Monday, April 30, 2012

Back to the real world.

Sigh. Now that Rolex is over, I have to crawl back out into civilization. I royally fucked up my back Saturday morning, so it was the perfect excuse to lay on the couch all day long and watch xcountry, though I could have done without the pain.

Speaking of pain, I won't even get into Friday's ride but I will say that once it was over, I was more than happy to give Bobby the weekend off.

Sunday, Hubby and I stopped by the barn on our way to do the one real grown up thing of the weekend and got seriously distracted by the awesome weather.

"let's go eat grass over there!"
"out of my face, you mule."

safety first.
picking at bobby's legs.
Hubby "fixed" the "broken" ATV while I grazed and annoyed Bobby. How was the ATV broken, you ask? The kill switch was flipped over and no one noticed. Good thing Hubby is such a mechanic. After hanging out in the grass for awhile, we were like, "Who wants to just sit here when it's soo nice out?!" So Hubby tacked up Dollar and I jumped on Bobby and we went for a little thirty minute ride.

i forgot my riding boots at home. don't judge.

avoiding fallen logs and hanging branches. someone needs to go
through with a chainsaw!

bobby flips shit at this log from more than a walk.
dollar jumped it like a total cutie. dear bo, can i borrow
your plod along beginner lesson horse for eventing?

hubby making my crappy camera look fancy.
We hung around stuffing the ponies with cookies while talking to BM and BO for awhile. I have a lesson scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, but other than that, I don't know that I'm going to be doing much riding at all--maybe not any. Bobby was such a tense, hot mess all last week that now his back is sore. Massage Lady can't get out until next Saturday so I'm going to put all my remedial skillz to work to hopefully get him feeling a little more comfortable by Sunday--our first show of the year!

I have very minimum goals for this show: Stay in the dressage arena and not have the judge ring her nice little bell and tell us to go home; not kill or seriously maim anyone in any of the warm up areas; no backwards motion in stadium; and interrupt the flow of xcountry for others as little as possible. Doable? Ehh.....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Update on Trip.

And you guys might not like it!

But first my ride on Bobby which ties into my ride on Trip. The punk ass boys were alllll the way at the back of their field so I used one of the handy xcountry jumps to get on Bobby and he carted me back down the hill. That is until.....

"what's that noise?!"
We rounded the bend and saw.....

Obviously the barn wasn't on fire or I wouldn't have stopped to mug with Robert, but one of the workers had a burn pile going that was snapping and popping and Bobby was quite certain he was headed in there next.

I tried him in the loose ring french link with a round bean-like thing in the middle. Bobby hated it. Absolutely despised it. He was all, "Hellllll no!" Lined up for us to try next are: Happy Mouth mullen loose ring, an eggbutt with a flat piece french link, and a straight bar rubber mouth loose ring. Finding a good bit is turning out to be even harder than finding a saddle! Instead of forcing the issue when he clearly hated this bit, I walked him around for a bit while I talked to BO about Trip.

Here's his back story: He was started by a girl named Kristy. The trainer loved him and didn't understand why she wanted to get rid of him because of how nice he goes. But apparently she and him just didn't click and she didn't like him. He's a mild cribber and he has a pretty large wind puff in his RH. BO said that the girl that rode him the other day in the outdoor had jumped him and he was great, but she didn't think he'd done a course before.

I decided to take Bobby for a trail ride and bring Trip along with me to see how he handled himself.

He was a little snorty and looky, but overall fed off of Bobby who was happy to amble along and the whole ride was pretty chill. We ran into a ton of deer and turkeys, but Bobby barely turned an ear at them so Trip was content to snort at them and move along.

deer with no zoom. they're clearly terrified of horses.
We walked the whole way for about a forty five minute ride. Maybe it's because his feet are too long right now, but Trip was tripping all over himself. No self awareness or self preservation. Especially since Bobby had to let him know who was boss and walked him into a few trees when we first set out.

Since I let on to BO that I might be interested in buying him, I decided to take him to the outdoor and try his paces for real to see if I really wanted to commit. His canter is lovely and balanced and he steps right into it from both the trot and walk. He moves off the leg nicely, but he really is very fussy with his mouth. Bobby's 2'6 course from yesterday had been knocked down to 2' so I trotted him up to one of the verticals. His approach was very, very wiggly and he stopped a few strides out. I gave him a good squeeze and he half trotted/half walked over it. I don't know how it even stayed up. I tried twice more with the same results: very crooked and squirmy on the approach, petered out before the fence even with a lot of leg, and clunked over it with no real effort. Not too impressed.

he does look pretty cute in my micklem though.
I have the luxury of being able to put in a few more rides on him, but....I don't think I'm going to take the plunge. I don't want to start over from square one with another green bean and he's going to need a lot of straight up physical body work before he can even get down to hard work under saddle. If I could afford a second horse, I'd be all over him. But selling Bobby in exchange for Trip? I can't do it. I'd rather keep plugging away with Mr Magee for now.

I'm working on a new show schedule that is going to focus on doing a whole lot of dressage shows with a few HT and CT thrown in. There are a ton of local dressage shows around and each test is only $20. I think what Bobby needs most right now is exposure and I can't justify a $80+ entry fee plus $150+ in gas for a horse trial when he gets so frazzled away from home. Plus, you can never have too much dressage, right? Well....some might argue otherwise.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In love.

I rode Trip second, but I'm going to talk about him first. And really, the title about sums it up--I adore this horse.

I rode Bobby up to the top of their mountain/pasture and grabbed Trip. He was kind of snorty and looky leading down the hill and away from him friends and the grass, but he was very aware of his body and stayed out of my personal bubble. He stood very nicely on the crossties as I got my stuff around, but once I started currying near his back, he got very antsy. I prodded him a bit, but the first day I saw him I could tell his back was sore. Hubby was petting him along his back and he kept pinning his ears and trying to nip. Unfortunately for him, he was still getting worked, but I did loads of carrot stretches with him--once he figured out WTF I was trying to get him to do--and stuck him on the longe to stretch out before I got on.

ignore how far back the saddle is. i brought it forward three times
before i ever got on.
He was a good boy for longing and didn't seem at all concerned about being in the indoor on a windy day. BO said he was washed out the first (and last) time he was in there before the girl even got on. No problems for me! He did nudge me with his nose as I was walking in front of him to drop my stirrup and banged me into the gate. It wasn't malicious--more like a, "Hey, we're friends in this scary place, right?" But I gave him a loud NO! and combined with the bang of the gate he jumped back and looked at me with a very apolegetic stare.

I walked him for about ten minutes on a loose rein with my legs out of the stirrups, still expecting some sort of blow up. Nothing. He got a little tense when a semi came down the hill with their jake brake on, but he kept on walking along like a total gem. Lots of circles and changes of direction and I finally picked up my stirrups.

He instantly reached out for some contact, ready to go to work. So I asked him to "collect" up a little and he happily and immediately obliged. Wowza! Same at the trot--ready to work and carry the bit and his body. All I had to do was ask. He even offered to stretch down several times without once making me feel like he was trying to snatch the bit from me. Someone's had some lessons in his past!

I didn't canter him and only rode for about twenty minutes as I felt bad about his back, but I was seriously impressed....and totally head over heels. Who wants to pay board for a second horse for me?? Anyone? Anyone at all? Please?

Obviously his back needs work--probably both chiro and some good massage work. His feet need to get done. His teeth probably need to get done as he was a little fussy with his bit (a plain hunter dee). He needs weight and he's covered in scars. But dang. I really want him. I also really don't want snobby, not-so-great, rich girl rider face to buy him. The worst part? I texted Hubby that we were going to have to find a way to pay for a second horse and what did he text back? "I'd be ok with that. I like him too." Shame on you, Hubby! No enabling! Let me give him a few more rides--see how he canters, how he feels about poles and xrails, and then we'll talk. But I still want him.....

who is that cute horse in the mirror?
SO! On to Mr Magee. I didn't try the french link today because it was nice out and I wanted to take advantage of it and do some jumping. One can only take so much flat work in a row. That means he got his trusty slow twist shoved into his maw and we went to the outdoor for some fun.

After an uneventful warm up, minus my aching pathetic thighs from my uber short stirrups, I started him off over some individual fences. He was good. I needed a few launches from the base of the jump to remind myself that he had to have more of a canter, but we found our rhythm pretty quickly and in short order had made up an 8 jump course. Prepare for Paint awesomeness!

OK: Start with red to a big X, yellow to a 2'6" vertical with cones underneath, follow the yellow to the gate where we changed direction, blue to the tires, purple to the 2'6" vertical, green back to the gate and another change of direction, brown back to the tires, grey-blue back over the big X to finish.

Gosh, I am such a good artist. If anyone needs any jumping diagrams drawn, just let me know!

* I had to take a break because my dogs just tried to eat the small children walking home from school. They made one of them cry. How awful.

Bobby didn't even think about refusing a single one. He was enjoying himself and putting in really solid efforts to compensate for my terrible riding. And I mean terrible. I was alllll over the place. "Oh, Bobby, jump this! What? Just because you're already half on top of it angled in the totally wrong direction doesn't mean I should circle and get us sorted out first. Good boy! Let me flop all over on your back!" Jeeze. He really was being a saint.

I kept that ride pretty short, too. I have to go finish mowing our giant lawn, but I'll give you a little teaser for a later post: Dressage Shows. And lots of them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dedicated to Karley Fuller.

Dear Karley,
I love you.

Is that too forward of me? I'm sorry, but old Blogger is back!!! Thank you for the tip!!!! YAY!!!

Ok, back to your regularly scheduled pony news....

bobby, trip, and spyder.
Bobby is the leader of his own little herd of OTTBs. Spyder follows him around everywhere, even when I bring him down from the grass to ride, and now new dude Trip desperately wants to hang with the TB gang. Bobby's down as Bobby has never met a horse he doesn't want to be his BFF.

still the best bffs.
trip again, just because he's so cute.

Tomorrow I'm going to take Trip for a test spin. Because I can. And because BO asked if I would try him in the indoor since he's only been in there once with a not so great rider and had a meltdown. What? A young TB having a meltdown? I have no idea what that's like!

Oh, wait....

carrot stretch goonie face.

Bobby was looking too cute when I got done grooming him so I tried to stand him up for a conformation shot. Getting him to stand still from a distance is so hard. He's all, "Heeyyyy, whatcha doin' over thurr?"

then he gets distracted by something and poses cutely.
He's looking so good. His ribs are showing a bit, but Mighty Magees are well known for their massive rib cages so I'm not at all concerned about it. BO made the comment that he's looking much more symetrical--his back end is catching up with his front end. Also, you can't fully appreciate how shiny and muscley he is in pictures. He really looks quite debonaire.

Our ride started off pretty well. I longed him first as stage one in my plan of attack. He was totally quiet and responsive. W/T was better than it has been the past two days. Stage two of my plan was to ask him to walk or halt as a reward as soon as I got half a lap of good, steady trot. That was working awesome and I was slowly able to trot for longer periods of time without crazies. We worked on getting bendy and balanced to the left on circles where he tends to counter-bend too much. He did a few really nice ones and I was ready to move on to the canter.

Ugh. Awful. Just awful. He picked up the wrong lead the first time I asked for the depart and he got completely flustered and lost all confidence in himself. He turned into a total ball of nerves and started down the fast track to a total meltdown. But for once I rose to the occasion and got us mostly sorted out!

I let my reins loose almost to the buckle and just asked him to trot around until he was trotting like a normal horse. Then, without touching the reins, I asked him to canter again. He got the lead and took off galloping down the long side. Well, we weren't cantering in place with his head in the rafters anymore! I slowly picked up my reins and regained some semblance of control. However, he had settled into a much too fast pace--the same speed he was rolling around at yesterday by himself. Lots and lots and lots of half halts and I was able to get a few circles at a big but not horribly out of control canter. He came back down to a mach speed trot and I made him WHOA right away. Backed up a few steps and ended the ride there.

I didn't stop the torture though. I hopped off once he'd stopped blowing and grabbed the dressage whip. He immediately was like, "OH NO!!! YOU'RE GOING TO KILL ME AFTER ALL! I KNEW IT WAS COMING!" But after ten minutes of slow work with lots of "good boy"s, I was able to rub and tap him all over with it. He's not dumb, he's just a bit of a nutcase. Whip desensitisation work is going to continue with a vengance. It's a silly thing to be afraid of.

And finally, the loose ring isn't going to work. I'm going to try one with a french link tomorrow just to see if he likes the different mouth piece, but even BO said she'd like to see him in something a hair stronger. Why, oh why can't slow twists be dressage legal?!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Part Two

Random videos from Sunday's ride. I want them uploaded before Blogger flips shit again.

The right lead used to be his good way, but after he got adjusted it's been his bad way. I'm going to try to get the massage lady out as soon as possible; unfortunately, I can't afford the chiro out again right now.

One of the trailers pulled in from a hunter show the barn was at as we were cantering to the left. And there were horses on it. Oh my gosh, it was just too much for Tiny Bobby Brain. We had to take a walk break for the horses to get off and him to refocus. Sort of.

This was at the end of our mad dash around the arena and where we ended. His trot was semi-normal and he wasn't yanking my arms out so it was a small win.

Today wasn't much better. In fact, it was worse. We started off with some really nice leg yields and turns on the forehand at the walk, but it fell apart pretty quickly at the trot. I didn't even get around to the canter. After twenty minutes of fighting, I jumped off and plopped my ass on the mounting block to let him run some crazies out. He literally cantered around the arena with zero urging from me for ten minutes straight. Non-stop. I timed him. I don't know what was up his fanny, but he clearly needed to go for a romp. I ended that ride with one trot lap around the arena and a good halt down the centerline.

hanging out cooling out before dinner.

I have a game plan for tomorrow's ride that I hope helps him out, but you'll have to wait until then. I'm still mad at Blogger.

ZOMG, Blogger. I hate you!

arghblarghdblargh. I hate the new Blogger, and apparently the new Blogger hates my internet and it keeps kicking me off. It makes me not even want to write a post because it's annoying the shit out of me. Where is my orange background?!

So I ended up driving home Saturday instead of Today. Just because. The puppies approved of this. They were tired of suburban living.

piggy says, "are we there yet?"
Which means yesterday I rode Robert for the first time in a week. Yay, right? No. Not at all.

*As a sidenote, Hubby went out on his own initiative Saturday morning and put Bobby's sheet on since the temperature was dropping and rain was in the forecast. What a good Hubby.

We had some whoa and go issues. Bobby wanted to go and I wanted whoa. The videos are after warm-up and a sans rider romp around the arena so he had settled some, and honestly they look like he's being pretty chill, but the main issue was the rhythm at the trot. He wasn't going forward, he was going fast, and I didn't want to post like: updownupdownupdown--I wanted Up. Down. Up. Down. We were having a seriously hard time accomplishing this.

My head wasn't quite back in the riding game yet and I tried to remedy this by being very handsy which was the wrong thing to do. Things started escalating between us and he alternated between sucking back and going all drama llama with his head in the air and a carosel horse trot, and snatching at the bit and going speed racer. I think it was mostly the time off, but this was also the first ride in the loose ring snaffle which isn't much of a whoa bit.

We ended with a strong hand gallop around the arena which slowly came back to a regular canter, and finally a trot that wasn't crazy town for half of the arena.

bffs bobby and spyder in their matching sheets.
There's a new OTTB in the barn. Being obsessed with all things TB, I looked up his tattoo:

His name is Trippedoutofadream. He's a 7yo FL-bred gelding by Trippi out of a Horatius mare. He had 41 starts with 7 wins, 4 seconds, 9 thirds and $89,132 in earnings. Interestingly, he didn't make is first start until nearly the end of his 3yo year. I thought he was fresh off the track when I first saw him because of how fit/skinny and tucked up he is. But he's barefoot behind and has steel shoes on the front, and his last race was a full year ago.

he's totally adorable, no?
He's for sale and one of the boarders may or may no be interested in him, but in the meantime, BO will try to use him for her lesson program.


The rest of the post will come later. I'm too pissed now.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Going Cray Cray!

I'm out in Suburbia, Illinois for three more days and I'm already going crazy surrounded by fat, ill--mannered dogs, nuerotic cats, and my teenage brother who thinks a balanced diet is Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos washed down by Dr Pepper. Not to mention the fact that the entire population out here either drives Cadillacs or Mercedes and I'm flossing in my Saturn. Represent.

Needless to say, I can't wait to get back to rural Pennsylvania and put on a tshirt and dirty jeans again. I wore a sparkly silver scarf yesterday, you guys! And today I'm wearing an article of clothing with the word "boyfriend" in front of it. Being a suburban snob is mad hard work.

So to get a minor pony fix--since I didn't have the foresight to pack my boots and helmet and take a lesson while I was out here--I went to The Riding Store for some retail pony therapy. I've been going there since we moved to IL when I was eight. I always make a point to visit when I'm out because while their stuff is definitely priced a little higher than most, their selection is amazing and the people are super nice.

I went in for just a dressage pad, but since the sales woman told me everything in the store was 10% this week, I got a pair of black fleece lined bell boots, too. Bobby destroyed his last neoprene pair by overreaching and the rubber ones rub him raw, so I've been borrowing a pair of the barn's. He hasn't whacked these enough to cause serious damage, but I'm sure it was coming.

I also got him a white dressage pad to show in. It's a Lettia McFancyson that was already on sale, plus the 10% off on top of that. Heck yes!

I could have gotten soooo much more, but I contained myself. They had a gorgeous Waldhausen (my fave kind of pads) hunter green AP pad with chocolate cord trim and cream piping, but it was $63. Since I already have half a dozen AP pads, I really couldn't justify it, but it was sooo pretty. Plus, they have walls of horse boots that I had to touch and play with. They also have a big Mattes display wall so I spent my time looking at other pads while groping the samples of merino. Sooo soft....

Now I have to sit here and put the bell boots on the dogs to amuse myself until I can go home and ride. Keep blogging, everyone! You're the only ones keeping me sane!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fiasco Part Two.

Let me preface by saying that with the way things were going, our schooling could have turned out a lot worse. No one fell off, no one got hurt, and Bobby only refused one fence at the very end when he was having a complete and total meltdown. It was hot--around 80* and humid--and all my grooming stuff was still in the other truck where I'd forgotten to grab it, so I was running around borrowing Sarah's stuff like a bit of a looney, but that fit in with how the day was going so I wasn't particularly upset about it.

We started off walking around the fields on a loose rein. Bobby was wired and prancey, but I kept talking to him and petting his neck and he didn't have any major blowouts.

Until, of course, I pointed over to the banks with my borrowed whip that I was toting around just in case as my spurs were also in the other truck. Bobby was quite certain I had brought him to this strange place to beat him to death and promptly reared and began flying backwards. I chucked the whip aside and just sat there. Literally didn't do a single thing. He ran backwards right into a jump, leapt forward, and stood there quivering. Deep breaths for both of us. Not really a good start. We hadn't even trotted yet. I gave him a squeeze and he started to go backwards again so I pulled his head around and made him circle before asking him to go forward again. As soon as he did, I asked him to trot and we started making big loops around the field.

just keep trotting, just keep trotting....

good, baby horise. as much as i'd like to sometimes, i'm not going
to kill you.
He seemed resigned to the fact that he'd been brought here to work after that and I walked him over to the banks on a loose rein. I pointed him at the teeny starter level side and gave him a little squeeze to see if he was game.

oh, brave pony!
I let him canter out after it and we did it a couple more times from the trot. I felt comfortable asking him to canter up to it and this is what I got:

I turn him when he starts going backwards because I'd honestly rather him do anything besides going backwards. Plus, as soon as he comes back around to where he started, I immediately ask him to go forward again and it seems to help unstick him. This video is right after he'd finished his one circle and I asked him to walk up the bank:

I said screw the canter since this was his first "jump" and asked him to trot up it once more.

We followed Sarah and Blackberry down it at the walk the first time. He felt certain that he should jump off of it instead of just step down.

how to go down a bank.

how not to go down a bank.
Honestly, my extreme fear of all things downhill really didn't help us out much, but he stepped off it calmly when I asked him to go down again.

We moved on to some logs next. He was doing his little trot in place gait the whole time and with neither whip nor spurs to help me out, I'm afraid I wasn't looking like a particularly savvy rider. I really had to drive him forward with my seat and squeeeeezeeee with my legs, but I got us over without a single refusal or runout, though he tried his little heart out. We went over the tiny logs sideways the first few times.

We managed two BN logs which was a small win, and I headed over to where the field was a little flatter. Because he was sucking back so much, I wanted him to be thinking forward waaay more than he was, so I had him do a big canter around the field a few times. That seemed to do the trick and he was trotted over the gate jumps (Starter and BN) with a big, bold stride, and even cantered over the Starter one.

Unfortunately, the water jump hadn't been filled in yet so we didn't get to play around with that. Major disappointment. We did, however, do the oxers outside it. I tried the baby one first and underestimated the length of a tree branch hanging out over it.

decapitation by xcountry fence decoration.
what a way to go.
I decided to go big instead of go blind and asked him to do the BN once. It wasn't all that big, but the freshly painted black poles were definitely a little scary.

Here I made a big mistake. The other field of jumps was past the trail through a gap in the hedgerow. This is where the coops, tables, and real "scary" fences are. I wanted to finish him off with a go over a BN coop if I could and the Starter table (the N table is the one in my header). But I was really thirsty and I stopped at the trailer so Hubby could hand me my Gatorade. Bobby thought we were done and flipped the off switch on his already frazzled brain.

When we got out there, we made it all the way to the bottom of the field where I planned to turn around and he started going backwards again, but this time with a purpose. I circled, I squeezed, I yelled, I kicked like a four year old, I tried doing nothing, and he was just a hot mess. I finally managed to circle and kick hard enough at the same time that he went forward and I kicked hard again and got him trotting.

Continuing to kick and squeeze and do the attractive "saddle hump", I made it within a stride of the baby coop before he slammed and the brakes and took a step back. I instantly circled and as soon as his head was pointed at the jump again I growled and kicked and he stepped over it. Once more for posterity--or, another mistake on my part--and he completely lost it. His brain was 150 percent fried. Absolutely nothing I was doing was working.

just keep breathing, just keep breathing....

I finally called Hubby over in tears and had him lead us over the coop. We were not finishing there, but I didn't want a jump meltdown, so I got after him hard until he was cantering like a normal horse on a circle. I ended there. At least there was forward motion.

It was a bit of a hot mess to end on, but I didn't take my frustrations out on him a single time. I really, really wanted him to have a positive experience and I think he would have had more of one if I'd either gone straight out to the last jumps without stopping at the trailer, or just stopped after jumping the oxer. Lesson learned.

I was chatting with Michelle while I was walking him out (with a chain over his nose because he was still a bit frantic) and while I'll definitely be back in May for Starter, I told her it just felt really frustrating to not be able to do BN right off the bat. He's not a naughty horse, he's just a worrier and a very sensitive dude. He's a way different ride than any other riding horse I've worked with and I'm still learning to make that switch in myself. She told me that Sinead Halpin (yeah, that Sinead Halpin) had fallen off at BN there last year and later admitted that she finds the LL horses the most difficult to ride because you don't know what to expect from them yet. That was a nice straw to grasp onto, and despite being kind of bummed things didn't go great, he could have been a whole lot worse. We can only keep going up, right?

Now you must suffer through post-bath pictures from today. He dragged me up to the arena and had some sillies when the mares were brought down before tucking in to the grass. Clearly yesterday didn't take too much out of him.