Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ask And You Shall Receive

Whoops.  I should be careful what I wish for.  Stinker decided to give me a non-average ride after my whining about all the average.  He gave me some fabulous moments and some awful moments.

To the right he gave me some of our best trot yet.  He was stretching and I wasn't struggling to maintain the correct tempo.  We even had a baby stretchy trot.  Granted his baby stretchy is basically a normal horse's typical trot.  But it is a huge difference for him, especially when you consider his neck set.

I'm sexy and I know it

Apparently when we are tracking left it is impossible for him to travel straight.  Adding outside leg to put the haunches in line and asking him to step off his left shoulder results in forgetting how to horse.  After breaking things down step by step I got about three steps of what I wanted.  He was really frazzled so I told him what a good boy he is and got off.

The only thing that can make an HOA meeting bearable. 

Then to make things even better he got kicked yet again.  It is the third one he has gotten since we got back from getting my saddle fitted.  I guess I should be glad that he was fine.  But seriously horse get some social skills and stop pestering everyone until they beat the shit out of you!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Case Of The Averages

Stinker had a fair amount of time off between the vet visit, my work schedule, and then sticking his leg in the fence (thanks for that bud).  I was very happy how he handled our visit for the saddle fitter. He hauled for four hours quite well (he was a hot sweaty mess, but that is pretty normal for him).  He settled into a new barn extremely well.  He was even able to be turned out at night (that couldn't happen last December when we visited).  He even was good in his stall when his buddy was taken away and ridden.

He *might* have dumped his entire water bucket (big muck bucket size)

As far as the riding went, he was excellent for the amount of time off.  The saddle fitter looked extremely nervous when I made the comment (as I was getting on) that he hadn't really been ridden in almost two weeks.  He was a little nervous, but settled right down.  He was really relaxed for our ride the next morning.

Fat Barn Cat

Since we have been back, things have just been average.  The reality is not every ride will be the best, so when things are just average I should be happy.  Because he is giving me very consistent rides.  Consistent is good.  I just want more, but really it has been so dang hot that it is really hard to press for improvements.  At this point, I am just hoping to hang in there until things start to cool off.  I'm so done and over these 90s+ with 70%+ humidity.  In the meantime I am going to hang out with our case of averages.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Legs And Saddles

I was so happy Stinker's leg had zero heat and the swelling went down by Thursday morning. He is still a bit stiff, but he worked out of it. I haven't tried to trot him or anything yet, but we were able to get my saddle fitted.

On Wednesday we trailered down to my favorite dressage judge's place. I felt so horrible because Stinker had loading issues. He started really well but the step up with his hind was difficult because he was sore still. He tried once and missed then decided to nope out of the situation. We got the trailer moved so the step up wasn't as big but it took him a few minutes to get his confidence back. I finally got him on with a lot of coaxing and some bribery. He traveled really well despite the heat.  

The next day, the saddle fitter came. My saddle needed multiple changes. He went from a V head plate to a U. She did some reconfiguration with the panels to get the back lifted without dumping all the pressure up front. She changed the way the flap attaches so I have more room for my leg.

He felt really good in it and the saddle fitter was really happy with how he looked. I'm really happy with how the trip went and I really really really want a truck and trailer now. But I need to find a new job and get in a more permanent location before I start getting too crazy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

No More Massages!

Last week Stinker had a fairly light week between the vet telling me to give him a couple days off and my work schedule.  He got a massage on Saturday, and I gave him Sunday off because I was too tired to do anything.

Monday, I went out to the barn early and was ready to ride and all that fun stuff.  I was greeted with this...

Apparently someone (ahem *Stinker*) decided playing in the fence is a fun hobby.  His leg had quite a bit of heat but not much swelling (I am discovering he really doesn't swell much) and he was obviously sore on it.  He was reluctant to walk off at first but by the time we got up to the barn, he was starting to move better.

Instead, of my ride I got to cold hose his leg and then hide some bute in his timothy so he would actually eat it.  I decided since he seemed to move out of the soreness, instead of going in his stall like normal, I would have S keep him in the small ring by the barn.  She cold hosed him again at noon and I went back out in the evening and did it again.

Tuesday morning, he was moving better, but I still didn't like the amount of heat in his leg.  He isn't three legged lame or anything, but just not moving quite right.  The part that is killing me is I finally have a saddle fitting appointment on Thursday.  The little turd monkey had better be sound enough to walk and trot for the fitting, otherwise I might just give him to the farrier (JK the farrier won't take him I already tried).

How he stretches during his massages

He is still off (as of Tuesday evening) and I am really hoping for a miracle, but I am not that optimistic.  Hopefully, he will keep improving and be good enough that we can get my saddle fitted.  Otherwise I will be in the corner crying/swearing and there might be a Stinker up for grabs.

Monday, August 22, 2016

I've Got 99 Problems and Blankets Are One

I need to get some different blankets for Stinker this year.  The ones I got him last year were giving him shoulder rubs.  I tried a couple shoulder guards, but neither helped and one made it worse.  Initially, I got the SmartPak Ultimate Turnout blanket, because destructo pony destroyed his previous blanket before he moved down here.  The 10 year warranty seemed awesome.  I had one with a neck cover and one with the high neck that is supposed to prevent rubs.  Both rubbed.

Part way through the winter I acknowledged that the blankets just weren't working, so I asked on a saddlebred page about blankets.  The overwhelming response was to try a StormShield V-Free blanket.  So, I got one of those and it rubbed too.

Second attempt.

I think my problem is two fold.  One he is a saddlebred and they have large shoulder and withers compared to the rest of their bodies.  Secondly, he is built so uphill everything slides backwards.  This makes it tight on his shoulders and gives him rubs.

So, my questions are:

  • Are there other blankets that will fit him better? (Please note I am measuring him properly)
  • Am I delusional in hoping that I can find a better fitting blanket?
  • Is there a shoulder guard that would actually help?
  • Is there another trick to prevent shoulder rubs?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I hope everyone enjoyed the contest as much as I did.  So without further ado, here are the final standings.  PS I did have a couple mistakes on the dressage listings, that I corrected.  And I quadruple checked these (and ran them by someone else, since I obviously can't be trusted not to make mistakes).

1)  Kaity (Riding Warehouse Gift Card)
2)  Leah Strid (If The Bonnet Fits)
3)  Codex Dressage  (Dark Jewel Designs)
4)  L Williams
5)  Stephanie Hammer
6)  Love Laugh Ride
7)  A Pitts
8)  Olivia
9)  Jules At The Barn
10)  Bee Tea
11)  $900 FB Pony
12)  Carly
13)  A Gift Horse
14)  SarahO  (EDA Designs)

In addition to the top three and last winning prizes, I also had a prize for the most eliminated and for sharing the contest.  I think originally I had it listed as most falls, but that was too hard for me to keep track of so I just went with eliminated/withdrew.

A Gift Horse won the most eliminated/withdrew with her teams losing 7 riders (I sent you an email).  Finally, Olivia won the random draw for sharing.  I will be getting your prizes organized and sent out ASAP.

Stinker was sad I didn't let him play.

I want to thank everyone who participated, because this was really fun for me.  And I watched the teams with a lot more interest than I had in the past.  If you have any suggestions on how to change/improve things I would love to hear them, because I am already toying with some ideas for the future.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

So Excited!

I have been worrying about Stinker's right hind for awhile now, despite my efforts to not worry.  I was waiting for the vet to come out for shots and coggins and just have him give Stinker a once over. He finally came out yesterday.  I was so terrified that he was going to say that Stinker was having problems with his hocks/stifles.

Awkward picture but he is still cute

But the verdict was Stinker just needed some adjustments.  The vet also said that Stinker is looking really good.  This makes me happy because he is very blunt and doesn't sugar coat things.  I was also very relieved that A) I wasn't totally crazy and B) it wasn't anything major for a change.

Drunk pony for the win!

Stinker is getting super spoiled this week, because he had the adjustments, and will get a massage this weekend.  Then next week I am finally (YAY!!) getting my saddle adjusted.  Of course I do need to mention to my bosses that I am missing some work next week.  In my defense they have been out of the country, so I am hoping to be able to give them some awesome data and then say oh by the way can have a couple days off.

I might get to play with this girl again.

In other news, Monday was one of those days that just sucked.  I was feeling super lazy and unmotivated/exhausted from work.  When I finally made it out to the barn, I had a fucking spider fall down my shirt.  It was IN MY SHIRT.  I barely managed to keep myself from ripping it off.  And I provided lots of entertainment with my squealing and jumping around.

Monday, August 15, 2016

That Went Swimmingly (And Contest Results)

We have been getting a crap ton of rain lately, Saturday it didn't rain despite the prediction for rain.  Sunday, there was a 20% chance (basically what every day is here) and the dressage ring was dry enough that I thought I could maybe attempt some canter for my video.

Sulking in the rain

I got tacked up and was just getting ready to set up my camera when it started sprinkling.  I decided to wait it out since it was still sunny and while there were a few clouds, I thought it would pass quickly.  Silly me.  It kept raining and I was starting to get nervous about the electronics that weren't waterproof, so I moved over to the tree line.  It then proceeded to rain harder, but the ring was still dry enough.  It stopped, and while Stinker was less than thrilled, I was still determined to get the video.

Soupy Arena

I started to set things up again and then it started raining yet again.  This time it was harder, so I booked it back to the tree line.  By the time it stopped the second time, I was soaked and had my fingers crossed for my electronics (they were fine) and Stinker was pissed.  The ring was flooded, so getting a video wasn't happening.  I decided to go back to the barn.  I was in my tall boots, so I was ducking puddles.  Then the zipper blew out on my one boot.  At this point I was just grumpy.

Pretty much how I felt

I got back to the barn, and dried off my saddle as best I could.  I had to go to work in the afternoon and I checked the radar and there was nothing, so I decided to suck it up and go ride.  Everything was wet and I figured we wouldn't get another shower.  I figured wrong.  About half way through my ride it started down pouring yet again.  I parked Stinker under a tree and tried not to sulk too much.  Stinker was so over things at this point.

A fun duck that lives by my work

After it stopped raining yet again, I wanted to do just a little bit to get Stinker's head back in the game.  Unfortunately, he was done playing.  He wouldn't walk, I finally took him into the water complex thinking that it would make him walk.  That planned failed, but we got some awesome trot work.  Then, he trotted some hills, and finally I got his brain back enough that I could at least communicate that I wanted him to walk.  It was still over tempo, but I settled and let him be done.

How to end up totally drenched with an angry pony

Now, on to the contest results.  The dressage made things way more interesting than the eventing did. Kudos to Kaity and Leah for getting all three medals correct!

Dressage Results

Totals for Dressage and Eventing

Friday, August 12, 2016

No Stirrups and Jerk Level

We have been getting slammed with rain, I have been just been walking Stinker on the hills the last couple of days.  Since he is getting more consistent, I have been able to play with my position more.  Lately I have noticed that my one knee has started hurting, since I haven't had any problems with them before I think I am bracing somewhere.  I haven't been able to figure out what I am doing, so I decided to drop my stirrups and really work on getting my hips stretching.

Guess who hasn't gotten any actual work done this week...

Today I finally noticed a difference.  After about 30 minutes of walking, I decided to pick up my stirrups and they felt way too short.  I am hoping that if I do no stirrups every day I am walking on the hills that I will actually get him hips to work properly and maybe I will be able to lengthen my stirrups.

In other news I discovered my horse has been being a jerk to the farrier.  I was so ashamed and I am not really sure what to do about it.  He first got shoes on in January, and I was there for that.  He was a little nervous, but I thought it was just because he hadn't been done before (to my knowledge) and our farrier hot shoes, which can be a bit scary.

Can we say filthy monster?

Since that point Stinker has been on a five week schedule and I haven't been there for any of them until this week.  I actually arrived at the barn right as Stinker was being pulled out of his stall, so I held him.  He was really good (in my opinion), all he did was look when the farrier was grinding the shoes.  After Stinker was back in his stall the farrier said that his jerk level had dropped.

Wait, what, his jerk level?  Apparently he is nervous and dances around and tries to nip.  I had no idea on any of this, because no one had said anything to me.  The farrier said that he could tell I had been working with him (I really haven't), so I don't know if Stinker was better because I was holding him or if he is really getting better.

Maybe the farrier hates him because he rests a foot?  WTF horse

I am trying to decide what to do.  It really isn't feasible for me to be there every time his feet get done.  Our farrier is also a firefighter, so his schedule has to revolve around the fire house and the special training he does for the rescue teams he is on.  Between our schedules we typically only overlap by him leaving as I arrive.  My other option is to keep supplying him with beer so he likes me more than he dislikes my horse.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Unlocking The Core And Olympic Standings

First up, the first round of the olympic contest has ended.  Here are the scores.  Please let me know if you see an error.  France really screwed things up for everyone, but congrats to SarahO for getting Australia correct!

Eventing Standings

Person Gold Silver Bronze Total
Actual France Germany Australia
$900FBPony Germany USA Great Britain      5
Kaity Great Britain New Zealand Germany      5
Bee Tea Germany Great Britian USA       5
Codex Dressage Germany Great Britian USA      5
Olivia Germany New Zealand USA      5
Stephanie Hammer New Zealand Australia USA      5
Apitts Germany Great Britian New Zealand       5
LoveLaughRide Germany Great Britian New Zealand      5
Leah Strid Germany Great Britian New Zealand      5
SarahO Canada Netherlands Australia    20
Carly Germany Great Britian New Zealand      5
AGiftHorse Germany USA Canada      5
L.Williams Germany New Zealand Great Britain      5
JulesAtTheBarn Germany Great Britian New Zealand      5

On to the pony business.  Since I am finally getting Stinker working correctly and he is willing to play ball with me, I have started focusing more on me.  Making extra sure that I am well balanced and have my legs under me.  Trying to get my rouge right arm under control.  I don't know what is up with it, but it will not stay by my side.  Left elbow is fine, but the right wants to wave out there and do I don't know what.  Along this same line I am really working on improving our transitions and having them come totally from the seat and core.

More cookies for me and less for you!

That darn core is always sneaking up on me.  I have decent core strength, but between using it to maintain the small trot and using it more for transitions, I am realizing I still have a ways to go.  I have had multiple days where I have been sore, which is good because I am using it.  But on the other hand I need to up my game a bit.  So what are your favorite exercises to build up your core strength?

Monday, August 8, 2016


I accidentally cantered.  I was trying to push Stinkers haunches to the left (he has gone back to trying to trail them to the right) and he hopped up into the canter.  It was a lovely counter canter, so I let him canter a circle and then brought him back to the trot.  It felt really balanced, there was no bolting, and he calmly came back to the trot.  Yes he got tense and short and I had my hands in my lap and I was leaning and I was in need of a modified fly bonnet courtesy of SprinklerBandit.  I seriously think of that every time I catch myself looking down and it still hasn't cured me.  I don't know what that says about me, but we CANTERED!!!!!!

Blurry screenshot for the win! I love how much he is loading that hind.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Transition Clarity

Don't forget to get your entries in for the Olympic contest!  It closes tonight at midnight (pacific time) so get them in!

Now back to the actual horse stuff.  Unlocking the small trot has created a new problem.  I have worked very hard to eliminate the jig from Stinker's walk and we were doing really well until he discovered it is really easy to slip from the small trot into a jig instead of just walking.  Part of the problem is a lack of clarity on my part during the transition.

The mini with the Irish Draught crack me up!

I am really good at following with my hips, I am not so good at setting the rhythm.  Stinker needs more direction because when left to his own devices he doesn't look like a dressage horse.  At first I tried just walking until he settled then going back to the trot in hopes that it would become clear to him that walk meant walk not anticipate trotting.  That failed, the horse isn't stupid and he kept going trot now trot now trot now.

I tried using changes of directions to settle him like I did at first, but he would take the slightest change as a cue to trot.  That is when it clicked that I needed to make my cues for transitions be very concise.  Right now I barely do anything and he trots off because faster equals better in Stinker's mind.  I have to actually cue for the down, but even then I am being unclear and leaving him to his own devices too much.

Such a fancy pants!

Yesterday, I really focused on him waiting until I asked for the trot and then making sure I didn't totally drop him after the down transition.  We did have some problems where he was excited and wanted to go forward.  I let him trot as long as he respected the half halt and didn't just try to curl and plow through my aids.

He really surprised me in two ways.  One he was super good and was happy to trot along in the small trot extend into the larger trot and then come back.  Two, he has way more fitness than I realized.  We are so freaking hot (mid to upper 80s with 80% humidity that pushes the feels like temp into the mid 90s at 8 am) and I haven't been doing a ton of trotting with him.  He gets worked about 30-45 min 5 or 6 days a week with I would say 90% of that at the walk.  I would say that at least 50% of the ride was at the trot and he was working hard, but he kept trucking along.

Walking for 30 min (calmly)

I am really happy with where he is at right now, and hopefully we can keep on improving.  I am getting excited about working on the canter since his trot has been much more consistent.  That small trot is total magic because he can be forward but he stays balanced and doesn't get to running.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Small Trot And The Magic Saddle

I will get to the good details after I shamelessly self promote.  The Olympic Contest closes on Friday, so get your entries in!  To my knowledge the prize for sharing the contest has exactly zero entries for the drawing, so share and win.  Just as a reminder (because who doesn't like prizes) you can win a plain bonnet from If The Bonnet Fits, two strands from Dark Jewel Designs, or a $25 gift card from Riding Warehouse.

Stinker looks dapper in his If The Bonnet Fits and Dark Jewel Designs

Now on to the actual pony stuff.  As I mentioned on Monday, my favorite dressage judge was in town and I got two lessons in with her.  We mostly worked on the trot and did way more trotting that I had been so I know I can step up the game there.

It was such a struggle for me to actually get this picture

The biggest take away was I need to make everything a random game for him.  When I keep things very fluid and random, he can't start anticipating and tense.  Lots of turns and changes of directions and just slide him in and out of the trot.  Nothing is a big deal (I can praise him, but any changes need to be subtle and the appropriate amount of prep).  I keep trying to over prep everything.

The sunset have been so pretty lately

On the first day, I really left like I was struggling in the trot.  I felt super floppy and loose and generally sloppy.  After a brief discussion post lesson, we decided to move my stirrups to the second bar on my saddle.  It sits higher and farther back than the one I had been using.

I love how fancy he looks in the white polos

The second day, I warmed up without stirrups because I didn't like them but didn't want to mess with them before the dressage judge looked at them.  We dropped them another hole and then they were ok at the walk.  In the trot, they were amazing and made me fall even more in love with my saddle.  I didn't realize that I had been using all my core strength just to maintain my balance, which is why I had no half halt.  Since I was starting more balanced I actually had a half halt.

It is amazing what a half halt will let you do.

Having a half halt let me find a small trot where I can really get him working correctly.  It will help him to build more strength than the big one, since he tends to start pulling with the front instead of pushing from behind.  It is a work in progress, but I really feel like we are so close to something.  I am not sure what that something is, but hopefully I will be able to recognize it when I get there.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Cantering Possibly

I am apparently the only one holding out on cantering Stinker.  And yes I did just say cantering.  I know this may not sound like a big deal (and it usually isn't), but last summer I honestly didn't know if Stinker was ever going to be rideable again.  Sure part of that was just in my head, but not all of it.  I am still in a bit of shock that we are nearly there.

I love this brow band and fly bonnet combo!

My favorite dressage judge was in town this weekend (actual lesson write ups to follow I am just too excited to make sense) and she casually mentioned that we weren't far from cantering (insert happy dance followed by a bunch of mental oh shits).  I didn't say anything at the time because I was too busy trying to wrap my head around it.  She is the one that put us on the walk only program back in January and said we would need to do that for about a year.  I knew that Stinker and I had been making progress I just didn't realize how much.

I was trying to get a picture of Stinker and the sunset and failed.

I asked her some questions about it on Sunday and she said we could start any time we wanted.  I am supposed to do some canter transitions, canter a few strides bring him back to the trot, then let him stretch and end the ride.  It is all supposed to work as part of game where nothing is a big deal and we can just slide in and out of the trot and walk and toss in a canter.  I am really excited and also really notice.  I haven't cantered anyone since I stopped riding Pongo back in April.

I really want to steal this dog (he is a barn dog).  So cute.

My plan is to wait until I have either the dressage judge or D to talk me through it.  I don't trust myself to not get stuck in my head and screw things up.  I really want to keep everything positive for him, since we are working so well.  So I am the only one that is nervous about cantering, which is really funny for me considering I have no problem hopping on a horse bareback and galloping.