Monday, October 31, 2016


The other day, I was riding Stinker up in the pasture where the path is cut for a gallop track.  He moved up into the trot, so I let him go.  He proceeded to start cantering and I said why not and let him go.  It was fun and it felt like he was going fast, but I don't think he is actually very fast*.

Not a gallop, but it is pretty much the same just quicker

His stride is quick, but it is also very up and down.  Plus he doesn't know how to stretch his neck out and lengthen.  What I don't know is if this is something that will improve as he continues to strength and figures out how to balance with a rider.  A quick google search didn't turn anything up.  So my question is do horse's gallops improve or is it something they are just stuck with?

*He doesn't need more speed for anything I want to do, this is purely out of curiosity.

Friday, October 28, 2016

October 10 Questions

Since I spent all of my extra time this week stalking people for the between the ears contest, I didn't have time (or brain power to be honest) to put together a post about Stinker.  The contest was way harder than I was expecting and there was one horse I couldn't even figure out what color it was.  Thankfully I entered, so I know I got one right.  So thanks to L, here are the ten questions.

1)  What do you consider jumping high for yourself?
Ummm....basically anything that requires the horse to jump.  When I was jumping Pongo regularly, I felt quite comfortable at 2'6" and 2'9" was doable.  Basically I am a giant weeny.

Jumping is terrifying (my face says it all)

2)  What are your short term goals for riding?  Do you think you will reach them?
Getting Stinker solid in the walk trot and canter.  I really hope so, because if I can't I am more deluded about my riding ability than I realize.

3)  What are my long term goals for riding?  Do you think you will reach them?
I want to get my dressage medals and do a beginner novice horse trials.  I think that they are totally reasonable since I don't have a time line for them.

I will have to upgrade from cross rails

4)  How many barns have you been with in your riding career?
My horse has only been at one barn.

5)  How many different trainers have you been with in your riding career?
I have ridden regularly with three dressage/eventing trainers.  And done clinics with a couple of other eventing trainers.

6)  Ever worked at a barn?  What did you do?
I guess you could count working on the ranch as working at a barn, and that included basically anything and everything.  I also worked as the head wrangler at a guest ranch one summer.  I was in charge of the barn, matched people with horses for the week, and took people out on trail rides.

Baby me dressed for the dude ranch

7)  Scariest thing that has happened at your barn?
I have been lucky here.  I think the scariest thing was when one of the ponies coliced and when we loaded him on the trailer to take him to the vet school (3 hours away) no one thought he was coming off the trailer alive.  Spoiler alert:  He walked off the trailer like he hadn't been sick and placed 4th at the AECs this year.

8)  Have you ever given a lesson?  What level was the rider?
Pardon me while I die laughing.  Not to mention, I would be a terrible teacher.

9)  What is your opinion on the accuracy of critiquing riders online?
You get what you pay for...  I think most of the time the people that know what they are talking about refrain because they are smart enough to keep their mouth shut on social media.

Not too mismatched

10)  What is the ideal height of a horse for you?
From a purely aesthetic point of view I would probably say I shouldn't go less than 16.1-16.2 unless they take up a lot of leg.  That being said, I like quick nimble horses and don't mind looking a little tall.  Stinker is 15.3 to my 6'0" and I don't think we look bad together.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fire Breathing Dragon

Well fall finally arrived.  Our lows took a twenty degree drop (upper 60s to upper 40s) and someone (ahem Stinker) has been feeling quite spicy in the morning.  The first cool morning I managed to work through it.  It was tough, because he was unfocused and full of prancing.  I finally gave up and let him trot it out as best I could (thank you neck strap).  It wasn't always pretty, but I got some decent work and then his brain seemed to be functioning.  We managed to finish with some nice walk work and he wasn't even drenched in sweat.

This chill horse disappeared overnight

The next day, it was even worse.  I felt like I was on a ticking bomb and it didn't matter what direction we were going he wanted to crank his head to the outside and spook at everything.  He wasn't even responding to spurs, which is shocking since he is the king of over reaction to anything on his sides.  I finally said eff this shit.

I grabbed a lunge line, took him out to the hills where he got to do trot to canter transitions.  I don't know if it is a plus or a minus but he didn't get out of breath or break a sweat.  Either way he finally got his brain back and I got on him.  I managed to get some decent work, so I called it a win.  Of course when I got him back to the barn, he was super cute and sweet.  Turd monkey.

Not an innocent face!

It warmed back up a bit, so hopefully I can keep his brain in his head while he adjust to the lack of oppressive heat.  I really can't blame him for feeling spicy, I get the same way in the fall.  I am so happy to be able to walk more than five steps and not break a sweat.

Monday, October 24, 2016


My last lesson with my favorite dressage judge gave me several things to think about.  One of them, which I didn't write about previously, was the question "What goes through my mind in the trot?"  Sadly I had to face the fact that basically the only thing was "Oh god oh god oh my god."  There really wasn't any thinking going on because I was essentially just trying to survive.

I started puzzling over what is causing this problem, because a) there is no fear involved b) Stinker isn't going to dump me c) I am fully capable of having thought processes on other horses.  I realized that my main problem is I lose my balance in the trot.  Before anyone goes down the blame it on the saddle rabbit hole, there isn't a saddle in the world that can fix the problem.

When Stinker pops his head up and drops his back out, his hind end seriously lowers about four inches.  This knocks me off balance, because one second I can feel his back and the next it is just gone.  I am not a talented enough rider to be able to get my balance and to bring his hind back up under him.

Enter yet another of my random off the wall ideas.  Get a neck strap.  So I am now riding with a neck strap and people seem to think it is because he might buck.  That gave me some giggles (his attempts to buck are totally pathetic), but also it is rather depressing to admit that no he can't buck I just can't ride his trot.  Whatever, everyone at the barn already knows I am a total weirdo.

I have only trotted with him twice since I remembered to take an old stirrup leather out to the barn, but so far I am really liking it.  It actually has the side benefit of getting my hands out of my lap, since I can't hold it and have my hands in my lap.  It reminds me to give forward more and not hold so much.  When I lose his hind, I can use it for a bit of balance and get hind legs back under him.  And best of all I actually feel like I can get some decent trot.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Quirky Quirky

I have noticed Stinker has a few (ok well more than a few) quirks.  First up, he stacks his shavings under his feet.  Has anyone else seen this?  It freaks me out and makes me think he is sore, but I haven't been able to find any soreness and the farrier isn't concerned.

The next one I just think is funny.  Stinker has been quite grumpy about grooming for awhile, so I got fancy brushes in hopes that he would enjoy grooming more.  He did not, still pinned ears and general grumpy behavior.  The one day when he was being especially bad I decided I was going the same spot until he stopped turning his head to nip at me (also using verbal corrections).  I discovered if I brush him long enough, he will start licking and chewing and relaxes.  I have also noticed that our rides go better when I take the time and do this all along his back, shoulders, and girth area.

Stinker is such a little weirdo and this is just the tip of the iceberg with his quirks.  But I enjoy figuring our all the little quirky things that are his norm.  What are some quirks your horse has?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Case Of The Overs

I learned a lot on Saturday when I had my lesson with my favorite dressage judge.  The biggest thing I learned was I am trying to over ride and I am making my poor horse crazy.  I over think, attempt to over achieve, and now I can add over riding to the list.  And it explains quite a bit.  Like how the more I try the worse things get, but when I say screw it and chuck the reins at him and read a book he is fantastic.

I was really disappointed that the judge wasn't arriving until Saturday, but I had asked her if I took a video on Friday if she would watch it with me and we could go over things.  She said yes, because she is awesome like that.  I really didn't want to show her the video because it was bad.  I felt myself holding and holding and holding, which Stinker does not appreciate (I'm sorry dude, I do love you).

Watching the video was very informative because we could sit there and discuss how things felt and what we were seeing.  We finally hit on something I have been feeling, but haven't been able to really put into words.  There is a lot of disconnect between his hind and his front end.  A lot of the time he feels like he is pulling with the front and letting his hind trail out behind.  If I try to push his hind up under him like with a normal horse he gets all balled up and everything falls apart.

The problem is he is too uphill.  He can't find his balance when he is really pushing with his hind without bracing through the under neck.  He needs to find the sweet spot of stretching so he has access to his top line and pushing from his hind.  For now the best way to access this is using lateral work.

The lateral work slows him down, doesn't make him feel trapped, and gets his hind end working.  So right now, I need to keep my brain distracted while I ride so so I don't over whelm him and use the lateral work to keep things soft and slow.  I am excited to see how we progress with this new plan, provided I can actually carry it out.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Schooling the Schooling Show

This weekend was super hectic.  My barn has a fall schooling show and it is actually a memorial show for the BO's late wife who had breast cancer.  We try to make this one a little extra special, but that also means extra work.  I took Friday off and worked out at the barn all day.

Saturday I got roped into bathing horses (I learned I never want to be a groom).  I gave Stinker a bath, then gave S's mare a bath, then got roped into giving a grey (UGH!) a bath.  If I ever get delusional and think I want a grey I just need to give one a bath and that will end my delusions.  My problem is I want things to look perfect and greys never look perfect after that first bath if it has been awhile.  In the afternoon I had a lesson with my favorite dressage judge (more details later when I have the brain power).

The only sucky part of the day, was when I went to leave and we discovered no one had cleaned any of the stalls.  So at 9 pm we started cleaning the barn.  I was pissed because a) I wanted to be home in bed since I was scribing the next day b) the people that were supposed to do the stalls had already left and c) I don't get anything for cleaning them.  I got home around 10:30 and was seriously regretting life choices.

Sunday was a fantastic day!  I scribed in the morning (7:25 until 1:30), but I actually got there closer to 6 to help finish setting things up.  I truly love scribing, especially with this judge because I learn so much.  After the lunch break, it was just straight dressage test and everyone else was doing stadium which is in another pasture.  I took advantage of the not so crazy dressage warm up area and got Stinker out.

I was actually really nervous, because I didn't want to be that person in the warm up.  He got tense when I was walking him up there so we just stood around.  I chatted with a few people and waited until he was relaxed and mugging me for cookies.  I popped him on the lunge line to gage how he was without his security blanket (me) right there.  He walked and trotted just fine.  So I decided to get on him.

Getting on is a bit tricky, because while I have worked with him a ton at the mounting block we still have issues.  This is totally my fault because we have a really tall mounting block behind the barn and I don't put a foot in the stirrup.  I just swing my leg over, and he prefers this method , but there was only a short mounting block available.  He gets antsy when I put my foot in the stirrup, and I didn't want to turn things into a big deal.  He was much better than I expected.

We actually had trot like this!!!

We didn't do much.  I just walked him around on a fairly loose rein and asked him to stretch.  We had moments of tension and jigging and he never really let go on the left side of his body, but he stayed with me a tried so hard.  He even walked around the ring and past the judge's car without issue.  I think I only worked him for about 15 minutes, but I wanted to keep things positive and he was starting to feel like he was building the tension a bit.  I had him give me a nice moment and got off.

I shoveled cookies at him and we stood up there until he relaxed again and then went back to the barn.  It went a million times better than I expected and I realize how silly it sounds that I am so damn proud of my horse for walking around a relatively quiet warm up.  But I am so freaking proud of him!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Nope Just Nope

Apparently my friends from grad school don't really get how I spend my time and think I need to date.  I keep telling them that Stinker is way better than guy around here, but they didn't believe me.  In order to get them to shut up, I created an online dating profile.  I will admit I put zero effort into it and basically let my crazy horse girl flag fly free.  While it didn't turn up any dates, it did provide me endless amusement with some of the pick up lines.

Don't worry you will always be my main man

My favorite one:

So are you good at riding anything besides horses?  I responded with "bikes."  Apparently he didn't find me as funny as I thought I was because he didn't respond.

Does anyone else have a humorous/cringe worthy pickup line?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Just Do It

I have been struggling with the delusion that the trot is just going to magically fix itself.  Apparently, if you don't practice something it will improve...obviously that is not the case.  It took months of walking every single day before the walk improved.  It is going to take the same for the trot and the canter.

Things going sideways

I am too quick to back off when things start to go sideways in the trot.  Granted I have solid reasons for backing off rather than pushing him through, but at some point I need to start pushing forward.  Having a horse that is good at walking won't get me very far.

Lots and lots of time to get here

I haven't figured out how to push forward with the trot without losing the relaxation that I have been striving to maintain.  For awhile I was having success when I kept him in a small trot, but now that has been creating a lot of resistance.  I was having success when I was sliding him in and out of the trot, but that totally ruined the walk and caused lots of jigging.

Can we just photoshop me up there and call it good?

Honestly, part of the problem is I need to be better at riding the trot.  One of his favorite things to do is pull with the front and let the hind trail.  This makes it really hard for me to balance, I am using all of my core strength to maintain my balance and have nothing left to regulate the tempo.  Two, I don't have the ride ability necessary to get the front to slow and let the hind end catch up.  Three when he gets off balance, his solution is to go faster.

At least he is cute even if I don't know how to ride him

I go back and forth on how to fix these problems.  Right now I feel like I need to suck it up and just do the trot work and put in the time.  It will get ugly for awhile (the walk was ugly for awhile), but then it will get better.  I also feel like I lack the confidence in my riding to really stick with that plan.  So if you have any wise words blogger land, please chime in.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Quarter 4 Goals

I can't believe how quickly this year is blowing by.  Things haven't gone quite as I wanted, but overall I am happy with where we are.  I have come to terms with the fact that Stinker is not going to be a horse that you can push.  It has to be slow and methodical and you have to check back in with the basics all the time.

This + me = GOALS

Year Goals
  • Happy healthy Stinker (We are still trucking along)
  • Happy healthy human (I am doing ok with balancing things)
  • Build muscle in the correct places (It has slowed down a bit)
  • Build up strength (He is still coming along slowly)
  • Consistent walk/trot with leg yields (depends on the day)
Quarter 3 Human Goals
  • Eat more veggies (I fell off the wagon a bit due to stress)
  • Run 2-3 times per week (I was doing but see Q4)
  • Yoga (Still rather hit or miss)
Quarter 3 Stinker Goals
  • Keep building muscle and strength (I really need to use the trot work more effectively)
  • More trot work (We were doing more prior to brain loss)
  • Transitions, leg yields, shoulder fore (This had some decline due to ride ability issues)
More fancy less giraffe

Quarter 4 Human Goals
  • See Physical Therapist
    • I started having hip, back and knee pain when I increased my exercise load
    • I need to get myself lined out, so I can exercise effectively
  • Exercise 3-4 times per week outside of horses
    • I need to start swimming, because it doesn't strain my joints
  • Yoga and Pilates 2 times per week
    • This will help improve my core strength and ability to move my body independently
Quarter 4 Stinker Goals
  • Do not sacrifice the relaxation
    • This is key, because as soon as I lose relaxation I lose the ride ability
    • Relaxation is the base of everything
  • Canter transitions on lunge once a week
    • This will let me run him through things without adding the mental game of me riding
    • I want to put canter on hold until I have the trot totally rideable
  • Improve mobility and ride ability
    • I have to have him where he is ok with me putting his haunches and shoulders wherever I want them
    • He also has to let me choose the rhythm without losing the relaxation

Friday, October 7, 2016

October Conformation

Another month, another set of photos.  I really don't feel like there have been any noticeable changes from last month.  Overall, he is looking pretty good.

This is comparing him to six months ago.  He has gain weight (hopefully I can keep it on him) and his topline has improved.  I wish there was a magic make my horse a beef cake wand that I could wave at him.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Finding The Relaxation

After D left Stinker fell apart. He was an anxious mess and it felt like I was back to last fall. In hindsight I realized that the pressure was too much and while he tried really hard and was good internalizing everything was not healthy. The first few rides were awful. So so very awful. I got a bit dramatic and sulky and then got my big girl panties on and went to work.

Total hot mess, but promptly eats once I am off

Last week he got two days off, one I didn't go see him (sulky and dramatic) one where I just fed him and told him he was pretty (I was planning to work him but he was anxious in the cross ties so I cut my losses). Then I rode him the next day (Tuesday). I use the term ride quite loosely. I let him wander on the buckle and read a trashy romance novel so I wasn't tempted to mess with him.

He had two things that were required. No running me into trees and he had to walk. It went really well and as the ride went on I could feel him relaxing. I should mention that in order to get on him, I had to sit on the mounting block for five minutes for him to chill enough I could get on. Overall I counted this ride as a win.

Giraffe mode disengaged

Wednesday, I took him on a long trail ride and it went really well. He walked on a loose rein and even snuck some bites of grass. He did almost fall down because he was reaching for grass and walking and got his feet tangled up. Good job Stinker. The other eventful thing was when he spooked. He was snacking and forgot that he was by the road and spooked when a car drove by. Such a goober.

Noodle neck

Thursday, I had a lesson with S and I decided to tackle the ring. It had been a week since I had attempted to ride in there and it resulted in a total meltdown the last time. He was anxious at first but I let him truck around on the buckle until he settled. Then I started with a 20 m circle on a loose rein. Slowly I picked up some contact (again it had been a week since I rode with any contact) and if he got anxious I asked him to stretch. When he gave even slightly he got longer reins. Eventually I was able to walk both ways with contact and I let him be done. I still have work to do, but we are making progress again.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Horse Thief Blog Hop

I am going to take some liberties with this one, because I don't know how to follow rules.  Plus this guy is too cute not to share.  First up, the one I wish I could have.


I saw this handsome fellow on eventing nation and while I couldn't find him on the actual Canter PA website, I did find this video of him.  A sassy redhead is just what I like.  He is a 2013 model and 16.1 hands.  Not to mention that I love is name.  Yum yum!

Ok, now that I got that out of the way, I will get back to the actual question.  What horses would I steal from my friends/barn mates?  Honestly, there aren't that many horses at my barn that are my type of ride.  But there are a couple I would still steal.

First up, would be S's mare.  She is tall, leggy, and I love her.  I am sure I would have liked her even more in her younger years when she had more sass.  This mare is a beast on XC and loves her job.  What isn't there to love about a horse like that?

Next would be Pongo.  This guy totally snuck into my heart and I would have bought him in a heart beat if I could afford two horses.  He is going to be an amazing horse once he gets more miles on him.

Dat face!!! <3

Finally, I would totally steal Blue.  He is the opposite of everything I say I want, but he sure is fun.