Tuesday, April 30, 2013

LOLZ, whut?

Bobby lived his rainy day off to the fullest. He was covered in mud and shavings when I pulled him out of the stall and had clearly had a nibble on one of his bell boots, but all shoes were still attached. Phew.

Even though all Bobby has to do to get put on crossties is step out of his stall and turn in a circle, it usually takes us several minutes to get positioned. There are so many exciting things in that little circle, especially when he's in one of his Touch All the Things mood.

his entire head and neck were in benny's stall. this was after i
yelled at him to leave benny alone.
"the fuck do you want, bro? i'm trying to eat here."
I left him off the crossties since the barn was empty and he amused himself by seeing how far he could fit other horse's lead ropes down his throat before I caught him.

"time out. did i hear the cookies?"
He was feeling fresh when I got on. His walk was so forward and sproingy and hip-shaking that I felt like I should have been dancing a salsa. Naturally that transferred to being kind of a tool starting out and my requests to slow it down a bit were met with a, "lolz, whut?"

He finally settled down at the trot and we went to work. I really want to transfer his dressage work in the indoor to the outdoor this summer. He's so focused and obedient inside, and while he's not bad on the flat in the outdoor, the quality just doesn't carry over. I think part of that is that there are mirrors in the indoor and I'm much quicker to catch a problem with either myself or him, but the other part is that there are so many distractions outside that his brain goes on overload when there isn't a jump in front of his face.

After a nice warm up, we ran through Novice A in preparation for this weekend (and the weekend after--I sold my old vest and sent in the entry this morning!). He was "enthusiastic", but he kept his shit together and didn't set a foot wrong.

He had a walk break and then we tried our trot lengthenings again. He broke into the canter the first couple of times I asked which wasn't surprising with how forward the whole ride was going, but we both kept our cool and he really put in a great effort. For a Thoroughbred, he can be pretty extravagant in his movement, but he's certainly no warmblood. Regardless, the camera will be taking a field trip tomorrow and hopefully I can capture how he's progressing.


We finished with a hack up the hill next to the pastures where we passed BO on her way down the road. She told me there was a trail through the Christmas trees if I could find it, so we set out.

kind of looks like a trail.
However, our "trail" quickly dead ended into trees we couldn't get into. We ended up wandering around a bit until we found a deer path that looped us back to the pastures. Finished off by pouring Kopertox into his RH which was looking a little thrush-y. And by "pouring into his RH" I obviously mean "pouring all over my hand". One day I will invest in latex gloves.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sunday's Ride

Ratio of time spent on housework this weekend to time spent watching Rolex: 0:100. And then Hubby had the nerve to call me outside when the last five riders were stadium jumping to hold the ladder for him so he could get off the roof. Really, Hubby? You sit up there and be quiet until this show is over. Ain't nobody got time for that!

I did go out and see my horse Sunday morning, dragging a half-awake Hubby with me. (I swear he's not abused as he seems, although I did make him go up to the xcountry field with me last weekend when he had a migraine. Poor Hubby. He's well fed if nothing else.)

Bobby and I were alone in the ring when we started off and he was appropriately lazy. Not a plodding sort of lazy, but a "Do work. The end." sort of lazy. Did some w/t/c warm up and then did a few changes across the arena for which he was really lazy.


When we were done warming up BO, BM, and three other people came up to use the round pen to do some ground work with the most gorgeous QH mare ever who was there to work on trailer loading. Bobby was in awe. He could not tear his big, dumb head away from her. We went from boring canter work to fire breathing canter work.

"i am a STALLION, mami! you know you want this!"
going by the round pen. clearly.
I would just like to point out that he was gelded at 2yo. I was there to watch his manliness get tossed onto the roof. But sometimes Bobby Magee channels a little Mighty Magee and his papa was one crazy fuck. After he got some silliness out at the canter and no one gave him so much of a glance, he settled down into work.


For jumping I had set up a 2'9" vertical, 2'6" vertical two strides to a 2'3" that later went up to 2'9" oxer, the gate at 2'9", and the coop which is 2'7". We did the stand alone vertical a few times without incident.

his head is ALWAYS crooked right, even when on a loose rein galloping.
compensating for his neck, maybe?
Then we did the coop and I almost fell off. I was like, "Turn left! Land on your left lead! Here, I'll turn my whole fucking body to the left to show you instead of just my shoulders!" and Bobby was like, "Roger. Turning right." and we almost parted ways mid-air.

directional disagreement.
We got it sorted out after that. And by "we" I mean I pulled my head out of my ass and just rode straight. Works every time. We went through the line next without any problems.


The oxer got bumped up and I celebrated by leaving Bobby hanging and he celebrated by getting a little crooked after the vertical. That was easily resolved again through keeping us straight by keeping my right leg a little stronger against his side.

opening left rein: "stay in the middle, stay in the middle, stay in the middle."
We had a little walk break so I could look at the pictures and do a position review. Urgh. I know my heel creeps up; I mentioned that in a previous post. By my leg is still sneaking back more than I think it is. It's not as bad as it can be for sure, but I want it to stay glued to the girth. It's still too swingy! More squats, more no stirrup work, and more practice will fix it, but I want it fixed now. I have no patience for you, loose leg! I don't even know what the fuck to do about my heels. They collapse to the ground at all other times, but get them over a fence and they're all, "See ya!" Then I saw pictures of Andrew Nicholson stadium jumping and I was like, "Well, fuck. I'm not that bad!" And then I thought to myself, "Self, if you ever get to a 4*, I won't say a thing about where your leg is. But until then, get your shit together."

Moving on.

We finished with the gate which rides at a weird angle off the rail and it takes Robert by surprise. Anything that takes Robert by surprise is clearly very offensive:


I should have asked Hubby to take more videos, but can you guys see how he's not bombing the jump anymore?? There's actually some semblance of rhythm instead of "JUMP!! RUSH THE JUMP!! CHARGE THE JUMP!! HOW FAST CAN WE GET OVER THE JUMP?!"

dangling knees need some grid work soon.

Heels up and leg slipping back, but it's all calm in Bobby Land. Small win.

As we were finishing up jumping, BM's pony came up for a quick lesson and Bobby briefly tried to impress her before deciding she wasn't really his taste.

How we started our ride:

derpin'
How we ended our ride:

"ladies! ladies everywhere!"
He got hosed down, fed loads of cookies, and parked back in front of his hay.


He has today off. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will be dressage rides, Friday off, light jump school Saturday, and then show on Sunday!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Top 5 under 30

My top five favorite blogs with under thirty followers. Let's get that number up, eh? (That was a nod to the Canadians included, eh?)

Eventing in the Great White North

An eventer going Prelim in Alberta Canada with her super hot and super talented OTTB mare Sunny. Always lots of videos (including helmet cam!) and pictures. The posts are well written and detailed, and I like that she doesn't hide her occasional troubles with her mare.

Against My Better Judgement

A Fingerlakes Finest gelding that wears pink like a real man. Seriously, I would probably read this blog even if it all it included was pictures of the Princess River in his outfits. However, she also writes about bringing along an "older" OTTB fresh off the track, and I love seeing how much progress they make.

Forging Fiction

Oh my gosh, I love this blog so much. Exceptionally well written (which is not always the case in blogger land), she writes about bringing along her young OTTB to event with hopes of one day going all the way to the top. Fiction is so talented, and I love reading about him learning his new job.

Team Awesome

An eventing Appy going Prelim? Yes, please. Loaded with pictures in her frequent posts, Holly writes amusing accounts of getting Fleck going at the Prelim level and maintaining optimal soundness to do it. Always interesting jumping and dressage exercises recounted that I like to steal.

Time in the Saddle

Another Canadian! And this one doesn't even event. Jingle is like Bobby's northern Paint counterpart. He's a little naughty, a lot cheeky, but just special enough that his mother adores him. Well written and full of great riding and life stories. It's also fun to read about different disciplines. Who knows? Maybe one day Bobby and I will take up reining. (No. No we won't.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

I will not be defeated by Rolex!

Barn today, no barn tomorrow, barn early Sunday morning. I kind of remembered that I kind of have a show next weekend... and also the weekend after that (money dependent at this point). Guess I better keep chugging away after all. Damn you, Rolex.

poor starving ponies locked off of grass!
until 6:30. don't be fooled.
"you come to me. and you bring me the cookies."
I was all excited to see the jumps had been rearranged in the outdoor so I took a second to put them all up between 2'6" and 3'. I grabbed the naked pony, groomed ten pounds of hair off of him, and got him tacked up. Rode up to the outdoor.... and saw a lesson just starting. And she had knocked all the jumps down to 2'.

BOO.

little tiny jumps.
Oh well. I didn't really want to ride in the indoor and I was already at the gate, so I let myself in and started flatting. Robert rather enjoys having an audience and he went right to work with literally no effort from me. If I wanted him to do it, he did it, no questions asked. It helped that the other horse in the arena was an OTTB mare--Bobby's fave. Hey, girl, heeyyyy!

We did some w/t/stretchy trot/c/canter lengthenings. BO even commented on how much more muscular Bobby looks. Walked around a bit more while lessoner went back and forth over the X, then joined her in some flying changes. Parked it in the corner and watched her and her mare go careening over the line and then snuck in and loped over it like a hunter a few times. I was bummed the jumps were so small, but I was really happy with Bobby for not giving a fuck. Late last year, he was all, "Tiny jump? WATCH ME KILL THIS TINY JUMP!! I JUST SHOWED THAT TINY JUMP!!"

maybe buttercup ears helped channel the calm. poor dude.
We went over the X twice, the gate once (and got a long spot to it), and then finished with a few fabulouso jumps over the coop. Seriously, could this horse and I be any different from last year? Jumping is so easy!! Hopefully I can drag Hubby out for some documentation on Sunday. And then we really must do some dressage work.

riding back to his paddock. such a good pony face.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I kinda think I like it

I originally had grand ideas of giving Bobby today off after his long workout yesterday. Then I thought about it, went outside and felt the sunny 70*, and told myself, "Self, who are you kidding? You think you're going to be doing anything productive for the next four days? Go ride your horse. Watch other people ride their horses for the rest of the week." That Self. She sure knows what's up.

I tacked up a surprisingly chipper Robert and we went back up to the outdoor where I found, both to my dismay and delight, that it had just been dragged. It really needed it and it looked really good, but my lazy ass had to set the jumps back up. I threw Bobby out on grass, reset the jumps in their same boring pattern as yesterday, and caught him again. He was having a pissy fit about invisible bugs and he clocked me so hard on the head with his own giant noggin that I whacked him a good one in the chest. I reached up to finish buckling his bridle and he went flying backwards with his head in the air like, "OMG, YOU BEAT ME! YOU BEAT ME SO HARD!" I let him hit the end of the reins and glared him down until he caved and walked back over. "No? Not falling for it? Ok, let's be friends again."

We did a long warm up on the flat to make up for no dressage rides this week. Leg yields, trot lengthenings (they're on the brink of being legit!), canter lengthenings, counter canter, yada yada. I let him take a breather when Sarah came into the arena so that I could have a laugh at her expense again and then we got to jumping. I'd knocked everything up to a whopping 2'6" with the intention of having everything at least at 3' by our show next weekend.

Jumps we jumped:

No complaints. He did chip in bad to the green jump when I brought him to it alone off the rail and it took him by surprise, and he rubbed the rail on one of the jumps in the two stride hard enough to tip over the 3-legged standard, but overall he was chill and relaxed. I'm actually having fun jumping my horse, you guys! YAY!

I micromanage everything about my life, including riding, so badly that it's hard for me to just sit there and let someone else do the work, but that's really what Bobby needs. He also needs a heavy ass half halt on occasion when he gets the zoomies after a jump, but that's besides the point. We've got the rudimentary shit sorted out now I think. Now I have to remind myself to ask for the right leads over the jumps so I don't have to bother with flying changes (although he's rocking the shit out of those lately as well), and to work on keeping my heel down over jumps. I can feel it creeping up as we go over. I can't, however, feel my leg swinging wildly in the breeze so that's a small win.

I rode in the arena for about forty five minutes and decided to cap it off by a quick trail ride.


We trotted out to the galloping hill, ran up that, and at Sarah's request did a set of conditioning work so she could see where I went for each gait so she didn't have to have a watch to time it. Two minute trot up and downhill, one minute canter uphill and on the flat, one minute walk on the flat. Walked the rest of the way home miles ahead of Memphis. Bobby let him get ahead when we trotted and even for a few seconds while we cantered, but he was not going to let the Dutch Hippo beat him home. Poor Memph.

Bobby was lathered when we were done since his internal temperature seems to run about five thousand degrees hotter than other horses (he seriously breaks into a heavy sweat when he farts too hard). He got a bath and hung out in the sun while I scrubbed my now-white tack clean.

"i would like the cookies now."
Lastly, Bobby would like to send an overseas salute to fellow OTTB Archie:

"hey, dude. let's derp together."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We've ALL still got it!

After dragging serious ass this morning, I got Bobby groomed and tacked up in a record slow time. It was grey and chilly outside and I felt my motivation for jumping quickly fading. I threw Robert out on grass by the round pen and then leaned against the gate for about five minutes, staring at the empty arena. Someone had put all the jumps away to set out a barrel pattern. Nothing wrong with that...except I was feeling lazy enough as it was, and now I had to set up my own jumps? That involves working brain cells to set up something besides a vertical parked in the center of the ring. Les sigh. First world problems.

look out. most exciting course ever.
Everything was set at 2'3". I figured if I was going to try to learn to jump again, I might as well do it at a height that involved minimal effort from my horse. I warmed Bobby up, complete with a butter smooth change, and approached the vertical on the bending line by itself. Light hands, light seat, steady leg, forward pace, flawless execution. Bobby didn't deviate from his pace once. Say what? Came over it a couple more times before adding in the other vertical to complete the bending line. Same easy jump as before. He was a hair crooked to the second jump in the two stride, but on the second round he was spot on and I called it quits on the jumping.

I see the appeal of you classy hunter riders. It's rather nice having a horse not charge and barge his way around a course. I'm sure Bobby thought it was rather nice not having a rider rip his face off while digging her seat bones into his back. Learning curves, folks. Sometimes they're larger than others. It was ballin' to know that I can still jump like a normal human being when I get my stupid head out of my stupid ass. Latent jumping prowess? I'll take it however I can.

Sarah and Memphis joined us as we were warming up. I poked fun at Sarah for looking like a Hunter Princess with her fancy CO helmet with her hair tucked in, fancy tucked in shirt, beige breeches, and tall boots. We are not usually the best dressed people at the barn. She proceeded to show me why she is the Eq Queen when she puts an ounce of effort in and she and Memph made up a course to flaunt their own latent badassery. They've been hanging out with me too long, I think.

bobby was all, "hunter princess? here's some slobber to bring
you back down to earth."
I did a little more flat work with Robert when I was done jumping, including a calm-as-can-be walk to canter counter transition. He did one lap of the ring fine before starting to get a little strung out and heavy. I pushed him through two more laps, but that's something he can use some work on in the future.

Sarah wanted to take Blackberry for a spin so we agreed on a quick trail ride. I let Bobby have a drink of water and some hay while Sarah switched horses. Stuck his dressage bridle on and away we went.

the return of the godfather.
Blackberry was cray cray! He's being leased by a more novice rider so he doesn't get to much more than plug around the arena a few times a week. He was ready to get back into the role of our trusty trail partner again. We had to run up our hill of course. Bobby never, ever wins against B. Quarter Horses, especially angry, highly competitive QHs like this one are far superior sprint rivals to my big, awkward TB. However! B was so busy being a holy terror for his mother that Bobby and I snuck by them at the end. I heard Sarah call out in surprise as we went by. That's what's up. Poor Bobby finally won a legit race. (Memphis doesn't count. Dutch Hippos do not come from racing stock like black QHs.)

Have we finally uncovered Bobby's own latency? The latent racehorse gene? I'm good with any type of forward from this horse. Fingers crossed we have actually gotten ourselves sorted out by our first show. Wouldn't that be a fucking miracle?

We did a good jag of trotting, heading towards the creek where Sarah wanted to see if B would go in it. That's right--Sarah wanted to go down there. Bad decisions are not always on my back. (Can I set that as a tag on this post to always come back to it?) Bobby plowed right in like a good pony, splashing across and turning around to wait on the other side. Thankfully, we turned around just in time to catch B diving his nose to the ground. "Ooh, bank? Bank into the water? There's water? There's grass! Oh, there's my mother in the water."

bobby's like, "there's something not right about this picture."
Sarah rolled right off his shoulder and landed on her back in the stream. Being the good friend that I am, I managed to gasp out between hysterical giggles, "I'm only laughing because I know you're okay!"

i dunno. b looks kind of proud of himself.
Good ole B. Back to his trail riding shenanigans with a bang. Sarah thought it would be a good idea to risk fate and continue on across the road and up the hill. Personally, I thought this was asking to get hit by a car or likewise, but we crossed without incident. Bobby led the way up the monster hill and reminded me at the top that my dressage bridle doesn't lend itself to brakes or steering when out of the arena by refusing to stop and tripping up a little bank into a corn field. He was suitably embarrassed about falling on his face and stopped after that incident. We decided it was best to just head home before one of us died.

That involved going back down the monster hill. I had walked down the hill from the outdoor with my feet kicked out of my stirrups and my reins at the buckle. I had walked down the hill to the creek with one hand on the reins. Today I had my fucking genius cap on and I kept my reins loopy as Bobby headed down. He got a little quick, but I used that oft forgotten aide The Seat to slow him down a bit and we made it down for only the second time ever! We didn't fall off a cliff this time! Winning!

Also winning was Bobby in the company of B. We trotted home with Bobby on a loose rein right next to B who was giving us his best Rabid Llama impression for Bobby's audacity to get within ten feet of his majesty. Much better than his random bitch attitude towards Memphis. No one messes with the Godfather.

I rode him for nearly two hours so as I was grooming him and putting my stuff away, he fell asleep with his head in his feed tub. He must have missed his morning nap. Fortunately, he had plenty of time to get one in before he got turned out. He leads a rough life.

And for Kristen, here's how Bobby reacts to wild horses racing by him:


Monday, April 22, 2013

Troubleshooting

I thought long and hard yesterday about how to best utilize Hubby on his day off. Grid work? Eh. That involves pulling out jumps, measuring distances, hoping the footing is actually acceptable to princess toes after all, and then getting mad because grids never ride as well as I think they should. Certainly not another dressage ride. We've had ten too many of those in the past few days. (Something about that math doesn't pan out.) So by default I was left with the xcountry field. Aw, shucks.

don't worry. maybe one day you can be as cool as us.
I went in with a game plan. Bobby was going to go forward, and I was going to be soft and loopy with my reins while remaining in light seat all the way to the fence, over the fence, and after the fence. You see, dear readers, here is the way my brain started working when I was redelivered this large, questionably intelligent, very green, overly anxious OTTB:

Bobby: Ahoy! Jump ahead! (Sometimes Bobby is a pirate?)

My Brain: Roger. Cantering along, cantering along... we're two strides out... quick! Snatch at his face and grind your seat into his back! Well done!

Bobby: The fuck are you doing?! Do you want me to go faster to the jump? Or do you want me to slow down? WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME BOTH??

My Brain: Fuck, that sucked. Oh well. Let's do it again the exact same way!

Here's how my brain worked with Red:

Red: Jump ahead! Jump ahead! OMG, you're probably not even aiming me at it, but jump ahead!

My Brain: Sit quiet, Red's a boss, you don't need to move an inch. Aaaand we're jumping from about three strides away, but that's alright. Slip the reins, stay quiet, and carry on.

How did this disconnect happen? Honestly, I don't really know. But keep this in mind: I owned Red for six years. We had a long time to figure each other out. I've owned Bobby for two-ish years and I didn't start riding him with intent to do real things with him until last year at which point we started at square one. So if it took me six years to figure out how to ride and jump Red well, two years to make some real adjustments on Bobby is like a record!

Uhh, right?


Anyway, back to the plan. Bobby had been out for a couple of hours by the time I got to the barn so I walked him halfway up the hill to the field and then trotted the rest of the way for warm up. Every time he dropped pace a smidgum, I put my leg on him like he'd just slammed to a stop. Bobby was a little confused about my newfound brains assertiveness, but he agreed to play the new game and marched right along.

We did a couple of logs a couple of times with a loop in my reins, my butt out of the saddle, and a happy, forward horse that didn't change pace once. Blammo. I just fixed my horse. Or, at the very least, I made my horse not hate me as much as usual.

We headed down to the stacked logs on a hill and came up to it uphill. Same thing: forward pace, not-tense horse, even pace. We did it a few times before I was like, "There is one thing missing here: my leg. It's way back there.... in a different county." My stirrups were way too long and I could feel my leg swinging in the breeze over the jump. So I shortened them two holes and felt way more secure.

the noble steed waiting patiently while I shortened my stirrups.

I told Hubby we'd do the oxer and the stacked logs downhill and be done, which pretty much sealed the deal of the next jump not working out. Balls. The oxer is short in length, airy, hard to read, and rickety looking enough that even riders give it the ole "o.O" Bobby was like, "Nope. No thank you." And then Bobby was like, "No thank you? I actually meant to say NO FUCKING WAY." So he had a tantrum, a rather epic tantrum, and we went back to the stacked logs.

but that was good at least!
After he got some more jumping efforts under his belt, I casually trotted him back to the oxer, used my handy dandy legs and handy dandy spurs to keep him straight and forward (Oh ho ho! Who remembers that legs can be used for riding now?) and he went over! I gave him massive praise and called it quits on jumping.

We finished with a victory run up the hill and Bobby cemented the fact that he was much happier this time around than he was when we went out with Sarah and he wanted nothing to do with any of the jumps or with going up the hill because there were jumps on it. Yay, happy (albeit very slow) horse!


Take aways:

  1. I need to make sure my stirrups are appropriately short. No being lazy about checking them.
  2. I need a neck strap because my core is sadly weak right now. Cantering uphill to a jump, I had to grab mane to not lay on Bobby's neck or just park it in the saddle.
  3. I need to keep working on my core strength. I am working on it, but I need to ramp it up. I want to be as strong as my pony!
Lots of jumping practice in my future, but today the hoss has off.

happy horse ears.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

So much dressage

For those curious about massage: I contacted my friend and former fellow boarder F to see how much she charges for massages. She just started her own business doing them again and she's way cheaper than the usual lady I have do Bobby. So when I have the money, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later, I'll bring her out and takes lots of pictures and videos for you guys. I'm sure she can do a better job explaining things than I can.

I didn't get to the barn until mid-afternoon yesterday, but do you know what I accomplished? Getting my mail! Why haven't I been getting my mail? Because the mail lady didn't feel like driving up the driveway to deliver the bundle of mail and the package containing my new vest. True story. I might have flipped a little bit of shit.

such an awkward beast.

I went out to grab the hoss and walked back into the barn to find Bobby's girlfriend Tasha on the crossties. I was like, "Uh oh. I guess I should put him back out!" Fortunately he was easily distracted by me shoving fistfuls of cookies in his face and I quickly tacked, wrapped, and headed down to the indoor. K was just unloading her mare from her trailer and Bobby was like, "O.O" because parked trailers are the devil. Clearly. We were soon joined by Tasha and another rider and K and L got their lesson underway.



The barn is headed to a weekend show, so people started showing up in droves to get horses and the trailers ready, including--wait for it--hooking up the trailers. The audacity! Needless to say, Bobby felt like he was going to spontaneously combust. He wasn't prancing (for once), but I could feel how super tense his whole body was. I tried to get him to trot, but he was having no part of relaxing his back or face. So we walked some more. For a long time. A really long time.

Finally, he settled down a bit and we got to work. I ended up warming him up in the sitting trot to keep him slower with my seat in an attempt to not yank his face off. You're welcome, Robert. His canter was surprisingly fab and by the time we were done, the trailers had been taken care of and Bobby decided the chaos of jumps in the ring + two pretty mares + another rider continuously in our way = warm up at a show and he put his prancing pants on. He was so ridiculously fancy. Every now and then he gives me little peeks that he can be a real dressage horse and I get a bit giddy. Which is good because usually I'm a bit ticked at him. But yesterday he was going around on a feather-light touch, responding to the teeniest, tiniest correction. Own it, pony pants!

He was super sweaty when we were done, so even though it was starting to sprinkle I hosed him down and turned him back out. We were under tornado watch until 11pm, but aside from five minutes of crazy rain, it was the lamest "storm" ever.

"ladies!"
Today was another dressage day because turkey season has started so trails are temporarily off limits and the footing in the outdoor is just bleh lately. Bobby was a bit of a punk warming up, requiring a correction for one thing or another every few strides. He never really hit his stride, but we did accomplish some things. We ran through Novice A to take stock of what we needed to work on: straightness across the diagonals, especially at the free walk; taking up contact right after the free walk and doing quick transitions to trot and then canter without anticipating and trying to go right to the canter; and not launching into the canter at any point.

We did a million transitions from free walk across the diagonal to walk to trot and all start all over again until I got what I wanted. Then we added in the canter and did a million more transitions. I finally had him go through the second half of the test without any massive mistakes or tension. Win!

But I wasn't done with dressage torture yet. Anyone can skate through BN and N A and B. All it requires is 20m trot and canter circles. I want to do at least a T CT this year and definitely First Level dressage so he's got to have some real lengthenings put on him. Bobby wasn't convinced this was a fun game to practice. At all.

He's pretty decent at canter lengthenings, but at the trot he's just like, "Huh?" I asked him down the long side and got almost no response. I asked with more leg and he broke to the canter. Brought him back to the trot and tried again. Bobby vetoed that quickly. "I'M ALREADY TROTTING AND YOU'RE PUTTING LEG ON! THE NEXT GAIT IS THE CANTER! WHY DON'T YOU WANT ME TO CANTER?! WHY ARE YOU SAYING NO? WHY DON'T YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT RIDING?! KABOOM. (<---That would be Bobby's brain exploding.)"

We had a little conversation where I chanted his mantra "Backwards is never the answer, Bobby!" and tried again. Leg on, fingers closed, hands forward, shoulders back. After a slight hesitation, I got a bell boot flapping lengthening and Bobby got a "GOOD BOY!!! You are the smartest pony in the whole entire universe!" His ears went swiveling back to me at a million miles an hour. "Oh? That was the correct answer? Dually noted, crazy rider lady. Dually noted."

Now that he's gotten a real one and received big praise for it, I think he'll catch on quickly. There's nothing Bobby likes more than getting things right. Well, maybe cookies, but one can only eat so many cookies.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hey, I put some news shoes on.

....And suddenly everything is right. Name that song!

Bobby had Monday and Tuesday off. Wednesday I pulled into the barn and found New Farrier there. Woo hoo! I walked and and greeted him with, "Are you ready to kill me yet?" He answered with, "Ha. Ha. Ha. That was a fake laugh, by the way." Ok, that's not what he really said, but that was the gist of it. I gave Bobby a beastly grooming (Naked Horse loves being outside) while Spyder got done and then talked to NF about what the fuck to do about Bobby's amazing propensity to lose shoes.

He decided to square of the toes of the shoes and set them back because he's finally "okay" with how Bobby's hinds look. Hopefully that will keep him from grabbing the fronts off. Dreamer had wrenched a shoe while locked down in her run for the night, and BM was trying to figure out how she did it as she doesn't have hind shoes or enough space to pick up enough speed to hit herself so hard. NF was like, "It's not the eighth wonder of the world. Bobby does that shit every day." Poor Robert.

With new shoes, I threw on dressage tack and went up to the outdoor where we walked for five minutes and  headed down to the indoor. The footing was too wet and deep to work on. Bummer because it was really nice outside. Bobby has recently discovered how much easier leg yielding is when you lead with your shoulder and just let your bum trail behind, so I grabbed a dressage whip and went to work on getting the hind legs to step over.



He caught on right away, but having the whip in my hand was fucking with his delicate psyche and he kept trying to break into the trot every few steps. When we did move on to the trot, he was ignoring my half halts which caused me to get heavy with my hands which then made him go behind the vertical. That was almost a good thing though as every time he did it I remembered to loosen my fingers and soften. After we got some leg yields in the trot, I ditched the whip and ran through Training A.

He was fine until he had to go across the diagnol in canter and he anticipated a flying change. When I asked him for the trot at X, he flew sideways and went up and down. So I calmed him back down, regrouped, and tried again. Much better. Then he had to do the final 15m canter circle and he went flying sideways and went up and down again so fast I lost a stirrup and almost went flying off his side. Really, dude? What's the deal? I sent him back out to the rail and asked him to go at the canter. He did half a dozen laps, I brought him back to a normal canter, asked for the circle, and had no issues. Whatevs, Bobby.

what ponies get to do while i set jumps.
Today I had planned on doing a simple grid: 4 poles 18' apart to eventually be set to small verticals. By the time I got done setting jumps though, I had lost all my motivation. Not even the arrival of my partner in crime (who came bearing new bell boots for Bobby-hallelujah!) brought any excitement.

Got on, warmed up w/t/c, trotted through the poles, and cantered through the poles. Bobby stuttered through at the canter so I asked Sarah to take Memphis through so I could see if it was just my horse being stupid or the jumps were causing the issue. Definitely the jumps. This is why I fucking hate grids. I hate them. Even measuring with a wheel, using a grid from a pro, I can't get them right. I adjusted the two poles causing issues and cantered through once more with okay results. Jumped the tires, jumped the coop, and then parked it in the middle of the ring while Sarah jumped a bit.

After twenty minutes in the ring, we were like, "Fuck it. Let's go on a trail ride." Bobby was super good with Memphis. He let Memph lead up the trail to our galloping hill without going sideways or jigging. Once we got to our hill, I just leaned forward and he jumped into a flat out run. He finally turned his Thoroughbred on! Memphis was waaaay behind us. Now if he can turn his Thoroughbred on while going xcountry, we'll be set.

Bobby led the rest of the way at the walk and as we got closer to where I turn him around to canter during out conditioning sets, he kept glancing back at Memphis to make sure he wasn't going to turn around and take off. He had such a dirty look on his face. Like, "I'm winning this walk race, Memphis, but you better not  try to pull a fast one and get a head start on our running race." Turned the boys around, let them loose, and put massive distance between Memphis again. Where was the go button all these years, pony pants?!

I let him have a long canter out to pull him up, brought him back to the walk, and right away his breathing was back to normal. Boss hoss. I'm glad we're getting fitter.

flash on because it looked cute. so there.
I'll try to get to the barn tomorrow, but I have a long To Do list that involves beating down postal workers to try to find my mail. Three weeks and we still haven't gotten anything but magazines forwarded. Awesome, post office. Let's fight.

Monday, April 15, 2013

XCountry at Burgundy Hollow

Ah, no first outing of the year is ever complete without a little drama, right? Remember last year? We got to the barn early, wrapped Bobby, filled the hay bag and water buckets, and we were on our way. As we pull out of the barn driveway, I glanced back in the mirror and said to Hubby, "Not that I know anything about tires, but the front one on the trailer looks a little wonky--like it's tipped out." Back into the barn driveway we go, unload the horse, and Hubby takes the wheel apart to check the bearing. He says things about it that apparently mean it's fine, but we decide to be on the safe side and stop into Advance Auto on our way to the interstate to grab an extra bearing just in case. I call Michelle at Burgundy Hollow to tell her we'll be an hour late and off we go.

"ponies just want to ru-un."
 
taking off with me. easily controlled. beast.
 
Bobby warmed up strong but obedient, clearly excited to be in wide open spaces with jumps all around him. He did attempt to take off with me a couple of times in the canter after the firs several jumps. He's not quite ready for just his dressage snaffle on xcountry. Especially not anywhere with hills as I was having a lot of trouble picking his giant head up. We had a little w/t/c and then headed over to play in the water.


He stopped at the edge to poke his nose in before walking uneventfully in. Things Bobby the Event Horse could care less about: water, ditches, banks. Things Bobby the Event Horse finds distasteful: everything else. At least he's blasé about the tricky things.



After going in and out of the water a few times, I had him jump the black rails and go through the water, and then added the N pheasant feeder after.


The first time over the feeder, he thought about running out to the left, but decided against it and had a bit of an awkward jump. The second time through he was much better.

"omg, it's a jump! am I supposed to jump it?"
 
normal horse.

After the feeder, we came around and did the grey rails:


 

We did the N roll top once or twice and then continued up the hill to the double barns.


He was a little backed off of the barns. I don't know if it was because I was coming at them from uphill and that made it tricky for him or what, but I just couldn't get him forward enough to get a good jump. He went over them, it just wasn't great by any means.

srsly?


"ermahgerd, I am running up a hill!"



I decided not to press the issue after going over them a few times even though I didn't get the jumps I wanted, and we moved on to the banks--my worst nemesis. You guys should know by now that I loathe anything that involves going downhill. What are banks? Jumping off a fucking hill! Whose bright idea was this?!

walking off the starter bank. clearly terrifying.

I started off with having Bobby walk off the baby bank. No bigs. Bobby doesn't care about banks. Turned around and cantered back up it. Again, no bigs. Then I thought I was being brave by coming back and trotting off of it. So scary, right? Not when you ride the balling-est bank horse ever.

 

From there, I decided to grow a pair and I quickly went from, "Eek! I just walked off the tiny Starter bank!" to "Let's just canter off the BN bank. Let's just trot off the N bank." (Baby steps, kids.) And you know what? I had fun! I had fun going off of banks!!! Who would have ever thought that was possible for me?! Yay, Bobby, for making me brave!


ok, so what if I make the best faces ever? don't be jealous.



Off of that high note, we went across the road to the tables. It was a little bit of a walk from the banks, but not too far. However, it was enough of a stop-and-go for Bobby's easily fried brain that I think he kind of shut himself down a bit.

jumping literally from a stand still

"you will jump this, so help me god."

He performed his favorite "go up and down" instead of forward and while I made him jump them anyway, they were almost from a standstill. Hubby and I brainstormed after several such jumps. Hubby's observation was along the lines of, "He just looks like he's being a dick and doesn't want to do it." Well, clearly. I thought maybe his hips were hurting, but when we were finally all done, I realized he lost a front shoe! Looking through the pictures, he lost it right off the bat so I'd imagine the harder ground (and for all the rain we got last week, it was pretty frickin' firm) that he was going over for the double barns and the tables were really hurting his princess toes. The soft sand for the water and the banks was probably much easier to cope with. Also, he just does not like the stop-start process of a schooling. I'm going to have to do a new game plan the next time we go.


With the need for some flow in mind, I set off to make up my own random course as we went along, only worrying about not halting progress. Refusal? Whatever. Carry on to the next. And so I bring you, dear followers, the Bobby Cross Country Song:


Let's face it. You might not get much out of reading this blog, but you're certain to read about, listen to, and see me humiliate myself. I am not ashamed.

Pictures from the Bobby Cross Country Song:




Then he spooked at a jump:

"PRETTY SURE THIS WASN'T HERE EARLIER!"
pretty sure it was, bobby.

Finally! (!!) (Have you made it this far?) The last thing we did was the bank in and out of the water. Remember me being terrified of hills and banks? No, sir. I wanted to do the bank because I thought it would be fun!


Bobby didn't even blink. "Jump off a bank into water? Why not?"





SO. The take home message from the schooling:
  1. For now, over a hilly course, I have to use the elevator bit.
  2. Steering needs to be worked on like whoa. At 8yo, you'd think he'd have a little better concept. Maybe if I was a little more aggressive with my leg (right, remember that thing?), he'd be straighter.
  3. Speaking of legs, mine stayed in place over pretty much ever jump. Big fucking win.
  4. Forward always needs to be worked on. Always. Maybe if my horse could keep his stupid fucking shoes on, we'd do a little better.
  5. I DID BANKS AND HAD FUN DOING THEM! WHO THE FUCK CARES WHAT ELSE?!
having a friends moment.

But hold the phone. This epic post isn't over yet. We're driving down the bumpiest road in existence (a rather major four lane, I might add) when Hubby goes, "Does that feel like it's riding rough to you?" at the same time I glance back and say, "Um, I think we blew out a tire." Deja vu. Pull onto the shoulder, ditch the blow out, grab the spare.... "Hold on. Why the fuck is the spare flat? We just checked the stupid thing this morning!" We put new tires on our old, old trailer all around last year, using one of the old still usable tires as a spare. We have old, shitty things. We work hard to maintain them so our old, shitty things last forever. Needless to say, neither one of us was happy to lose two tires in one fell swoop.

We had to do something though. Hubby called everyone, but no one was open on a Sunday afternoon. Hubby put on our mysteriously flat spare and crawled the three miles to the next exit where we parked and unloaded the thrashing Mr Magee. He trailers like a dream as long as we're moving. He doesn't like being in the trailer when it's parked.


I shoved electrolytes down his throat, fed him half a bottle of Tums (My probios was in my locker. Don't judge.), and let him graze while I called AAA who informed me my trailer was only covered if it had living quarters. Actually, AAA, I will probably be living in this thing overnight if someone doesn't bring us a tire! Does that count?! I did get a number for a company that does RV towing so we called them and they came out to assess the situation. Three hours after the initial blow out, Bobby had eaten two flakes of hay, drank an entire bucket of water, and hot walked himself in circles around me as I sat on a rock in the random driveway we were parked in. Not once did he call out or get wild. Way to stay cool, Robert.

Karl's Towing saves the day.

The guy took Hubby back to the shop where he gave us two really nice used tires for $75 and didn't charge us for the call thanks to AAA. At 5:30, we were finally back on the road.

tired puppies on the ride home.

At 6:45, we were back at the barn where Bobby got fed, unwrapped, and turned out with a boot on his naked foot to wait for the farrier to come and yell at me for not being able to keep my horse's shoes on. What're you gonna do?