Saturday, June 30, 2012

Do the Dew.

Turns out Bobby is a big fan of lukewarm Mountain Dew. He drinks it straight from the bottle. (To whoever left their almost empty Mountain Dew on the bleachers in the indoor, hope you didn't want to finish that!) If he gets a little lazy tomorrow, I'll have to spike his water Toddlers in Tiaras style.

most uninteresting picture ever.
waiting for the arena to be dragged.
I tried to get video of our ride uploaded, but Blogger no longer wants me to upload videos (or I'm just not patient enough to sit for six hours for them to upload) and youtube seems to think any video over half a second warrants at least an hour long upload. They weren't that interesting anyway.

I did a quick twenty minute tune-up ride first thing this AM and Bobby did everything I asked. I managed to sneak into the indoor without a lesson going on and that really helped. His canter was good, his trot was good, and there was a little tiny bit of stretching going on. His halts and downward transitions were especially awesome. I, however, need to get my fucking hands up and keep them there. I also need to shorten my reins about six inches so my hands don't have an excuse to sit in my lap.

Ride times tomorrow are 11:05 for Training 1 and 1:00 for Training 2. There are only six people in T1 and five in T2 so we'll definitely be getting ribbons. I'm not ashamed to admit it: I'm a ribbon whore.

Goals:

1) Remember the tests without having a spaz attack that it will be my very first time in a standard arena especially since I'm the first Training rider to go!

2) Get some semblance of stretchy trot, even if it's only for one step.

3) Don't die of heat stroke.

That's all! Real dressage is hard work. I'm not holding out much hope we're not going to make complete asses out of ourselves.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dressage break.

The hounds came with me to get their dog food this afternoon. They went from hanging out in the air conditioned house while I was at the barn to riding in the air conditioned car on the way to the air conditioned Tractor Supply where they got to come in. They still looked hot and sad though so I took them down to the river for a quick swim on the way home. Bad idea. Now the whole house smells like rotten fish.

stinky puppies.
Yesterday Bobby was a little foot sore so I kept our ride short. He understandably wasn't eager to go forward, but he did give me some nice bending work. I only rode him for twenty minutes and while it was uninspiring, it was at least solid. I started a week-long venice turpentine routine for him to help harden up his soles and he got a gram of bute with dinner.

camera in one hand, water bottle in the other,
pony face cools himself out over poles.

Today, BO volunteered me to take a former border who's started lessoning again up to the xcountry field. While I know I should be working non-stop on dressage for Sunday's show, I think Bobby and I both needed a break from trotting around in circles.

The woman (we'll call her J) owns an OTTB she bought from BO several years ago who is super fancy. J is one of those people who you really want to hate because she has a fancy horse, fancy new trailer, and fancy new truck bought with money from her fancy job, topped off by the fact that she's skinny and pretty, but you just can't hate her because she's so nice! Why can't we all be like that?

J had done some xcountry schooling, but she's not an eventer and eventually wants to foxhunt her too adorable horse. She told BO that she was interested in going up to the field for something fun to do, bringing us to this morning. It was already 90 effing degrees by 9:30, but it was super breezy making it at least semi-bearable.

We started off with one of the banks, going down at the walk and trot and up at the trot and canter. She worked on one of the smaller fences while Bobby and I put our brave faces on and cantered up and downhill over one of the bigger jumps. The elevator bit is definitely working well for us. He's landing with his front end under him instead of careening out in front of him down the hill. We worked for about forty minutes over all the jumps, making up combinations and mini courses as we went.

Bobby didn't put a foot wrong (aside from being obstinate about changing leads), but by the end of the ride, doing the last few fences, my legs were starting to get tired again. I don't have any issues in the arena, but two point work out in the big hilly field is definitely going on my training schedule. Cantering up and down hills is a lot harder work than cantering in a flat arena.

Bobby was lathered with sweat by the time we got done, but he wasn't breathing hard and once I started hosing him off, he cooled right down. For what we're doing, he's plenty fit. My fat ass on the other hand....

I didn't get any pictures because I feel awkward asking people to take them. "Hey, I just met you. Here's my camera, call me...." Wait, wait, wait. Wrong direction. All you get is a picture of Bobby cooling off in front of the fan while I tended to his toes and legs.


Final day of dressage tomorrow if I can get out of going to a wedding (fingers crossed--I hate weddings), then bath time and braiding Sunday morning for our late morning/early afternoon ride times. Yay for sleeping in on show day! Yay for shows half an hour from the barn!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday Riding.

I tried to get a good confo shot of Bobby today, but he kept scooting his back legs under him and then giving me a sideways look like, "LOL."

"i iz not posing for you!"
I'd set him back up and shake the lead rope at him when he started to turn his head. He'd get distracted by something exciting on the ground.

"oh, it's just dirt."
After about ten tries, I gave up. Here's the best one, and that's not saying much:

"not listening!"
Oh, Robert. If you look closely, you'll see our newest hoof development: no more hind shoes. My awful foot news wasn't so much awful as downright frustrating. Bobby pulled his LH shoe Friday night which was grr-worthy, but not work-ending. I have no issues riding with a missing hind shoe and Bobby didn't take an ouchy step all weekend. After our trail ride Sunday, the other hind was clinking awfully, so I pulled it on Monday before riding. Still no ouchiness, so I decided to say eff it and just keep them off. Less money for me, and two less shoes for him to pull his front ones off with.

New Farrier had to have surgery on his back (par for the course for farriers, right?) and he'll be out for five more weeks. Bobby was due to get done this week and as I've discovered, he cannot go even a week over. So at the risk of angering NF who wants to be the only one working on him (understandably), I had to have Old Farrier do him yesterday. NF didn't know when he'd be able to get his fill-in up from Philly and with loose shoes and a show this weekend, it wasn't worth risking him not being able to get up here by Friday. I had OF leave Bobby barefoot behind and put clips on the fronts. Fingers crossed this combination will work until the end of the season when I can try to transistion him to barefoot again.

The indoor was getting watered and dragged when I pulled in which means I moved our dressage school to the outdoor. Never productive in the outdoor unless jumping, Bobby was a kind of a mess the whole ride. His trot work was so-so until the other horses left the arena and he focused more. His canter to the left was strong but rideable, and his canter to the right was downright awful. His simple changes were really nice at least. I put him on a circle at the trot and worked on loosening my reins bit by bit without him breaking rhythm and trying to canter. This actually worked better in the outdoor and he was doing really well with it. Some semblance of a stretchy trot to the right, and after a lot of work, a tiny bit to the left too.

I get bored with arena work pretty quickly on nice days, so we headed out for a quick trail ride after thirty five minutes.


Bobby power walked the whole way to get to our galloping hill. Pony Face is basking in his newfound ability to go faster than a crawl and as soon as I picked up my reins and we made the turn to the hill, he took off. Bad habits, I know, but he walked up it on our trail ride with Hubby so he's not uncontrollable or rude. He tore up it with zero urging and pulled himself back up to a walk when we got to the top. It was so much fun, I turned us around and did it again. It's not fitness work and it's really not accomplishing anything, but when I can fly up a big hill that's covered in turkeys and deer without worrying for a second about my horse spooking or bolting, it makes the gritted teeth, fights, and tears totally worth it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Catching up.

I have three fascintating days of updates to fill all of you in on. Alright, I can't promise they'll be all that fascinating, but at least I have some pictures and videos to share.

Saturday:

Hubby fufilled his weekend duties as camera man and jump crew. We set up an oxer down the middle of the arena with a ground pole on take off and landing, then set the remaining pole as a placement pole in front of the gate. Nothing exciting, but all I wanted to work on was getting Bobby going at a good pace and taking off from a good distance.

who thinks i need to change my xcountry colors to purple and white?
i do!
I didn't ask for anything fancy warming him up, but I did insist that he go faster than an eighty year old plow horse. Once I found a good pace--confirmed by Hubby since I'm pretty useless at judging such things--I kept a loose rein and stayed out of Bobby's way. And what did he do? Kept on trucking along! Yay, fast pony!

tah dah! a real canter!
I started off jumping him over the gate. It took several run-throughs before I figured out a good pace for him and he figured out that his feet were indeed in the right spot to jump as soon as he got over the pole.

baby horsie! you look all grown up!
Next up was the oxer line. We've done pretty much zero work on oxers at home since I can't stand jumping in the indoor and with jumps split between the two arenas, there's not a lot to work with. So instead of making the oxer low and wide, I just made it low for now--2'. He wasn't too sure what to do with himself the first couple of times through, but he figured it out really quickly.

"say whaa??" first time through.
"oh, i got this!"

See how fast we were going? It was a real canter! Yay!

To keep things short and sweet since they were going so well, I made up a quick course with the whopping four jumps. The first time through was actually really nice, so of course Hubby got pictures of that and video of the second time through which was not as nice.


Sunday:

Hubby and I went on an hour and a half trail ride. Hubby took Dollar who was more than happy to get out and explore after being used in camp all week.


Forutnately for us, both Dollar and Bobby are legitimate bomb proof trail ponies. Hubby and I were peering into the xcountry field to check on one of the fences as Dollar and Bobby nibbled on grass. Out of nowhere, a turkey (probably the stupidest animals on earth) flew right up at Bobby's head before running into the hedgerow. Bobby didn't even flinch. "Turkey? Whatevs. I've got grass." We scared up several fawns (pretty much a given now), and on our way home a ton of half-grown baby turkeys flew up out of the tall grass and scattered. Dollar took a step sideways before going back to plodding along and Bobby planted his feet to look at them before continuing to march down the hill.

Bobby also had no problems going exactly where I asked the whole time. The trail I chose is completely grown up with chest high weeds and never once did either horse question my sanity. They both walked right under two tangled trees whose branches rubbed my back even with me laying flat on Bobby's neck and then headed right into the water and across the road. Such good pony faces.

bobby was chewing on his cud before i got off to yank the nasty
stuff out of his mouth.
Monday:

With a dressage show this Sunday (!!), I figured I'd probably better get back to work on the flat. Stretchy trot, let's do war. Again.

Bobby was awesomely forward warming up at the trot. He was equally as forward at the canter, but it led to him being unbalanced so I had to work on bringing him back a smidge. We did a lot of canter work for the first half of our ride. Cantering is definitely his weakness and I tend to just brush it aside because it's such hard work for both of us. Well, no more! We cantered circles, we cantered laps, and we cantered down the quarterlines about five thousand times until he could do it in a straight line each direction.

Needless to say, after that he was like, "Yeahhh we're cantering!" And then he didn't want to do anything else. So we did canter some more, working on canter to walk transitions to try to get it through his Thoroughbred head that cantering can end in going slow. That didn't work so well and the last half of the ride was trying to defuse the canter bomb. I ran him through Training 2 by trotting through all the canter spots, then went to work on the dreaded stretchy trot.

I'd already been on for forty-five minutes, but I was not ending without him stretching down at the trot, even if it took another hour. We walked a 20m circle at A over and over and over and over.....and over, stretching down and collecting up until I felt like he got the idea. I asked him to trot and when we got to A I asked him to stretch down. He took off into the canter. I gave him a very sharp, not very nice reprimand and walked the circle two more times before trying again. Stretchy trot? Is that you? For two whole strides? Fine! We're done! It only took twenty more minutes (which is a long time to walk in circles, trust me.), but I got it and jumped right off. Hopefully that will stick with him for bext time.


I have all sorts of awful hoof news to share, but that can wait until tomorrow.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

And another.

After tracking down former racehorses Unbridled Danger and Gold and Blue Box with success, I decided to try another old name.

Els was a three year old when he was with the trainer I was working for and he was an absolutely miserable racehorse. He was, in fact, pretty miserable in general. He got put up for sale and while we were all trying to find him an new owner so he could free up a stall, he got put in my charge to become a pony horse. "Heck yes!" I thought. Nothing like hacking around the big fields of Saratoga with a Thoroughbred.

els.

The first day, I took him out when my roomie got done working so she could get on our pony and take us for our first spin. Els proceeded to lose his cool as soon as we were out of the shedrow and run into a car. This, in turn, caused our not totally sound of mind pony Bob to also loose his cool and go bucking down the road.

bob: worst pony ever? quite possibly.
Day two of pony training: The foreman shot dear Els up with a little Ace, we waited half an hour for him to get nice and loopy, and we tried again. Day two also happened to be the first day of a huge show at Saratoga, full of ponies and children with bows meandering peacefully down our roads to get to the arenas. Els reaction to a truly adorable medium pony with equally adorable tiny rider? "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!! THOROUGHBRED EATING MONSTER!!!!!!"

"Watch out," I remember calling cheerfully to the kid as her eyes bugged out of her head as my wonderful charge reared repeatedly. "He doesn't seem to like ponies!" Small child and pony glued themselves to the rail as we hopped and bucked our way by after a thorough lashing to get the dumb horse moving again.



On day three, I got my friend and fellow rider Flaco to take him for a spin on the track so my shredded fingers (who needs gloves??) had a chance to recover. The day after that, the assistant trainer had someone come out to look at him. The woman ended up buying him for one of her clients in Florida and away he went. Good riddance.

A few years later, I bought a big chestnut named Storm the Gate for a winter project horse. He ended up becoming Hubby's trail horse since he and I didn't click, and I sold him about two years after we got him, but I was interested to see that his half brother was none other than the beastly Els.

storm and hubby heading out for a ride.

hubby under the english influence.

Not too long ago, I went back to look at Els's pedigree and found a name which I then stuck into facebook (yeahh, creepin'!) and got in touch with Els's mom in Florida. He is surprisingly a kick ass jumper and sometimes eventer now, and she's adores him. Glad someone does...



One more down, dozens to go!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dang it.

It was so hot out yesterday, I decided to give Mr Magee the day off. Today, it was still hot and muggy. I went to the barn anyway, and when I got back we had a brief thunderstorm so now it's breezy and cool out. Of course.

I broke up pieces of Training 1 and 2 to warm us up, then decided to run through Training 1 once more before our first go at 2 and ending with a brief hack. Bobby was still down with stretchy trotting like a boss at the walk and trot as we warmed up. Once we did the first canter, Bobby was like, "We are cantering....ALL THE TIME!!" Which means he wouldn't even trot like a normal horse, let alone stretch again. So I tried to do some damage control and just focus on getting him to trot semi-relaxed. Well, that semi-worked and I changed my plan and started running through the second test so we could end our heading-for-disaster ride.

That didn't work out too well either. I had skipped breakfast and I have low blood sugar--something that really likes to rear its ugly head when I get hot and I'm working hard with no food to keep me going. I started picking a fight with Bobby and we were both getting super aggrivated with each other. I finally just felt like I was either going to puke or pass out so I got off to sit on the mounting block for ten minutes.

I was still feeling kind of shaky when I got back on, but I really wanted to end on a good note. I picked up the trot again and he was going at a nice rhythm--not great, but not ready stupidly tense either. I asked him to stretch and after a little resistance, he gave it to me. Again, not as good as he's done the past couple of times, but it was there. I ended it with that and got off to cool both of us out.

It's disappointing to think that if I'd gone this afternoon instead of this morning, we'd probably have had a better ride. Of course, we'd probably also have had a better ride if I'd made sure to eat before getting on. Next time.

lion at the gate: one of bobby's two half brothers, both of whom
i got to work with at the track. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Just sleep on it.

bm's pony pebbles.
just because she's cute.
I braved the nasty heat and made it out to the barn between horse camp lessons. I set up three canter poles down the middle of the arena to work through if the stretchy trot failed me once again.

For the first ten minutes, I worked with Bobby at the walk. Stretch down, collect up. Repeat....again and again and again. Then we moved on to the trot. I started with a nice working trot to the right in his semi-fancy dressage frame. As we approached A where we were asking him to start stretching down yesterday, he offered to drop his head and I instantly slipped my reins almost to the buckle. Aaaand....

HE STRETCHY TROTTED ALL THE WAY AROUND THE ARENA!

Stretchy trot, you are our bitch!

He got a million and a half "GOOD BOY!"s as he went around, and then I picked my reins back up, went around once, and asked him to stretch down again. And he did! Two awesome stretchy circles in a row before we switched direction and did it all over again. I guess he just needed to sleep on it? I don't know if he's uncannily smart, or....what? Whatever his excuse, I'll take it!

I pulled out Training 1, read through it all the way for the first time ever (literally--I've been so slacking on this), and then ran through it. The canter to the stretchy trot to the normal trot to the walk (right?!) was a little rushed and disorganized, but I was so giddy he actually stretched right down that I didn't even pick my reins back up until A...when we were supposed to be walking. It was good enough for me for the first time straight through so I called the dressage quits and moved on to playing with the poles.

We cantered through them several times, trying to establish a good pace. As always, I was bringing him in too slow over and over. I finally got it kind of sorted out and raised the middle pole to a 2' vertical. The first few times, he was too slow and scrambled through. Who would have guessed? I finally kicked him on until I felt he was going too fast, and he skipped right through. Sigh. One day I'll learn. Maybe?

spyder!
BO asked if I'd stick Spyder on the longe before I left to see if he was still off. He got kicked really hard about a week ago and was pretty ouchy, but he seems fully recovered and was sneakily trying to jump the ground poles as he went around. He's absolutely one of my favorite horses in the barn. He's really big, really green, and really pushy, but just look at him! He's such a mooch and lover, even if he is a little bit of a rogue.

"i get my cookie now, yes?"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Video and Lesson.

 Here's a video of the jump course I made up on Sunday, just so you guys can get an idea of lack of forward:

I felt like I was going along at a good pace--a really good pace actually--but I wasn't. I decided to take Bobby back around to the 3' vertical with "more" speed...and he slaughtered it. One of maybe three times he even knocked the pole down the whole time, despite how close he kept getting in. And as an aside, I'm soo not worried about leads right now. The beauty of not being a hunter rider. ;-)
Mixed reviews on this morning's lesson. Summer horse camp is going on at the barn Mondays through Fridays every week until the end of August, so BO was only able to squeeze me in an hour before camp started. Campers got to watch the first half of my lesson before one of the councelors whisked them away to go take "breed and color quizzes". Fortunately, Bobby loffs attention and he was happy to stick his head into the bleachers for the kids to give him pats and kisses.
 
We started off with BO giving me some quick pointers she'd like to see while breaking down the pieces of the tests we'll be doing in two weeks (Training 1 and 2). Ride the half circle like a full circle instead of a half-assed arc (my words, not hers), make sure Bobby is really cruising along at a real trot instead of dragging his feet, and make sure my effing shoulders stay back out of my personal space. We ran through the first half of the test (up to the free walk) a few times, ignoring the stretchy trot circle, just to get a feel of the movements. This was a good thing since I haven't actually pulled the test from the bottom of my locker since I printed it off a month ago. Whoops. Bobby wanted nothing to do with picking up the left lead, and when I brought him back to the trot, he immediately got tense and flustered and sucked waaay back and didn't want to do anything but canter in place...on the right lead. We got that sorted out eventually and moved on to the stretch. Bobby was a pro at the walk. All I had to do was lengthen my reins and give the tiniest squeeze and he dropped his nose to the ground. Tah dah! Stretching is so easy! Time to make the magic happen at the trot. Four words: Fuck you, stretchy trot. Even BO was getting frustrated. Bobby was just not feeling it. Like, not even putting forth an effort. Back down to the walk? Viola! Perfect stretch. Trot? Nope. Not listening.... So BO decided to see what we could get at the canter. Well, what we got was a whole new issue to work on. Yay! When I lengthened the reins or gave away any sort of contact, Bobby sped up. (Sure, there's the go button.) BO tacked on more homework: alternate between giving away the inside rein and the outside rein at the canter until Bobby can hold his pace when I drop contact. A good exercise, one I'll definitely be working on, but still no stretching. In the end, we didn't really resolve anything. She gave me a few things to work on, but basically told me to schedule another lesson before the show. Pretty sure that's not going to happen as I'm broke as a joke, so back to muddling things out on my own. Very frustrating. The problem is, I'm not really a patient person. When I think of something I want to do, I want to do it now. I want everything fixed at once. Bobby needs to be more forward jumping? We need to set up poles and grids? I need to measure out 350 meters so I can figure out pace? I need to work on that blasted stretchy trot? Jump across the diagnol? Trail ride? Dressage ride? More jumping?
NOW!

It's a crazy person disease, and I am deeply afflicted.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hrmm.

As promised, jumping pictures.

I started Bobby out with the tires and gate.


Then we did the diagnol line of the pipe (2') to the cones (2'6). Next we hit the coop (2'7) a few times.


hey, lower leg. don't you want to jump with us?
Finally, for warm up, over the 2'6 vertical a few times.

we look kind of cute and normal.
not so cute or normal, but at least my leg is along for the ride.
For the coup-de-gras, I had Hubby hike up the vertical to 3'. Here we began to run into trouble.



Bobby has always had the tendency to chip in a stride or take the shortest spot possible. He's gotten worse as we've come along and he buries himself into the base of the fence. He will not listen to me when I ask him to take off from a different spot. No amount of digging my spurs in will do the trick. A whip might if I could carry a whip with him, but I can't.

It's made worse by the fact that I have a really hard time judging his pace. From where I sit, it seems like he's covering a lot of ground and he's going quite forward. Watching video, he's plodding along. When we do work up enough steam to genuinely be considered "forward", I feel like I'm gunning him too fast...and then bring him back. Just more homework, I guess.


Other things of note: I'm going to drop my stirrups a hole to see if that helps me keep my leg under me more consistently. The shorter length did work well when Bobby launched us over from awkward positions and I got jumped waay out of the tack time after time. I landed squarely in my irons and my ankles took the hit instead of Mr Magee's back.



I got my Jimmy Wofford book the other day (such a lame subsitute for the missed clinic). Next weekend, grids will be going up and we'll begin progressing through the exercises. I should have put a ground pole up today, but hind sight is what it is yadda yadda. Yet another ride where I think of simple things I should have done after I'm off my horse.

bobby loves to lug right.

Overall though, I have to step back and look at things from all angles. Was it the most productive jump school ever? No. But Bobby never once thought about stopping or running out. He never once gave me attitude or tried to start a fight. He did what I asked to the best of his still-learning abilities. It was his first time ever jumping 3' and he cantered right up to it. I'll work on getting him to see his distances better, and I'll work on getting myself to find a better, more forward rhythm--that actually is forward. Baby Horsie lives to ride another day.



Saturday, June 16, 2012

Freebie.

Does anyone want a brand new pair of clipper blades for their trimmer? They're Dura Edge size 30 (0.5mm). It says on the package they work with Oster, Andis, Laube, and Wahl clippers. One of the women at the barn works for horse.com and she brought a bunch to the barn. I didn't need them, but I figured someone might. Let me know and I'll send them off to you.

robert the summer before he went to be a racehorse.
In pony news, Bobby got outfitted in the elevator bit to see how he took to it doing hills. I dug up an old snaffle bridle only to find that it was too big for Bobby's head (!!) with that particular bit. So I ghetto rigged it to fit my Micklem until I get a new bridle. He doesn't need it for jumping in the arena and we can get by on trails without it until then. Sarah and Blackberry accompanied us for a half hour jaunt and we turned it into "Make Bobby a Racehorse....Again."

breezing at saratoga.
I wanted to see if Mr Magee remembered the word "Go!" and I asked him to gallop--a legit gallop, not a Bobby lope--up the big hill. It took urging all the way, but he put his head down and went for it. And, of course, came right back to the walk without so much as a deep breath or a rude yank on the reins. Such an easy-going dude when he's not copping attitude. We trotted down one of the gallop paths, then turned around early to go up the other one because Sarah wanted to work Blackberry in the arena some before she put him away.

Bobby and Blackberry were eyeing each other as we turned them around. Blackberry was not pleased he got beat by Slow Poke Magee up the hill and he wanted revenge. Bobby was immensely proud of himself for going fast and he wanted to run again. Blackberry started jigging in place, Bobby took a hop forward, and Blackberry bolted up the path. Bobby very respectfully waited for me to ask him to go, though he was dancing in place. We didn't close much of a gap on the Fat Fast Boy, but again--he actually galloped out.

"i am a racehorse!"
He cantered calmly down the big hill and without his running martingale and with the elevator bit, his head was up and I wasn't worried we were going to go tumbling down. We headed up to the outdoor to "cool out", but got tempted and popped over the tire jump and the coop twice a piece before calling it quits. Bobby was a superstar over both. I promise there will be jumping pictures tomorrow!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pets.

Some days, I really wonder why I have pets at all. Because I love animals! Only some days, I really don't. I woke up this morning later than usual and when I opened the back door to let the dogs out, there were six cooing chickens chilling on the patio. "Hey, Food Lady. We're ready for breakfast. Where've you been?" Yes, they do have their own house. No, they are not free range birds. They'd simply found a way to let themselves out. Fortunately, they're super friendly birds and I scooped up the three Comets, herded two of the Leghorns, and let the third run around the yard in her morning dash like she does about three times a week when she gets loose when I'm feeding them. She gets bored quickly and lets me grab her when she's done. Effing chickens.

I also have two and a half cats. Two are mine, one I'm fostering for a friend until she gets her own place--tentatively until August. Oscar just finished up his Clavamox, which means he's also fortunately finished puking it up all over my pillow on a semi-regular basis. That, of course, means that it's time for my little grey kitty--aptly named Hell Cat--to run a fever and just look sad and pathetic in general. Yay, vet bills! Any guesses on what the dogs will be getting themselves into this weekend? Rabies perhaps?

only current affliction: a case of the uglies.
Robert and I had a long, stellar ride today. Sarah showed up just as I was starting to groom Bobby, so we headed up to the outdoor together. I like riding with people because I am so easily bored by myself and generally don't ride for very long. Even if I'm not really friends with them, it's still more exciting than circling around by yourself. So what normally would have been a half an hour arena ride that was possibly followed by a trail ride turned into an hour of awesomeness.

blackberry.
I did a solid thirty minutes of dressage work with a lot of cantering. Cantering in the outdoor is definitely our weakness. One of the ends slopes ever so slightly and Bobby sees it as an excellent excuse to swap leads behind. So we circled all over again and again. I focused on staying upright and not moving my upper body so much, and he focused on falling in on his shoulder and hanging on my inside rein. Thanks, Bobby. We kind of, sort of got it figured out so it wasn't a complete mess, but I scheduled a lesson with BO for Tuesday morning.

Even though I was in my dressage saddle, Sarah was jumping Blackberry so....I....jumped too. Slightly awkward, but totally doable. We spent the next twenty minutes jumping all the jumps. Tire jump, picket fence, 2'6 vertical, 2'9 vertical to the demon 2' pipe jump. Aaand we even jumped the coop twice!

this coop.
Now, I have a pretty bad/awkward habit of slipping my reins when I really shouldn't. I guess I'd rather take the back seat and let my horse have his head than fall on his neck and snatch his mouth, but it often makes for scrambling after jumps and being a hot mess for several strides. However, there are certain times it is appropriate. Like when Bobby tries to duck out, actually listens to me and climbs over it, trips and lands on his nose, gets his front feet tangled with each other, and then rights himself and carries on. Rein slippage and back seat riding equals Carly not splayed out on her face in the arena. Bonus!

I was trying so hard to make my position normal. I know I can jump, but I'm having such a hard time adjusting to Bobby. I think I've found what's going to work for us: A small loop in the reins with my hands high instead of buried in his whithers, heels waaaaay down, and a slightly forward light seat that I must hold upon landing. No bouncing back up halfway over the fence. And, of course, a very forward canter!! Rocket science, no? Sarah even accused me of looking like an Eq rider over a couple of jumps. Something to build on. She did offer to take pictures, but I didn't know how well dressage saddle jumping would turn out so I declined. Definitely Sunday at the latest though.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Farrier Update and Goals.

Gosh, there hasn't been a farrier update in nearly a week. That means it was about time for Bobby to pull his LF shoe again, right? Right! He pulled it during turnout Monday night and the farrier put it back on Tuesday...for the third time in three weeks. Clearly this is not going to work. BM (who knows way more about feet than I do and whose help I was happy to enlist) and I had a conference call with New Farrier.

I tossed out the idea of glue ons and NF said he'd mull that over, but BM pointed out that when a normal shoe comes off, the nail hole might get torn up a little, but that's usually the extent of the damage. When a glue on comes off, the whole hoof comes off with it. NF suggested a change in turnout, but I'm really, really hoping it won't come down to that. Bobby really likes the group he goes out with and he's doing so much better with extended turnout time. And BM said that no one in that group really gets running around, unless they're doing it in the middle of the night.

So that brings us to how he's getting the effing shoe off in the first place. NF will be out tomorrow to look him over with a fine-toothed comb to hopefully come up with a plan for him. BM thinks what he'll do, and said what she'd do, is shorten up the toes in the front to get them out of the way quicker so he stops stepping on himself. I dunno. He's got such small, flat feet as it is, there's really not much to take off.

For now, the game plan is to put a hoof boot on over the shoe on the LF to keep him from pulling it. We'll continue to attempt to put a bell boot on the RF, which also had its own issues today--one of the nails needed to be clinched down badly, so BM clinched it....and saw that the nail was poking right out of the bottom of his shoe. She nipped that off so fingers crossed it won't be a problem tonight. Also, I think I found the magic pair of bell boots--an old pair of sparkly silver Davis boots. I don't even remember when I got them, and the velcro on one was ready to come off so it was no suprise that one only lasted two days, but the other one has made it a record-setting four days! I'm going to the tack store this week to pick up a new pair in a really bright color.

adorable braid afro.

Now all this happened before I had even gotten a brush out. BO was genius enough to leave him in last night so that the shoe had a chance of staying on so I did get to ride the beast. I know, I know. I was going to give him off until Friday, but I just couldn't resist the gorgeous weather. He'll get tomorrow off anyway. I opted for the outdoor to enjoy the weather. The half an inch of rain we got yesterday made it a little sloppy, but definitely ride-able.

To tell you the truth, I've been a little giddy thinking about the work ahead of us. I love having a plan!

* Goal 1: Forward at all three gaits without rushing.

I thought this was going to be very tricky with Bobby's propensity to rush. I'm sure it will be a work in progress, but Mr Magee was feeling fresh to death this morning and he killed it. Big, swinging walk. Big, bouncy trot that I could actually post to--and not like a jack hammer. The canter needed a touch of umph, but I got it when I asked for it.

* Goal 2: Stretchy trot circles.

I'm doing a dressage show July 1st and I really want to do Training 1 and 2. This means Bobby has to do a stretchy trot circle. This poses a problem as I don't know how to do them. I got about two steps, and then Bobby and I were both like, "Huh? What are we doing?" Lesson with BO to be scheduled.

* Goal 3: Control my body at the canter.

This is one of those things where I know I need to do it, and then I start to canter and start fussing with Bobby too much and lose track of what my own body is doing. I tried really hard to keep my upper body still today, but I think I'm going to need some video work to see how I'm doing, and point it out to BO that it's something I want to work on.

Overall, a pretty rocking ride. Only twenty five minutes, but Bobby worked every single step and even though it was 75* and breezy, he was one sweaty pony when we were done. Friday he'll have another flat school, then we'll start the jumping fun this weekend when I can recruit Hubby as pole boy.

muddy polos.
maybe the farrier can also fix how badly he interferes?
Also, pictures from Plantation are up. No stadium. Bobby really is not the most photogenic horse in the world, though he certainly knows where the camera is.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Xcountry Video

Mr Magee goes xcountry!

For such a big horse he certainly isn't very fast, is he? I'll have to put the pedal to the metal next time out and work on some speed work the next month and a half. Also, I cannot wait to try out the elevator bit on him. Pick up yo' head, Robert!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Plantation Field ST--BN

First of all, I know I shouldn't complain because I do live in Area II where there are a million and a half events within a few hours driving distance, but what a tedious drive down that was! I don't think we ever went faster than 50mph. It's actually less mileage to Plantation than it is to Burgundy Hollow, but it takes a full hour more to drive. Regardless, nothing went wrong until we drove right by the turn-off road to get to the event and had to drive a mile to find a place to turn around. On our way back, we stopped at a stop sign and had a middle of the road pow-wow with some Jersey eventers who had done the same thing as us twice. Hubby pulled over again when we turned onto the road so I could get out and move the inconspicuous arrow that was flush against a hedgerow halfway down the road you were supposed to be on to the other side of the road so people could actually see it--same place it was last year and we found the road easy peasy.

"stand still? why?!"
Dressage:

It was a cool 85* out by the time I got on to warm up for dressage. Needless to say, everyone was braided but not a single person had a coat on. Bobby walked out to warm up on the buckle, but he was cruising right along and staring at everything. However, once we got to work,  he settled right down and was fabulous. One of our trailer neighbors was on a chestnut TB mare that was being a little bit of a nut and she offered a trade of horses, laughing as her mare reared up for about the tenth time. Crazy eventers. There was also another rider in the warm up with us that I knew I recognized from somewhere, but I couldn't place her to save my life. More on this later!

hamming it up for hubby.

my left side is broken.
The rider before me warned that the ring was a little slick, but Bobby didn't have any issues with it. In fact, he didn't have any issues with anything. I went in with my teeth gritted, determined to ignore the fact that I was doing a test and just ride my horse. I knew I had to put in a monster test to do well down there because I wasn't going to sneak up the standings with people having issues jumping; Plantation is the big leagues, folks! Bobby was listening to everything I asked for and killed it. We scored 7s and 8s for every single movement except for the final halt which was a 6 because Bobby could no longer ignore the horses jumping xcountry at the top of the hill. Comments included obedient, accurate, and well ridden. Heck yes. We finished with a 27.0 to put us in 3rd.



Watching the test, I know we're capable of even better than that. Bobby can put in an even better dressage frame and I've been working so hard on keeping my hands up and shoulders back. Just means there's room for improvement, right?

There was one weird moment after the test where I dismounted while still in the ring to pick up a metal rod in one of the corners. I wasn't sure if I should have, but there wasn't really anyone else around except the last two riders. I certainly didn't want anyone stepping on it. The judge made a comment on it, but she fortunately didn't dock me. I should have stopped by and told her why I got off,  but I was hot and my brain was fried so I just turned it into the steward.

i got you this!
Stadium:

We had almost three hours between dressage and jumping and I enjoyed every second of it lounging in the shade. It reached 93* and there was only the tiniest breeze. The lucky dogs got to hang out under the truck all day and they weren't even panting until they came out to play with us during lunch. We sponged them off a few times, but they definitely had the prime piece of realty on the whole show grounds.

I walked up to warm up with our neighbor who was sitting in second in our division. She had the most adorable grey horse on the planet and I just wanted to kiss his adorable face. I trotted Bobby over the X, landed in the canter and cantered over the oxer. There--warmed up. It was so insanely hot, he literally didn't need anything else. We hung out in the shade with a couple of other riders. As I was walking up to join them, I heard someone say, "Yeah, I think she'll make a really nice horse for Will Coleman. They'd click really well."

*Sidenote: Does Will Coleman remind anyone else as a surfer? This horse was the same way. Kind of laid back surfer dude/chick vibe.

So I looked over and finally placed the rider in dressage warm up. Jane Sleeper!! Yeah, the same Jane Sleeper than just ran in Rolex in April. The same Jane Sleeper that's run in--what? thirty Rolexes? If I'm half as badass as her at 60, I'll be in heaven. I mean, srsly. Erin Sylvester was riding two horses there too, but I'm ashamed to admit I couldn't pick her out.


Hubby still hasn't figured out the admittedly crappy camera so jumping pictures....suck. We'll all have to wait for professional pics to go up. I choked and even with the huge arena to get going in, I never got Bobby going like I should have to the first fence and he just wasn't quite forward enough the whole ride. Our only hiccup was a 3 stride line of orange and blue planks. Apparently planks eat horses? Not being able to carry a whip on the princess, I had to growl and get after him with my spurs, but he went clear the whole round.

beware the planks!



Cross country:

Course walk for your viewing pleasure.

The course was legit. Honestly, I saw the first jump and I was like :-O, but as I kept walking, I made myself focus on how each fence was going to ride. Fence four ended up being removed from the course because of the impossible angle to get to fence 5. We got to fence 5 and Hubby said, "We shouldn't have walked this one." It was the most ridiculous downhill jump on the planet. At least for a BN course. There was just enough landing room for your horse to land on "flat" ground before he had to go tumbling off the cliff.

We got to go early and Bobby worked up a nice canter heading to the first jump. He gave it the eye as we got up to it, but he was game to go over. The ground rolled down a little bit and he fell flat onto his forehand. I was trying to lift his head up so he could watch where he was going and he caught sight of the training roll top that we had to squeeze by. "Next jump, yay!" Um, no, Bobby. Second jump was a breeze, the third jump actually looked bigger from a horse than it did from the ground but rode fine, and then the deadly drop. I'm sure I gave the jump judge a good laugh as I choked Bobby back to a trot and repeated to myself "We are not going to die. We are not going to die. AHHHHHHHHH!" Bobby landed in the canter like a good boy and half cantered, half trotted down before calmly picking back up the canter and jumping out over the oxer, ignoring my girlish screams of terror. Right. Get it together Carly and move on.


The heat and lack of fitness prep were really getting to me by the time we hopped over fence 10 and I had to lean against Bobby's neck to give my legs a break. Bobby was still cruising along comfortably though so at least one of us had their head in the game. Hubby and I agreed to swing Bobby as far to the left going into the water as possible because when he refuses, he ducks to the right and I didn't want him to go past the flags. However, he went right in and we were in an awkward spot to get to the log out of the water, having to squeeze past a prelim jump and angle in pretty sharply.



I thought I could cut off some ground going over the 14th jump, but the line I walked was definitely the way to go and Bobby couldn't figure out where his crazy rider was pointing him until he was a few strides out. The only other bobble we had was at the chevrons where I had to call out to people walking the course to look out and we were both distracted by them. I was taking Bobby's willingness for granted and almost lost him, but I rallied at the last second and gave him a good jab with my spurs to get him over. One more fence and we were home clean for our first BN!

I passed Jane (!!) again on my way back to the trailer and she asked how he did and congratulated us on a good round. !! I was slightly giddy. I'm very easily star struck. You really can't take me anywhere. I walked down with a lovely English rider doing her first event in the US and we bonded over our diva horses that can't be around whips.

So. Where did we end up? Cute grey horse lost his really nice mom on course so she was unfortunately eliminated  and we moved up to second. Not a single other rider in our division had a jump fault anywhere, so that killer dressage test really carried us through.


The heat really took a toll on Bobby. He drank just under four full buckets of water thanks to his love of Horse Quencher, but you can see how ribby he looks at home. He's getting the rest of the week off to recoup and then we're going to start drilling small jumps to teach me how to ride him better. He's still green, but I think the biggest issue I'm having with him is that he's so big and he really uses every single part of his great big body that I'm all over the place. Red was small and compact and he jumped the same way. Bobby launches and I'm having a lot of trouble staying with him over the whole jump. Always room to get better.

I'm going to try him in Red's elevator bit. Right now he's getting too heavy on his forehand and not listening to me trying to lift him up. Not a good thing when you're cantering downhill to a jump. I'm also going to buy some alfalfa cubes to soak to feed him in the trailer between dressage and jumping. He has zero manners on the ground while at shows and he paws and kicks when he gets left alone. Be on the lookout for the xcountry video and better pictures!