Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dedicated to Sarah

You guys have read my mentions of Sarah several times. Sarah, owner of the wonder pony Blackberry and the mouthiest Dutch Warmblood known to man Memphis. She is my barn partner in crime (Interpret crime how you will. I can neither confirm nor deny anything.), and we have made numerous poor excellent life choices together-- most extending from, "I'm bored. Let's do bad things."

ironically, bobby and memphis now wear the bit the other horse has on.
sharing is caring.

Sarah pulled in right as I got on Bobby yesterday and we agreed we should finally try our ultimate bad idea. Sarah went to get Memphis ready while I worked Bobby quickly. I focused almost solely on leg yields. Super fab tracking to the right, but fucking hell, I could not figure myself out to the left. It was like the left side of my body, from the hip down, was paralyzed. My leg and my pelvis did not want to move back. Bobby was like, "What the fuck are you asking me to do besides go crooked, you nut job?" And I was like, "ARGHGFHBGKJLKLH! Let's sit down and have a talk, you useless excuse for a left side of a body!" Clearly needs to be worked on.


Anyway, Memphis came down looking adorbs in his bad idea gear and Sarah led him over to put side reins and a longe on him. Memphis is not a fan of snow falling off the roof--and by not a fan, I mean he freaks the fuck out.

Snow slides off the roof. Memphis hops sideways, moving literally only one of his feet, and steps on Sarah. And levels her. In retrospect, we both should have felt bad about the situation, but we were both laughing too hard. Sarah hobbled over the mounting block and declared her foot broken. She's almost done with nursing school, so I was inclined to believe her. I told her to go get some vet wrap and wrap it while I ponied Memphis around.

She came back down to longe the crazy beast while I cantered Bobby. Memphis was crazy, Bobby was fabulous. So uphill, so fancy. He's such a good dude most of the time.

Sarah texted me later that night to say her foot was not in fact broken. Just "extensive soft tissue damage." Awesome bruising will ensue. I'm proud.

She was back at the barn today, amazingly being obedient and not riding. In return, I forced her to clean out her locker. We found matches to all her polos. Literally a miracle.

halfway through unpacking the black hole.
I headed down to the arena with Bobby to kick off the circus. Other riders slowly started trickling in until there were six of us--one longeing--in a small dressage ring sized arena. BO correctly predicted that Bobby would have to be the calming affect for everyone. The dude just doesn't care. If someone goes bonkers, he'll turn an ear at them... if he's feeling frisky. I think we spent enough time in maniacal warm up rings last year that he's pretty unfazed by horses cutting him off or coming up behind him. Ain't nobody got time for that!

He was being so lazy starting out. He almost fell on his face walking into a ground pole because he couldn't be bothered to pick his feet up. He finally worked into a bit of a rhythm, suprisingly getting more forward with some sitting trot. I had to beat him into the canter a bit, but he was okay once he was in it. Mainly, it was just a ride to get out. Not much schooling going on.

I probably wouldn't have done much anyway as the fog and the heat were fucking oppressive. It was like being smothered. You couldn't even see yourself in the mirrors as you went by.

I don't know when I'll get to the barn next. Depends on the weather. I just don't feel like driving in shitty weather anymore. I'm getting too old for that nonsense.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sticky Stifles.

Stifles have been the bane of Bobby's existance from day one. When I refer to hind end issues in Bobby, this is what I'm refering to. His owner while racing even emailed me after seeing some of his jumping pictures that he was blown away I could get the horse to jump at all, his hind end was such a disaster.

The counter cantering, the swapping behind, the occasional baby bucks--all hind end issues. All stifle issues.

Jog him out, put him on a line, I doubt you'd notice a lameness. It's more feeling that tiny bit of stick when you're looking for it when riding, and knowing his past history of weakness, connecting the "misbehavior" to the pain in the stifles. (That doesn't mean it doesn't still frustrate me. I am human.)

It's not an injury. It's a strength issue brought on by his shoddy conformation. Time off apparently compounds the problem, and I've obviously already made the decision that in place of time off this November, we'll just stick with hacking to maintain motion and booty work. Once fit, there are no problems.

I know the tricks to building up his strength. Ground poles, hill work, and rein-backs. I have the Equine Fitness book with the stifle strengthening exercises. Come spring, I feel pretty confident he'll be strong enough again that these issues will be either nonexistant, or much, much less of a problem.

However, I'm kind of up in airs on weather or not I want to do more for him. The work is only going to get harder from here on out, and the hind end is really going to have to start carrying its weight this year. He's a coming eight year old. He's never been on a joint supplement, and I've never had him injected. Can you even inject a stifle? I'm a bit of a sceptic when it comes to joint supps, especially since I am also poor (and currently paying for hoof and ulcer supplements). I did have Red on SmartTendon and it absolutely helped him maintain his soundness.


Any thoughts from you guys? Any supplements you'd swear by? Any injection stories?

I feel bad making him work through the pain, but building strength is the only thing that I know will take care of it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dressage and Hacking

We had another full arena for our ride yesterday, but it was with the same group of people as last Saturday so things went pretty smoothly. Bobby hadn't been ridden in four days and it was still super cold out, but he went right to work without fuss. He's gotten so mature in his flat work in the past month. He's all business now.

My friend, who worked with Bobby while he was at my college after getting retired, posted this on my Facebook today:

That was Robert pretty much all last year. He started figuring things out in the fall, but he was still inconsistent. Now, while we have things to work through and it's certainly not perfect all the time, we no longer consistently look like this:


 A walk in the park.

Grown up fancy pants. Mostly.

After I was done with Bobby, BO asked me to canter her horse for her because of her back problems. Tyler is a school master to the core and he was not amused by my ammie mistakes asking for flying changes down the long side. "Shift your outside hip back, idiot, and I'll change. Oh? Poke me with your spur, too? Fuck you. I'm changing back." Eventually we figured each other out (less is more, Carly), but it was still fun.

I stuffed cookies into Bobby and turned him out where he adorably tried to convince me we should be BFFs instead of parting ways.

"my friends are playing on top of the hill..."
"but i'll still give you the option of coming back over to give me scritches."

This morning, I walked into the barn to find an unsuspecting BM's daughter just getting Spyder ready. "Oh hey, S! Want to go on a trail ride with me?" No one is ever around to ride out during the winter, and I like trail riding with people. S agreed and we got tacked up and then warmed up quickly in the arena.

I can't remember the last time Spyder's been out on trails, and he doesn't get worked very regularly, but S is a really nice rider and Spyder, while green, is a good boy. Bobby picked up on his bestie's jitters, but instead of feeding off of him and joining in, he slowed his walk to a snail's pace and plodded along beside him like, "Chill, dude. It's all groovy out here." Such a good pony. We did end up ponying them for a bit just because Spyder was really yanking on S and he was getting a little too prancey for her. He settled down enough by the end of our forty minute walk to try to eat some trees.

We got back to the barn and BM (S's mom) was like, "I can't believe she went out with you! She never trail rides." BM did say S told her she had fun though, so hopefully I didn't inadvertantly scare the shit out of her.

Carly and Bobby: Forcing Helping people out of their comfort zones since 2012.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tentatitve Schedule

I haven't been out to see Bobby since Monday. It hasn't reached twenty degrees here which is my cutoff for riding weather, and when you're as broke as I am, it's hard to justify driving thirty miles to the barn to feed your horse cookies. I actually contemplated going out this morning, but first I went into town for dog food and groceries. I came out of Tractor Supply and saw my right front tire looking very, very sad.

Apparently I ran over something in the parking lot that made short work of my recently replaced tire. Sad face. However, changing a tire is one of the very, very few things I'm capable of doing that involves cars (The other two being adding wiper fluid and checking my oil level. Look out.). I lifted the cover in my trunk to grab my jack and spare and let out a series of rather creative curses. Turns out the tire hanging out in the spare's space is actually an old blowout--a rather massive blowout. I've never bothered checking before.

At this point, I do what any helpless woman would do and called Hubby. I'm not sure what Hubby was going to do. Magically make a new tire appear? It didn't matter because Hubby was on his way to Jersey Shore (bitch.) for important business. He said to go back into TSC and buy Fix-a-Tire. Done and done, Hubby.

Well, Fix-a-tire failed with an F-. I could hear air wooshing out of my tire as I tried to bring it back to life. I guess I ran over a fucking knife? Who knows. With Hubby crossed off the list, I caved and called AAA for a free tow. I waited in my car with my puppies (who must get their cookies at TSC or they hate me for days) and blasted the heater for an hour waiting for the tow truck.

The puppies were a little unsure about the tow guy, who was a giant, but once he doled out his own cookies and put the truck in drive, they were like, "Yay, car ride! Yay, best friends!" They fail as guard dogs.

pig keeping our driver's seat warm.
So there's your non-horse related story for the day, although it explains why I am not going to see Bobby yet again. Hopefully I can get a tire tomorrow and be back on schedule. I think it's even supposed to be 26* Sunday! Trail riding weather for sure.

But now for your pony fix. Since it's been too cold to ride, I've been slowly and torturously pencilling in a show schedule. I'm still waiting on the Williamsport Riding Club to finish their schedule so I can look at their dressage shows. However, here's where I'm at so far:

April: Cross country school at Burgundy sometime mid-month. I'll be coordinating with Sarah on this one as she wants to take Memphis to an event or two this year.

May: Novice at Burgundy on the 5th, followed by N at Bucks the next weekend. Both unrecognized.

June: Recognized N at GVRDC on my birthday and the first recognized at Bucks two weeks later. Never been to Geneseo before, but I'm looking forward to new places this year.

July: BCHP CT at Training on the 7th. School cross country afterwards. I have a big blank space under July and August. I learned the hard way last year that I can't go very long between shows or my brain motivation is lost. I'll be on the lookout for jumper or dressage shows to fill the void.

August: BCHP Schooling on the 11th. I don't know if I'll do this one or not.

September: Recognized at Bucks the 8th. Maybe Training? We'll see how it goes. Dressage show the next weekend.

October: Radnor Hunt recognized the 12th. It's only two and a half hours away, but it's a beefy ass course so it was not on the to-do list last year. I'd like to make it this year though.

All the shows are on the sidebar now. It looks like a lot of fun, but who knows how many I'll actually make it to.

Also, I still have no groceries.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thank you, Dapplebay!

The winner of my 100 Followers Contest, L. Williams, chose Dapplebay's Jumper tee for her prize.

The owner/creator/creative mastermind behind Dapplebay, the wonderful Leah, was amazingly generous following the contest and she offered me my choice of shirts as well! Obviously I accepted. Who wouldn't have? My choice was the 3 Days/ 3 Ways shirt in grey.

I got it yesterday and I'm wearing it today. I. Love. It. Super soft, super classy looking, super wearing-it-everywhere amazing. I cannot recommend it more. Leah has designs for the english rider in all of us. Who cares if you ride western? You'd still look super cute in one of these bad boys.

Dear Hubby,

I know I keep telling you I need a new OTTB Tee for Valentine's Day, but I'm pretty sure you could swing an Eventer tee, too. Just throwing that out there.

Your adoring fan,


Monday, January 21, 2013

Good day at the barn

My drive to the barn was not uneventful, but ironically, it did involve barn-like things.

The short story is, I was hit with a load of hay.

The long story is, I was hit with a load of hay three miles from the barn. I was minding my own business, admiring an oncoming pick-up truck of second cut square bales when blammo! The lovely hay is flying off the hood of my car. I slammed on the brakes and let out a very girly squeal before pulling off on the shoulder. I've lost a bale or two while driving down the road before. No bigs. This guy's entire load landed on my car while I was driving 60mph. Kind of a bigs. Fortunately, hay explodes on impact and it was no harm done. I hepled the guy get the surviving bales out of the middle of the road and finished my drive to the barn without further ado.

Bobby was being super lazy about the concept of moving while getting tacked up and into the arena. "Yeah, yeah. I heard your invitation to move. I think I'd rather just hang here for awhile, thanks." In response, I got right after him as soon as I got my leg over and he very quickly became polite and forward, and it carried through our whole ride.

"poor me. i work so hard."

I had him in jump tack so I could do some no stirrup work (which seems like cheating in a dressage saddle) and work on changing the pace within gaits while in half seat. I haven't ridden in jump tack with spurs for quite awhile now. I've felt so loose and insecure with his jump that I didn't want to accidently poke him. Since I wasn't jumping, I strapped them back on and it made a big difference. Collecting and lengthening in half seat in the canter? Easy peasy. Same at the trot.

We worked through the leg yield movements from First....2? and the canter work from Training B. We attempted some trot lengthenings across the diagnol which were his best yet. Admittedly that's not saying much since they've been pretty much nonexistent thus far, but I think they're starting to emerge. And, of course, some truly torturous no stirrup work. Fucking hell, am I a weakling. That's all I have to say about that.

Overall, a really good, obedient ride from Mr Magee. Forward, responsive, cooperative, and productive. Couldn't have asked for more.

I finished by mauling poor Memphis with my clippers. The high of the week was actually today at a balmy 25* so I only gave him a bib clip instead of a trace and then snuggled him into his blanket. He's so adorable. He stood like a statue until I went to take care of his goat beard and the lips starting going. I've never seen a horse so interested in putting things in his mouth in my life. We had a little talk about how running clipper blades are not a smart choice and I stuffed some carrots down his throat.

he looks made because i was waving the end of the
lead rope at him so he would stop trying to eat my phone.

No clue when I'll be out to the barn next. Sarah and I sent a tentative date for Thursday to participate in an activity neither of us is versed in, nor qualified to attempt. We make poor life choices together. I'll be sure to let you guys in on it if it plays out.

Helmet Cam Debut

I stuck my helmet cam on my helmet for the first time Saturday. I only had a flat school planned, but I figured it would take some tweaking to get the angle and mechanics worked out, so why not go ahead and play with it?

There were five other riders in the arena, but it was actually a nice group to ride with and we all quite flawlessly stayed out of each other's way and managed to keep to task. What a relief. Hubby signaled to me from the viewing room that I should tip the camera down more. That did make a difference, but it was still a bit high when looking at the video that night. I'm not going to share any of that video because a) It's boring, and b) I didn't realize how completely useless the software that came with the camera is--you can't edit anything with it, or really do anything but upload and watch. Two thumbs way, way down.

I angled the camera down even more yesterday and while it looks like it's facing the ground, it's actually at the perfect angle now. I took Bobby out on an hour long trail ride where he was incredibly good with the insane wind. He had every reason to lose his mind, but he was completely focused on working. My helmet cover flew off my helmet at one point, and if my helmet didn't fit so well, it probably would have gone flying off, too.

The quality of these videos is fabulous... as long as you're watching on the Contour software. Once uploaded to Youtube, the quality shits the bed. They're also taking an average of two hours to upload which is probably partly my horrible internet's problem, but certainly not the only issue. I'm not happy with the software for this thing. In fact, I'm pretty much disgusted with it.

But anyway, here are some of the clips from that ride:

Our first gallop hill:

Down a hill, bushwhacking, through the creek, across the road, and up the giant monster hill:

Getting hit by the wind the first time. Notice me checking to make sure my helmet cover is still on--it was for the moment, but went flying off later on.

Bobby was pretty sure the roundbale that has been in this field every single time he's been out here was suddenly deadly, but he was brave and walked by it eventually:

We met up with Sarah and Memphis just as they were heading out, so we doubled back and did another thirty minutes with them, including a race head-on into the wind:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Such a dude.

I didn't make it out to the barn yesterday. We got a ton of wet, heavy, disgusting snow that made the roads a complete mess and the Saturn has proven a most unworthy snow vehicle. So I stayed home and watched Youtube videos. And then my bestie sent me this video. Seriously, where do people even come up with this shit?

I did go to the barn today with zero plans or ambitions which suited Robert fine. Also, apparently he blew an abcess?

Hmph. Did not see that coming at all. He wasn't the slightest bit bothered by it.

poke my foot and feed me cookies. durh durh durh.
I longed him a bit, did some in-hand work to get him moving his hindquarters since he's been taking offense to this lately, and then let him loose while I set up a jump chute. I figured he'd roll and walk around a bit, but he just stood there and watched me set things up.

caution: maniac on the loose.
I tried to video him progressing through it, but it was way too much of a pain in the ass. I got one video of him going through the second combination I set up which worked out well because he heard Pilot walking down the trail we went on Tuesday and he went into Prancey Pants mode, showing off why I haven't sold him to the Amish yet--the big beast really is fancy deep down inside.

work it, mr magee!
Maybe when he starts doing this during warm up at shows because he sees other horses jumping I should just let him have at it. We'd have our lengthenings down in no time!

We ended with it maxed out at 4', at which he continually knocked down the front rail just being plain lazy with his knees until I chased him into the chute and he got some speed to it. Then he cleared it fine. That was good for me to see because now I can be like, "We are going so slow. But it's not me, Bobby. It's you!" Well, it's both of us because I can't let him get away with it, but now I know he's just naturally a plug and maybe that will help me with the whole forward motion thing while jumping.

"well hey there, handsome. what do you have to say for yourself?"
I rode him around with his halter and lead rope for awhile afterwards which just made me miss my Red Pony. Some days I feel like I just traded out Bobby for Red and all I have to do is say the word to get Red back. And I really need to cut out tags and re-label all my blankets because this is probably the fourth or fifth time putting Red's old blanket on Bobby has pretty much destroyed me.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Flat work. Always the flat work.

Sarah and I decided last week to do the grid I did with Bobby awhile back on Monday. Since I've nixed jumping in the indoor, I figured I'd just run through the grid as poles only, do some no stirrup work, and build up the oxer for Sarah. Unfortunately, when we got there, everyone else wanted to be riding in the sun and t-shirt weather and there were four people in the indoor. We both agreed to forgo the jumping and we went up to the outdoor to see if it was at all rideable.

look! we're practicing a water jump!
We warmed up at the walk and stood around for awhile until deciding to suck it up and dive into the crowded indoor to get some real work done. It wasn't much fun. I would hate to hurt delicate feelings (Ha! Yeah fucking right. I just don't want to hear about it.), so I'll just say it was a cluster fuck. Total. Cluster. Fuck.

Bobby was heavy, heavy, heavy in my hands at all three gaits and he was unimpressed with my attempts to lighten him up with transistions. We worked a bit on picking up the counter canter from the walk which he found very hard, but we did manage an entire long side before he was like, "This is wrong, lady! Wrong, I tell you!" He was okay changing direction and holding it, but he didn't like the idea of picking it up on his own. I finished with a canter from the correct lead and some stretchy trot which he was really good about--understandably, since his giant head wanted to trail on the ground the whole time.

watching my puppies.

Today was a rider-free arena that I actually didn't mind doing work in. Bobby was much lighter and more forward in his trot work. We did some turns on the forehand and lots of leg yields at the walk. Leg yields at the trot proved our undoing, furthering my belief that his pathetic little hiney is aching somewhere. I quit on the leg yields as Bobby was locking up his equally pathetic and chronically broken neck. I halted him in the middle and we worked on pressure and release on both sides until he was relaxed and willing to give me his face again.

We finished in the arena with some really nice trotting and several canter circles each direction. Since I'm already pretty burnt out on the indoor, I decided to hack up the track alongside the paddocks. Bobby's never been up this path before so he was looking around, but he pretty much ignored the galloping horses on one side and steady traffic on the other.

The best part about this "trail"? It's BO's property so I can ride it during the week! Take that, hunting season!

skye looking for food, kidd and artie racing up behind him.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to be helping Sarah clip Memphis. She may regret asking me.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Ugh, I don't even want to write this post. I don't even want anything to do with ponies today. But I'm going to rip this off, not think any more about it, watch football all day, and start fresh on Monday.

On Wednesday, Bobby warmed up really well with a long and low trot and canter. He's getting a lot more confident in carrying himself. He's warming up with a soft, steady contact and a loose, forward, happy stride. It's a good foundation that we never tapped into last year in our dressage work. We went through the movements, got the scores and moved on, but it wasn't pleasant work for either of us. It's really starting to be, now.

We did run into some stickiness with turns on the forehand and leg yields tracking left.
I realized (fortunately pretty quickly) I was using too much seat and confusing him. I softened my aids and he stopped overreacting.

Our real work was over four canter poles. The very first time, he barged right through me and blew through the poles like they weren't there. I halted him immediately after and made him back a few steps. After that, it was just a matter of making sure I was riding every step and not letting him get away with it. He was fine after that.

He did land with a little buck to the left the first time through, but no change behind. He ended up swapping behind three times overall, but I took the time to trot and sort out the bend and regroup and he stopped doing it.

Friday, I set up four trot poles and four canter poles. He fumbled through the first trot pole, but once I woke up and gave him a half halt just before going in, he was perfect. Same thing through the canter poles. He was landing on the right lead coming through the canter poles through the left, which he also did once on Wednesday. To fix, I weighted my left rein and seat bone a little more. We finished with some sitting trot work.

Yesterday, I went up early to get in a ride before any lessons started. He was just coming in so I let him have a few mouthfuls of grain and then tacked him up. He usually comes in, eats, and then takes a nap so he was not happy. He was dead to my leg and just generally unpleasant. I set up two verticals that could be taken across the diagnol and a vertical to be taken down the centerline. Things very quickly spiraled into what's become the norm for our "jumping" sessions. Right now, we're exactly where we were this time last year with jumping--you know, where it took us six months to canter over a ground pole without major theatrics.

So I'm putting the brakes on jumping until the outdoor is useable again. The indoor is the size of a small dressage arena. My big, long, not particularly quick on his feet horse just can't cope with jumping in it. His horrible jumping is doing me no favors, which means I'm doing him no favors, and we just keep cycling through this misery. I don't even know what it feels like to just canter up to a jump and go over anymore.

I'll let him play in the jump chute every now and then. I'll set up ground poles to run through. I'll ride in my jump tack and do no stirrup work until I feel like my position is stable enough to deal with whatever Bobby throws at me. That will be our "jump school" days. We're going nowhere but backwards right now.

Also, I feel pretty confident saying something is going on in his back end yet again. I'll see if I can get the chiro out soon. If not, he'll just have to wait until his vet visit in early March. No more "jumping" should help out, too.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

And the winner is....

The winner for the giveaway is....

No one! I'm not actually giving away anything. Bitch, please. This is Poor Woman Showing. I don't have money for no t-shirt.

No, I'm just kidding.

The winner is L. Williams!

Actually, it's so strange that it turned out to be number one because every time I watch Live! With Kelly and Michael (because I love Michael Strahan. Don't judge me.), I'm always like, "Pick one! Pick one!" for their giveaways. It seems like the first person always gets shafted. Apparently the number generator agreed.

So email me what you want, the color, size, and where to send this bad boy to, Miss Williams. ( Congrats!

And thanks again everyone for following!

Friday, January 11, 2013


Remember to enter the giveaway contest by 8pm tonight! Any comments posted after 8pm (Eastern time) will not be counted in the drawing.

I have been out to the barn and riding this week, but I'll just do a giant summary post this weekend at some point. I'm currently feeling too lazy. Also, I need to go take my second shower of the day as squatting upside down to clip the belly of my ground-tied Thoroughbred who is watching snow slide off the roof five feet from his face garnered me a hell of a lot of hair down my bra.... but not nearly as much hair as was stuck to my Chapstick covered lips.

Why was I wearing Chapstick while clipping my horse?

Answer: Fuck you.

no more goat beard!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

100 Followers Contest

Alrighty, I think what I'm going to do for the giveaway is just let the winner have their pick of any of the Dapplebay t-shirts or an OTTB t-shirt.

To enter you're going to have to do some sleuthing. In the comments section, I want you to tell me Bobby's race record and how much money he earned while racing. That will involve knowing his registered Jockey Club name (which is right in front of your face, by the way) and knowing how to use the interwebs.

Don't cheat and just copy the person's comment above yours. Or do cheat. I guess I won't be able to tell the difference.

I'll give you until Friday at 8pm to enter. Anyone that comments after that will not be eligible. I'll do the very clever random number drawing thing and announce the winner Saturday.

Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you in case you are the winner.

Thanks for following! Yay, free things!

Monday, January 7, 2013


As in, 100 followers! Fuck yeah! (Dear new followers, This is a swear-friendly blog. You have been warned.) This obviously calls for some celebration, and to me celebration equals buying things. So I'll have a little random drawing giveaway this weekend, but first you guys have to tell me what you want. An OTTB Tee? A Dapplebay tee? A big ass bag of horse treats? An e-high five? Throw me some ideas and I'll see what I can do.

In other news, Sarah and I had a flat school in the freshly dragged, jump free indoor. Bobby was pretty much a boss, although he had a personal LOL when I tried to show Sarah his flying changes. It was more like a flying cross canter fall on your face change. Good old Robert. Never one for class. We did some really solid counter canter work, ten meter canter circles, leg yields, and canter lengthenings.

Aaaand that was about it. At least it was drama free which has not been the trend so far this year--and we're only a week in! Sarah and I set up a grid jumping date for next Monday and I probably won't be jumping him until then. In fact, I probably won't even be riding again until Friday.

To conclude the most boring post yet, I brought my helmet home and installed the camera mount. So fucking pumped to go out on xcountry with it. Here's a helmet cam video of the Training at Bucks (starts at 8:57) so you don't leave feeling entirely jilted of action.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

And Again

I'll give my rides so far this year one thing: consistency. As in, we have been consistently sucking ass with jumps.

I pretty much never jump more than once a week, and if I do, it's only twice a week. However, since Bobby's jumps have been more along the lines of ground poles and jumps so little they may as well be considered ground poles, I made Saturday another jumping ride. I set up a wide-ish 2'6" oxer and left the little 2' vertical up with no intention of going over it. Stupid little jump that hates my soul.

We started off with a really good canter to the right. Thanks again, George.

I've been working really hard mentally to judge Bobby's approach to jumps. Sometimes he is being a serious tool and blowing through me to get to a jump. Sometimes it just feels like it and he's not. So yesterday I was being more lenient and really focusing on what I was feeling. Part of me felt like I was letting him get away with something, but the logical part of me that very rarely pokes through reasoned that he really was jumping just fine.

To the left, he needed quite a bit more leg to get him going forward and I struggled with that the first couple of times, but at least I was aware of it! Usually I'm so oblivious to pace, it's ridiculous.

My plan to finish off was jump from the right, change direction across the diagnol, and jump from the left. Nothing hard because things were going well and Bobby was jumping great. He went over fine to the right, landed cross cantering which I lazily let him get away with since we were about to switch anyway, and then he had the front rail to the left with a knock from a front hoof. I wanted to do it once more so we could end with no rails.

When does that ever work? EVER?!

Came around to the right again. Turned the first corner and he switched behind. Uh uh. That throws him so off balance coming towards a jump, it's not even funny. Switch behind equals guaranteed stutter step and an obnoxiously deep spot. Brought him back to the trot, picked the canter back up, circled, and came again. Again the change behind.

Thus began a fifteen minute epic battle of  "Do not fucking change behind Bobby, so help me God." with the reply of, "Oh, okay. PSYCH!" Now I know this horse is a delicate flower and getting into fights with him usually brings about the downfall of any productivity, but I can only hold his hand for so many things. Last weekend, he was changing behind because of me riding poorly. Not the case yesterday. Since New Farrier put front studs in, he has not had this issue a single other time, and I was making damn sure I was being a very careful rider to not inadvertently shift, bump, or tug him.

Honestly, I didn't even know how to remedy the problem. He changed behind, I instantly stopped him and made him canter again. Over and over and over. And over and over. Eventually, I got him to hold it and we turned in to the jump, jumped it, and immediately praised him and called it quits. What would you guys have done? I really have no idea even now how to handle something like that.

hot mess.
He took no time to stop blowing, but he was lathered and for the only time ever I actually had to be somewhere that night so I rubbed him down, going through three towels, until he was only a little damp on the top of his neck. He goes out at night and it was cold, so as a precaution I just left him in for the night. I'm willing to sacrifice a night of turnout for no sniffles.

This morning, I went in early to make up with him. He had some runny poop in his stall from that morning, so I checked him temp. 99.5 No bigs. I shoved some Probios down his throat with a chaser of peppermints and tacked him up.

We had a lovely fifteen minute dressage school in the indoor. Turns on the forehand and some counterbending at the walk, and focusing on being correct and forward at the trot. We did one circle each way of canter and called it quits. We were both happy with how we did. Thank God.

Then we went out for our Sunday trail ride. We walked on a loose rein the whole time except for a run up our galloping hill. I figured I owed him a little fun. He was quiet but alert and didn't offer a scoot the entire time. He gave the hairy eyeball to some round bales that have been stacked by the trail since the beginning of time, but it was more of a "Hmm. I think I've seen those before, but not covered in snow horse eating lava. Oh, well." instead of a freak out.

Friends again, Mr Magee.

Friday, January 4, 2013

You're the man, George Morris

I know I'm not the only one that's been watching the George Morris trainig sessions in the morings. I also know I'm not the only one that's going to be subjecting their horses to things we learned and think we learned. Sorry, ponies! You're in for a rough couple of weeks until we all fall back into our bad habits again!

Obviously the biggest thing ole George harps on is carrying your hands. Bobby has gotten better about the minimal amount I've been trying this since coming back into work, but it still makes him pissy. Regardless, I pressed on and Smarty Pants Magee resigned himself to it and brought his giant head up as well.

The dressage work we've been doing that's been focusing on getting him more uphill definitely helped. Once he realized I was serious about not dropping my hands in my lap at his request, he settled down and put in a call to his booty to come and join the party. What followed was a round, powerful, bouncing canter. Bobby looked like he fit right in with those giant, fancy warmbloods. Only, you know, still ugly and slightly resembling a mule. Plus he was being ridden by someone in holey black paddock boots, brown half chaps, black breeches, dirty gloves, and a hoodie poking out of a men's hunter green jacket that my braid kept getting stuck in. I am one classy lady, what can I say?

I asked him to do canter to trot to canter transitions with seven strides of each. I had a feeling this might be a bad idea since he's kind of a neurotic, overly sensitive nut bag most of the time, and he doesn't like not doing an exercise right so "correcting" him by bringing him back to the trot potentially posed a problem. Well, it ended up going about how I thought it would.

Me: And canter. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Trot.

Bobby: Ummmm, okay....but I thought we were cantering? OMG, now we're cantering again!

Me: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Trot.


So, uh, that took some time to sort out until he was confident I wasn't trying to kill him or punish him or whatever was going through his anxiety-ridden brain.

We nixed the seven strides and did a circle of each gait. That worked better for him and we changed it up to canter to walk transitions. To the left, he stepped right into the counter canter... which I actually wasn't asking for, but since it was my fault that I didn't take the time to correct the bend, I just rolled with it and sent him on around the arena. He was like, "Mother fucker, how did I get tricked into this?" Even so, the canter remained round and balanced. We made a lap, and I straightened him out entering the long side and asked for a flying change. Wuh-BAM. For all of thirty seconds, we were fancy asses, you guys!! Faaancyyyy.

It happens rarely. Let me bask for a second.

We moved on to cantering at an angle across the diagnol over the ground pole of one of the to-be-verticals I had set out. The first time, he snatched the bit and charged it. I sat him on his ass with a firm, "No, sir!" and came around again. Hands up, leg on, seat light but in the saddle, and firm steady contact. Tah dah! Quiet, rhythmic, easy. We did it several more times just because it was so enjoyable and then had our walk break.

after flat warm up. we hadn't even jumped yet!
I set up an exercise I was sure we would dominate. Here's a teaser: We did not dominate. To the right, it was three trot poles to a vertical. To the left, it was three trot poles to a vertical, one stride to an oxer.

He was not so clever with the trot poles. I obviously ran him through several times with the jumps just as poles, but he saw the jump at the end and clobbered through the poles to get to it. Since that wasn't working out so hot for him, we slowed it down and then came in underpowered and had to put in a bigger effort over the jumps. Balls!

After we got things flowing better and he went through to the right well, and to the left with the oxer still as poles well, I let him take another walk break and then did some more trotting and cantering to get the fancy back. Eh, still didn't really do the magic trick. We finally scrambled through with the oxer well enough that I called it quits. The poor dude did more than enough for the day.

I can't wait to see where this new canter gets us when jumping things we can canter up to. The fact that we're having so many issues over the little things that are technical is very revealing. We're missing a lot of basics, and I kind of like it. Not that I like that they're missing, but I like that I can compile a list of things to work on in the indoor that involves more than dressage.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Two Horses

Bobby had a beasting, ass kicking, stellar dressage school yesterday. In the trot, we did leg yields, counter leg yields, lengthenings across the diagnol and down the long side, and stretching. At the canter, we began to refine the flying changes (he missed behind going from left to right a few times), worked on quieting the simple changes across the diagnol (coming to the trot at X and picking up the new lead at the rail), did the counter canter loop from First 3, started leg yields (killer tracking left leg yielding to the right, not as good the other way), and had fun with lengthenings which he rocks at. Basically, he dominated first level work.

What an about-face, right? Welll kind of. We accomplished all of this because of draw reins. Oh Em Gee, I know. Draw reins are not a daily occurance, new readers. Riding would be so easy if they were. But, again, they're not. So pull your panties out of your ass. The draw reins were a peace offering for a horse I knew was going to be holding a grudge against the tense, frustrating ride we had Tuesday. Yesterday, he got a pat or a neck scratch or a "Good boy!!" every minute of the ride, and Bobby loves to be praised. He ended the ride with his ego stoked. That was worth it for me. Draw reins can go back in the tack trunk.

crappy cell phone pic of the beast heading out to his field.
The second horse was Tripp. BO said to ride him if I felt like it because he needs the work. I don't remember the last time I rode him, but it's been awhile. We know his back/body needs work, and I know his teeth needed to be done when he got in over the summer. They haven't been done yet.

He was ridden western Tuesday, but I left before I saw him go. I threw him on the longe before I got on to warm up his back some and to get some crazies out. He was aware he was on the line, so he wasn't trying to rip my arm out, but he was being a total fruit cake. After fifteen minutes, I got him doing walk-trot transitions both ways and I got on.

I rode him for five minutes before getting off because of his non-stop, violent head flipping. I put him back on the longe with side reins on the loosest hole. He spooked at snow sliding off the roof and jumped forward, hitting himself in the mouth.... at which point he nearly flipped himself over. Awesome. I let him run around for a minute on his own accord before asking for a lap of quiet trot and calling it quits.

Does that not sound like classic teeth problems to you guys?

I told BM how the ride went and she said the girl that had ridden him the day before said he flipped his head the whole ride as well. According to BM, BO's suggestion was a Happy Mouth and a martingale because the barn "help" (we'll use the term loosely for this guy) checked his teeth and said he was fine. We won't go into specifics, but I feel very confident that Mr "Help" has no fucking clue what he's talking about. And, as you can see in the pic, he was in my Happy Mouth. He's going to get put in a martingale and go over backwards on someone. Just my unprofessional opinion.

Little old me, I know nothing though.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Just Bad Riding

Bobby and I kicked off the new year with a not so awesome ride that we ended up really needing. We got back down to the basics--and I mean some absolutely rudimentary fundamentals--to keep myself from ripping my hair out after running back into his Bolt the Fence routine.

 But before all this, I played around with the jumps that were set up super low (about 2'). We worked on jumping at an angle which he has never done before. He clobbered the rail the first couple of times, but once he figured out where to take off from, he had it under his belt.

I tried taking him through the line, but the striding wasn't even sort of measured out (not my doing this time!), and I really don't like jumping lines in the indoor anyway. Instead, Hubby raised the green vertical up to 2'6 for us to fool around with.

Enter Drama Llama. Again. Didn't we all miss him?

We'd come around the corner, turn in towards the jump, he'd swap leads behind, suck back, I'd add leg, he'd take that as his cue to run, and he'd bolt the last stride nearly running into the fence, and we'd bring down the rail because jumping from on top of the jump does not work well. Rinse and repeat. Needless to say, this formula was not getting us anywhere. Of course, being the micro-managing, tunnel vision, easily pissed rider that I am (awesome combination for the type of horse Bobby is, by the way. /sarcasm), I wasn't able to process any of this as we were going through it. I finally stopped and asked Hubby if he could see what the fuck was going on.

Hubby: Well, you're throwing your hands forward as soon as you make the turn, and when you do that he goes faster. You need to hold your hands still.

Me: But he's sucking back so badly around the corner, I have to get him moving more forward.

Hubby: ....okay....Maybe that's what you should be focusing on. Keep the pace through your turn, but don't chuck your hands at his face. Here's a whip. Ass hat.

That Hubby. He sure is a good one!

Hubby knocked the jump down to a ground pole and Bobby and I went back to work. At the walk.

After we walked over it nearly a dozen times (more for a mental Bobby break than anything), we trotted over it. He immediately put the theatrics back on and tried running and jumping over it, so I buried my hands in his neck and counted "one-two one-two" out loud as we went around. That helped both of us work in a rhythm and we were able to switch directions and try again.

From the left, we were able to work on cantering over the pole, focusing on Hubby's advice and not moving my hands an inch while keeping my leg on. Not surprisingly, that worked out swimmingly and we had a very quiet go-round.

Then we switched back to the right and, after walking on a long rein for a few laps to decompress again, we picked up the canter. Here is where the whip came in handy. I bridged my reins, used my wrist to taptaptap him on the shoulder with the whip, and drove him forward with my seat. His head was in my face, his mouth was wide open, and I was riding him like I was humping Joe Flacco (Er, did that secret fantasy just slip out?), but dammit--we stayed in rhythm and cantered over without jumping it or bolting it. Win.

We finished with a quiet, rhythmic canter over an 18" vertical both ways.

Upon reflection, here's a summary of the problems (Of course that's plural! You guys have been around long enough to know that!) that led to all of this:
  1. Not keeping my leg on made him lose the rhythm as we made our turn. He fell out of balance and sucked back, anticipating having to run at the fence to make the distance. I played right into this by...
  2. Giving away all my contact and chasing him into the jump when I should have been focused on maintaining our pace all the way around.
  3. Bobby has closed the chapter on flying changes. He knows them. They're far from perfect, but he understands the cue and will now respond instantly. As I've mentioned in the past, once Bobby knows something, drop it!!!! He gets extremely flustered and anxious when he gets drilled on something. What does this have to do with this exercise? I was very unbalanced myself making that turn and was inadvertantly letting my leg slip back and bump him in the side. Cue flying change. Only Bobby has developed some sense of self preservation and understood he couldn't make the turn and be expected to jump off the wrong lead. So he only switched behind which, of course, unbalanced both of us even more.
  4. For whatever reason, I could not keep my upper body back tracking right yesterday. If I wasn't sitting in my saddle, I was tipped forward onto his neck. Not sure where that came from. It wasn't awesome.
In the end, we did what basically amounted to a green horse/beginner rider lesson. Only it was on my own time, on my not really all that green anymore horse, who was being ridden by someone who knows how to avoid all of the above.

Nothing like a little lesson in humility and humbleness to ring in a new year. Maybe it's secretly a way to kick things off right. Better basics, better foundation, more ass kicking.

Now here are some pictures of my puppies over the weekend so you can depart with happy thoughts.