Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November By The Numbers

One of the girls at the barn told me about the Ride To Win app and since it is free I decided to give it a try.  I am super lazy and haven't played around with most of the features, so I really don't have much to say about the app itself.  I know you can store records and have it remind you when horses need shots and farrier and all of that good stuff, but I have only been using it to time my rides and store little notes about how the ride went.

Bareback and a halter

My "month" started on the 5th, so I am missing a few days, but I thought it would be fun anyway.  As full disclosure, I only did no stirrups at the walk (ok there was some jigging on a few days but the intent was there).  And I do need to buy new stirrup leathers because of the no stirrups November.

Number of rides:  21
Number of hours ridden:  18.75

Number of good rides:  11
Number of rides that made me want to cry:  0

Number of rides without stirrups:  11 (the other rides I warmed up without stirrups)
Number of hours ridden without stirrups:  13.5

I am actually pretty impressed when I look back at the whole month.  This time last year the majority of rides made me want to cry.  He wouldn't walk and our trot was an inverted giraffe with lots of front end action.  I only had one ride that would fall in the bad category this month.  My notes read, "Overall was wound up and annoying."  In general most of my rides had ok, good, very good, with "excellent" thrown in there a couple times.

I am pretty proud of the amount of time I rode without stirrups, even though it was only at the walk.  The down side is I do need to buy new stirrup leathers (and no I didn't buy any when I was buying everything else in sight...because logic).  I think I am going to try to keep warming up without stirrups in December and rumor has it that two point is going to be the December contest so I will be doing some of that again.

I've wanted this shirt for so long now

I did almost fall off a couple times due to the lack of stirrups.  Once the electric fence popped and he decided to teleport sideways.  I was far enough off the side that I was really wishing for stirrups.  Thankfully, he didn't do anything beyond the initial jump so I wiggled back to the middle.

Monday, November 28, 2016


I decided to play around this weekend and lunge Stinker a bit.  Mostly I just wanted to get some walk, trot, canter on video without the saddle as a starting point for comparisons.

Here is the video (it isn't long)

I love his walk and I am holding out hope that his canter will be as good as his walk.  His hind was slipping quite a bit in the canter.  The footing in this ring isn't great, so it might be part of the problem.  Here are gifs for those that don't want to watch the video.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Turkey Day!

In the morning I rode Stinker, and it was a so so ride.  We were just walking on the hills, so I didn't have stirrups on my saddle.  The electric fence was making a popping noise and Stinker decided teleporting was the best option.  I lost my seat and very nearly ate dirt.  I was far enough off the side that I was wishing for my stirrups.  Luckily he didn't add a spin or a bolt to the teleport, so I was able to slide back in the saddle.

The rest of the ride was pretty meh.  I was struggling to maintain his focus and he really wanted to go.  I think I am going to have to change his work schedule up.  He has way too much energy since his turnout time was reduced from 15ish hours to 8ish hours.  After the ride I helped clean some stalls to burn off the dinner.

I am very lucky to have an awesome BO that invited me and another girl to Thanksgiving dinner at his mother-in-law's sister's house.  So, my afternoon was spent at her place eating way too much food (excellent) and making polite conversation (not so great at).  Then I came home and started plotting all the things I was going to buy...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Brain Reinstalling And November 10 Questions

This week has been pretty quiet.  I had a lesson with S yesterday, but we ended up just walking.  He started off refusing to bend to the left and overreacting to leg.  There was lots of jigging and protesting the first 20-30 minutes.  He finally settled and would walk nicely and bend both directions. We did some work over the ground poles to install the wait button.  He did really well and was adding extra steps when necessary instead of trying to launch over the poles.  Overall, I was quite pleased with him, despite the fact that we stuck to the walk.

At least he is cute.

Now on to the 10 Questions:

1)  What is the youngest/greenest horse you've ridden?
Probably 2.5-3.  I started several horses for my parents when I was in high school at it was around that age that we would start riding them.

2)  How old is the oldest horse you have ridden?
Late 20s possibly early 30s.  Once the horses got into the teens their ages started getting questionable in accuracy (unless they were born the same year as a kid).

3)  Were you scared of riding horses when you first started riding?
I can't remember not riding, so no.  Before I could sit up on a horse, I would ride in front of my parents.  My dad's saddle had padding so my sister and I were always begging to ride with him and my poor mom never knew why until after we had grown up.  She thought we hated riding with her (sorry mom we were all about the padding).

4)  Would you say you are a more nervous or confident rider?
Both.  I am quite confident that I can keep the horse between my ass and the ground.  But when it comes to dressage and eventing training I lack confidence.  I know enough to know that I don't know much and sometimes I get paralyzed by the fear of making mistakes.

5)  Biggest pet peeve about non-horse people around horses?
When they don't listen.  If I tell you that my horse is spooky and to approach him quietly, don't run up squealing (yes I know he is adorable, why do you think I still have him??? jk I love you Stinker)

6)  A time when you have been scared for your life?
Usually my stupidity does not hit me until after the fact.  I have had some nasty falls and several close calls, but one of my dumber moments happened when I was a kid.  I was probably 5 and we were on a steep trail.  My mom had us dismount and she was leading the horses up a particular steep spot and I was supposed to come behind.  I started to fall and blindly grabbed to catch myself.  I ended up grabbing Spice's (my horse) hind leg.  Thankfully, she was an excellent kid horse and didn't even blink, but it was one of those where it could have been really bad.


7)  Have you ever fallen off at a show?
I haven't shown enough to fall off at a show.  I did have a close call when I was a teenager and was doing 4-H.  I had two horses with me at a little weekly lesson thing that we went to, and my older mare was already tacked up and I was going to ride her first.  I then decided I needed to warm Nippers (he liked to bite) up and hopped on him bareback and a halter.  Did I mention I am not always the brightest crayon in the box?  I think he was 3 or 4 at the time.  I walked him for a bit and then decided to canter.  He paddled badly and his trot was so rough I could barely stay on it bareback.  I popped him into the canter and he promptly started bucking with me.  Of course, because I was only in a halter I was struggling to keep his head up.  I am pretty sure I only stayed on because I did not want to fall off in front of all those people.  I was also extremely lucky that he didn't put much effort into it.  He did some nasty corkscrew stuff in the pasture fairly frequently that I wouldn't have been able to stick.

8)  What is a breed of horse you have never ridden but you would like to ride?
I don't have a specific breed that I am dying to ride.  I tend to be drawn in by personality more than a breed type.  There are some famous horses I would love to sit on (I would be too afraid to actually ride them).

9)  Describe the worst behaved horse you've ridden?
I worked on a dude ranch in Wyoming one summer and there was a paint (one blue eye) that was super unpredictable and I hated it.  He would go along and be super sweet and you would think ok yeah he isn't so bad.  Then he would lose his mind.  It could be spooking, balking, spinning, it was never the same nor could I figure out a cause.  I also hated that he had zero sense of self preservation. He would throw a fit and get himself in a bad spot.  The one day he pitched a fit and went into some water.  He started sinking and I bailed.  He knocked me over, so I turned loosed of the reins and started rolling away.  He got himself turned and was lunging down (not towards a bank like the normal horses) the creek in sand that was up to his belly and getting deeper.  I got ahold of him again and finally got him turned and back out of the water.  I was so pissed that day.  I was soaking wet in snow runoff water and still had to ride the damn horse for the rest of the afternoon.  That was the last time I rode him.

Spice is on the right

10)  The most frustrating ride you have ever had?
My family had a mare when I when I was in high school.  Someone else put 60 (maybe 90) days on her, but then I started riding her.  Her name was Star, but my dad called her Pig Eye and my sister called her Frogger.  She would tuck her butt and jump at any little thing.  I could run my hand over my jeans and she would jump.  The grass could be long and tickle her and she would jump.  The dog could be following behind another horse and she would jump.  She also didn't walk and would jig everywhere.  Try herding cows on a horse that just wants to plow through them (hint it isn't fun).  I actually adored her (I am probably the only one) because she had so much heart.  She was one of those horses that would go until she dropped for you.  I actually ended up showing her some in 4-H and I think I got reserve champion in the reining class on her.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Trail Rides And Auditing

I had grand plans for this weekend.  I was going to get a video and actually have fun media and not fill my posts with headshots of my horse.  Stinker had other plans.  He kindly told me to fuck off on Friday.  I realized I had been drilling him a lot and he might need a few days of brain reinstalling (aka trail rides).

Saturday, I got up before the ass crack of dawn went to work (managed to get done in under 7 hours). Zipped out to the barn, slapped some tack on and decided to do a no stirrups trail ride.  We set off armed with my spider stick (aka a dressage whip because anything shorter is too short).  I immediately questioned my decisions.

There was a trailer pulled up by the barn and he always gets anxious about mounting out front of the barn.  The combo was too much for his poor little brain and he was off before my butt hit the saddle.  I made him circle and pause back where I was mounting, but he was too wound up to really press the issue.

I took a trail that winds through the trees a lot and then pops out along the back of a neighborhood.  I have not been over there in quite sometime because of spiders.  Luckily we only encountered four large webs and only had one close call.  When we popped out along the back of the neighborhood a dog started barking and poor Stinker lost it a bit.

He tried to spin, when I blocked that he started backing up.  I bumped him and he kept backing.  I gave him a boot and felt him bunch up.  At this point I went crap, I am on a narrow path with barbed wire on one side and no stirrups.  Instead of being smart and picking up my stirrups, I gave him another kick and told him forward.  He kicked at my leg and then went forward very reluctantly.

The rest of the ride was pretty crappy, but he kept it together and mostly walked.  It was much bouncier than I would have liked, but it wasn't a true jig.  Once I got him back to the jump field he settled immediately and was happy to walk and stretch like normal.  I really couldn't fault him for being anxious around the neighborhood and after the initial fuss he wasn't bad.

I then hustled over to another barn where a friend was riding in the Hilda Donahue clinic.  Hilda is a very fun and positive teacher.  One of my favorite statements from her was, "half halt don't give him a dental."  I jumped in and was helping set jumps and she asked me if I wanted to come be her working student.  I guess I have a back up plan if science doesn't work out for me.

Sunday, I had the exact same schedule and took Stinker on the same trail ride, with the exception of instead of looping back to the jump field I tried to go back through the woods.  There is one turn I always miss going the back direction.  Luckily, I was smart and turned on map my run right before I got to that spot.  I missed the turn per usual, but was able to wander through the woods and get back on the right trail.  Stinker was less than thrilled with walking through some of the under brush.

My solid navigational skills...

I didn't get anything mind blowing from the clinic, but it did make me feel like I am on the right path with Stinker.  I get a lot of self doubt despite the progress we have made this year, so it was nice to have the feeling that I am doing things correctly (for the most part).  I am sure we will have some holes, but I am confident hope that anything I miss we will be able to fix later.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Crooked Is As Crooked Does

Stinker loves to be crooked.  His favorite place to be is with his left shoulder popped and hips trailing to the right.  I have gotten it under control in the walk, and I don't feel it in the canter as much (he readily picks up both leads) but that might change as I canter him more.  But the is a bitch.

Does not always look like this

He tries, but somedays he reverts back and the amount of leg that is required to get him straight is enough that he takes offense to it and the head pops up and back hollows out and front legs go flying. I can get him somewhat soft by leg yielding.  I went through this at the walk, so I know I can get there it is just going to take time.

At least his back is straighter

And by time I mean lots and lots of time.  I bounce back and forth between what to focus on.  I want to get him stretching and relaxing in the trot, but I also need to get him straight.  Relaxation comes before straight on the dressage pyramid, but I question how relaxed I will be able to get him if he bouncing around with his inherent crookedness.  I think for now I am going to stick with the straight followed by the relaxation unless my favorite dressage judge tells me I am totally wrong in a few weeks.

Why does dressage have to be so darn difficult?  If you are good at it, it looks effortless.  If you are like me...well you make it look really freaking hard.  And as soon as you figure out one thing you up the bar and make things hard again.  People who do dressage are gluttons for punishment.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Stress Shopping: Gots and Still Wants

I have been doing a bit of stress shopping lately (sorry wallet we don't actually need to eat right?).  Some of it was necessary looking at you blankets, but some of it was just frivolous.

First up, was all SprinklerBandit's fault.  She posted and picture on Instagram and I immediately went "OMG MUST HAVE!!!!"  I proceeded to scamper off to Riding Warehouse to purchase all things.  Totally worth it.  The shirt is the Nobel Outfitter's First Crush Cowl Neck Top (I have since ordered it in black and will get the newer version when it goes on sale) and the gloves are the Roeckl Spot Original Chester gloves in plum (they look much lighter on the website).

I bought a pair of breeches from Black Horse (blaming Amanda for that one) and I will do a full review once I have ridden in them enough to fully decide my feelings.  I have also ordered two fly bonnets which I haven't received yet, so I won't spoil that fun.  I bought a couple of saddle pads that I haven't received yet (getting the theme yet?).  I almost bought a PS of Sweden pad and matching polos, but they wouldn't give me the measurements of the saddle pad and I got grumpy.  If anyone has any insight on why they wouldn't give out the measurements please enlighten me.  Because Stinker would have looked amazing in this.

And it had matching polos...

Anyway, moving on to more fun stuff that I want to buy...

For Stinker I obviously want more Dark Jewel Design things, but I need to decide what colors I want.  I think I want to get one more fly bonnet (yes I do have a problem).  If I like the saddle pads that I got, I will pick up a couple more of those.  And I really want a new noseband for his bridle from Uisce Saddlery (SB's fault again).  I love my PS bridle, but I really dislike the noseband and that lady's work is amazing.

For me I want a show coat (I am not in the Winston budget tho.  Damn it Amanda) and I need it to fit my monkey arms.  So if anyone has suggestions (that aren't super expensive) for brands with long arms, I would love to hear them.  I am also still on the hunt for the perfect pair of breeches for me.  There are two more brands/style that I want to try.  The ROMFH Champion and RJ Classics Gulf.  Although, at the rate I am buying other random stuff it will be awhile before I can justify either of those.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Lucky Charms?

A while ago I had a birthday, so of course I got myself a couple of presents.  I got the brow bands from Dark Jewel Designs last week.  And I have been obsessed.  I had intended to wait until I got my fly bonnet and post everything together, but I am too in love with them not to share them now.

Up Close (Ignore the dirty pants, I'm a mess)

So far they have been lucky charms for me.  I have had some really solid rides on Stinker.  There was the ground pole lesson last week which I already talked about, but I am still really excited about it.  Then Friday and Saturday I rode on the hills with no stirrups.  So far I am up to almost five hours of no stirrup work (sadly I am not in the running for the competition because they added a must walk trot and canter once a week clause).

The swap in turn out has made Stinker a bit hot to trot, but he is still trying.  I have been trying to up the amount of trot work, but it hasn't seem to make a difference.  Right now I have him on a one day trot one day walk on the hills schedule and I am trying to mix some canter work in twice a week too.  And he is getting ridden six times a week, darn saddlebred energy.

Sometimes I put a blonde wig on my horse and call him Donald Trump

I am still puzzling over the trot work from yesterday.  I was happy because he was really stretching down, but he also felt like he was really on the forehand.  I could still feel his hind and he wasn't dropping it out behind him like he usually does.  But it just wasn't quite right.  I decided not to worry about the on the forehand part and let him figure out the stretching since that is more of a challenge.  Hopefully, it won't come back to bite me in the butt.

So shiny!

He also gave me some fantastic canter work.  The right lead canter felt bang on.  Of course I don't have video so I don't know if my feeling is totally out of whack or not.  He popped up into the canter (typically it feels more like a rocket launch) was super balanced and listening to my seat instead of just zooming off.  The left was pretty good, but he swapped leads over a ground pole.  I think it was just in the front, but I am not sure.  At any rate I am really pleased with the little Stinker pony and our shiny new lucky charms.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Reality Check

I have been being lazy and not taking videos of my rides, which has led to a few delusions.  Thankfully, S snapped a couple videos of my lesson yesterday and I got a reality check and a reminder why I need to be diligent about videoing my rides.

What I think he look like...

Ok, I am not quite that delusional, but I am going to entertainment value here.  The point is we don't look like that.  But before I get to what we do look like, I am going to talk about how I am an idiot and set myself up for failure before my lesson.

We finally got rain on Tuesday, unfortunately it lasted into Wednesday morning which was when I was planning on riding.  So I gave him Wednesday off, which isn't unreasonable.  What I didn't think about is they also switched the horses from night turnout to day turnout, which means Tuesday they were in all day and all night.  Then I was getting on him Thursday morning right as they were turning horses out.  Guess who lost his brain?

Cute pictures were not happening

Did I mention I am an idiot?  Luckily I had a few brain cells firing, and after him spinning and bucking around the mounting block I decided to walk him up to the stadium field.  There was lots of snorting and prancing on the way up there, but once he got half way up there he started relaxing and walking like a normal horse.  He even stood at the XC jump that I used as a mounting block.

Once I got on, I was surprised.  Yes he was tense, but he felt really good.  Normally he locks the left shoulder, but he was supple to start.  I still kept the normal 15 minutes of walking despite the temptation to just move on (I do have a few brain cells still).  Then we started the trot poles.

He felt really good throughout, but I still need to get him to slow down the front and lift behind.  That is going to take quite a bit of time, but I am finally feeling hopeful about the trot.  I am able to have a discussion with him about the way he moves and he is willing to slow down instead of plowing around at mach speed with legs flying everywhere.  It is a good feeling.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Conformation, Clipping, Blankets, and A Review

I clipped Stinker this past weekend, and like last year I gave him a blanket clip.  I do still need to do some touch ups, because things aren't quite as even as I would like them to be.  I am letting my OCD shine with that one.

Earlier this year I bought some Wahl KM2 clippers.  The barn had a pair of little clippers, but the girls didn't clean them so they stopped working.  I wanted something small enough that I could do touch ups (feet and bridle path because I leave whiskers) but also big enough that I could do the body clipping (I don't ever intend to do a full body clip on him).  These were stocked at our local tack shop and came with a wide blade, so after a month of going in and looking at them I finally broke down and bought them.

Narrow blade (I forgot to take pictures)

These weren't the easiest clippers to body clip with, but they weren't terrible.  I should have started on his belly since I could fuck that up without anyone being able to see it, but I wasn't that smart and started on his neck.  It took me a few tries to get used to the way they clipped, so his neck looks a little funky.  I am hoping that disappears with time.

All he wants for Christmas is his own mini that doesn't kick
And maybe an owner that can clip better

I can't speak to the durability of these clippers yet, because I have only had them about 6 months and have used them a total of four times now.  But overall I am very happy with them.  If I was doing a full body clip or clipping multiple horses I wouldn't want to use them for that, but with my one horse and blanket clip I was fine.  They are light weight and easy to maneuver, so it was a painless task (Stinker also gives zero shits which is super helpful).

Why stand for conformation pictures when you can chew on your lead rope?

Previously, I posted about my struggles to find a blanket that fits (link here) and I am still on the struggle bus.  As a quick review Smart Pak's high neck blanket (rubs shoulders, their regular blanket rubs (shoulders and neck), Schneider's Storm Shield (rubbed shoulders), Rambo high neck (hung too low despite length being correct), and Amigo (rubbed shoulders and withers).  Also, two different style shoulder guards did not help.  Still with me?

Evidence I am still not getting him to work all the way through his topline

Based on previously recommendations these are the ones that have been suggested and I haven't tried yet:  Schneider's cutback model, Schneider's neck attached model, and Weatherbeeta's.  I think I have at least figured out what is causing the problem.  My theory is the shoulder gussets don't extend up enough to compensate for his front end action.  So the million dollar question (and yes it does feel like a million dollars in blankets) is what do I do?  Do I buy them all and return what I don't think will fit?  Do I say screw you horse your don't need hair?  Has anyone tried a bossy bib shoulder guard?  Does someone make custom blankets/want to trade me a horse that is normal shaped?

The only semi decent picture I got before I got frustrated and stopped trying

Monday, November 7, 2016

Goobers and Challenges

Stinker is winning the goober award of the weekend.  It started on Saturday morning.  When I went to grab him out of the pasture he had one bell boot flipped up.  I rolled my eyes and flipped it back down.  Sunday morning the same thing, except both were flipped up.  What is even the point of having bell boots on him if he won't leave them alone?  I should mention he has to have pull ons, because he takes all the others off.

What's up?  I'm cute

It's the new fashion

The fun continued after my ride.  I was leading him out to the wash rack and all of a sudden he planted his feet and started snorting.  I thought he was spooked by the new boot rack.  I was so very wrong.  The brown paper bag was the terrifying things.

Must sniff to make sure it's ok

On another note, in October the barn had a challenge for who rode their horse the most.  This month it is the amount of time doing no stirrups work.  Since I like to win things I decided any day I am just doing walk work with Stinker I would just pull off my stirrups.  I did that Saturday and promptly regretted my life choices.  Then to make things even better, I did another fifteen minutes on Sunday.

No stirrups

The down side to doing this no stirrup work, is I had to drop my stirrups another hole.  I realize this doesn't sound like it should be a downside, but I only have one more hole and then I have to buy new stirrup leathers.  Any one want to bet if I can make it until black friday/cyber monday before I need new stirrup leathers?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Ground Poles Galore

In my last two lessons with S, we have been playing with ground poles.  I have learned a few of things.  One, my horse is definitely a saddlebred and he has the front leg action to prove it.  Two, lateral moments are still our best friend.  Three, the shoulders are key.

Our water jump has become a mud pit

When Stinker gets on a straight line in the trot, he tends to lock up his shoulders.  It is kind of like losing breaks and power steering.  You can get him to cover less ground but the feet don't stop moving.  You can turn him, but it lacks some finesse.  Mostly it feels like an excitement thing...him saying "YAY!!! WE GO!"  The only way I have figured out how to break this up are lots of circles and lateral movements.

So much darkness now

Fun fact, my horse apparently trots better over the poles when I put him in a slight shoulder fore or slight leg yield over them.  He is getting a lot more consistent in half halting and slowing the front legs.  They are still quicker than the hind.  Some how I need to figure out how to jazz up the hind while slowing up the front.  I think that will be a lifetime project with him.

Sweaty pony made me paranoid about saddle fit #crazyowner

After he did really well with the trot I decided to canter him a bit to see how that would go.  I also asked S to set up two canter poles for us.  The first time over them was hysterical.  I think it caught him off guard because his front feet came up high enough for me to see them (because I stare at his neck forever and always).  It was like an extended trot toe flick at the canter.  He is such a nut.

Insert cookie

Overall, I was really pleased with the canter.  It needs a lot of work and so does the trot, but at least we are trying.  And I no longer feel like we are totally out of control, so that is a plus.  I really need to figure out how to work on transitions without him losing his mind.  If I could get those cleaned up it would make things a lot easier on me.  Right now, he takes it to mean that he did something wrong and gets frustrated.  Darn over achiever.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dumbo's Feather

On my post about the neck strap someone commented that it was like Dumbo's feather, and it is so true.  I really only need it for a few strides here and there now.  The first day I rode with it, I was clinging to it like it was a life raft.  But I was able to show Stinker what I wanted from him, and he aims to please.  Every ride I have been using it less and less.

We have early mornings

I feel like the trot is really starting to improve.  Sure he is inconsistent in the contact and locking his neck is still his preferred place to go, but I can keep his hind end working and up underneath me.  We still have a fair amount of back lifting that needs to happen, but it will come with time.

Mini Obsessed

So far we have played with ground poles, trotted on hills, and have been doing things that I didn't think we could manage yet.  Yesterday, I realized I have finally managed to activate some of the little bitty muscles in my butt I never use, so that is progress I suppose.  I am starting to get hopeful about things, so I am sure his brain will fall out at some point this week.  In the meantime, I am enjoying Dumbo's feather.