Wednesday, March 30, 2016

February Video Lessons

I am not doing a very good job keeping up with the video lessons.  They are happening, I just keep running out of time to get everything together.

Video 1:  02.06.16

My Thoughts:
We had yet another freak out over my legs.  I wasn't sure if I was handling this correctly.  Basically I was keeping my legs on until he calmed down, but I wasn't allowing him to go forward.  My reasoning for that was that he likes to take any leg cue as rocket launch and I felt that allowing the forward was feeding into this.  But I wasn't sure if that was the right approach.

He felt a bit frantic in the trot again, but I did think we had some nice moments in there.  I really wanted to work on the walk trot transitions, but I didn't think that it was the right day for that.  Instead, I did a quite a few walk halt transitions.  I was really trying to get him to halt off my seat, and we were doing fairly well with that, but sometimes, they were really abrupt and he wasn't staying soft.  I do think we are improving.  This also really helped with being able to slow the walk down.  Sometimes it feels more like a running walk rather than a true walk.
Stinker does not agree that legs should touch him.

D's Thoughts:
I am doing a better job catching him as he is coming above the bit (3:46), but I need to watch how much inside rein I grab.  It makes him round, but I am starting to get a head tilt (2:24 and 4:33).  I also need to be careful not to ride defensive (2:57), but I did correct myself.

The down transitions are good, but I need to be careful about how much "break pedal" I start with (4:33) and I need to have a much stronger outside rein for the upward.  I should be thinking smaller shorter steps for the downward and bigger steps for the upward transitions followed by a strong outside rein.

I also need to remember to use the walk figure eight when he gets locked up or jigs.  This will help him find this balance, keep his focus on me, and help to loosen him up.  It is good that I stop him and swing my legs around until he relaxes, but I also need to take his neck away (6:15).  In these moments, since he is so tense and feels like he is ready to bolt, taking his neck to the side and making him move one direction then the other will help me to distract his brain.  Basically, I have to give him something else to be worried about, besides being worried.

With my circles I need to mix up the size and not be afraid to switch directions when he wants to get spazzy (6:15).  Just mix things up a little bit more, which will help with his focus.  Both of us need to be more engaged.

Video 2:  02.13.16

My Thoughts:
I thought we did better with the legs, but he felt pretty tense in general.  It felt like his hind end was sore, because it felt more like pulling from the front rather than pushing from behind.  Everything felt a little disconnected and choppier than it has been.  We did have some nice moments, but there were less than I had gotten in previous rides.

D's Thoughts:
The walk trot transitions are looking better, especially since they were coming from more a halt.  I was also using my hands better, I was pushing them wide and down.  I managed to keep a good position for most of the ride and rode "confident and tactfully."  We found a decent neutral spot and he responded well, because when I asked him to halt and breathe he did so over and over.

There were a lot of times he was actually pushing from behind in the ride, but he would usually canter a couple of strides.  Rewatch 14:01 there is a huge body change and then he gets a bit upset.  He really shifts his weight back in this instance.
He really steps under himself and then he canters.

When he counter canters, I need to turn him in the direction he is cantering then proceed to do the figure eight exercise in the trot until he settles.

He is looking more muscled behind and he is trying to shift his weight back and push, but he is probably a little muscle sore.  Also, because of the EPM, he may need a bit more recovery time.  Not necessarily days off, but a lighter day.  (The schedule I have him on is five to six days a week where I really try to push him the video days and the lesson with S.  The other three or four days, I try to keep things light.  Example trot him just enough that he will settle and walk then we work for about twenty minutes.)  D thought this was a good schedule for him and to keep with it since he is showing improvement.

Video 3:  02.22.16

My Thoughts:
This might be the world's most boring video ever, because we just walked.  He just felt a bit tired and was willing to walk, so we just walked.  I was actually pretty happy with it.  He was maneuverable for me and did some leg yields.  He did get a bit tense, but he would move over and not have a meltdown.  We did some one loops and he was happy to change bend and straighten.  The serpentines and figure eights were pretty consistent.

My only complaint is he is starting to root.  I try to bump him back up with my legs, but that typically causes the head to shoot up and him to hollow and jig.  I don't know if I should keep doing that.  I try not to give at all when he gets rude, but after the fact I realized that while I was trying to give I never gave him a break to fully stretch out.  He might have just wanted to stretch and I wasn't letting him and he got frustrated.

D's Thoughts:
That was a nice 20 minutes of stretching.  There isn't much to critique.  D was impressed that we were able to walk for 20 minutes with him stretching and if he came up he was willing to go back right away.

The rooting is a hard issue, but I shouldn't feel bad that I didn't let him stretch out because we were just walking.  She suggested that I try pumping upwards with my hands a bit instead of with my leg.  Just a light up and out towards his ears.  This was really good muscle building because he just held his stretch and he is moving his SI area a lot more in the walk and that is great.

Video 4:  02.27.16

My Thoughts:
I rode like crap.  (That was literally the message I sent D with the video.  I was super irritated with myself, because I let myself get frustrated which does nothing for either of us.  I think D was pretty kind to us, probably because she knew I was beating myself up over it.)

D's Thoughts:
D liked the trot we had in the first eight minutes.  He is trying to push and it is the most correct slow trot she has seen from us.  Around ten minutes he had a temper tantrum.  What happened was I was trying to get him to soften to the left and he lost his marbles (we have done the softening routine quite frequently so it wasn't new to him).  Normally, he will give the left shoulder and step over into the right rein.  I think the pop up came from him thinking he couldn't go forward and me being frustrated.
Stinker can't handle life.

D thought that my position "actually looked quite lovely" so I guess that is something.  She really didn't like that he popped up.  The bottom line was he got too anxious and bottled up and the brain was not functioning and he felt trapped when I was telling him to go forward.  I was not worried about it because it did not feel like there was gong to be a pattern.  D agreed (eventually) that she wouldn't worry about it if it didn't happen again.

Overall, she thought I rode their ridiculousness really well and was really happy with me.  At 15:45 we actually had a stretch and I was able to catch his first counter canter, bend him left and trot.  At 16:05 he got a little nutty again and I was able to use the smaller circles well.  We had butt foam (him not me, mine isn't visible) at 19:07, so he is using his hind.

On the long side, you can really see that his haunches are trailing to the inside (right).  I can feel this when I am really focusing, but sometimes get distracted and forget about it.  I have two options to handle this.  I can use shoulder in or I can make his a diagonal line with his body and keep his haunches on the rail.

My Final Thoughts:
This series of videos was interesting, because we had some struggles.  But I do think we are making progress.  Sometimes I get too caught up in things and forget where we started.  I want everything to be steady upward progress and not have any setbacks.  The good of the not so great moments is I now know I am handling his BS better and don't buy into it as much and we can work through things.  Also, our nice moments are getting nicer.

Monday, March 28, 2016

2016 Quarter 1 Goals

I wrote my goals up in December, but then my whole plan changed in January and I didn't update my goals to fit the new plan.  So I am adjusting my goals.  Plus the weather sucked this weekend, so there wasn't much pony stuff going on.

Looks like fun....

Old Goals

Year Goals
  • Training Level Dressage at a schooling show late spring/early summer.
  • Horse Trial at a schooling show late fall/early winter.
  • Solid First Level work at home by late fall/early winter.
Quarterly Human Goals
  • Walk at least 10,000 steps per day (15,000 steps if riding). (FAILED)
  • Yoga three times a week. (FAILED...maybe managed three times total.)
  • More two point! (brag about having a jump saddle...womp womp womp) (I haven't even been attempting this.)
Quarterly Stinker Goals
  • Get dressage saddle figured out. (This was quite successful)
  • Continue to work on rhythm and relaxation in all gaits. (We have made progress here)
  • Get more suppleness in the canter.
  • Leg yields!!! (This is day dependent)
None of the year goals are even on the table anymore.  And well the human fails at being accountable for her own goals.  Bad Human!

Too much time to play candy crush...

New Goals

Year Goals
  • Happy healthy Stinker
  • Happy healthy human
  • Continue to get muscle in the correct places
  • Continue to build up strength
  • Consistent walk trot with leg yields
Quarterly Human Goals
  • Eat more vegetables (no pizza with veggies dipped in ranch sauce does not count as a salad)
  • Exercise outside of riding (does not matter what kind but something needs to be happening)
Quarterly Stinker Goals
  • Get thrush cleared up and keep a better eye on things
  • Start phasing out draw reins
  • Keep building muscle
  • Transitions and leg yields
All that rain makes for a filthy monster.

I was really hoping to be showing this year, but that has been tabled for now.  I would rather have a horse that is able to have long term soundness than to push for a few shows.  Honestly, canter is off the table until next year for now, which does bum me out, but I do think it will be good for him.  And yes I do realize I could do walk trot test, but I don't want to.  I am going to try to do a few clinics here and there, but for the most part things will be low key and just building strength.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Unicorn Canter

Pongo and I were struggling to find the magical canter for jumping yesterday.  I think we were both feeling a little sluggish.  I have been on the struggle bus lately and just feeling spread a little too thin, so that might play into things.

Feed me cookies???

I had been riding him in a full cheek snaffle, but S felt like he needed some more breaks.  So S had the girl try him in an elevator and it was too much for him.  I got to try the Wonder bit on him.  I am not sure how I felt about it.  He was softer, but he was also curling behind, which I prefer bracing to curling.  I don't like going towards a jump with the horse curling.  It unnerves me.

Wonder Bit

Our first set of jumps was terrible at best.  I think we pulled rails at every single jump.  He was sluggish and behind the leg for the whole set.  We put eight strides in a line that should be a forward six.  I was trying to get him forward, but he was so backed off that I wasn't ever to able to recover.

The next time was a little better, we had a couple decent jumps, but he was still getting too backed off.  S sent us through and added a few more jumps.  I got him much more forward, but after the third jump he started curling and I wasn't sure if he was paying attention.  We had the biggest jump coming up and it was freaking me out that he wasn't locking on to it.  Call me crazy but I want the horse to be paying attention to the jump.

More cookies!!!!

He did see it and everything was hunky dory but it was still unnerving.  After that, we finally got he bolder canter we needed and got some really nice jumps.  Why is it so hard to find the canter?  I think I need to spend some time playing with different canters so we can find that more forward one easier.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Loud Speakers=Terrifying

We had a schooling show at the barn this last weekend.  I think we had 60ish entries between the horse trials, combine training, and straight dressage entries.  I got lucky and one of the girls wanted to scribe in the morning, so I didn't have to do it all day.


I decided to pull Stinker out and walk him around warm up to see how he acted and give him exposure.  It wasn't super busy, but there was enough going on that he was on high alert as we walked up to the dressage pasture.  He was looking and snorting, but was very well behaved.

I decided since he was handing the horses well, I would walk him over by the show office.  There were lots of decorations up, people around, and the loudspeaker.  Poor Stinker wasn't not ok with the loudspeaker and I am a horrible person that find his reactions hysterical when he gets scared.  He is curious and wants to approach it, but he is also doesn't want to get too close to it.  So, he arches his neck and stretches it out as far as it will reach and snorts.  Like wild snorting monster snorting.

There has been more remodeling...(soon to be fixed and mats added)

There was lots of stretching and snorting.  One group of people asked me if he was a baby.  I honestly don't know how to answer this.  He has been under saddle for about a year (when you subtract out the time he had off for EPM), but he is going to be seven this year.  I just said that he was started late, and left out the fact that he is a giant goofball that snorts a lot.

The show went really well.  I had one screw up with the dressage clipboard.  I got some wires crossed and made up Intro C tests for a class that was supposed to be doing Intro B.  On the bright side, no one complained at the office (after the judge stopped the first girl for an error I realized the mistake), so it wasn't a huge deal.  I love these schooling shows and I really hope I can ride Stinker in one of them before I end up moving again.

I thought he was licking the block and stood there for quite awhile and then I realized he was chewing on the tub...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Jump Course!!

Last week I had a jump lesson on Pongo and we got to test out the jump course for the show.  It has been while since Pongo and I have jumped a course.  I think we did one last fall...maybe.  It was a really fun course with lots of turns (some harder than others).

Jump Course (Can you tell I drew it?)

In case you can't follow my fantastic drawing, you start with a left hand turn from one to two.  Then a tight right turn back to three.  Three to four was a five or six stride bending line, with another tight turn back to 5a.  It was then two strides to 5b, with a left turn to six.  Six to seven was a fairly nice line with a right turn back to eight.  Eight was a bending right line with another right turn to ten.

After warm up S had us start with the tricky part of the course.  First we rode the bending line from three to four.  Then we added in the turn to the combination.  I am not going to lie that combo was a little scary.  It looked big and I asked how big it was.  I was kind of hoping by asking S would lower it, but no such luck.  She said it was slightly bigger than beginner novice (gulp).

Such a cute face!

The first time, I totally screwed up the turn into 5a and was too far to the right and we weren't straight in the combo.  He thought about bailing on 5b, but I gave him a tap with the whip and he went for it.  It was pretty ugly and I felt bad for the terrible line up.  The next time, I got the line right and we nailed the combo.

We took a break and I "walked" the course.  AKA I rode Pongo around and looked at the lines and hoped I knew where I was going.  The whole thing rode really well, but we did have a couple of issues.  One, coming into the combination Pongo was getting behind the leg a bit, so I gave him a cluck and a tap which resulted in a launch at 5a.  Then 5b was a little awkward and he pulled a rail.  Six and seven rode really well.  He got a little fast to eight, but it wasn't bad.  Between eight and nine Pongo decided that half halts were optional and we totally took a flyer.  I got serious with the half halt and got him back for ten.

No new media, but he is still cute.

I was really pleased with him (shocker I know...I love this horse).  Sure we had that rail, but that was totally my fault, I shouldn't have given him the tap going into the combo.  I think the cluck would have been sufficient.  I thought the course was really fun although some of the girls at the show were terrified by it.  Maybe I don't know enough to know what I should be scared of...either was it was fun.

Friday, March 18, 2016


I failed on two counts. One I had this awesome post written about my jump lesson, but then I realized I was testing the jump course for the schooling show. Probably shouldn't publish that before the show.

The second fail is Stinker's thrush. He has had bad thrush for awhile now. I used clean tracks on him in January before he was first shod. Since then I've been cleaning his feet with alcohol and iodine. I thought I was making some headway unfortunately that was not the case. The thrush is why he is off. He is sound at the walk and just a bit ouchy at the trot so I'm hopeful.

I've started a more aggressive treatment and I'm hoping to be able to clean/treat his feet twice a day. I was cleaning them everyday but sometimes it would be 36 hours or so between the cleanings. I feel terrible about it, especially since I've known about it for so long. You live and you learn. Plus it gives me something else to be neurotic over. S is going to loooove this new addition to the repertoire. Hopefully his feet will be feeling better soon and we can get back to our regular schedule. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Guessing Games

Guess who is lame...

Yep, Stinker.

I am hoping that it isn't serious.  It is his front and not his hind.  This actually relieves me.  We have three running theories.  One, his bell boots were rubbing.  Two, his feet hurt because he is due for the farrier.  Or three he has an abscess.  I am hoping for one or two.

He looks so innocent

His bell boots were pulled.  I wished I had video of that, because they are the pull on ones and I was seriously struggling.  He was such a trooper and just stood there while I tugged and pulled and swore and tugged some more.  And I am hoping that the farrier will be out today, and he will get his feet done.  I should no more then, and for now I am trying to keep the crazy down.  It's a struggle...

I would never cause trouble...yeah right.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring Cleaning

I have some stuff that I am not using and want to clear out.  Ok, the truth is I have clinics I want to go to, so I am selling stuff to pay for them.  If you are interested in anything or have questions, you can either comment or email me at {at} gmail

The List:  All prices or best offer
18" Medium Albion Legend Dressage Saddle:  $1300
Black 1.25" Memory Foam Ogilvy Dressage Pad:  $180
Black VenTECH SMB Boots (Medium) 2 front sets 1 hind (see more details):  $100
      -Hind New (name in silver sharpie):  $60
      -2 Front Sets Used (See Pictures):  $40
Aztec Diamond 2014 White Technical Breeches size 16 (NWT):  $90

The Details:

Ogilvy Dressage Pad:  $180
It is 1.25" memory foam, regular size, and black.  It does have my initials on the binding (saddle will cover them) in silver sharpie.

Black VenTECH SMB Boots (Medium) 2 front sets 1 hind:  $100
      -Hind New (name in silver sharpie):  $60
      -2 Front Sets Used (See Pictures):  $40
The hind set is brand new and has never been on a horse.  The one front set is missing the middle tab of velcro.  I think they are still functional if your horse isn't an asshole with velcro.

Brand new hind (medium)

Top has small tear on the third velcro, and bottom missing middle velcro

Inside of well used pair

Used, but fully functional and all velcro still intact.

Inside of velcro still intact pair.

Aztec Diamond 2014 White Technical Breeches size 16 (NWT):  $90
According to the sizing chart UK size 16 is 34" waist and US size 12.  Here is the link to the website for pictures.

Friday, March 11, 2016

March Conformation Photos

I have mixed feelings about the way Stinker looks.  Does he look fantastic compared to EPM Stinker?  Yes.  But he isn't where I want him to be.  He is filling out and gaining muscle in the correct places, so I just need to be patient.

I really dislike how he looks from this angle.  He is very crooked and uneven.  I have been working on straightness, but you can easily tell how crooked he is and has been.  This is a problem he has from the beginning, but the EPM weakness has highlighted the problem.

In the pictures below, March is on top followed by February and finally January on the bottom.  I think that I got lucky with how his neck was being held in February.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Worth His Weight In Gold

I can't believe how well Pongo is doing.  He is turning into a jumping rockstar and S thinks he can easily do training eventually.  I adore this horse so much, but lucky for me the girl has asked about riding him again and mentioned that her dad was talking about getting her a horse (score!). I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will work out, because then I don't have to worry about where he will end up in the long run.

Last week he was amazing in our jump lesson.  We were right on point and everything felt fantastic.  This week, we only had one brain between the two of us.  Apparently I was the one that had my brain leak out.  I could not ride to save my life.  I was putting him to wonky distances, jumping ahead, and sloppy with my position.  All that fun stuff.  Pongo just kept on trucking despite my best efforts.  He didn't object when I failed miserably, never stopped or ducked out (I gave him plenty of reasons), and just kept jumping.

This actually made me happier than our amazing jump lessons when I was riding well.  He took care of me, ignored my terrible decisions, made all the right ones, and stayed honest.  What more can you ask for from a horse?  I think with some more miles on him, he will make a fabulous horse.  He may not be the flashiest or most athletic, but he will be solid and dependable.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Quiet Mornings

I love riding early in the morning.  Everything is still and peaceful.  I have the barn to myself and can give Stinker some hay to munch on while I tack up.  I love being able to just be.  No worrying about work, other people, or rushing to beat the darkness.

Friday, March 4, 2016

One of Those Lessons

Do you ever have one of those lessons where muscles you didn't know you had hurt?  I had one of those yesterday.  We were doing really technical my dreams.  We walked and worked on getting Stinker straight.  This is his idea of straight.  Left shoulder popped and haunches trailing to the right.

Haunches to the right

I was really pleased with him.  He would get tense as I was moving his body around, but he let me push him straight.  Obviously it wasn't easy, because my butt is sore.  Apparently I was using that little muscle that pulls your legs back under you for a change.

We have been having some ummm issues with leg being applied and appropriate responses.  I have really been pushing his buttons (sometimes a little too far) to show him that leg is ok.  Because lets face it, without leg we can't do anything fun.
How dare you ask me to move to the right???

So him letting me put leg on and actually move his body in the desired direction is a big step for us.  I was really happy with how well he stepped up and fingers crossed that we are on the path to straightness.  And hopefully I remember to use those those little muscles so they don't hurt so much.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Family Brag and One Year

Pardon me while I step outside of ponies for a moment.  I have to brag about my totally awesome and kick ass sister for a second.  She started doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) about eight years ago and was promoted to a black belt recently.  Trust me, I am not going to pick any fights with her (I had out grown her in about 6th or 7th grade and we fought like cats and dogs until she left for college).  Anyway, she has her first pro match and the super awesome part is that it is the first time a women's match is the headliner for any pro event!  Yep my sister is a total badass and I am so proud of her!

Now, back to the regularly scheduled PONIES!!!  One year ago today, I had my very first ride on my brand new horse.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I remember that I thought he felt so funny when I first got on him.  Now he just feels like home.  While our progress has been far from linear, we have made progress.  And we are finally a team.  He trusts me and I trust him.  When I have a crap day, I can go out there and his head pops up when he sees me and it makes everything disappear (temporally at least).

Stinker on his way down to me!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Video Lessons January: AKA I got super behind

So I got really behind on things with my video lessons.  One, I wasn't sure if I was going to do them at the beginning of the month, so I only did three.  Two, my parents were in town for a large portion of the month, so I didn't do so well on keeping on top of the blogging (they don't know what a blog is much less that I have one).  So here is a month long dump.  Feel free to skip it.

Lesson 1:  Jan. 16, 2016

My Thoughts:
I was rather disappointed in this ride and I still haven't gone back to watch it.  He felt tense and frantic and we had some unintended canter.  It wasn't a bad rider really, but we had been feeling much better.

D's Thoughts:
D thought he was the most relaxed she had seen him.  He looked more bouncy through his body and he wasn't ever in the stuck up and down place we used to get.  She also thought that I did a better job of not letting him brace through his neck.  He would brace and then give and while it was give and take, there was the give.

Areas to Improve:
Do not let him pop up in transitions.  If he brings his head up the transition, it needs to be redone.  I also need to continue to work on getting him to lower his head.  She wants to try to keep his nose even with the bottom of his chest to help get the last bit of give from his under neck.  I also need to keep my leg back a bit more (this was the first time she saw me in the new saddle).

Lesson 2:  Jan. 23, 2016

My Thoughts:
My mom filmed this one and it is a little interesting.  I am pretty sure there are parts where I tell her just to keep me in the picture and don't worry about the rest (I am not the only one that suffers from technology challenges).

D's Thoughts:
Most of my issues came from me not utilizing my outside aids (I was a day late and dollar short figuring this out...).  I need to turn him away from my outside rein instead of turning him like a car (this makes me lean to the inside of the saddle).  I am moving in the right direction with his frame, but I still need to get things lower.  She really liked the bended lines I did, but I need to search for more relaxation before, durning, and after the turn.  I also got called out for babying him (oops).

Areas to Improve:
Keep after him to stretch down and over his top line.  Use my outside aids and stop trying to ride him like I am driving a car.  Shift my weight to the outside and keep the outside from falling out on turns. This will help with the relaxing in turns (he gets off balance he speeds up).

Lesson 3:  Jan. 24, 2016

My Thoughts:
Stinker had a bit of a meltdown in this one.  He was running through my outside leg and I booted him a bit to remind him that my leg does mean something.  He then proceeded to have a meltdown over any leg at all...we got it worked out.  Overall, I thought it felt pretty good.  (I did not rewatch this one either.)

D's Thoughts:
I was more consistent with not letting his nose pop up so high.  I need to be better about catching him when he first comes up.  I am letting him get way too high before I make the correction.  She was glad that I let him have his meltdown and still worked through it.

Areas to Improve:
More transitions! (this was followed by a plllllllllease) Leg yields into this new frame.  Use a figure eight to soften him up (he has to yield his neck and his body at the same time).

Video four didn't happen because we had a bunch of rain and the footing was total crap.