Saturday, July 27, 2013

Whoops, we jumped!

Yesterday I convinced myself I could sneak in a quick flat in the indoor. I had to drop off my board check anyway, so I got Bobby squeaky clean and bent down to pick his feet. "Hmm. Why did he put this shoe on so weird? Did he do that--hold on. Why are there only three nails in here?" And then I pulled his LH shoe off since it was trying to part ways anyway. Awesome. NF will be here next week...sometime. Hopefully while I'm gone so I can get right to work Thursday.

ninety percent of the time i walk into the barn, this is what i find.
dude loves his naps.

I went down this morning to make sure everything was in order for me to leave, I dropped off clean polos.....and I rode. Whoops. The LF was a little loose, but not jangling/ nails ready to pop out loose and I don't mind riding with a back shoe gone. So I tacked up with the plan to w/t maybe canter around the outdoor.

clearly an exhausting proposition.

I put him on his circle and we did our transitions, but with so much stretch I was having to hide my giddiness from J who was brush hogging the field right next to us. I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm a little batty as it is, so giggling to myself when alone in a giant arena was not going to help my cause. But yay stretch!

Then I was like, "I dunno, Robert. You feel puh-retty good to me, and there's a whole course of baby jumps set up..." Then we jumped all the things. Whoops.

dayum. do you follow?

Two medium sized cross rails, one 2' vertical in the three stride line (that actually rode in three because Bobby was loping along "jumping" these as a canter stride), the picket fence (2'3", the grey line), and a 2'6" vertical (the black line). No refusals, no rails, no fuss--which is as it should be for such tiny fences, but he was in a bit with no martingale. We'll call that a win, bitches.

"bobby, pose!"
"no, i do not know that word."

To finish our daily nonsense, inspired by Yankee, I tried to get Bobby to take his between-the-legs carrot stretch down to a full bow. He was so confused.

Me: Come and get the cookiez!

Bobby: Yayyy! I lovez the cookiez!

Me: Now bend this left leg a little more...

Bobby: LOLZ, my legz. They do the funny things.

Me: Bobby--

Bobby: I almost fell over! Where iz the cookiez?

Me: Right here, stupid. A for effort, F- for brains.

"you put your left foot here, and your right foot there."
"wait. say what?!"

So that will need work.....

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Circles

Time out.

Who wants to hear some shocking news?

Bobby has a loose front shoe.

Shut the fuck up, right?! Apparently BO put in a call to NF this morning and I'm hoping he'll magically appear tomorrow and we'll magically only lose one day of scheduled work. Chances are though, his four days of vacation before next weekend's show will be six days. Eh, who needs preparation anyway?

So far this week, I've been sticking to a consistent warm up for Bobby and he's seemed to work well with it. Big, marching walk all around the arena, and then onto the circle for lots of transitions between all three gaits with as little hand as possible. He's really good during this, and he's been responding so well to my seat and ensuing half halts later on in our work.

ladies! we stopped to say hello on our way back.

After a walk break where I ask him to stretch down (Must. Dominate. Free walk.), we go to work on building up "collection". We're not piaffe-ing here, folks--it's carrying himself in a more uphill frame and making his butt follow suit. After Monday's initial "Fuck you, lady. I'm going to....slowly...submit and...fuck, I'll just do it." conversation, he's stepped into working where I want him like the smarty pants he occasionally is. Today he even offered to stretch down while trotting! I had a little happy dance and praised him like he was a fucking genius before he lost focus and turned into a llama. Maybe we'll get there one day?

 Our trail ride yesterday was a good break, and we went scampering down the Monster Hill like it was no big deal. Did I secretly want to wet myself? Of course. But I acted like it was super fun and Bobby managed not to fall off a cliff this time.

warning: danger ahead!

Also, we almost ran over a baby skunk and while I know they're not capable of spraying at that age, who wants to find out if mummy is nearby? Not I!

With the farrier's status in-air at the moment, I'm not sure when the next ride will be. Hopefully Saturday at the latest.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Riding Fails

Monday

Monday marked the return of a week of pony land before Bobby gets more unneeded time off. I decided to kick us off with a dressage school to hopefully set the foundation for basic things like control and...you know, control.

Bobby picked up the trot pretty strung out and disorganized, so I put him on a circle and made him do lots of short transitions between all three gaits. Just as we began, one of the dad's that had dropped his daughter off for camp come over to the gate to watch with his other daughter. Bobby was like, "Adoring fans!" and turned in some really relaxed but sharp transitions. If only he could carry that mentality over to shows. Adoring fans turn into potential horse-beaters. Or something. Dick.



He put in two really nice flying changes in each direction, and then got a bit flustered when I asked him to do a counter canter serpentine. I ran him through it at the trot which settled him and he got it the next time through at the canter. Must do more counter canter work!

I thought I might finish with some stretchy trot work, and asked him to start stretching down at the walk. He actually did pretty well at the walk, but he is so incapable of carrying it over at the trot. This horse just doesn't like to stretch down. He'll stretch out all day long--to charge you with his unicorn horn, I guess--but even walking on a loose rein after working, he won't stretch down unless actively being asked. When your withers are confused with a skyscraper and your neck naturally juts out a thousand miles above them, stretching down is not your cup of tea. Which really sucks, by the way.



I gave up on that since it was just making me frustrated and we were accomplishing nothing, and I asked him finish back on the circle at the trot. At that point he was pissed at me and decided he didn't know what my outside rein or leg were. He alternated between leaning, pulling, ignoring, or being heavy in general--almost all of this done against my left side where I have a bum knee and bum shoulder. I was exhausted trying to correct him, and it didn't help that I'd wallop him with my legs and he wouldn't acknowledge me.

I finally got him over-bent at the walk so that when I asked him to trot, I was able to soften and had him right where I wanted him. I made sure to tell him how brilliant he was with every stride and he relaxed enough to do one really nice circle. I turned him loose across the diagonal and since he was using himself for realz, he covered the distance in about two strides. Srsly.

Tuesday


We haven't jumped since our show a little more than two weeks ago, which at this point seems about par for the course, so I trekked up to the outdoor to set up fences. The arena had been dragged yesterday and then got rained on so it was awesome footing, but all the standards and poles were on the other side of the fence. I was sweating my bum off throwing everything over and ended up with only a 3' vertical on the diagonal and a 3 stride line with a 2'6 vertical and a 2'9 oxer.

Bobby was hunting around for jumps as I cantered him in circles around the arena. I took that as a good sign and turned him off the rail to the 2'6 vertical in the line to jump it from an angle. No big, he's done that before.

Oh, jeeze. We almost died.

I didn't give him a good approach to it, but he didn't seem concerned. However, as we got closer, I saw how close to the standard we were (aka, I was about to be on top of it) and we both quit. Then Bobby was all, "No, we always jump the fences! It's not like this lady knows what she's doing anyway." And it wasn't like a "stopnogo!" moment. It was a "Aaaand stop at the jump. Hmm. Maybe I should jump it after all. Yep. Definitely should. Here we go!"

He went straight up with his chest practically touching the rail of the jump, brought his front legs over, thought better of trying to heave both me and his end over from a complete standstill and brought his front end down right on top of the jump. He got tangled in the pole, and brought pole and standards and us down in one fell swoop. My feet were literally flat against the ground. I was like O.O and he was like O.o before standing up and stepping out of the mess.

I got off to make sure neither one of us had died, wiped the dirt off of Bobby's face and ears (I don't even know), and reset the jump as an X, making sure to tell him he was a good boy even though I was thinking what a dumb boy he was.

There's a fine line between having an honest horse, and having a dumb horse. I appreciate that Bobby has this mindset that he must always make it to the other side. However, we're going to get to a cross country fence one of these days that's going to result in a hung leg and a serious accident. It's like, do I teach my horse to stop in front of jumps? That seems counterproductive, but dying isn't exactly appealing either.


After that, things went smoothly, although let's be honest--we could only go up from there (no pun intended). I put him on a circle over the X, changed direction and did the line in a forward two instead of the measured three (whatev, Bobby), and got the perfect distance to the vertical on the diagonal every time. We finished with the line to a tight rollback to the single vertical twice.

Tomorrow is a trail ride that will possibly be kicked off with a longe in side reins. We've got a lot of work to shove into one week, despite seeming like being unprepared is what we're all about.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Reunion of Madness

Saturday's family reunion did not disappoint.

Late arrivals? Check.

Useless, self-centered, no-longer-pregnant-but-life-is-still-so-hard-for-me in-laws? Check.

Complete lack of communication and organization? Check.

Intense need to punch someone in the face? Oh, fuck. Double check.

at least there were pretty water falls.


The original plan had been for people to start arriving to help with set up at 9:30. That meant that Hubby and I showed up at 10. We set our stuff up in the empty pavilion, waited around for ten minutes, and drove up to Hubby's family's campsite. We finally got them wrangled down there around 10:30, unloaded their copious amounts of shit, and set up by ourselves because they hadn't even eaten breakfast yet.

Around 1, the guy that apparently has to do the grilling had just showed up and the charcoal wasn't even going yet. Since we left our dogs in the house, and it didn't look like things were going to start picking up any time soon, we drove back home and returned around 1:30 with them. They had just finished grilling. 9:30 what?

This was the theme for the whole day. This, and "Oh em gee, I have a baby now. Hold it! Feed it! Take its picture! Tell me how wonderful it is!" Hubby likes kids. I hate babies. Sorry, babies, but I hate you. Hubby's mom was all, "Get in the picture with It and Hubby!" and I was all, "Step the fuck off. Get that thing away from me."

yeah right, hubby. never happening. ever.
And while we're on the subject of this baby, obviously its name is not It. It's Grahm. "Hold on," you say. "You've spelled that wrong." No. No. Sadly no. It's mom is just that clever.

To escape the majority of Hubby's extended family, we went on a five mile hike. I was feeling like a beast jetting up the sides of waterfalls on "stairs". My 100 squats a day have really made my legs stronger--at least if I have to climb waterfalls. It's debatable how much stronger they are in my saddle.

We got back around 5:30 and agreed as a group that we'd leave no later than 6:15 for the rodeo. That translated to missing dinner (as if they'd have dinner going by then), and of course not leaving until 6:45. Hubby's family is so incapable of doing anything on time that I literally feel like shaking people. And then leaving them behind.


We made it to the rodeo at the exact minute it started and got lucky to find enough seating to fit six people. We watched the opening ceremonies, watched a saddle bronc rider get hung up and clobbered in the back of the head (he was down for about five minutes, but got back on later that night for a bull ride--with a helmet on), and watched the steer wrestling before the first of the horrible intermission acts.

dude that got wrecked.



I attempted to watch this nonsense of a "Native American" performer and his two paint horses go at liberty. Instead, I went to get milkshakes and funnel cake. This guy's training was horrible. His horses weren't paying attention to him, they didn't look happy with their jobs, and his spanish walk was accomplished by smacking his horse under the chin while simultaneously yanking on his reins. It was awful to watch. 

at liberty/led in with chains over their noses. 
We ended the night watching NF kill it on his harmonica with his band that was playing at the rodeo that night. Who knew NF was such a bad ass? He was amazing!

the frank wicher band--awesome!

Sunday, we were forced back to the state park for more bonding time. I ended up with really classy tank top and bikini halter top tan lines. Unfortunately, my legs didn't get the tanning message. You could put those albino inspired appendages on the sun and they wouldn't even turn pink. I think it's a sign from the gods that I was meant to be an equestrian. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Hubby and I somehow managed to keep his smaller immediate family on track and after lunch, a swim, and icecream, we gave them a brief tour of our house and sent them on their way. The only problem was that I forgot to ask Hubby's brother for the GVRDC show pictures. Grr. They were within my grasp! Hopefully, since it's been over a month, my constant nagging will produce them before too long. 

Overall? Could have been worse. But keep in mind that I have four days of vacation with them in NY this weekend. Um, yay?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Return to Light Saddles Land

welcome to july.
Bobby spent the last two days sweating, getting hosed off, being fed cookies, and groping young girls outside his stall. Best short vacation ever? If you're into that sort of thing, I guess so. The wild western horse got reintroduced to his Micklem and english saddle this morning, and we went down to the indoor for a 7am dressage school.

The idea was to beat the heat, but even that early it was already 76*, and climbing quickly. The weather guys are all, "Yay, rain and a cool down tomorrow!" Meanwhile, I'm all, "Bitch, please. 86* and thunderstorms do not count as a fucking cool down. Where's the snow?"

Bobby tooled around at the walk like a complete slug, but picked up a bit more bounce at the trot. L pulled in for a lesson, so I decided I should probably be more proactive about getting real work done before she came in. I let him catch his breath before asking for the canter.

HA.

"WTF is a canter?" asks Bobby.

He went careening around like a drunkard with his head in the air and no semblance of balance or straightness or connection anywhere in sight.

like this, only we're probably going straighter in this picture.

After trying unsuccessfully to fix that hot mess while remaining in the canter, we went back to the walk and then the sitting trot. That got him to piece together the back end and the front end, and the canter was way better afterwards. Still not very good, but at least it was something I could work with. We spent the next ten minutes going both directions trying to stay balanced and rhythmical with mixed success. He got another breather, and we finished with more sitting trot doing circles and lengthenings across the diagonal.

I sent in an entry this morning for another CT half an hour from our house. Who knew they even existed so close?! Thanks to Barn Mom T for getting me the info! The show's on the 4th which, despite going on vacation from the 28th-31st, should give Sir Robert plenty of time to come down off his gaming horse high and remember what things like square halts and downward transitions are.

He'll have the weekend off as I'm forced to spend more bonding time with Hubby's family--his entire family at their annual family reunion. Remember last year? At least this time around it's being held down the road from us and I can make the, "Oops, better go let the dogs out....for the next four hours." excuse.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Benton Rodeo Fun Show

Oh. My. Gosh.

Bobby Magee is the most bad ass gaming OTTB you will ever see in all of northeastern PA.

"excuse me, i have business to attend to. please stop taking my picture."

I don't think this horse has ever had so much fun doing something before in his life. No repercussions if he didn't do something perfectly, all his best friends got to hang out ringside with him, he got to share a trailer ride with The Godfather ("OMG, hi best friend! Hiii!!!! We're going someplace together! Isn't that so exciting?! We're going to have so much fun! I love friends! I love going places! We're friends that go places together! Hiiiii!!!!"), and he got to run as fast as he wanted across the arena. What more could a horse ask for?

Well, he probably would have asked not to be dressed head-to-toe in neon orange, but he can't have everything.

Warm up

Somehow Sarah and I ended up with nearly matching light orange shirts that we bought at two separate Tractor Supply stores. Great minds think alike? More like Sarah's shirt was the only one in her size, and I was committed to our gaudy orange look. Regardless, I give you Team Peach:

we're not in english land anymore.

None of the barn's horses were concerned about the crowded warm up, although I was a little confused about why ninety percent of the riders were only going left. The other ten percent were too busy spinning around in circles to track in any direction.

practicing a turn.

We did a brief w/t/c before heading back to the trailer since neither B or Bobby seemed the least bit concerned about where they were. On our way out, a bitch woman was coming in and was like, "Jesus, it isn't National Helmet Awareness Day!" I was actually pleasantly surprised at how many other kids had on helmets besides our barn (which runs a strict "Every ride, every time" rule). A random guy was walking by just as this most pleasant of women made that remark and he was like, "Every day is helmet awareness day if you don't want to break your skull open." To which wonderful woman replied, "Ha! I'm willing to take that chance!" Good for you, lady. That's a great stance to take, and you clearly have really good reasoning behind it.

we'll take our helmets, thanks very much.

Sarah and I did a milkshake and bathroom run before gathering up her boyfriend and mom and heading back to the trailer to get the boys ready for keyhole.

Keyhole

Keyhole is the most basic concept ever: Run straight down, pass between two cones/barrels/flags (cones in our case), turn around, and run back. Fastest time wins. This is super easy if you have a horse that a) stops, b) turns, and c) will go straight.

On Monday, when I was practicing with the camp kids, I still had Bobby in the slow twist loose ring, with a tie down added. He still had zero brakes. BO gave me a slightly horrified look as I ran my horse into the fence to stop him, and kindly suggested adding my hackamore on top of the bit. That reminded me that I had a rather beastly contraption lurking in the bottom of one of my tack trunks from a brute of a horse I had many years ago, and I pulled that on to try on Bobby the morning of the show. This thing is a monster, but I had brakes, and I had steering, and Bobby didn't seem offended by it in the slightest. I guess if you're a wild western horse, you're okay with wearing wild western bits.


Bobby walked calmly into the chute for his turn, something that half the camp horses that have been doing this show for years couldn't manage (I got a good warm up running horses down to the gate, the punks), and took off down the arena like he'd been doing it forever. Then he saw the cones and was like, "Huh? Let's just go around them." while I was like, "Don't you get us fucking eliminated!" That slowed our time as I straightened him out, and then he was like, "My feet! Hold on, what are they doing? Why are my legs so long?!" before we got turned around and moving again. We ended up with a 12-something that certainly didn't put us near the top, but it wasn't an embarrassment either! For comparison, the wild great Blackberry came in with an 11.2. He may not have the stop and go power of a QH, but when your legs are this long, it doesn't really matter.


Sarah and I probably looked liked idiots as we high fived and cheered each other's runs, but who cares? That's what fun shows are all about, right?

I was the second rider in our age division and Sarah was the third, so we had to wait for the rest our group to go, and then barrels had to get set up and the peewee and junior groups had to run through before we went again. So back to the trailer for another sponge down, some grass for the ponies, and funnel cake for me.

Barrels

Barrels were not running so well for our barn. I think I led in four horses this time around out of the eight that we took (not including Bobby and B), and out of those four, the one that did the best in the ring was four year old Pilot on his first ever off-grounds experience. The one that did the worst was old man Silver who spooked at the barrels like he'd never seen them before, even though he's been going to this show for years. Fortunately, none of the girls seemed to be too upset, and we all had fun cheering for everyone.

baby pilot being a total rock star!

Obviously barrels took a lot longer to run through than keyhole, and then they had to drag the ring right before our division started, so we didn't end up going in until 10:30 at night. I was ready to fall asleep, but I had Blackberry to keep me awake. He's been to this show before, too, and he clearly knew what the next step was. He was being the biggest douche bag, and I ended up having to pony him off of Bobby around in circles for half an hour while we waited. Pony a Quarter Horse off my Thoroughbred in the middle of his first rodeo? My horse is the best.


Bobby marched right down the nearly pitch black chute without a moment's hesitation, and the second I touched him with my legs, he was gone.

Bobby: YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE'RE RUNNING!!!!

Me: Bobby, head right!

Bobby: YEAHHHHH!!! THERE ARE BARRELS!!!! I WANT TO DO THEM ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!!!

Me: Bobby! Right! We go right!

Bobby: Whew! Got that out of my system! Let's get down to business!

You guys, I could almost cry with pride over how well this horse did. Could he have gone faster? Yes. Would he have gone faster if I had let him? Absolutely. But it took me the whole ride to sink in how amazingly he turned those barrels, and as I was riding, all I was thinking was, "Don't let him get too fast so you don't have to pull on this bit if he blows the turns."

But watch the video. He hugged those barrels like this was something he'd been trained on his entire life. I literally could not have asked him to turn them better.


And when we were done, he calmly walked back into the chute, we collected the crazy Blackberry, ponied him in, and turned him loose.


We ended up with a time of 23.15, and Sarah held the lead for awhile with a 21. It's not stupid fast obviously, but the fastest time of anyone the entire night was in the 16s. For being such a huge horse--he was the tallest horse there, and people kept commenting on his size--he got the motor running as best as he could for a short distance, and he never once lost his cool.

Best $5 ever spent, and we are totally going to be on the lookout for another gymkhana in the future.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Take Me to the Rodeo

Are you giddy with excitement from the title yet?

No?


Well, you'll have to wait a bit longer to get there. First up is a Spyder Pants summary.

Spyder and Bobby both had Thursday off (which Bobby really didn't need, but I just couldn't get down there), but on Friday I pulled the big lug in from his paddock and set about making him look presentable. It's a little annoying that the girl that considers him "hers" can't even bother giving him a bridle path unless there's a show on the immediate horizon. Whatevs. He's now sporting a freshly pulled mane and banged tail and his bridle fits over his head. On the manners front, he was quite good for the whole ordeal, especially since I made him stand in the courtyard while the wash stall was being used.

not from friday, but the sharp looking lug head regardless.
His warm up was really pleasant, so I decided to run him through BN A--the most remedial eventing test ever. It's a trot circle and a canter circle at one end of the arena, walk across the diagnol, and another trot and canter circle at the opposite end. He was doing well up until the final canter circle (although his free walk was nonexistent) which of course was at his "I'm a retard" corner.

He picked up the canter, started the circle, and away we went to the other end of the ring, facing the opposite direction we started in. He got a pony club kick (or two or three) and put right back onto the circle. I was ready for him the second time he did it and caught his booty with my whip as he started diving over, and we were able to finish with two circles in a row without incident and a rather lovely halt at X. Afterwards, he stood like a rock to get hosed down, which I was more pleased with than his under saddle work.

happy, brave horse in the outdoor.

He was ridden by S on Saturday, but I was really pleased to be greeted by BO when I walked in to ride Bobby and she told me that Spyder had been absolutely perfect for his lesson that morning. She said she liked the new bit (It's a segunda, guys. Drop dead, I know. BM brought me a hunter dee with a french link to transition him to eventually, so it won't be his bit forever.), and to keep riding him because it's doing him good. I was like, "Yay, me!" Then I continued into the barn and was greeted by S with, "Carly, Spyder was soo good today!" I'm glad my manners boot camp is paying off. He goes to a show next weekend so hopefully he'll continue being sensible.

Today, Hubby got to play on Bobby with Sarah and Blackberry and I took Spyder up to the outdoor with them. I don't know the last time he's been up there; BO has been teaching the majority of her lessons in the indoor this summer because it's either melting or pouring. The last time he's been out there may very well have been last fall. I put him on the longe and he plodded along at the trot for a few laps without fuss so I just got on.

He took a peek at the piles of standards and poles, but he didn't spook at anything and trotted around like a complete gentleman. I put him on a circle to canter him and he didn't try to blow through my outside leg once. Good pony! His canter to trot transitions still need some work as I'd really like him going completely off my seat and he's not quite there yet for that transition. I parked him off to the side watch Hubby and Bobby go careening around the ring and he stood like a rock the whole time.

spyder trying to figure out wtf is going on behind him.

being a very brave boy while hubby swung the rope. he had one baby scoot
and that was it.

We did have to have one more discussion about manners when I stopped to drop my gloves in the barn and he ran right over me. I yelled at him and reached back to smack him in the chest, but the yelling scared him so much that he'd already jumped backwards out of reach. He looked chastised enough so I left it at that.

Now for Robert. Bobby has been in his own boot camp: flying change boot camp. He's been doing them on a figure eight on the short side of the arena for the past several days because.....

Bobby's going to the rodeo Tuesday!

It's just a fun show before the professional rodeo starts, but he's still going to get to do barrels and keyhole. I'm a little bit excited about this. I haven't barrel raced since Red and I'd forgotten how much fun it is. Especially when your horse actually listens to you, and Red never made any pretense about that. Red's idea of barrel racing was, "I'll turn, but you better be hanging on because my favorite part--taking off with you--is coming up!"

hubby has fun around barrels.


At this point, Bobby was pushing three weeks of collective time off and he has been taking this new gaming side of himself way too seriously. I tried my happy mouth dee on him first and had literally no brakes--I had to turn him into the fence to stop him multiple times. I put a short shanked tom thumb on him Saturday and had no steering and still questionable brakes. Today, I put the slow twist loose ring on him and he was very good at steering and almost stoppable. Almost.

I've found that keyhole, while being totally simple in theory, is really fucking hard. However, Bobby seems to have really taken to the barrels and he was fixing his leads coming up to the barrels for Hubby automatically.

bobby wasn't impressed with hubby wanting to trot.
in fact, the whole time hubby rode, i was a little worried bobby wasn't going to stop at all.

Since he's so big, he looks like a giant lummox going down the straightaway, but I think once he gets turned loose in the giant rodeo arena, he'll be able to use his massive stride to his advantage.

the godfather shows us how a race-bred quarter horse gets it done.

Needless to say, Sarah and I have been giggling like lunatics to ourselves the past few days. Myself included, I think there are close to ten riders from the barn showing, and of course a lot of the barn "family" will be there to cheer us on/make fun of our group of hunter riders.

Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Whoa and The Go

Over the weekend, BO told me that Spyder has been pulling his stupid "I'm going to freak out and spin around and possibly take off for no reason" routine in his fave corner lately. Since he's been here for two years now, she's pretty much over making excuses for it. She told me he needed someone to get on him with a crop, a martingale, and their bit of choice and make him get over it. There's no reason for bad manners. Ever.

I volunteered and on Tuesday I pulled him out of his paddock and we had a talk about standing still on the cross ties. Then we had a talk about not throwing his head around while bridling. Then we had a talk about leading in a straight line at my shoulder. This horse gets ridden at least two times a week. It's not a lot, but after two years you'd think he'd at least have basic ground manners. But no.

his favorite under saddle activities: chomping obnoxiously on
the bit and diving his head down. 

Got on, walked him around once each direction, and sent him off at the trot. He's naturally horribly lazy and I think that makes his rider complacent, and he takes advantage and goes off on a sass rampage when he gets bored. With that in mind, I kicked and squeezed and kicked some more. He did okay at the trot. At the canter, he wanted to bulge out of the circle and after a few times of hitting my outside leg, he dropped his shoulder and went spinning off towards his favorite spook corner. I took full advantage of the elevator bit and popped his head back up while giving him simultaneous smacks behind my leg and sent right back off on the circle. He was like, "WTF?!" and ended up so surprised that he didn't try it again.

At least until I made him trot some more afterwards and he pulled the same dirty move at the other side. He got the same tug, smack, kick treatment and finished on quite a polite note. I brought him back to the barn, hosed him off, and S showed up to do her lesson on him after looking like she wasn't going to come at all.

"that really wasn't that fun."

I decided to stay to watch and relayed to BO what I had done with him and what I thought his main issue was: lack of forward. I was really happy to see BO get after S (who's his regular rider) about kicking him on every. single. stride. S was not so happy. She's a beautiful, quiet rider, but she treats Spyder like a big dog. He's happy to jog around for her on a loopy rein at a snail's pace, and he's equally as happy to walk all over her on the ground. Obviously that's not training him to do anything more than being a big, rude pig.

having a cookie visit on tuesday.

I went back out today and rode my own naughty OTTB. I threw on his Micklem and we went up to the outdoor to play with Sarah and Memph. I let him go around on a loose rein at the w/t/c trying to encourage a stretch. He was feeling very full of himself now that he has working feet and is going off of so much time off. I let him work of some steam with some flying changes, and we popped over the coop once like a boss. I fooled around with some two point and no stirrup work, we played a fun game, and quit there.

BO said she wanted to see if Spyder would go in a pelham since he's theoretically supposed to be a hunter. Well, I could only find one pelham and it was too small for him, but I did dig up another bit to try (and while digging, oohed and ahhed over BO's tiny pony driving bits--too fucking cute). We had another discussion about personal space and standing still and set off.

Today, I put him on a circle at his trouble end and we never did more than one circle without doing a transition of some sort. He went amazingly in the new bit and was actually paying enough attention that he was really working off my seat. No spooks, no stupid ducking out, and a bit more responsiveness to my leg.

I'm still not sure how much of a hunter he'll make, but he's a nice horse when minding his manners. He just needs someone to show him every ride what the rules of the game are, no ifs ands or buts. He's way too big and naughty to be so spoiled.

In other news, I'm ninety percent sure Bobby and I will be doing a show on Tuesday. And it has nothing to do with eventing. And we will make giants fools of ourselves. And it will be awesome.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

BCHP Cross Country Schooling

Before anything else, I have to reiterate how ungodly hot it was Sunday--and obviously it didn't get any cooler as the day went on. After Bobby got sponged off again (even though I was on him for all of ten minutes between the walk from the trailer to stadium and back again), Hubby and I took our chairs, hounds, and horse over to some shade and hung out chugging water for half an hour. When I felt confident I could see straight and hold down my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I got Bobby tacked up again, ditched my show shirt for a paper-thin tank top, threw on my vest, and mounted up.

about to be joined by a group.

We made a beeline for the water complex and splashed around at the walk for a few minutes before letting a group school in there. See how fun sharing is? There's an entire park full of jumps to go over--no need to hog space, bitches. (Not referring to this group. They didn't seem to care we were in there with them.)

Instead, I decided to warm him up over two of the Starter course's jumps and come around to a Novice triple log thing. I had jacked my stirrups up three holes from stadium, but they probably needed to come up at least another two. I was aware of it at the time, but made the decision to leave them as they were; I wasn't sure how tired it would make me and I didn't want to get any hotter than I was already.

first xcountry jump of the day.

We took the first baby log well and then I let him fizzle out to the second and he threw in a chip to something that might have made 2'. I didn't kick on from there either, and we took a long, awkward spot to the triple log. I paused for a minute, caught my breath, and let two nagging voices seep in:

Me: Go. Forward. If you think you're going too fast, go even faster.

BM: Your only job is to release. Let him do what he wants to get to the fence--just stay off his face.

Over the first again, closed my leg between the two small logs, and kept it on as we came up to the triple log. Totes perfect. Good pony.

might have actually been training? i know that's one of the prelim fences beside us.

We took a peek at the double banks down before I decided it was a pretty hefty drop to try going down first (although Bobby probably would have popped right down if asked), and came around to go up it instead. I trotted him towards it as Bobby loves banks and I wanted some modicum of control to keep him from leaping exuberantly up, seeing the second bank and taking it as a bounce instead of the one stride it is. He picked up the canter two strides out, but waited for the base of it before going up and he was very clever to get the one stride and jump out. I've seen P/T horses bite it at that question while walking my own course so I was very proud of him.

yes, i know. release more, but i was grabbing my neck strap with the other hand at least.

I let him trot back to where Hubby was still standing by the banks, but I was paying absolutely zero attention to my horse who decided to lock onto a hanging log at the top of the hill and go charging towards it. I should have just grabbed mane and let him go, but man do I fucking hate hills and I ripped him off to the side. Then, of course, I was like, "We should jump this!" and brought him around to it again completely uncommitted and freaked out by it being on the smallest hill known to man (actually, I think I've jumped it with Bobby in a show before, and I know I've jumped it with Red). Quite rightly he followed the same duck out route that I pulled him on just moments before. If I had kicked on and really wanted him to do it, he would have. But I didn't really want him to. Hills are scary. And I'm lame.

yeah.....no.

I picked out a few fences to string together to get some flow going, changed course after the first jump and cantered around over a couple of logs ranging from Starter to Training before finishing with the Novice stone jump.

cantering around, making up a mini course as i go.


isn't this a cool jump?

I was really happy with how he took that so we headed back over to finish at the water. We cantered in, jumped the Novice jump out, and cantered back through.

yay, water! also, my head is falling off sideways?

Next was the smaller bank out with the plan to do that once, come around again and add the red barn afterwards. However, Bobby did silly things with his legs and we fizzled to a literal standstill in front of the bank. He jumped it out anyway because that's how he rolls. I was all, "Bobby, why did you even bother?" and he was all, "Because Bobbys are used to being buried by their dip shit pilots and they know they're supposed to jump anyway. Dip shit."

"derpppp, my legs."

I did him a favor and asked him to really gallop through the water and we went up without incident the next time around.

go forth, brave beast!

I went up it once more with kind-of sort-of the intent to do the red barn after, but I didn't commit and he continued on his merry way right by it. It wasn't even a runout since he wasn't really being asked with...well, you know leg or hand to go towards it. Read my mind, Bobby--just add in that jump by yourself. No? Oh, well. I was too hot to care and we hopped off into the water twice to end the day. I'm not gonna lie--I find dropping into the water pretty fucking fun now.

despite what looks like an angry face, it was fun. 


good pony pats.

Here's an abbreviated helmet cam of our short school:


There were quite a few fences I wanted to do, including the Training cordwood into the water, but I was just too hot to do them. Hubby and I both agreed that we ended at a good spot. Could I have pressed the issue with the log on the hill and the red barn? Absolutely. But it wasn't worth getting worked up over. We did some good jumps, strung a few things together with a good forward pace, and had some fun in the water. Maybe not worth the $35 schooling fee, but we were there anyway and we got to do some jumps outside of the tiny stadium ring.

Monday, July 8, 2013

BCHP CT - BN

Since there's a show recap post, I'm sure you can all surmise that NF did make it out on Saturday. I was surprised, but I was also thankful he finally came. $200 and some cringe-worthy news about the RF later, he asked me if I was planning to ride. I looked at him for a minute. "NF, I have a show tomorrow." As in, why the fuck do you think you were supposed to be out two weeks ago?! In the end, I didn't end up riding. I gave Bobby some bute to combat any foot soreness, swaddled him in fly gear, and let him go out for five hours before bringing him in for a bath and lock down. Our show prep amounted to three indoor dressage rides and three tack walks in two weeks. Zero jumping. Zero hacking.

Awesome.

Dressage

Hubby, Bobby, and I played a little game the whole day: Will Carly survive the heat? It read 94* in the truck, but with the humidity and the blazing sun with no shade, it felt at least a million degrees hotter. And that is hot, my friends. So hot that when I went to pull on my brand new white breeches, I was already sweating so badly that they didn't want to come up my legs all the way and I had a really convenient saggy crotch that didn't want me to spread my legs all the way when in the saddle. It was super helpful.

the unicorn horn is so attractive.

Also helpful was not having a dressage saddle any longer as Bobby's tank-like shoulders are now too big for my current one. Oh, well. I started the warm up and while Bobby was his typical tense, distracted self, he wasn't being at all naughty. For both of us hating this venue and him not getting worked all week, I was grateful that the heat at least helped keep him "chill". After about fifteen minutes, I gave up and parked Bobby in the shade for a few minutes. Then I felt bad that I was just sitting on him and he was so bothered by the bugs that I got off of him and we hung out with Hubby ringside for ten minutes until it was time to get back on for our test.

cooling down in warm up.

I thought our test was as good as could be expected for having to deal with the heat and not having the best prep. We got scores from 8s to a 5 (for the stupid free walk--we really need to work on that), and ended up with a 34.3. Mid-thirties again. I know it's nothing to be ashamed of, but this horse is so easily capable of scoring in the twenties, and he's done it before. I wish I could figure out what I need to do to transfer that over from home to show. Maybe I need to go on a circle and stare at my horse's ears without worrying about the other riders sharing the ring with me; there's one stupid whore in every crowd....


Stadium

There were only twenty five minutes between my dressage and stadium, and I came out of the arena feeling like I was going to puke. I still had to go back to the trailer to switch out bridles and put a dry pad on Bobby. Hubby and I got the horse untacked, I sponged him down with cool water spiked with liniment, and Hubby scraped him off as I sat with my head between my knees and tried to stomach my Gatorade. Before I knew it, it was 12:23 and we were supposed to be in the ring in two minutes. I tacked Bobby back up without rushing and got back on. There was no way they were going to eliminate people for showing up late with the short turnaround and the extreme heat. 

the course squeezed into the tiny stadium ring.

We got to the ring at 12:28. I hadn't seen the course yet and obviously hadn't gone over a fence yet, but I was accosted by a snotty teen-aged volunteer as soon as I showed up. "Your entire division is running so behind. You need to be in the arena right now." And then she walked away. Mmm sorry, honey. I watched one rider go, stared at the course map for a second, and we went in with zero warm up. Bobby's first jump in two weeks was the first jump on course.

tight bending line to fence 3.
I couldn't communicate to my hands to pick up my neck strap, but I at least remembered to grab mane. My stirrups were still at dressage length and I was starting to feel nauseous again, but I played it smart and brought Bobby back to the trot for the turns so I wasn't running him into fences off of crazy angles. He responded like a champ and once I got him turned to the next jump, he picked up the canter on his own and jumped around calmly.

cute pony knees, strange carly hands.


No rails, no refusals, and really not a bad round. A little unorganized, but with the heat and finding out the course literally two minutes before riding it, I was really pleased with my pony.

so happy my pleasant packer was back for the day.
We ended up finishing on our dressage score for seventh place out of a big division of sixteen riders. I didn't see the score sheet because we schooled xcountry after cooling off from stadium and I just ran in and grabbed my ribbon and test as we were leaving, so I don't know how our score stood up to everyone else's. 

i got to show off and explain my ottb tee to a few people at the gas station who
wandered over to admire bobby as we fueled up. 

Overall, despite the horrible heat, I was satisfied with how the show went. For fucks sake, if nothing else we finally finished a show again! I don't know where or when we'll show next. Originally, the next two shows were going to be at Bucks, but I don't we'll back to show there in the near future. I'll keep my eye out for dressage shows, and see if BO can suggest some jumper shows. 

this baby rolled just as we left the barn. 

Stay tuned for a xcountry schooling report!