Saturday, November 30, 2013

5 Day Challenge - Day 5

Once again, thanks to Tracy for creating the 5 Day Challenge! It's kept the ole blog a-rolling while Bobby gets a mini vacation. Make sure you check out the Blogger Gift Exchange and specify that you'd like to be my Secret Santa. By the way, I only asked for a dressage saddle. No bigs, right?

21. Favorite classes to watch

I love watching big jumper classes. Jumpers is one of the few disciplines where I can sit back and just enjoy watching instead of getting a little twitchy to get on my horse and try to emulate what I've just seen. Five and six foot jumps are never in my future, nor is memorizing more than one jump course in a day.

although let's be honest. we'd be puh-retty fucking good at it!

22. What's in your cooler at horse shows?

Oh my god, candy. So. Much. Candy. I pack sandwiches, fruit, chips, granola bars, and gobs of water and Gatorade, but it's all overshadowed by the amount of chocolate I pack. I have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and while that means I should could pack along an orange juice (what I usually go to when I start feeling dizzy), I prefer the instant gratification of a Milky Way. Or ten. But it's only on show days--I'm not advocating unhealthy eating every day!

Okay. Yes I am.

ironically i was super sick this day and clearly gasping for air.
which still doesn't excuse the above jumping picture, but LOLZ.

23. One thing about showing (or riding in general) you wish you could change?

The cost. You don't really need to get paid to put on a show, do you Organizer? Free entries for all!

free ribbons for all!
(i am such an albino.)

24. Your ringside crew

Only Hubby comes to shows with me. Poor Hubby. No one else at my barn events, I'm never going to pay to bring a trainer along with me, and my family is split between Illinois and California. So Hubby gets to tag along with a rub rag, bottle of water, and the camera while simultaneously controlling two dogs (who are fortunately very good show dogs) and dealing with my neuroses. Poor, poor Hubby.

he amuses himself by making the dogs jump the xcountry jumps.

25. Best prizes

What isn't a good prize?! I want ribbons, neck sashes, coolers, saddle pads, money, and even fucking picture frames. Fuck yeah, prizes!

first year as an event pony.
must win more swag!

Friday, November 29, 2013

5 Day Challenge - Day 4

Be on the lookout for a Friday double post for a full update on Robert and his many ailments--including the results of his Lyme test! (Assuming Vet really does call me back....assuming Cornell really does call her back.)

16. One thing you'd like to change about your horse

Um, everything? His pissy attitude? His mental meltdowns when he gets an answer wrong? His sticking stifles? His weak feet? His inability to focus at shows? His inability to focus anywhere? He creepy infatuation with mares years old than him (which includes, but is not limited to, suckling their coolers after they've been worn)?

Noooo. I wouldn't be able to have such a fun blog if I changed anything about Bobby!

straight up besties!

17. Your horse's future

My long (long) term goal for Bobby and myself is completing a Prelim event and showing Second Level dressage. I think he can go further with the dressage (though probably not much further), but soundness-wise, I don't think we'll ever sneak past the 3'7" mark. Which is fine because jumping around an Intermediate cross country course is not something I ever want to do.

although he does like making sure he clears the 4' standards for no reason at all.

18. Your worst show ever

Oh, hey. I already blogged about it!

it looked like we were well prepared to go in, but we weren't.

19. Favorite horse show venue

It's not some fancy multi-million dollar facility, but I love showing at Burgundy Hollow. The atmosphere is always super laid back, the owners and the volunteers are super friendly and helpful, and while the courses can be tricky--especially the stadium--it's the best place to take someone new to eventing.

warming up at burgundy.

20. Your show day routine

Get up super early, turn on Hubby's coffee and stick cinnamon rolls in the oven (the only thing I can force myself to eat so early in the morning), make lunch, and throw the last couple things in the truck. Throw Bobby his grain, hook up the trailer, wrap Bobby's legs, and get him on the trailer making sure to thank him for being such an easy loader.

At the show, I check in with the dogs while Hubby unwraps Bobby. About an hour before my dressage test, I start getting both Bobby and myself dressed. I give us fifteen-twenty minutes to warm up before doing our test. Bobby gets sponged down afterwards and put back on the trailer to eat hay paw while Hubby, the hounds, and I walk the cross country course, take a peak at the stadium course map, and check dressage scores.

I eat lunch and drink a bottle of Gatorade (no kidding) before getting Bobby and I dressed again about twenty minutes before stadium. Warm up quickly, watch at least one rider ride the course before me to memorize it (I've never walked a stadium course before. I think it would confuse me.), and bumble through. Head over to cross country, bumble through that, and head back to the trailer for a sponge down with liniment.

Stuff more food and Gatorade down my throat, wrap Bobby's legs back up, pack up all my scattered crap, and head over the secretary's stand to turn in my pinny and number, pick up my dressage test if I haven't already, check final score, and pick up the appropriate ribbon (because the only time we've finished out of the ribbons is when we haven't finished at all).

Drive home!! Let Bobby romp in the indoor quickly, give him his grain, and chuck him outside for the night. We bring the trailer home so I can unpack it the next day, but all laundry goes in the wash as soon as we're home. Actually, I'm a little OCD and usually the only thing that needs to get done the next day is picking out the poop and dropped hay in the trailer and scrubbing the water buckets.

it's obviously an exhausting day for doggies.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

5 Day Challenge - Day 3

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hubby left for this morning to celebrate with his family while I stayed behind to gorge myself on the leftovers from our dinner last night. An entire chocolate pudding pie to myself? Yes, please. I plan on eating and watching football all day, and maybe sneaking down to the barn at some point if I get brave enough to try my icy driveway in the Saturn.

11. Critique your horse's conformation

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Bobby's conformation is most similar to an angry Brontosaurus. He is not a particularly well put together horse, and he's certainly not a horse you'd do a double-take at walking by.

His head is large and blocky and currently still sporting two small mysterious unicorn horns. His neck is exceptionally long. For the first six years of his life, it also held no muscle or fat and looked like a noodle. It's now thick and muscled, but still twice the length of a normal horse's.

His withers are high, but with his improved topline, they're not as impossible as they once were. His barrel is very typical for his sire's offspring in that it's very large with well sprung ribs that often make him look thinner than he is. His back is only slightly shorter than his neck, and it leads to a weak hind end with a long, flat croup.

He sticks at a true 17 hands (Bring your own stick, bitches. Truth.) with very good bone in his legs. He has long pasterns and shoddy feet--though that's a work in progress!

With proper conditioning and training, I think Bobby is a good example of how a horse's naturally "meh" conformation can be worked around.

because i used his best confo pic yesterday.
also, i think this shows his size well. i'm 5'10" of legs and he doesn't make me look giant.

12. Horse's favorite riding exercise

Bobby's ideal day of riding would be a trail ride that headed to his favorite swimming hole followed by a good blow out in a large field.

happy donkey ears having a romp.

13. Favorite spa day products

I'm a neurotic groomer so my horse rarely needs any extra scrubbing. If I'm going to do a spa day, it involves doling out money to the chiro or one of Bobby's massage ladies.

just another day in the life of a hard working gangster.

14. Three best things about your horse

Ooh. Toughest one yet. Uhhh.....

  1. He
  2. Has
  3. Personality
how we feel about each other 99.9% of the time.

15. Favorite picture of your horse

bobby in the background is usually the best way to make him look attractive.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

5 Day Challenge - Day 2

I managed to do a drive-by at the barn today to pick Bobby's feet, stuff half a dozen peppermints down his throat, and drop off his SmartPark. He did his princess filly whinny to me when I walked into the barn, and before you think it's so cute that my horse greets me upon arrival every day, take note that I usually come in around the time that he's getting his last flake of inside hay for the day thrown to him.

6. Favorite equestrian book and movie

My absolute favorite horse book is Finding My Distance by upper level eventer Julia Wendell. I bought this book a few years ago, just when I was getting started in eventing, and I sat down and read the whole thing through in one day. A few weeks later, I did the same thing. This book is a fascinating, detailed look into what it takes to manage a string of event horses (and racehorses) without being the slightest bit boring or tedious. I'd recommend it for any discipline of rider. It's a total must-read.

My favorite movie is a toss up between National Velvet and the old Phar Lap. They don't make horse movies like they used to. Am I right, or am I right?

my free tee i won from riding warehouse.
hubby's quote: "here, take a picture so you can show your blog."

7. Most common riding misconception

I hate when people pick out a discipline they're not familiar with--such as eventing or racing--and immediately begin pointing fingers at how wrong or abusive it is. Are there bad trainers and bad riders? Absolutely. You can find them in any discipline. But don't make broad, sweeping statements to encompass a sport you know nothing about.

black thunder was not feeling cooperative about posing with her thanksgiving feast.

8. 2 riding strengths and 1 riding weakness

I'm not sure where to go with strengths. Like Tracy, I take instruction well and usually only have to be told to correct something once in lessons.

I'm also usually a very "tight" rider in that I don't come out of the tack easily. I'll credit this to being plunked on top of Red Pony fresh from a month on the farm after being gelded and jumping out of pastures (his fave thing to do in life) and being set loose in our conditioning field in college. Nothing will teach you to sit tall and ride long like a red-headed, coming off of a steroid and horomone high five year old racehorse. I can ride through theatrics pretty well.

My biggest weakness is my short temper. I have to literally just quit and get off once I blow a fuse, because I don't easily come down from a tantrum. Bobby and I are really not a match made in heaven for this reason. We both get pissed too easily.

she pouted when i forced her to stand by her delicious snacks.

9. Least favorite thing about horses and/or riding

The people. Let's face it. Horse people are whack jobs--all of us! While the equestrian community can certainly rally around each other, there are a lot of us that are also catty, jealous, and condescending. It's what makes barn drama so hard core awesome!

then i called her name to get her to stop sulking in the corner and she wrecked her pose again.

10. What do you feed your horse?

I feed the barn grain, which probably won't make you hoof nerds too happy. Oh, well, hoof nerds. Contact me on how to pay for a personal grain choice for Bobby if you're concerned.

Bobby gets unlimited hay--none of the horses in the barn are ever without hay in front of their faces. Barn rule. During the late fall/winter/early spring months, hay is fed outside during turnout (small squares, not round bales). For his AM feeding, he gets 3 quarts of sweet feed mixed with alfalfa pellets, 2 packets of Knox gelatin, one scoop Fat Cat, and one scoop Recovery EQ. For his PM feeding, he gets another 3 quarts of sweet feed and alfalfa pellets.

it took an entire year of tweaking grain amounts and fat supplements
before we found the magic formula for this hard keeper princess.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

5 Day Challenge - Day 1

Tracy started it, and Julie's also doing it, so I'm jumping aboard. The weather is awful out here in ole NE PA, and when you live on a rural road, snow plows put you on the bottom of their list. Barn time will probably be limited this week with continued bad weather forecasted and with the food coma I'm going to put myself in tomorrow. Mm, pie.

Without further ado...

1. Most influential person on your riding

I don't have one specific person that really influences me. However, since moving to my current barn in September of 2011, I've been surrounded by a lot of really gifted riders who have inspired me to put more work into myself, and more specifically into my riding position. I can't afford to be in a lesson program, and that's never been something I've enjoyed, but I'm constantly pushing myself to be better than those around me. Not out of spite, but out of motivation to improve myself and my horse.

i have to do right by my horse.
he's kind of a big deal.

2. Piece of tack you'd love to splurge on

Just like Tracy and Julie, I'd kill to splurge on a saddle. I don't think I've ever even touched a fancy, expensive saddle, but I'd love to go armed into a tack store with a wad of cash (or someone else's credit card) and be able to sit in every dressage saddle under the sun until I found one that made my butt melt. Is there anything better? No.

splurging on these boots would also be acceptable.

3. Top 5 riding playlist

I don't own an ipod or even a fucking walkman, but even if I did, I probably wouldn't be able to listen to music while riding. I zone out way too easily as it is; I don't need to get distracted by music! That said, I have a playlist that I jam to when packing and unpacking for shows that includes Disney greats, Eminem, and Tom Waits. I like all the things. Don't judge.

disney songs came from galloping my school's racehorses while they were home.
nothing calmed them down like a little pocahontas. true story.

4. Most important aspect of your barn?

Turnout. The turnout at my barn is amazing. The fields are mowed regularly, reseeded every spring, and are giant enough that mud only accumulates by the gates and massive run-ins (that are also cleaned regularly). There are enough fields that there are several options for horse pairings and turnout time. Bobby currently goes out with three other horses in a twelve acre field for seventeen hours a day/night.

bobby on the far right. you know, with the giant withers and tiny tail.

5. Three winter riding goals

  1. Become more consistent with lateral work. Sometimes Bobby really gets it, sometimes he really doesn't. 
  2. Jump in the indoor. It can be 2' for all I care. I can't take another winter off of jumping. Not practicing--even if the practice isn't the best--is not going to make either one of us better. 
  3. Don't slack on hill work. I have to keep Bobby's hind end working this winter as well. We definitely started off last spring behind the ball. 
"really? winter goals? watch me go lame."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dressage video

Bobby was almost...spooky today.


Bobby is never spooky.

But the temperature was hovering around twenty degrees this morning with thirty mph wind whipping dried leaves across the roof of the indoor, and Bobby actually twitched a muscle in response and had a neck snake. I had to laugh at him. I don't think he's ever been so reactive to things normal horses would be flipping shit about.

flopped over sideways ears. he takes nothing seriously.

I tried BO's dressage saddle today. It fit Bobby pretty well, but as soon as I swung aboard I knew it was going to be a no-go. I have such a long thigh that the only way to keep my knee behind the small block was to drop my stirrups so far I could barely keep my toe in. I ended up shortening them and letting my knee poke over the flap which resulted in actual bruising on the inside of my leg. Poo.

I started Bobby off in his Micklem since I figured if we were going to ride in a dressage saddle again, he could go in his dressage bridle. Bobby said no. Fortunately, I'd planned ahead and brought his hackamore down and switched him out to that. He was more willing to work after that, but he still started off being a little sassy.

BO made me laugh yesterday when K2 was getting frustrated at Pilot during her lesson, and BO asked us as a whole, "When is it ever the horse's fault?" We all chanted, "Never." BO agreed before pausing and saying, "Well, sometimes it is. Sometimes it's Bobby's fault." I'm glad my horse is beginning to be recognized as the diva he is.


I've been awful with posts rambling on lately, so here are the promised videos of this morning's brief ride:

Counter canter with a very sticky upward transition:

Lateral work to the right. Usually he's better this way, but today he was better to the left. I'm not sure where his neck was going in that haunches in...

To the left. Our shoulder-in is really more of a shoulder-fore ninety percent of the time, especially when someone (or two someones) is feeling frozen. Also, note how our leg yields went from leading too much with the front end to too much with the hind end. Bobby + Carly = consistently inconsistent.

Cantering both ways:

He was feeling pretty stiff today with how frigid it is--and how quickly it got this frigid--so I'm happy with how he went. Always room for improvement though.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

You're Welcome.

I know I just got done extolling Hubby's virtues, but he did something so mean tonight. I got out of the shower and wandered back downstairs and he greeted me with, "So-and-so's coming you should probably put a bra on." I mean, really? What kind of fascist facility does he think he's running here? Rude.

I'm kind of in a self-inflicted state of emotional turmoil. I'm a horse girl. It's a state we're constantly in, I think. I've been working my balls off in the outdoor to get Spyder lighter and more responsive to my seat--mostly at the canter--and I had a great break through with him yesterday. He's so stiff to the right that it's like cantering a board with no steering or brakes. But I worked him through it in his fat snaffle without pulling his face off (thank you, standing martingale), and finished with an amazing trot. I was really happy with my ride, and I was excited to update BO this morning on the work I've done with him this past week.

that foam is from genuinely working, not fussing with his bit for once.

I pulled in early just as BO was headed into the arena to start her first lesson. I went over to lend a hand (she's still recovering from her back surgery, so she's using a walker), and who's in the arena? Spyder. I let it roll off my shoulders since he is BO's horse which means he's supposed to be getting used for lessons. But remember what I said? As soon as I start working with someone, they get ridden more. Once I back off rides, people will back off rides, too. It's magic, I swear.

I got Bobby tacked up instead and went to join the riders in the indoor since the outdoor has been alternately rained on and frozen this week and I knew he wouldn't like the footing. BO went on to teach the girls everything I've been working on with Spyder this week--forget the reins, forget the front end, it's all off the seat, and forward should always be the first answer. It was a pretty thorough dressage lesson for a few hunter girls, and their horses responded well to it....especially Spyder. BO went on to tell the girl riding him that it was the best ride she's ever had on him and he looked amazing. Well, yeah he looked amazing. He was just continuing what he's been doing the past six days!

see? bobby isn't the only one capable of taking awkward pictures.

That kind of irked me, but it really shouldn't because I go out of my way to ride when no one else is around so I don't get in anyone's way. I don't run up to the house and tell BO about my rides, and I'm not the type of person to undermine someone else's riding. The girl was doing a good job--in the segunda and in the indoor where's he's pretty chill. Spyder is a tough ride, and I have to work hard to get the same results she was getting in her lesson. But I'm sure it helped that he'd basically been given a week's worth of training rides and then she was able to show off what he'd learned. Maybe I should have gone up to BO and been like, "This is exactly what I've been doing with him. I hope you realize that I'm progressing his training." But I'm definitely not that type of person either.

Basically, I'm feeling whiny and under-appreciated. Nothing new to see here, folks.

early august picture of bobby being fed by small child.
taken by fellow boarder.

On the plus side, BO did compliment the improvement in Bobby's canter so that was nice to hear. He also made me look like I knew what I was doing by trucking right along quietly and softly and doing everything I asked. Well, except for leg yields. I know I keep saying I'm going to get him massaged or adjusted, but I keep running into other bills. Like, I don't know, a $150 Lyme test and farm call. I'm sitting on a large chunk of money budgeted for Doxy, so maybe I'll get lucky and I won't even have to use it. Maybe?

BO gave me her old Passier dressage saddle after my ride to see if it fit Bobby. I will die and buy it if it does. (And by buy it, I mean tell my parents it's what I want for Christmas this year.) I miss riding in a dressage saddle so badly.

I might have pictures or video tomorrow. The Nikon is on its way back from Geek Squad fulling functioning again, which means some time soon Hubby and I will be doing a family Christmas picture, and it will involve Bobby and lights. I am so excited.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A total whine of a post

Feel free to blow right past this one, folks. Nothing fun or exciting happens in it unless you count me being a whiny whiner britches fun and/or exciting. You'd be the only one.

I was trying to watch Duck Dynasty reruns on the couch with Hubby last night when all of the sudden...


This migraine drop kicked me right in the fucking eye and flattened my ass. I pulled the throw over my head and attempted to tough it out so I could at least listen to redneck hilariousness, but I ended up caving and crawling upstairs to bed at nine. Then I lay wide awake because it was so early and the giant moon was shining like a fucking spotlight directly into the bedroom windows. All I wanted to do was gauge my right eyeball out and inject my brain with Novocaine. Is that too much to ask?

dollar gazing longingly at a grazing bobby over the pasture gate.

My point to that story was that I went to sleep in a foul mood, woke up not at all rested and with a lingering headache, and proceeded to spend the rest of the day in a foul mood.

Also, since when are adults not allowed to throw temper tantrums? Why is that childish behavior? If I want to chuck my shoes across the room and flail my arms around my head while yelling bad words, I feel as though that's my right. My right as a bitchy chick, that is. Sorry, bros. You're just being an asshole if you resort to that.

We still have not reached anything horse related, and since this is a horse blog, I'll get on with it.

giant fro beast.

I decided to ride Spyder first since I figured I could end on a good note with Robert. Okay, what, right?! But trust me. After riding this giant bay OTTB with a piss poor work ethic, it makes me appreciate my giant bay OTTB with a piss poor work ethic way more. Why? Because mine has had a lifetime to realize the ramifications of not doing what he's asked, and he's finally reaching a point in his training where I ask him to do something and he just does it, and he does it correctly. It's a wonderful thing.

I tried yet another bit on Spyder (a big fat single jointed egg butt) and I think it will make a lovely flat bit for him. Not so much on the jumping. He came out raring to go and having to gawp at literally everything that moved.

"since when are there horses out here?!"
"since always, spyder."

I let him walk one lap before sending him off at the trot in an attempt to focus his brain. He settled in fine once he was moving, and gave me some really quiet work without getting busy with his bit. Then it was time for cantering. I thought I'd do him a favor and let him have a canter in half seat like I do with Bobby. Nope. He took immediate advantage and went jetting off, trying to rip the reins from my hands. I ended up running him into the fence to stop him because he had no martingale on (not making that mistake again), and his head was attached to my face while his legs kept churning away.

Listen up, tool bag. We're in a fucking outdoor arena. You are not capable of taking advantage of my mile long legs and velcro butt. I win every time. Suck it.

On that mature note, I slapped his nutty ass on a 20m circle and began the Baby Dressage Horse exercise. With a long rein and the softest of contact, we walked and halted off my seat. Then we trotted and walked off my seat. Then we trotted and halted off my seat. Then we cantered and trotted off my seat. We were a grunting, groaning, half-halting team, and we finally got ourselves on the same page.

artie munching away while we rode.

I thought I'd try doing a little figure eight over the X from the other day at the canter since he was finally being a respectable equine citizen. Nope. I opened my right rein over the fence to give him the hint that we were going to be turning that way on landing and he almost fell over he was so unbalanced. Like, literally almost went down on his side.

Okay, clearly balance is an issue. So we'll take this back a step and go straight on landing and halt at the gate before turning the new direction.

Yeah fucking right.

With just a fat snaffle (remember he was going in a Segunda before this) and no martingale, I had zero control. He landed and wanted to immediately go left (his stronger direction). I'd catch him with my left leg and pull him over with my right rein--because there was no finesse to this, trust me--and he's fling his head in confusion and annoyance and go skittering sideways until I could smash him into the fence to stop him.

It was a lovely sight, I'm sure.

After about a million repetitions, he got the gist and was able to land, halt at the gate, turn the new direction, and trot off relatively sanely.

I have almost no patience for jumping another green horse. I'm finally at the point with Bobby where I feel like we're on the same page over fences, and I don't want to fuck my own head up jumping this 'tard. I'll do my best to put a better flat work foundation on him and that will be my contribution.

derp faces.

To further my whine, my horse is lame. We futzed around the arena at the walk for five minutes before trudging up the hill and grazing for twenty minutes. I took him back to the indoor afterwards and put him on the longe. RF? Probably? Then I spun him on a small circle and made him back up because every now and then in his stall he'll stumble behind and be a second late catching himself--like a neuro horse, or a horse with such bad Lyme that it's starting to present as neuro. But he was totally foot perfect and happy to do what I asked. Stupid Lyme. Hopefully I get my results back tomorrow or Saturday.

it's a hard knock life.

I went on a thorough exploration of his feet back in the barn. Yuuuuck. I neglected to take any pictures, but I'll try to remember to get some tomorrow. I ended up trimming his hind feet and discovered a lovely heel bruise on his right hoof. That foot is about as good as the RF.

The RF was good and bad news. The good news is the thrush in his central sulcus is pretty much gone. That crack is 85% closed up and causing him zero pain. The bad news is the thrush in the rest of his frog is worse. He doesn't shed his frogs himself, so I have to take the hoof knife to them. I hate the hoof knife. However, I cut away a massive portion of frog today. It was a squishy/mealy texture, black, and smelled awful. I cut out everything like that I could and soaked his foot in Oxine for half an hour. I probably could have taken more off, but I'm incapable of wielding the hoof knife properly to get in there all the way. I'm going to ask BM tomorrow if she can help me out.

So Bobby's out for a few days at least. Spyder will be getting boring flat rides in the meantime. I guess it's time to restock my gifs and get to work on more WW posts.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WW: Riding Bobby, as explained by Project Runway

After warming up, starting to ask for some contact:


A little leg yield? A little shoulder in? No?:


What about haunches in to the left?:



Time out for a cat PUMA sighting outside the gate:




Sometimes he gets better after another canter. Sometimes not.


Time to get down to business:



Medium trot:



What about jumping?



Oh, shit. I can't find my new bag of peppermints.


Nevermind. There they are.