doesn't feel right, but I don't know what it is doesn't get me very far anymore).

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why I Love Stinker

I realized that I bitch a lot about my horse (vet bills anyone???), so I figured I would share some of the things that I love about my horse.  He is smart, fun, challenging, and we connect.  Yes, these are some of the things that drive me crazy about him, but he is my little Stinker.

Love this face

It doesn't take him very long to figure out an exercise and he will start anticipating (I am sure I will be complaining about this in the future), but I love his brain (when it is working).  I love being able to feel him process and work through things and when he gets it you can feel it.  It is very rewarding.  On the downside, he can't be left unattended with velcro.  Also, if he doesn't get his turnout, he does things like flip his water bucket, turn his water hose on and flood the barn...all those fun things.

My favorite view

There is never a dull moment with him.  He is super curious, so he is always shoving his nose in something.  But if he sees something scary he snorts and sometimes jumps, but he will always approach it.  The curiosity always wins.  I honestly love to ride him.  When he is on, he feels fabulous.  And I love watching him move (when he isn't braced).  He can always make me smile with his antics and honestly with his shenanigans how can you not love him?

Turn me out!!!!

He is sooo sooo very challenging.  Yes, I hate this some days, but I would be so bored if he did not challenge me.  Every day is like a puzzle trying to figure him out, and I love every minute of it.  Somedays it is ok to put my leg on and other days it will cause a total meltdown.  But he lets me play around and figure out how we can compromise.  Actually, it is more like I figure out how to calm him down and show him my leg isn't going to eat him, because my leg is going to be put on and that isn't up for negotiation.

Always checking new things out...

We click with one another, partially because I see so much of myself in him (how is that for anthropomorphism).  We both overthink things and hate it when we are wrong.  We like to please people.  We get wound up and stuck in our brain.  The list can go on, but I am going to leave it at I am pretty sure D found me in horse form even if she didn't know it at the time.  I am not going to lie getting to the point where he trusted me was a struggle and I was getting very frustrated.  It is hard to do anything with a horse that totally shuts down mentally, but he trusts me and even when his brain is going a million miles an hour he will let me show him what I want.

Rare sleepy face

Honestly, having been through the EPM (well still going, but I feel like we are on an up swing) and the knowing that his hind is may not be able to hold up to the work, I would not go back and choose another horse.  Even if I took what I have spent on the vet and added it to the "purchase" budget, I wouldn't change it.  Sure I have bad days and wonder what if, but I could have bought a much more expensive horse and it have something catastrophic happen to it.  The only guarantee with horses is that there aren't any guarantees.

So cute!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Weekend Update

It was a pretty quiet weekend overall.  I finally got to breathe from work and was super lazy.  It was pretty amazing actually.  Since I had to work last weekend everything was pretty much a blur last week and while I am a morning person, it sucks getting into to work at 5 AM.  The things we do for our ponies.

Cute remodel Stinker...

Stinker had kicked another board out of his stall and since he has gotten his hind shoes he has been doing a number on the wall.  So ashamed of my asshole horse.  Saturday I had a decent ride on him and filmed it for a video lesson (which I am super behind on blogging about them).  I then rode Pongo.  I am so out of shape when it comes to riding two horses.

Pongo was pretty good, we did dressage in a jump saddle.  He didn't appreciate my insistence that he stay soft and move off my legs.  We did lots of lateral work.  Leg yields, shoulder ins, and what not.  His leg yields are pretty good.  The shoulder in leaves a bit to be desired, but I think part of that is me.  I am much better at cueing leg yields than shoulder ins.  Overall, I was pleased with him.

At least I think he is cute...

Saturday evening we had a surprise birthday party for the barn owner and it was really nice.  Somehow he managed to surprise him, even though he got totally fed up with the girls that were suppose to keep him distracted and out of his house.  He even offered the one driving $100 if she would take him back to the barn.  This is the girl that you can get to do just about anything for $0.25.

Sunday, I was exhausted and didn't end up riding.  I gave Stinker his meds and told him he was pretty.  Then I went to check out the pig and ducks the girls had gotten.  The barn owner is a total softy and I am praying that the pig stays little and doesn't turn out to be a 600 lb boar (it is a boy...).  It is pretty cute and I will get picks of all the baby animals later.  It was dark when I was out there.

My idea of adulting at its best.

Stinker is getting his teeth done...(I am still reeling from the last bill.)  So far I am over a grand in vet bills for this year.  In other exciting news I *might* get to go to Florida and ride with an instructor from Denmark.  That isn't set in stone, because you know work and the whole I need a job to pay for said Stinker pony.  Depending on the budget, I might send him anyway and have S ride him if I can't go.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Muscle Progress???

I think I have stared at these pictures too much, because I am starting to question what I see.  All of the pictures on top are from the beginning of January.  The ones on the bottom are the pictures taken February 9th.

I think I am seeing a change in his neck.  He is starting lose the bulging under neck and it looks like it is starting to fill in up higher.  There is still a dip in front of the withers that needs to be filled, but that won't happen until I get his hind end lined out.  I also think that his butt is starting to fill out and he might be building up his top line.  The top line is super subtle and might just exist in my dreams.

This side is pretty similar to the other side.  His neck wasn't a large on this side to start with and it is hard to see with the angle.  I am also not sure what is up with the bottom picture.  I really thought he was standing level, so I either took the picture crooked (quite likely) or he wasn't actually on level ground like I thought.

I am making myself crazy with this one, because he almost looks narrower.  I think that is a product of angle, lighting, and distance.  He still looks uneven, but I don't think I will be able to address that until I A) get him to accept my leg and B) address some of his crookedness before there will be any changes in that.  My goal is to not let it get worse, before I have the tools to fix it.

I was actually really pleased with the differences in the pictures.  I am really happy that I started doing this, so thank you blogger land for the idea (I stole it from Emma who had stolen it from someone else that I can't currently remember who.  Sorry.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pongo The Show Pony

This was supposed to be posted yesterday but my internet at home crapped out yet again. Boo internet providers. They charge out the wahzoo and then don't deliver...I wish I could do that and not get fired.

Anyway, as I mentioned before S took Pongo to a recognized event this past weekend. Sadly I didn't get to go. Instead I worked and watched the eventing showcase, which wasn't too horrible. Also I don't have any media from the show. Double boo.

How I spent my Saturday.

So the highlights. They were sitting third after dressage on a score of 38.5. I think that is a pretty accurate reflection of where he is at. The judge wrote he was a "darling youngster" (go Pongo!). I think he is darling but I might be a smidge bias. S said he was a little looky but overall a very good boy.

He was a total rockstar for stadium. They went double clear and S said he felt fantastic. He was super adjustable and right on point. The fences could have been a lot higher and he would have been fine.

Cross country got a little interesting. The first couple of fences were essentially glorified ground poles. Then they came down the hill to a coop and Pongo saw another horse. He was so busy staring at the other horse he didn't see the jump. When he finally looked, he ducked out. The circled and he ducked out again. I've had this happen (ditch video anyone) so it made me feel slightly better. Anyway, S got him over it and then his brain clicked on.

Looks pretty darling to me.

The rest of the course was good. He wanted to go and was over jumping a lot of things and was looky but they finished. They did pick up some time penalties and with the two stops that tipped them over 100. And dropped them into last 5th since one person was eliminated.

I am super proud of him even if his final score was crap. It was his first show ever. It was his first time hauling and his first overnight trip. He did his job and they finished. Not to mention that they rocked dressage and stadium! Sure they had a bobble on cross country but that is the first cross country course he has seen besides ours. He is young and I think he will make an awesome little eventer. Sadly, I do think he is going to be offered for sale, but S is going to wait and get him running beginner novice and schooling novice, so hopefully he will get a good home.

The younger girls kicked butt! They were 1, 2, and 7 in their division and one is now qualified for the AECs. The older girls struggled a bit in stadium, but everyone had a blast. I'm really proud of this barn because we aren't the fanciest nor are the girls aren't riding fancy horses, but they work hard and have fun. And at the end of the day it is paying off.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Updates All Around and Clinic Audit

I am so behind on is taking over.  I hate adulting!  Whine aside Pongo is going to the show!!!  Hopefully I will get media and what not.  Sadly I can't go (did I mention being an adult sucks?).  They aren't going BN, S decided to bump him down to starter.  Not a bad decision, because until Wednesday, she was taking her horse.  Her horse is fine, she just didn't feel confident about running her with so little prep.

Anyway, back to last weekend.  There was a clinic at another barn that I wanted to go watch, so I did what any horse obsessed person would do when they have guests in town.  I compromised and drug my parents to the second day.  The first day we went to the beach, so it was a compromise.

Thankfully, my dad sleeps a lot, so it didn't bother him to sit and watch riders nap.  My mom was super into the clinic.  It was pretty funny and she actually made some very astute connections.  I was surprised how readily she picked up a problem one combo was having and related it back to Stinker and I.  I know she is smart, but it isn't like she has ever ridden or studied dressage.  Mostly just what I ramble on about.

Overall, I really liked John Mason's teaching style and I would ride with him.  I would need to get Stinker more consistent and accepting of the leg before I would feel ready.  Right now Stinker doesn't do so well when he is put under pressure, it has improved drastically, but I think it would be a little too much for us right now.  But in the future it would be someone to keep in mind if he comes back to the area.  Here are his centerline scores (and yes I always google them along with videos) and the farm he is based out of if you are curious.

The first ride we watched was a friesian mare.  They were working on training level things.  I liked how if the mare got rude and tried to rip the reins out of the rider's hands, John had her add leg and tighten everything up.  This is something I have been struggling with, Stinker gets irritated and he roots (especially at the walk).  And this gave me something to think about in terms of how to handle it better than I have been.

The canter was also rather interesting.  The mare likes to trot bigger and not canter.  Basically the game plan was to get the canter and ride the big forward canter to tell the mare, "yes, I want you to canter."  Then, start asking for her to bring it back by half halting and almost asking for the trot but keep the legs/hips saying canter.  If she breaks to the trot that is fine, but they need to rebalance and go right back into the canter.  The horse tired the lady out quickly and she tended to let the horse walk when she broke from the canter.  This was basically teaching the horse to break.  Obviously, Stinker and I don't have this problem because his favorite evasion is add more speed.  John also suggested that she canter out in the big open field for awhile where she didn't have to worry about turning so quickly.  This mare had a huge stride and the corners of the arena came up very quickly on the short side.

The second ride was a spicy Dutch mare.  This one was working on 2nd/3rd level I believe.  She was a lot like Stinker (well better trained) but they quite a few similarities.  The mare liked to be tight and curl and use speed as a way to get out of work.  Hmmm...yep that sounds familiar.  John actually ended up getting on, so he could feel things out.  The mare was braced on the right side and pretty much faking everything.  Yep sounds familiar.  It pretty much boiled down into ride them forward into the contact and he utilized a lot of shoulder in/fore, haunches in/out, and leg yields on circles to get her to loosen up and really start accessing her back.

No new media so there is a kitten in a bag...

The third ride was nice, but it was mostly focusing on flying lead changes.  So, I didn't focus on remembering much from it.  The fourth ride, was my favorite pony ever.  This pony is so spicy and sassy.  He is super cute and can jump.  I always wish I could ride ponies when I see him.  Anyway, he is for sale, so if anyone is interested in a dressage or jumper or eventing pony (he can get quite strong on XC), let me know and I will put you in contact with his owner.  They mostly worked on getting him steady and not fussy.

The clinic was quite interesting and I always like watching other people ride.  Sadly, I don't have much media from the clinic, because I feel weird posting videos/pictures of people I don't know.  Like I said before, I would happily ride with John.  He is quick to correct, but isn't mean about it.  He was German trained and I have heard some horror stories about Germans, so I was a little leery.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jumping with Mom

What happens when your almost 70 year old (don't tell her that I said her age) mother decides to take a jump lesson?  Pretty much the best thing ever.  Rolex watch out my mom is coming.  First a little bit of background on her.  My mom grew up on a ranch and she spent the majority of her adult life on ranches, so she has ridden pretty much her entire life.  About three years ago, shortly after my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's, they had to "retire" from ranching.

Charlie and his bridle charm

I had been after her for a few years to stop riding the young horses.  Over her lifetime she has racked up quite a few concessions and it has gotten to the point where if a horse bucks or spooks with her, she black out and falls off.  Not a good combination on young horses and why you should wear a helmet.  And no, I didn't wear a helmet until I started riding again a few years ago, but that doesn't make it right.  But I felt bad that when they stopped ranching they got rid of all of the horses.

My mom is like me, she loves riding and her horses.  So last year when they came to visit I thought it would be fun for her to take a lesson and ride.  She took a lesson on Charlie.  This year, I asked if she wanted to take another lesson and she announced that she only wanted to do it if she could ride Charlie and could jump.  I said I would ask S about it.  S agreed and so it was set up.

Her jumping was pretty much the cutest thing ever and Charlie was so good (aka lazy).  They had a blast and I think if my mom could, she would start riding again.  Hopefully, she doesn't announce that she is taking up eventing, because I am pretty sure I would be murdered by my siblings.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Good News From The Doc

The vet did have good news.  Sadly it wasn't that I had racked up enough frequent flyer miles and this one was free... A girl can dream.  I would be there if vets did this program, and I really think they should.

He really should have frequent flyer status.

There was absolutely no back soreness!!!  Nor was he sore along the ribs where some horses can get sore due to poor saddle fit.  This made me extremely happy because I love that saddle and I would have been crying in the corner if it was making him sore.  The fact that the saddle has air flocking and a flex tree made me nervous.  The only experience I have had with English saddles are the more traditional English/German made saddles.  So this saddle was a bit of a stretch for me.

The vet also agreed with me about the ulcers, so we have started a 30 day treatment plan.  Hopefully this will make Mr. Grouchy Pants go away.  And maybe he will quit kicking his stall down.  I'm so ashamed. 

Less of this face please.

Another concern I have been having involved Stinker's teeth.  He bites at another horse and bites wire which is wearing the left side of his teeth.  I was worried that this might cause long term problems, but the vet assured me that this would not be the case.

The vet was also sure to reiterate that this is the best Stinker has looked.  While I am not happy with his muscling, his coat looks great and his weight is still going up.  So we are doing things right.  It just is taking more time than Captain Impatient wants to put the muscle back on him.  So I really need to take a chill pill and take my time.  PS sorry for the lack of new media.  My phone doesn't have a case and well I have a history of breaking them at the barn...

More of this face!