Thursday, February 22, 2018


Stinker has taught me many things, probably more than I have taught him if we are being honest.  That might be because I am interested in learning and progressing where as his are "cookie?" and "WHAT'S THAT????" Either way I have learned so much from him and the mistakes I have made along the way.  Most of them were made out of ignorance and not me willfully ignoring things and I have done my best to rectify them (and probably made new ones I don't know about yet).

First trail ride

First up, I had a first hand experience of how important saddle fit is.  He literally would not walk until I got that fixed.  Of course since then I have also discovered there were a lot of other physical issues that probably lowered his tolerance for a poor fitting saddle.  Either way he has made a believer out of me about the importance of a well fitting saddle.  And honestly I think I will end up saving money over time by coughing up the dough initially.  I am on my second saddle and if it weren't so adjustable I would be on my fourth at least.  I love tack shopping, but saddle shopping sucks and selling saddles is even worse.

Latest trail ride

Next up draw reins.  I have mixed feelings about them, because on one side I know they saved my butt when *someone* decided to bolt off into the sunset.  On the other side I also know that they caused a lot of tension and connection issues that took well over a year to fix.  The reality was, I did not have the proper tools initially to deal with his anxiousness and bolting (again a lot of pain issues at the root of things).  But luckily they are a thing of the past and I have the proper tools now.  Unfortunately, Stinker was the one that paid the price on that.

The things he tolerates now

I feel guilty that it took me so long to get all of his physical issues addressed, but at the same time I don't know how they could have been addressed more quickly.  Post EPM it was a steady stream of vet visits trying to address the various areas where he was weak and hurting.  I honestly don't feel like I got everything fully addressed for almost two years the initial diagnosis.  Which that is a lot of time to spend with various parts of your body hurting.  I wasn't ignoring the issues, but it was very difficult to sort out what was training and what was physical with him.  The plus side is he has been thriving of late and looks and feels the best he ever has.

Current Stinker vs Baby Stinker

There are other minor hiccups that have happened along the way, but those are the ones I wish I could have a redo on and feel bad that it took me so long to figure out the lessons.  He has taught me how to listen, pay attention to the little details.  Most of his ouch it hurts behaviors could be taken as training issues, but more force does not resolve a pain response.  Stinker is a difficult and challenging horse, but he is also super fun and hopefully we can keep learning together without anymore massive mistakes.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


I got another lesson this weekend and originally I was going to stick my camera on the mounting block and just let it roll, but my battery wasn't charged enough to last the whole lesson.  I was rather bummed because I wanted new media.  It turned out that it wasn't all bad, because trainer picked up the camera and took a few short videos during my lesson.

His walk has improved so much

We were working on the same things we have been: consistency, reaching for the bit, my right hip, and my upper body.  The consistency is improving, but still has a long ways to go.  The reaching for the bit is a similar situation.  It is getting there, but there is lots of room for improvement.

The most surprising part is the news flash that he goes better when I get my shit together and ride correctly.  It is amazing how much easier it is for him when I get my right hip out of his back a quit shoving his haunches fifty miles to the left.  Funny how that also fixed our whole can't pick up the right lead problem.


Two month ago

I was actually quite pleased with my upper body progress.  I got in the habit of pitching forward (probably to counter balance when he dropped his back and all of a sudden I would feel like I was sliding off the back).  But now that he is lifting more things are more level and I am not struggling with my balance.  Now I just need to remember to look up.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Need A Little Help From My Friends: Equisense

Bloggerland I need a little help.  I am starting a project and would love to get more people involved.  I got an equisense towards the end of last year and my biggest complaint is I can't compare my data to other horses.  So, if you have an equisense (blogger or non blogger doesn't matter to the data ho) and would like to share your data with me please email me at at gmail

Blue and purple is where it is at

I would also greatly appreciate people helping to spread the word.  I am trying to make it as easy as possible for the people helping me.  All I need are screenshots of all the data and I will do all the analyzing and see what shakes out.  I am hoping for five rides per horse, but I will take what I can get.

Stinker says "save me from the crazy lady"

Stinker's data is all over the place because he is still quite inconsistent in the grand scheme of things.  He has made massive strides for him, but I think compared to the average horse he will be all over the place.  Also I think it would be interesting to see how green vs well trained, lower levels vs higher levels, and the various disciplines will compare.

Snow Stinker says "Bloggers are the best"

So please please please help a data ho out and spread the word.  I know that there have been quite a few posts popping up about the equisenses and a handful of bloggers have already stepped up to the plate and agreed to participate.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Good Enough

This past weekend I was able to watch a clinic with the trainer that my trainer rides with.  It was a very good clinic and I enjoyed watching it, but it left me with mixed feelings.  All the horses were giant warmbloods, most were younger than Stinker and far more advanced.

Part of me was wondering why on earth I thought I could do this.  I don't have the desire (or money) to pay a trainer to train my horse for me.  I do not have a horse with 5 figure gaits.  I don't even have a steady horse.  I do have a a horse with significant physical challenges and the last thing I want to do is push too hard and have an unhappy unsound horse.

What I do have is the willingness to put in the time.  I have a horse I am perfectly capable of riding.  While he is a little too sensitive it isn't anything I can't handle.  I have a horse I enjoy working with, and don't feel the need to pay someone else to train him.  He is a hard worker and always provides me with a laugh.

So while he may not be able to prance around with all the fancy tricks of a five figure horse, what I have is good enough.  I have something I enjoy and don't feel pressure to live up to anything.  We may not ever win anything, but I think he can get me the beginning scores for my bronze medal.  Plus I really can't picture taking a hulking WB out in the hills to get these shots.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Loop Success

I have been searching for a way to make a long loop on the trail rides. I had a suspicion that one road would make most of a loop, but I wasn’t sure if I could cut through the hills and make the loop complete. I discovered that google maps would tell me the distance on the jeep trails. Technically they are considered roads but I definitely wouldn’t drive something I liked over them.

I also discovered that there was a dirt bike trail that should complete my proposed loop. And the best part was by my estimate it was going to be around 12 miles. I finally got a chance to test out my master plan last weekend. I had been on about half the loop previously but I had no idea what the second part really looked like.

I started early because I was worried he would get too hot and tired otherwise. It was great there weren’t any dirt bikes or buggies out that early and we made really good time for the first 5 miles. Since we had climbed quite a bit I gave him a rest and then led him for a mile. After I started riding again things started to get a little sketchy.

The road got really rocky and everything was loose and round and he was slipping quite a bit. I decided to try ditching the road because it looked less rocky. I was wrong. It was just as bad except there was brush and dried up cheatgrass to hide the rocks. I decided he was scrambling more so we went back to the road. He is getting more careful with his feet but it still makes me nervous.

We chugged along for awhile and finally the rocks cleared up and we could see the lake again. About this time Stinker decided he was headed home and picked up the pace. I cheated and peeked at my phone to make sure we were still on the right path. After a little ways I started seeing tracks from when my mom and I had gone on her grand adventure.

It ended up being 12.78 miles and we climbed a total of 1708 feet. I ended up walking him for about two of those miles. It took about 3.5 hours but considering it was nearly all at the walk I was happy with the time. Plus he was quite sassy when we got back so clearly despite being sweaty he wasn’t really tired. I wasn’t sure where his fitness was at since I haven’t been getting out as much and he got a couple weeks off plus more time in light work in January.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Put The Left Hip In

My last lesson was really focused on getting my body in order yet again, but rather than focus on my wonky hips I want to talk about how we are utilizing lateral work.  Very early on we started using leg yields and shoulder in to slow Stinker's feet down.

He is quite good at the sideways, but it used to require enough concentration that his feet slowed down.  Now he is stronger and it isn't as taxing and he knows the game he can zip sideways and it isn't as effective at slowing his feet down anymore.  So trainer has started having us working on haunches in and out.  I am not bending him enough that it is true, but it is more the thought and feeling and balance we are going for.

So far it is working quite well.  Obviously my hip problems tie back into this.  Since I tend to drop my right hip I am always pushing his haunches to the left.  Which works great for haunches out while tracking right and haunches in tracking to the left, but the opposites are a struggle.  The great thing about Stinker is he is so sensitive.  Any little movement from me results in a change from him.  For better or worse he immediately shows what I am doing.

His hips used to trail right all the time

When I get it right it is super easy, when I am struggling he giraffes and wonders what the fuck is happening up there.  Luckily he is a game little horse and keeps on trying while I fumble around.  When we get it right a little praise goes along way and we keep getting it quicker.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Anxiety Monster

For once it wasn't Stinker that was suffering from the anxiety monster.  It all started on Tuesday when life decided to flip me the bird.  He ended up getting Tuesday off because I didn't get home until 9 pm despite my plans to leave early and ride in the evening.

Sad and pathetic Socks to go with sad and pathetic me

It is a well established fact my horse does not like it when I am anxious.  He feeds off my energy and we both end up a hot mess because I don't have my usual patience and he gets even more flustered.  Wednesday, I tried to ride and it was less than ideal to put it nicely.

Stolen from SB

First off he was wound up from cantering on Saturday, so every little leg movement resulted in head straight up and him asking "CANTER????"  Yeah, dude so not what I was going for.  Eventually I settled for some semi decent work and called it a day because I just wasn't in a good frame of mind to improve anything.

Sad pathetic forelock plus sweaty face

The rest of the week I kind of settled down until right before my lesson on Saturday.  I got not so great news right before I was leaving.  I was really upset and didn't even want to go to my lesson.  I thought about canceling but couldn't bring myself to do a last minute cancel.  So I decided I could always see if she was willing to ride.

I was so distracted I didn't even get a bonnet packed, so the world saw his dinky little forelock.  It was terrible.  Luckily Stinker loves trainer and had his game face on for her.  In the end I was very happy that I sucked it up and rode.  And I was really impressed that he mostly ignored my anxiety energy and went to work instead of worrying about why I was worried.