Friday, January 18, 2019

Why you gotta do me like this

Opie decided me on whether I was going to do a blog post about our recent rides or not by taking himself out of commission. Can't say I suck at riding if I don't ride--win-win!

But this is going to be a long, boring couple of weeks while he heals himself so I might get around to that eventually. He's been good, I'm just having yet another existential crisis over my own riding, nothing to see here. (Only there is because I have some media.)

To solve that, I was gung-ho to sneak in at least one lesson with a little extra cash I had this month, but instead all the extra cash goes to the vet instead.

boo you whore

As I was on my way to drop off my car to get new tires all around (Money likes to give itself away around here.), BM called me breathless to tell me Opie had just gotten cast and his leg was bleeding. I told her I'd finish checking in my car and then head right over, keep me apprised. A minute later she called me back after hosing his leg and said that one of the cuts looked pretty deep so I went ahead and called the vet to get them on their way. It was 4:56 by my car, but of course it was out of hours in Vet Land.

Fortunately there was a vet within a couple miles of the barn finishing up another call, and they ended up beating there. I walked into the 25* barn--in moccasins, a light cotton pull over, and a jacket because I'd had zero intention of being outside for more than two seconds--and a barn mom was holding an already sedated Opie while BM told them what had happened from the doorway of the arena in between teaching a lesson.

At that point I pretty much had nothing to do besides tell the vet to add as many sleepy drugs as she wanted because Opie is not a lightweight. She shaved and washed his leg and we were able to get a good look at the injuries.

it was awfully deep

the outside of the leg, far less exciting

Upon closer inspection, she felt confident he'd managed to slice the sweet spot directly in between important pieces so no joint damage was involved. She decided to go ahead and block the leg to stitch him up since it was in an unsafe location and he really doesn't take much of a hit from sleepy drugs.

My favorite barn kid who had been waiting for me at the door as soon as I pulled in made her mom and sister stay to watch the entire thing because "I want to give Opie my support." She's maybe six and the sassiest creature alive. When he was done, she and her sister immediately went to give an instantly wide awake Opie (I swear he fakes sedation because the second he's done getting worked on he's 110% alert) all the scratches and head pets. It was so cute to see her asking the vet about every little thing. She'd also explained that in addition to Opie's penguin blanket he also sports Hello Kitty jammies which led the vet to dig out her hot pink sutures instead of the white.

so stylish

The vet bandaged him up, topped off my SMZs, told me to Bute him as I saw fit, and was off to the next poor sucker in need of emergency care in all of twenty minutes.

i should have given her a roll of my zebra vet wrap
because this green was a snooze

In the grand scheme of injuries and what could have happened from him getting cast, this is basically nothing. Of course, why he felt the need to--I assume--roll within just a couple of minutes of being brought inside is beyond me, but maybe fresh shavings are that enticing. Hopefully he learned his lesson. Rollies are for outside the stall! Regardless, Hubby was all over a plan to fully mat Opie's stall asap. Dopie is his favorite, no expenses spared for #childgenius.

i appreciated that the vet wasn't like, "he needs a fancy bandage
every day for the next eternity!!1!1!" instead she told me daily
standing wrap changes with a nonstick gauze pad, slap some
tricare on it if it looks dry. that i can do/afford.

Hopefully everything heals quickly and without drama. He was fully weight bearing the entire time and honestly doesn't even seem to realize he's done anything besides get locked in jail with his personal torture device hay net and extra candy.

creeping on the mare in front of him while arthur supervises.
i got the old bandage cut off and his leg wrapped without him so
much as flicking an ear. he's a good patient (so far).

Fingers crossed for an uneventful next two weeks!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Happy Birthday Opie!

Unlike last year's party where we got 2' of snow in about two seconds on the day of Dopie's birthday, this year it was just single digits cold with barely any snow to be found. Bonus that we didn't have to do any shoveling, but bummer that there isn't any snow to play in.

this party hat really highlights his donkey ears

Regardless of the weather, Opie got to share his homemade cookies with his two friends in between romping around the indoor like crazies--that being his two friends and not him.

"you guys got that."

I'm the actual worst at making homemade horse treats as any recipe I try to follow always turns out the same blobbish, gooey way so I've just given up and make my own version. I basically combine all the horse's favorite things (that meant heavy on the carrots and no apples for Opie), some oats to give it volume, and a generous plopping of molasses to hold-ish it all together. Enough time spent in the fridge and they turn out solid enough to make it from the container into the horse's mouth and that's all that really matters.

opie was eating them right out of the box at first and then by the end decided
he didn't really like them anymore...after inhaling about 7 or 8 of them.

fortunately they didn't go to waste

they're all OTTBs so i guess they all deserve birthday cookies this month

His real birthday present was not having to do any work because homie got schooled by myself and Riding Bestie the past two days. He clearly had a lot of excess energy to burn.

meanwhile his friends were flying through the air like psycho kites

Happy low key sixth birthday, Dopie Horse!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Dopie Doing the Dressage

It's only taken me into the second week of the year, but I finally feel like I'm back on a normal schedule again. I really hate the holidays people. Let's call it what it is.

I was feeling a bit lost in my horse life as well because I wasn't getting any time in the saddle. I was convinced that my horse had lost all of his training. Like, all of it. Would he even know how to horse when I finally got the time to ride again?! Would he know anything ever what if he forgets how to even walk oh god why do people have to socialize on my time?????

It was a period of great angst, you guys.

opie says, "check yourself, lady. i self-train."

Fortunately, #childgenius in the house and all my fears were immediately assuaged.

Did he rein back like a shuffling, inverted slob? Nope, diagonal pairs clearly lifted and right back into the walk.

Did he fake the stretch and just face plant about the ring? Nope, taking the contact down and lifting his back up.

Did he suddenly decide contact wasn't a thing and walk around like a rabid llama? Nope, light, easy pressure in the reins and struttin' off.

The horse is fine, the horse is trained, the horse does not give two shits if he gets ridden twice in two weeks as long as the cookies keep coming.

grey pony cookie delivery

We have, however, been tackling some new and old problems. The fun part of dressage is that you literally never stop training the same old shit, you just get to call it different things.

The main focus of the past couple rides though has been really engaging that inside hind. Opie has conned me into letting him get away with not using it as much as he can for long enough. It's easy to be tricked, too (at least when you're a multi-aids halfwit that has the focus of a gerbil--I was made for this discipline, what can I say?) because his short little neck is good at bending and making you think the rest of him is being just of flexible. But that is false.

The other day there were a couple of jumps set in the middle of the ring that made a nice 15m pen right in front of the mirror. I locked Opie into this jail cell and we worked at all three gaits both directions, stepping under and keeping all parts of the body aligned. He said it was the shits and super hard, but he was perfectly capable and willing to do it once I made it clear this was the exercise.

i am sooo out of media. riding bestie should be up soon to remedy that.

Then I gave him the day off because he worked really hard and I didn't want him to hate me. Currently I'm going through this phase of I AM NOT WORTHY TO BE YOUR RIDER. I basically feel that if I'm not actively worshiping Dopie then he's going to stop being so amazing.

But emphasis on "phase". I'm sure he'll be a real tool soon and I'll be a hundred percent over it.

I've been incorporating serious work with that hind leg in every ride since, but this morning I wanted to devote the majority of my time to the canter transitions. I'd left the arena doors open after dragging the ring so that was a bit of distraction at first until I reminded him that he may be getting worshiped but I am god in this relationship so pay the fuck attention. All was good after that and we warmed up with lots of 10 and 15m circles and spirals. Engage, bro.

"but my soul mates are out there."

Dudes, it's amazing what you can accomplish in a short amount of time when you go in with a game plan. While the departs still aren't as round as I want them to be, he sitting down and stepping up into them instead of just lurching into the canter and then getting sorted a couple strides later. The down transitions were fucking fabulous. The stronger he gets and the more collection he's able to hold the easier it is for him to just step back into the trot. Duh, of course, but it's nice to feel that all the mindless bitch work is doing it's job.

He tried to get strong and sassy heading towards the open door and I just gave a big half halt with my seat, and he sank like ten feet (possibly less) onto his haunches and brought his front end up about thirty miles (actual distance) and gave me the most ridiculous-in-an-amazing-way canter. I let him keep if for half the long side before back to the trot, change direction, and then over the jump left standing in the ring to finish on a fun note.

He sure does suck at lateral work compared to Bobby who got a lot of practice going sideways by flinging himself violently around the arena, but he's getting a grip on the collected (and stretchy!) work light years ahead of the big brown moose.

maybe one day you'll be worthy of wearing otto for real

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Cost of 2018

I did my first one of these in 2016 and found the experience so..."enjoyable" that I did it again in 2017. Now I'm back for year three! Either I'm a glutton for punishment or I just really enjoy math.


No one enjoys math.

Without further ado:

Supplements and Healthcare: $619.42
  • I put all of Opie's various weight gain experiments under here, along with such necessities as wormer and his brief need for medication for the aural plaques in his ears. 
Farrier: $590
  • In case you guys doubted my farrier is the best, which you shouldn't because she is, I spent more this year doing simple steel front shoes for Opie than I did for nine months of corrective and trying-to-be-life-saving shoeing setups and consultations for Bobby in 2017. 
Lessons: $640
  • One category I would be okay with being higher. Sadly I think this is going to be pretty low in 2019 with another big bill being introduced to our monthly life expenditures budget. 
Board: $1,290
  • Listen. I really hate horses some days, but I don't hate that taking care of them makes my board pocket change.
Vet: $586.50
  • Opie "needed" booster vaccines since I didn't have a written record of them from the track. He also needed extra dental care because Shark. That is all.
Shows: $1,141
  • Cost of all that satin? Priceless.
Tack/Gear: $1,880.82
  • I had a goal this year to get this category way down from previous years. Mission fucking accomplished. $1k of that was the last bit of my saddle I owed, and I bought a cart for $225. Take away those two things and I feel like a miser. In a horse owning sort of way. Plus I can't be held responsible for having to buy things like fly gear because my horse is allergic to nature and multiple replacement halters because my horse is bad. 
Miscellaneous (memberships, registrations, repairs, etc): $1,365.82
  • Oof, this one got me this year. Poor old Growler needed a lot of extra love at the beginning of the year, and then her power steering lines needed to be replaced mid-summer. I have a sinking feeling this category is going to skyrocket next year. I'm tacking on a few more memberships, and my truck is making a rather ominous clunking noise. As I told Farrier, "She needs some love and I've got no more love to give her." Fingers crossed the old lady doesn't need a complete engine overhaul because I really don't know what I'm going to do at that point. 
Overall total: $8,113.56
  • I saw that and thought it was still painfully high. Then I went back and compared to the last two years--almost $12k and just over $14k--and I basically paid zero dollars on my horse all year! (Pretty sure that's how it works.) 
This is seriously one of my favorite year-end posts to do. It sparks so much conversation, and I love when other people jump aboard and do their own calculations. So how about it? Was 2018 an easier year financially for you? Did you hit any grossly ambiguous financial goals? Are you also already absolutely dreading 2019's costs?

Monday, December 31, 2018

Goal Review and 2019 Goals

I can't remember if I usually combine these or if last year was an outlier and I made two separate posts since I was dealing with two separate horses. Regardless I think we're all okay with there only being one goal post on record.

2018 Goals:

1. Fully outfit Opie in all his own necessary gear. I put this down planning on getting him his own jump saddle and another blanket to add to his collection but ended up doing neither. I'm crossing it off anyway because I decided the saddle wasn't yet worth the investment when I could borrow a barn mate's for the few times I felt like jumping in something besides my dressage saddle, and after getting a full winter under our belts I think he's good to go with the blanket set up I have now. I did get him sorted out with bits and bridles, so he officially has his own Opie-specific set up now.

2. Figure out the best show routine to make Opie comfortable off property. Dude much prefers hanging out at the trailer or ringside where he can creep on other horses. He wasn't too happy having to be stalled for the one whole show we had to get one at. He also won't eat his breakfast in the barn on show morning, but he eats his hay great in the trailer and then I just give him his grain once we get there. I'm very routine oriented and I think it's helped him settle at shows. He was a complete pro by the time the season wrapped up. 

3. Complete 25 hours for TIP trail riding patch. Well over 25 hours! Although they still haven't sent me my patch. Better email them about that...

4. Be able to trailer Opie by myself. Through pain and suffering and all the training in the world, I can now say this kid is reliable to haul solo.

5. Smooth out the basics. AKA learn to canter. Done! Also learn the basics of being a dressage horse. Done! He's now got a couple different trots and canters, he leg yields, and if you close one eye he's got a perfectly acceptable SI and HI. 

6. Don't get hung up on how everyone else is progressing. I think writing this down made it more concrete in my head. There were several times throughout the year when I wanted to get caught up in comparisons, but I immediately shut it down and focused back on myself. I did fucking awesome this year. There are a lot of other people that did even better, but that doesn't diminish any one of the teeny tiny things I accomplished this year a single bit.

2018 opie, complete with some ugly AF growth spurts

2019 Goals

1. Make First Level our bitch. Solidify all the necessary movements so they come easy peasy: the leg yield, trot and canter lengthenings, and counter canter (even if it's kind of a fake counter canter at First). 

2. Fix the canter transitions. Up and down. They both suck depending on the day, and what a stupid area to lose points in.

3. Get another 25 trail hours logged. I already have 7 recorded. The next prize needs 50 hours I think, but that's not happening in a year for me. 

4. Go to two new places. Show venue or trail adventure. I want to explore some more areas around us.

5. #dopiedoesdriving. Get him back to work with the cart so he's a reliable driving horse at home. Make sure steering is a thing!

6. Learn to braid a forelock. I am a straight up forelock braiding retard, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Stretch goals:

I ran into the problem this year where I got all my goals crossed off well before the year was over and was kind of floundering with what to do with myself. So in case that happens again, these are next on the list to give me something to work towards.

1. #dopiedoesdriving... off property. Take the pony and his cart to the park and see how he does in the wide open world.

2. Muddle through the movements from Second. A better shoulder-in and haunches-in, increase the oomph needed for medium gaits, and get Opie more relaxed and active with the sitting trot.

And you know what? Not a stretch goal or even a regular goal, but I'm going to write it down again anyway. Don't get hung up on how everyone else is progressing. Another year, another new level, still only on me to get my horse where I want him to go. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 Year in Review, Part Two

Opie started off July still in quasi retired mode. We finally kicked off the return to "real" work with an eye on the next block of shows coming up by leading a massive group of riders from the barn on a field trip to the park followed by a grill out. It was a shit ton of fun, and Opie got to do his first official four off the floor swimmies.

giggling like a maniac on my sea horse

Our return to showing was a good one despite riding in front of a judge I had the worst experience ever with on Bobby. Opie was a star at another new facility and came away with his first high point award on an 81%. The next weekend we returned to rated competition for another two day show. On the first day, despite warming up beautifully, the tests themselves were in the brand new indoor facility which was a lot for a young Dopie Horse. He did his best for a green bean, but the judge was only impressed with the giant moving Warmbloods all day across the levels. We came away with two thirds anyway because he is #childgenius. The second day he was much more settled. His scores went way up and we ended with a second and first. We ended the month trying a little cross country schooling at home where Opie was straight Satan.

my saddle pads were so disgusting by the end of the season. no bleach could save them.
definitely getting a new pony wardrobe next year. 

August was our last month of showing, but we filled it to the brim with three shows at three different places. First up was a GMO show where Opie crushed both of his tests and came away with another high point award. From there we went to the inaugural dressage show at the state fair grounds. After being so distracted in the new indoor at Houghton, I was worried the massive scale of this place would be too much for Opie. It was also his first time being stalled for a show, but he handled it like a pro. He--and every single other horse--was suspicious of Satan's altar the open judge's stand, but he still laid down two almost identical scores for two second places.

such a show pro 

I audited and volunteered at my GMO's sponsored Courtney King-Dye clinic before our season finale which wasn't a dressage show at all. Instead #dopiedoeseventing! He'd just started cantering jumps, had done a handful of 2'3" stadium fences, and could jump logs in the fields mostly without falling down. Seemed like he was ready to me! Obviously he was perfect. Actually he was pretty awful for his dressage test because he was in the wide open world instead of a ring, but he cantered around the entire stadium course like a champion and only had one honest "Da fuq is that?" stop on cross country. He finished feeling so proud of himself.

it's okay if you cannot. i cannot either.

obvi deserves double the pics

Following that success, we kicked off September with hunter pace season. We got two in this month which was a good thing since it soon started raining for all eternity and the rest of the calendar basically got cancelled. I also went wild got horse ADD and bought a cart. Because why not.

October was a lot of trail rides, and I was able to check off my twenty five hour goal for the year. Dopie continued his driving practice and I was finally (Well, finally, as if a month after buying the cart and deciding he was going to be a driving horse is an infinite amount of time.) able to get him hitched and driving around by himself.

Things slowly came to a halt in November. We were still plugging away at our dressage work, but not with any intensity. The big party this month was collecting our year end awards for all those shows!

satin, satin EVERYWHERE!

We finally started slowly getting back into real work in December. And I use that term loosely. When we did put forth the effort though, the year's worth of training showed up and I could tell that this kid got the right education this year. He feels correct, and he feels happy in his work. That's how I want every year to end!

After all the shit that 2017 brought, 2018 was definitely the year I needed. Now I just need to reel everything back in and set myself up for a more realistic 2019. I don't know if we can ever recreate the unicorn-ness of this year (although quite frankly all the times Opie was a real dick about the trailer and that time I thought for sure he'd broken my hand helped keep it in check), but I know that if we accomplish even a fraction of what got done this year we'll be in a good spot.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2018 Year in Review, Part One

Well, no one died or developed alien life forms on their bodies so I think it's safe to say 2018 was a great success here at Poor Woman Showing.

The End.

juuust kidding! as if i would miss a chance to brag about this child genius. 

Opie and I went out and filled the year with activities, to the point where it's still kind of crazy to me that this was his very first year off the track. Everything we did this year, everywhere we went, was a brand new experience for him and yet I feel like I have this horse who's a seasoned professional in whatever I've thrown at him.

Of course being a natural child genius only gets you so far, and all his wonderfulness didn't just poof into existence. A lot of hard work went into making sure I had what I wanted in an equine partner, and sometimes the drama vastly outweighed the fun.

So let's go all the way back to the beginning!

wow so talented.

We didn't do much in January because of the record breaking cold, and while I don't have a set temperature limit for riding, I do have a limit for how much I want to ride after doing barn chores every morning in record breaking cold. BM finally called my horse out for being a terrorist though, and basically told me to do something with him before she killed him. The handful of rides I did put in were typical greenie rides. He was good when he was good, and a hot mess when he was bad. Probably the biggest thing that came out of January (besides Opie's official fifth birthday on the 13th!) was that I completely quit on the canter. It was so awful that there didn't seem any point in doing anything with it until other parts of his body started to get stronger and more coordinated.

Opie came up foot sore on the hard ground in February and was off and on for most of the month. Packing his feet and occasional Bute got him through it, but I headed that monster off at the pass this winter and put pads on him a couple weeks ago. This was also the month that I finally looked in my horse's mouth and discovered he had extra teeth. Which was awful. He had those pulled without incident, got the rest of his teeth floated, and went back to business without a care in the world.


We also started lessons, and BM forcefully reminded me that the only way to improve the canter was to do the canter. So I slowly started incorporating short spurts of canter in half seat. It involved a lot of porpoising and head flinging, basically no balance or rhythm, and would often end with him straight up face planting into the ground when he tripped over his own legs. When I say he's a falling down horse, I'm not kidding. This horse ate shit more often than any other I've ever ridden.

Apparently February was a very busy month--mostly because we lucked into some gorgeous spring-like weather--and I also started Dopie's Death Box Training in earnest. His go-to trailer move was to load just fine before immediately bolting backwards off of it. I trailer by myself a lot, and obviously having a polite, safe horse in a Death Box is imperative anyway. We did a couple sessions with minor improvements, and then BM and I decided to go for Opie's first field trip. The trip to the park was a lot of fun and Opie showed off his great adventure brain, but it took us a solid half hour to get him on the trailer at the barn.

the best at adventures

In March, we put our heads down and did #werk. More trailer practice, and lessons galore. Opie's trot was really starting to come along as he learned that he could stretch his neck out without falling on his face. The canter was still hit or miss with a heavy lean towards the miss, but everything going on was run of the mill green horse problems. We had one big breakthrough at the end of the month where BM finally unlocked why I was finishing every ride with excruciating hip pain. Opie was dropping one side of his body and throwing me completely out of whack. Once she got on and felt what was happening, we came up with a game plan that got the horse and my hips straight.

Guess what we did in April? MOAR TRAILER PRACTICE! With the kick off to show season just around the corner, it seemed like we worked in the trailer or on the ground with the trailer in mind pretty much every time I was at the barn. Opie got infected with a bad case of the baby racehorse spring naughties and was an unfocused fool for the majority of our rides. He did, however, accomplish his first real jump school, jumped his first 2'3" fence (from the trot, fell down on landing, and then cantered off), and went on his first solo field trip. He was a satanic monster for his trip to the park, both for riding and for trailer loading, and I was experiencing some "Oh shit. Show season is basically here whether we like it or not." feelings.

first real jumpies

We kicked off May with the first show of the season right off the bat. I was flying completely solo, but the trailer gods smiled on us and I was able to get Opie there and back with zero drama. He was quite the pill about waiting at the trailer, but had moments where he was able to settle down and pull from his hay net and he never once tried to break free. That was a big win for a horse who had at that point already killed FIVE halters in his short time with me. For the riding itself, he was the same horse I had at home: green and lazy but honest, and he came home with a fourth (68%) and a second (72%).

No rest for the fancy, as the next weekend we were back at it for our GMO's first show of the season. Even in that short week between shows, his confidence in himself skyrocketed. It was like he went from young, green, the world is so big horse to the worldliest horse alive. He had been places. He had done things. He was #childgenius. He was still a squirrelly monster at the trailer, and our trailer neighbors were like, "I can recommend some great calming supplements!" but once again as soon as I was on him he was a cool customer. He just likes doing the things, not waiting to do those things. The judge loved him and we got a score over 70% for the second show running. There were no ribbons awarded at this show, but both our tests would have won based on scores.

There were three weeks before the next show and we spent it doing a lot of hacking out and fine tuning the basics. We finished the month of by going on another solo trip to the park where Opie was perfect for the riding, but a gigantic asshole about loading both at the barn and at the park.

second ever show.
not bad for a horse that was banished from cantering at the beginning of the year.

June started off with three rated shows crammed in one after the other. The first weekend was a two day show where we'd done Opie's first show. Opie still pined away for friends at the trailer, but he was also still a total star for the riding. On day one I was the second ride of the day and, half asleep, I followed down the previous rider's crooked center line. The test was quiet and solid, but my stupid mistake cost us first place by point two percent! Still bitter over this. He was much less focused for the second test though, and finished third. The second day he was again unfocused for the first test and just really felt like he was still a green horse. Which he was. That only garnered us a fifth, but I pored over the judge's comments and rode my lady balls off for the final test to get us a 68% and Dopie's first official blue ribbon.

The next weekend we went to a new facility. Opie had had a bad day prior to this show, and it transferred over to him being awful at the show itself. He was full on baby racehorse and couldn't relax to save his life. We somehow eked out a fourth and a second regardless, but we were both ready for a break from showing at that point.

We spent the rest of the month alternating between time off, trail rides, and learning about jumping. We also learned about the Unfun Work, but for the most part it was a lot of time off and a good mental recharge.

tense and naughty, but looking cute because sneaky

I originally planned on making this one post, but we just did too much! Part two to follow tomorrow!

And, as a reminder, throughout the year show links can be seen on the sidebar. Once that year is over, they all go up top to the page appropriately titled All the Shows. You can use the search option also located on the sidebar if you want to go back and read something that I've referenced because I'm much too lazy to link back to topics throughout the year like more thorough bloggers.