Sunday, November 3, 2019

Season Wrap Up Hunter Show

This was an invitation only hunter show. Only the best riders from our immediate area were allowed to compete, and Opie and I were lucky enough to be included.

HA, I kid.


The only reason we would ever get invited to anything is for entertainment value. Like the court jester. Sign us up for that job.

a very regimented group of hunter princesses. clearly.

It was, however, essentially a closed show. Our barn and the barn directly behind us got together and were like, "We're gluttons for punishment hard work and general mayhem--let's put on a hunter show for all our riders to wrap up the year!" Or at least I assume that's how the conversation went down. There was a massive turnout though, and it was a super fun, relaxed, and run to the minute show. Which really probably marks it as one of a kind in the hunter world.

We'd originally only signed up for the 2' division, but the day before they created a hack division so we added that on as well. There always seems to be some derision when I mention our apparently Only in the Greater Rochester Area hack division. It's three flat classes, sometimes with a fourth that includes a single jump. Is it a real division at a rated show? Does that even remotely matter in this situation? #nah

bonus points for getting to layer up and wear a sweater instead of my paper
thin hunter shirt and jacket. negative points for brand new not even remotely
broken in tall boots.

I followed BM and her second load of horses with Opie. When we arrived, his BFF was hand walking in the outdoor and they immediately started screaming for each other like complete drama llamas. I got Opie unloaded and brought him over to join Easy immediately. He looked like a serious fool as he pranced on his tippy toes to the his Hello Kitty jammies.


He had to get tacked up at the trailer by himself at which point he finally tested the knotted rope halter I got him specifically to address his occasional setting back. It worked like a fucking charm. He hit that fucker once, went straight into the air, and then sullenly stood like a perfect gentleman while working on his hay bag. Teach you to have bad manners and break my halters, sir.

Fortunately that was the extent of the drama for the day. He warmed up like a pro and melted down the lines in a crowded warm up like he'd been huntering his whole life.

Our hack division was first, and it was the most fun I'd had in one of these ever. All the others I've done have been w/t/c both ways, the end. The judge actually ran these like real flat classes. We got to do such exciting things as sitting trot, canter to halt, halt to trot, backing up on the rail, change direction and immediately back into the canter. Literally the basics of hunter flatting but so much better than the usual boring carousel rides.

Opie was a little tight, and I had to keep him a little shorter than usual because he would get quick instead of forward. I had to sneak in a few monster half halts when the judge's back was turned, but overall he kept his shit together and was able to stay on a long-ish rein. We ended up fourth in hunter something, second in equitation, and third in hunter pleasure.

and no, i did not get good media. SORRY.

Our over fences classes were immediately following. We had casual 50mph winds and heavy, heavy rain at the end of the week so the back half of the ring was flooded. They decided to make the course as short and simple as possible which was totes okay with me.

After a perfect, short schooling over an identical course at home the day before and then having a flawless warm up jumping, I went in expecting Opie to flow right over everything easy peasy. That was not the case. I don't know if he was just tight and cold and unfocused from standing ringside for ten minutes waiting to go back in, or it was a classic case of "Carly goes in the ring to compete and all things go to shit"--or both (it was both, probably leaning heavier towards the latter)--but the first course was not great and the second was somehow even worse.

Well done to my barn mate for standing at the exact right spot to not make them look like the shit shows they were. I had to bring Opie back for a complete regroup after that pumpkin line because he landed so unbalanced both times that there was no salvaging any gait in one to two strides. Oh well. He jumped the jumps, and that's better than nothing. We got a 5th out six for the first course because one rider had a rail, and then a 6th out of six for the second round.

We finished with our under saddle class. I had to boot Opie back into the ring because he was les tired by this point, but he'd reach a happy (for me) medium of kinda tired and kinda grumpy but gonna werk real hard in hopes I'd let him be done. He was straight struttin' and on his game. That earned him his first hunter show blue--it also got us a 1st through 6th for six classes, and when I came back from dropping he and his bestie back home one of the girls handed me a reserve champion for one of the divisions.

one of each!

Overall I wish we'd been able to jump the jumps as well as I know he's capable of when it actually mattered, but since hunter shows don't actually matter matter to me, I certainly didn't finish with any bummed out feelings. I had a ton of fun showing with a great group of kiddos from my barn, and we got all the satin for all the things. Not a bad way to descend into utter winter darkness!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Pole Jumping

Pole jumping:

Not to be confused with its demon cousin log jumping:

Dopie has been getting his arena jumping learn on as we gear up for the last show of the year--a hunter show! You guys know I love me a good frolic through the land of fifteen warm ups and sideline coaching.

Are we good at it? Fuck no!

Do I have any shame whatsoever? Also fuck no!

only here to dress my horse up in his cute hunter gear

But in true Carly fashion, we have yet to work through a full course or even set lines. Nah, bitches. We've been gymnasticizing (Is that not a real word?) our way through the learning process. We've done some singles. And we've done a lot of cantering.

It all makes sense in a roundabout way though. I promise it always does.

First things first, poles and gymnastics. Last week BM had a sort of gymnastic line set up--an extension of a little jump exercise I ran Dopie through a few days prior. Pole, jump (I then had another pole and that was that), one stride, another pole. The poles were set at a snug distance while the one stride was going. Adjust! Have feet! Use them responsibly!

sometimes those feet are super tricksy

He actually totally nailed that exercise and kept dragging me into the line each time we took a break from it. The same day we also worked over a single set so we could come off a short approach or the hunter-esque long approach. The short side was easy peasy. He hit it twice right out of stride, jumped like a good boy, and loped off. We quit that direction on that. The long side was an exercise of me figuring out the correct canter to put him in, and then him maintaining that canter instead of lurching back and forth between speeds.

Thus all the extra canter work.

herp derp, beluga whale on the move

We had an intense flat school last Friday where I was able to get a fucking awesome collected canter out of him to the left. I aimed for three to four strides at a time because sir was sitting and then I'd let him melt back out into a regular canter. The adjustability there was just what I wanted, so I was expecting similar results to the right.

Instead he was so crooked I ended up zig zagging him back and forth across the arena a dozen times until he got the front end and the back end in line and under himself and settled for cantering straight down the quarter lines for the rest of eternity two whole laps.

Fortunately it ended up setting us up well for Saturday's ride. I set up a grid with whatever was already out there because I was too lazy to drag any more standards from the indoor. I ended up with bounces to an oxer. My oxer was supposed to be two strides away, but Hubby somehow turned it into a long one stride so we just rolled with it. Making Opie stretch out over jumps when he tends to do the llama leap from underneath them wasn't the worst thing.

Opie was GUNG HO for this grid. He was living for it.

could those ears be any farther forward?

He was so pumped he almost kept cantering out of the arena a couple times before I finally made the rule we would be stopping at the fence line.

But the grid exercise was great for both of us for a couple reasons. He had to come into it straight. That meant the turn had to be straight which meant the shoulders had to be straight. If we got the turn right, which we only messed up twice (in a row), the grid rode like an arrow. I also had to occasionally sit down and drive him forward into the bounces. It didn't matter if he hit the first one a titch off stride as long as I was sending him into it.

If I saw he wasn't going to hit it from the perfect spot and then tried to collect him back up, he inevitably got into an even more awkward distance and then struggled a bit to roll through them.

Strange voodoo magic, the forward ride...

He's been loving life lately with all the easy yet interesting learning he's doing. We did our weekly stretchy ride this morning (#nailedit), and I picked up the canter at the very end to let him finish over an X for funsies. Off a looooong approach, he maintained his steady canter and got to the jump right in stride. Only instead of jumping it he just cantered right over.

Dopie says Snooze Fest. Give him real jompies.

and moar snacks. because clearly this hippo is starving.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

GVH Hunter Pace

I mentioned in my last post that I had two hunter paces coming up, and that they were on the Fun list.

You guys. Last weekend we did one of those paces. It was not fun.

The last time I did this particular pace was a few years ago in the spring with Bobby. I remember it being a lot of fun because of its level of difficulty. It's run by the local hunt club and is therefore run over hunt country--big, open sprawling fields into hilly forests with Novice sized coops in every fence line. That was a shit ton of fun with Bobby who had been eventing for years at that point and was too stupid to say no to anything.

me: bobby, jump this prelim skinny from a trot
bobby: sounds like a really good idea!

I wasn't expecting to jump anything with Opie so I figured ruling that out would lower the difficulty level to easy peasy. Enjoyable for my often trail ridden young horse, even with some greener horses and greener riders my barn was bringing along.

Then Farrier asked if I wanted to ride with her instead. Of course! Take out the green horse and rider company and it just got even more fun! Sadly Farrier's trailer ramp broke the day before the pace. No worries, back to my barn mates.

The morning of the pace, BM texts me and tells me she won't be riding either because she crushed her foot and bashed her knee. She follows that up by telling me that left me paired up with the greenest horse in the barn and a rider with no chill. I quickly squash that plan and told her we'd all travel in a pack--Opie and I, the junior rider I had ride Opie while I was gone on an experienced pony, a green rider on a usually broke adventure horse, a fellow boarder on the best Chancey Pants ever, and this neon green mare with her hit-or-miss rider.

A and I jump in my truck with Opie in tow and despite trying to keep BM in my sights behind me, we get separated getting on the interstate. No worries, she can't be too far behind me and we'll be able to park one behind the other on the side of the road where the pace is. I get to the final intersection and waffle there for a moment. Turn left and go past where the horse trials are held, travelling down the gravel road for longer first thing, or turn right and travel down the real road leaving the gravel road for the trip home? 

I turn right. And then I get to where the pace is supposed to start and no one is to be found. No worries, we'll just keep driving down the road. It's all hunt country back there, we'll run into it somewhere!

We drive for eternity. We hit gravel road. We see nothing. BM calls me. She made the same decision and is somewhere not too far behind me, also wondering where the fuck everyone is.

Eventually we start seeing horse crossing signs. We see a pair of horses galloping across a hill on the horizon. We see no trailers parked anywhere. We pass another trailer going the opposite direction looking lost AF. We drive some more.

Finally BM--still on the phone--says she happened to glance down a side road and saw trailer parking. What road is it? The road where the horse trials are held. If I had turned left instead, we would have run right into it. No signage, of course, and on the website it does not say "ROOTS FUCKING TAVERN ROAD" which anyone would have been able to find in two seconds.

I pull a u-turn in the middle of an intersection and make my way back to where I'm supposed to be. I get Opie tacked up in the middle of the road without fuss and jump on while my pack of barn mates turn into loopy clueless beginners. I've said it before, but BM does not get paid enough to do her job. How she managed to wrangle four horses and four riders by herself is some voodoo magic. Finally everyone was aboard, we paid and signed away our souls, and set off into the woods.

Right off the bat, the mare loses her shit and goes cantering by Opie. Her rider seems in control at least so I leave her to her own devices. Let them get their stupids out off the bat so they'll be tired sooner and behave for the rest of the pace. The trail makes a sharp turn so we all come back to a walk. I can see a creek crossing ahead so call up Chance. Opie loves water, and he loves trail rides, but he does not love mud and he jumps any creek crossing he can. He'll worry over it before I convince him to go if he's by himself, but he'll follow another horse right over.

dopie says he'd rather go swim in the genesee river

Good thing we had the best trail boi that ever did live with us. This creek crossing was an actual drop down into a flowing, rock strewn creek bed with a jump up to get back out. Chance navigates it calmly so Opie jumps in after him and launches himself back out. Everyone else follows suit without much drama and off we go again.

We come out into a big field where we pick up the trot again and all hell breaks loose as everyone goes shooting past me, one of the horses dropping his head and bolting, the mare starts bucking, everyone is BAD and I HATE THEM. I scream out in the Voice of God to WALK RIGHT THIS SECOND and gather everyone back behind me. New rule: No one passes Opie, none of you can be trusted, for fuck's sake.

We finish walking the edge of the field and come to our next obstacle: an actual vertical cliff side. I shit you not. I let everyone make their own choice, but I get off. The rest follow suit. Muttering curse words under my breath, clinging to trees as I slide down half on my feet and half on my ass, hoping Opie doesn't pull a shoe or slide right by me in the mud, we all make it to the bottom. Everyone gets remounted, and then immediately we come to the next creek crossing which is even bigger and worse than the first one.

Even Chance takes a few seconds to figure out how to get across. I bash Opie's head into a tree semi-unintentionally as he impatiently waits for Chance to pick his way through it. The mare throws a shit fit and refuses to get close to it. We call the other two riders across hoping she'll think she's getting left behind and follow, only at that point two more riders have come up behind us. I'm yelling at the rider to kick the shit out of this naughty mare who at this point doesn't even care about the water, she's just throwing a straight up tantrum. Finally, one of the riders behind her, an older gentleman who has clearly been around the block, basically chases/pushes the mare into water where she calmly splashes through.

Fucking heifer.

From there on out, for awhile, it's pretty drama free. THANK FUCKING GOD. There are a few logs we have to jump which Opie takes in stride from the lead without fuss. Road crossings, lots of trotting through the fields as I try to get this pace over with as quickly as possible without anyone taking off again, and another creek crossing that's so wide everyone wades in without complaint.

We finally get to a narrow bridle path with a fence on one side and woods on the other. Everyone behind me looks tired so I let the group ooze into a canter with instructions to stay behind me. Ram naughty horses up Dopie's butt, he won't care. I don't want to chase bad horses down if someone gets out in front of me and loses their shit. Again.


A, for whatever reason, does not seem to comprehend this. Whether she took it as a personal affront to her and Chance, or she wasn't understanding what I was saying, she passes by me and sends Chance off into this speed eating trot that Opie can't keep up with at the canter.

"Don't let the other horses get by Opie, it will upset him," she calls out to everyone else.
"No," I correct. "He's so lazy he doesn't care if someone else leads. I just don't want people ahead of me where I will have to chase them down if they get into trouble."

We'd talked earlier in the ride about how Chance likes to zoom with the lead horse, but once he gets in front he doesn't like to actually be leading so he slows down to a crawl. "Don't do that," I joke with her. "There's no point in being in front if you're going to be the slowest of the group."

Now having zipped past me, she keeps him gunned and tells me, "Is this fast enough for you? He's not slow now!"

Does anyone see where this is going?

We come back to a walk to navigate a muddy, ditchy crossing and when we hit a field again A instantly urges Chance into his super sonic trot again. I let Opie step into a lazy lope that's easier for both of us, and two seconds later I hear commotion from behind. The green rider is laying on the ground and her horse is being grabbed by the junior rider. I yell at A to come back and go find out what happened. When Chance and Opie set off again, her horse--who had already bolted on her once at the beginning of the ride, which is not characteristic of him--pulled the same stunt. She popped off and he clipped her knee with a foot as she fell.

SO FUCKING OVER THESE NAUGHTY HORSES AND THIS FUCKING PACE, I tell her she's going to ride Opie the rest of the way. I know we can't be that far from the finish, and we'll walk the whole fucking thing from here.

i then had to drop my stirrups five holes this morning.

We get her up and she's sore and uncomfortable but otherwise fine. Opie lets her climb aboard from the offside with help from A and then stands there munching grass while I wallop her naughty bastard in the fat gut with my unicorn whip when he tries to book it when I go to mount. Once on, Opie retakes the lead and Mr Bolty Pants and I have one immediate, firm discussion when he thinks running again would be more fun than hanging out at the back walking. From there on out he plods along on a loose rein.

Fucking heifer gelding.

Fortunately, we were one hill and field away from the finish. Opie gets to lope across the finish line while BAD HORSE gets to do the slowest trot of his life before walking across.

In conclusion, Opie was the only good thing about this pace. He went on a looped rein the entire ride no matter the speed. He jumped whatever was in front of him, he did his bugaboo creek crossings with no fuss, he stood to the side and waited while the junior rider jumped some of the coops, and he let a completely green rider with a busted knee ride him back into the lead and got her safely home without putting a foot out of line. He hung out in the road while I got him dressed and undressed, and marched onto the trailer with zero hesitation.

The next day we celebrated two years together by feeding him a pound of carrots with a few peppermints as a chaser. Well deserved for A Very Good Boy.

the best cookie monster

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Rallying the fun

I was so super bummed when my toe got squished into a million pieces and filled my shoe with an ocean of blood.


I had one more show left that I really wanted to do, but I had managed to get enough scores to submit for year end awards anyway. The biggest disappointment was that it put me out of commission for the most fun time of the year--hunter pace season!

I ended up missing two of those and a scheduled cross country school, but through perseverance refusal to stay off my horse, a month and a half later I've managed to cram my foot into a riding boot and actually be totally okay with riding like a normal person. That gives me two hunter paces this month, a hunter show next month, and a cross country school last week. Hallelujah!

just the cutest fall snootest

I spent last weekend and into Thursday evening of last week flying hither and yon across the country. BM and I had our sights set on Friday for pretty much the only day for the rest of eternity we could both make work to haul out to school, so while I was gone I managed to convince one of the barn kids that riding Opie for me while I was gone would be really super fun. I don't think she agreed by the time the week was up--BM told me she couldn't get Opie's buttons to keep working after day one (schoolmaster he is not), and the girl herself let me know that he may or may not have spooked at make believe things every ride and then tried to take off with her on the last day.


Aside from needing a refresher on manners, no harm done though. Plus he was super cute when I went out to get him for this adventure. His friends were already halfway down the field, and he was starting to wander off towards them, when I called his name from across the parking lot and he threw on the brakes to come right back over to the gate. ADORBS.

He needed that gold star in his book because once on it was a hot mess express for eighty percent of the ride itself.

He stopped at the very first jump--the tiniest log on the planet. I spanked him, backed him up, and made him go over it from the walk. And then again at the trot.

it's basically a stick, sir.

BM took us down to the water first which in theory was a good confidence builder. Opie walked and trotted in and out, and then gamely jumped right up his first bank like it was no big deal.

And then followed Momo down for his first drop:

he calmly stepped down the first time

but was slightly more exuberant for trip two

We popped over some smaller logs around the water without incident before heading back into the big field. Opie was a little snorty at all the different jumps so I trotted him in and out of them before starting with a seemingly simple log stack.

It was, apparently, not so simple.

I realized at the trailer once I was already on that I had taken my rein stops off for the last hunter show and had never put them back on. Not wanting to dig around for them--assuming they were even in my trailer--I just took the running martingale off thinking it wouldn't be a big deal. My face disagreed. On numerous occasions.

BM was like, "I don't even know exactly what he's doing, but it sure is special."

I tried to take a break from it and get some better juju going over a different log stack, but...nah.

After several start-stop-launches and a couple of half assed refusals, we were finally able to get in one jump that didn't end with both of us flying through the air in pure awkward glory.

why did this have to be so hard tho.

We moved on to a couple more jumps where neither one of us could get on the same page. I was trying to keep my reins long to avoid hitting him in the mouth as much as possible during his unpredictable launches, but in hindsight I don't think it helped either one of us. I also tried to canter him right off the bat to most of them since they were so small, but again, in hindsight probably not the best approach.

He was super squirrely to things and kept trying to duck out at the last second, which then made me doubt his commitment to go over anything so when he did actually take off I was usually in a defense position.

i do not trust you, baby jumping horse

We finally got one good jump from the canter; I praised the shit out of him, shoved a candy in his mouth, and took a little walking mental break. At the heart of it, he just didn't seem confident in himself until that last jump where he landed and you could physically see and feel him understand that that was how a good boy jumps.

I picked the trot back up and went back and forth over the little house and a mini fake rolltop thing over and over until he was picking up the canter himself and taking me to the jump.

In some sort of groove, we followed BM over a BN rolltop:

And then did a couple more BN fences on our own.

yeah, there was still some questionable technique...

We finished with the house to little rolltop line one more time. Both boys were sweaty beasts by that point and I felt like Opie was probably at the end of useful brain cells so we headed back towards the trailers. We cantered off over a little log which he did super, and then the tires which he went right over, even though I went back on the defensive thinking he was going to try something sneaky.

logs: scary.
tires: no problemo.

I was so annoyed with myself. I knew he'd gotten into the groove and was feeling like he could jump all the things finally, but I was still riding like he was going to slam on the brakes. With one more jump available, I told myself to quit riding like he was going to stop and trust him to go over like a [barely educated at best] jumping horse.

which he did because he is A Good Boy

We finished up going back and forth over the ditch. He followed Momo right over the first time.

no drama here

When I went to take him over by himself, he slammed to a halt. Fortunately for him, because I'm getting pretty sick of the "I can't do things anymore without Momo" attitude on adventures, I spanked him once and he went back and forth multiple times without further incident.

He then had to stand for thirty seconds to wait for Momo to jump a combination, during which he tried to knock me out by violently flinging his head around when I told him he couldn't follow, and the last of his brain cells officially died.

no longer a functioning member of society.

My goal for this schooling was for it to be a fun trip off property for both of us, but it ended up being more of an actual schooling event. I need to remind myself that's where Opie is in his jumping life, so my expectations shouldn't have been anything else. If I tried hard, I could probably recall every single individual, focused jump school he's had since he came off the track. It's not a lot.

He knows the game is to get to the other side, but that's really about the extent of his education. When he gets put in a brand new environment, with brand new jumps, he needs to be told how to do pretty much everything. I can't expect to just magically know how to go from being a trained dressage horse to a trained jumping horse with no training on his resume.

trained at the walk

My goal this winter is to do a lot of gymnastic work with him. He's going to stay a dressage horse, but if I want to keep pulling him out for fun jumping adventures, the least I can do is impart some knowledge on him to make them fun for the both of us.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Noncompetitive Riding, For Once

Would you guys be surprised to hear that there has been riding going on besides shows? For fuck's sake, I feel like that's all I bothered blogging about this summer. Then a horse tried to remove my toe from my foot, and I couldn't even write about that anymore!

Blogging has turned into a bit of a bummer for me this year though. I'm in a very weird head space where I enjoy interacting with with people through social media...except when I don't. I feel like I'm a very OK rider, and I am so completely happy being a very OK rider. I also feel like that's not an okay thing around these parts. I'm not into living in lessons, or scheduling every minute of my horse's life, or spending every second of my free time consuming intensive training knowledge. No judgement if that's you, but that isn't fun to me personally.

What is fun to me is riding my horse and improving him as best I can to reach my own Opie and Carly oriented goals. No one else has these goals, as similar as they might seem to your own, because no one else is us.

I was finally, finally able to finagle my poor toe into the world's most beat up sneaker which lead to me putting my stirrups back on at the end of my ride Saturday. No one else has seemed particularly impressed by this, but after being stirrup-less and in a post-op shoe for a month, I AM SO EXCITED.

thinking really hard about doing zoomies instead

It let us get back to mandated stretchy rides, cantering without getting taken off with, and our short term goal of being comfortable in a jump saddle post haste so BM and I can go cross country schooling before it snows. (Which, it was almost 90* this weekend, but I know you, NY. It could snow any day now.)

i was so happy to tell bm we jumped a jump, and then she told me her horse
was foot sore. c'mon man! fortunately he should be good to go again soon.

We were able to do some super fun, mostly pointless, yet highly rewarding things in our ride this morning. I had a sneaker, I had my stirrups, the horse was filled with candy, morale was fucking high.

We spent a long time at the walk because that's our fave. I trailered some ponies down to a hunter pace yesterday and two of my barn mates were in the truck with me. They were discussing how BM has been on their cases lately about getting the lesson horses to Walk and not trudge along in lesson horse mode, and how it was so much work. I could not relate. My horse screamed his fool head off Saturday morning, spun around in a circle, almost fell over, and got smacked upside the head for his troubles, but hot damn can he walk.

can you hear the drama? because i can.

After getting cooking into his giant, marching, back swinging me nearly out the saddle walk, we threw in a couple leg yields both ways with no fuss. Once I figured out that corralling the shoulder to keep him straight was the key to those, they've been great. Then I decided I wanted to see if he remembered the half pass. We worked on them exactly once this spring and he found them super easy.

First we had to make sure the shoulder-in was good.

It was not.

me: imma pull on you
opie: cool, imma brace against you

After seeing my media from Saturday, I knew I had to stop fucking pulling at the lateral work. He throws his head up, I pull back to compensate for the sudden slack in my reins, he tenses everything, nothing works, the end.

I started off fixing this by dropping ALL contact. Opie was like, "Cool, cool, free rein to do whatevski, here's a little llama anyway."

So then I had to go and fix that, too.

We had to agree to meet in the middle which took the length of both long sides. There was some sitting on the kick boards and plenty of head flipping, but he eventually got it. You no pull, I no pull, still do what I'm asking though, the end. I did still have to work on other stuff. Like, okay, you're soft over your topline, but stop bending your neck like a C. Shoulders being held responsible for things is definitely a weak spot for our Dopie Horse.

We finally moved on to the half pass. He is so good at these, I love him. For all that Bobby loved flinging his body sideways, and how easy he found the rest of the lateral work, the half pass never seemed great. Opie is so good, I can't. He got so many pats and scratches he finally stopped to look back at me like, "If I am A Very Good Horse, you should give me moar candies." SO I DID OBVIOUSLY.

is not shy about expressing his emotions. like how he's here expressing his
displeasure over being asked to do anything when his friends get to go outside

After hitting up a few halts where the new rule is No Llama--Ever....

the halt is not for staring at your adoring fans, sir.

...we moved on to the canter.

He stepped right into from the walk continuing his Very Good Boy streak. I feel like the up transitions to the canter are finally a reliable thing, even if the down transitions can still be a bit hurried/harried. Only took almost two years!

We frolicked around in half seat for a few laps before I decided to see the state of his flying change. Having ridden racehorses, I can pull these out of pretty much any OTTB. I wanted to see how far off from dressage pony changes his are.

They are very far, guys. They're accessible, and they're clean, but they are hands down, "I was a sprinter, see how fast I go the second I get my new lead! SO FAST!!!!!!! The flying part is my favorite part of this game!!!!!" I gave him some candy anyway because at least knowledge is there?

And really he gets candy for everything. Bribery as a means to results is my training motto. Take it or leave it me alone, folks.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Dopie Does Roping, Part I

Still here, still stumping around! The cut on my toe is healing up really well, the nail is still somehow attached (during my last appointment, the surgeon told me I could pull it off myself if I wanted and I was like, "LOLOLOLOLOL I THINK NOT, SIR."), and the crushing force of a steel shoe launching itself from one direct point did so much nerve damage that things are basically still numb. I'm able to walk around the house without my boot which is fantastic because that heavy thing is a real ankle torturing bitch, as you guys warned me. Every now and then I'll get a quick stab of pain that's either nerves trying to come back from the grave or a reminder that I have a vertical line of broken bones in there, too, but overall things are going pretty swimmingly in that regard.

I was also told not to ride for another four--now three--weeks, but I think we all know how that's going.

he was very sad there was no swimming at this new park
so he kept parking himself in puddles and refusing to leave them.

I pulled the stirrups off my saddle and have been hitting the trails as much as possible. BM is fully on board and we explored a park down the road from the barn last week with plans to go there again on Friday. We've gone back to Mendon yet again, and Dopes and I have been strolling around the home property on nice days. We've logged seven hours of walking in the two weeks since I got hurt, and so far it's been enough to appease the both of us. Mostly a vacation while trying to enjoy this beautiful fall weather before it disappears for eight months of winter.

However! I'm not here to ramble about trail riding--any more than I already have at least.

Hubby decided he wanted to climb aboard SS Dopasaurus Rex over the weekend, and I fully support any time I get to pull out the western horse outfit.

does he need that tie down? for aesthetic purposes, YES.

Hubby wanted to play #dopiedoesroping and I've never had any issue with any of my other horses he's attempted this with. They've all taken to having ropes flung through the air and inevitably getting thwacked in the head with nary a complaint. Opie isn't at all a spooky horse so I was expecting no difference.

Instead, once Hubby had gotten on and ridden around a little bit, I reached out to hand him the rope and Dopie went shooting sideways.

i'm so glad you can't smell pictures because this horse reeks of pee and pond
scum at the moment. a bath is on his schedule during this brief warm up.

We ended up having to take things all the way back to the ground. First longeing with the rope whacking against his saddle, which he kept an ear on, but was otherwise okay with.

hadn't had real work in weeks and loped around on a loose line. he is a good pone.

Then I had Hubby swing the rope in front of and then next to Dopie several times. Dopes watched with wary interest, but with a steady stream of candy if he stayed still instead of trying to go sideways, this went quickly.

Hubby finally got back on with the rope hanging neutrally in his hand at his side. I put him on the longe while he started shifting the rope around, slowly swinging it back and forth and then gradually holding it out to the side and up in the air. Opie was definitely pretty fucking twitchy about this to start. However, in true Dopie fashion, once he sussed out the game--don't react to the shenanigans going on around you and you get a candy--I was able to let them off the line and they walked around without issue.

Hubby was able to throw the rope out a couple times while I stood at Opie's head shoveling candy into his face until I finally ran out. I wanted to get it on video though, because I'm trying to run a blog here obvi, so he did it one more time.

Opie looking back at Hubby at the end to see where his candy is still makes me laugh hysterically. And then Hubby was like, "One more time." but Opie was like, "NO CANDY NO WORK" and started to get mad so we quit there so I could fetch him a fresh bag of peppermints.

I told Hubby I'd work with Opie during the week with the rope so by this weekend they could hopefully do more. I think it was less a case of being afraid of the rope though, and more a case of knowing his mother wasn't sitting on his back and ready to quash any naughtiness because on Monday....

"couldn't care less about this rope. where's my candy?"

I clambered aboard bareback in my boot, grabbed the rope off a jump standard, and proceeded to bounce it all over his body and chuck it through the air with barely an ear twitch. Hopefully he's as over it with Hubby as he was with me so I can bring you guys some more exciting media!