Monday, June 27, 2011

Plantation Pictures

A few weeks later, here are the links to the professioanl pictures from Plantation.

AK Dragoo Photography

Conklin Photographic

If you take a look at some of the other BN horses, you can see lots of scariness at the dreaded stone wall and overall BN-ness. At least we weren't the only embodiment of Beginner in the name. You can also see Red's enthusiasm for the scary wooden gate under the second fence by taking off from a loooong distance. My leg slipped back over that one, and dang do I need to release even if he is being a nutter, but for not having a lesson in three and a half years, I guess I'm okay with where I am equitation-wise.

There's bears in them there woods!

Hubby had his first Saturday off of work in two or three months, so we finally got some good, relaxed pony riding in. We ran into CL both days unfortunately. I guess it made for some laugh-track moments, but ohhh my goodness, does she live up to her name sometimes. Saturday, she came right when we were tacking up and getting ready to go out to the trails, and was hanging off of Bobby because he's "suuuuchhhh a goooood booooyyyy." Yo. Get off my horse. Nothing you do makes him a good horse. And as soon as she walked in she bent down to look at one of his legs and was like, "Oh, he had a little scratch after we took his boots off (after his lesson Tuesday) and I was just wondering if it was still there." A) You didn't come out for the rest of the week and look to see if it was there? What if it had been a real scratch and had stocked up or gotten something in it? B) It was probably just a sweat line.

Anyway. We went out with the dogs who, as soon as we let loose on the trail, Darcy took off after a turkey with Emily close on her heels yipping like the little coyote puppy she is. Darcy came back after they'd treed it  and barked at it for awhile, but Emily took longer. She is stupider. So we walked and trotted up and down the same section of trail for awhile waiting for my wayward Heeler. The bugs were horrendous and Bobby was seriously bugged (ba-dum bump) by them. He's got TB skin like tissue paper. He kept diving his head down to rub his face on his legs. Not a good thing for a semi-unbalanced baby going downhill. We didn't even make it past the swamp before he threw a serious pissy fit, backing up into Red despite my furious kicking to go forward before spinning around into the water and leaping out as I jumped off in the chance he spazzed and flipped over. He got a serious backing up ass whupping after that. I know the bugs are bad, and I know it's muggy and just making it worse, but you do. not. misbehave. I'm a hard ass. I don't care. I don't have sensitive princess horses that can't be bullied a little bit. We turned around and cantered back. At least it was a long grade hill so he got in a touch of the hill work he needs. And Red didn't attempt to take off with Hubby.

I let King Buggy have a blow out gallop on the track outside the barn and barely got him pulled back up. I think, once we have enough money that I can get back to the barn more than once a week, a gallop is going to have to be in his schedule once a week. His silly mind needs it to refocus.

Since we were only out on the trails for about 20 minutes--including the time it took us to get the dog backs, beat Bobby, and walk to and from the trail--Hubby said he wanted to try to jump Red a little bit. Let me preface the following by saying that I am not an instructor. I have less than zero ambition to become an instructor. Mostly this is because I don't know how to relay my brillance to others. What a shame.

So at the halt, I got Hubby into the "ideal" halfseat position with only minimal whining from him. He didn't want me to put his stirrups up a hole even though that would have seriously helped him keep his heels DOWN. He's had one real lesson his entire life--coincidentally from an eventing trainer--so he knows what he's supposed to do, but applying the mechanics is sometimes lost. His posting is getting better, and his canter is pretty decent, but his dang heels just seem to like pointing up no matter what. I let him jump Red over 2'3 a few times, and even though Red was a laaaaaaazy, lazy pony, they got over without injury. Not pretty, but something to go on, I guess.

We drove out to the gamelands a little farther from the barn after riding and a black bear cub crossed in front of the truck! We waited around for awhile to try to get a picture of it or another one, and about five minutes later, it passed the road again headed in the other direction farther down. Of course, me being a former suburbanite, as soon as I saw it, I let out a rather enthusiastic, "THERE IT IS!!! THERE IT IS!" The poor cub stopped in its tracks and put its cute ears up before hauling ass away into the hedgerow. Some wildlife observer I am.

do you see it?!
Yesterday, I made Hubby bring along the heavy machinery and drill holes into the standards. He redid all of them up to 3'6 and added a 3'3 hole. Now you can actually take out the pins without a hammer. Woo hoo! We need some more jump cups, but we did build a gate last night (but you don't get those fun pictures until it's hanging, which means you have to wait for Hubby to have time to run it down with the truck because it's not fitting in my Saturn), and we're going to budget in some money to make a few more standards. I want five jumps over all and each jump will ideally have two set of cups and poles a piece.

Of course, instead of jumping, we loaded the boys onto the trailer and headed down to where we saw the bear yesterday. Really, could we have done anything else?

There was a beautifully manicured path around the pond we started out at, but it quickly cut off into a bunch of overgrown wheat fields that we trapaized around in for awhile before dumping us out onto an old gravel road. We got slightly distracted by rasberries on the side of the road. Definitely a good idea to dismount your horse, drop the reins in the middle of nowhere, and eat berries when you saw a bear yesterday. We escaped unscathed--minus the berry stains on our hands--and wandered off the road down a grass path that might have been a really old road at some point.

The grass road eventually looped around to where the end of the real road we drove down yesterday ends--right where we saw the bear cub. I'm not going to lie. I kind of wanted to see some action, but we didn't see anything but a pair of Brittanies getting walked. We trotted alot at Bobby's insistence to try to ward off some of the flies, and finally cantered up a steep hill that dropped us into an old graveyard next to the real road. Bobby needs hill work. I'll say it again. And again. He lacks serious power going up them. When Red caught up to us, two beagles came out of the woods and one tried to eat Red. It nipped at his back leg, but as Red brought his foot up in a normal walk step, his foot clipped the dog under the chin and she decided maybe the evil ponies shouldn't be messed with. The other beagle was too retarded to do anything but wander along behind us until the two of them saw their owners loading several more dogs into their truck. They must have been running bunnies.

The best part about the whole day was that Red loaded and unloaded both at the barn and in the gamelands like a superstar. Maybe his brain turned back on to good pony.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Back in the saddle again.

You know you just sang the title of this post.

After a full week (Ok, I went out Monday and bathed both horses, dropped off grain, and turned them out.) of not being at the barn, I finally got to go out again! Woo hoo! A number of sad, sad factors led to me being homeward bound. First, I got even more sick than I was before and felt like total un-breathing shite, then the washer broke and flooded the house (and since I used all the towels to mop up the floor, and the washer still isn't fixed thanks to our wonderful landlord, we have no bath towels), and the Saturn's service engine light is on. But the main thing is that we had zero monies. Well, that's a lie. There was six dollars in the checking account and two dollars in my wallet. Poor Woman Showing indeed. Hubby's parents lent us $100 (Yes, I'm 24 and he's 28 and we still have to borrow from our parents sometimes. Don't hate. Times is tough.) and we were able to buy the rest of the grain we needed, a bag of dog food, and enough gas for me to drive down to the barn and drop off enough grain to get us to the next paycheck. Hubby's work pays for the gas for his company truck. Lucky.

I was happy to see my ponies again! Red got abused first--literally. He got walloped in the head when he nipped at me. No bad manners from my ponies. I do not tolerate it. Other than that, he was his usual polite self for me to groom and tack up. I dropped my stirrups to dressage length and gave Red Pony a serious dressage schooling. He was sticky, sticky, sticky with his leg yields but I had my spurs on and we worked through it to get him really reaching under himself and not over-bending like he can do to the right. He did an excellent turn on the forehand in each direction, then two steps of HALF PASS. What?! You read it sister. He was facing the rail and it was one step totally crossed over front and back legs, a BIG pat, a sticky step, then another step of it. He may be a naughty diva sometimes, but he can also be a fancy pants.

We did a great trot work after that. I took up more contact than I usually ride with--which is probably the appropriate dressage amount, but my H/J princess roots have wrecked me a little--and got a big, monster trot out of him. No toe dragging, not lagging, no nose tipped out--real power dressage pony with lots of bending. We did figure eights over half the arena, circles, serpentines, and more leg yields.

The canter was not as superb--at least not to the right. I got him more forward at the canter, but I felt like I was having to lift him up several times. I tried to do a flying change across the arena, but he missed it so I brought him back down to the walk and tried again. And again. The problem was that he doesn't like the feeling of the spurs asking him to go forward. He doesn't mind them for bending help, but forward cues make him tense up and refuse to go faster/into the next gait. I finally just jabbed him hard until he went (I know, I know. Poor horsemanship, but it worked.) and he picked it the front only. So then we had to come back to the walk and try again. This time he got it and we did lots and lots of circles going to the right, all the way down to a tiny ten meter circle. He was working super hard to get it, but he did and I let him stretch out and go all the way around the arena.

But that's not all! After some walking on the buckle, I popped him over the fences (barrels, crossrail, solid wall, and liverpool/ditch) a few times each at a slow hunter canter. I finally let him finish with that. I hope I'll be able to get out both days this weekend, but probably not at all until next Friday.

Bobby got the draw reins today. I put them to the sides and got my dressage whip and set out to have an equally successful schooling on him as I had on Red. His leg yields were so-so, and we attempted his first turn on the forehand with little success (only about two steps that I actually was satisfied), but he did do two really nice rein backs. I was actually happier with his trot than with Red's. I didn't have to push as hard to get him to open up as Red and he was really rhythmical and balanced. Definitely a case where draw reins were used right and really helped him out. They'll go back in the box for another month or so.

Bobby's canter. Sigh. We started to the right since that's been his stronger side. Since my stirrups were so long, half-seat wasn't really an option so this was the first time I've sat to his canter in a long, long while. Yikes. My. Legs. Were. Wrecked. Pushing and holding and pushing and pushing and keeping myself in the right position and paaaaiiinn. Those stifles need some more hill work! They're definitely getting stronger, but he's still lacking behind. He was actually MUCH better to the left. Not as rushed and able to balance a little more. I took a little shorter hold on the inside draw reins since he tends to tip his head to the outside going to the left and he responded loverly. Plus, I was actually able to SIT without feeling like I was bouncing all over the place.

I didn't jump anything with him, but I did make him walk in between the ground poles with the tarp in the middle. He wasn't so sure that was a fun game, but after he stomped on the tarp a few times, he decided it was safe enough and walked through like a good boy.

So YAY for dressage ponies! Both boys definitely need more days like that from now on.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Impatient Acres Hunter Pace

Two days later, here's the Hunter Pace recap from Sunday....

Hubby's parents decided they were going to come out to "watch", no matter how hard we tried to convince them that there would be NOTHING TO SEE. I don't think they grasped the concept of what a HP is at all. We told them we'd be there around 2pm, since that's when the first riders went out, and his mom calls at 12:45 to say they're there. Uhh....what? "Well, we just thought we'd come early to see what's going on and get a feel for it." A feel for what? The parking area? "We knew it didn't start until two, but we figured we'd come out anyway." They live about 25 minutes away from Cohocton in Arkport. "Dad's helping them set up." Really, this is the only way that conversation could have ended. If you knew Hubby's parents, you'd know there was no way they wouldn't be helping out because they were two hours early. We got there right on time at two, checked in, and then I promptly got annoyed with Hubby because I unloaded and groomed both horses while he stood there chatting. Multi-tasking, Hubs! Horses come first, and you're here to ride, not blab!

"alright. enough fucking pictures. let's go!"
I finally get him on the horse and walking over to the tent for them to take our start time and send us off, and I look back and HE'S OFF THE HORSE! Get. It. Together. Easily five--maybe even ten--minutes later, they snap their last picture (I, meanwhile, have wandered off with Bobby and given him a quick warm up) and we head out. Finally.

The first jump was a little intro level log next to a BN sized pile of logs. Bobby launched himself over it from the trot, but I turned him around and let him do it again and he was much more composed and jumped it fine.

There was a really steep hill leading down to the woods where the next jump was and Bobby stopped at the top before spinning around. I turned him back and he stopped and just stood there. "You want to go down that, fine. I can barely balance myself downhill so I'm certainly not hauling your ass down." I jumped off and led him down and we jumped a stone wall from there.

We ended up jumping all the jumps (they only went up to 2'6) with our only issues being one run-out at a 2'6 coop I wasn't riding him very well to the first time, and a run-out at an absolutely terrifying drainage pipe jump that Red didn't want to go over either. We had a luaghable go over four medium sized logs in a line through the woods. Bobby jumped the first fine, and jumped the rest, but it was an all over disorganized line. He was like, "Whoawhoawhoa. I just jumped one! Where are all these others coming from?!"

I also had a scare over two different 2'3 fences with small wood logs as fill. The first was slightly downhill and Bobby jumps downhill anyway, so it was like he just kept going down and down to the point where--had I not yanked his front end up myself--he would have nose dived right into the ground. I don't know how to make him not do that anymore. I think next time we go out I'm going to put him in the elevator. I know, I know. No big bits, just better riding! But I think it's more his style of jumping and the elevator helped Red tremendously when he used to tip onto his forehand when jumping. I obviously won't use it on the flat.

The other scare was over the same type of fence, also in the woods. Hubby went around the jump with Red, Bobby was cantering up the hill to the jump, all four of us were completely disorganized, and we nearly collided. Bobby jumped it really awkwardly trying to avoid Red and still balance himself cantering uphill, I pulled him to the left out of Red's way, and he went careening down a small hill directly to the caution tape blocking the path. He wouldn't stop despite my crazy pulling--I think because he was so unbalanced--and plowed right through the tape. He stopped after that and we retied the tape and rejumped the jump with much more success. Oi.

Bobby got his first taste of jumping up a bank, too. He jumped with zero hestitation, then mid-air was like, "Uhhhh....what now?" So it was awkward, but the second time he did it much better. Yay for Fearless Pony, though! Too dumb to refuse! Red jumped up the bank great the first time. Gee, Red. You threw a pissy fit when I tried to get you to do it last month XC schooling in the water. Dick.

Hubby actually jumped most of the jumps, too. He didn't look pretty doing it, but Red was honest and didn't give him a single problem so getting him a mini-XC school was an added bonus. It was a really good time over all, and I think both ponies got alot out of it. It also makes me feel really confident about taking Bobby to his first event. Bucks Co. Horse Park HT is after this one and they have a 2'3 elementary division. That looks like it will be a good move up for both boys after intro, and (knock on wood) hopefully we can just keep right on rolling to BN after that.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

2'7" Rrrrroberto!

The pones have had the past two days off due to me having a horrendous head cold, and I still don't feel great, but since we're going to a hunter pace tomorrow I figured I'd better suck it up and get on. Red just got thrown out to the pasture since Hubby is going to ride him western and he's not going to be doing any jumping. Bobby (who's starting to look quite fabulous body condition-wise) got tortured instead.

We did our usual w/t with bending and leg yield practice, then we really put in some work at the canter. He's definitely better to the right which I already knew, but even going to the left he's starting to get a little more balanced and carry himself better. His canter to the right was actually really, really good for a green bean and I was really happy with it. He's still bends his head and neck to the outside going to the left, but he was bending in the right direction and starting to flex a teeny tiny bit by the end. I felt like dog shit. I hate being sick and riding.

I took him over the barrels to the liverpool twice and he jumped the line perfectly (and by this I mean straightly) both times. We did the solid wall twice which he also jumped perfectly again, and moved on to the tricky 2'7 fence. He rushed up to it the first time and jumped flat, knocking the rail down with his knees. I held him back the second time around until one stride before, let him canter that, then gave him a pop on the shoulder right as he took off. He cleared it BEE-U-TEE-FULLY! No over-exagerrated launching me out of the saddle, no clipping or rubbing the rail, nada. A perfect jump! I ended it there with lots and lots of pats and feeling really good about tomorrow.

"i'm such a smart pony!"

looking good!

he looks better in person. he looks kind of naggish here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jumping not-so-scary scary things

Determined to have my ponies not balk at something as totally retarded as a stone wall again (even though Red HAS jumped one of them before. And not just once, but many times. Grrrrrr.), I set up what I thought were several very looky-type jumps in the arena.

From the least scariest (at least from what I thought): a 2'7 vertical with cones underneath and a roping dummy cow staring down the ponies; a 2'3 vertical with a piece of plywood in front of it to make it completely solid, and also making it more narrow; 3 barrels on their sides held in places with poles, but without standards on the sides; and a baby liverpool made out of a tarp and another piece of plywood.

Red was my first guinea pig. He we totally unimpressed with everything. He's been through the torture of the tarp routine before--jumping them, trotting and cantering over them, and having them flap around him. The tarp was inconsequential. As were the barrels which he's also done many, many times before. Put them together though, and we got into a couple of stickies that needed to be worked out. First, he kept trying to jump INTO the liverpool, even though it was around two and a half feet wide. That kept knocking the back rail outwards. So, after getting off a couple of times to set it back in place, I cantered him up to it and gave him a solid crack and he got the idea and jumped it the rest of the time. It was one stride to the barrels, and he tried to run out on them several times. After all, standards mean you have to jump what lies between, so if there are no standards you must not have to jump them. I think not, Red Pony. Another solid crack fixed that one right quick and he went over it several times like a good boy.

The other two jumps were uncomplicated, though he did give the solid fence a long look before popping over nicely. I went over all of them in various sequences as a mini course, and Red was perfect every time. He even worked up a little bit of a sweat this time.

Bobby was next. I started with the barrels and liverpool again. When I walked him up to the liverpool the first time, he sidestepped away from it, but finally gave it a sniff, then stomped it into oblivion. Satisfied it was dead, it didn't bother him again. Bobby's view on all things potentially scary: If you kill them, they can't kill you. He stomps rather forcefully on all foreign objects instead of shying from them. He'd be a good dragon slayer. He had the same run-out on the barrels issue as Red, but he took a little longer to straighten out. He would jump, but he wasn't really jumping over them; he was more just jumping. I finally got him into a good, strong canter, gave him just leg over the liverpool, then a smack and a tug on the outside rein and he went over the last couple times decently.

I got brave and sent him to the solid wall next. He didn't even hesitate. It was by far the best jump he's EVER done. I think my big pony might just be a cross country machine yet. Hopefully those solids fences will teach him that his little toes must come UP when he jumps. He got a huge "GOOD BOY!!!!!!" after that and we went over a couple more times with similar success.

Riding high on that, I got even more brave and sent him to the 2'7 vertical. He responded to my leg....a little too well. He left out an entire stride, jump into the fence, caught the pole between his legs, and brought it with us for a couple of canter strides after. I pulled him up right quick, and we both looked back like, "WTH just happened?!" I rode him in a little deeper and made sure he jumped at a spot of my choosing, and even though he knocked it down again, it was just a rub that brought it down and he was actually pretty careful. I left that fence alone with a big pat because even though it came down, he did what he asked and he tried really hard. I finished the ride with one more time over the solid wall, then gave him a bath. I don't think he thought it was as much of a reward as I did.....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vet woes

I had the vet do health certificates for both boys yesterday because he was coming out for two other horses at the barn anyway. BO called me first thing in the morning (Can we just take a moment to digest this?!) to say that Vet would be out and that Jean (who had one of the lame horses) mentioned that I wanted something done, too. So I called up the vet's office and waited on hold for almost ten minutes while the secretary was on the other line with their meds people. No big deal. I know vets are busy, and these guys are one of the few large animal vets around. I told her what I needed, and she said she'd already put me on the list for the vet's visit, but she'd call him and let him no exact details. Then she told me what I'd need for the certificate and said that I could fax it to her or just leave it at the barn for the vet to pick up. Since I have no idea how to use our fax machine, I opted for the latter option and wrote it all out on a sheet of paper and left a check.

This morning when I went to the barn, I looked at my invoice. From the few words I could make out of Vet's handwriting, he did the two certificates...and charged me $55 for something (the number is hovering in a column with nothing beside it), $50 for....I assume one of the certificates (number written next to Bobby's name), and $15 for lab work (WMscribblescribble CVI PAPscribblescribble HC). Which, of course, adds up to a grand total of $120. UGH. I better fucking need these things. I was thinking it would be better to just have them instead of getting there and being sent home, but we'll probably spend less in gas both ways than that. You can bet your bottom that I'm going to ask if I need them for the NY HT before paying that again if I don't need to.

Also, he didn't leave the health certificates!! I've had them done a couple of times in NY for Red and the vet handed it right over to me. So I guess I'll have to call them again and see what the eff the deal is. So annoying. I hate dealing with vets. On to my rides.

I got on Red first while CL's friend and her daughter were out riding their crazy Arab mare. I gave him a pretty brisk w/t/c warmup with some leg yields thrown in, then jumped off to set up the 2'7 vertical. Have I mentioned before that one of the set of standards only goes up to 2'3 and the other only goes to 2'7? It makes for great variance. Right. Hubby, I hear your name being called with power tools in hand!

I waited for the daughter to finish cantering a few circles at one end of the arena, then popped Red over the fence a few times to the left and a few more times to the right. He was fine. Of course. It's not a stone wall after all. Tomorrow, I'm bringing out tarps, hay bales, and any other horse-eating things I can scrounge up at home. You will jump scray things, Red. And you will like it.

I knocked the fence down to a xrail for Bobby. CL's friend was lunging her baby so I gave Bobby a really solid w/t warm up while I was waiting for her to finish. I did canter him a few times around each direction, but it was so disconnected and sloppy it's almost not worth mentioning. His trot work was mostly good though. He's one of those babies that, when the lightbulb goes on, he really just GETS it. But getting the lightbulb to go on is hard, hard work. We did have a few good moments of a teeny bit of collection and our bending is getting better.

I trotted him over the xrail to the left once and he jumped it Ok. Went around at the canter next and he went over....on his forehand, feeling like he was about to fall on his nose when he landed. The next two times he knocked the fence over, but CL was out there and set it back up for us. He just wasn't picking up his feet to jump it. So I brought him back down to the trot and gave him LEGLEGLEG up to it (I also had a ground pole a stride out to it) and he jumped it really nicely and landed on the correct lead at canter each time. I moved him back up to the canter, got him going with big strides, gave him LEGLEGLEG to it again, and he jumped it beautifully. He got a bunch of huge pats and "Good boy!!"s and I left it at that.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Plantation ST--BN

I think it's safe to say Plantation was a complete bust. I cried after my dressage. I cried after my stadium. I didn't even get to do my xcountry, so that should have been reason enough to cry. The stadium was really disorganized, the people were unhelpful, and I didn't have fun. Long before I loaded Red to head home, I was done with eventing. But to start from the beginning....

We pulled out of the barn at 6:15 after Red put up a pissy fit about getting on the trailer. I don't know where that came from. He's always been an excellent loader. I guess his roller coaster ride down to school in Pottstown disagreed with him more than I realized. I finally put the shank on him, gave him a few good wallops with it, then handed Hubby the lunge line to get behind him and he got on. I don't put up with temper tantrums for anything, and certainly not when I'm on a schedule. The drive down was really pleasant. The roads were in great shape, nice and wide and straight, and it was really easy to find.

We had to wait for a few minutes for the parking attendant to get to us, then we had to wait for a few more minutes while he argued with a couple of snobby girls trying to reserve two spots for their friends trailers to pull in beside them. The attendant was like, "There are 180 horses coming in. They'll park where I tell them to." "whinewhinewhine." "Get out of the way." "whinewhine." Then the people we pulled in beside couldn't get their trailer parked straight to save their lives, but we're little so we dealt. The woman was nice and chatted with us a little bit after my bad stadium round, and the people on our other side liked our dogs, but other than that everyone around us kept to themselves.

We took the dogs with us to go walk the xcountry course around 10:15, thinking we had more than enough time to get back to warm up from my dressage at 11:30. I had some serious trepidations about some of the fences; I realized how poor our schooling was compared to these real, really bright and elaborate jumps and I didn't think Red would cope well.

We got back to the trailer at 11 with nothing prepared or unpacked, so it was a crazy rush to get Red tacked and me changed and headed over to the dressage ring. I had time to make one trot circle around the warm up ring, then walked over to the show ring, made about three circles while the rider before me finished her test, trotted twice around the ring, and that was my warmup. It's a testament to how much Red has changed that he held it together as much as he did and didn't A) take off with me, B) refuse to go into the ring, or C) spook at every single thing possible. Regardless, our transistions were sloppy, our bending was nonexistent, and he was rushy and on the forehand the whole time. Somehow, we came out with a 39 which I still think is amazing. It wasn't even the lowest score in our division.

I was soooooo disappointed and frustrated when I walked out because I knew it was my own fault that I completely blew it. I was really counting on doing a great test that I KNOW we're capable of to carry us through any of Red's sillies in jumping. So much for that.

We regrouped, had lunch, then headed up for stadium and xcountry an hour early. I wasn't going to miss warm up this time. When we got up there, there were already several people in warm up, and they were asking if anyone was ready to go. Uhhh, don't we get to walk the course. It was literally an hour before they were even supposed to start the BN division, so I figured there'd be a map of the course and we'd get to walk it. I guess not. Maybe I'm just a spoiled hunter princess after all? Is this the norm? Really confusing.

Red was surprisingly really good for the warm up. He was a little strong trotting, but he didn't get upset with all the other horses round him and handled himself alot better than most of the other horses when he got passed. His canter was AMAZING and he was really going along in a groove. We went over the crossrail twice, then once each of the vertical and an oxer. He jumped great. No hesitation, no crazies, no over-exagerrated ten feet above the jump.

They were going out of order in the ring, so I walked up to ask the girl if I could get in line to go. There was one rider just going on course, and one girl in front of me. I kept Red walking, but I should have put his butt right back into the warm up and cantered around some more. His brain wandered off while we were waiting and he was hard to get back into gear when we got into the ring.

He took a long look at the gate under the first jump, but went over it willingly. He took an even longer look at the second jump with the gate and thought about running out, but I gave him a good tug and a snap on the shoulder and he went over. It was a right turn with a long trip practically into the trees to get a straight approach to the third--a simple oxer. He went over that fine, then it was a bending line to a stone wall. For. Get. It. He ran out three times and we were excused. I was having a hard time getting him lined back up straight to it without giving him alot of room to look at it. I should have cleared my head, thought ahead, circled, and made a much better re-approach. I think I blew it for us as much as he did.

I got out of the ring and immediately started crying. I was SO disappointed. Stadium should have been a flipping breeze for us. It was an easy course, easy fences, and nothing Red hadn't seen before. Including the stone wall. Hubby tried to talk me into seeing if I could still go xcountry, but my head wasn't in it, and I didn't want to get Red out there with me not thinking we could do it and him needing to be told we could and just having a confidence blowing ride that would carry over to our next event. Though, at that point, I was so bummed and frustrated and just wrecked that I had zero intentions of ever doing another event ever again.

Red cooled out in zero time and even though he was sweaty, he wasn't breathing hard in the slightest, and he was cool by the time we got down the hill. I sponged him down anyway and Hubby walked him for a few laps, then we let him go back to his hay while we loaded everything up. The one miracle of the day was that he stood at the trailer like a superstar. He didn't neigh a single time. He didn't test the rope a single time. He didn't try to wander around. He didn't try to kick the horse next to us. This is seriously a first. I have always had to get him a stall at shows in the past because he breaks his halters when he ties to the trailer.

"I'm a good pony now."
I, uh..."calmed down" a little once we got back on the road, though I was still SO disappointed at what a waste it had been. $90 for what? The worst dressage test we've done since the very first run through? Three stadium jumps? A three and a half hour drive each way? But Hubby and I had a long talk on the way home, and Hubby is the best because he knows how to bitch about things to make me feel better while still being constructive on my part and helping me look objectively at the whole day.

So our future plans are still on course, just slightly dropped down. Next Sunday is a Hunter Pace in Cohocton NY. I'll ride Bobby to keep his sale moving along and to get him some xcountry type jump exposure. Hubby will ride Red. There's another one July 24th. I'll ride Red and try to get him over some of the bigger jumps, and hopefully we can scrounge up another english saddle for Hubby to take Bobby over the small jumps if he hasn't been sold by then. July 30th is an unrecognized HT in Dansville NY. I'm going to enter both Bobby and Red in the Intro/Elem level for it. We'll see where we go from there I guess.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ride times!

Tentative ride times for Plantation went up last night!! I'm riding when it's going to be nice and hot, but it's actually really good timing for our drive. We're not going to have to get up at 3am, and hopefully we won't be getting hope super late either.

Dressage: 11:30, Ring 1
Stadium: 1:36
Cross Country: 1:48

I'm starting to get nervous now that we're getting this much closer. Puuhhl-eaeeze jump the scary jumps, Red!!

Today I only rode for about fifteen minutes. I did two circles each direction of both trot and canter, then went right on to the dressage test. His only mistake test-wise was coming back to the trot too soon after the 20m circle of canter to the left. I made him do three canter circles in a row just to get him to stop anticipating, then moved on. We had to stop halfway through our 20m circle to the right at trot to make sure the Belgians raking the field across from us were not, in fact, going to come charging over and eat us. One can never be too sure of these things. Fortunately, they turned around and trotted very noisily off away from us. He finished the rest of the test well. Actually, the best yet.

I gave him a bath and gave both him and Bobby a huge load of hay since it was disguistingly hot and humid again, and I didn't want them out. When I went in to spray Bobby's legs with fly spray, I noticed a rather large lump on his belly.

He didn't care about me squeezing it and poking it. I think it's just a really nast fly bite. There are some mutant-ass flies down here, and he's a very typical very thin-skinned Thoroughbred that would get spoltchy over a house fly bite.

Only two more days......

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stood Up

So for those anticipating the farrier success story, prepare to be disappointed. The asshole never even showed. I called him twice and left a message and he never got back to me. Good thing I got to the barn so early to wait for him. Needless to say, he won't be doing my horses anymore. It's not like I called a day before and told you I needed you to come out pronto. I gave him NINE DAYS notice. I'm not even thats pleased with how Red's feet look. Of course, now I have to go through the pain and suffering of finding a new farrier.

I gave Red his jump school anyway. I started off with a two stride line with one fence as a big crossrail and the other as a 2'4 vertical. Red gave it a long look coming up to it, but not in a hesitating way--more like, "Do I need to jump both of those at once or not?"  He decided two strides was enough to take it as two seperate jumps (uh, hello.) and did it really nicely. We did it once more to the right, then twice to the left before I set the crossrail up to a 2'7 vertical. He rode that really, really nicely, too.

I switched the jumps over to an oxer with the 2'4 front rail, 2'7 back rail, and a 3' spread.

Just like the bending line I was doing awhile back, it was really hard to get the right striding coming up off the rail. We were coming up to it with way too much room to take off from a long spot, but adding the extra stride to get in closer was getting us almost on top of the jump. I let Red figure out what he wanted to do and just kept steady leg on. Surprisingly, he picked the short spot and saved our asses all three times we went over it. He didn't touch the rails a single time though.

While we were going around, the crack split off of his foot and left a not-tender-at-all spot on his hoof.

He wasn't off on it today either, so I guess we're in the clear. It almost looks now like he blew an abcess, but seeing the crack before, I don't think that was it at all. I think it was from stomping his feet at the flies.

Bobby had a lesson this afternoon. I got some video for his sales page, and a few pictures. CL's daughter actually did pretty decently this time around. Maybe because her mom was pissed at her for some reason and she couldn't get away with as much whining and bitching as she usually does.

Today, I made up some really ghetto dressage letters that I wrote out on computer paper and then duct taped to wire hangers. I measured out the small arena and did the dressage test twice with Red. He was reluctant to pick up the trot at A after the free walk across the arena, and he kept anticipating every single move so that he was going into his transitions too early. It was so ridiculously hot (96 at 10:30am), I worked on the problem spots right in the middle of the test instead of going back and starting the whole thing over. Tomorrow, the spurs come out.

Bobby got out of work since I was ready to die of heat stroke, but I gave him a bath. He was grazing at the gate when I was done with Red, totally ready to come in. He was sweaty and buggy, so he was actually really good for his bath. (Red got one after his ride, too.) They both got doused in bug spray so they wouldn't stomp too much in their stalls, and huge piles of hay.

Now for story time. Ridiculous story time. I got to the barn at 9:30. I put both horses out in the field then brought in their grain. I had left enough yesterday for last night and this morning because I was waiting for my supplements to get here. Imagine my surprise that when I started to stack the grain to see that both Bobby and Red still had their AM bags of grain! So I brought them back in to eat their breakfast and the whole barn started screaming their heads off. Apparently NO ONE got fed this morning! The BO is well known for being a total forgetful looney at times--like leaving horses tied to stalls even after he's done with stalls, skipping water buckets that need to get filled, forgetting to put shavings in, etc. But how hard is it to remember that there are fifteen horses that get grain every single morning. Oh. My. Gosh.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Road Ready

Sunday, Hubby and I stopped by the barn to turn the ponies out and give Red another quick Microtek bath to try to clear his funkiness up. His neck still looks about the same, but his legs are starting to clean up. We finally bought the wheel bearing that needed to be replaced with the money from CL, and Hubby got the wheel put back on. We spent all Sunday afternoon getting the trailer back in shape. It now has a new tire to replace the one that was wearing down, greased bearings, a new spare, all the electric works, and we ghetto rigged a pad over the back of the door so no more pony butt rubs....using left over linoleum from the kitchen. Ok, so we're poor and we act like rednecks. I actually happen to be a rather respectable person regardless. Just don't look inside my trailer.

Today, I had a decent ride on Bobby again. He was being kind of a princess about the flies by kicking his belly a bunch of times, but I finally got him focused and moving out. I went over the trot poles a few times and he was super, super good at those, then trotted over the baby crossrail twice in each direction. He was kind of sticky picking up his right lead after landing in that direction, so I decided to work on the canter for awhile.

We only went to the right since it was hot and buggy, but it was a good school. He started off doing his retarded head tilt and trying to figure out being on the right lead both in the front and behind consistently, but I worked on the tug-shove with my reins and legs and after a few laps, he was moving along alot more rhythmically and we were even getting a teeny bit of bend! Saturday, CL's trainer said that he looked like he was stretching out alot more and his topline was definitely getting stronger. It's nice to hear that I can sometimes do things right every now and then.

Red got the day off. He's going to get a monster jump school tomorrow when the farrier fixes his foot. Note I said WHEN, not IF. His foot WILL be fixed!!! (knock on wood.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I decided to stay out of the arena with Red until the farrier comes out Tuesday, but he still needs to keep up with his work, so I took him out to the gallop path across the road. We did a lap in each direction at the trot, then two each direction at the canter, finishing each lap with a gallop. I'll have to ask BO how many acres the field it goes around is so that I can see how long we're going. Regardless, he's going to be one fit mamba jahamba by next Sunday--probably more fit than any other BN horse. But that's how we roll.

The first lap around at the walk, Red spooked at a squirrel going through the hedgerow and nearly had me off. If he hadn't stopped mid-spin, I would have tumbled right over his shoulder. I lost my left stirrup and landed right on his neck. We didn't have any other mishaps after, though. In fact, we got compliments from the peanut gallery. Stacey, a woman that was out trotting her semi-retired show jumper, was done just as we were finishing off our last gallop. She said he looked incredible and you could tell how much he liked to work. Then, when I was giving him his fungus bath, CL's friend came over and said how smooth he goes and how I wasn't moving on him at all (Well, CL's friend, that's just called good riding, and lots of practice on nutty Thoroughbreds.).

Bobby did have a lesson today at 10am, aaaaaand...........wait for it..................I got paid for it!! Fucking finally. We agreed on $10 a ride and she'll pay me at the end of every month. She handed me a $50 bill today. Uh, hell yeah. $50 more to get to Plantation. Screw the four bills that are not getting paid this week, and the lack of groceries in the fridge. Hubby works from 5am-9pm, so he doesn't get to bitch about not getting fed, and he knows some things get sacrificed for ponies. Ok. Alot of things.

Bobby was a rockstar for his lesson, as per usual. He walked around with CL's daughter having no stirrups or reins, and she was on the lunge line for awhile (About time. She really needs it.).

Friday, June 3, 2011

The weather cooled off, so I stopped riding.

Doesn't that make perfect sense? If it's under 85 or not raining, it must not be fun to ride in! It's been high sixties/low seventies the past two days with clear skies and a good breeze. Yesterday, I had a good excuse. It was my birthday and my dad (who lives in CA) and brother (who lives in IL) were out to visit and they're not particularly horse saavy. We went out to the barn first so I could redo Red's foot and turn them out, then we went out to eat and visited Reptiland. It was surprising not as corny as I thought it would be, but that might have been because I didn't have to pay the $14/person admission. The great thing about divorced parents? They try to out-buy you.

We went fishing after that out by my house, but even though you could SEE the fish and drop the worms directly in front of them, they weren't interested. My brother pulled in a shirt with two crawdads in it, and that was the only catch of the day. Hubby was able to get off early and go out to dinner with us, then we snuck into their hotel to go swimming. All in all, a pretty fun day.

Red's new dressage pad!

Showing off my buffness with my new medical armband!
This morning was a total insanity run. I felt like I was sooo hungover, which would have been a good excuse if I ever drank. I went out first thing and bought grain and Microtek for Red's latest effort in trying to get out of Plantation--fungus up his neck, chest, and down both front legs.

I came home quick and made up the bags, then headed out to the barn. I didn't pull in until almost 11, and the ponies.were. pissed. They both dragged me out to the pasture and took off bucking and squealing. Sorry, boys. Maybe if the BO could just chuck you out himself when he's there cleaning stalls, it wouldn't be such a big deal! Grr. I brought Red back in after bringing in the grain and various other shit I had with me, and scrubbed him down.

He only tolerated standing in the crossties for so long while he "soaked" because I was sneaking him some of Bobby's alfalfa cubes. This was my first time using Microtek, and I hope it works as well as it says because that's stuff ain't cheap! I also poured waaaay too much in my bucket, then forgot how easily it came out and poured too much on my sponge. Oh, well. Hopefully I remember tomorrow.

I painted his feet with hoof dressing and just swiped some turpentine on the crack since I'm going through vet wrap like crazy and it doesn't seem to be doing anything. Bill the Farrier is coming out first thing Tuesday morning, and if he can't get it straightened out right quick, I switching farriers. Red has never, ever had a single issue with his feet and now he's squaring off his toes when he gets worked and interfering behind. Sounds like lousy trimming to me.

I brought Bobby in for a good groom since he was looking a little rough. His coat is really dry and he's got a teeeeeny bit of the same thing as Red where his saddle sits. I brought home my brushes and soaked them with Dawn and bleach for a few hours so that I can start clean with Bobby and seperate my brushes. If I had a few more, I'd do that to start with. I'll bathe him with the shampoo tomorrow, too, but today he got off easy.

I think Bobby's getting used for a lesson tomorrow, but God forbid CL tells me. I'm nervous about riding Red, but I know he needs to get schooled. Maybe I'll just do some walking around the field with him.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bobby gets the day's gold star

Another early morning at the barn. Only 80 at 8am! Woo hoo! Coolest mroning yet. There was also a little breeze, so I managed not to die after riding both horses. Truly a miracle.

I threw Red out on pasture while I got Bobby ready, then rode him for about twenty minutes at the walk and trot. He was a superstar. Really responsive and ready to work. He was doing his classic Derby (Timothy Murphy, a wonderfully retarded TB I learned to gallop on at school) pose with his head on sideways a few times, but I gave my inside rein a tug each time he did it and shoved him over with my inside leg and he straightened out. He was also bending at both the walk and trot really, really well. We went over a ground pole a couple of times, then picked up the canter. I only did one full lap of the arena and a 20 meter circle each direction, but he picked up both leads correctly the first time and didn't need much urging to do so. I finished off with a quick hop over the baby x-rail once each direction, then gave him tons of pats and a hose off before he went out.

Red, my once wild stallion, was a total PLUG today. He got his foot wrapped again and I gave him a really quick w/t warmup.

He DID NOT want to go faster than a sloooooooow western pleasure jog when we where supposed to be trotting, and my hand was starting to hurt from using it as my crop, so I jumped off and grabbed the real thing. Well, hellooo Mr. I-guess-I-can-trot-after-all. We did one 20 meter circle to the left at canter, then moved on to the right. He did not want to pick up the right lead and I could feel the depart better yesterday for some reason. He'd go to lift his left shoulder to canter on the left lead and I immediately brought him back down again. I finally got him to pick up his right lead on the rail going straight instead of in the corner. That won't go well for the dressage test, but at least it's a place to start. I only canter him one 20m circle to the right after he got it because  I didn't want to overtax his footsie. Hopefully I can get Bill the Farrier out tomorrow. I hosed him down, too, then rewrapped his foot with turpentine and sent him on his way back outside.